I am pleased to welcome you to the 2020-21 school year. I would like to extend a special welcome to all of the new families joining WNS this year and welcome back all of our returning families as well.
As the Director of Online Learning my goal is to provide our students with a rich learning experience that focuses on growth mindset, social-emotional learning, academic rigor and the ability to apply their learning experiences in order to become change agents and global thinkers.
My belief is that all students can learn no matter the environment, sometimes it just takes some creative thinking in the approach. And this is where WNS thrives. Our incredible faculty are experts in differentiated instruction and their ability to support diverse learning styles. We have increased our staff to include specialists in Online learning and have hired a number of new faculty to support Online instruction. In a collaborative effort, we want children to thrive in all ways possible. My hope is that all children will LOVE school as we create a new type of learning environment that is positive, safe, warm, caring, as well as a fun place to learn and grow.
Student success is attributed to the partnership and the relationships we build within our community. It truly does take a village and at WNS we greatly appreciate the support you provide for your children at home and at school to help them meet their learning goals.
Although this year looks different than any other year, we are dedicated to providing your child(ren) a memorable, interactive, engaging Online learning experience. In the WNS spirit, we pride ourselves on community. Now more than ever it is so important to support one another and that includes us at WNS supporting YOU, our families. On this site you will find answers to frequently asked questions, sample schedules, supply lists, and a list of fun and helpful activities you can do in order to begin getting ready for Online learning and ways to connect with others.
Thank you for your hard work and dedication, thank you for your positivity, and, thank you for being a part of WNS.
Director of Online Learning
Online Learning FAQs
Our goal is to have all of our ECC-8th grade students learning in-person on-campus when it is safe to do so during the 2020-21 school year. We are prepared to meet the State of California and LA County Health Department requirements for on-campus instruction and will take our guidance from both these agencies as to when it is safe to do so. Given the importance of flexibility, we are simultaneously developing three plans for this fall that includes all students on campus (Plan B), all students online in remote learning (Plan D), and a hybrid approach that has some grade levels on campus and some online in remote learning prioritizing getting our youngest students on campus first (Plan C). Plan B also provides the option for online remote learning for those families who have selected this option.
One of the key guidelines to safely operating on campus is cohorting students into small, stable learning groups and using school space in creative ways to support this. These strategies are complex and take time to reset. Therefore, there will be preset times this fall when online students can opt to join an on-campus cohort: Early November following conferences is one such time, and early January after Winter Break is another reentry point.
While it does also bring some logistical issues for us to resolve, this is possible to do for a good reason. We have the capacity to support students who have opted for on-campus learning but may need to be absent for more than a few days. If a family wants to make a full transition to online learning, we would ask for a week’s notice so we can prepare for a smooth transition.
All classes will be taught by faculty members employed by WNS.
This is dependent upon the grade level. Students will have between 4-5.5 hours of instruction with a minimum of 90 – 120 minutes of offered live instruction and 1:1 live support daily. Daily instruction will always begin together and end together in a live format. Students will have opportunities for all group instruction, small group discussion and assessment and developmentally appropriate independent activities that can be done offline. For more information about daily instruction please see our sample schedules.
“Synchronous” refers to live teaching which happens virtually, with the teacher and student interacting at the same time. “Asynchronous” may be pre-recorded or simulcast lessons, or other activities completed without live interaction.
Why isn’t the live instruction time during Online Learning the exact same as a typical in-school setting would be?
Online Learning is not simply a replication of a normal classroom. Activities have to be more carefully prepared and scheduled. When teachers are working with small groups of students, the teacher is working online but not all students will be online with the teacher in order to maximize time together and build relationships. So, if a teacher were to conduct four 15-minute group meetings, the total time online for the teacher is much greater than what an individual student may experience. Another consideration is the amount of time students and teachers spend in front of a screen. Our plan provides breaks from online work, and will encourage non-technology tasks where appropriate. Our updated Fall 2020 version of our on-line program does provide more “coaching support” for students by WNS staff during these times of independent work.
What sort of information will teachers be sending out each week to inform students and parents about the schedule of meetings and activities?
Weekly schedules will be sent out by Friday evening for the following week and will include live meetings, resources, links, and group & independent assignments. The information on the weekly schedules will allow parents and students to know what to expect for the week.
Students in K-4 will access these schedules through Google Classroom as a Google Document. Students in 5-8 will learn how to use their Google Calendars where all meeting links and assignments will be added to their calendars on the corresponding day.
Parents can see the schedules online by logging into Google Classroom or Calendar with their child’s credentials.
Are teachers required to have office hours at all since they are already providing each period with live interaction?
