A MESSAGE FROM HEATHER
A brief message from Heather sharing the week’s overview and her gratitude for Keys’ community connection.
FAQ’S FOR DISTANCE LEARNING
Click here to view a list of frequently asked questions about Distance Learning at Keys.
Nine years ago, Sara Poplack came to Keys to teach third grade. In her time at Keys, she has moved from third grade to become the Lower School Librarian and Curriculum Coordinator. She stepped out of the library and expanded her contributions by stepping into the Head of Lower School role when Betsy went out on parental leave. For the past three years, Sara has served as the Assistant Head of Lower School and LS Curriculum Coordinator. Known for her deep commitment to education and pedagogy, Sara embodies all that we strive for in our community. An advocate for the teachers and students, she has strengthened not only the Lower School curriculum but also the Mentor and Associate Teacher Programs. Sara is deeply knowledgeable about all aspects of elementary education and a talented administrator. Prior to departing, Sara will be moving over the Middle School to help out while Katie Dlesk is out on parental leave. We will miss her dearly at the Lower School and wish her all the best.
We are delighted to announce that Victoria Kimball will be returning to the admission department from her maternity leave beginning April 13. Welcome back, Victoria!
We would also like to thank Nicole Shiotani, who served as Victoria’s leave replacement, for her incredible support and work during the admission season. We’re so grateful for her many contributions, especially during peak admission season. Thank you, Nicole!
Daphne Razon has returned recently from her parental leave. We are thrilled to have her back for the remainder of the school year. Prior to her leave, Daphne was the parental leave replacement teacher in the KA classroom. She will be joining the first-grade team to provide additional distance learning support. Welcome back, Daphne!
A LETTER FROM OUR LEARNING SPECIALISTS
Learning Support Information
Dear Keys parents,
With our recent transition to Distance Learning and some time to settle into these new routines and expectations, we wanted to take a moment to dive deeper into how this virtual and often asynchronous format may impact your student. Know that we continue to collaborate with teachers to ensure that accommodations are provided during this time, and that as an entire school, we will be needing to be as flexible and patient as we can through the inevitable adjustments and changes. We also understand that as caregivers, you are faced with your own balancing acts as you navigate family needs and manage your personal workload. With that in mind, here are some general tips to ease into these initial weeks:
Be patient and reassuring.
Provide an organized, quiet work space for your student.
Remind your Middle School student to check their email and KeysNet regularly.
Have your student explain their work and due dates. Remember that KeysNet is the Middle School hub for central, consistent access to information. For Lower School, please refer to the weekly schedules sent by homeroom teachers.
Continue external academic and social-emotional support structures you have in place, if possible.
Encourage your student to reach out to their teachers, advisors, technology integrationists, learning specialists, or counselors. We’re here to help!
Students with language-based learning differences
You may notice an increased demand on:
Reading (for example, schedules and instructions sent to students ahead of time)
Writing and/or typing (for completing assignments or participating in discussions), and
Active listening (live directions from the teacher, for instance, when audio and/or internet connectivity isn’t the best).
Students with language-based learning differences will likely need more time to process these instructions and complete tasks while integrating these with technology. Be aware that learning stamina may be less than usual during these first few weeks as their brains are working overtime! Please check in with us with any questions about dictation, audiobook or video access, and other accommodations.
Students with attention and executive functioning challenges:
Distance Learning requires students to integrate a number of executive functioning skills such as time management, perseverance, workspace organization, and sustaining attention.
These executive functioning skills are supported in a traditional physical classroom setting in various ways including teacher cueing, prompts to hand in assignments, assistance with monitoring independent work, and catching students at the end of lessons to check for their understanding. With the altered form of learning supports, these students may require assistance in a different way to:
Starting, finishing, and turning in assignments. Now is a great time to check in with your child about their planning systems and where they can access the information necessary to complete their planners to account for adequate time and other commitments that can pop up along the road to turning in a project.
Navigating potentially unfamiliar menus and buttons on their devices and apps. While many of our students are near-digital natives, please remember that the flurry of new systems will require extra reminders and explanations of steps to access websites, different sections of apps, or even features of their devices. Please reach out to us, the teacher(s), tech resource pages and/or our tech integrationists with any questions.
