Virtual Teaching FAQs

Why isn’t the teacher doing small groups?

As students and teachers become more confident in the tools and programs, we will be able to meet with some students in small groups. For now, Google Meet does not have a breakout room option embedded in the program. This means that there are complicated steps to opening multiple Meet sessions, and this can be overwhelming for learners (student and teacher-learners!). The Google Meet breakout room option is being rolled out over the next few weeks, making it easier to meet with smaller groups.

It is important to note that the virtual learning day is much shorter than the learning day in the building. Teachers need to weigh carefully the benefits of everything they do with students, including small groups. For every small group that a teacher meets with, the rest of the students are not getting direct instruction. Small group structures will not mirror those experienced in the building.

Small group instruction is important to help meet students needs, but it is only one tool. Every year, teachers begin the year doing whole group activities and lessons to build the learning community, establish rules and routines, and build independence so students are able to complete work without interrupting the small group. This year is no different, even though the routines and work look different. We never start the year jumping right into small groups but rather ease into them over several weeks as students demonstrate they are able to work independently.

How can I find out more about iReady?

iReady is a tool used to help teachers guide instruction. AACPS has lots of information about iReady on its website: https://www.aacps.org/iready

How independent is my child expected to be?

Great question! While we are striving for independence, we know that children will need support, especially with technology. If you or someone else is available to assist, that is great because teachers cannot see what the student is seeing. Younger students, and especially kindergarteners, may need someone to call to assist with transitioning, opening new programs, etc. We are teaching students how to do this, but it takes time for them to catch on. It is important that younger children in particular have an adult they can ask to assist them if they can’t find a link or are having technology issues. Hopefully, students will become more confident and independent with technology soon.

My child can’t get into her Google Meet. Help!

Here are some things to try if your student can’t get into a Google Meet.

  1. Check to make sure your student is using the correct username and password.
  2. Check to see if your student is logged into Chrome using AACPS credentials.
  3. Email or message your student’s teacher. Occasionally, a teacher may remove a student from a Meet (at the beginning of lunch, for example). If that happens, the teacher has to manually readmit the student.

My child’s chromebook works very slowly. Can I get a new one?

If a device is working slowly, there could be several possibilities to help.

  1. If it is a school device, try getting updates. Come to school to use the school wifi (you can sit on the benches outside the building). Log in using your child’s AACPS credentials once or twice to see if the device will pick up the updates pushed out by our district.
  2. Make sure your child doesn’t have extra programs running in the background. Teachers may ask for students to have several tabs open that they are working on (the Google Meet and an assignment). Extra programs open may slow things down.
  3. Check your WiFi in your house. Multiple people accessing internet may slow things down.
  4. If these don’t work, contact the AACPS help desk at 410-222-5001.

Where can I find my child’s schedule?
Each teacher has posted a hyperlinked schedule in his/her Google Classroom. Also grade level teams have posted schedules on their websites.

How can I contact my child’s teacher?

Each teacher has an email address and a Google Voice phone number, which are included in their Google Classrooms and grade level sites. Teachers have regularly scheduled office hours, during which they can schedule meetings or phone calls with parents or meet with students.

What about homework?

We recognize how hard students are working during their virtual day, so we will not be having regular, additional homework assignments. Teachers will share several options, including iReady practice (in reading or math), First in Math, typing or coding practice, or self selected reading.

What will my child’s day look like?

In primary grades, students will have instruction by their homeroom teacher. They will click on a hyperlink to go to Cultural Arts.

In intermediate grades, students will be grouped by homeroom for delivery of literacy, math, and science social studies curriculum. Each of the teachers in a grade level will departmentalize and teach a portion of the curriculum. Grade level teams will communicate their plans to you.

Brain breaks and independent practice will be incorporated throughout the day to keep students from sitting too long in front of the computer.

Each teacher will post a hyperlinked schedule in their Google Classroom and on their grade level sites. Below is the schedule for Mrs. Nelson’s homeroom, as a reference.

Shipley’s Choice Elementary School Virtual Learning FAQs 2020

How will we know how to access synchronous learning?

Classroom teachers are in the process of inviting students to Google Classrooms and sharing a link to a Google Meet session connected to their classroom. Once students are enrolled, they can access through the Class Link page or through Google (by clicking on the “waffle” in the top right corner.

How can I stay up to date with all of the information about virtual learning?

Check out the video from Mrs. Ventrodo to learn about how to get updates from the Google Classroom and stay connected to what is happening in the school and your grade.

How will my child know how to get into the online classrooms?

