Donate to a Student Today

College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

Remote Learning

Education in the anxious autumn of Covid

by Gary Kaplan

The need for continuity of instruction and accountability—and help.

Help! I have to convert all my classes to fully remote. Can you help me?

Hi. I’m a high school math teacher. I have to teach two classes for the summer program. Can you set me up with a curriculum?

I’ve been drafted into doing a Zoom presentation for parents. I would like to show some screen shots of math and ELA curriculum. Can you send me some slides that would appeal to parents?

Would you be able to send me my classes’ pre and post assessment scores in an excel spreadsheet so I can include them in my progress report? Thank you in advance for your help.

This is a scary and uncertain time for everyone, especially our students. They are figuring out how to learn remotely and we are figuring out how to teach remotely. The emotional toll this is taking on teachers and students is tremendous.

When schools closed in March, we were concerned whether teachers in our partner schools would be able to continue using our program. As the anxious weeks of March and April passed, we received appeal after appeal from teachers and administrators. We were relieved that teachers and students were in fact trying to continue instruction remotely using the same JFYNet resources they had been using in the classroom. More than 2000 students and 70 teachers were able to continue accessing their accounts. Our staff continued to work closely with teachers, responding to their appeals via email, text and video conference just as they had done in the classroom.

Over the course of the shutdown and summer, we kept our partners supplied with ELA and math curricula aligned with the periodic directives of DESE. We also developed a storehouse of supplemental tools and techniques that teachers found effective in differentiating instruction for students of every description, including high needs.

As summer bled into fall and the discussion about learning models kept running into the public health situation, it became clear that most instruction was going to be remote or hybrid and that both models would have to deliver core instruction online. We distilled the experience of the shutdown into a prescription for teachers in pandemic flexible-mode pedagogy. It came down to three basic tools:

  1. Comprehensive online curricula with integrated assessments covering all standards prescribed by the state or district and compliant with DESE directives such as 603 CMR 27.08;
  2. A portfolio of supplemental resources and strategies to vary and individualize instruction;
  3. Ongoing personal training and support in methods, materials and practices of flex-mode online education.

These features had been in our toolbox for years, but never had they had to fill such a central role.

In the few weeks since schools have begun to reopen, we have enrolled more than 2000 students despite the uncertainty about models. As teachers settle in to the new conditions and send us their requests, the dialogue of support continues. We are developing new tools and strategies that move seamlessly between classroom and home and can become permanent features of post-Covid pedagogy:

  • Comprehensive ELA and math instructional content aligned to all state standards in grades 6-12, with integrated assessments and performance data to track student progress, and specialized alignments for MCAS, SAT, Accuplacer and other ancillary needs;
  • Specific strategies for High Needs students, including EL and SPED students, detailed in training webinars and supported by professional development;
  • Extensive supplemental resources and strategies including curriculum for science and social studies;
  • Compliance with DESE and BPS requirements for alignment to state standards and High Needs accommodations, with granular student performance data to inform grading policy.
  • Yearlong professional development to train and support teachers, including training webinars and tutorials, regular communication through virtual meetings, office hours and group conferences;

The most important priority now is to keep students engaged in their class work and moving ahead in the acquisition of grade-level skills from pre-high school to 10th grade MCAS and on to college readiness. MCAS will be a particular challenge this year because of the 6-month interruption; but since MCAS questions are derived directly from the state curriculum standards, working on grade-level skills should be an effective preparation for each grade’s MCAS. It should be emphasized that MCAS is not the goal of education: it is only a measurement. The skills and knowledge measured by MCAS, or any other assessment, are the sum and substance of education.

Online learning can supplement live classroom teaching and even substitute for it, with the guiding hand of the teacher, when circumstances require. When public health conditions permit returning to the classroom, many of the tools and strategies of online learning will become permanent features of post-Covid pedagogy. The range and variety of content; the real-time performance measurement; the self-paced delivery that allows each student to learn at her own pace and enables teachers to address individual learning styles and degrees of mastery; the seamless continuity between classroom and home —these properties will hold their value for teachers and students. The efficiency of including instruction, assessment and student work on a single, easily accessible online platform will stabilize learning and accountability across operational models even as circumstances change.

Response from the field has been encouraging:

You feature some great engineering/STEM resources on your Free Science Resources page. It’s a great reference for high school students who are interested in studying science and engineering. Thanks.

