Virtual Learning - Frequently Asked Questions - For Families

  • AACPS is excited to welcome students, families, and teachers to Fall 2020.  As you know, we are going back to school in the fall virtually.  The school schedules are designed to be exciting for students as they are very student-centered with all core and encore or elective courses available for our learners.  There is time for relationship building, time for social-emotional growth, morning and afternoon blocks of real-time synchronous learning with teachers and students live online, and time for learning support through class time and during teacher office hours/connection blocks. We even built in Friends & Fun time at the elementary level and Activity/Club time for our middle and high school students. We want to engage, excite, and energize students and teachers to have a wonderful fall opening to school that will lead to a successful 2020-2021 school year.

    We hope many of the questions you may have will be answered by the Frequently Asked Questions posted below.  If you have additional questions, please e-mail them to:  virtuallearning@aacps.org  Additional questions and answers will be added soon.

  • 9/12/20 I read the three methods for recording. Does this mean my student will not be able to participate for the entire learning block?

    No. There will only be a short time when students cannot ask questions if teachers choose to use Alt-Method 1 in their classroom. 

    If teachers make the decision to use Alt-Method 1  or Alt-Method 2, we are looking for teachers to record or pre-record a direct-teaching part of their core lesson of a concept or of skill development. Ask yourself, “What would teachers want to offer their students (the ones in class and the ones not in class today) so they are able to grow to understand today’s lesson objectives?”  Based on the day, this core lesson may only be 10-15 minutes in length or it may be two or three 5-7min recordings; this is the teacher’s choice.  They could choose to capture these core lesson components in a pre-recording (Alt-Method 2) or they could choose to make these recordings in the classroom with their students present (Alt-Method 1) and microphones muted. 

    If teachers choose Alt-Method 1, this is not hard to do.  They simply let the students know they will be turning off their microphones and putting themself in the spotlight layout for a few minutes as thet teach a core learning concept, skill, strategy, or technique.  By turning off student mics and putting the teacher in the “spotlight”, they will not capture students’ video images or voices in the recording.  Whenever the teachers are finished with the short recorded direct-teaching element, click to end the recording, and un-mute their students’ microphones they can begin interactive learning once again.  After a few days, this will happen with ease. 

    IMPORTANT NOTE:  Some teachers planned on doing this before we made it an optional method as they thought it would minimize disruptions and maximize clarity of the core of a lesson.  Student questions can begin right after the core lesson component is taught.  Moreover, if teachers had more than one core learning component for any learning block, they could choose to record more than once.   It is fine to post more than one recording for any one learning block in Google Classroom for student use.

    AVAILABLE METHODS OF RECORDING LESSONS

    Method 1: The preferred method of recording live teaching during the instructional learning blocks, with students’ microphones and cameras turned on. This can take place only when all students in a classroom have audio and video permissions.

    Method 2: Recording only the teacher’s image during the introduction of the core instructional concepts or a summary of the lesson at the end of the class period using Spotlight Mode on the teacher, with all students’ microphones muted. This recording will last a short time (maybe 5 to 7 minutes). During the rest of the class, students will have cameras and microphones on so they can interact with the teacher.

    Method 3: Pre-recording the introduction of the core instructional concepts or a summary of the lesson for students to access asynchronously. This recording will last a short time (maybe 5 to 7 minutes). Real-time instruction will not be recorded, thus allowing for full interaction between teachers and students during class time. Pre-recorded lessons cannot take the place of real-time instruction.

     

     

  • 9/11/20 I am concerned about the recording of my student in Google Meet. What options are available to teachers regarding the recording of lessons?

    AACPS now offers three methods to teachers for recording instruction in Google Meet.  Below are three methods for teachers to choose from when recording instructional lessons in Google Meet. Ideally, we are seeking to increase real time student instructional engagement and participation while also increasing the ability for students who are present in the live virtual classroom and those not present to learn the content and skills of the lessons after the school day is over.

    Preferred Method: Record live teaching during the instructional learning blocks with students’ microphones and cameras turned on.

    - This is the preferred recording method when all students in a classroom have permission for their cameras and microphones to be active (on) during recording.

    - The goals, objectives, core content of the day’s lesson, and student expectations related to assignments should be included in the recording.

    Alternate Method - 1: Record only the teacher’s live classroom direct-teaching lesson of a given day’s concepts and skills with all students’ microphones muted and all students’ cameras off.

    - The goals, objectives, core content of the day’s lesson, and student expectations related to assignments should be included in the recording.

