Teaching and Learning
Teaching and Learning
The intent of MUHS is to return to on-campus classes and co-curriculars in a safe manner. We look forward to welcoming students to campus on August 19 for sophomore, junior, and senior registration, August 20-21 for new student registration and orientation, and August 24 for the first day of classes. While on-campus learning is our primary goal, MUHS is preparing additional scenarios involving reduced student occupancy or online learning as mandated by local governments. This section provides an overview of the plan for the 2020-21 academic year. This plan takes into account three scenarios for the delivery of instruction and school programs:
Scenario A: In-Person Classes and School Programs
The school will return to entire-school, in-person classes and co-curriculars with required modifications, preventative measures, and procedures. In this scenario students will be learning and engaging in classes from home if parents are not comfortable sending their sons to school, if any students are symptomatic, or if they have come into contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Scenario B: Hybrid / Blended Learning and Programs
In this scenario, classes will be offered in-person and online due to restrictions to room occupancy at 50% in order to apply social distancing requirements. Students will be assigned a cohort and report to school two or three days a week. Similar to scenario A, students will be learning and engaging in classes at home if parents are not comfortable sending their sons to school, if any students are symptomatic, or if they have come into contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Scenario C: Online Classes and School Programs (Hilltoppers@Home)
In this scenario the school will return to 100% online learning and co-curriculars on an intermittent or long-term basis due to local government mandates.
Daily and Weekly Schedules
Scenario A and B Schedules
The design goals of the daily and weekly schedules are to adhere to health guidelines, maximize student contact and real-time learning, while providing consistent structure and time for the education of the whole person. Scenarios A and B will utilize the same daily bell schedule. The schedule includes the following provisions:
- Class transition time is 6 minutes (instead of 4 minutes) to accommodate adjusted traffic patterns and social distancing norms.
- Homerooms will meet three times per week to provide student activities and socialization during the day.
- Dedicated Advising time will be provided to address the socio-emotional well being of students.
- Late start will be offered every Wednesday (instead of Thursday) with a Liturgy period for worship and faith formation.
Scenario B Schedule
- Scenario B utilizes the same schedule as Scenario A.
- Only 50% of the student body will be in the building each day to adhere to social distancing requirements. Students will be divided into two houses (Blue & Gold) to determine which half will be in the building on a given day.
- The house not in the building on a given day will learn and engage in classes from home.
- Weeks will be either “A” or “B” weeks to maximize and balance in-person student contact between the Blue & Gold houses. Students will alternate their attendance, one day in school and the next day at home.
- All classes are online.
- Classes will meet for synchronous learning on an alternating (odd period/even period) basis.
- On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, four classes will meet for 60 minutes each.
- On Wednesdays all classes will meet.
- Homerooms will meet two times per week.
- Resource represents office hours, advising, and/or mandatory meetings for struggling students.
Survey results of all stakeholder groups from this spring (students, parents, and teachers) presented a clear preference for scheduled, real-time learning opportunities, highlighting the importance of the interactions that take place during those times. In an effort to honor those preferences, the school has placed a priority on maximizing synchronous learning, both in the design of daily schedules and through new technologies in MUHS classrooms.
Faculty have engaged in professional development and planning this summer to optimize their impact on student learning and engagement in each of the possible scenarios. They will pre-assess their students’ skills and learning gaps and target instruction accordingly. In addition, they will be attentive to the social-emotional needs of their students and provide cura personalis, particularly during these challenging times.
Course Platforms and Communications
MUHS will provide communication systems that are consistent and reliable regardless of the scenario. The learning management system of MUHS courses is Moodle, the student information and grading system is through PowerSchool, and classes offered virtually will occur through Zoom. Student communications will include:
- Weekly Student Bulletin, with school-wide announcements, posted on the school website.
- Teachers’ weekly class plan and expectations will be posted in the Moodle course page. This plan will include a learning schedule for the week, along with homework assignments, grading rubrics, relevant learning links and Zoom links.
- Teachers will make every effort to collect assignments digitally, using platforms other than electronic mail. (Moodle, Google Classroom or TurnItIn).
- Missing Assignments will be flagged in Power-School Gradebook.
Grading and Assessments
Traditional grades will be used to report students’ academic performance in their courses. Semester grades will be reported on students’ transcripts. The MUHS Profile in the next three years will include a description of the methods of instruction and grading approaches during the pandemic. This profile accompanies every MUHS transcript submitted to colleges.
Some of the practices of assessment may shift away from objective tests and quizzes toward the use of project-based or performance-based assessments. We are planning to administer final cumulative exams at the end of the semester. These exams may be administered online.
Parents should notify the Dean of Students, Mr. Kowalewski, if their students are experiencing any obstacles or limitations during the pandemic. This may include technology challenges, illness, care for family members, learning challenges, or emotional turmoil. The school will offer care to students and do its best to respond to these challenges.
Staying connected with our young men is of utmost importance and core to our identity as a Jesuit institution. We need to regularly engage with our students online if they can’t be here with us face-to-face in order to care for the whole person. In addition, the students in the school should interact with those students who are off campus during the class period. The school is planning to deploy technology that will allow for those interactions.
Swivl is the technology chosen to help our MUHS student community stay connected. This technology will be used for students unable to be physically present in the classrooms or if the school is in a hybrid scenario (50% of the students in school and 50% of the students learning from home.) Our classrooms will be outfitted with what is called a Swivl C3 robot. The robot is the base pictured below (white and gray). It will have an iPad mounted on it, which will use the teleconferencing application Zoom to stream video to our students at home.
The Swivl C3 is called a robot because it tracks movement in the classroom based on a “marker” the teacher will wear. This marker also doubles as a microphone. Wherever the teacher moves, the robot will rotate or swivel to follow the teacher. You can see the teacher marker pictured to the left with the lanyard attached for the teacher to wear.
The 3 in the C3 name is indicative of the number of markers that it uses. As stated above, one marker will be on the teacher. The other two will be placed in the classroom to help our students at home hear what is being said by their fellow students. The two markers that will be among the students are pictured above.
Students who are learning remotely will be able to follow along with the Swivl’s view of the classroom. If the teacher is sharing a presentation with the class, that can be shared full-screen from the teacher computer with students at home.
Teachers will communicate expectations via their Moodle page at https://moodle.muhs.edu. Homework will be handed in via a platform such as Moodle, Google Classroom or TurnItIn. Teachers will not be asking for work to be submitted via email.
- If parents are not comfortable sending their sons to school, will they be penalized?
- Is the school calendar changing due to the pandemic?
- What will the schedule be if MUHS is forced to move to virtual instruction?
- If the school is online what percentage of virtual learning will be synchronous?
- If hybrid, how will you address the need for families or carpools to have the same schedule?
- How do you plan to get the freshman orientated with the level of learning expected at MUHS, with the new plan for the year, whatever it might be?
- How will the incoming freshmen be assessed to understand what information they may not have learned this spring or what changes will be made to make sure they all catch up?
- What kind of academic support will be available to struggling students?
- Will you be offering more technology training to the teachers and students who may need it?
- How will fine arts and music classes be impacted?