UPDATE on 6/19/2020 at 11:15 AM: Here is the slide deck preview for the next Board Meeting: Fall 2020 Learning Plan – Public Version
It was accompanied by the following note:
Attached is a preview of the schedule that will be on the board agenda for next week. The schedule was a collaboration between the teachers’ union, district administration, and site administration. All groups took into account the feedback from our committee, previous surveys, and schedules presented at the last board meeting. In addition, we took into account school board comments and recommendations. The presentation will have far more detail, but this gives you a glimpse of the suggested schedule for the school board’s consideration. I believe the board agenda will be posted this evening or Monday.
UPDATE on 6/15/2020: An Addendum has been appended to this post which was made the morning before the Board meeting. The Addendum briefly describes the outcome of the Board meeting and provides links to a recording of the meeting as well as the slide deck presented to the attendees.
6/11/2020 – This last week has been overwhelming in terms of the number of proposals, counter-proposals, and extensive discussions about how to reopen schools in the fall. Please see SMUHSD Debating a Change to a Quarter System? and, for those with local Nextdoor access, https://nextdoor.com/news_feed/?post=150484676 for the gory details.
I would like to make a short, relatively uncomplicated proposal and then will step aside. I do not have children attending school, and my personal work is done completely via Skype since the pandemic, so I will not consume valuable comment time during the Board meeting tonight.
This idea will not need 66 slides! In fact it will not need any slides at all – just the very short text section that follows!
At the end of last school year, most AP teachers were holding classes via Zoom. Many non-AP classes were held much less regularly though, due to the rapid school closure and some teachers suddenly having outside care responsibilities during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the fall, school will resume full time. I believe, but am not certain, that part of the rationale for the quarter system was to complete certain classes by the end of the first quarter in case there was a “second wave” of COVID-19 in the late October/November time frame. This might allow a “cleaner” shutdown of school if necessary.
Pardon me, but I still don’t understand, after listening to all of the back and forth, why school can’t resume using the normal pre-pandemic seven period semester schedule with 1/3rd of students in class each day and the other two thirds participating in the exact same lesson via Zoom (or some other more secure platform) from home. Or we could have only one fifth of students come in on a particular day of the week if the desire is to further minimize group size.
If a “second wave” develops, then we simply go back to 100% of students using Zoom or Zoom alternative from home until it passes, but we do not stop school.
The 1/3rd rotation could have the same group coming in every 3rd day as in the current district slide deck, or, more preferable in terms of reducing teacher exposure, every third week as several of my Aragon students told me was the proposal originally mentioned to them.
A week at school followed by two weeks off would also be an effective “quarantine” to minimize COVID-19 spread in the event that any student was infected. The week at school allows students to ask teachers questions in person and also gives them at least some “socially distant” contact with their peers.
The rotation schedule on a normal semester plan seems to me to be the most important topic for discussion, NOT the quarter system idea which appears to be a non-starter for very many people (parents AND teachers)!
The other alternative, of course, is 100% online learning that the teachers currently favor due to their health concerns.
Why do we need to develop all of these other complicated proposals with so many downsides and probably other as yet unforeseen consequences??? The Board meeting tonight could be the longest one in SMUHSD history or we could cut through all of this clutter in advance.
If I am missing something, please let me know in the Comment section below or on Nextdoor where I will also be posting a link to this article. Thank you!
Addendum posted AFTER the Board Meeting:
A recording of the 5 hour long Board meeting is available at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW_KpbKc1KYRPUzLZHSxf0A
The quarter system proposal was dropped from the agenda a few hours prior to the meeting and replaced with two other possible models (“Fully Blended” and “80/20 Blended”) developed with substantial teacher input. The Fully Blended model is discussed by Assistant Superintendent Kirk Black starting at 1 hour 36 minutes (1:36) into the Youtube video above, and the 80/20 Blended model is presented by teacher Jinna Hwang at 1:43 into the video.
Here is a copy of the revised Return to School slide presentation given at the meeting that includes these two new models: L_1_RevisedReturnToSchoolPresentation_0
The decision was made to flesh these plans out further and bring them back to the next Board meeting on 6/25.
What do people think about these proposals?
I remain concerned by the reduction in class time and the use of “asynchronous learning.” As I said on Nextdoor:
… sorry, but the idea of a student watching a lecture at home without the ability to ask an immediate question of the lecturer just rubs me the wrong way. One can call it by the fancy term “asynchronous learning” but I would prefer a simpler term – “bad teaching!”
This denigration of lecturing in current education philosophy has gone to an extreme. No one enjoys simply being talked AT, of course, but then why assign Khan Academy and prerecorded lectures where there is no possibility of interaction? There always seems to be a curious parallel reduction in teaching effort along with many of these “progressive education” methods like, for example, CPM math.
In fact I wrote an article about this problem earlier: Why a “Sage on the Stage” in a Classroom is not always a Bad Thing .
This asynchronous learning problem can be fixed if the teacher is accessible with a reasonable turn-around time via some kind of instant messaging system such as the one in Canvas mentioned by Kevin in the comments below or via other forms of IMs or cellular texts.
Please post your comments following this article below (or on Nextdoor at https://nextdoor.com/post/151832244 if you can access that post – note that the Nextdoor post is not accessible in all parts of the SMUHSD while this blog is). You must scroll all the way down to the “Leave a Reply” box to reply to the article directly or click the “Reply” link following a particular comment to respond to that comment. This forum is moderated, so comments will not appear until approved.
The WordPress software that runs this site requires that you enter an email address in order to comment, but your address is not checked for validity nor displayed, and I do not collect or use this information. Also, you will not receive emailed comments on the article from other people unless you check a box in the form to request this.
Thanks as always for your participation!