The purpose of the District 123 eLearning plan is to provide a continuum of learning for all students during a period of emergency closure. This plan addresses the eLearning program requirements as determined by statute and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Each requirement is addressed in the plan and references the program requirements within the footnotes.
District 123 will maintain the momentum of learning and minimize disruptions through the eLearning plan. Faculty and staff will leverage the district’s one-to-one resources to provide students with relevant, meaningful and manageable learning tasks that all students can complete when a short-term closure occurs due to weather or other related building concerns.
The Illinois State Board of Education established an e-learning pilot in 2015. Through Public Act 101-0012 enacted on July 1, 2019, the ability for school districts to utilize eLearning was created. eLearning was to be used on no more than five school days per year and would count as attendance days without the need to add emergency days to the end of the school year, according to the statute.
In April of 2019, a district committee was assembled to begin exploring the feasibility of eLearning at District 123. The committee consisted of faculty representatives from District 123 schools across different grade levels and from the district’s collective bargaining unit. The committee has met six times during this period. The committee served to help build and guide the creation of this eLearning plan for District 123. Additionally, the committee will continue to meet after the use of an eLearning day to discuss lessons learned, address areas for improvement, and make further revisions and modifications to the current plan.
To ensure a continuum of learning for all students during a period of emergency closure the District 123 eLearning plan includes requirements to guarantee five-clock hours of instruction during the course of a normal weather-related eLearning day experience. The schedule for an eLearning day is as follows:
The design of student experiences on an eLearning day will be unique from classroom to classroom and teacher to teacher. Students in Grades 3-8 take district-issued Chromebooks home on a daily basis. Kindergarten through 2nd grade students have access to one-to-one devices in the form of iPads and Chromebooks during the school day. These students have the ability to take the devices home on an as-needed basis. District 123 utilizes various learning management systems (LMS) to facilitate both in-person and remote learning during the course of the school year. The primary LMS used at District 123 is presently Google Classroom. Google Classroom helps students and teachers organize learning tasks, collaborate with each other, and communicate throughout the course of a school day. Google Classroom student rosters are updated nightly with information from the student information system as students enroll/disenroll.
At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, approximately 98% of those surveyed indicated access to reliable internet at their home. District 123 is currently soliciting options to provide additional access for those without connectivity through the use of cellular internet hotspots. However, even with attempts to provide internet access for all, not all families will have access to the technology resources necessary to facilitate an eLearning day. To encourage participation under these particular circumstances, District 123 will also make available printed-materials during Fall Family Conferences for families requesting them. Additionally, eLearning day materials will also be available for pickup at a previously designated school building within the district. The printed-materials will contain learning tasks designed to engage students with instruction for five-clock hours during an eLearning day. Furthermore, if a student is met with circumstances beyond their control (power outages, lack of technology, etc.) all students will have up to two full school days upon return to school to complete learning tasks assigned during an eLearning day.
Technology support will be available for students and faculty during eLearning Days. Technology support staff will be working from home to support faculty, staff and students during an eLearning day. Support can be reached by emailing District 123 technology support at: email@example.com.
In an attempt to gain a more thorough awareness of eLearning for all stakeholders throughout District 123, an opportunity was created by the eLearning committee to engage families in a ‘Practice eLearning Day’ on March 16, 2020. The logistics of the ‘Practice eLearning Day’, along with the eLearning plan, was communicated and discussed with District 123 families during Spring Family Conferences on February 20-21, 2020. The ‘Practice eLearning Day’ was completed to great success. Feedback was collected from faculty, staff, and families during the practice day. An overwhelming majority of the feedback received conveyed a positive sentiment and was celebratory in nature. The negative feedback that was received will be discussed and considered during the next meeting of the District 123 eLearning committee in hopes to make adjustments that include the suggestions received from the entire learning community.
District 123 will be using two different methods to ensure students’ electronic participation. The first method deploys a ‘Check-In’ process that can be completed by parents or students at the beginning of an eLearning day. Additionally, the teacher will also have the opportunity to mark for student attendance based upon the participation indicated by student artifacts that have been received after an eLearning day. Samples of these artifacts may include assignments, projects, or parent-focused participation checklists. After two full school days, faculty have the ability to modify attendance in the student information system for the five days following a declared eLearning day.
