- North Star Elementary School
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September 2020Posted by STEPHEN RUSHING on 8/25/2020
Wednesday, September 30
Certificated and Classified Absences
2 days or less
Inform Stephen/Saralise/Hartley by email that you will be out.
If pre-planned: Reschedule with parents or work more on one day and less on another as flex time. If you can't do either of those options, then you can check with your partners to divide the students and they can get paid $140 per day (divided amongst those taking the students.). No leave type has to be submitted in AESOP when you have one of these arrangements set up in advance.
If not pre-planned: Divide the students across classes like our normal school protocol. ($140 per day divided amongst those taking the students.) If that is not feasible, the teacher who is absent needs to implement their emergency lesson plans on Canvas or Seesaw and let the parents know. (If you can't communicate with parents yourself, your team and the office can help get a message out to parents.) Leave must be submitted in AESOP for unexpected absences.
3 or more days
Request a substitute through AESOP and inform Stephen/Saralise/Hartley by email that you will be out. Provide substitute access to your plans and Zoom links.
Note: If a substitute cannot be secured, the class may be divided across classes like our normal school protocol. ($140 per day divided amongst those taking the students.) This decision will be made based the circumstances of the absence.
If out for 6 consecutive days, a doctor's note is required.
Non-classroom-based BEA staff should Stephen/Saralise/Hartley by email that you will be out and enter leave type in AESOP.
Classified Staff are to follow their normal leave options and steps. Again, inform Stephen/Saralise/Hartley by email that you will be out.
Thursday, September 24
Friday PD #2
Tomorrow's agenda is set to maximize time for your teams to work together. It is clear that teaching in this enviroment takes a lot of emotional and physical time to get right. Knowing this, I have, intentionally, not put a lot of "training" on the schedule. Given the feedback on the agenda topics this is what will happen.
Most of the feedback was around technology related items. I met with two Tech TOSAs to see what they can do for us in answering your questions about Synergy, Clever, and gradebooks. TOSAs are not available to present at just one school. They will be working, however, in an open-door format so that staff can join in and ask whatever questions they have.
I learned that they will move people into a breakout room if there is a common question among people joining the tech support session. I am suggesting that those you join the session at immediately at 8:30 and they will get you situated to answer questions about gradebook, Synergy, etc. You will block out 8:30 - 9:30 for staff to join that PD opportunity.
In addition to the live session with TOSAs, you can find help about Synergy on Synergy itself. Look at the top of the screen and click on the '?". It will take you to a help menu where you can see some explanations.
You can also go to the Canvas course called Synergy Training Course and there you will find videos on the Gradebook. You have to use the link above to enroll in the course.
We will meet as a staff between 8:00 and 8:30. Then I will release you go to Tech TOSA time or work as a team or do individual planning from 8:30-9:30. Everyone should be back at 9:30 to continue with the PD portion of the day.
I asked Hartley to mark all Wednesdays as Staff meetings. We will go with that for now until new info comes up and changes need/can/should be made. The Zoom link will be included with the calendar event.
Note: We will continue to use one primary method for calendaring. Everyone should be subscribed to the North Star Elementary calendar. (If you aren't and need help, let me know.) There we will place North Star events. That is where you should look for dates, times, and links. We will not do "invites" to calendar events as I don't want to set up an expectation that every school event requires an invite. Why? Because there is always a possibility of having forgotten to invite someone on any particular event. By placing events on the building calendar that everyone is subscribed to, the events are by default available to everyone...no invites needed. Also, by having only one main source, we don't get in trouble with having info in more than one place with different info.
I have sent in a question to Teaching and Learning/Assessment departments to ask about guidance for grading students in the current climate. I haven't gotten a response yet.
Monday, September 21
I am going to send out a survey later today. I need input from Certificated staff on topics that have been suggested for Friday's PD day. Thanks for those of you who added topics. Now I need to know how many people want to hear about those topics and if we do present on them, what specifically you want to know. For example, Clever was noted on the suggestions list. We need to know how many people need training on Clever and what it is that they need help with.
A little humor for everyone as we work through this digital learning landscape.
