Upper School Distance Learning Overview – 3/18

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Dear Upper School Students and Families:

View our Upper School Distance Learning Schedule to see our basic daily/weekly schedule by grade level. As you can see, each day begins at 9:00 a.m. with communal time, which may involve homeroom advisory groups, grade-level groups, the whole Upper School, or even the entire St. Michael’s K-8 community sharing guided meditation or prayers, songs, pre-recorded videos, live question-and-answer sessions, jokes, or other group-building activities.

This is followed by a sequence of sixty-minute academic periods—the first half of each intended to focus on teacher-directed lessons, some delivered via Zoom, and the second half intended more for independent work time, with teachers available via posts or emails for assistance. Academic periods are spread over the course of the day, with break and lunch times interspersed. Coach Santucci, with support from Coach Greene and Nurse Huff, is working on an assortment of fitness and health activities and pre-recorded videos that can be pursued during these break and lunch periods, as well as before or after school.

Each day ends with an hour devoted to self-paced enrichment activities. Students are choosing at least two different activities or clubs to join, and the enrichment hour each day can be used to pursue these activities under the general supervision of faculty facilitators. Enrichment time also may be used for coursework, practice, or projects for art, band, or choir classes that students already are enrolled in. There will be separate Google Classroom pages for each activity or club that will serve as the main hub for communication, but the facilitators will also be available each day from 2:00-3:00 to interact more directly with group members when necessary.

While there is a significant amount of independent work time during the 9:00-3:00 school day, on occasion there may be some coursework that students will need to complete later in the day, particularly if they don’t use all the work time built into the daily schedule for homework. We would like students to be as available as possible throughout the six-hour school day, especially during the green periods on the schedule that involve personal interaction online. However, we recognize the challenges many families are facing in providing childcare and perhaps even internet access. Please contact your child’s advisor if you anticipate either routine or periodic issues in joining these sessions. There will also be a significant amount of flexibility in when coursework can be turned in over the course of the day or week.

Teachers are creating summary documents of the curriculum and work students will be covering over the remainder of the school year, and attaching them in their respective Google Classroom pages. I would strongly urge families to print out these brief documents in case of internet connectivity problems, illness, or any other disruptions. We will incorporate Zoom for video conferencing gradually, always having Google Classroom to fall back on if there are glitches. Students will link to Zoom conferences via links found in their separate academic Google Classroom pages. They will sign in with their school Google account information and thus won’t need to create their own separate Zoom accounts.

In order to access the daily fitness activities and options orchestrated by Coach Santucci, all Upper School students must join and consult the Upper School PE Google Classroom page. Students also must join the UPPER SCHOOL ALL STUDENTS Google Classroom page for access to our shared chapel programs and other special materials. Contact Mr. Hawes if you need either join code.

Rules and Expectations

While our general academic policies and expectations of student behavior remain, I’d like to point out a few specific rules and expectations in this new distance-learning environment:

  • Students must check their school Gmail frequently every day for information and updates.
  • Google Classroom, Zoom, and other online forums are to be used appropriately during the school day for academic purposes only.
  • Plagiarism or other forms of cheating, especially in this digital environment, will not be tolerated and may lead to the loss of a student’s school Chromebook or other consequences.
  • Students are expected to participate consistently and frequently in online discussions and activities. Families must communicate with advisors and teachers when this is not possible.
  • Students must not share text, images, audio, or video created by or depicting other students without explicit permission of teachers and parents. We highly recommend that personal electronic devices are put aside from 9:00 – 3:00 each school day so that students may focus on their work and minimize their overall screen time.

We’ll endeavor to make the system work as best we can, and make changes when necessary. Let’s also continue to look out for each other during these trying times. Our St. Michael’s community has shown incredible grace and benevolence throughout this crisis. We are here together for one another.

Best wishes,
Alex Hawes
Upper School Division Director