• Freshman Strategies #1:


    The ideas here were shared by teachers Lynch, Stutzer, J. Kimball, Ullom, Allison, Hyde, Fey, and Stolee.  


    #1: Become a Parent Observer on Canvas!  Observers have the ability to see exactly what students are doing within the Canvas classroom shells.  Students can create a Pairing Code for parents in the Account portion of Canvas under Settings; the Pair with an Observer button is on the right side of the page.  Once the code is created, parents can enter that code when they register for their own Canvas account by clicking here.


    #2: Require your student to wake up early enough to eat breakfast, shower or wash face, get into a place to learn, and log onto all of his/her classes.  Encourage students to keep their cameras on ALL OF THE TIME.  We have noticed that a huge percentage of students that don't turn on their cameras are failing their classes.  It is important to engage in the lessons, and to do so requires the cameras to be on.


    #3: Ask your students about their day--their successes (and frustrations) may give an insight into what they are taking away from the classes.  Taking 10 minutes to sit down with them each day or two to look at Canvas could be a huge help (and motivator); with a simple look at the Grades tab in each course, anyone can see what assignments are missing as the computer marks it immediately if they do not submit it on time.  


    #4: Many teachers have stated that students seem to be distracted during class time, and often times that distraction is an electronic device--social media, music, and even video games.  As the expectation would be if students were in the school building, students should not be distracted by a “choice” device during class time.  It’s common for students to miss major parts of the lesson as well as directions for assignments after class when they are making their “choice” device a priority over the school device.  


    #5: Help your child with time management and understanding that being present (physically and mentally) will help get the most out of the time they put forth into different parts of their lives.  As most of us have been learning, our worlds have collided into one where we eat, sleep, work/learn, and just try to enjoy this new normal all in one place which can make it hard to organize and separate when needed.  Sometimes the separation can be managed but sometimes we have to set boundaries that bells are no longer ringing for us.  Think about sitting down with your student and planning their time management to balance school, work, and fresh air!


    #6: Encourage your student to communicate with their teachers.  Teaching students to self advocate is a skill that teachers encourage but one that does often need support from home.  While some students are comfortable, other students may need a reminder that it’s okay to email a teacher asking for help rather than being frustrated at not understanding directions and thus just not doing the work.  Many teachers have Office Hours that may occur right after their lessons or at other times during the week, ask your child if they have visited those for assistance. 


    As teachers, we are finding it hard to “see” when students are struggling outside of missing assignments--we can’t see their confused looks or body language and so we need them to “speak up” either with questions in class or messages expressing their needs.  


    #7: Take a moment for yourself to breathe!  Parenting a child who is now learning at home is a big shift.  As members of the staff at West High School, our roles have changed but our goals of making connections and supporting students while also teaching them haven’t.  We want to help your student succeed but we know it is always a team effort and that is never more clear than right now. 

    Freshman Strategies #2:


    These tips were recommended by Mrs. Allen, Mrs. Hendricks, Ms. Howell, and Mrs. Stolee.


    #1: Remind and help students to be present (and avoid distractions). Many teachers are noticing that even if students are physically present in front of a computer, they are oftentimes distracted by other people or things going on around them.  If it is available, students should be encouraged to be in an area where they can focus on their classes.  As we are all realizing, trying to do work and school from home is a challenge but setting up a regular location for students to work can help them find focus on a daily basis.  This will help them get into the routine and continue to find their school rhythm. 


    It is also important that students realize that classtime is classtime and not a time to run errands or take care of other things in their life; just as if students were sitting in classrooms away from those options, students need to be in class during the time allotted. If a student needs to be elsewhere, parents need to submit an excuse via Parent Connect.


    #2: Encourage your student to turn on their cameras if it’s a possibility in your household.  Teachers are working hard to make connections with students because they know that personal connections often increase the likelihood of students working harder; those connections are hard when 20 black boxes are staring back at teachers.  Just as students would rather watch tv than listen to a black box spouting out a current sitcom, teachers would rather see students’ faces. If cameras are on, it’s a win for everyone!