Yes, there will be office hours weekly. Parents will also have an opportunity to schedule one-on-one time with their child’s teacher if necessary.
While we are in online learning, will teachers be on email throughout the day so my child can get answers to questions immediately?
Rather than emailing teachers about questions, we encourage students to check in with their teachers and online coaches at the designated time throughout the day. Students will not be left to struggle. However, teachers will not be able to effectively teach if they are tethered to their email. Finding a rhythm and routine will help students become more confident and independent in their learning at age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate levels.
Students will be provided a list of choices for physical activity. Teachers in elementary grades may also integrate movement breaks throughout the day.
Teachers will utilize similar assessments to those used in previous years to identify a student’s reading and math skills. Teachers College, our partner for literacy instruction, has converted many of their assessments into an online learning-friendly format.
Understanding and comprehension of material will be assessed in a variety of ways, through teacher interaction, assignment completion, demonstration of knowledge, and formative assessments.
Students receive emails when teachers post assignments, receive feedback, or when changes have been made to assignments or due dates. You can control the way in which your child receives these notifications in the Settings on Google Classroom. Click here to watch the video.
You can see all class assignments and calendars in Google Classroom. To log in you will need your child’s username and password. If you would like to receive notifications, you can add your child’s gmail account to your own by adding the account in the settings of your own gmail. To learn more about this please click here.
This is a tricky one and will require some creative thinking around space. I will try and answer with best practices in mind but will also address some logistical issues.
- It is very important that technology is used with an “open door” policy in mind. Students should never hide what they are doing online from the adult(s) in the home. Swiping screens, closing laptops, or putting their hands in front of the screen is usually a good indication that you should take a closer look at what they are doing or at least ask them about it.
- If possible, it is best to set up a workstation that is consistent and ergonomically correct in a public space in your home. When students have a specific place to work, sit in an ergonomically correct chair with the screen, keyboard and mouse positioned properly, they are more efficient in their work and better at staying on task. Students who try and work from their beds tend to multitask more and even get more sleepy.
NOTE: When planning your day (making lunch, taking a work call, playing with a younger sibling) you may want to take the daily schedule of your child’s class in mind. If possible, schedule the work call when the child is not in a live session, or make lunch before or after the session is scheduled. We understand this is not always feasible but whenever it can be, it helps minimize distractions.
And if the workspace is in a public space, how do we handle multiple children all zooming at the same time?
This is even trickier when it is multiple students working simultaneously. Headphone use and quieter voices will need to prevail. If children need to be in the same room they will need to be comfortable using headphones WITH a microphone. That way they will not need to speak at a louder volume. If this is impossible, then you may decide for live lessons students sit in different rooms (even if not ergonomically correct) and then move to the desk for independent work.
Just like on campus, we ask that you follow a specific protocol;
- Encourage your child to ask for help from his/her teacher.
- If you need more…Parents can email the teacher with concerns and/or set up a 1:1 time with the teacher during the weekly designated times.
- If you need more…Please reach out to Kaitlin Rodriguez, Dean of Middle School, @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you still need more…Kaitlin can help direct you to a Senior Administrator.
Our teachers are undergoing training in building online classroom communities, identifying and addressing the social and emotional needs of their students, and creating connections. Teachers have generated a priority list of activities that build social-emotional connections and have already begun to devise creative ways to bring students and their families together in a variety of ways online.
Yes, if and when it is safe to do so. Leading up to the opening of school there will be opportunities for small groups to come on to campus in an outdoor setting to meet teachers and engage in physically distant yet socially connecting activities.
Will my child who is learning online be able to mix with other on-campus cohorts for social interaction?
We are working hard to make sure every child has someone they feel connected to however the online cohort will be its own separate class that will not mix (in person) with other cohorts. On-campus cohorts will not be mixing with one another either.
We recognize that this is a trying time for all students and our youngest learners may find it especially difficult. Our kindergarten teachers are developing plans to welcome and transition all of our kindergarten children into “school,” whether it is on-campus or online. Our teachers also work closely with their school counselor to identify and support students who may need extra social and emotional help or guidance.
Yes, and we are looking at a myriad of ways to do this. Leading up to the opening of school there will be opportunities for small groups to come on to campus to meet teachers and engage in physically distant yet socially connecting activities.
We prefer the Headphones for Kids Adults with Microphone Volume Control with Cloth Bag and Removable Audio Cable over earbuds and bluetooth airpods. They are consistent and comfortable. Earbuds do not always fit in smaller ears properly making it hard for them to stay in and for children to hear. Bluetooth devices can cut in and out and the speech quality can be distorted. For best results, please check out the headphones in the link above.
