District announces next phase of Learning at Home, April 10-24

If You Need a Device or Help with Technology: If you need technology support or if you do not have a device for your child to work on, please e-mail techsupport@niskyschools.org or call (518) 598-2218 so we can help.

Our teachers are continuing to work together to provide resources and instruction for learning while students are at home for a new, two-week period, April 10-24. The purpose of this message is to provide you with some guidance as we begin a period that will include the introduction of new learning and a simplified grading method.

A graphic that outlines highlights of this information is available here for you to review and is embedded at the end of this e-mail.

April 10-24 includes new learning and a simplified grading method

Dear Niskayuna Families,

Our teachers are continuing to work together to provide resources and instruction for learning while students are at home for a new, two-week period, April 10-24. The purpose of this message is to provide you with some guidance as we begin a period that will include the introduction of new learning and a simplified grading method.

But first, we want you to know:

  • We recognize that students and families are dealing with an incredibly stressful and challenging time period. We’re here for you and only ask that you do what you can.
  • We do encourage students to engage with their school work daily, if that is possible.
  • If you do not have a device for your child to work on, please e-mail techsupport@niskyschools.org or call (518) 598-2218 so we can help.

What will this next phase of learning look like?

  • Teachers are updating shared Google folders, websites, Google Classrooms, and other online platforms that they use.
  • Students will need to submit the work that they are assigned to their teachers.
  • In many cases, you will see greater use of videoconferencing.
  • Remember that any or all of the following have a place in remote learning: real-time instruction, individual practice, feedback exchanged virtually, and videos or resources accessed on one’s own.

What do we mean by “new learning” and why is this important?

  • Ongoing learning remains essential for students as the foundation for their success in school, courses, and future plans.
  • When it comes to new learning, we are talking about essential elements of the curriculum K-12.
  • This is important because it will help students continue to progress academically and provide a foundation for when we are able to return to school.

What are the expectations in terms of time and assignments?

The recommendations listed below are for time spent learning new material, watching video lessons, participating in class discussions and completing assigned work and activities. Review and practice of new material learned is not included in this timeframe.

  • For grades K-2: At-home learning should not exceed 2.5 hours total per week for ELA and math, with an additional 1 hour per week for learning in other disciplines (3.5 hours per week total)
  • For Grades 3-5: At-home learning should not exceed 4 hours total per week for ELA and math, with an additional 1 hour per week for learning in other disciplines (5 hours per week total)
  • For Grades 6-8: At-home learning should not exceed 2 hours each per week for ELA, math, science and social studies, with an additional 2 hours per week for all other subject areas (10 hours per week total)
  • For Grades 9-12: At-home learning should not exceed 3 hours per week for each credit-bearing course (24 hours per week total)
  • Please note that elementary teachers are incorporating these time allocations into their calendars and grades 6-8 and grades 9-12 teachers are incorporating them into their “Read Me First” letters in their Google folders.
  • All teachers have been asked to give students a minimum of one assignment per week.

What is the simplified grading system?

  • It is critical that we keep track of what our students are learning so we can best support them now and when we return to school.
  • To do this, we are implementing a non-traditional form of grading with two categories, as follows.
  • Evidence of Learning (EOL) will be used to show that a student has demonstrated learning of essential curriculum based on what was taught and assigned.
  • Not Yet Learned (NYL) will be used when a student has not completed assignment, or work completed does not yet demonstrate learning of essential curriculum. Students will be given the opportunity to redo and resubmit work to demonstrate learning.
  • It is very important that students complete the assignments given and check-in with their teachers regularly. However, we understand the challenges of the moment and will be flexible about how we handle this when we return to school.

When does Quarter 4 start and how will final grades for the year be calculated?

  • Starting with Monday, April 13, students’ engagement with their teachers and school work will be assessed using the grading system above as part of Quarter 4.
  • Our team will be deciding how best to calculate Quarter 3, Quarter 4 and final grades for the year given the circumstances.
  • This process will include consideration of how to account for Quarters 3 and 4. We will share more information as soon as this is developed.

As this next period approaches, we promise to be flexible, to provide as much support as we can and to be as responsive as possible. We are learning much from this experience, but miss our students and can’t wait until we are all back together at school.

The Niskayuna Central School District Team