I appreciate your feedback and the report regarding student performance. Many of our students who have participated in JFYNet have commented on how comfortable they are with the program. Teachers have been relieved to provide students something so easily accessible and helpful.

THANK YOU FOR ALWAYS BEING THERE TO HELP WITH THE TECHNICAL ISSUES AND THE FOLLOW UP REPORTS. IT IS SO HELPFUL TO HAVE YOUR SUPPORT.

Education in the anxious autumn of Covid. The need for continuity.


Gary Kaplan is the executive director of JFYNetWorks.


Additional posts authored by Gary Kaplan can be found here.


To learn more about JFYNet’s Connected Learning Solutions click on the button below:JFYNet Connected Learning


HOW ARE WE DOING? In our pursuit to serve up content that matters to you, we ask that you take a couple of minutes to let us know how we’re doing? Please click here to be navigated to our JFYNet Satisfaction Survey. Thank you!

JFYNet alignments help teachers focus on goals

by Joan Reissman, Alignment Maven

Software is an integral part of today’s learning environment. There are many excellent and robust software programs, but they do not run themselves. The teacher still needs to know what to teach her students. This academic year of the virus presents unprecedented challenges. Not only will teachers not meet their students personally, but they will have to assess what each student has retained from last year to know where to start this year. They will have to gauge how much review is needed and figure out how to differentiate instruction for individual student needs. This is where JFYNet can help.

Resources for the Virtual Classroom from JFYNet

by Greg Cunningham, Learning Specialist

An online toolbox for teachers

When I entered a classroom (when that was still possible), students would often greet me as “the test prep guy.” They may, in fact, have been working to pass the next standardized test on the schedule. But I knew, and the teacher knew, that they were building crucial skills necessary for success in subsequent grades, in college, and in the workforce. In order to build those necessary skills, JFY Learning Specialists provide a myriad of resources to support teachers in their efforts to support their students.

The JFY website contains multiple videos and blog posts that explain what students should expect from specific standardized tests. Students often know the required information and have the necessary skills to succeed, but are thrown off by the structure of the assessment or the wording of questions. If they know what to expect and how to navigate the format smoothly, they have a much better chance of using their knowledge effectively to achieve the highest possible score on the assessment.

In order to tap this resource, students must first log in to JFY’s software. To facilitate this step, we provide short videos with login instructions on the website for both returning students and first-timers. Whether using remote, hybrid or in-person models, a teacher cannot help each student in the class at the same time when they forget the process for logging in. Students have access to these training videos to help themselves log in and use their time on actual skill-building activities rather than struggling to engage with the software.

JFY’s software focuses on math and ELA, the foundational skills. But science teachers and social science teachers also need resources to engage students and enrich learning. When the shutdown happened in March, our Specialists immediately began vetting and compiling free resources and software to help science and social science teachers actively engage students remotely. This rapid response to the needs of teachers has been the foundation of JFY’s services. We quickly assess needs and provide prompt and effective solutions.

The Coronavirus has created some of the most challenging circumstances ever faced by teachers and students. While we cannot make the virus go away, we can help schools, teachers, students and parents adjust to the “new normal” by providing timely and effective solutions to the issues surrounding online learning. Nothing will ever replace a teacher in the classroom with students. The resources JFY provides ensure that teachers have the tools to make their virtual classrooms as exciting as their imaginations can conjure. Those tools will transition back to the physical classroom. The toolbox will not be very heavy.


To learn more about JFYNet’s Connected Learning Solutions click on the button below:JFYNet Connected Learning


HOW ARE WE DOING? In our pursuit to serve up content that matters to you, we ask that you take a couple of minutes to let us know how we’re doing? Please click here to be navigated to our JFYNet Satisfaction Survey. Thank you!

Curriculum Development, No Razzle Dazzle: Just Substance and Support

by Joan Reissman, Learning Specialist

How JFYNet Online helps teachers through Connected Learning

Software companies like to razzle dazzle you with overwhelming displays of curriculum content. The material is often good, but content alone isn’t effective. It has to be used properly, and most software companies give only limited training, and at steep extra cost. JFYNet takes a different approach. Our software is supported by training and ongoing coaching and support. JFY’s online learning curricula cover math and ELA from grades 6 through 12. Our Learning Specialists help you use our online programs throughout the year so that your students get the most differentiated, customized instruction possible.