Re-Opening Family Activities
With big change comes great opportunities! Online learning is a big change AND also a great opportunity for students to explore their best selves are learners. To help prepare for this opportunity we have created a handful of fun, engaging and helpful activities to get you in the right mindset and offer you a few tips and tricks to get comfortable with the new routine and platforms. We also have a handful of helpful Techtorials to get you ready for Online Learning. Each activity takes between 10-30 minutes. These activities are totally optional! Take some time to look through the list, choose a few activities and check out the tutorials. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to Lori Getz @ email@example.com.
They don’t need to be done in order. You may pick and choose activities that work for you and skip others. Or try them all! We hope you find these resources helpful. They are meant to be a mix of practical support, big picture ideas, and some reflective (and joyful) activities.
While this term is most often associated with mindfulness and meditation, the practice itself is extremely helpful in all we do. From the way we wake up in the morning, to applying the practice to your work, to building relationships. You can read more about Setting Intentions Here.
This is an activity you can do daily. By setting aside 10 minutes a day to set your intentions you will find you become more productive, efficient, less stressed and happy. Give it a try!
We will be using Google Classroom this year! This platform will allow teachers to easily communicate with families, post resources, collect assignments and send announcements to students and parents. ECC families will be using Google Sites with a registered email address (the teachers will collect this information the first week of school) and K-8 parents will be able to see your child’s online Classroom through your student’s account.
What if you could create your own virtual classroom? What would it look like? Draw yourself as a bitmoji (animated version of yourself) and what would you add to your classroom? How would you set up your classroom? What would be there? Write in what each picture would link to (a great book you read this summer, a place you visited either in person or online, your favorite show or activity).
If you really want to step it up a notch, try using Google Slides and Emoji Me to create your own virtual classroom. You will need to download an app for this and be able to email the images to yourself, so make sure you ask a parent first for permission!
Write a short letter to yourself about how you are feeling about the upcoming school year. Are you excited or maybe nervous? What is contributing to your feelings about teaching? What are you most looking forward to? What do you feel you might miss? You don’t need to share it with anyone but keep it somewhere you can revisit at a later date. If writing a letter is too much, try drawing a picture to represent how you are feeling.
Equanimity is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. Wikipedia
Basically, you are just OK with everything going on around you. Sometimes, when we are in a difficult time it is hard to stop thoughts that are trying to distract us. But equanimity teaches us that it’s OK to take a moment for yourself and if those thoughts enter, let them be. Recognize that they are there by simply saying to yourself “thinking” and allow the thought to move to the background. Give it a try. In this 1 minute breathing exercise, follow your breath with intention, try and stay with it. And WHEN a thought pops into your mind, label it “thinking” and continue your breathing. This simple exercise will begin to strengthen the equanimity muscle and allow you to apply it to lots of situations where concentration may be difficult. The more you practice, the easier this becomes until the action is almost automatic and productivity and calmness prevail.
Create a playlist (iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, etc.) of music or meditation that can be used to get you into the right headspace to be productive.
Music has been shown to line up the synapses in your brain making it easier to concentrate and move information from the Pre-frontal cortex (the doing part of the brain) to the hippocampus (the long-term memory and learning part of the brain). BUT BE AWARE… it cannot be music you sing along to. That then becomes multitasking and inefficient for learning. So try some classical or jazz music. Believe it or not, video game music is terrific for concentration!
Have you ever wanted to plan your own activity on Zoom? Something your whole class could do to get to know one another. Create a game or activity (like a scavenger hunt or word game and film yourself talking about it or use a screen recording app to show us how you might do this. Who knows, your teacher may even use your idea in class!
Some tips on making videos:
1) Find your light: Both metaphorically and actually. If you love what you are talking about, it will shine through on the video. AND, it is just as important that the lighting where you are filming doesn’t cast shadows or make it difficult for your audience to see you. So position a light in front of you and not behind you to maximize this opportunity.
2) Your full face should be in any shot. Don’t cut off the top of your head or the bottom of your chin.
3) Do some prep work. Practice before you film. It doesn’t need to be fully scripted but a 2-minute video shouldn’t take 12 takes! We don’t want you spending more than 20 minutes on the creation.
George Schultz, former Secretary of State under the Reagan Administration, used to spend 1 hour a day for thinking. He would tell his assistant to hold all calls (unless it was his wife) and created a distraction free zone for thinking. He touted this practice as the best approach for solving big problems!
For today’s activity it’s time to start thinking about how you can be the best version of yourself this year. Find a space where you are not receiving input (a thinking space). No music, no TV in the background, a distraction free zone for 10 minutes (so you don’t fall asleep). People who do this every day find they are calmer, more productive and can solve problems more easily. You may see this a being bored, but we see it as becoming a “Thinker!”