    #3: Parents, use the Canvas Course Calendars to see what’s coming up in your student’s academic life (students can do this too).  The calendar links to all classes and can give a quick view as to what is due.  This will show all that may be upcoming, especially as we end the 1st quarter of classes (representing a ½ credit for each of those classes). 


    #4: Accessing Feedback on Canvas: This is a great thing to know for parents and students.  Many teachers are spending time providing feedback for students but oftentimes that feedback isn’t being read.  Here are some quick photos to show parents and students how to see the feedback rather than just a grade:


    Step 1: The teacher grades an assignment and an alert shows up next to their Grades tab:

    Step 1

    Step 2: The student clicks on Grades and finds the assignment with a blue dot indicating that the assignment is newly graded:

     Step 2

    Step 3: The student can then click on the assignment title and find the comments and feedback.  Assignment comments usually indicate general, overall comments whereas “View Feedback” may give more details:

     Step 3

    Step 4: Viewing feedback may provide the student with specific reminders on certain examples and problems:

     Step 4  

    #5: Helping your student set up an email account.  There are many free platforms available for students to have an email account.  While the school district doesn’t provide one,  students or families can open a free account and can link their Canvas to that personal email to possibly access communication and information much quicker than logging into their Canvas account or app. 


    #6: Know that things are getting better.  Teachers are seeing improvements each day as students become more and more comfortable with the online platform.  Positive change is happening.

    Freshman Strategies #3:


    This week's advice comes from Mrs. Fey, Mrs. Hendricks, and Mrs. Stolee.


    #1: Weekly Check-Ins Together: Students can benefit greatly from sitting down with an adult and looking over both their grades and attendance; there is oftentimes a direct correlation between a student’s attendance and grade.  This doesn’t need to be done daily but weekly in order to simply start helping students see that someone is there to help guide them as well as drawing their attention to the correlation. 


    #2: Email Etiquette--Please help students communicate effectively with teachers if there are issues to be resolved.  Students could use help in focusing their messages to teachers so that teachers can give a direct response.  For example, when a student emails a teacher “I don’t understand the assignment,” important information is missing such as which assignment and what is confusing.  It can be frustrating for both the student and teacher to have to exchange multiple emails for what may be a simple answer.  


    #3: Office Hours: Remind students that they can always ask their teachers when they could get some extra assistance or questions answered.  Most teachers have time set during class time or outside of class time to work with students.  


    #4: Keep up with the time management goals.  There are only a few days left and final projects are due in many classes.  Check in with students to make sure they have a good plan in place. Also, check in to make sure they step away for a bit each day.

    Freshman Strategies #4:

    This list of recommendations is shared by Mrs. Stolee, Mrs. Kowal, and Mrs. Allison.


    #1 Showing Up On Time: There are still plenty of students who are showing up to class late.  While teachers understand that technology can impede timeliness, many students are showing up late without any explanation.  Please encourage your students to show up on time to class; reminders with alarms on phones or the computer might be helpful. Classes start at 8 AM, 9:45 AM, and 11:40 AM.


    #2 Self-Advocating: Keep reminding students that teachers are happy to help but do need to know what’s going on to understand how to help.  A simple message of “I am struggling due to household issues” can start a conversation where teachers can understand and maybe even offer some advice for help. 


    #3 Staying Organized: A big shift for many students in high school is keeping track of the work and other commitments.  While there are many student planners that could be purchased, something as simple as creating a weekly schedule of items to complete can help students with their time management.  There are some ideas here on this document that might be a starting place for students to record what they know they have coming up for the week and then to fill in once things are assigned. Sample Digital Planner Set-Ups


    #4 Distractions: Many students are attending class but many of them are not available when called upon.  Without cameras on, it’s often hard to know what is distracting students but it means that students are missing the material and opportunity to gain understanding.