Distance Learning Information

Please check below for school policy, procedure, and classroom specific information.

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Owl's Weekly Learning Plan

Frog's Weekly Learning Plan

Otter's Weekly Learning Plan


Does your student need help with a particular subject or want to connect with the team?  Picktime will let you easily schedule an appointment with your classroom teacher or support staff. Simply click the link below, select the team member (otters- select the purpose of your meeting then the team member), and choose the date and time you would like to meet. 

Frogs - https://www.picktime.com/da69bf7e-8943-451d-b615-d9f437e00038

Otters- https://www.picktime.com/nsaotters

Owls - please email Ms. Menso at eleanor.menso@naturalscienceacademy.org


Past Weekly Learning Plans

NSA Distance Learning Plan

March 30 -May 1

Updated Attendance Policy

Guidelines for Nurturing a Positive Online Environment

NSA Distance Learning Plan

May 5 - June 3

School-Wide Communications

May 8, 2020

Distance Learning: 

This week the schedule changed a bit because we started a new session of distance learning. One big difference is that we discontinued evening office hours due to them not being used. Staff is open to setting calls up for people who need them if that occasion arises so simply reach out. The other big change is the morning meeting schedule. Morning meetings are every day now, these are still optional, but we noticed some of the kids were confused by the schedule and wanted the extra interaction. We agree, we miss them too!


April 24, 2020

As we had feared, the Shelter at Home order has been extended and Minnesota students won’t be returning to their classrooms this school year. Now all our kids and teachers have is their online relationships for the rest of this school year and it’s more important than ever to make sure our online learning is connecting us more closely together, not keeping us farther apart.

We teachers, students and families had 8 days to upend education as we all knew it, and while not perfect, in true NSA style, families and teachers pulled together and moved school online. We have been gathering evidence and data to see how we might improve things.

One of the things we have noticed, is now that kids have developed a degree of comfort working virtually, some are trying out some newly acquired skills on teachers and classmates. These include muting people in the middle of speaking (teachers included), kicking people out of meetings, putting mean emojis on classmate’s posts, disrespectful comments to teachers during video chats, “spamming” classmate’s inboxes with large amounts of repetitive posts and other not-so-friendly behaviors.

While we are operating in a different environment, all NSA behavioral rules and policies are in place as well as our school values of respect and kindness for others, and the expectation that our students will embody these values when interacting with others in our school community, whether that be online or in person. Students who choose to use the features of Teams to disrespect or annoy are not only interfering with their own learning but that of others. Misuse of Teams can result in a temporary or permanent suspension of use of the platform. Students who lose the use of Teams will be supported in their learning by alternate methods.

Please help us by making sure that your child(ren) understand that Microsoft Teams is meant to be used primarily for learning. To help guide your discussions, the Team at NSA is offering some guidelines for online learning with this letter. We have also included an infographic of the THINK acronym for kinder, more effective communication. Many of our students are already familiar with THINK. It is helpful to refer to when having conversations with kids and could be printed and posted in your child’s workspace as a reminder. Kids could also make their own THINK poster to hang up.

This is new territory for all of us and we are learning as we go. Things don’t always go as planned and how we respond to missteps and unintended consequences is how we learn and improve. The improvements we make now will help ensure that our online community remains the educational and relational lifeline we all need it to be. We at NSA are grateful for your support of our teaching team and efforts with your children through this very different school year.

Please find the Guidelines for Nurturing a Positive Online Environment above. 

April 10, 2020

We hope you are all surviving the stay at home order and the school work that is being sent home!   In an effort to maintain our communication methods, I'm going to continue to send out Friday emails as we used to! They will of course look much different, but still will be valuable!

Please remember, the assignments aren't due until Friday of their given week unless otherwise noted!  So if you miss one or run out of time, you have the chance to make it up by Friday!  

As of now per Governor Walz, the schools remain closed until May 4th. There is always the possibility that this date will be changed based on what our state needs at that time. We will remain in contact regarding any changes as they happen. During this time the only people allowed at the school are those using the childcare for essential workers and the  staff running that service. 

Ongoing Events: 

-Gerten's plant sale!  Please see the pamphlets sent home before spring break!  Let us know if yours has been misplaced! 

-Yearbook! Last chance to get orders placed! Please let us know if you need assistance with this. There is a special section dedicated to this year's Distance Learning! 

Cancelled events: 

Special Person's day

New Student Orientation

April 5, 2020

Well, we’ve made it through our first week of Distance Learning! Hopefully, with practice, the kids are getting the hang of working within the various platforms. I know the teachers have been doing lots of learning too. Thank you all for sharing online pictures of what your kids have been doing with their “school” days. It really helps all of us feel connected to the kids.

