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
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
I will be one of the first to admit that online teaching and learning certainly took some adapting to. My students and I rose to the challenge and I’m proud of what they have achieved.
Once more traditional expectations regarding the teaching of History have been removed, one discovers that the subject rather lends itself to the online environment. While history may have been taught to many as a long (and very boring) list of dates, the best way to learn history is to study historical sources. This is where online learning comes into its own as students have more time and room to explore than they would in a conventional classroom setting. Many activities can be easily adapted to the online environment and even the shy students can make their opinions heard.
I’ll admit to being especially proud of my senior students. Their dedication and passion for the subject is extremely encouraging, as is their continued academic excellence. They are true Cambridge students in every regard. The world needs more diligent, creative and passionate individuals like them.
- Pace yourself and use your time effectively
- Remove distractions from your work environment (put the phone away)
- Plan your essays – it actually helps you to write faster
- Speak to the teacher if you are uncertain or experiencing problems – we are here to help
- Collaborate with your peers – online learning does not mean that you have to learn alone
- Shortcuts lead to long delays – complete that classwork task!
The Coronavirus has led me to think that it is likely more fun to read about history than to create it (the parts that make the History books at any rate). Will we study this in years to come?
High School History Teacher
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” – Aristotle
This term in Year 6, we have been learning about Material changes. The students have been focusing on topics such as reversible and irreversible changes, mixing and separating solids, soluble and insoluble substances, separating insoluble substances, solutions, how can we make solids dissolve faster and how does grain size affect dissolving.
It has been a very interesting journey for the Year 6’s as experiments have been conducted each time they learnt about a new topic. They tested each of the above topics and came up with their own predictions, methods, results and conclusions. I hope that they cleaned their parents kitchen straight afterwards!
Here are some things the students enjoyed about Science:
“Well in science I really enjoyed conducting the experiments and finding out some things that I didn’t know, for example, I did not know why things dissolve faster in hot water but I then did the experiment and checked my textbook, I found out the answer. I also liked making the picture that we did at the beginning of the term about irreversible and reversible changes.” – Treasure Daniel
“I really enjoy the experiments because they give me a greater understanding on how things work like solutions and dissolving it is really fun.” – Maia Davies
“The thing I like about science is that when I conduct an experiment it makes it easier for me to understand the lesson. Like for the insolubles as I did the experiments it helped me understand and for the irreversible work when the teachers told us to make pictures in our book it helped because I used highlighting, so it stood out in my book. In science I’m 100 percent understanding the work.” – Yadar Mashoene
“On online schooling in science, we have learnt about material changes, solutions and mixtures, soluble and insoluble substances, different methods on how to separate mixtures and solutions, factors that affect dissolving, how to conduct a fair experiment and how to record our results. My favourite part of science is conducting experiments and learning the outcome of each one. I also enjoy learning about how to separate different mixtures and solutions.” – Saumya Maharaj
We are very proud of the excellent work our Year 6 classes are consistently producing!
Year 6 Teacher
We celebrated our teachers this week and a big thank you to everyone who left them a special message on our Facebook page. It was wonderfully encouraging to see how much they are valued and appreciated.
This week we sent out a second letter explaining the plans and proposals that management are considering should school re-open in June. The measures which need to be in place require careful thought regarding planning and implementation and unfortunately, no simple solutions exist yet. For public schools, Years 7 and 12 students are critical for academic advancement but for us, the focus is on Years 10 and 12 as these two grades write their external Cambridge examinations in October.
There is also the reality that even if the government allows schools to re-open soon, some parents might not feel comfortable sending their children back to school. Our management team are therefore working on plans for hybrid-teaching. Similarly, we might have staff members who cannot return to work just yet as they are high risk individuals and this needs to be accounted for in our planning. These are just a couple of the issues that we are considering.
We will be prepared, with policies in place, to ensure the safety of staff and students when we return to campus. As per the letter I sent out earlier this week, we have already begun purchasing the necessary supplies (hand sanitizers, face masks, thermometers etc.) and have begun drafting a Covid 19 Policy Document.
During this difficult time, let us remember to be kind and encouraging to one another. We all need a bit of motivation in our lives and hopefully the later start to the school day, and the opportunity to exercise, will give us the boost we all need.
I would like to wish all the mothers a happy Mother’s Day this Sunday. I hope you will be spoiled and feel appreciated for all you do!