Dear SPS Students and Families,
As we have received news of extended school closure, Somerville educators and administrators have been working collaboratively to develop a Remote Learning Plan that is cohesive, engaging, inclusive, and equitable. Our first priority during these challenging times is to maintain a sense of safety, belonging, and continuity in young people’s lives by creating avenues for connection with friends and teachers and by providing structure, routine, and predictability through the delivery of learning activities.
Teacher teams organized by grade level and content area are working together with English Learner and Special Education teachers to develop weekly calendars of learning experiences that integrate subject area skills and provide review, reinforcement, and application of knowledge aligned to learning standards.
For many of our students and families certain conditions need to be met before they are fully ready to engage in remote learning activities. These conditions for learning include access to food, and physical and mental health services and supports. The district is committed to closing any gaps in internet and computer device availability with the goal of 100% equitable access to learning tools.
As we work to close the digital divide, we also recognize that remote learning is not only online learning. DESE has recommended that students be engaged in a series of remote learning activities that total at least half of the normal school day (3 hours), which can happen in a variety of ways. While there are many resources available for online learning, there are many opportunities to learn without a screen or face-to-face virtual session with a teacher. This includes at home/outdoor projects, movement and arts opportunities, and games.
Reorganizing the regular life of school to remote learning is new territory for the whole community. We know that there are unfamiliar areas and questions yet to be answered. Please be assured that we are developing a plan through a lens of equity and cohesion, and with the understanding that our plan needs to be flexible to accommodate the needs of our students and families without creating additional undue stress.
The plan that we present here will continue to evolve as we develop new resources to support students, educators, and families through this new way of teaching and learning. We encourage you to check back often, and to continue to access our Home Learning Resources page for a wide range of high-quality learning activities that will keep students engaged in their learning.
Somerville Public Schools Remote and Continued Learning Vision
During this time of school closure, our vision is to expand educational opportunities for all students in an equitable manner through a variety of developmentally appropriate, inclusive, and accessible learning opportunities that continue to foster the academic and social emotional growth of all students while facilitating student agency and staff development through an environment of equity.
To achieve this vision, SPS Remote Learning will include:
- Instruction in multiple modalities
- Opportunities for comprehensible Language Input (listening and reading)
- Opportunities for Output (reading, speaking, and writing)
- Meaningful access to content learning with appropriate supports
- Opportunities to develop home language
- Provisions for the same rigor and expectations to meet standards for all students
Conditions for Learning
- Basic needs are met: housing, healthcare, food, utilities, financial assistance
- Devices and internet connection: goal is that 100% of families have access to ensure the same learning experiences for all students
- Assurance that immigration status does not affect access to basic needs. Continuous messaging that all are welcome here.
- Multilingual and translated information and materials are consistently provided
Conditions for Learning are met with support from and through partnerships with City of Somerville, SFLC, English Learner Support Team, SSTs, Volunteers, SPS Tech Department, internet providers, Donations, SESS, SC/SC, Welcome Schools Ordinance, Multilingual Services.
SPS Remote Learning Plan Primary Goals and Expectations
- Lay a foundation conducive to learning by ensuring that student and family basic needs are being met through targeted programs (such as Grab-and-Go meals and weekend grocery bags) and connection to support services (such as virtual mental health consultations)
- Mitigate potential barriers to academic access by loaning families in need technology and helping families obtain internet connection
- Maintain a sense of community and belonging by providing students opportunities to connect with teachers and peers on a regular basis, and by developing a consistent learning schedule. We recognize that the working environment and need for support is not ideal for all families and are committed to being flexible in our assignments and commitments.
- Provide all students with required learning experiences that integrate and reinforce subject-area skills aligned to learning standards, with the expectation that every student will engage in about three hours of schoolwork daily, per DESE guidelines. There is no expectation that individual assignments will be graded. The focus of the closure is on giving feedback.
- Focus on ‘diving deeper’ into already taught standards. A good deal of attention will be given to the design of our curriculum for the fall of 2020.
- Offer instruction in multiple modalities and provide both guided instruction and independent work that students can work on each day. This can come in many forms including FaceTime, class meetings, online work, reading, writing, and other options. There is an expectation that students be provided both synchronous and asynchronous assignments, thus addressing the fact that many families are working, older students may have childcare obligations to younger family members, etc.
The following links detail our approach and strategies to meet our Remote and Continued Learning vision, one focused on equity, inclusivity, access, and student agency.
Setting the Foundation: Remote Learning, Attendance and Participation, Grading, Communication
Language Learner (includes Unidos)