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Letter from Dr. Harrison & class codes
Letter from Dr. Harrison & class codes
Dorothy Rinaldi
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Class Codes are located midway through the document

Good evening Watertown Families,

On Monday, the Governor announced that all schools would be closed until April 20th. Earlier today, he hinted during a press conference that schools may be closed even longer. Because of the increased potential for long-term school closures and in response to direction from the Department of Education, Watertown Public Schools is shifting to a distance learning as of March 30. Below is important information regarding our shift to distance learning. You can also check out our district's new Distance Learning site by clicking HERE

Stay Healthy,

Rydell Harrison, Ed.D  Superintendent

Watertown Public Schools

10 DeForest Street

Watertown, Connecticut 06795

Tel. (860) 945-4801

Fax (860) 945-2775

Distance Learning:

Distance learning is an educational option that allows students to continue learning any time, anywhere. Now that our schools will be closed longer than we first thought, we want to make sure students are still able to learn from their teachers.

On March 12, 2020, the Governor announced that he was waiving the 180-day school year requirement for all school districts amid growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. Because of the 180-day waiver and the implementation of distance learning, we will not be required to make up the days missed during this COVID-19 closure. Watertown Public Schools will end the school year on June 17, 2020 as originally planned.

In order to continue education for all learners to the greatest extent possible during this long-term closure, Watertown Public Schools will use an Asynchronous Distance Learning Model.  This site will provide guidelines and directions for families in a “Question and Answer” format to help navigate this new model. Additionally, you will find live links to tips, tricks and tutorials.  

What is Asynchronous Distance Learning?

Asynchronous Distance Learning:

In a Distance Learning Model, teachers prepare lessons that students complete when away from the physical school building in lieu of face-to-face learning and tasks that would ordinarily take place at school.  Distance Learning is different from supplemental learning in that the completion of distance learning activities is required.  

Asynchronous means that teachers post instruction and learning materials online. Students engage with class materials and complete assignments at their own pace within a given timeframe, versus in live-time.  Given the variability of internet access, bandwidth and student availability, teachers cannot generally provide live-stream learning.

Questions & Answers:

What will distance learning look like for teachers and students?

Teachers will post instruction and directions for learning tasks with due dates in Google Classroom.  (Check out the Google tutorials in the Tips, Tricks & Tools section below). Students will have the opportunity to participate and complete assignments at their own pace, but within a given time frame prior to the due date the teacher has provided.

What if my student cannot find a Google Classroom for one or more of their teachers?

Watertown High School has a School-Wide Google Classroom that provides access to all teachers’ Google Classrooms.  This can be accessed by clicking HERE.  (Class code for WHS School-Wide Google Classroom = 42wxcms). 

Directories of teacher classroom codes for the rest of Watertown Public Schools can be found on the on the Watertown Public Schools Website Covid-19 Page or by clicking on your child’s school below:

John Trumbull Primary School

Judson Elementary School

Polk Elementary School     ←Class Codes

Swift Middle School

What is Google Classroom?

Google Classroom is a free web service that can be accessed from anywhere at any time. It aims to simplify creating, distributing, and grading assignments in a paperless way. The primary purpose of Google Classroom is to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students. Click HERE for a parent's guide to Google Classroom.

How can I see what my student is being required to do?

The easiest option is to log into your student’s Google Account.  Ask your student for his/her credentials and sign in as them to see what is expected.  A tutorial for signing in is included in the tutorial section below, but can also be found by clicking HERE.  

Will there be any small group work?  How might this work?

In some instances, a teacher may want to hold individual or small group instruction in "live time".  Prior to providing a student or students with this option, the teacher should consider some of the challenges of live time (synchronous) learning (e.g. limited access to a device, bandwidth, student availability, etc.). 

If a teacher decides to move forward with a live (synchronous) learning opportunity, the teacher will reach out to the parent/guardian to determine interest, and to try to find a mutually agreed upon time.  If a parent/guardian is not comfortable with this for any reason, they can inform the teacher and elect not to participate. Teachers should also provide an asynchronous option when possible.

What about specials, unified arts and electives?

All teachers are expected to use Google Classroom to post instructions and tasks, including teachers of more specialized classes.  In grades K-5, special area teachers will post one lesson per grade level per week. Unified Arts and Elective Teachers will post lessons in alignment with their typical schedules.