Thursday, September 17
Along with the PD Agendas being updated, I have also updated the Staff Meeting Agenda. Please let me know if there is anything else that you would like on next Wednesday's Staff Meeting.
Wednesday, September 16
September 25 PD Day #2
Please see the agenda that has been posted under the Agendas tab. You will notice that only the second half of the day has been listed. The morning half is something that we need your feedback on. What do you want the first half of the day to look like? What professional development do you need to help you be successful in your current reality? I have added spaces at the bottom of the agenda for you to add topic ideas. Please read ideas already posted by others before entering a topic so that we don't have duplicates.
Intervention Team Procedures
If you want to have a student put on the Intervention Team agenda, please follow the procedures that have now been updated and posted under the Quick Links tab.
Tuesday, September 15
Open Visit Times with Stephen & Saralise
If you have questions or concerns to process, we will be available to you 2:00 - 2:30 every day the rest of this week. Feel free to drop in at your convenience. The Zoom link is on the calendar invite.
Message of Encouragement and Appreciation
I heard that there were a lot of conversations happening this weekend about how hard this work of distance learning has been. First, I want to acknowledge that fact - this is challenging work. To bring the physical classroom into a space the size of a laptop screen where you can only see a portion of the students at any one time is, for certain, a new and complex experience. To complicate matters further, we were scheduled to jump out of the airplane before our parachutes were ready (Synergy issues, no class rosters, Canvas and Seesaw with no kids populated, In-Sync not ready, PD that took place only days before school started, etc, etc.). It has been a rough start and I want to thank everyone for putting in a truly solid effort to get your virtual classrooms up and running.
As I stated before we even started school, I want you to pace yourself and take the time necessary to get to know your students and build routines. While I said to not even worry about content until the following Tuesday, that didn't mean that every single element of the schedule had to be mastered and implemented immediately. Just like in your regular classroom, you have to gauge what you can realistically accomplish inside of a given circumstance. In this case, you likely learned quickly that it was taking more time to train students on logging in, accessing apps, finding assignments and learning how to turn them in. This is the normal process of change and YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB AT DELIVERING!!
I have always believed that you want great things to happen for students and I want great things to happen for you. Please know that you have permission to measure your steps and to implement the schedule and all that it entails in a way that is manageable for you and responsive to your students. The conversations that took place this weekend may have brought to your attention a "phased" approach that one principal shared with his staff. The thought and intent the principal put into helping his staff was commendable. I, however, am not going to take the approach of outlining or breaking down your imporant and complex work into a map like that. Why? Because I believe you can be good decision makers and take the steps in the order and at the pace that makes sense and can work for you.
What have I always said to you? That you are cricial decision makers in the classroom and I trust you to do the right thing at the right time. You are not clones of one another and I won't respond to concerns as if you are. Do what you individually need to do to make sense of this work, ask for help or clarification when you need it, and push forward when you feel you have one thing locked in and are ready to take the next step. Everyone is not in the exact same place so you will need to decide where you need relief and make adjustments to better manage it all. Don't hesitate to talk to an administrator to help you on your journey. We are here to assist you too. As long as you are consciously trying to work towards doing the schedule and its intent, then you are on the right path. As the speaker said this summer, "Progress over perfection!"
Lastly, a word of specific advice. While it is indeed essential to pay close attention to the individual needs of students, it is not uncommon to fall into the trap that unless a broadway show is pulled off each day, students will be bored, disengaged, etc. Having high standards or expectations with limited routines can help you and your students. One thing that can help you and your students is to find patterns of instruction that can be done over and over so that you are not working so hard AND students can easily follow your directions and follow through on participation or assignments. Too many routines, assignment types, links to click on, methods for turning in assignments, can bog you and your students down. Like most learning, when there are too many things to focus on, everyone involved gets confused. Keep it simple and only move to the next level of complexity when you see that you and your students are ready for the next level of intensity and challenge.
Have a great day and rest of the week. We won't have a whole group staff meeting until next Wednesday but in the meantime, I will publish some times on the blog for you to drop in and visit with us about this topic or any other topic that is on your mind. I will put the open meeting times on the blog by noon today.
Friday, September 11
We have cloth masks for all staff. Just swing by and let Stephanie or Hartley know what you need and we will give it to you. The limit is 3 masks per person.