    - The teacher will announce to the class when recording will begin and ask that all microphones and cameras be turned off. She/he will explain that during direct instruction all questions will need to be typed into the chat feature or held until direct instruction and recording has ended, and finally indicate when all recording has ended for the learning block at which time full student participation can begin again with microphones and cameras on.

    NOTE 1: In preparation for using this method, the teacher will initially change their Google Meet layout to the “Spotlight” layout. Then, the teacher will mute all students’ microphones. Since video images of students appear on screen when a student speaks, muting all microphones prevents the recording of student video images.

    NOTE 2: Teachers who choose this method should NOT record the entire lesson.  There are many different options for teachers when using this method.  For example, a teacher may

    • welcome the students to the class, engage them with cameras and mics on, and then when appropriate let the students know they will be readying to record by asking students to mute their microphones (or the teacher may mute them), click on the ‘spotlight’ layout mode, and take a few minutes to record the lesson goals, objectives, and central concept or skill of the day.  Following this sharing of information, the teacher will stop recording, unmute student microphones, and begin opening the classroom for student interactivity once again.  Teachers could record one or more times during a learning block according to student needs. 
    • choose to use this method when they summarize their lesson at the end of a learning block.  The teacher will teach the great majority of the learning block with cameras and microphones on.  After teaching the lesson, doing group work, facilitating a highly engaging interactive lesson, they may choose to record the last few minutes of the block as they summarize the goals, objectives, and highlights of the core lesson.
    • elect to record the lesson goals and objectives at the beginning of the class, then stop recording for the great majority of the lesson.  Then, teachers may record again for some time as they teach the core concept or skill.  Teachers who choose to use this method in this way will become comfortable with take a few minutes multiple times during a learning block to focus on their direct-teaching while they record.  This is similar to how a teacher may operate in the brick & mortar school when they take a few minutes to present a concept, work a problem, etc.  Following the presentation, the floor is then opened for student questions; this can happen in the virtual environment as well.

    Alternate Method - 2: Pre-record the direct-teaching core lesson of a given day’s concepts and skills.

    - The goals, objectives, core content of the day’s lesson, and student expectations related to assignments should be included in the recording. - When this option is selected, the teacher will not record during the real time teaching of the instructional learning blocks. All students will be expected to have their microphones and cameras on during real time instruction, so they are able to fully engage in the interactive learning setting.

    - The teacher cannot use the pre-recorded lesson in live teaching during the school day’s learning blocks. Instead, the pre-recorded lesson will be the lesson that is posted in the teacher’s Google Classroom for use by students after the school day is over.

    NOTE 1: Teachers who choose this method should NOT record the entire lesson.  On some days this video may be 5-7 minutes in length and on other days it may be 10-15 minutes long; it will depend on the content of the lesson.

    NOTE 2: Grade level teachers may share these pre-recordings for posting across grade level as long as they are collaboratively planning together and their lessons somewhat mirror each other from a core content perspective.

    NOTE 3: Same subject teachers may share these pre-recordings for posting across sections of courses as long as they are collaboratively planning together and their lessons somewhat mirror each other from a core content perspective.  For example the Algebra I teachers in a high school who all collaborative plan for the week’s lessons, may share the pre-recording of core lesson components to post in their Google Classrooms each day of the week.

    Summary:

    Each teacher should choose the method that works best for their students based on each day’s lesson, parent permissions for student recording in any given classroom, and teacher’s thoughtful planning for student concept and skill attainment.

    Recordings for each learning block must be posted to teacher’s Google Classrooms by the end of each workday. Students who attended live instruction and those who were unable to attend in real time should be able to view the recorded lesson on the evening following each day’s lessons. NOTE: Only students enrolled in the classroom where the video recording was made will be able to see their class’ recording.

    We do expect all teachers to begin recording on Monday, September 14, 2020. 

  • 9/7/20 Where can I find the Lunchtime Learning Café full of activities and opportunities for my students to engage in during their two hour break between morning and afternoon learning blocks?

    Please visit this website for the description of the Lunchtime Learning Café and the link to the activities and resources:  www.aacps.org/lunctimelearning

  • 9/4/20 How can I as the parent or how can my student request that a name be used in the Google Meet sessions that is something other than their legal name?

    Guardians at the elementary level and students or guardians at the secondary level can reach out through their teacher or school administrator (Assistant Principal or Principal) to request that their “preferred name” is on file in the system.  It is this “preferred name” that will be used on Google Meet for all virtual learning sessions this fall. 

  • Will my student have their 504 met in the virtual learning format of schooling?

