March 29th News and Information

Dear Yellow Cluster families,

    Now that we have made it through the first two weeks and know that we are going to be doing virtual school until at least May 1st, the entire Open School staff has been doing a lot of talking, investigating, and planning ways to keep our students actively engaged with us and with their learning.  While each cluster’s plan and schedule is going to look different, we have all decided to use the learning platform Class Dojo as a main way of communicating and assigning work.  We will be sending a second email later today with information about how to sign up and have your child sign in, as each student needs to be sent an individual code to log in.  Please complete this process as soon as possible (hopefully by Monday evening) so that we can all see how it will work and troubleshoot together.  

    For those of you who have children in multiple clusters, please know that our goal was to try and make Open School’s new learning experience as unified as possible, while still allowing for the individuality each cluster and each teacher is celebrated for.  While many clusters will be doing small group lessons via zoom on a regularly scheduled basis, we are taking a slightly different approach, as we want to be sure we are not assuming everyone has the same ability to access being online at the same time.  We are attempting to approach our newly designed curriculum through a lens of health and equity of access, while still trying to plan for individualization as much as possible.

    Our plans do not include having our students be live and online for hours at a time each day.  That’s not good for anyone, and it doesn’t address the needs of all of our families.  We know everyone can’t guarantee online access time at the same time, or as often, as everyone else, especially as we all juggle online needs for everyone in the family.  Our goal is to present our lessons and information mostly through videos, as well as posts on Class Dojo and the website, so that anyone can access them whenever they have the time or the need, to have zoom office hours where you and your children can stop by and ask questions, and to be readily available though email, the Remind app, and Class Dojo.  We hope that this will keep us a presence in your child’s learning life, while still making it possible for you to schedule their learning around the needs of your household.  For this upcoming week, we will continue to send emails via both Class Dojo and Mail Chimp while we get set up.  We are also working on creating a resource page on the Yellow Cluster section of the website that will have links to our videos.  It will be a private page, so you will need your PIN number to access it.

    More specifically, we plan to continue to share two read aloud videos a day, one of an ongoing chapter book, and one of a picture book.  Generally, as we do in class, the picture book will likely have a follow up activity, but the chapter book may or may not.  We will also put math videos up regularly.  On Class Dojo, we will also put up the assignments related to those videos, if appropriate, as well as other assignments related to writing, science, and / or social studies.  We are planning for longer term assignments related to our curriculum as well.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays we will have Office Hour zooms from 10:30 - 11:30 to answer questions from kids who need extra support.  Please note, those times are not for our students to just hang out with us and their fellow students, they are for getting questions answered, for the students or for you, or help with a specific assignment.  We will have the hang out time zooms for the class as well, but we haven’t decided when yet.  

    We have also activated our class’ ST Math accounts, and have set up a class account on Prodigy, so that our students can use both of those math platforms, if they wish to.  It is not required, but we wanted them to have the options.  To make things easier, we will be sending separate emails about logging into both of those options.  

    As you are settling into this new normal, please do not require your children to be doing school for hours at a time.  Most people who choose to homeschool their kids only plan for 2-3 hours of actual schoolwork on any given day, and that time is spread out some.  Drawing, playing, building, creating, exploring nature, physical activity - it is all so very important during these times (well, really, always).  Ultimately, your child’s mental health is the most important thing.  Yes, we want them to keep learning, and yes, we don’t want them to completely ignore their school learning, but they are also navigating these new, strange, and possibly scary times, and we want everyone to come out on the other side of this still happy and mentally well.  (And that includes you, too!)  On that note, please do also try hard to limit screen time.  Even in these times, and as easy as the electronic babysitter can make things, it is really important for them to not spend hours at a shot interacting with screens and devices.  Please let them be bored.  Let them feel that, experience that, and figure out how to not be bored, all without the crutch of the screen.  We know that it is not at all easy, but the results will be worth it.  Finding and discovering things they love, knowing they can entertain and amuse  themselves, and developing a sense of self-reliance are all crucial life skills.

    And please know that whenever we come back to school, us teachers will be ready to meet your kids where they are, fill in whatever academic holes this closure has made inevitable, and continue to support their growth in whatever ways we can.  

    We miss you and we appreciate all that you are doing for your (our) kids.  We know this is new and sometimes hard and not always fun, but we’re in it together.

Denise and Lauren

Expiration Date: 
Jul 31