Dear HDS Parents,

We are actively developing a Distance Learning program, and are scheduled to begin implementation on Wednesday, March 25th.  Faculty will be developing their materials and lessons through Tuesday, March 24th. As this is an evolving situation, we will continue to refine the program and process. We understand that you may have many questions! This is a new experience for all of us: teachers, students, parents, and administrators. We will do our best to keep you informed and up-to-date on all aspects of Distance Learning. Our faculty will be meeting regularly online to evaluate our process and improve as possible. We will also be reaching out to parents throughout the school closure period to ask for your feedback on how things are going at home. 

HDS recognizes that families have different resources available at home. If you have specific concerns about your family's resources (computers, internet access, etc.), please reach out to tracyschoene@harfordday.org with those concerns, and we will do our best to respond. If you have not already filled out the survey in the email, please do so. 

Our goals are to provide continuity of learning and a sense of community and support for our students and families through this unprecedented time of great uncertainty. We recognize that all of us are balancing the challenges of restricted movement, remote work and learning, possible illness and anxiety. As you will see below, we have developed a schedule that will allow students to begin and end the day with online teacher contact and a framework that will allow you and your family to devise a daily learning schedule that fits your unique circumstances.

GENERAL OVERVIEW

Our main sources for communication will be the HDS Parent Portal and GoogleMeet.

Little Dragons - Grade 3: General Class Information will be posted on the Homeroom Attendance page. Assignments for core subjects will be posted on the "Class" tab for each class.
  • Assignments for students in Grades K-3 will include all core subjects (Math, LA, Social Studies, and Science). 
  • Math and Language Arts will include daily tasks and assignments, whereas Science and Social Studies may be longer projects over time.
  • Work time will be approximately 1.5-2 hours per day.
  • Special area teachers (Art, Music, PE, Spanish, Chinese, Media Studies) will provide a document with assignments for the week to the homeroom teachers to be added to the portal.
  • Little Dragons and K-Prep will plan and communicate developmentally appropriate activities for their classes which touch on the major Early Childhood instructional domains.
Grades 4-8: General Class Information will be posted on Homeroom/Advisory pages; specific class information will be posted under the "Class" tab for each class. 
  • Total work time for students in Grades 4-8 should be approximately 2.5 hours, with short breaks, meaning that individual assignments should be no more than around 25-30 minutes per class. Some days may be slightly more, others may be less. Longer assignments may stretch over multiple days. 
  • Special area teachers will provide a document with assignments for the week to the Homeroom teachers/Advisors to be added to the Homeroom Attendance/Advisory pages. 
  • We are requiring all students in grades 4-8 to complete and submit the Honor Statement form found HERE prior to beginning Distance Learning on Wednesday, March 25. 
DAILY SCHEDULE/FORMAT

