USM@HOME: Distance Learning for Extended Campus Closures

USM@HOME is University School of Milwaukee's distance learning plan, intended to be used during an extended campus closure. Although nothing can take the place of face-to-face learning, both in and out of the classrooms, this plan allows USM to maintain continuity of teaching and learning, while also allowing for virtual interaction amongst faculty and students.

Our distance learning plan remains guided by our mission: to provide an exceptional PK–12 independent school education in a supportive, inclusive community built on the foundation of our Common Trust. This does not change just because our mode and method of teaching and learning need to change. We will continue to ignite a passion for learning, leadership, and service, and prepare each student—as an individual—for success in higher education and life of purpose.

Our tradition of superior academic achievement through a commitment to expertise and innovation in our school is supported by passionate educators who have worked hard to understand both the technology and potential challenges of online learning. These teachers are further supported by resources and professional development opportunities that have enabled them to learn and refine these skills.

How Does USM@HOME Work?

USM@HOME balances synchronous (real-time) online teaching and collaboration with asynchronous learning, which may or may not also be done online, but does not involve real-time interaction. This balance, as well as other teaching methods, are structured to be age-appropriate for students in all grade levels.
  • myUSM: USM faculty in all grades, including specialist teachers and staff, use myUSM to share daily schedules, lesson plans, and resources with students and parents.
  • Google Meet: USM faculty in all grades use Google Meet to connect as a class and engage in face-to-face interactions with students.
  • Tech Support: The USM Technology team is available to all students, parents, and faculty for remote support and troubleshooting needs.
USM@HOME is a "living" plan, in that we are always evaluating and tweaking our approaches as needed to respond to student and family needs. When implemented, these adjustments serve as further evidence of our school's iterative approach to teaching and learning. USM students are in a great position relative to their counterparts at other schools when they inevitably return to on-campus classes.

Preschool Distance Learning Schedule

Students in prekindergarten and junior kindergarten, as well as those in our First Steps program, will interact with their teachers via Google Meet. Classroom teachers also make daily phone calls home to families to check in offline. Each specials teacher (art, music, Spanish, French, dance, physical education) will teach four different 30-minute lessons each day, and each lesson will repeat at that same time period for the entire week. Families are strongly encouraged to choose at least one movement-based lesson per day.

Sample USM@HOME Preschool Schedule
Items in bold are intended as synchronous online learning with teachers and classmates.

9:00 a.m. Group time with classroom teacher
9:30 a.m. Literacy lesson with classroom teacher
10:00 a.m. Offline learning activity (teacher calls)
10:30 a.m. Offline learning activity (teacher calls)
11:00 a.m.    Independent time (art project, outside play, etc.)
11:30 a.m. Lunch
Noon Mindfulness activity/rest time
1:00 p.m. Specialist activity (ex: Yoga)
1:30 p.m. Specialist activity (ex: Upcycled Art)
2:00 p.m. Specialist activity (ex: Rhythm and Movement)
2:30 p.m. Specialist activity (ex: Top 40 Dance Mix)
3:00 p.m. Family wrap-up time

Lower School Distance Learning Schedule

Students in kindergarten through 4th grade will interact with their teachers via Google Meet, with those in 1st through 4th grades using their school-owned or family-owned iPads. Each specials teacher (art, music, Spanish, French, dance, physical education) will teach four different 30-minute lessons each day, and each lesson will repeat at that same time period for the entire week. Families are strongly encouraged to choose at least one movement-based lesson per day.

Sample USM@HOME Lower School Schedule
Items in bold are intended as synchronous online learning with teachers and classmates. 
 
8:30 a.m.* Group time with classroom teacher, combined with Math/Literacy/Science/Social Studies
9:00 a.m.* Math/Literacy/Science/Social Studies lesson with classroom teacher
9:30 a.m.* Math/Literacy/Science/Social Studies lesson with classroom teacher
10:00 a.m.* Math/Literacy/Science/Social Studies lesson with classroom teacher
10:30 a.m.*   Independent time (art project, outside play, etc.)
11:00 a.m.* Lunch
Noon Mindfulness activity/rest time
1:00 p.m. Specialist activity (ex: Mindful Moment Body Scan and Meditation)
1:30 p.m. Specialist activity (ex: Sing-along)
2:00 p.m. Specialist activity (ex: Spanish Culture and Grammar)
2:30 p.m. Specialist activity (ex: Creative Colorwheels)
3:00 p.m. Family wrap-up time

* For kindergarten, the school day starts at 9:00 a.m., with morning sessions pushed back by one half-hour.

Middle School Distance Learning Schedule

Students in 5th through 8th grades will attend their classes via Google Meet. Students in 5th grade will use their family-owned iPads, and students in 6th through 8th grades will use their family-owned MacBooks. Blocks are 30 minutes each, with 15-minute breaks between classes, and odd and even blocks rotate on alternating school days. Each day starts with students checking in with their advisors. Homework is assigned only on days a class meets.

Sample USM@HOME Middle School Schedule
Items in bold are intended as synchronous online learning with teachers and classmates.
 
9:00–9:15 a.m. Advising groups and morning announcements
9:30–10:00 a.m. 1 Block (odd) or 2 Block (even)
10:15–10:45 a.m. 3 Block (odd) or 4 Block (even)
11:00–11:30 a.m. 5 Block (odd) or 6 Block (even)
11:45 a.m.–12:15 p.m.    7 Block (odd) or 8 Block (even)
12:15–1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00–3:00 p.m. Faculty, learning specialists, and counselor available for office hours*

* On Fridays, this time is reserved for faculty meetings.

Upper School Distance Learning Schedule

Students in 9th through 12th grades will attend their classes via Google Meet, using their family-owned technology devices. Class blocks are each one hour, with 15-minute breaks between classes. The schedule follows the regular A–H letter-day calendar and rotation; essentially, each class receives an hour block every other day.

Sample USM@HOME Upper School Schedule
Items in bold are intended as synchronous online learning with teachers and classmates.
 
9:00–10:00 a.m. Period 1 (classes rotate by letter day)*
10:15–11:15 a.m. Period 2 (classes rotate by letter day)*
11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m.    Lunch
12:15–1:15 p.m. Period 3 (classes rotate by letter day)*
1:30–2:30 p.m. Period 4 (classes rotate by letter day)*
2:45–3:30 p.m. Community Time (advising, house activities, senior presentations, etc.)

* The A–H letter-day calendar will rotate each day's four class blocks as follows: A–Blocks 1/3/5/7; B–Blocks 2/4/6/8; C–Blocks 3/5/7/1; D–Blocks 4/6/8/2; E–Blocks 5/7/1/3; F–Blocks 6/8/2/4; G–Blocks 7/1/3/5; H–Blocks 8/2/4/6.
During an extended campus closure and the implementation of USM@HOME, we expect that our teachers will:

  • Provide options for students to engage live, both with them and their classmates, throughout the day in a variety of age-appropriate learning activities.

  • Establish norms in this new method of instruction and learning, and offer proactive reminders about those norms throughout this experience.

  • Engage students in learning, while also providing clear goals and objectives and allowing students opportunities to demonstrate that learning.

  • Offer support—whether one-on-one or in small groups—to check in, provide encouragement, and answer questions.

  • Stay flexible with students and families, remembering that this is new for everyone, and that other responsibilities at home may also need to be met during the day.

  • Defer to you as parents and caregivers in having the final say about the amount of time you want your children on a device and connected to online platforms each day.

  • Remain committed to all the things—including relationships, sense of community, and commitment to expertise and innovation—that make USM a great school!
Prekindergarten (age 3) - Grade 12 • Independent • Coeducational
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