Thursday, September 10
Skyward Version Change
With the new daily check in for COVID symptoms, I wondered why I wasn't seeing the prompt for the Wellness Screening on my dashboard. Turns out the link I had bookmarked as a favorite is to the old version of Skyward access. The one that will take you to the correct Skyward dashboard can be found in the Window Pane of MyBethel under the title Skyward Production (No Student Side). I have made that a favorite on MyBethel so I can get to it quickly.
The Technology Department is aware of and working on the following issues: Specialists class rosters, Apple Apps and Self-Service downloading slowness, Group email lists for schools, ParentVue navigation issues, Do Not Reply settings, Messaging guidance for Gmail and Synergy, Reactiving students that were made Inactive, IEP access for SPED staff, Canvas/Synergy corrections, and Synergy Gradebook.
Attendance Time Frames
Attendance is managed by Heather after you have sent it in. Most AM attendance is done the day of and then the PM is finished up the next day. While 3:30 is the absolute latest time to get attendance in for the previous day, please make every effort to turn in your previous day's attendance by 11:15 each day. Why? Because that gives Heather time to be making corrections and only doing follow ups with staff that haven't turned in attendance near the cut-off point. We want to work with you so please let me know if you have a circumstance that makes this too difficult to achieve. This is just an initial idea to get some timelines together to help all involved with attendance.
Wednesday, September 9
An email was sent to staff stating that they need to go onto Skyward and answer two questions. I have checked with HR and they say this is legitmate. They are asking staff to respond to whether they have symptoms of or have been exposed to COVID.
Count day is here and we really need to know the most accurate info possible. I sent emails with class lists to each grade level. (Sorry for the mix up 3rd and 4th Grade.) Please get your attendance to Stephanie ASAP. This new system is creating all kinds of work challenges so the sooner we have the info, the more time Stephanie has to figure out any issues. Thanks a million.
Math In-Sync Site
It has come to my attention that there are some surprises with how the In-Sync site is working. It is not exactly what we thought we were getting. That information has been passed along to Teaching and Learning and they are looking into it for us.
They suggest for the time being, to post assignments through Canvas. You can link the video in Canvas or some teachers are screen recording the videos so they can embed them into Canvas.
Tuesday, September 8
You may have heard about two teens drowning in Spanaway Lake this weekend. We are sad to report that two of the siblings had just enrolled to go to school at North Star. Stephanie Lemon and Susan Herman have the Musa children assigned to their classrooms. There is a Kindergartener that was not enrolled yet because we are waiting on a required document to complete enrollment. Mary has contacted the family and let them know that we are so sorry to hear about this sad and unfortunate incident. The mother thanked us and said that she will reach out should the family need any help.
There will be no staff or PLC meetings this week. I want everyone to be able to focus on getting their routines off the ground. I will send out a schedule by the end of this week to begin next week.
I asked Jana to test out if markking Friday's attendance on Tuesday would work and there appeared to be an error. It is likely because the system only allows for going back to the previous day. Since Friday is three days ago, I imagine that is why it didn't work. Please send your changes to Heather Stewart.
I may have explained something incorrectly. Looking at the attendance document, it appears that we mark AM attendance based on Live Zoom attendance. If they can't attend the Zoom and have worked out a plan with you for completing work that is related to the Live Zoom, then they are marked present. I misunderstood and thought that any activity by the student before lunch would be considered participating. Of course if a student had technical difficulties during the Zoom but then was able to join before noon with something like small groups or specialist, then please do mark them present. The point is to hold students accountable in some way as it relates to the Live Zoom SEL/Math/ELA sessions.
Embedding a Video in Canvas
I researched if there is a way to embed your Zoom Recordings right on the page so that links were not available. The goal was to find a way to share the video but prevent users from sharing the link outside of Canvas. Unfortunately, both Zoom and Canvas have set up their software in ways that make this impossible unless you know how to program computers. I did find out how to place the video on the page though.
In Zoom there is an option to record to your computer instead of to the Zoom Cloud. Doing this places the recorded video on your computer. Then, in Canvas when you are in the editor mode and click on the icon to insert media, a drop down asks if you want to upload a file. This opens a window where you can drag the video. Click Submit. Then click Save. You now have a video that is ready to play right on your Canvas page.
