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  • Principal Berkowitz

What a Week!


We made it through our first week of virtual learning. The efforts by our staffs have been nothing short of herculean. In a week, we have learned Canvas and Teams, managed to distribute hundreds of devices, and most importantly began building relationships with our newest learners. It's been amazing to see and hear teachers sing to students, learn Spanish, and personally get the 1000 questions I fully expected as I tried to get to know our students through my laptop. Some of our students are so far from DC - at least one attended class this week from South America! These are truly amazing examples of our collective commitment to learning and growing. It is great to be back "in" school!


Below are some quick updates and reminders for parents and caregivers as we enter our second week on virtual learning. Keep in mind that many details are on the Distance Learning Tab of this website.


Canvas as the Starting Point

All students should log into canvas, to their homeroom teacher’s page, and investigate the schedule to find the access point for synchronous and asynchronous learning.  Access via links sent by teachers is causing trouble!  Teachers have made their Canvas pages the one-stop shop for student access to learning and that's how students should access moving forward.  Directions for access are here!


Use the Teams App

Students need to download the Teams application (app) in order to have full access to the features of teams. The web version is limited.


What’s Happening in Specials?

See the message above re: Canvas.  Specials teachers update their own pages with an overview of the week’s lessons.  That is how students and parents can preview what’s happening.  Students and parents can use teacher’s Canvas page to access the content for Specials.


Slight and Significant Changes in Specials Schedules at Watkins <<BIG NEWS>>

Teachers, parents, and indirectly students, gave plenty of feedback from this past week regarding specials. We are listening! Starting Tuesday, we will use the 2:30 – 3:30 hour to break specials at Watkins into two 30-minute classes.  This will cut the class size in half for each Specials class. Access is available through home room teachers' canvas pages, so no major change on the student or household end.  One feature of the change is that live Health and PE will take place twice a week for every Watkins student. We also believe 30 minutes will be more productive than the 45 minutes.


All students will be enrolled (we started Thursday) into a new Canvas course for each of their Specials class.  Students will need to accept the invitation to that course on their Canvas landing page.


The adjusted schedule is in the ReOpen Strong Resources section of the Distance Learning Tab.


Lines of Communication with Parents

I hope I have demonstrated my commitment to ongoing, two-way communication.  This week I’ve received many emails – some to celebrate the great work of our teachers (thank you and agreed!) and some to raise issues with the student experience with virtual learning.  In some cases, I can solve some issues alone but, in many cases, parents should go directly to the staff member to begin the conversation.  Parents and staff can always loop administration in for awareness and support.

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