JFY’s curriculum development is a core component of our AIMS methodology (Assessment, Instruction, Measurement, Support). This methodology guides and informs our curriculum development with customized tasks and assessments that we design, in consultation with you, specifically for your students’ needs. Do you want to know how much, and exactly what, your students have retained or lost over the six months’ shutdown? JFY can help. Whether your concern is upcoming standardized tests or grade-level skills, JFY learning specialists can design the right assessments for you.

It’s more important than ever this year to assess students so that we can focus on the specific content they need to stay on track toward graduation and post-secondary plans. Many software programs contain built-in assessments, but they are generically designed for a general student population. JFY learning specialists respond to actual teacher and student needs by creating custom assessments and assignments. This is one aspect of our AIMS support. For example, when DESE issued modified “interim” standards last spring, JFY created a new curriculum alignment to match the standards. We are always ready to provide new material when the need arises.

Students are starting the school year with unprecedented challenges, and teachers are going to need information to help them get on track. Students entering high school have always come from different middle schools with different courses and teachers. This year, they haven’t even had a complete 8th grade. You need to know where they are academically. We can create assessments and assignments that will help you see what they’ve learned and what they need to learn.

JFY has twenty years of experience working with schools, standards, assessments, curriculum and tests. Our teacher support in all these areas is the unique JFY difference.

After students take a custom assessment, our learning specialists help teachers with the heart of the program–instruction. Armed with assessment data, JFY creates custom assignments. This is actual data-driven instruction. Whether you want a quiz on specific standards or a homework assignment, your learning specialist will design it for you. Now that all schools are using online learning, it’s more important than ever to have a robust program. Software is more flexible than print: you can choose the exact lesson or questions that you want at the moment to monitor student comprehension. Our custom tasks enable you to assess what students have learned and plan your next lesson. Online learning helps you differentiate instruction. You can vary assignments from student to student to make sure each student is getting what he or she needs. Our math and English programs adapt to every student so that each is working at the appropriate skill level, with accommodations for students that need them.

Teachers need to measure progress constantly during the year. Our software provides formative and summative assessments that show student progress in an accessible and actionable format. This real-time feedback enables teachers to make timely curriculum adjustments so that precious instructional time is not wasted.

JFY learning specialists are always available by email, text and phone to help you refine your curriculum and solve problems. When the shutdown started last spring, JFY teachers continued teaching their classes with the same JFY material they had been using in the classroom. More than 2000 students made the transition from classroom to home without missing a beat. Teachers didn’t need to worry about distributing physical materials or collecting papers– everything was already online. When it is safe, JFY teachers will again have the advantage of a support partner who makes classroom visits. That’s a service software companies don’t provide. Whether onsite or online, the personal connection is what defines our service. JFYNet is not just a product. It’s a long-term partnership.

Check out these resources for some examples of how we can help you and your students.


To learn more about JFYNet’s Connected Learning Solutions click on the button below:JFYNet Connected Learning


HOW ARE WE DOING? In our pursuit to serve up content that matters to you, we ask that you take a couple of minutes to let us know how we’re doing? Please click here to be navigated to our JFYNet Satisfaction Survey. Thank you!

Strategies and Resources for special education students

by Greg Cunningham, JFYNet Learning Specialist

Effective Connected Learning tools for special education students

Two groups of students have been especially hard hit by the shutdown: English Learners and special education students with IEPs or 504 plans. These are some of the most educationally vulnerable groups in our schools. Special attention needs to be paid to them in order to help them keep up with current studies and simultaneously catch up on previously learned material that may have been lost during the shutdown. JFYNet’s online reading program helps teachers provide effective accommodations for Special Education students and strategies for EL students whether in the classroom or working remotely.

When students first log in to our program, they take an assessment called the Level Set that measures their current Lexile score. (The Lexile is a standard national measurement of reading skill.) This measurement makes it possible for all students to read the same material, but each at his or her individual level of difficulty. This system allows a whole class to have a “mentor” text: a text that students and teachers can use for multiple purposes, which is differentiated to individual skill levels. The program automatically parses out and tiers the text by student reading level, relieving the teacher of that painstaking task.

