As a Microsoft School with a 1-to-1 laptop program, we are fortunate to have a robust infrastructure in place that made our transition from traditional to online learning a smooth one and that allows us to continue to pursue our mission of graduating compassionate, well-educated individuals.
See Altamont's Distance Learning Plan in action.
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- Attendance and Grading Information
- Counselor Resources/Student Support Team
- Distance Learning Plan
- Internet Access
- Miree Center Service Opportunities
- Office Hours
- Parent Surveys
- Spring Break Travel
- Town Hall PowerPoint Presentations
- COVID-19 Public Service Announcement Videos
Advisors will continue to support students through advisory during distance learning. Advisory will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00-11:30. Students are expected to check in with their advisor during this time. Advisors will determine the best way for students to check in whether it be by email or through Teams. Student participation in advisory is mandatory and will count towards weekly attendance.
Attendance and Grading Information
Monday, March 16 marks the start of the 4th quarter and our distance learning plan. All work completed during distance learning will be entered into MyBackpack as 4th quarter grades. Attendance will be counted through advisory and punctual submission of learning modules. Learning modules will be posted on Monday and Wednesday mornings by 8:30 a.m. Students should check Teams/ or Haiku for assigned work. Learning modules posted on Monday should be submitted by 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Learning modules posted on Wednesday should be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday. Teachers will let students know which learning platform assignments will be posted on.
Click here to access resources for managing the emotional impact of social distancing and distance learning.
Student Support Team
The Student Support Team (Lia Gerety, Danielle Wattleton-Anderson, Lauren Garrett, Cameron Gaede, JP Hemingway) will continue to gather information on student wellbeing during distance learning and will address concerns as they arise. Mrs. Garrett will be available by email during office hours from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays to address any pertinent counseling needs. She will also be holding Teams video/audio sessions (by appointment only) from noon to 3:00 p.m.
We are well-prepared to continue serving our students during a long-term interruption in learning due to COVID-19. We have a robust infrastructure in place with intuitive tools that will allow us to continue teaching remotely while students continue to learn from their homes. To deal with this shift, we’ll be employing a technique called asynchronous (async) learning. Async learning provides opportunities for students to connect to the material without real-time interaction. Async learning allows students to engage with the material at their own pace – within a given timeframe – that has clearly stated outcomes. Async learning is modular by design and allows for a concept to be introduced, for students to produce an artifact, and for there to be a form of assessment that evaluates the effectiveness of the lesson and the scope of a student’s understanding.
For each lesson, teachers will develop a screencast to guide students through the materials and expected learning outcomes. Over communication is appropriate communication: the information shared via this screencast – while hopefully informative and appropriate to the lesson itself – will also serve as a redundant effort in clearly outlining what is expected of students.
This screencast should be anywhere between five and fifteen minutes. Teachers can use PowerPoint to record their screen and voice; during this screencast, a teacher can illustrate concepts using OneNote, Microsoft Whiteboard, or simply guide students through a resource.
For ease of distribution and student access, a teacher should post this recording to Microsoft Stream and then share the link with students using the appropriate LMS (Haiku or Teams) for the course.
Each lesson should have a student artifact of some kind; a demonstration of a student’s learning during the lesson. The format these artifacts can take is nearly endless. For some lessons a simple worksheet may suffice to illustrate a student’s comprehension of different concepts. In a math class, it could take the form of completing a certain number of minutes on IXL, practicing the material illustrated by the teacher. Any format in which a student is capable of demonstrating their engagement with the material is considered an appropriate artifact.
Accompanying each lesson should be a formative opportunity for both the student and the teacher to identify the effectiveness of the lesson. In some cases, this will be a standalone piece (such as a Microsoft Form) that assesses a student’s knowledge of the lesson’s outcomes. In other cases, the line between an artifact and an assessment is blurred; this is fine! One example of this obfuscation could be a reading reflection for an English class: the student is assigned a passage and a question to reflect on. This demonstration of a student’s work is also serving as their formative assessment for the material.
Distance Learning Questions
Please click here to access a page of answers to questions that may arise as we work through distance learning together.
Office hours will be on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00-11:00. This is the time for students to ask any questions they may have about their assignments for the week. Teachers will have their email open and will respond to students’ questions quickly. Students seeking help should email from their Altamont email addresses.
The following videos were created by the Alabama Department of Public Health to help provide education and information to the public on COVID-19.
Learn more at https://alabamapublichealth.gov/covid19Protect Yourself & Others
The number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Alabama continue to rise, but you have the power to change this. A few simple steps can greatly reduce your chances of being exposed and exposing others to COVID-19.
You are Safer at Home
Know the Symptoms
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and want to get tested, call your healthcare provider first. For testing sites near you, call the Alabama COVID-19 24/7 Hotline at 1-888-264-2256. If you are tested, you should self-isolate and follow quarantine instructions.