We as a staff would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your heroic efforts in all of this. It can be incredibly stressful to think that you go from parent to teacher overnight. We want to reassure you that parents are not expected to suddenly become a teacher. Distance Learning is not Homeschooling. Teachers still set and oversee the learning program for your child, as is their job. Admittedly, with the move to Distance Learning, your role at home changes, with the biggest change being that parents, not teachers, now control the learning environment during the day. The pace, the schedule and the physical space for learning are all now in your hands, while the responsibilities of teaching reading, math, writing and science still lie with the school and its educational staff. Your primary focus, as it always has been, is on the well-being of your child(ren). Once you, as parents, relieve yourself of the burden of educating your children, you can shift your focus to managing the learning environment and helping kids cope with change.

Some things to consider:

  •  Set a schedule that works for your family and stick to it – what has been taken from them is routine.

  • Younger children may need more support in the area of executive functioning: getting started, materials management, and predicting how long Must-do tasks will take to complete, to meet deadlines.

  • Remember, each assignment or activity in the Weekly Learning Plan has an independence percentage. If it says 100% independent, then kids should be able to complete it themselves. An exception to this would be if your child is on an IEP and may need more or specialized support. Please reach out to our Special Education staff for guidance on this.

  • Encourage kids to make use of the online and offline tools (math notebooks, teacher recordings, tutorial videos in Freckle and See saw, teacher office hours) Please remind children that teachers are only available during office hours. They can leave messages for teachers in Teams and teachers will return calls during office hours.

  • Resist the urge to “help” too much. Productive struggle is important for learners. It helps them develop persistence, confidence in their abilities to figure things out, and a sense of accomplishment when they do. When we rob children of these opportunities, kids don’t learn self-sufficiency and become overly dependent on adults for their learning.

  • Remember, the goal is to have kids complete the blue color-coded “Must-do” assignments in the Weekly Learning Plan by Friday in whatever timeframe during the week that works for your family. Remember, you control the schedule and pacing at home, do it your way.

Teachers and paraprofessionals will be scheduling check in with kids next week through a scheduling platform called PickTime. https://www.picktime.com/ More information on this to come.

As we work together through all of this, it’s important to realize that the role of a parent and teacher are different. While the teacher is the trained expert that serves as a guiding force in subject matter, you as a parent know when to lean in and lean out of your child’s experience. Your role as the expert on your child, is to offer support to your child(ren), the learning structure, and reinforce the learning goals set by the teacher. You are not taking on the full weight of education.

This is an opportunity to immerse yourself in your children, providing them with extra attention and support. All the time you used to spend commuting can be used baking or creating art together. Make your lunch break a family together time and read together afterward. Time that would have been spent on kid’s sports could become a game night tradition. Kids will remember how they felt during this strange time not how the were missing a math class.

As humans, worldwide, we are all in this together. Our kids are not falling behind. When we finally return to school the way it was, whenever that will be, all schools and all teachers will know, and take into account, that all children experienced the same disruption to their learning. Kids will still learn what they need to know to be successful in life. So let’s all take deep breath and know that we are all doing the best we can for the kids and that we will all get through it together.

March 27th, 2020

Here’s hoping you are all staying healthy, coping with change, and settling into the routines of our new normal. This letter will serve to fill you in on plans made by the Educational Team at NSA over the past week and a half as they took on the monumental task of designing a Home Learning Plan for our kids that will hopefully support parents too, as we partner together like never before. Please bear in mind that there will be a learning curve for all of us, so we will need to be patient with ourselves and each other. If it becomes clear that things aren’t working as they are planned, we have the flexibility to tweak things until they work well.

We have also been discussing that what may be working for most people may not work for everyone due to work schedules, the availability of technology, the number of children at home, and other factors. As always, we at NSA strive to ensure we can reach all learners, so please reach out to your child’s teacher if you are struggling with some aspect of the program as it is. Teachers will continue to meet to discuss what is and isn’t working and how we can make changes and improvements.

Here’s what you need to know:

Attendance – This is very important as we need to report our attendance numbers to the state. Teachers will be taking attendance from the previous day by 10:00am. Your child can be counted present for the school day in several ways:

· By attending the Morning or Afternoon Meeting

· By being active on Seesaw, Freckle, or Teams.

· By calling 651 925-5050 or emailing office@naturalscienceacademy.org

Office Hours – Teachers will keep regular office hours where they can be available to help students and answer questions. We have tried to keep office hours flexible to accommodate a variety of family schedules. Teacher office hours will be:

Monday, Tuesday and Friday 9-11am and 1-3pm.

