Today, Friday 22nd of May, our high school and admin staff were trained in Risk Assessment and Orientation for COVID 19. Our Health and Safety Committee met on Thursday, 21st May, to finalize the Risk Assessment Document for Blouberg International. As discussed previously, the school is currently being deep cleaned and sanitized for the return of students and staff.
The SMT of the school also met on Thursday to discuss the return of students and the address of our Minister of Education on Tuesday, 19th May. It is important that we keep to the legislation from the Education Department and the government. As an independent school we are awaiting the final decision as to whether we can allow other year groups to return to school; the Year 7’s and 12’s being the initial groups identified by the minister for first return.
We will communicate the year groups to return, date and manner of return, with you as soon as we are able. Even though the minister has authorized certain year groups to return to school, we are mindful that some parents are still not comfortable sending learners back. We are revising our plans accordingly and no learner will be left behind. Our Risk Assessment Policies have been documented and the information will be shared with both staff and learners on their return.
A detailed document will be sent to you within the next week after we have finalized our planning. Our learners will also go through an orientation program on Covid 19 Safety Protocols prior to starting school.
I thank you for your support during this time and assure you that your concerns and suggestions are taken into consideration.
Have a wonderful weekend.
I read recently that human intelligence is the ability to adapt; an intelligent and solidary society will only take the good and discard the bad out of these difficult times we are all crossing.
From a learning perspective, there is a lot of good which has come from the lockdown. The current circumstances have forced many educational institutions and platforms to offer free online courses, free access to libraries, virtual museum walks, online concerts … all available to us from the comfort of home.
I still believe learning a foreign language online is not the ideal method; the personal, face to face contact of our daily lessons is irreplaceable, but if we combine both, learning online platforms can be extremely helpful.
My Year 7 and 8’s are currently enrolled in Rockalingua (courtesy of our eager Spanish Primary teacher, Javier Vidal); although some of them prefer Duolingo. These online platforms promote fun and interactive learning through games, pictures, videos, and some form of goal to keep them motivated and engaged.
Another free online platform that has particularly good feedback is called Memrise. It offers lessons from beginner level to advanced Spanish. Memrise also teaches grammar and is particularly helpful in learning specific vocabulary by placing the new words in context. This is a more effective way for the brain to assimilate new knowledge, as it is now a meaningful task to complete, as opposed to having to memorize random lists out of context.
Whatever the choice, let us stay safe, focus on the good and make the best out of our online learning experience.
Year 7 to Year 13 Spanish Teacher
Some of the things we do on Fridays include:
1. We dress up, including themes such as funky hair/hats, bring a book, superhero’s, cool shades, character day and wear your favourite colour.
2. We played online games such as scavenger hunt, funny face screenshots, charades and amazing race.
3. We go on virtual tours all over the world. Recently, we visited the Amazon, Universal Studios Orlando, NASA and Pirates of the Caribbean.
4. We learn to draw. Our Year 4 students have created amazing drawings following ‘Art Hub’ on YouTube.
5. We do some amazing art. Learning about Picasso and Cubism and One Point Perspective.
6. Story time. We read some inspirational books using ‘Storyline Online’ on YouTube. We listened to Oprah reading the Hula Hoopin’ Queen and practiced our own Hula skills. We also listened to the inspirational story ‘The house that Jane built’ and our students shared some ideas of what they can do to help people in need.
We miss our friends and we miss our school, our teachers miss us too, BUT it hasn’t been all bad and we will get through this stronger than ever.
Year 4 Teacher
– T.J. Webber
We all know that children love to talk. Any opportunity given, will find children in groups happily chatting away. Put them in front of a classroom, and suddenly, for some, it becomes a nightmare!
Show and Tell is one way in which we encourage our students to practise public speaking. Most are keen to talk about what they have brought to school and show it it their friends. This could be in the form of a poster, a researched subject, or even a favourite toy.
The Year 2 teachers have been trying to keep Show and Tell alive during this e-learning experience, by giving the students topics to plan for and present to their classes. This exercise has resulted in some interesting experiences! I found the ‘mute’ button on my laptop and was incredibly pleased with myself, until I realised that the students could ‘un-mute’ themselves, leaving everyone trying to talk at once. A week later, after some diligent technological research, I discovered that there was also a button which allowed me to stop them from ‘un-muting’ themselves. We continued in full swing, until my internet crashed, leaving my class wondering where I was. So, I have been told, one of the students acted as ‘host’ for the meeting and they carried on without me.
