Clarifying Expectations for Middle School Instruction9/25/2020
Dear PPS Middle School Families,
We apologize for the confusion many students and families are feeling with regard to middle school schedules and expectations for distance learning instruction. We have worked with educators and administrators throughout this week to come to a more clear understanding related to middle school learning experience, and want to make sure you know what to expect as well.
The middle school schedule is designed to give students opportunities for teacher and peer connection throughout the week and to make sure they are supported and challenged by meaningful work that matches grade-level standards.
- Monday to Thursday: Students work directly with teachers online from 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
- Friday: Students meet with all of their classes live in whole or small groups; or engage in asynchronous learning; or meet with teachers during office hours.
Each type of learning is outlined below.
- Teachers are expected to provide whole-group instruction Monday/Tuesday, and may choose to also provide whole-group instruction Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, depending on students’ needs.
- We know that middle school students need opportunities to connect with other students, and small groups provide this.
- Small groups provide an opportunity for teachers to get to know students better.
- Small groups are designed to: 1) reinforce learning, 2) provide additional instruction for students who need re-teaching or extensions. Groups will vary based on student need.
- If teachers are leading small-group instruction during a period, they are expected to provide applied learning work for students who are not part of that small group or groups.
- Students will have the opportunity for peer-to-peer connection during small-group instruction.
Whether teachers use small-group instruction, whole-group instruction, or office hours during the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday periods, they are expected to cover all priority standards for their subject that have been identified by the district.
Asynchronous Learning Occurring During Scheduled Class Periods
- Asynchronous learning should be aligned to the learning outcomes from teachers’ live lessons.
- During asynchronous learning periods (designated Periods 1-6 or 1-7), teachers are available for electronic communication with students.
- If a teacher is leading small-group instruction during a scheduled class period, they are expected to provide standards-aligned asynchronous work for students who are not expected to participate in small groups.
- Teachers should offer at least 30 minutes of office hours for students per week.
- Teachers have flexibility on which day to schedule office hours.
Advisory/Small Group Instruction Block (1 to 1:45 p.m.)
- Schools with advisory use this period for advisory. Schools without advisory offer instructional intervention and extensions.
- Teachers work with students directly or are present synchronously for student contact during this time.
Applied Learning (afternoon)
- Students are expected to be engaged in meaningful, standards-based work assigned during their synchronous periods (Periods 1-6 or 1-7).
- To make sure teachers can focus on giving feedback to students and engaging in professional collaboration, they are not expected to be able to respond to students synchronously during this time.
- Students will never be assigned to participate in unsupervised groups as part of applied learning.
K-8 Specials Note
- Within K-8 schools, PE, Art, Health, Library and Tech teachers are typically serving all grades. If your student’s teacher is scheduled to teach younger students during the designated middle school applied learning periods, they will not be able to be present to respond to students/families during these learning periods.
As always, thank you for your patience and flexibility as we work with our school leaders and educators to continually improve our comprehensive distance learning offering for all students in all grades.