Enhanced virtual learning – what the Stoughton Area School District is officially calling the fall school restart – begins Tuesday, Sept. 1.
Compared with its quickly put-together spring offering, there will be more synchronous education, also referred to as live learning, more interactions with peers and teachers and increased attention to students’ and staff members’ social/emotional and mental health needs. Based on student, parent and educator feedback, the district plans to increase the amount and the quality of synchronous instruction, with mornings will be spent in live learning and afternoons in work time and proactive support time.
To that end, the district is replacing traditional office hours with proactive support hours each afternoon. These are designated hours in which educators will actively reach out to students, whether for academic help or social connection.
The district has also established school- and grade level-specific plans for beginning the year online.
At Stoughton High School, those are continued use of Schoology and Zoom, returning grading to an A-F scale, live instruction in the morning on a rotational basis for periods 1-4 and 5-7 and attendance taken each class session.
At River Bluff Middle School, there will be live, real-time learning the entire school day, with scheduled breaks away from computers, daily instruction of math and reading, continued use of Schoology and Zoom, returning grading to an A-F scale, and attendance taken for each class session. Students can also participate in small group counseling sessions with the pupil services team.
At the elementaries, students will have a homeroom teacher, though grade levels will have departmentalized instruction, with one teacher primarily responsible for a specific subject. Students will have “live learning” core classes (math, English language arts, phonics) in the mornings, to be recorded for students unable to join the class, for whatever reason.
Enrichment opportunities, including specials such as physical education, art and music, and additional support will be offered during afternoons. Daily synchronous morning meeting and/or community building opportunities will be available for students to engage with peers, with individual and small group counseling also available
To help answer questions from parents and students, district superintendent Tim Onsager and director of curriculum and instruction Kate Ahlgren put out a YouTube video to discuss enhanced virtual learning and what families can expect. “These are unprecedented times and they call for unprecedented options and we all need to work together, we’re in this together to make sure we have the best experience for our students,” Onsager said.
Ahlgren said the enhanced virtual learning this fall will feature more live instruction, more structured schedules, and more structured ways of turning in assignments and getting feedback from teachers than this spring.
“Families can expect the same top flight instruction they’ve always gotten in our district, except it will take on some new features,” she said in the video.
Ahlgren said families can also expect to see work that would be done outside of that live instruction. “We do not expect our students to be in front of a screen for as many hours as we have them in school, it’s not supported by any kind of research,” she said.
Find the interview at youtu.be/og7bR2v-UFE.