Secondary Schools – more details for Launch to Learning 2020–21

As we continue to provide transparency, accessibility, and frequent communication about our Launch to Learning in 2020–21, we want to clarify what learning will look like for middle and high school students. 

Virtual Empowered Learning

Beginning this fall, Leander ISD will be implementing a newly designed 100% “Virtual Empowered Learning” experience. The Virtual Empowered Learning model represents a complete departure from the Emergency Remote Learning that was borne out of necessity last spring. While our teachers and students persevered valiantly through the challenges of last spring, LISD’s district and campus leaders have made use of the summer months to research and create a new virtual model incorporating input and feedback from over 12,000 students, parents, and teachers. LISD’s newly designed Virtual Empowered Learning experience offers students an educational experience matching the “in-person” learning experience. Schedules, routines, content, rigor, engagement, assessment, and grades are all aligned. 

Essential components of the model include: 

  • TEKS-aligned LISD curriculum and assessments with content, pacing, and rigor aligned to in-person learning 
  • Consistent “school day” schedule and routine mirroring in-person instruction:
    • Students are expected to attend every class, every day, on time 
    • Attendance will be taken by the teacher at the beginning of every class period
  • Each class period will feature a balance of face-to-face instruction and independent work just as in-person students experience:
    • Daily, substantial live “face-to-face” (synchronous) learning in real-time with teacher and classmates: Whole group, small group, individual conferences
    • Independent work consisting of activities, projects, practice, and assignments
    • Support from special programs staff and related services, as indicated by Individualized Education Plans and 504 plans
  • Numerical grading system aligned to “in-person” learning. Grades earned through 100% Virtual Empowered Learning will be used in the calculation of GPA and class rank
  • Qualified teachers who have attended LISD’s Virtual Teaching Academy will provide instruction, resources, and support through one portal: Google Classroom.  

Student Choice Process

Students will open the school year Aug. 13 through Sept. 7 in Virtual Empowered Learning (VEL) with all students learning from home.

Parents and guardians have been given the flexibility to select the learning environment best suited to their needs when we are able to safely open up our schools (hopefully, Tuesday, September 8) for in-person learning. At that point, students who have selected in-person learning will return to our physical campus facilities while students who have chosen to continue working virtually, will do so without interruption.

  • Regardless of your choice of a virtual or in-person setting, your child will be assigned the same schedule at their home campus with the same teachers for the duration of the school year. This will help ensure that your child has the continuity and consistency of the relationship with the teacher that is critical to their social-emotional well-being and academic success.
  • Both the in-person and virtual setting will maintain the same grading and attendance expectations. Students will be expected to follow their assigned class schedule in both formats.  
  • The instructional delivery of the in-person environment will still contain high quality teaching and learning with the teacher providing synchronous content instruction to both in-person and virtual students in that class period. 
  • Special Programs staff will work collaboratively to support individual student needs in both settings.
  • Students will be able to change their instructional setting, in-person or virtual, at the 6-week grading period. A change in instructional setting will not impact a student’s schedule.    
What will school look like beginning Tuesday, Sept 8th?
For all secondary students, LISD will implement our blended Virtual Empowered Learning Model. This approach will blend the learning experiences of our virtual and in-person students. The blended Virtual Empowered Learning model follows the same high-quality virtual teaching practices established during the first weeks of school, allowing students who wish to do so to continue working from home while enabling other students to be physically present with their teacher in a social-distanced classroom with a reduced number of students. The teacher will continue to provide live, high-quality instruction in real-time to both the students attending class in person and the students attending virtually. The teacher will use research-based strategies and tools to deliver rigorous TEKS-aligned instruction. Utilizing this model, the teacher will customize instruction to include small groups, conferences, and check-ins with students in-person and virtual depending on the needs of students.
What about elective courses?
Some elective courses will require in-person class time. Leander ISD has a virtual and in-person course list for families to review when making their decision. 

Please note that if you choose virtual learning after September 7th and your child has a course that is only offered in-person, then your child will need to have their own transportation to school for this in-person course.  

Sample Secondary Bell Schedule

8:40-10:10Period 1/5
10:20-11:50Period 2/6
11:50-1:56Period 3/7 & Lunch
1st Lunch 
2nd Lunch
3rd Lunch
4th Lunch
11:50-12:19
12:23-12:52
12:56-1:25
1:29-1:58
2:01-2:24Pride Time
2:30-4:00Period 4/8
90-Minute Class Period Sample Structures
Sample A
10-20 Minutes: Whole Group Warm-Up
10-15 Minutes: Whole Group Direct Teach
60-70 Minutes: Small Group Instruction & Independent Practice (3 groups meet for 20 minutes each)

Sample B
20-30 Minutes: Whole Group Direct Teach
30-40 Minutes: Small Group Instruction & Independent Practice (2 groups meet for 15-20 minutes each)
20-30 Minutes: Independent Reflection & Application

Sample C
10-20 Minutes: Whole Group Skill Review
40-45 Minutes: Small Group Lab/Inquiry
30-40 Minutes:  Independent Practice & Reflection

Why have we designed blended Virtual Empowered Learning for secondary students? 

  • Prioritizes student/teacher relationships. 
  • Guarantees access to the same level of high-quality instruction and innovative teaching strategies for all students. Special Programs staff will support students based on individual plans, both in-class and in small group settings. 
  • Establishes the same responsibilities and expectations with both groups for attendance, engagement, participation, and completion of assignments and assessments. 
  • Ensures all students have interactions with their teachers and classmates.
  • Allows teachers to have ownership of their instruction and connection with their students to provide social-emotional support.  
  • Reduces in-person classroom ratios based on the number of students choosing to attend class from home.
  • Ensures education will continue uninterrupted throughout evolving individual, classroom, school, local, and national health/safety scenarios. 
Updated on August 6, 2020

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