9:00 AM: Homeroom/Advisory Check-in & Attendance via Google Meet 
  • All students will be asked to check in with their Homeroom teacher/Advisor each week day, through a Google Meet link available on the portal. 
  • This will give the teacher the opportunity to check in with you and your child on a regular basis. Students will be able to see each other as well.
  • If your child can not be online at 9:00 a.m., please email the teacher to let him/her know. Please specify if your child is not online because they are sick, or if it is because you don't have enough devices for all of your children to be on at once.
  • Google Meet is available on any laptop, desktop, or Chromebook through the Chrome browser. On an iPad, iPod, or phone, you will need to download the Google Meet app. It is a free app. This has already been added to any school issued laptops. Please be sure that camera and microphone permissions have been set up prior to Wednesday, March 25th.
DAILY WORK EXPECTATIONS
  • Our goal is not to recreate the typical 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. school-day experience. This might mean that students will participate in more independent learning and will have reduced direct instructional time with their teachers. Taking into account the disruption of a prolonged school closure, the school will do its best to balance quality and quantity. We will prioritize delivering high-quality and meaningful experiences for our students, rather than simply trying to fill the hours of a full school day. 
  • Unlike typical school days, when students meet together at a particular time of day, students often experience distance learning differently. In many cases, students will learn asynchronously, that is, on their own time; in other cases, classes will meet virtually in real time in order to continue the in-class, group-learning experience. All meetings will take place via Google Meet. If a teacher wishes to conduct a synchronous lesson during a normal first or second period class, that schedule will be slightly different. HR/Advisory will meet from 9:00-9:15, 1st period MAY meet 11:45-12:25 and 2nd period MAY meet 9:15-9:50.
  • Distance Learning will take many forms depending on grade level and subject area. These experiences may look and feel very different from a student's typical in-class experience-learning experiences will vary in ways that are developmentally appropriate and instructionally feasible. For example, as teachers plan to modify their content to fit a distance-learning framework, students may read books, work on independent projects, meet via video conference, watch online videos, write blogs, be asked to play games with family members, and so forth.  We will work to support all families in any way we can.
  • Functions such as grading, assessment, attendance and homework may be different from the typical in-class framework. Teachers will share expectations around these topics with their students and families for each class or grade level. 
TEACHER HELP AND SUPPORT 
  • Teachers will offer drop-in virtual office hours Monday - Thursday from 3:00-4:00. This will also be done through Google Meet. The teachers will post the link to their Google Meet on the portal on their Class page. 
  • Teachers will be monitoring email periodically throughout the day, should questions arise. You may also schedule a time to have a 1:1 or small group Google Meet session.
  • Tracy Schoene will be available for tech support between 8:00 - 4:00 daily. She may be reached via email
DISTANCE LEARNING GUIDELINES FOR PARENTS

The transition to home learning is a big change for your child. The resources and guidelines below can help you work with us at HDS to make home learning a positive experience.

1. Establish a schedule.
During a big transition, students need consistency. Keep normal meal and bed times, and start the day's learning following advisory/homeroom check-in.  

Every family's schedule is different, depending on parents' work hours, childcare arrangements, accessibility to technology, etc. We suggest developing a schedule that works for your individual circumstances, but know it may evolve over time. Children are often most productive in morning hours, so using time earlier in the day to complete academic assignments may work best for your child.  Using afternoon time for exercise and physical activity, art and music, household chores and tasks, and leisure activities may also help you to structure your day.

For Intermediate and Middle School children, we suggest that your child determine his/her work schedule for that day after viewing all assignments on the portal. Older children may be able to do this on their own, but most will need some guidance, at least at first. Determining how long they think each assignment will take, prioritizing the order of their work, and then committing their plan to paper is a valuable life skill for them to practice during Distance Learning. 

2. Create a designated learning space.
Organize learning materials and designate a common area for learning. Ideally, the space has a strong wireless connection, can be blocked from noise at times, and is located where family members can monitor and/or participate in your child's learning. Students working alone in their rooms can be easily distracted by social media and the urge to check texts and email frequently.

3. Consider beginning and ending each day with a check-in.
Designating time to check in with your child helps your child feel more secure and supports them in processing their learning. 


 

Questions to ask:
What are you learning today? What materials do you need? What did you enjoy learning today? What was challenging?


 

4. Support your child's physical and emotional needs.
In stressful times, children need supportive and stable relationships with trusted adults, as well as physical activity. Their daily schedule should include some active time (outdoors, when possible), and time to connect with family members. Their Distance Learning aside, students should not be adding to the amount of screen time they were allowed prior to school closure;  you may wish to consider decreasing screen time, since they will be using their devices so much more for learning purposes. 

5. Monitor communications from your child's teacher and school.
Make sure you know how and when you will receive communications.  The portal is your main resource.  

Please do not hesitate to reach out for support if you have questions. This is a community effort, and we appreciate your commitment and partnership with us to deliver the best possible online learning experience.

Be well.

Tracy

Tracy Schoene
Director of Technology

Susan

Susan Kearney
Head of School
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