This morning Ann Arbor Public Schools Published 3 new videos providing more information at different age levels. The videos are attached here and I have summarized each
- Fall 2020 Overview
- High School Options
- Middle School Options
- Elementary School Options
- Overview Thoughts
Fall 2020 Overview
Just as a reminder, check out our article on Fall 2020 AAPS Plans for a summary of what has already been announced:
Ann Arbor Public Schools is starting fully virtual for Fall 2020. Parents may choose from 3 learning options:
- A2 Classroom Connect – Students will be assigned to a classroom and teacher in their enrolled school. The year will start fully virtual and transition to a hybrid model and possibly full in person as local conditions allow. Virtual learning will be synchronous with asynchronous learning time.
- A2 Student Link – Students will be assigned to a class and teacher at their enrolled school. Learning will remain fully virtual all year. Families are asked to commit to stay virtual for at last Fall 2020. Virtual learning will be synchronous with asynchronous learning time.
- A2 Virtual+ – Students enrolled in A2 Virtual+ will complete classwork on their own pace. There will be virtual checkins with an AAPS teacher, but the work will be more independent.
High School Options
The most important new information in today’s video is that all high schools will operate on semesters with the same block learning schedule for 2020-2021. They also shared a revised block schedule day, plans for the arts, and mentioned extra-curricular activities. Of note, they still are talking about sports like fall sports will happen on schedule.
The video was hosted by Andrew Cluley and included Superintendent Swift, Director of High School Education Mr De Angelis, Huron Principal Janet Schwamb, and Skyline Principal Cory McElmeel.
Overview of Options
We are beginning with a full virtual approach. Parents are asked to pick from A2 Student Link and A2 Classroom Connect both feature AAPS Curricula, Teachers, entire high school program. The distinction is in A2 Student Link for those who plan to remain virtual. Classroom Connect is for those plan to return. A2 Virtual has been available for many years and is an individual self-paced learning environment. It is being expanded for 2020-2021.
Mr McElmeel: Families have choices so you feel comfortable. A2 Student Link is still part of your local school, but comfortable staying home. A2 Classroom Connect who want to return when safe – hopefully sometime this fall.
A2 Virtual is self-paced. Student Link & Classroom Connect will follow typical classroom pace. Same types of class activities – lecture, discussion, group work just delivered virtually.
Ms Schwamb: A2 Student Link is very similar Classroom Connect, but no option to return to class. A2 Virtual+ teacher interaction is more limited. It is a distinct program.
What will the day look like?
Mr DeAngelis: Our focus is consistency across all of our schools to deliver the best instruction and the best professional development to staff. There is a common daily schedule so they are moving all 5 schools to a semester schedule and schedule through the day.
Mr McElmeel: A Days on Monday and Thursday, B Days on Tuesday/Friday. Students will have a 6 block schedule of 3 blocks of 105 minute blocks on each set of days and a 40 minute advisory block daily. 60 minute block that will meet on both A&B days.
Ms Schwamb: Wednesday will be asynchronous – an independent learning day with assigned coursework and no advisory. Advisory period is social/emotional learning, connections of students and staff. There will be 5 core blocks and 1 block for elective choice. They will use choices entered into Power School for that elective.
What will Arts Look Like this Fall?
Swift We are so proud of opportunities we offer in a broad range of areas. We will still be offering a robust offering of programs.
We are working with special software so music and drama can perform together.
McElmeel: The other ways we connect students remains a top priority. We will uphold our whole child experience and the whole experience of high school the best way that we can.
Schwamb: We are working to make it the best experience including athletics and extra curricular.
Middle School Options
A Middle School specific schedule was shown which shows the switch to block learning. They will still be offering Sixth Grade Exploratory and a wide array of electives for middle school.
The video was hosted by Andrew Cluley and included Superintendent Swift, Director of Middle Level Education Jazz Parks, and Tappan Middle School Principal Roberta Heyward.
Overview of Options
We are beginning with a full virtual approach. Parents are asked to pick from A2 Student Link and A2 Classroom Connect both feature AAPS Curricula, Teachers, and wide class offerings. The distinction is in A2 Student Link for those who plan to remain virtual. A2 Classroom Connect is for those plan to return as soon as safe.. A2 Virtual has been available for several years and is an independent, self-paced learning environment. They will meet live with their AAPS teacher about once a week.
Principal Heyward, What Guidance Would You Give Families to Select an Option?
Do you want a traditional setting? Then look to Classroom Connect or A2 Student Link. If you want a more independent experience, look to A2 Virtual+
What will a School Day Look Like?