Distance Learning Schedule
We would love to tell you more about our school! Go to the admissions page of our website to connect with our admissions team, watch informational videos and schedule a virtual visit.
Casey Gillespie is a relative newcomer to Altamont, but in her three years of teaching art at the school she has made her mark by finding unique and innovative ways to engage our students.
This year Mrs. Gillespie was part of a faculty learning cohort focused on incorporating technology into curriculum and instruction. The timing couldn’t have been better. She has been able to infuse all that she has learned over the year into her distance learning plan (DLP) modules.
The format of Altamont’s DLP allows for teachers to highlight different topics each week and refocus their curriculum to achieve the most important outcomes. “One major change is the freedom to be able to teach new assignments weekly. This has given us the ability to constantly learn and try new things and ideas, which we rarely have time to do in a traditional setting,” said Mrs. Gillespie.
One tool that Mrs. Gillespie has used to stay connected with her students and keep them connected with one another is Flipgrid. Flipgrid is a Microsoft product that allows short video discussion to happen asynchronously. Mrs. Gillespie has used Flipgrid to give students an outlet for their research and creativity. In her 7th/8th grade art class, students recreated famous paintings. “They really had a lot of fun with this and have been talking about it non-stop all week,” she says.
Upper school students were inspired by artist Jamal Cyrus to draw a sound they had never heard before. They watched a video of Cyrus explaining the concept and then created a piece employing his ideas with a Flipgrid video to present their work to the class. “Watching the videos really gave me insight into the fascinating and varied perspectives each student took away from this assignment.”
Learning from home means that students don’t have access to Altamont’s well-supplied art room. Mrs. Gillespie’s solution? “Flexibility and creativity!” She has given students a wide range of options, including using alternative mediums like coffee and soda for paint.
While she misses the “bustle of the hill and everyone on it,” Mrs. Gillespie has found inventive ways to deliver art instruction and new techniques that she expects to incorporate into her classes when we return to school.
In his 13 years at Altamont Buck Crowe has worn many hats—Latin, Greek and history teacher; swimming, baseball, track coach; Scholars Bowl advisor and much more! So, it comes as no surprise that he was ready and eager to move forward when Altamont made the switch to distance learning.
Mr. Crowe had already been using online tools, including Minecraft, in his Intro Latin classes to give students the opportunity to explore antiquity like never before. Lessons on Roman city planning, Greek temple and theater construction, and ancient art became more like a time machine giving students the framework to build and live in the classical world.
Mr. Crowe’s Latin classes are currently absorbed in a role-playing game. Students choose their own adventures during the wars of the Second Triumvirate. For the anniversary of the Battle of Mutina, students' avatars will take part for Octavian against Antony, or Antony against Decimus Brutus, or as spies for Cicero or Lepidus... The plot continues to thicken!
Through tools such as Teams, students have translated clues, studied architecture and archaeology, and participated in real-time debates about their historical characters.
In describing how he took his classes online, Mr. Crowe says, “We're in a unique moment in history. Classwork needs to adapt to the needs of students. I thought about what I'd like to do—travel, have adventures, solve language and geography puzzles, learn about the history of as many places and people as possible—and came up with a plan from there.”
What does Mr. Crowe miss most about being at school? “Seeing the seniors have their spring.” In support of the senior class, he hosts live weekly trivia games for them using Teams and Kahoot. In addition to being a lot of fun, it has helped create community and an opportunity for classmates to see each other.
Dr. Mary Williams has been inspiring scientific inquiry at Altamont for 12 years. She teaches 7th grade Life Science, AP Biology, and Lab. Tech. She is also the architect and caretaker of Altamont’s International Monarch Waystation.
In every class or activity, Dr. Williams encourages students to conduct careful and thorough research, in or out of the lab. When we had to leave campus in March, her focus was on keeping students, “engaged in thinking about science and, when possible, doing experiments.” She has crafted games, such as Distance Learning BINGO, as well as experiments students can do from home: plant classification, dissecting flowers, and a seed hunt. Her students say they love lessons that take them outdoors.
Dr. Williams has also set up experiments at her house and sent videos and pictures to share the results and facilitate data analysis. Life Science and AP Bio students are utilizing videos and simulations. She gives students options so they can set personal learning goals. “All I ask is that they do their best work, learn something and have fun.”
Because we are not all in class together, it’s harder to gauge how students are handling the work, so Dr. Williams includes an opportunity for students to provide feedback, which helps her make adjustments for upcoming lessons. “In the classroom, teachers receive feedback constantly and in the moment; when we're behind computer screens that goes away so we have to make sure to check in with each other. Email and video meetings with students are helpful and our 1-to-1 computer program has greatly facilitated distance learning.”
