VBI Program Planning Strands
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Each element, or strand, of the program design for your Virtual, Blended, and In-Person model needs to clearly align with an accountability measure, or metric, that is based on easy to obtain data. This data must be regularly and consistently monitored to ensure that students and staff are performing as expected within your programs.
Metrics should be based on data that describes student outcomes and not processes, for example, measuring grades on assignments provides a better high-level look at student success as opposed to time spent logged in to the online course. However, when teachers are supporting students they will need the ability to drill down into detailed data in order to determine the reason for a failed grade on an assignment, such as rushing through the material.
As we utilize more technology to educate students and encourage them to become independent learners, we have growing access to a plethora of data. The amount of data can quickly become overwhelming unless you begin with the end in mind and plan your metrics and data-gathering around what is most important in demonstrating student mastery of learning objectives.
The same idea applies to how you plan to measure teacher success.
Determine what your district’s vision is for teacher success and then identify what data element or elements can provide a solid picture of that success or lack thereof.
Student engagement is the most challenging aspect of public education, whether those students are remote or are in-person in classrooms. According to Phil Schlechty, truly engaging students in learning means that they are highly interested, they persist when the learning is difficult, and they even enjoy the learning that is taking place.
Before developing your VBI model, you must clearly articulate and understand your district’s vision of what student learning looks like and then determine how you will measure that engagement or active learning. Measuring student engagement will form the foundation of your VBI model and will be interwoven into each of the three-prongs. The questions below will help you determine exactly how your district measures engagement and will allow you to determine what data to analyze to regularly monitor and address any student engagement issues that arise.
- What is most important to your district in terms of student learning: time spent on the content or student mastery of objectives?
- Do you require that students complete assignments by due dates, without the possibility of redoing failed assignments? Is it more important that students “cover” content or that students “learn” content?
- Do you require students to spend a specific amount time on assignments regardless of their level of mastery, for example, a student who can pass the unit test on dividing decimals must still complete all the dividing decimal daily assignments for their grade?
- How do you measure successful learning in your district, by mastery or seat time?
- Mastery of learning objectives - Large Scale, Assessment
- Mastery of learning objectives - Single Assignments
- Time spent exposed to content with an average grade of all assignments used to determine if a student “on average” mastered the content.
- Is successful completion of assignments how you will determine engagement?
- Do you believe that students must spend a specific amount of time engaging with content? If yes, does that amount of time vary depending on learner differences?
- If a student shows mastery of learning objectives will the student be exempted from having to complete assignments for those objectives?
The VBI Instructional Plan should include details on how instruction will be provided by teachers in each unique setting. Regular class instruction, special programs’ instruction, and intervention instruction should be included in the plan.
As you consider instructional approaches, keep in mind that you can use many of the same instructional approaches across all three VBI programs. For instance, short, instructional videos recorded by teachers are excellent tools to provide introductory instruction in all settings, allowing teachers to focus on teaching more difficult content.
Consider how you will use instructional resources and how teachers will leverage each resource to provide the most engaging student experience possible.
- In what format will instruction be provided in each setting: will you use videos, in-person instruction, online synchronous instruction, or a combination?
- If videos will be developed, how can teachers and students attending Blended or In-Person options also utilize the videos to increase students’ aptitude for independent learning with support from teachers on more difficult content?
- What type of instructional support will be provided in live (or synchronous) online meeting rooms? Will formal, teacher-led lectures be provided synchronously, or will teachers be available online primarily for come-and-go tutorial help sessions?
- Will teachers provide focused instruction in small groups to individualize instruction for students based on their needs or will instruction be whole-group and taught to the middle?
- How will instruction be provided including frequency and duration (how often and for how long)?
The VBI curriculum strand should include details for each grade level and for each subject, including expectations for how students will interact with the curriculum and the role teachers will play in supporting that interaction.
- Will the same curriculum be used in virtual, blended, and in-person learning?
- What curriculum will be used, is it an in-house developed curriculum or purchased curriculum?
- Is the curriculum provided by textbooks, online interactive courses, or teacher-created instruction and assignments? If a curriculum is available in multiple formats, which version of the curriculum will you use for Virtual, Blended, and In-person?
- How will pacing adjustments be made based on student needs?
- How will teachers support student interaction with the curriculum? Will students work at their own pace, watching videos, and asking for teacher help if needed?
- Will teachers provide a timeline for students to complete assignments and provide structured online or in-person instruction that aligns to that timeline?