Gathering materials and dedicating space (including seating tools!) for an activity. Collecting materials in advance (from home or sent by teachers), your student can be prepared for an interrupted thought process once a lesson begins.. You can also engage your student in conversation about the learning tools, such as hand fidgets, timers, and wiggle stools, that they’ve found helpful in the physical environment, and which of those are replicable at home (please let us know if you have questions about obtaining these tools).
Students with (visual and auditory) processing (speed) challenges:
Video recording: Encourage your child to pause, rewind, and replay, or even slow down altogether, the recorded lessons from their teachers, to fully familiarize themselves with the directions, content, and/or task.
“Wait/think” time: This need may be supported by working out a different participation method or signal with the teacher. You can also help ensure your child is familiar with Zoom tools such as “raising” their hand, using the “thumbs-up” emoji, or simply typing “Please wait!” or “Come back to me” in the chat box.
Tracking: Students with vision needs may find themselves extra-busy as they become accustomed to keeping track of multiple windows, texts, and moving people in their backgrounds. Raising the level of visual aids both online (bolding fonts, changing font size, adjusting screen brightness, to name a few) and offline, if possible (like highlighting key terms in printed assignments, using a line tracker when reading) will help ease your student through this virtual world. For our Middle School students, encourage them to think about the best screen set-up for the particular class (split screen, minimized Zoom screen over a Google doc, gallery or speaker view, etc.)
Listening: We recommend headphones, if available, as the first tool for your student to follow along with instruction, whether live or recorded. Also, work with your student to notice and adjust their device, body position, and/or environment to ensure they’re receiving the audio input needed to participate.
Students with anxiety and social struggles:
Many students rely on discussions and group work to clarify and solidify their understanding. They may also rely on the teacher and classmates’ non-verbal language for assurance and social cues. This support will be hard to receive through virtual lessons. Students will likely be more anxious trying to start a lesson and keep up with the technology and pace. Should you notice other impacts on their learning, please reach out to the support team.
We recognize there is a lot to digest in this communication. Know that we are here to support you and your student to make it all as manageable as possible. Please be in touch at any time, as we are always happy to set up a Zoom call with your family.
Patricia and Monica
Lower and Middle School Learning Specialists
Please note that ERB’s (standardized tests taken yearly by students in grades 3-8) are cancelled for Spring 2020. We will offer ERB’s again in the Spring of 2021.
SPRING ATHLETICS SEASON CANCELLED
The WBAL Spring Athletics season has been cancelled due to school closures throughout the league and COVID-19. It is unfortunate to not have our Spring Season sports play out, but ultimately safety comes before anything else. Thank you for supporting Keys Athletics and I look forward to next year’s Athletics year.
UPDATES ABOUT ZOOM
In recent days there has been news about Zoom that raises concerns about the security and privacy of their platform. This service, along with services from other vendors, is instrumental to our ability to function as an online school. Keys School works hard to maintain the online safety, security, and privacy of our students and we take these concerns seriously. We seek to partner with companies that will also uphold high standards.
The most dramatic concern in the news is ZoomBombing, wherein a malicious person hijacks a meeting or online class session. Unwanted participants can be reliably kept out of Zoom rooms by utilizing passwords, the waiting room functionality and locking meetings once all attendies have joined. These settings have been turned on by default for all of our teachers and classes at the school account level. Zoom has also released updates to their software, released new training materials and changed default settings to help curb the possibility of these occurrences. Since we have such a tight-knit community, teachers will only admit students they know into their classes. Please look for new links to Zoom meetings from your teachers. These links have the password embedded in them for the ease of our students connecting. Students and other members of our community should refrain from sharing these links outside of our community.
We feel Zoom is a powerful and safe tool for our teachers and students, and the company’s quick efforts to improve security, privacy, and reliability since this crisis began gives us confidence they trustworthy partners. Along with the training of our teachers, comfort level of our students and various features that Zoom excels at (breakout rooms, gallery view, reactions/virtual hand raising, and classroom management), we plan to continue to use the Zoom platform while continually evaluating all tools to make Distance Learning successful. Thank you for sharing your concerns! That’s how we all get better. Your feedback allows us to make quick changes and thorough improvements to ensure safety and the best possible experiences for our students.
TIPS FOR USING AND MAKING FACE MASKS
Click here to view information from the CDC on how to wear, remove, clean, and make face masks.