How will my student communicate with his/her teacher(s)?  How can my student ask a question or for help/support?

Teachers will be available to offer support and answer questions digitally between the hours of 11:00-3:00.  Please note that responses may not necessarily be immediate, or in live time, but you can expect a response somewhere within this time frame.  

Teachers will share their most preferred method of communication directly with families, which may include, but is not limited to email exchanges right through Google, private or public comments through the Stream option in Google Classroom, a live chat, such as through Google Hangout or messages sent through various popular platforms such as Remind, Bloomz or Dojo.

What is the best way for parents to communicate with their student’s teacher(s)?

Teachers will share their most preferred methods of communication directly with families, however sending an email is typically a good place to start.  Staff directories by school are as follows:

John Trumbull Primary School

Judson Elementary School

Polk Elementary School

Swift Middle School

Watertown High School

What if my student is having difficulty?

If your student is having difficulty understanding the work or is having trouble keeping up, he/she should communicate with the teacher about this during the 11:00-3:00 time frame.  In addition, parents/guardians should reach out to the teacher to request help or support.

What is the role of the parent/guardian?

Parents are encouraged to:

  • Provide a space and time  that will be dedicated to completing each day’s learning activities

  • Ensure students can access the school provided resources

  • Remember to incorporate time to move!  It is common for students to get up and move around, wiggle, or even chat with friends multiple times throughout the day

  • Check in throughout the day to see if their student is doing the work or is having any difficulties

  • Ensure students are being safe and responsible in their technology use

  • Communicate questions, ideas and concerns with the school 

What is the role of the student?

Students are expected to:

  • Check Google Classrooms  for each teacher, each day, for lessons and assignments

  • Take responsibility for their learning, and complete work to the best of their ability

  • Reach out to the teacher and ask for help if they are confused or if they are having trouble keeping up

  • Take good care of the device they are using, regardless of whether it is a home device or school issued

  • Demonstrate appropriate language and good manners when communicating using technology

  • Wear appropriate attire in alignment with school dress code when using video features

  • Only utilize the email option in their school Google account to communicate with teachers.

What about attendance?

Attendance will be tracked through work completion.  Therefore, parents/guardians are not expected to “call students in sick.” The purpose of tracking participation is to gauge the well-being of students and to ensure students are continuously engaged and learning.  

If a student is not completing his/her assignments in a timely fashion, the teacher will reach out to families first.  If concerns continue or additional resources are needed, teachers will work with their building administrator to determine next steps.

What if my student is an English Language Learner?

English Language Teachers will utilize the Classroom Teachers’  Google Classrooms to send additional or supplemental classwork and assessments as needed. 

What do I do if I do not understand the language used in the instructions from my child’s teacher?

Parents should contact the classroom teacher(s) to request that instructions be translated into the family's native language.  Classroom teachers will refer all requests regarding translation to ELL teachers, so they may collaborate with families to provide this support.  

How can I provide more structure for my student?

As already indicated, learning is asynchronous, meaning that  there is flexibility in when students must log on and complete assignments.  However, some families may want to provide more structure around learning time in the home.  Suggested structures for at home learning days are as follows:

NOTE: The schedules above are not required; they are suggested structures for at home learning days.

What will happen with state testing, e.g. SBAC. NGSS, SAT? 

The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE)  has indicated that there will be no summative testing (SBAC, NGSS, CT SAT, CTAA and CTAS) and no Next Generation Accountability for the 2019-20 school year.  

The CSDE is aware that many students use the no cost CT SAT for college placement.  The CSDE is working closely with the College Board to offer interested grade 11 students the opportunity to take the SAT on a weekend administration at no cost.  More details will be shared with schools as soon as they are available.  

Who can I contact if I need technical support?

The teacher is always a good place to start.  If problems persist, please contact Jeff Turner, Director of Technology by emailing turnerje@watertownps.org

TIPS, TRICKS & TUTORIALS:

Parent’s Guide to Google Classroom

Logging Into Google for Students

How to Send an Email To Your Teacher Through Your Google Account

Joining Google Classroom - (Video tutorial)

How New Student Users Join Google Classroom

How Existing Student Users Add a New Class