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Oct. 9, 2020: Feedback will shape instructional model adjustments

As Jamesville-DeWitt Central School District students and staff head into their fifth week of instruction for the 2020-21 school year, the district will be using feedback from students and their families and staff members to make adjustments in how teaching and learning is taking place.

The district used Thoughtexchange, an online crowdsourcing tool, to give staff and students and their parents and guardians an opportunity to weigh in on the first few weeks of instruction. Thoughtexchange allows users to anonymously respond to a question and then to read and rate other people’s comments. Based on those ratings, the most important thoughts rise to the top. 

The district set up two Thoughtexchanges, one for students and their families and the other for staff, asking the same question to both groups: What are the biggest challenges you are seeing or experiencing with hybrid learning and what is working well? Both Thoughtexchanges were open Sept. 25 through Oct. 4. 

For the student and family exchange, there were 802 participants, 767 comments and 24,538 comment ratings. 

There were 207 participants in the staff exchange, 278 comments and 9,130 comment ratings.  

“I appreciate everyone who took the time to participate in our Thoughtexchanges so that we have a variety of perspectives and experiences to shape how we move forward,” Superintendent Peter Smith said. “This way of teaching and learning is new to all of us—staff, students and their families. We want to know what’s working and what we could do better.” 

Thoughtexchange generated a report for each exchange highlighting the top themes of each, which for families include how synchronous and asynchronous instruction is delivered and for staff include the sustainability of providing quality instruction simultaneously to in-person and remote students. 

Thoughtexchage allows the district to sort the data by school and student group (groups A, B, C, D and E). Administrators are in the process of sifting through the feedback and have already made some changes in response to comments, such as moving elementary-level special area classes back to their designated classrooms rather than having those teachers provide instruction in general education classes. 

The district is following its school reopening plan developed during the summer, which includes the following instructional models: 

  • Kindergarten and first grade students and some special education students are attending school in person five days per week. 

  • Most students in grades 2-12 follow a hybrid model of in-person and remote instruction, with students split into two groups to allow for social distancing during in-person instruction. One group attends school in person Mondays and Tuesdays while the other attends in person Thursdays and Fridays. 

  • There are also some students whose families have opted for them to learn from home with no in-person instruction.



Dr. Peter Smith, Superintendent

P.O. Box 606
DeWitt, NY 13214

Phone: (315) 445-8300

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