Return to Learn Update: Let’s Talk about Screen Time and Instructional Minutes

e-Connections Post

On Monday, we debuted our draft distance learning plan, which included information about what our families should expect when we Return Together for distance learning on September 3. You can view that draft document, our proposal to labor partners, and additional information on the website

We want you to know: we get it! Distance learning is hard. We don’t want our students, teachers and parents to be sitting in front of a screen all day long. This is why our draft model is flexible and includes breaks, with a healthy balance of synchronous and asynchronous learning, and a combination of live direct teacher instruction and small group support. What does this mean? Read more below about:

  • Types of distance learning
  • Instructional minute breakdown by grade level
  • Classroom schedules

Types of Distance Learning

A robust plan requires both synchronous and asynchronous learning, as required by state law. 

  • Synchronous learning most resembles a real classroom, students are learning together at the same time and can ask questions, and collaborate in real time. This could occur using computer interaction through Google Classroom or video. It is also important that teachers have the ability to record their instruction so students can view later.
  • Asynchronous learning means students work on classwork separately and provides opportunities for students to think about questions and follow up with their teacher on their own time or through targeted support. This learning could occur through classwork, videos, group work, or with support from their teacher. 

Instructional Minutes

Instructional minutes include both synchronous and asynchronous learning. This means that the number of minutes provided in our draft plan does not mean students (or teachers) will be expected to sit in front of a screen the entire time. State law requires a minimum of 180 to 240 instructional minutes.

As an example, for Transitional Kindergarten to Third Grade students: 

  • Each day would include a minimum of 132 minutes of synchronous learning. These minutes do not need to occur consecutively; students and teachers could interact for approximately an hour in the morning and then meet again for about an hour in the afternoon.
  • Students would also participate in 120 minutes of asynchronous learning, where students would work separately and some may receive targeted support from their teacher. 

Intermediate (grades 4-6)

  • 152 minutes of synchronous learning
  • 120 minutes of asynchronous learning and/or targeted support 

Middle School (grades 7-8)

  • 158 minutes of synchronous learning
  • 120 minutes of asynchronous learning
  • Each Thursday, would include 240 minutes of asynchronous learning only (40 minutes for each six subjects)

High School

  • 175 minutes of synchronous learning
  • 120 minutes of asynchronous learning
  • Each Thursday, would include 240 minutes of asynchronous learning only (40 minutes for each six subjects) 

Classroom Schedule

In a normal classroom, students participate in instruction and then complete classwork with support from their teacher and classmates. 

Here is an example of what this might look like for a TK-3 classroom during distance learning:
Morning Minutes 
Synchronous learning 66 Minutes (1 hour, 6 minutes)
Asynchronous learning 105 Minutes (1 Hour, 45 Minutes)
Afternoon (after lunch break) Minutes
Synchronous learning 66 Minutes (1 hour, 6 minutes)
Asynchronous learning

60 Minutes (1 hour)

 An example of the High School Schedule:
Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday

Thursday

(Adjusted for CT) 

Friday
61 minutes

Period 1: Synchronous whole group learning

Period 4:

Synchronous whole group learning

Period 1:

Synchronous whole group learning 

Period 1:

51 min. targeted structured support

Period 4: Synchronous whole group learning
57 minutes

Period 2:

Synchronous whole group learning

Period 5:

Synchronous whole group learning

Period 2:

Synchronous whole group learning

Period 2:

47 min. targeted structured support

Period 5:

Synchronous whole group learning

57 minutes

Period 3:

Synchronous whole group learning

Period 6:

Synchronous whole group learning

Period 3:

Synchronous whole group learning

Period 3:

47 min. targeted structured support

Period 6: Synchronous whole group learning
40 minutes Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch Lunch
57 minutes Period 1: Targeted structured support Period 4: Targeted structured support Period 1: Targeted structured support

Period 4:

47 min. targeted structured support

Period 4: Targeted structured support
57 minutes Period 2: Targeted structured support Period 5: Targeted structured support Period 2: Targeted structured support

Period 5:

47 min. targeted structured support

Period 5: Targeted structured support
57 minutes  Period 3: Targeted structured support Period 6: Targeted structured support Period 3: Targeted structured support

Period 6:

47 min. targeted structured support

 

60 min. collaborative  time

Period 6: Targeted structured support