    Yes, teachers will be ready to support students in the virtual world similar to how they were supporting them in the virtual world.  Certainly, every student need is unique.  Many to most 504 accommodations will remain exactly the same and others will vary slightly due to the nature of virtual learning.  Please connect with your student’s teacher during the first week of school should you have specific concerns regarding your student’s 504 accommodations.  All teachers have Office Hours when you can schedule an appointment to meet with them via phone or video conference.

  • 8/28/20 Since a large number of the AACPS families chose to return to school when they answered the survey this summer, why are we not going back to school at least in a hybrid fashion?

    At the current time, we are learning virtually.  There is no option at this time to bring large groups of students back to our schools per the direction of the Anne Arundel County Health Department.  As our Fall 2020 Reopening Plan suggests, we will continue to plan for in-person learning and we will be ready to return to school when it is deemed safe for students and staff to do so.

    Additionally, here is the the Superintendent’s and Health Officer’s letter dated 8/28/20 that addresses the Governor’s 8/26/20 press conference where the reopening of school’s was discussed.

  • 8/28/20 WHAT IS THE CURRENT TIMELINE TO START IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION FOR THE GROUPS IDENTIFIED IN THE REOPENING REPORT?

    We are working strategically to try to bring back small numbers of students in our Developmental Centers, our CAT Centers, and small numbers of ESOL students.  In-person learning for these students is planned in phases beginning with phase I in mid-September.  Each subsequent phase will be rolled out based on the health and safety of students and staff and the success of each previous phase.  As we move to ready students and staff for each phase, we will poll the students and staff in question to see their readiness level for a return to in-person learning.

    Each subsequent phase will be rolled out based on the health and safety of students and staff and the success of each previous phase.  Eventually, we will be bringing back elementary, middle, and high school students into a hybrid learning environment as it is deemed safe to do so.  As we move to ready students and staff for each phase, we will communicate with families and staff members throughout the process.

    Additionally, here is the the Superintendent’s and Health Officer’s letter dated 8/28/20 that addresses the Governor’s 8/26/20 press conference where the reopening of school’s was discussed.

  • 8/26/20 What do parents who both work outside of the home do about the synchronous teaching? Their child will not be available to do it as they will be at daycare.

    We are expecting to engage students virtually in live teaching and learning each week of the semester for approximately 4 hours on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday as well as 2-3 hours on Wednesday morning as per the student schedules posted on the Fall 2020 website.  We have been working with the public and private child care providers to support them to help their children log on during real-time teaching and learning daily.  Our AACPS students will be given a Chromebook that they may take to the daycare facility with them to participate in live learning.  

    Certainly, we realize that there will be students who because of unique circumstances will not be able to log into the ‘live’ learning sessions one or more days per week.  All lessons will be recorded by all teachers and posted in their Google Classrooms daily so that students who could not attend ‘live’ can play the recordings at a later time to learn the concepts or skills that were taught. 

    We will ask the families who are unable to have their student log in daily, to work with their students in the evening to complete their school work.  Weekly work will be due on Sunday evening by 10pm.

    During the week of August 31, 2020, we will post an application for families who must, due to their unique circumstances, have their students on an Alternate Attendance Plan as described above.  Check back on this site during the week noted if you are in need of an alternate attendance plan for your student. 

  • 8/26/20 When will the AM and PM Half-Day PreK schedules be posted?

    The AM and PM Half-day PreK schedules are now posted on the www.aacps.org/VirtualLearning site.

  • 8/26/20 Will students who cannot attend “live” lessons occasionally be able to view the lessons in evening and complete the assignments then?

    Yes, students who absolutely cannot log into the virtual live-learning, may be able to log into their Google classroom to view the lessons and complete their assignments in the evening hours.  We hope that most students will be able to participate in the real-time learning and that those who need to miss virtual live-learning time will only do so infrequently.  The whole school experience, including live academic teaching, Circle Time, Cultural Arts, Tools for Success time, and Academic Flex time where students receive extra learning support, will all be missed if students are unable to join the virtual live-learning time.

    During the week of August 31, 2020, we will post an application for families who must, due to their unique circumstances, have their students on an Alternate Attendance Plan as described above.  Check back on this site during the week noted if you are in need of an alternate attendance plan for your student. 

  • When will I receive my student’s schedule and learn who their teacher(s) is/are for the new school year?

    Student schedules will be available on the close of business on August 31st.  Student schedules will be viewable through the Parent Portal.  It is important that all families who haven’t signed up for the Parent Portal do so beginning August 31st so that you have access to your students’ schedules and other important information throughout the school year.