Supplies & Materials Pick Ups
Just a reminder to let the office know when your team is doing a pick up of Supplies & Materials. When parents call the office we want to have a quick, and most importantly, accurate answer. Thanks.
Friday, September 4
Attendance - Updated
We mark attendance for AM and PM. Since we have until the next day to mark attendance, PM attendance may need you to wait until the next day to see if a student engaged in an assignment (since a student could plausibly start an assignment at night rather than during the school day). It's ok to wait.
At the moment it appears that when you try to enter information on attendance the next day, the system won't let you. For the time being you will need to email any changes to Heather Stewart, the school Healthroom/Attendance Clerk.
Zoom and Privacy
I checked on the question of can we record and post Zoom sessions with students being shown in the video. The answer is that we post those videos on secure sites (Canvas/Seesaw) and therefore have met our obligation to not post things to the public. Also, parents have been informed that we record sessions. If they state they don't want their child shown then have the student participate with their camera off. Small group sessions do not have to be recorded.
Bryan was getting help from a TOSA and they fixed the issue of not being able to go back and make a change to the previous day's attendance. Apparently they just needed to click one of the settings to allow that. It's working now. Go ahead and try to make a change to something you did yesterday.
Wednesday, September 2
Where to find files
You have been getting lots of emails with information and file attachments. Remember that there is a folder on Google Drive called Bethel School District Plan. I will put attachments in there as we get them so that you don't have to sift through emails to find something. Please help me by letting me know what files you think need to be there as it relates specifically to distance learning. I will use the regular tabs on our blog to house information like Assessments, Agendas, Schedules ,etc. (that will take place over the next few days).
We heard that attendance can be marked the next day for the current day. By when on the next day does the attendance need to be marked? Asnwer: 3:30 PM
Nancy shared a clever idea for how to verify if a student has watched a video when they can't attend live. The idea is to email them and have them reply with a particular sentence that was embedded in the video. You can do variations of this like ask how many stars showed up during the video and they have to count them. Of course the more classic way is to ask one or two comprehension questions. Whatever works for you.
Tuesday, September 1
North Star Group List
When sending emails to North Star Staff, please add in Bryan Hamblin, Carrera Pattee, Amie Dillon, Karissa Burt, Darryl D'Loach, Treena Christofoletti, Janice Sparley, and Natalie Lamm. We are working on getting them on the list
Directions for creating Groups in Gmail
Here are directions for creating groups. Note: The directions say under Labels you will find Create Label. If you don't see it right away scroll down and you fill find it.
Kindergarten Team Materials Distribution Date
Per our conversation at Waiver Day, you can work out your own plan for distributing materials and supplies. The main thing is to try as hard as you can to not have parents making multiple trips. Kindergarten has planned to pass out materials on September 8 from 4-6 PM. If you have the sibling of a K student, feel free to communicate with the teachers in that team.
SeeSaw and Clever
Please check your email for a message from Diane Suarez. She is providing an update on questions about Seesaw.
Science and Social Studies
In speaking with the Director of T&L, integrating science and social studies is the way we have to approach things. We can't add more time specifically for science. The rationale is that with such limited time to teach students, we need to make ELA the priority.
Mandatory Employee Training Videos
Please view all the videos on your own this year. We will do follow ups on the medical items should students come back to school.
Refresh This Page
Whenever you have the blog up on your browser and then want to look at it later. Remember to refresh the page otherwise you won't see any changes that I have made.
Technology Issues Update
District office staff are aware of the numerous problems that have cropped up with technology. Here is what was sent to prinicipals as far as possible temporary solutions.
There are a lot of moving pieces right now getting tech issues resolved and ensuring that all teachers have access to the tech resources. We know that not all applications will be running by the first day of school. As of now, here is where we are with some specific applications, along with some possible short-term solutions for teachers.
Issue: Not all teachers have access to their class rosters which should be uploaded to Canvas. Also, without Synergy fully functioning they do not have access to parent emails.
