Dear West Chicago Community High School Parents and Students:
Happy New Year! As we shared with you in late November, West Chicago Community High School has been selected to participate in the e-Learning Day Pilot starting 2nd semester. We have been partnering with Leyden High School District 212 and Gurnee Elementary District 56 – the other two pilot districts – during our planning phase and wish to share our progress to keep you informed as decisions are made. To be sure we are ready, regardless of conditions I will not call an e-learning day until after January 12, 2016.
A maximum of 5 days can be run as e-learning days per year, if needed. We believe that an e-learning day is a better option than adding a day at the end of the year. Traditional snow days become lost educational time for our seniors who don't return after graduation, for our AP students who still have to take their exams on the nationally set test days, and all students who participate in statewide assessments which include college entrance exams. More importantly, for all students, we believe that e-learning days reinforce the fact that teaching and learning are not confined to 50 minute class periods or physical classrooms. Additionally the implementation of the 1:1 initiative used in conjunction with e-learning days will build the capacity of all stakeholders in our school.
If we call an e-learning day, the announcement will come by 8:00 p.m. of the night before via our automated calling system, email, and text message (if you opted in). We will also post a notice on the home page of our website at www.d94.org. This is intended to allow teachers time to create lessons and expectations for their students. Those expectations will be shared with students via their District email by 9:00 a.m. on the morning of the e-learning day.
If I need to cancel school for any reason after 8:00 p.m. of the prior night, or if the emergency does not allow sufficient time to inform students to bring their Chromebooks home, we can still use a traditional snow day and add the day at the end of the year as necessary.
We do NOT expect teachers to be available and in constant communication with students throughout an e-learning day. At a minimum, we expect teachers to monitor their email at various times during the day, but we are not requiring official "office hours" or constant availability. Our e-learning days are purposely set up as an asynchronous experience to provide flexibility for both the students and the staff.
Students will be shown how to access the e-learning day attendance Google form, and will be told to check in by 1:00 p.m. on the e-learning day. When students complete and submit the e-learning day Google form, student IDs and names will be collected allowing accurate attendance to be recorded.
In general, student work on an e-learning day will be aligned to the disciplinary literacy and learning objectives for the unit being taught when an e-learning day is used. One of the best pieces of advice we have received from other states is to make sure we do not overwhelm students with work on these days. Students will not be expected to complete 50 minutes of classwork and 30 minutes of homework for each class. Student work will be relevant, meaningful, and manageable for them. Should a circumstance not allow a student to complete the assignment, that student will be given adequate time to make up the assignment without penalty.
The most common question I have received relates to students who don't have internet access at home. The District has provided a solution through Verizon and Kajeet. We have district owned WiFi hotspots that are available for student checkout from our school library. If you do not have internet access, please contact our principal, Dr. Cheng, at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 630-876-6300. Our goal is to reach universal connectivity, not just for e-learning days, but for general equity of educational opportunities for our students every day of the year.
Should teachers or students encounter any technical issues on an e-learning day, the technology staff and the administration will be available as they are also working during the e-learning day.
We feel that there are many important pieces to try out including initial communication, attendance processes, instructional practices, and connectivity. Like any activity we feel it is best to be prepared and well-practiced. We have worked through the Division Heads to provide every staff member the chance to create and administer an electronic lesson to the students. Please remember this is a pilot, so we expect to improve upon the process as we move forward.
While this has been happening in states around us for the past few years, this is brand new for Illinois. We expect questions - so please feel free to email me directly, or contact our principal, Dr. Moses Cheng, at email@example.com.
Dr. Doug Domeracki, Superintendent