    The directions for signing up for the Parent Portal can be found HERE. You can sign up beginning August 31st.

    Please contact your student’s school if you have a challenge regarding getting signed up for the Parent Portal.

  • What exactly is “academic flex” time? Is it like study hall? Can students skip it?

    Academic Flex time is time specifically allotted to reinforce difficult concepts and skills, provide support to students working through problems, offer extra support to students stretching to learn how to apply their new knowledge, and provide extensions for those who are ready to broaden their understanding.  Academic Flex time blocks will be teacher facilitated unlike most study halls.  This is real-time instruction offered by a teacher.

    Academic Flex is also time for small group instruction for English Learners, time for students who need extra Reading instructional support, time for Special Needs students to receive specialized instruction or services, and time for ALPs students (elementary)  who are studying William & Mary or advanced mathematics.  In most elementary schools, teachers will regroup students at each grade level for Academic Flex so that all students have a teacher to facilitate the time to offer them what they need academically.

    Academic Flex time is required at the elementary and middle school levels; attendance will be taken.  At the high school level, students will be given opportunities to choose what to focus on during Academic Flex time.  They will attend sessions of courses where they need academic support or are seeking academic enhancement.  Academic Flex time is highly encouraged, but optional for high school students.

  • Any reason the student day starts at different times for PreK-2 and 3-5?

    The primary and intermediate schedule is shifted by 30 minutes for a few reasons: 

    1. It allows families to support their older elementary students with starting the school day before the younger students begin. 
    2. The later start time for primary students is also in recognition of screen time for younger students. 

  • WHAT WILL OCCUR IN STUDENT WELLNESS AND TOOLS FOR SUCCESS BLOCKS DURING THE STUDENT DAY?

    During Student Wellness time in the schedule, students will have the opportunity to learn and practice wellness strategies which support social, mental, and physical wellbeing. Through use of the Mindful Choices Curriculum, students will explore mindfulness techniques, breathing strategies, and focused movements that can be used to overcome stress, anxiety, negative thinking, and frustration. Providing students with healthy coping strategies will increase their ability to handle stressful situations and academic challenges.

    Tools for Success is designed to support students in gaining critical academic soft skills to maximize their potential for success during virtual learning. Students will enhance their ability to organize academic assignments, manage their time effectively, and utilize study skills to independently navigate and balance their time.

  • Have you thought about the potential negative impact of 4 hours/day of students staring at the computer screen?

    Although students are offered approximately 4 hours/day of live synchronous learning with their teacher(s) daily, the learning time is not solid screen time.  It is not going to be like playing videos for a solid 4 hours.  Importantly, there is a morning and an afternoon learning block with a two hour break for lunch between them for eating, relaxing, exercising, and playing.  During the virtual learning sessions, there will be time for direct teaching, but also time for working in small groups and independent work time with movement and music transitions offering opportunities for students to get up, go to the bathroom, get water, and stretch before returning to their academic learning.  The learning blocks are designed to be dynamic and engaging, not a static viewing of a teacher talking or presenting material.

  • I’d like to learn more about i-Ready. Where can I find more information?

    Please visit this i-Ready site for more information.

  • My student is in a school where uniforms are worn daily. Will my student have to wear a uniform in virtual schooling?

    Students are encouraged to get up each day and get ready for school as they would if they were attending school in person.  As such, students are encouraged to wear their uniform shirts, but it is not mandatory.

  • Is there any child care being offered during the day in any of the AACPS schools?

    Some of the community-based child care providers (Anne Arundel County Rec & Parks, Open Door, The Y of Central Maryland) who have partnered with us in the past may be offering child care during the day in the SACC (School-Aged Child Care) rooms in some of our elementary schools when the fall semester begins.  These decisions are being made currently.  When they are made, the organizations will be notifying the public via their websites and we will post their links on our Fall 2020 Reopening website.  AACPS will not be offering child care; the community-based organizations will be offering the care, if they choose to do so.  NOTE:  All Anne Arundel County Health Department, MSDE, and CDC rules for social distancing, cleaning, etc. must be followed.

    Some of our faith-based organizations, Boys & Girls Club, and other non-profit groups are also offering to open their doors for students to join them to learn online with their AACPS teachers during the day from their many locations throughout the county.  As they make their decisions and let us know of them, we will include links to them on our website for public awareness.

     

     

  • I want to be able to see my student’s schedule and grades, etc. They tell me I have to sign up for the AAPCS PowerSchool Parent Portal. How do I do this?