When students log in to their assignments they see their target vocabulary. They can listen to it, repeat it, and hear the part of speech. They can also see and hear it used in a sentence. This multi-modal presentation helps them process new vocabulary by both seeing and hearing it. Teachers can then use it in an original sentence, or have students do a think-pair-share with the word. This is a standard strategy for EL students. The program also provides opportunities for students to build familiarity with new words through activities such as word search.

The program will read to students. Reading aloud is an indirect vocabulary development tool. For students who have learning disabilities in reading, this technique can be particularly helpful. Sentences are parsed out with yellow highlights. Each individual word is then highlighted in blue as it is spoken. Students can re-listen to a sentence or paragraph as many times as necessary. This feature allows students to continually revisit the text to process it.

After students read a text, they can highlight specific passages and annotate the selection. They can copy their work and bring it over into a reading-response. This helps them develop their comprehension strategies, and also helps them use a text thoughtfully to respond to a question.

Students can work in partner pairs to develop their own text-dependent questions based on Bloom’s taxonomy. Teachers can assign text-dependent questions for students to develop based on their WIDA level. In addition, the JFYNet program contains a wide array of graphic organizers for teachers to use with EL students or students with Special Education accommodations from a 504 plan or an IEP.

All students will need extra support coming into this academic year, but English Learners and special needs students will need more tools and support in order to realize necessary achievement. No matter what skills students need to master during this upcoming academic year, the tools in our ELA program will help all students find success, especially those who require targeted support.


This video illustrates just how effective and beneficial the program is for students.


To learn more about JFYNet’s Connected Learning Solutions click on the button below:JFYNet Connected Learning


HOW ARE WE DOING? In our pursuit to serve up content that matters to you, we ask that you take a couple of minutes to let us know how we’re doing? Please click here to be navigated to our JFYNet Satisfaction Survey. Thank you!

Keeping Students Engaged through Direct Student Support

by Eileen Wedegartner, JFYNet Learning Specialist

Responding to student needs. Engagement is the key to improving academic performance.

The JFYNet online program supports learning with online instructional tools that help students master grade-level standards and prepare for college and careers after graduation. We summarize our methodology in the acronym AIMS: Assess, Instruct, Measure, Support. The last element, Support, takes a variety of forms.

Teacher Training, Connected Learning with JFYNet

The JFYNet Difference

by Cathie Maglio, Learning Specialist

Online teaching is done with software, but software alone can be dry and uninspiring. Even the best software needs a teacher to bring it to life. A teacher knows how to motivate a student with a plea, a prod, a joke. Software doesn’t tell jokes.

JFYNet works intensively with teachers to maximize student engagement with online instruction. Our training, coaching, consultation and problem-solving continue throughout the year. This deep support of teachers sets JFYNet apart. We’re not just selling software: we’re developing and supporting a methodology of practice through our work with teachers.

Online Reading Program: IEP/504 Accommodations & Support in Class & Remotely

SPECIAL ED: Individualized Education Program with JFYNet

by Greg Cunningham, Learning Specialist

The Boston Public Schools announced Friday that they will open the school year with all-remote instruction. With that announcement, all the largest districts in the state, and 30% of all districts, have opted for a fully remote opening. Most other districts have chosen hybrid. Both models rely on online instruction. Meeting the needs of all students with online instruction will be a challenge across the board, but especially for students with special needs.

The Autumn of our Reconnect. School will be opening. But how?

School will be opening. But how?

by Gary Kaplan

School will be opening September 16. How it will open is still uncertain. Three operational models have been defined by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: fully in-person, fully remote, and a hybrid of the two. It is up to each district to decide which option to choose. The decisions will not be strictly pedagogical: much will depend on health and safety conditions. Final school plans for reopening are due at DESE August 10.

JFYNet reflects on new normal

JFYNet Remote Learning Specialists mull over the New Normal

by Greg, Eileen, Cathie and Joan

Greg Cunningham

On March 16th, the world stopped. Or so it seemed. Restaurants closed, office workers were told to work from home, and going to the grocery store felt like a sequel to The Hunger Games. (I distinctly remember a woman in the deli yelling “I volunteer as tribute” when her number was called.) We were all instructed to stay home where we quickly discovered that Zoom was not just the name of a vintage PBS TV show.