Things she misses most about school? “Gosh, there's so much I miss. As a parent of a senior, I'm especially disappointed to miss out on the senior traditions, and this year's senior class is most outstanding...but I say that every single year! Also, Altamont students ask wonderful curiosity questions, so I sincerely miss thought-provoking conversations that arise daily. Anyone who knows me know that I am an introvert, but I dearly love people. I miss our extraordinary students; I also miss my supportive colleagues. I'm very proud of Altamont for our distance learning efforts. Everyone is working so hard during this challenging time and not seeing each other is part of the challenge.”
Niko Tsivourakis, or “Mr. T” as he is affectionately known, has been inspiring students at Altamont for 15 years. He has taught middle school English, history, and creative writing. He is also the director of Altamont’s Global Initiatives program. Mr. T’s sense of humor and high standards mean that his students expect both fun and a challenge in his classes. Class participation is important to Mr. T, so students know to stay sharp.
When we left campus in March, Mr. T focused on creating meaningful experiences for his students, even though they couldn’t be together in person. While he didn’t change his approach to lessons, he did adapt them to accommodate the constraints of distance learning . Mr. T says, “My goal with distance learning is to facilitate deep conversations; to encourage reflection and connection; to promote creativity; and to provide ample opportunities to socialize (formally and informally).”
He is using several apps to give students a range of options for how they engage with texts, including Teams, OneNote, Flipgrid, YouTube, and Vimeo. Many of his lessons, such as artistic responses to novels, have moved seamlessly online. Facilitating class conversations, which Mr. T describes as “the core of the classroom experience,” has been more challenging. To solve that issue he uses Flipgrid, which gives students a chance to verbalize their thoughts, and a dedicated conversation channel in Teams, which gives students a chance to discuss content back and forth.
Mr. T knows his students need places to hang out and socialize at school, too, so he’s created spaces in Teams for them to do that: “'The Beach' is a place to hang out and share what’s on your mind. ‘Your Daily…’ is a space to share cool things that we notice daily online or in real life (cool art, articles, science news, pictures, ideas, etc.).” These spaces help create a digital separation between the Teams version of hanging out in the hall and coming into the classroom ready to work!
What does Mr. T miss most? “Wow, where to start? I definitely miss my 5th & 6th grade cohort and our space: Mrs. Gerety directing traffic, Mr. Ballard’s stone-faced wit, and Mrs. Laney’s boundless energy! But mostly, I just miss our students. Whether they are in goofball mode, superstar learner mode, or the infinite dispositions in between, they're such wonderful people to be around!”
Laura Anne Ottaviani-Chacón, better known as Mrs. O-C, has been a constant at Altamont for almost 25 years. She currently teaches Algebra 2, a section of Pre-Algebra, the math enrichment elective Common Denominator, and Geometry over the summer. During her tenure she has taught math at every grade level and courses ranging from economics to keyboarding to art!
Mrs. O-C’s willingness to jump right in has served the school well as we transitioned from traditional classroom learning to our online distance learning plan. Student engagement in her class has gone uninterrupted, causing one parent to remark: “Students probably feel like they’re still in her classroom, which is a feat.”
How does she do it? Mrs. O-C creates detailed PowerPoint presentations, distributing them through Stream. She also uses Teams and OneNote to engage students and track their mastery of concepts, making sure they are well prepared for their next math course. Her learning modules are direct, relevant, and appropriate. No matter what, or how, she is teaching, Mrs. O-C’s students get straight-forward explanations and absolute patience as she guides them through problem solving exercises.
Consistency is something Altamont teachers are striving to provide for our students during this unique, challenging time. While our faculty are taking different approaches to bringing Altamont into your homes, Mrs. O-C's sentiment is one that is shared universally by our teachers: “Of course I miss my colleagues, but mostly I miss the students!”
Alex Melonas has taught in the history department at Altamont for the past two years. Dr. Melonas’ classes are known for their seminar style—desks in a circle and students facing one another to engage in debate and discussion. When we left campus in March, he had to think through not only how to deliver an authentic “Melonas” classroom experience, but also how to tie what students were learning in history with what they were experiencing in real time.
Dr. Melonas says, “My goal during distance learning is to provide students with a framework that prompts them to ask the kinds of questions that help them explore the new ideas that have emerged in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Big, historical shocks [like COVID and the New Deal, which students were studying in class] open up possibilities for change.”
To deliver learning modules, Dr. Melonas uses a mixture of video lectures via PowerPoint, live meetups via Teams, a video blogging platform called VoiceThread, reflection essays, and the discussion board option on Haiku. His students have created video journals, which record “tangible, archivable historical accounts of their thoughts, reactions, experiences, fears, and concerns during this crisis.”
What does he miss most about school? “When students stay after class to talk…when I linger in the hall between classes just walking, listening to what others are teaching and learning, and generally enjoying the atmosphere at The Altamont School. All of that to say, I miss the human stuff the most.”