Heyward: Each day will start with an advisory period to establish a connection with students, social-emotional learning during this time. Then 3 blocks a day – two academic blocks and one elective block each day. The day will end with a checkout period for students to ask questions, connect with teachers again for more social-emotional learning, etc..
Parks: We moved to block schedule to reduce the number of transitions in a day and to allow time for both synchronous and asynchronous activities in a class each day.
Middle School is For Exploring, Will That Still be Offered?
Parks: Sixth Grade Exploratory will still be offered for students to give them a taste of multiple electives – languages, band, choir, orchestra, visual arts, PE. In 7th and 8th grade there will still be a chance for electives based as much as possible on their selections made in the course request process. Possibly even offering additional electives in a block so students can have more elective opportunities.
Elementary School Options
The video was hosted by Andrew Cluley and included Superintendent Swift, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Support Services Dawn Linden, and Eberwhite Elementary School Principal Bill Harris.
Overview of Options
We are beginning with a full virtual approach. Parents are asked to pick from A2 Student Link and A2 Classroom Connect both feature AAPS Curricula and Teachers in an elementary appropriate school day. They are both connected right to the enrolled school building. The distinction is in A2 Student Link for those who plan to remain virtual for the full school year. A2 Classroom Connect is for those plan to return as soon as safe or at some point in the 2020-2021 school year.
A2 Virtual is an independent, self-paced learning environment. Some parents preferred the asynchronous format of the spring.
Linden: A2 Student Link & Classroom Connect have the same robust and rigorous full curriculum. They will interact online in similar ways to how they interacted in the classroom. But, many parents worry about what the experience will be like in online. Methods using to engage in online learning are research based and fun. There was big success with this over the summer and they received positive feedback.
Harris: A2 Student Link and A2 Classroom Connect are still connected to the school and stay part of the school community.
What is the Day Going to Look Like?
The A2 Virtual day can be set at a parent’s discretion since it is self-paced and independent.
Harris: We are looking at what worked well this spring – starting the day with a morning meeting and allowing for flexibility – while still meeting high academic standards. After feedback, the bulk of academic work will be in the start of the day. They will start with a morning meeting and move into academic portions. The afternoons will start with an academic block, then move to specials allowing for some flexibility.
How Long Will Students Be Stuck in Front of Screens?
Harris: That is a very valid concern. We will be balancing age appropriateness, so there will be some variability between Young 5s to 5th grade. In general, there will be mini-lessons balanced with asynchronous or independent activities away from the computer or possibly in a small group with other students or support staff.
Linden: The balance between being logged on and logged off is important. This includes getting a brain break like physical activity or handling family needs.
Swfit: This elementary school day will feature supports for students with special needs document in IEP, 504, ESL, etc. they will be handled right during hte day with breakout rooms just like in the classroom.
Linden: There are spaces throughout the day where students will receive supports both during core instruction and in small groups.
Summer Was Better Than Spring. Which will Fall Look Like?
Linden: We have been working hard since March to be prepared for any possibility this fall. Ensure this fall is robust, rigorous, engaging and that students receive a full AAPS curricular experience. Move to 1:1 devices is an important piece and so is having a consistent platform to engage with all classes (Schoology). They’ve utilized these this summer to deliver an engaging experience.
Lessons are being designed to be engaging in a virtual setting, and engagement between students and each other, not just the teacher. This summer they used polls, photos, videos, and so much to share their learning.
Principal Harris, What Advice on Which Option
They would like all students in A2 Classroom Connect. We long for the day we are all back together. But we recognize families have a variety of needs.
A2 Virtual is good for independent learners and would be more like a homeschool experience where AAPS is providing the curriculum and some feedback.
A2 student Link provides predictability and consistent. Would allow them to travel, meet work schedules, etc.
Linden: I encourage families to pick Classroom Connect. It’s the closet to a school setting. A2 Student Link provides a full online community through their local school. We anticipate many families picking Classroom Connect who will come back at some point – when the school first reopens or at their own pace.
curriculum is fully loaded at the beginning of the year. It is not synchronous, and no live daily interaction with a classroom teacher. But they are assigned an AAPS teacher who checks-in, is a mentor, and provides feedback on submitted lessons and assessments. It would require a student who is independent enough to self-manage the learning process or have enough at home adult support to provide that support.
After listening to all 3 presentations, I noticed some differences in how they are looking at families selecting an option. At middle and high school the wording was “selection for Fall semester of 2020”. For elementary it was for the school year to provide a consistent learning environment. For elementary students who spend the entire day with one teacher, switching options would be much more disruptive than at middle or high school where they may be changing teachers part way through the year anyway.