In this time, we find ourselves in, I have discovered that the importance of Show and Tell is profound. Not only are they practising their public speaking skills, it gives them a chance to see their friends and just interact with them.
The topic for our last Show and Tell was making a poster, based on a Science Shadow Puppet experiment. They certainly enjoyed this project and did a fantastic job of completing it and presenting their findings.
Year 2 Teacher
In Reception, the students have been learning how to write addition and subtraction sums. Leading up to learning to write sums, the students learnt about more and less. We practised finding numbers that are more or less than a given number using a number line. The concept of ‘one more’ helps students understand that numbers can be increased or added to, to make them bigger. ‘One less than’ teaches students that numbers can be decreased to make them smaller.
The students were introduced to Mr Plus using an online video lesson on Google Classroom. Mr Plus is a very friendly fellow who drives a big red bus. He always wants to add the numbers together so they can play together in a bigger group. So he puts the numbers together to make his sums. The students started out with picture sums. They also practised making sums in fun ways with games, dice, dominoes and play dough mats. The students then progressed to working out sums by drawing their own pictures above the number. They were taught to count on when adding the numbers together. The students had a lot of fun trying to write their own sums on a whiteboard. Addition sums were also practised on worksheets at home and during focus group lessons with their teachers via Zoom.
Last week the students were introduced to Minnie Minus. He is friends with Mr Plus and all the numbers, but the numbers have to keep a close eye on him, because he is always taking away. The numbers taught him to always ask permission to take away from the bigger numbers. This made everyone in Number Land much happier.
The students have started off with picture sums. They are learning that the pictures refer to the first number in a subtraction sum. The second number shows how many to take away and the answer is what is left over. These sums have been practised again this week by following online videos on Google Classroom and during their focus groups on Zoom with their teachers.
The students are extremely excited and proud to be writing their own sums and this is really evident in their smiling faces when sharing their work on Google Classroom. We look forward to having a lot more fun learning about our super sums.
I am sure that, like me, you have mixed feelings about the President’s address last night. Earlier this month, the 5th of May 2020, you received a letter regarding potential dates for the return to school and the measures which need to be in place before this is possible.
Although we are an independent school, we are obliged (as are government schools) to await confirmation from the government before we reopen. Originally, we were informed that students in Year 7 and Year 12 would be returning to school on the 1st of June 2020 and hence, management took the necessary measures of ordering hand sanitizer, face masks, thermometers and having the school deep-cleaned.
The Minister of Basic Education, Mrs. Angie Motshekga, is scheduled to address the nation on Monday the 18th of May, after which we hope to have a better idea of which grades will return to school. The results of our second survey, regarding students returning to school, indicated that 75% of parents are not willing to send their children back for the two weeks before the end of the second term (which ends on the 12th of June 2020). We respect and understand your feelings in this matter and hope to reassure you that the best interests of our students are always at the forefront of our planning. To accommodate the needs of all our students, we will therefore implement a plan of hybrid teaching for as long as is required.
A letter detailing the plan of action for Blouberg International will be sent to you after Minister Motshekga’s address on Monday. Let us continue building our children and planning for a better future for them.
In the words of Nelson Mandela:
“It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build.”
Have a wonderful weekend
By the time you read this we will have been under lockdown for 49 days… who would’ve thought? Two weeks became 3 weeks then it was extended again or was it the other way around?
When we started online teaching most of us felt lost and must have watched the various “how to” videos at least 50 times. Now however, 49 days in, it’s old hat. Teaching Design and Technology has made me realise that things are always changing, and people are always looking for innovative ways to produce new products.
When reflecting on the situation in which we find ourselves today, I cannot help but think that Design and Technology will play a huge role in the future. For example, think about all those Zoom meetings you have attended. Now, as you know, you can change the background, but how professional is that Eiffel Tower in the background? Is that the look you want when hosting that all important board-meeting? I see that there is a South African company that sells professional-looking office and boardroom backgrounds. They can even recreate your actual office so you and your staff can feel right at home. Isn’t it amazing what Design and Technology software can do?
In Design and Technology, students are taught to improve the design of an existing product or design a something completely new altogether- the aim being to create something which will make our daily lives that little bit easier. My students are busy designing health care facilities made from shipping containers, vertical farming installations, fold-away study tables and an eco-friendly school, to name just a few of the exciting projects we have underway.