Classroom teachers will invite students to join their Google Classrooms and will send the code/link to join their Google Meet for instruction. The Google Meet code will be the same for daily instruction.

I said my child didn’t need a Chromebook, but now I really think we do. Can I still get one?

Yes! Just complete the Chromebook request form. (It is OK to resubmit if you want to change.) Here is the form:

https://secure.aacps.org/webapps/SEFP/en-US/OSS/Device

When will we get our learning backpacks? Backpacks are scheduled to be delivered to schools soon. They should be ready for pick up after 9/14/20. The school will communicate a schedule for pick up.

My child loved the fun activities they did in the spring, and s/he really misses friends. Will there be time for those?

Yes! On Tuesdays and Thursdays, there is an option for students called “Friends and Fun.” This is an informal time for students to hang out with their friends (and a teacher!).

How will my child be assessed and graded this year?

• All students will complete the i-Ready diagnostic tool during the first month of school.

• There will be a big focus on performance-based tasks, which require students to demonstrate their skills, thinking, creativity, and learning in ways that are more likely to reflect their efforts and understanding rather than their “Googling” skills.

• Any “traditional assessments” should be conducted during scheduled class time.

• AACPS will return to the standard grading system.

• We will continue to be flexible with students in their ability to turn in completed work and in ways that they can demonstrate their learning

• Although students are expected to complete all learning activities, whether graded or not, graded assignments and assessments will be clearly identifiable within Google Classroom.

• Sunday evening at 10pm is the latest that any assignment from the week can be turned in before it is considered late.

What is “Flex time”?

• Flex is an additional opportunity for teachers to provide learning support or extension opportunities.

• For the first few weeks of school, Flex Time will be similar to how we begin reading workshop in school. Teachers will guide students in learning about their classroom and the various activities or programs they may be using.

• Eventually, flex time will offer ALPS (advanced learner) opportunities, reading groups, and even a choice of activities.

• Students are expected to be logged in to an active Google Meet during this time.

What are “Office Hours”?

• Teachers will use office hours for the following purposes:

o To meet with students to support their learning

o To contact parents about student learning

o To provide specific feedback on assignments

• Students may request Office Hours appointments for support.

• Parents may request time to discuss their student during Office Hours.

How will my child let the teacher know if he/she needs help?

• During virtual learning, it is critical that students learn to advocate for themselves since teachers cannot be physically in the room to see their reactions and body language. • The key to teaching children how to advocate for themselves starts with helping them to recognize their own needs. It is difficult to ask for help when you don’t know what exactly you need help doing! We will be spending time learning about self-advocacy at the start of the year and ask that parents frequently review/reinforce the topic with their child. • Teachers will provide alternative options for students to voice their questions, concerns, and comments (for example, hand signals and the chat box). • Most importantly, if you notice or hear that your child is having difficulty but not communicating it with the teacher, please reach out and let us know!

What involvement are you expecting from parents?

• Our goal is for virtual learning to be a nearly autonomous experience for students. With that said, we know that the first couple of weeks will require parental involvement to troubleshoot technology and lend a hand until students are independent with navigating the programs.

• The best thing you can do for your child is to establish a consistent routine and provide a learning space that is free of distractions (i.e. TV, food, pets, siblings, music).

• Reinforcement of virtual etiquette and expectations (these will be shared with parents).

What do I do if my child is sick or misses class?

• Attendance will be taken every day like we traditionally do in school.

• In case of an absence, parents and guardians will need to contact the school rather than send in a note or contact the teacher.

• All Google Meet instructional sessions will be recorded and posted by the end of the day. They will only be viewable by the students in the classroom and will only be available for a finite period of time.

• Families that have a unique circumstance that prevents their student from logging in daily are required to fill out an “Alternate Attendance” request through the Student Services office. Otherwise, students are expected to be present in Google Meet during the scheduled times. More information about how to request this is coming soon.

How will teachers keep students motivated and focused?

• Time will be spent establishing etiquette and expectations for both synchronous and asynchronous learning. These will be reviewed frequently and communicated to families so that parents can provide reinforcement at home.

• Relationships, relationships, relationships! Fostering a sense of community and open communication is key to a successful virtual experience.

• The teachers will be using a variety of teaching methods, incorporating learning strategies that meet all learning styles, and using a variety of technology/media resources.

• Student choice will be provided as often as possible. (Examples include digital/paper submission, choice in tools and choice in product).

• Keep it simple! Students need to feel that they can be successful with a new program/technology in order to be able to learn the content and take risks.