Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: September 12 – 18, 2020

Yes, and…. Zoom! Theatre and Improv Through a Pandemic at DRW College Prep

By M. McCabe for The Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Donier Tyler has been in education for 12 years and started at Noble in 2011. First as a substitute teacher at various campuses, she then transitioned to DRW College Prep in 2013 to become the founding theatre arts teacher. Heading into her 8th school year at DRW, Donier has served as grade level chair for both 9th and 10th grades, been a member of the Noble-wide instructional hedgehog team, and taught a variety of theatre courses to almost every student to pass through DRW’s doors. From Intro to Theatre to World Theatre, Media and Theatre to Improvisational Theatre, and Honors Performance and Technical Theatre students are exposed to all aspects of theatre history, performance,  and production; in addition to producing two to three shows a year. We sat down with Donier to hear about her transition to remote learning for the spring and the plans for the DRW theatre program this fall.”

Preparing For The World As It Could Be: Remote Teaching At UIC College Prep #NobleReadyForRemote

By M. McCabe for The Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Christine Wong is a 10th grade English teacher, entering her 8th year at UIC College Prep (UICCP). Christine is part of the Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI) working group at UIC and also leads Culturally Responsive and Supportive Teaching professional development sessions (which are tied to the Noble Classroom). We sat down with Christine to hear more about the transition to remote teaching in the spring and the way she is preparing for the fall semester.

How much online learning is too much? Schools’ shift to live virtual classes sparks pushback

By Patrick Wall for Chalkbeat

“…Other charters have gone a different route, using Zoom classes mainly to reinforce material that students learn independently. Noble, a Chicago-based network of 17 charter high schools and one middle school, reserves about half of its five-hour remote school day for live sessions. But those are optional and mainly focused on relationship-building and class discussions; students are not penalized if they don’t attend. Teachers present most new material asynchronously, through videos and readings that students access on their own time. “This came down to equity,” said Noble’s Chief Education Officer Kyle Cole, who explained that some students struggle to attend live online classes due to W-iFi issues or because they must look after younger siblings. “Their ability to be on a computer at a given time every day just couldn’t be guaranteed.”

Noble Charter Schools Share Tips for Remote Learning

By Chicago Unheard

“How did your first week of school go? How was your connection? Did you have any hiccups?  If you had issues, you might be interested to see what the Noble Network of Charter Schools had on tap for their students and faculty at the start of this bizarre, upside-down, pandemic-laden school year. Calling it #NobleReadyForRemote, this morning Noble shared on Twitter their successes from this week and throughout distance learning, plus some tips on how to scale it to your students.”

CPS parents frustrated with remote learning 1 week into year, schools work to track down absent students

By Sarah Schulte for WLS

“Nearly one week after classes began for the year, some parents of Chicago Public School students said they are frustrated with remote learning. The school district has begun to track down students who are not signing in to their remote sessions. With a list in hand, Daley Academy’s Principal, Assistant Principal and a school security guard made home visits Monday to look for students who have yet to show up for school remotely. “The first week of school was really rough, the biggest issue was getting students on computers and online,” said Kamilah Hampton, Richard J. Daley Academy Principal. Attendance at the Back of the Yards Chicago Public School on the first day was only 55%, but through outreach efforts in person and on the phone, Hampton said attendance is now up to 73%. The school’s student population is almost all low income, many Spanish speaking, and getting students devices and online is on going. “I think the challenge is keeping our students engaged,” Hampton said. “We know they have to be on a computer for a certain amount of time.”

Race in Chicago: COVID-19 Exposes a Digital Divide

By Kate Chappell for NBC Chicago

“When Chicago Public School (CPS) students were shifted to online learning in the spring of 2020, it was a reality check for the district, for parents, and for students. During the immediate aftermath of the decision, CPS scrambled to hand out more than 128,000 devices. Another 39,000 were distributed when it was announced students would continue remote learning in the fall. But another issue reared its ugly head when the pandemic hit. Not only were many students without the devices they needed, a large portion also couldn’t use them because they don’t have access to the Internet. According to US Census data, 110,000 Chicago children under age 18 don’t have access to broadband. The issue disproportionately affects Chicago’s low income families and people of color. Kids First Chicago is working to change that, giving parents like Claiborne Wade a voice. “One in five families in Chicago are disconnected,” said Daniel Anello, the CEO of Kids First. “When you actually look at that by community area, it’s incredibly polar.”

CPS students log on at much higher rates than the spring, but attendance down from previous years

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“About four of every five Chicago Public Schools students logged on for the first week of school, a markedly higher rate than in the spring despite first-day attendance still dipping from previous years in a sign of the continued challenges of remote learning, figures released Friday by the district show. The early engagement levels are a promising start for a school system in which barely half of students attended online classes three or more days per week after the coronavirus pandemic forced buildings to close in the spring. Yet the first week was a mixed bag, with dozens of schools drawing better attendance than previous years’ district-wide average, while a handful of schools still had less than half their students log on. The results reflect a varying degree of success in bridging a stubborn technology gap and creating an online learning plan that is achievable for working-families who are juggling students’ classes with parents’ jobs.”

By Serving the Whole Family, Christopher House Made Distance Learning Work for All Kids

By Krissy Novy for Chicago Unheard

“Like other schools across the country, we at Christopher House physically closed our doors in mid-March due to COVID-19, which was an abrupt and at times hectic transition as we provided our scholars with much-needed Chromebooks, personalized online learning plans and access to free home internet.   At the end of the school year, an impressive 91% of our scholars had fully participated in our remote learning programming. In hindsight, there was a less visible piece of our strategy that proved pivotal to our success during the pandemic: our year-round continuum-of-care model.  This approach is unique as we serve the entire family—not just our scholars or during the school day. Our model centers in good part around our family advocates, who also serve as year-round case workers. Within days of our shutdown, they assessed which families were most in need and provided support ranging from mental health counseling to emergency financial aid.”