    The PowerSchool Parent Portal is a powerful, easy-to-use, secure communication tool connecting parents/guardians and schools. Using the PowerSchool student information system, the Parent Portal allows collaboration to improve student achievement. Online access to student schedules, assignments, class grades and attendance information makes it easier for parents to monitor progress of students, in grades 1 through 12, in real time.

    PowerSchool Parent Portal allows parents/guardians access to all their children at one time with one username and password. Please visit this website to sign up for the Parent Portal.

  • How do I turn my cell phone into a “hotspot” so I can access the Internet with my computer?

    All the smartphone carriers are now supporting people turning their Android phone or iPhones into hotspots. Then, you can connect your computer to the Internet through this hotspot.  There is NO COST to do this during this time period. There may be a cost to do this; please check with your provider before completing this task.

    View directions to have your phone become a hotspot

  • I still need help getting Internet connectivity. What do I do?

    Please visit this Internet Connectivity site to get support to make sure you are connected to the Internet so you student is able to learn virtually this fall.

  • Do I need a printer?

    Worksheet printing is not required; it is a choice. If your student has access to the Internet, some of the materials are interactive, thus no printer is needed.  If your student does not have access to the Internet, please have them do their work on any paper that is available to them or in their journal, if they have one.

  • What do I do if I need a device/Chromebook for my student?

    Please visit this Chromebook Information site for all information to apply for a chromebook for your student.

  • What is an Alternate Attendance Plan and who is eligible for this process?

    In order to apply for this process, there must be evidence of consistent, extended absences during synchronous virtual learning.  Consistent, extended absences can be defined as an extenuating circumstance that prevents a student from being available for synchronous learning on a long-term, consistent basis due to an employment and/or daycare issue.  This option is only considered after the parent/guardian has explored all other options to access virtual learning and has been unsuccessful due to employment and/or daycare barriers.  To find out more about this process, please go to www.aacps.org/alternateattendance.

  • What type of grading will we be experiencing in courses this fall?

    Traditional letter grading will be in effect for the fall semester. The standard grading policy (II-RA, Grading; Administrative Regulation II-RA, Grading) will be followed.

  • How will attendance be taken in school this fall?

    The expectation is for teachers to take attendance every day. As we traditionally have always done, elementary schools will take/record daily attendance each morning and secondary schools will take period attendance.

  • What resources does AACPS have to help parents talk with their children about the COVID-19 virus and additional supports in AA County?

    Yes, please see the information on our Social/Emotional Supports website.  

  • Have you thought about the potential negative impact of 4 hours/day of students staring at the computer screen?

    Although students are offered approximately 4 hours/day of live synchronous learning with their teacher(s) daily, the learning time is not solid screen time.  It is not going to be like playing videos for a solid 4 hours.  Importantly, there is a morning and an afternoon learning block with a two hour break for lunch between them for eating, relaxing, exercising, and playing.  During the virtual learning sessions, there will be time for direct teaching, but also time for working in small groups and independent work time with movement and music transitions offering opportunities for students to get up, go to the bathroom, get water, and stretch before returning to their academic learning.  The learning blocks are designed to be dynamic and engaging, not a static viewing of a teacher talking or presenting material.

  • 9/4/20 My middle school student is transitioning from female to male and it is very important to my family that he is supported in this process. How do we go about making sure that the school uses his chosen first name?

    Guardians at the elementary level and students or guardians at the secondary level can reach out through their teacher or school administrator (Assistant Principal or Principal) to request that their “preferred name” is on file in the system.  It is this “preferred name” that will be used on Google Meet for all virtual learning sessions this fall. 

  • I heard there will be email for students this fall. Can you tell me more?

    All secondary students (6th-12th graders) now have an aacps email address.  They will receive information regarding its use upon their return to school. Here is the information regarding access to their AACPS email account.

    Importantly, teachers will be able to send middle and high school students email regarding coursework, assignments, Flex Time, late work, tutoring, grading, clubs, and activities.  Students will also be able to email their teacher questions regarding classwork, assignments, and questions and answers regarding project guidelines, late work, test reviews, etc. 

    Students will not be able to email one another nor will they be able to send or receive emails outside of AACPS.  This is a secure environment where students can learn email etiquette safely while learning how to be responsible students as they send and receive emails ONLY from their teachers.

  • Will teachers be able to communicate with families via Google Voice similar to last spring? Will I as a parent be able to get my teacher’s Google Voice number to contact him or her?

    Yes, Google Voice became a great tool where parents could contact teachers and teachers could communicate with parents/guardians with ease.  Teachers will have a Google Voice phone number again this year for use with families.