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Lab update April 4, 2020

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

Dear Lab Families,

I hope each of you are doing well as this crisis continues. It wears physically, spiritually and mentally. We are thinking of you and are on-line Wednesday (English) and Thursday (Spanish) nights from 6pm-7pm for parent support sessions if you need us.

We are continuing to hold our Lab classes online each week. We love seeing your children on Zoom each day. More than 60% of our students are joining us this way each day.

Based on feedback from parents, this week we will start offering 2 ways to participate. The first, traditional one, is to join for a full class day as many of you all are already doing.

This week, we will begin offering a second way for your child to participate. If your child is not interested in participating on-line all day, they can join for a partial day, or for special classes scheduled throughout the week.

Some of the special classes include:

Art workshops - 9:30-11:30 Wednesday and Fridays (all ages);

Virtual Field Trip - 12:30-1:30 Wednesdays (all ages); and

Movies Together - 12:30 Fridays (all ages)

Please join our Facebook page to stay in touch during the week

Since we don't get to see you in person anymore and are missing you, we are finding Facebook is a good way to stay in contact. Please join our The Real Lab Learning Space Facebook page to see pictures of the week and learn more about upcoming events!

Helpful fact: Did you know you can count almost all Lab classes towards your child's Charter School learning plan?

Most or all of the classes your child participates in on-line at The Lab can be counted towards requirements on their charter school learning plans (see the Independent Study Charter School primer below).

Please talk to your Charter School teacher if they are not including them on your learning plan. In particular, Readers Workshop, Writers Workshop, Summit modules on Math, ELA, History and Science, Art workshops, and PBL are all "countable" for Independent Study Charter School requirements, and each produce a "work sample" your charter school teacher can use at the end of the month to document your child's work. (see Homeschool Primer at end of this newsletter)

Spring talent show is happening -virtually!

Back by popular demand, The Lab's Talent Show will be May 8th so SAVE THE DATE! Any parents with skills in managing a virtual "real-time" production please let us know! We need your help.

Students should be deciding what they will perform during the talent show if they plan to participate. They can sing, dance, perform a monologue, play an instrument, do a comedy routine, create a random act, or even create a short 3-minute "film" as their talent for the event. Virtual auditions will be held immediately after we return from Spring Break. So get ready, get set and go!

Important Dates

April 11th-April 20th - Spring Break (Virtual classes resume Tuesday April 21st)

April 29th-May 1st - Talent Show Auditions

May 2nd - May 7th - Talent Show Rehearsals

May 8th 6:00pm - Spring (Virtual) Talent Show

Happenings in K-4th Grade Class

Students completed an art workshop on Paul Klee, friend of Kandinsky, and created puppets at home. They learned concepts like concentric circles. This week they will learn about Frida Kahlo!

In Writers Workshop students began their first page drawing/writing, wrote their introduction, learned about strategies for working one on one, and worked on spelling with sounds.

For Readers Workshop, older students maintained their reading log and read 20-minutes each day. Younger students worked on phonics lessons and building early reading skills.

For PBL Curiosity Studios, after finishing their Day in the Life of a Bug project, students relaxed a bit with a science experiment with pepper, soap, & water; they completed a virtual field trip to see Pandas in China, viewing them on live cams and learning about the word and concept of "endangered."

Students also conducted a virtual field trip to the LB Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. They visited live cams of the shark lagoon, the jellyfish tank, the sea otter exhibit and coral reefs. In preparation for the field trips students viewed Animal Planet documentaries on "How do animals do that?," explored animals/insects that can camouflaged and discussed how octopi are animals of disguise. And learned the vocabulary word and concept camouflage.

Our younger students also participated in our first ever "Movies Together" session this past Friday where we watched Mary Poppins Returns!


Friday Afternoon Movies Together: Mary Poppins Returns

Happenings in Mr. T's class 4th-8th

Last Friday, presented their "Learning from History" project at our virtual PBL Showcase. It was wonderful to see the support the students had for each other and also the depth and importance of the work they did understanding the causes of Slavery around the world and ways to prevent it. See the video of the event on our Real Lab Learning Facebook page.

Students are continuing to work on their realistic fiction piece for Writers Workshop and read in their realistic fiction books 30-minutes a day. They learned about "reading drafts like editors", "using checklists and resources when writing," "and clarifying the meaning of their stories."

During academic time students are focusing on completing Summit and Moby Max modules for their Independent Study Charter School learning plans (AWRs etc) and building their independent study skills.

The Lab is helping students with Epic Academic Work Records use them as daily goal-setting sheets to make sure that they make progress on them. iLead, Sky Mountain and Inspire students do not have the same type of learning requirements each month and are able to simply count the classes they take at The Lab as their monthly learning requirements. (See the Homeschool Primer below).

This week in PBL students will start planning their next PBL project and also begin a plan for the Spring Talent Show!

PBL Showcase "Learning from the Past"



What you need to know in a nutshell:

1. Each Independent Study (IS) charter school has different rules and philosophies. Some are parent-led and more "homeschool" focused, some are teacher-led and more similar to traditional seated school requirements, some fall in between. You can look around until you find one that fits your child's needs and style.

2. Your IS charter school teacher is required by law to meet with you once a month. If you miss this, you create peril for them and put your child's enrollment in the charter school at-risk. You can do these meetings 100% online during COVID. Please don't miss these. They matter.

