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Marshfield Superintendent Discusses District's Approach to Learning at Home
Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 -- 9:28 am
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director

(WDLB) -Many school districts are entering their second full week of operating under an indefinite school closure order while still trying to teach their students.

Marshfield School District Superintendent Dr. Ryan Christianson says there has been lots of primarily e-mail communication between teachers and families who are all under quarantine. “This really runs the span of using online teaching tools for students to draw resources and content off of the web to sending home via email more traditional-type learning activities for kids " and I would say that that’s more characteristic at the elementary level.”

Dr. Christianson is quick to point out this is remote instruction versus virtual learning. “The virtual learning that I think people have gotten to be accustomed to hearing about, especially like our virtual charter schools that are out there, have programming that is very specifically-designed to be delivered in a capacity that kids can take their program in an asynchronous format and follow pre-designed programming that is very specific to a schedule. We don’t have all of that set up for all of the courses that we offer in our schools for K-12, so we are in process of " on the fly " trying to pull together and deliver curriculum to our kids at home the best we can with the circumstances that we’ve been dealt.”

As for the actual instruction, Christianson says there is some real-time teaching happening online, but on a very limited basis. The majority of lesson plans are being communicated out through email or material that’s put up on the district’s Canvas learning-management system. He also says the schoolwork the staff is currently delivering during the state-mandated closure is optional, and the work completed by students during this remote learning period will not be graded or otherwise contribute to credit-bearing evaluations of students. “We understand that changing our instructional delivery on a dime like we are is going to create some bumps in the road, and we just ask our students and our families to continue to do their best to do what they can as best they can with the work that’s being delivered. We understand that we need to be flexible and make some modifications given what we’re facing right now. We’re not giving strict, hard letter grades like we would under normal circumstances. We’re going to be basing kids’ work on the effort that they put forth, and asking them to do the best they can given the circumstances we’re facing. When we come back into session, we will figure things out, as far as how the credits are going to be earned, and all of those types of situations, related all the way up to graduation.”

And while teachers are very likely to provide feedback to students as they complete the optional work, Christianson adds that teacher feedback is not to be viewed as a grade or a formal assessment. As for graduation scheduled for Sunday, May 31, Dr. Christianson says it’s too early to tell right now what will happen.

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