Every attempt will be made to determine that an eLearning Day will be used by 9 p.m. the night before. A decision will be made by 6:30 a.m. at the latest. Communication will be sent through District 123 email, phone call, district social media accounts, d123.org, and posted to emergencyclosing.com. Each faculty member has created an eLearning ‘1-Doc’ that is publicly accessible and clearly communicates expectations and learning tasks for students on an eLearning day. Additionally, a specific website has been created to archive and facilitate the communication of individual teacher expectations throughout the eLearning day. The website can be found at elearning.d123.org and contains links to ‘1-Docs’ from the March 16, 2020 eLearning Practice Day.
Faculty & Staff Considerations
To maintain the momentum of learning and minimize disruptions through the District 123 eLearning plan, instructional staff members have been provided a sample ‘1-Doc’ eLearning template to facilitate a productive and efficient day of learning, as well as, maintain consistency and communication with District 123 families throughout an eLearning day.
Within Grades K-5, each ‘1-Doc’ is created by the grade-level homeroom teacher and contains 5-clock hours of learning tasks. This ‘1-Doc’ additionally includes extension and enrichment opportunities from other specialists within each school as well.
Within Grades 6-8, each ‘1-Doc’ is created by the content-specific teacher and contains period-length learning tasks for specific content areas.
Both models allow for faculty members to create appropriate learning tasks specific to their roster of students. Both models ensure that the classroom teacher responsible for the day-to-day learning typical of a non-eLearning day continues regardless of time, pace and means of instruction. This includes tailored experiences for students with both exceptional and language needs. As indicated above related service faculty and staff members also provide materials through the classroom teacher for students to access additional resources.
All instructional faculty members are provided with a laptop and take their devices home daily. Faculty and staff members were also trained on District 123 eLearning procedures during the October 31, 2019 Staff Development Day. All faculty and staff were given an introduction to the developed eLearning plan and dedicated three hours to meet collaboratively with grade-level and content area partners. The plans that were developed were put into use during the ‘Practice eLearning Day’ that took place on March 16, 2020.
Non-instructional staff members including teacher aides also have the opportunity to participate in eLearning throughout the district as well. Classified staff members are given 3 options during a normal eLearning day at District 123: (1) Participate in Professional Learning Module equal to the work day with a thirty-day completion timeline; (2) Utilize a benefit day; and/or, (3) Make-up days at the end of the school year. Professional development opportunities will include options from Infinitec, along with opportunities for reading and response on current practices for the paraprofessional. In the absence of the above three options, particular assignments may be directed by an individual’s direct supervisor.
The purpose of the District 123 eLearning plan is to provide a continuum of learning for all students during a period of emergency closure. Through the District 123 eLearning plan, students will have the opportunity to engage in tailored, relevant, meaningful and manageable learning tasks during an unexpected closure.
ISBE eLearning Program Plan Requirements
eLearning Plan must provide for provisions designed to reasonably and practicably accomplish the following:
(1) Ensure and verify at least 5 clock hours of instruction or school work, as required under Section 10‐19.05, for each student participating in an e‐learning day
(2) Ensure access from home or other appropriate remote facility for all students participating, including computers, the Internet, and other forms of electronic communication that must be utilized in the proposed program
(3) Ensure that non‐electronic materials are made available for students participating in the program who do not have access to the required technology or to participating teachers or students who are prevented from accessing the required technology
(4) Ensure appropriate learning opportunities for students with special needs
(5) Monitor and verify each student’s electronic participation
(6) Address the extent to which student participation is within the student’s control as to the time, pace, and means of learning
(7) Provide effective notice to students and their parents or guardians of the use of particular days for earning
(8) Provide staff and students with adequate training for eLearning days’ participation
(9) Ensure that all teachers and staff who may be involved in the provisions of eLearning have access to any and all hardware and software that may be required for the program
(10) Ensure an opportunity for any collective bargaining negotiations with representatives of the school district’s employees that would be legally required, and including all classifications of school district employees who are represented by collective bargaining agreements and who would be affected in the event of an e‐learning day
(11) Review and revise the program as implemented to address difficulties confronted
(12) Ensure that the protocol regarding general expectations and responsibilities of the program is communicated to teachers, staff, and students at least 30 days prior to utilizing an e‐learning day.