The premiere has announced that the whole province is once again moving to online schooling for grades K-12. We got this letter from our superintendent:
In the last week the number of staff and students quarantining has increased significantly within Horizon and around the province. As of this morning, eleven (11) communities have transitioned to at-home learning due to severe staff shortages, and today at 6:00pm the Premier announced that all K-12 students will shift to at-home learning starting May 7th. They will continue with on-line learning until May 25th (after the long-weekend) Students will be in school on Wednesday May 5 and Thursday May 6. The hope is that this reset will reduce the number of cases, resolve the staff shortage, allow staff to get vaccinated, and allow students to close the school year with in-person learning.
Although I’m already teaching from home I was scheduled to be back in classes by either the 10th or 17th (depending on the kind of variant we find in our school).
I’ve been using the The Edmonton Spelling List for my grade 5 class. Because we’ve switched to at home, online learning I created a Google Form as a place for them to write their answers. It’s a nice bonus that Google Forms marks it automatically.
Not long after I instructed my students to load up the Google Form, my stomach sank. Sure, a few students loaded it with no trouble, but other students began complaining about a warning / they were unable to continue. It wasn’t clear at first what was causing the problem. Then, one after another, the students who were complaining started to drop out of the classroom meetup.
It turns out that I had put the Google Form in “Lock-down mode” because I didn’t want their browsers giving them hints on how to spell the words or tabbing over to Google to get a helpful correction on the words. Well, lock-down mode locked the students out of the tab that had the meet-up. A few of the students rebooted and rejoined the class but another more intrepid student began filling in all 50 blank questions with non-sense so that it would allow him to submit it. That’s one way to kill ten minutes of class time.
Long story short, lock-down mode would have been great for in-school learning but it didn’t work for online schooling. I ended up having them do a version not locked down and just pretended that browsers don’t underline misspelled words.
The list below has copy generating links in case other teachers want to make a copy.
The Alberta government today released their parents guide for the 2020-2021 school year.
“Your child may feel nervous about what school will be like. While there will be changes, the key school experience will be the same as before—they will learn in class with their teacher and see friends.”
In a letter sent to school superintendents across Alberta yesterday (and then forwarded to all teachers), Education Minister Adriana LaGrange explains that the government has been working hard to increase testing capacity and turn-around times.
I recently became aware that the test result turnaround times in Alberta are already supposedly down to two to three days. Friends of mine decided to get the whole family tested because one of their kids became ill with Covid-19 like symptoms. (Still waiting until tomorrow to hear back).
LaGrange also suggests that all teachers should be tested for the novel corona virus before returning to in-person learning this fall.
After a wonderful, although extremely busy, parental leave I’m back at work teaching and just in time for the 2020 SWATCA Teacher’s Convention. This morning’s keynote speaker was none other than newscaster and Canadian icon Peter Mansbridge.1
Mansbridge opened his talk by speaking about the important role teacher’s have in Canadian society, and I caught the few minutes on my iPhone’s camera for posterity:
He went on to speak about his experiences with notable Canadian politicians from John Deifenbaker to Justin Trudeau. My favorite though, was his summary in three stories about what it means to be a Canadian.
Here’s the Soundcloud of his speech (I missed about 10 seconds between the end of the YouTube clip above and when I started the audio recording):
Later that day, I happened to stop into the operations room for the event and mentioned that I was looking for a substitute teacher when a guy dressed in a hoodie sitting next to me asked if it was true I had to find my own subs. I said yeah—I used to have an admin at my old school that did it but now I had to find them myself. I glanced over at the man and did a double-take. To my surprise, it was Peter Mansbridge! So we chatted a little more and then I got up the courage to ask if he would pose for a photo with me. He kindly obliged.
It made my day.
1. Mansbridge is also known for his role presenting the news in the North American version of Disney’s Zootopia as Peter Moosebridge.
Yesterday I started at my new position in Barnwell. There’s not a lot to say, other than things have been working out pretty well and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year. Grade five has a lot of interesting things to relearn before I teach it to my new students. For example, I learned today that Socrates was put to death by a jury of his peers for his anti-democratic opinions. He thought that the smartest people should lead in government, rather than the lottery system that was customary at the time. Smart guy, that Socrates.
Things are finally coming together in my teaching career. Last June I was hired to teach high school New Media at W.R. Myers in Taber, Alberta! This was my goal when I went back to school and I just have to say, now that I’ve started, it feels great when a plan comes together.
The Myers’ sports teams are known as The Rebels and while I’ll always be a MHHS Mohawk / U of L Pronghorn, I think working here kind of makes me a Rebel too.