We are excited that you are sending your child to A+UP.

The countdown is on for the start of the year. We are just 3 weeks away from the first day of school, August 24th. We are excited for the year to start and ready to help you and your child get ready.

Today, we will share our remote learning plan for the coming year.

Some quick reminders:
• A+UP will start school on August 24. For the first 4 weeks (August 24 – September 18), we will be completely online (we call that “remote”).

• All A+UP students (we call them “scholars”) will each have a Chromebook to use for their learning. Watch for emails from our team on picking up your child’s device. If you need help with technology or wi-fi connections, let us know (Coach Mac’s email: kmcwhorter@aplusup.org).

• A+UP’s board of directors and leadership team will look at what is happening in Houston with Covid-19 in early September. They will figure out what to do next–open the school or keep the building closed.

• Even if we reopen the building, families will have the choice to keep their child learning from home through the end of the semester. The governor will decide what is allowed in the spring semester. We expect he will allow online learning to continue all year. If he does, we will keep the online learning going.

• A+UP has proven we know how to do online learning. Last year, 99% of A+UP scholars were engaged throughout the quarantine period. Our families reported good engagement for their kids and the data showed it.Last year, our team was able to quickly shift to on-line learning. We didn’t miss any learning days. Unlike most schools, our teachers continued to teach new material daily and stay connected with our scholars. Our data shows that kids continued to learn through the quarantine.This year, we plan to do even better. Our team worked over the summer to create new lessons for online learning. We have been researching what works best for middle schoolers and incorporating it into our plans.

Below is our operating plan for online learning this fall.

Daily Schedule – Online Plan
8:30 AM – 9:00 AM Coaching Group (15 kids per group)
• Physical and emotional wellness checks
• Attendance
• Community culture time
9:00 First Period
10:00 Second Period
10:50 AM – 12 PM Lunch and Brain Break
12:00 Third Period
1:00 Fourth Period
2:00 Fifth Period
3:00 – 3:30 PM Coaching Group
• Check-in on progress
• Support and help
• Tutoring time
• Social time & games
• Office hours for parents and kids

What happens during the five class periods?

From 9 AM – 2:50 PM, students will have 5 fifty-minute periods for math, English, science, social studies, and electives. Your child will have three ways they’ll spend their time:

  • Watch, Listen, and Learn: Our coaches have lessons on video for our scholars. Some of these lessons are homemade. Others are the best-of-the-best on the internet. Kids will watch and take notes.
  • Workout: Scholars work during this part. Sometimes, the work will be online or on their computer. They might be taking a quiz, writing an essay, or working on a learning program. Other work is with the computer off. In math, they might be working out problems on paper; in English, they might be reading a book we’ve sent home or writing an essay.
  • Scrimmage: This is what makes A+UP special. Our coaches (what we call our teachers) regularly work with our kids in small groups in video conferences.
    • Small groups -We look at what a scholar needs help learning. We also use these to accelerate scholars who are succeeding.
    • One-on-One – We pull aside kids who need additional support when a concept is hard.
    • Big group – We set up time for kids to work with a larger group to give them time to work together on new topics they normally don’t work with.

What is Coaching Group?

Coaching Group (CG) is one of the coolest parts of A+UP. We know that creating trusting relationships with kids is key to our school’s success. It’s harder to do that when we are strictly online. We know that AND we are committed to doing our best to build those relationships. Coaching Group is where we set aside time dedicated to that important work.

The day will start with CG wellness checks. The process is simple. We just ask, “How’s it going?” We follow-up when things seem off or give encouragement when a kid feels down. We help kids go over their daily goals and remind them of any school-wide due dates.

The end-of-day Coaching Group is also a check-in. Some days, we will set aside time for team building–games and activities. Other days, we might give time for scholars to work together on a project. Other days are accountability checks. At A+UP, we give each other feedback on performance. It would not be unusual during CG to hear a coach or scholar say, “Michael, what is happening? It looks like you’re falling behind.” We then follow-up that conversation with ideas and support. We lift each other up as we climb our mountain.

Please let me know if this email answers your questions about the general structure of online learning. Also, give me feedback on what I can share that would make things more clear. We are more than a school. We are a community. I want to do my best to help you navigate the upcoming school year and help you help your child find learning success.

Finally, we are filling up seats and close to full. The commissioner of education has said that we are able to serve kids online from outside our normal attendance zone. So if you know someone who is interested in a high-quality school for the coming year, let me know. I’d be happy to talk to them personally and help them figure out if we are a good fit for their family.

This weekend, I’ll send out an email on grading. Fun times!


Paul Castro
A+UP Charter School

Perseverance is working through challenges to achieve our goal.