The VBI Assessment Plan should include what type of assessments will be used for each grade level and the frequency of the assessments. Any mandatory state assessments should be included, in addition to interim testing that the district conducts to measure growth.
- How will you assess students at the beginning, middle, and end of the year to help measure academic growth?
- How and when will the assessments be proctored for Virtual, Blended, and In-person students?
- What special considerations need to be planned for to ensure adequate tech support and remote test security is maintained for remote proctoring?
- What facilities’ plans need to be developed if all testing will be conducted in-person?
- How will mandatory state testing and other district testing affect the use of facilities during testing times? Will testing be conducted partially online, fully online, or fully in-person?
All staffing determinations will need to be based upon the instructional model adopted, the number of students in each program, and the intensity of support and frequency of contact that teachers will provide to students.
Please note: Do not overload teachers and staff. Virtual and blended instruction does not require less time for teachers to support students. You are setting yourself up for poor assessment results and limited student growth if you overload your staff. Research indicates that student learning outcomes are substantially lower in virtual and blended learning when teacher to student ratios are higher than traditional campuses.
Other staffing questions to consider:
- Will dedicated teachers be provided to each separate program? If yes, how will teachers collaborate in PLCs (professional learning communities) and shared planning with one another to encourage shared resources and creativity?
- Will teachers of Virtual or Blended programs work remotely or partially remotely?
- Will in-person teachers also be scheduled to teach virtual students during synchronous online class sessions or online tutorials?
- Will teachers be shared between blended groups, such as a math teacher who teaches Blended Group A and Blended Group B while they are on campus? If yes, how will students receive support on the days that they are remote and working off-campus?
- What teacher to student ratio will you maintain?
Technology plays a critical role in every educational system today. Your technology decisions will either create a seamless, smooth learning experience or a chaotic, stressful “which program do I use and why won’t it work” experience.
A big picture approach is best in which you use fewer programs that provide the key functionalities you need rather than piecemealing a bunch of programs together for bells and whistles.
Decide what functionalities are the most important to your district and try to keep it as simple as possible, for the sake of your staff, students, and families.
- What technology (hardware, software, and connectivity) will Virtual, Blended, and In-Person need? Can you use the same tech for across all three programs?
- How will students and staff be trained on the technology that they are expected to use? Who is responsible for providing the training? What is the timeline for the training? How will students and staff who join mid-year receive the technology training?
- How will the necessary technology be distributed to students and staff?
- Is the school technology infrastructure adequate to support any new technology that is being added?
- Will the school provide laptops to all students regardless of the VBI program or will only students who are Virtual or Blended receive devices?
- Will the school provide wifi hot spots to students who do not have Internet connectivity at home? Will any type of income guidelines (such as qualification for free or reduced lunches) be used to determine who qualifies for wifi hot spots or will all students be eligible for one upon request?
- How will technical assistance be provided to students who have problems with any of their school-issued hardware devices?
- How will technical assistance be provided to students who have problems with any of their school-issued software, including free software?
Operation’s planning includes the coordination of people, supplies, and facilities to provide a high-quality educational experience in each prong of VBI. These decisions about the behind the scenes processes can make or break your VBI programs.
- How will student groupings be configured for alternating groups of Blended students to maximize facilities use and staffing?
- How will campus facility schedules accommodate graduations, awards assemblies, and other typical large school gatherings for all enrolled students, regardless of programs? Will different events be held for each program or will whole campus events be held where space permits?
- How will busing routes be affected, especially in regards to the Blended program which will have a different student pickup route depending upon which group of students is attending on-campus each day?
- How will cafeteria use be affected? Will Virtual and Blended students still have the option of receiving breakfast or lunch on the days they are not on-campus if they qualify for free or reduced lunches?
- How can existing busing routes be used to provide morning meal dropoff at specified times for Blended and Virtual students who opt-in to the school meal program?
Want Some Help Setting Up Your VBI Programs? Contact us to get started today.
Conduct a needs assessment to develop a VBI program that is based on student, community, and staff needs.
Determine what resources you have available and how to best allocate your resources in a restructured VBI model.
Which curriculum, edtech programs, tech devices, and instructional practices do you need to keep, which do you need to add, and which do you no longer need?
Communicate the VBI programs structure with all stakeholders.
Purchase tech, curriculum, and materials.
Provide professional development to ensure all staff members are fully informed and prepared to support learners in all three programs.
Begin enrolling students in programs.
Provide back-to-school informational meetings (aka onboarding sessions) including detailed program handbooks with expectations and procedures to families and students.
Distribute devices and other instructional materials.
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