Possible short-term solution: Teachers can email and send videos to parents with the weekly schedule only when the class lists are finalized and Synergy is fully functioning. Links for assignments or other documents may be embedded into a schedule using a google doc or google slides.
Eureka in Sync
Issue: Technology is working with Great Minds on activation.
Possible short-term solution: Create and use pre-recorded lesson videos for the concept development and other components of a lesson you’re not teaching in a live zoom with your class. Post the pre-recorded videos onto Canvas/Seesaw as assignments for students to complete. Assign must do problems and the exit tickets through Seesaw/Canvas as assignments for students to complete and submit. Links to PDFs are located in Connections Documents.
Realize for ReadyGEN
Issue: Synergy is not linked to EasyBridge. We have no new or updated teacher accounts, no classes uploaded which means students do not have access to texts.
Possible short-term solution: Use links for the text PDFs that are linked in the Unit 1 Connections Document. PDF links or documents can be emailed, shared through a google document, or linked in Canvas/Seesaw (as available) for students to be able to access the text they need. Teachers can use Canvas Studio to screen record themselves reading the text and share with students. New teachers may use the demo site and/or the Connections Documents to access materials for their planning needs.
Access to Connections Documents is through Elementary Resources Course in Canvas
Self enroll code: https://bethelsd.instructure.
Access to demo account:
Use the sign in: firstname.lastname@example.org
Go to Browse (green circle) Choose the Grade you need (make sure its the common core one!) This will give you access to all the materials.
TCI-Bring Science Alive
Issue: Synergy is not linked to TCI so students don’t have access to their TCI account yet. Teachers can still access their TCI account for planning purposes.
Possible short-term solution: Download the Science Journal PDFs from TCI or use the links for the Science Journal PDFs or Super Simple Science PDFs that are in the Elementary Resources Canvas in the science section and share with students. PDFs can be emailed, shared through a google document, or linked in Canvas/Seesaw as available for students to be able to access the text they need. Teachers can use Canvas Studio to screen record Super Simple Science or theTCI lesson slides to share with students.
Friday, August 28
Supplies and Materials Update
Please Guidance has now been given regarding sending materials and supplies home with students.
1. Supply list items will not be sent to all students. However, as you learn that students do need supplies, you are permitted to offer only that which students need.
2. Items that are unique to the curriculum for which students will not likely have and that need to be "the same" for all students in your class can be sent home. Examples: Flash cards, math whiteboards, ten frames, etc.
3. Curriculum materials are not considered supplies. You are permitted to send home Readers/Writers Journals, Eureka workbooks, etc. Materials includes books that students read. The general idea and request is to use digital options as much as you possibly can. When that won't work, use hard copies of whatever it is you need to teach them with.
4. We will talk on Waiver Day about a date and times for having parents come to school to pick up the items that you put together for students.
As stated before, the way that we are to communicate with parents is email, Zoom, or phone. But I did want you to know that Synergy might be able to help us with texting using SMS. Stay tuned.
On this topic, I have heard a variety of issues happening with the new Synergy. Please put in a TSR and, if possible, screen shots attached to the TSR so that Student Records can see what you are experiencing.
Waiver Day Time Revised
Teaching and Learning will be conducting PD sessions on September 1 and 2 from 8:00-10:00. Thursday and Friday sessions will run from 12:00 - 2:00. Let's meet on the Waiver Day from 11:00 - 12:30 to go over the things that are on the PD Agenda. Remember to forward your ideas if there is something eles you want added. NOTE THAT THESE CLASSES ARE OPTIONAL.
Class Lists and BVA
Some of you have been concerned about your class list because you have heard or want to know which students are going to be withdrawn from your classroom. Stephanie is getting directions today moving students to BVA.
Schedules Shared with Parents
I was asked it I would explain the schedule to parents. I have shared out a video with parents making a comment on the rationale behind the schedule. Teachers will need to explain the details of their particular grade and answer questions that come up as you know your curriculum and unique classroom practices.
Thursday, August 27
Waiver Day Agenda Planning
Please go to the Agendas tab and look at PD Agendas to see what the Leadership Team was thinking about an agenda for Waiver day next Tuesday, September 1. Note: The intention is to meet for an hour or so and then let you have the rest of the day to continue planning and preparation for the first days of school.