Wednesday and Thursday 1-3pm and 6:30-8:00 pm. Teachers will begin work at 10:00am on evening office hour days.


Weekly Learning Plan – A Weekly Learning Plan will be available to families on Sunday evenings. This document will give you an overview of the learning for the week. Each

class will have its own Weekly Leaning Plan (WLP), so there will be an Otter plan, a Frog plan and an Owl plan. The plan will include “Must-do” tasks, (color-coded blue in the document) that are required and will be due on Fridays. There will be other tasks that are “Can-do” that are optional or for kids who want or need more to do. Can-do tasks are color-coded green. The Weekly Learning Plan will tell you where you can find the assigned task or activity (Seesaw, Freckle, Teams, take home materials etc.) and will show an independence percentage or how much a student is expected to complete on their own without adult assistance. You will receive next week’s Weekly Learning Plan by email this Sunday. WLPs will be posted to the school website for reference.


Daily Schedule – Many of you have expressed concern about what the daily schedule for home learning should look like. The short answer is that it depends on what works best for your family. We are including a suggested schedule for you to look over and follow as it is or tweak so that it works for your situation. As you design the schedule that works best for your family, just know that assigned student work will take about 80 minutes per day in total.

Physical stuff going home and coming back – While we don’t know how this looks going forward, at this time, we do plan on continuing to send home physical materials (books, science materials, work packets) for kids,although probably not on a weekly basis. We’ll have to wait for more guidance form the state on what will be allowable.

Conferences – As many of you may remember, student-led conferences were to have taken place this week. While we won’t be able to replicate this experience, we do want to be able to share your child’s mid-year academic progress with you. You can expect to receive by email your child’s progress report, MAP scores and TRAIL report by April 15.

March 25th, 2020

There are big changes afoot. Life is overwhelmingly different, and school is too.  Here’s a basic overview of our thinking about how school will look, at least for the first week or too.  We trust in your patience as we navigate this new territory together.

Teams:  Teams will function as a landing page.  It’ll be used specifically for:

  • Group video meetings.

  • One-to-one calls/meetings.

  • Teacher informational posts.

Teams also has a tab for the Freckle login page and the Seesaw login page, so kids can navigate from Teams to Seesaw and Freckle.

Freckle: Freckle will be a resource for practicing all kinds of skills in math, ELA, and even Science. 

In Freckle, kids will:

  • Practice math facts.

  • Engage in teacher assigned tasks.

  • Do self-paced practice.

Teachers will:

  • Assign targeted practice.

  • Review progress with Freckle’s reports.

  • Use Freckle’s data to tailor instruction in one-on-one check-ins.

Seesaw: Seesaw allows us to assess student thinking and keep touch with the whole child.  Its flexible tools let them capture their reasoning, which will help us to target their practice and assess their progress.

In Seesaw, kids will:

  • Submit a regular check-in letting us know how they’re doing.

  • Engage in activities that show their thinking.

  • Document their work and their thinking related to their off-line activities.

Teachers will:

  • Post activities and repost student work to facilitate discussion and learning from classmates.

  • Respond to student work with voice comments.


We plan to send you our learning plan for the week via your parent emails.  We’ll also post it to the Teams page for easy access.  This plan will give an overview of the activities to be assigned that week.  It’ll let you know what the goal of the activities is as well as where your child can complete them—Seesaw, Freckle, or off-line.  It’ll also give a time estimate for each activity. 


Thank you for your support in this learning adventure!

March 25th, 2020

Hello NSA families!  

As of today, 3/25/2020, the State of Minnesota has ordered Distance Learning for schools to begin on Monday, March 30 and to continue through Monday, May 4 -  with the possibility of extending beyond that date.  All Distance Learning information will be sent to all families by the end of this week. In the mean time, please make that sure your student has access to Outlook and Teams via the email addresses sent earlier in the week. If you have any problems or questions regarding student email access, Outlook or Teams,  please contact Kate.Maki@naturalscienceacademy.org or office@naturalscienceacademy.org.   Also, check the "Covid-19" tab on our NSA website for more information. 


The Natural Science Academy building will remain closed to students, except for those attending essential person's child care, which will continue to be provided during this time. If you will need to begin using this service, please contact Office@naturalscienceacademy.org

If you have not picked up your student's cubby contents and educational materials by end-of-day Thursday, please make arrangements to do so by contacting the office.   

We know there are a lot of unanswered questions,  we will provide all the information we are able by the end of the week.  Most of this information will be coming directly from your teachers as each class may have slight differences. 

Thank you so much for your patience, understanding and support through this crazy time! We are grateful for our community as we work through this together!


Thank you for your patience and understanding.