I am sure that we are all looking forward to seeing their final designs.
Design and Technology Teacher
In my modest opinion and experience, as a second language teacher, this statement looks to me a little bit simplistic- I also believe that through the communication approach or using of the language in real live situations, the creation of role play classes, at least a minimum understanding of the structure of the grammar and the verb conjugation, will take us to the same objective or goal.
Also, the gamification or use of games like in Rockalingua has proven itself as an excellent tool to gain vocabulary and expressions related with a topic, also within a low anxiety environment.
To summarise, the use of different techniques such as the ones that have been mentioned before: gamification, role play, storytelling, the communication approach, the learning of some basic grammar together with the maximum exposure to the second language obtaining comprehensible input (reading and listening), looks to me like the right mixing formula and the way to plan and structure the second language lessons.
I completely agree with Professor Stephen Krashen, reading and listening is key to progress – not only in this language acquisition or learning process – it is fundamental in all knowledge acquisition processes: Research, read books, develop good habits, set obtained goals and believing in yourself can also be named as methods to acquire effective knowledge.
As part of the online Spanish class – I will be including and creating more storytelling and comics as a perfect tool to create meaningful input for the students in the topics that they have worked on before.
Other important facts:
1 – Children learn what they hear most. We need to expose them to the second language that they are learning as much as we can. I love to play Spanish music during my lessons.
2 – Children learn words for things and events that interest them. music, movies, cartoons, magazines, books, comics, reading the sports news in Spanish on the internet.
3 Interactive and responsive rather than passive context promotes language learning. Storytelling and Rockalingua games are great tools .
4 – Children learn words best in meaningful context, for example vocabulary related with clothes in a role play about going shopping or talking about food and recreating a Restaurant experience in class.
Below are some of the movies that I can recommend watching in Spanish for the students. You might find this link useful:
How to change the language in Netflix to Spanish
Description: A young Mexican boy, Miguel, has dreams of being a musician. Unfortunately, music is the one thing that is forbidden in his family. Miguel ends up visiting the Land of the Dead, where he uncovers old family secrets. This must be one of the most beautiful Latino movies made, with good music, stunning visuals, and a heart-warming tale of family, love, and memory. Keep the tissues nearby. Coco was meticulously researched and is an excellent introduction to Day of the Dead traditions in Mexico.
Available on Netflix.
Info: PG | Spanish/English Audio, Subtitles | 1hr 45min
ZIPI Y ZAPE Y LA ISLA DEL CAPITÁN (ZIP AND ZAP AND THE CAPTAIN’S ISLAND
Description: Zipe and Zape– the main characters in the film, are based on two popular, mischievous Spanish comic book characters that have been read for decades. In this movie (the sequel is also on Netflix!), a family vacation goes wrong and they end up at a mysterious home with missing parents.
Available on Netflix.
Info: PG | Spanish Audio | 1hr 45min
Description: An original Netflix production, Pachamama is a film deeply entrenched in the indigenous traditions of Andes culture in South America, while also introducing Incan culture and the invasion of the Spaniards. A young boy living in a remote village takes it upon himself to rescue a cherished relic, on a dangerous journey to the capital Incan city of Cusco.
Available on Netflix.
Info: PG | Spanish Audio | 1hr 12min
The Book of Life
2014 ‧ Animation/Family ‧ 1h 35m
Description: In a bid to save the love of his life, Manolo sacrifices himself and is transported to the Land of the Remembered, where he reunites with his dead ancestors and strives to get his life back.
Primary School Spanish Teacher
The Year 4’s spent the past few weeks learning about a wonderful new topic in English: Poetry.
They looked at some examples of poems, answered some poetry comprehensions and discussed different poetic features such as alliteration, similes, onomatopoeia, descriptive words and rhyme. Last week they got the chance to apply their knowledge by writing their own poems. They wrote some marvelous acrostic poems about fireworks and also wrote some extremely creative poems about their favourite colour.
Take a look at some of our amazing poems – we hope you enjoy reading the poems as much as we enjoyed writing it!
“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” – Robert Frost
Year 4 Teacher
This is very interesting while we are at home as we can explore and observe, like real scientists, and find all of the different materials we have at home and use everyday.
As you can see from the beautiful drawings, the students in my class have had a lot of fun finding different materials in their back gardens and labeling their pictures.
I’m so proud of Year 1 and all their hard work and ongoing commitment to their studies. Well done Year 1!
Year 1 Teacher