3. IS charter schools must create a "learning plan" for your child each month (Or learning period) and document their progress in ELA, Math, Science, Reading, History. IS Charter schools call these plans different things - AWRs, unit logs, etc. IS Charter schools also take different approaches to creating them. Some take a teacher-directed approach, some take a parent-led approach, some fall somewhere in between.

4. IS Charter schools must collect work samples each month from your child to show the State Department of Education. You, as the independent study/homeschooling parent, are responsible for providing these to your Charter school teacher. Each school has different requirements for these. You can use the work your child does at The Lab as the source for many of these samples (see the list of Lab work samples and ways to access them in the Primer below).

5. All IS charter schools allow you to count classes taken at The Lab towards your child's monthly learning plan if you let them know your child is taking classes from us. Assuming that The Lab is an approved vendor for that Charter School and it is typically easy to become an approved vendor.

Different Flavors of Independent Charter Schools. What flavor is yours?

We've had an opportunity over the year to interact with their leadership and their teachers and observe the differences among them. And like ice cream, there are many different "flavors." You as a parent, can pick the one that best fits your and your child's needs and philosophy.

IS Charter school teachers are required by law to meet with their students at least 1 time a month. During this meeting, the Charter school teacher will review your child's learning over the past month or learning period, and plan for your child's learning in the coming month as well.

Apart from that requirement, each IS Charter School has its own approach to how their teachers oversee your child's learning. Some Charter Schools like iLead, Sky Mountain, Inspire tend to be more parent-led. They allow you as the parent to decide what your child will study and provide coaching to you to make sure what you are thinking meets their and state requirements. They flexible in letting you decide what to include over a month and allow you to add and subtract things as long as it fits with their and state requirements.

Other IS Charter Schools use a more structured, teacher-directed approach where the teacher rather than the parent determines what the child should study in the coming month. They create a learning plan for your child that you are then expected to follow with few to no changes.

We've not found that one approach is any more effective than the other. But what we have found is that some charter school approaches "fit" a particular child or family better than another.

What are AWRs, Unit Logs, Learning Periods, Learning Plans?

Lesson/academic work plans. IS Charter Schools typically provide each of their students with a "learning plan" for each learning period. These plans align with the common core standards, and are personalized for your child. Different IS Charter Schools use different names for these plans. For example, Epic calls theirs "Academic Work Records" (AWRs). iLead calls theirs "Unit Logs."

IS charter schools also approach the development of these plans differently. Some have their teachers create them with minimal input from the parent. Some develop them collaboratively. And some have the parent lead the development of the plan and provide input as needed.

However they are developed and whatever they are called, your child will has a learning plan for each learning period of the year. The learning periods are determined by the State and are roughly a month long but not exactly.

Work sample requirements. IS Charter Schools are required to collect "work samples" for students for potential review and audit by the State to prove their students are doing work.

Charter schools vary in the number of work samples they require and on which subjects. Some require 1 a month, some require 4. Others require that there be evidence of academic work proving the equivalent of 30-hours of work a week.

You'll need to determine what your child's charter school requires.

Ideas for making sure your child finishes their learning plan each month

For Epic students, The Lab can have your child use their learning plan as a "goal sheet" that they work towards each day. We will then enter it into google docs, share it with you and your child and then work collaboratively from it to make sure you child meets all their requirements.

As a parent, we need you to be checking this daily and the comments your Lab advisor has written into the sheet, and having your child review their progress with you.

We find using a red-light-green-light stoplight dashboard helps motivate and keep students on track. Watch for your invitation to your child's Lab Goal sheet through your email.

For students with iLead, Sky Mountain, Inspire. These schools allow you greater flexibility in the creation of your child's learning plan, and allow you to develop them as you go each month as long as they align with state standards and your teacher feels the work is appropriate for the level of your child.

For these schools, your main task as a parent will be to make sure your child is progressing well on each subject - ELA, reading, science, math and history. You can do this through using programs like The Lab and also supplementing at home.

To help you with this, we need you to monitor your child's work at The Lab - make sure they are attending and participating regularly and completing work from the classes they attend, and we need you to connect with their Lab advisor if you don't see progress (now that we are virtual this is more important than ever).

If your child doesn't attend classes several times a week at least, then you need to make sure your child is continuing to work at home with you or on their own - on Lab assignments or others you or your IS charter school teacher provide you.

You can make sure you have samples to show your Charter teacher each month by monitoring and making sure your child is participating in the online classes at The Lab, that they are completing work during each of our classes (since it is virtual and we can't monitor them directly, we need you to help with this.

Work samples you can get from The Lab virtual classes:

Readers workshop - Reading log and/or book report (available online via google doc from The Lab, phonics instruction (available through The Lab online)

Writers workshop - Draft of outline (paper at home - take a photo), google doc draft (available online from The Lab), final product, "mini-lesson" content (available online from The Lab)

Summit Math, ELA, History, Science - Copies of assessments, learning objectives and goals, list of "resources" your child consulted and read (available through logging in to your child's Summit dashboard or through The Lab)

PBL Curiosity Studio - Copies of your child's PBL planning, research, product creation and video of their Showcase presentation (available on the Real Lab Families Facebook Page (video), and online through The Lab)

Art Workshops - List of concepts taught (online through The Lab, copies of art work (at home -take a photo)

Virtual field trip - List of concepts taught (online through The Lab)

P.E. - Pending (will start options after Spring Break)

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