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June 19, 2020
I hope this letter finds you all safe and well.
Throughout our extended closure, we have spent a great deal of time analyzing our approach to remote learning and identifying areas for improvement. We have sought and received feedback from parents and guardians, students, and teachers regarding our Continuity of Instruction Plan during the closure, as well as the Learning Management Systems we utilize to share student work, assignments, and feedback. We are in the process of updating our Continuity of Instruction Plan should we need to remain closed in the fall or experience an extended closure in the future. Once finalized, we will share the plan with you.
As I am sure you know, a Learning Management System helps streamline the learning process by providing a central location for accessing material online and developing content. Feedback regarding our usage of multiple Learning Management Systems has been consistent in that parents and students are having difficulty navigating multiple platforms and sites to find student work. We believe that the concerns shared with us have merit, and as such, we have decided to move toward one platform for all teachers and students.
I am pleased to share with you that effective September 1, 2020, all teachers in grades P-4 will be using Seesaw, and all teachers in grades 5-12 will be using Schoology. This change will occur regardless of our open or closed status in the fall. Utilizing a single platform will allow teachers to manage and organize educational courses online and provide students a single location for all course material.
Seesaw is already in use by all Franklin Early Childhood Center teachers, as well as many at Hewlett Elementary and Ogden Elementary Schools. It is age appropriate for our elementary school students and provides a foundation for developing digital skills. Teachers can empower students to create, reflect, share, and collaborate. Students “show what they know” using photos, videos, drawings, text, PDFs, and links. It’s simple to get student work in one place and share with families. Seesaw also allows for parent accounts so parents can view their child’s work and communicate with the classroom teacher.
Many teachers at Woodmere Middle School and Hewlett High School have elected to use Schoology. While some teachers use Google Classroom, Schoology is widely regarded as a superior platform with more dynamic features. Schoology offers parent accounts that provide access to the same information as students. In addition, Schoology communicates with Infinite Campus and updates each evening to keep class rosters accurate. As a District that utilizes both Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Education, Schoology brings both of these platforms into one place. Schoology becomes the centralized hub that allows teachers to choose which tools are best for the topic or course and students are able to continue going to one place to access their learning materials. Schoology also allows easy access to both Microsoft and Google applications, among others such as Nearpod, Discovery Education, TurnItIn, Newsela, and more that are integrated into Schoology.
Streamlining our Learning Management Systems will allow the District to better support students, parents, and teachers. It will foster opportunities to provide targeted training for our staff in order to gain the most effective use of these tools. It will simplify the student and parent experience so that you are not required to look in multiple places for student work.
It is important to note that we will be providing a great deal of professional development for our teachers during this transition to ensure readiness for the fall.
Thank you very much for your patience and understanding as we continually improve upon the instruction and support we provide our students.
Ralph Marino, Jr., Ed.D.