Wyoming Digital Learning Plan January 2021 Newsletter

Update from the Wyoming Department of Education  |  view online |  website

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Welcome to the Digital Learning Plan (DLP) monthly newsletter

This newsletter will explore the Wyoming DLP, its goals, and suggested strategies to ensure equitable access to opportunities and success in postsecondary, career, and civic life.

Digital Learning Plan Implementation

Use of Time and Space

This month's newsletter is focused around the DLP Future Ready Framework gear Use of Time and Space is highlighted. The goals of this gear are:

Use of Time and Space Gear
  • Flexible learning; anytime, anywhere.
  • New pedagogy, schedules, and learning environment for personalized learning.
  • Competency-based learning.
  • Strategies for providing extended time for projects and collaboration.

Classroom-Based Virtual Education

To help districts provide learning options during the COVID-19 pandemic, the WDE developed classroom-based virtual education (CBVE) as described on pages 4-6 of the 2020-21 Distance Learning: Guidance for Wyoming Districts. Currently there are 42 school districts and one charter school that have established approved CBVE programs. This newsletter spotlights the CBVE program in Albany County School District No. 1, which was implemented at the start of the 2020-21 school year.

In addition to offering full-time virtual instruction to any K-12 student in the district that was not comfortable attending school in person, the district implemented CBVE through an A/B schedule for middle school and high school students. The schedule alternates between in person and virtual days Monday through Thursday, with Friday being all virtual. The rotating schedule was necessary to comply with social distancing mandates at these grade levels, especially middle school. The district has 106 elementary students, 190 secondary students, and 46 UW Laboratory School students attending via full-time CBVE learning. They are also able to provide virtual instruction to any student when needed for short-term purposes.

Q & A with Debbie Fischer the Albany #1 Curriculum Director and Virtual Education Coordinator

How have students and staff responded to the A/B schedule?

“​Students and staff have responded to the schedule well. At first, it was difficult to adjust to the nuances of virtual teaching and learning, but overall, I think we have reached a great place. All CBVE teachers attend weekly PLC meetings with their subject/grade specific team and lessons are designed together, with much thought about how this is implemented virtually. The A/B schedule has been good and bad. Good in the sense, that we have less students in each class per period, which allows for deeper relationship building and time to intervene and/or enrich content. Bad in the sense that teachers are planning for on-site days and virtual days, which adds to preparation. The virtual days have been focused around KNOWLEDGE (pre-reading, reflecting) - a flipped classroom model, while the on-site days are for SKILL.” 

What are your lessons learned from the A/B schedule at the middle and high school levels?

“​The lessons learned are interesting. First, with fewer students in the building we have fewer disciplinary issues. However, motivating students to engage in learning on virtual days or through CBVE is extremely difficult. Some students see these days as "off" days no matter how hard we've tried to avoid that phrasing. Engaging students virtually is truly difficult. Those students who are motivated while in school, tend to be the same students who are motivated virtually, and the same is true in the opposite direction. We truly like the Friday virtual day. It really allows our teachers to focus on intervention with students. Each Friday students who are failing or needing additional assistance are required to attend a Friday study session with the appropriate subject/grade teacher. This has been a really valuable time for students and teachers.” 

How has implementation at the elementary grade levels worked (as in the full-time implementation for some students, at home instruction for students when needed, etc.)?

​”Thanks to our PD team this implementation has been successful. Each Friday, our PD Leader, Kate Kniss, works with our CBVE teachers on best practices in virtual teaching. During the week, CBVE teachers meet with their grade level teams to plan and design instruction, which allows us to stay on the same pace as the on-site teachers. So, when students go into quarantine, they are doing the same work they would have been doing if they were in the building. They return to school with no lost instructional time. It took parents a little time to adjust to the programs used and how to schedule their days, but it has been extremely successful.” 

What are your lessons learned from the elementary grade levels? ​

”Again, I think the lessons learned are engagement. How do we encourage authentic engagement in lessons, Zoom meetings, assessments, etc.? We are getting better every day but it has been a learning curve for sure. Also, alignment is critical. Staying on pace with on-site teachers has been such a bonus in so many ways, it has really allowed for fluid movement in and out of CBVE as needed.” 

Is there anything else you would like to share about the program? ​

”We have worked hard to become partners with our families that have chosen full-time virtual learning. Every Thursday, I hold a book study with parents through Zoom. We are currently working through the book The Distance Learning Playbook for Parents and each week parents read a section of the book and then we come together and discuss the section. I try to include learning tips, teaching tips, problem solve areas of frustration, and to model what the CBVE teachers are using (Nearpod, Peardeck, etc.) so parents can get a feel for what their kids are doing during our meetings. I also invite guest speakers for topics I’m not as well versed in. This has become a really fun community of learners. We also offer monthly asynchronous parent nights for K-12 parents. The parent nights are hosted by each building to provide parents with tools and resources for supporting their children when they are in a digital learning setting, whether that be because they are full-time CBVE students or “short timers” in the course because of quarantine.”

“The other thing I would mention is that our PD teams lead in working with the CBVE teachers to gain confidence in technology tools, instructional ideas, and best practice. They have committed themselves to helping our CBVE teachers find success for themselves and their students. We also hold a monthly Zoom session at each school where we talk about what is expected if students go into CBVE or if our district were to have to transition to a Tier III model. Each month we discuss various processes we've put in place to support families, if or when, they or we need to transition.” 

Thank you, Debbie, for sharing the unique ways Albany #1 is creatively utilizing space and time to continue instruction and learning during the disruption of the pandemic.

Digital Learning Day

February 25, 2021

Digital Learning Day has become #DLDay—an online celebration where educators share great ideas, amazing stories, and promising practices through social media and within their own schools and communities. Thousands of local events, interactive activities, and lessons mark the importance of innovation in schools and remind district leaders that every day should be a digital learning day in public school classrooms. For more information, visit the Digital Learning Day website.

Professional Development Opportunities

  • Clever Panda Program - Free online course designed to help Canvas users take their knowledge to the next level and earn the title of Clever Panda.* 
  • ISTE Certification Training - WDE-sponsored International Society for Technology in Education Certification for Educators training for 100 Wyoming teachers.*
  • Open Educational Resources - Free, open enrollment online course about open education resources; class is available to all Wyoming educators. Check out Open Range Wyoming for open education resources created and vetted by a professional group of Wyoming teachers. In partnership with UWYO and aligned with OER, the WDE would like to highlight the outstanding Learning Actively Mentoring Program (LAMP). LAMP Roadshow.
  • Quality Matters - WDE-sponsored workshops or virtual courses on developing and delivering quality online content available to all Wyoming educators at no cost.*
  • Quality Matters Teaching Online Certificate - Series of seven workshops focused on effective online teaching practices sponsored by the WDE available to all Wyoming educators at no cost.*
  • Wyoming Digital Learning Guidelines Course - Free, open enrollment online course about using education technology in the classroom available to all Wyoming educators.*

*Eligible or available for PTSB approved virtual education credit.

Contact Information

For more information on the Wyoming Digital Learning Plan or the Future Ready Framework, contact Robin Grandpre at 307-777-5315 or robin.grandpre1@wyo.gov