We all are aware that the main reason for a Verbal Feedback meeting is for the teacher and the parents to discuss a student’s progress in order to enhance their child’s education. There are also many other important reasons for these meetings, that many parents may not be aware of.
The Year 2 teachers have discussed the importance of these meetings and this is what we have concluded:
– A child’s education is a partnership between parents and teachers – especially in times like these. Verbal Feedback meetings allow the teacher to express how grateful they are for the parents being “sergeants” and ensuring that their children actually do the work.
– We would like to show parents we are here to support them as well as their child. We are here to listen and help where we can.
– Parents are able to ask questions directly instead of waiting for a reply via email. These meetings help the teacher to inquire whether parents have seen any areas of struggle their child faces that the teacher may not necessarily be aware of.
– These meetings allow for parents to be heard and discuss their opinions based on what may work better for their children and them. This dialog helps teachers adapt their lessons to suit the needs of all their students, especially at a time like this where online learning is the main learning platform.
As one of the arguably most famous German authors said – You can only achieve success through doing. This term has proven this to me again.
Eight years ago I did a course in modern language learning methods using technology. We learned about blended learning, flipped classrooms and different websites to use. Since then a lot has changed and throughout the years I always wanted to implement more technology in teaching. Unfortunately, it never came to fruition since teaching the traditional way was just easier and more accessible to students. This lockdown has forced us as teachers and students to finally use all those technological tools out there.
Learning German with online tools has never been easier. The German government has supported the teaching of German in other countries for years now and therefore we have many different online platforms to choose from. Sites such as Deutsche Welle and Lingoni offer great Video learning tools. Duo Lingo is a fun way to support what is learnt in class with fun activities. Additional to this it has become a lot easier to create your own online Quizzes or videos to share with students.
Even though this time has been trying and difficult it was a great step forward. Practicing a language does work better in a classroom setting, and will never become unnecessary, but the past couple of months have shown me how language learning can also be successful through other means. If you never try you will never learn.
To end off our science chapter, “Material Changes”, for the term the Year 6 students explored how to make their own filtration system. Their goal for this activity was to discover that ground materials can clean and purify water before it is returned to the surface.
The criteria for the investigation was that their filter system needed to be durable and easy to use, have three layers and the layers needed to be made of ‘natural’ materials that they could find in their yards or nearby park. They could also make use of recyclable materials.
Let’s see what the Year 6’s had to say about their experience:
I really enjoyed my filtration project. It was so fun making the filter because you had to make important decisions on how you were going to layer your materials. It was really fun and I hope we get something like it again. – Maia Davies
What I liked most about the project was collecting all the materials especially the gravel because people were looking at us very weirdly. I enjoyed all of it and it was a great experience. – Glanville Morgan
What I enjoyed the most was experimenting with the different materials and finding out if they filtered the water. Knowing that a material that I tested worked and filtered the water made me fill with joy. I learnt that if natural filtration did not exist most of the fresh and clean water we have would be dirty. I also learnt that different materials have a different impact on how it changes the water. – Saumya Maharaj
I enjoyed making the actual filter, choosing what to put inside it and what should go in first. I learnt about how natural items ,like sand and rocks, can actually clean dirty water and about how charcoal removes toxins from dirty water without removing important minerals. – Faith Chivaka
The thing that I have enjoyed the most was how filtration works. We have learnt that the filtering system removes redundant or unwanted particles in dirty water. Filtration is a process used to separate solids from liquids using a filter medium that allows the fluid to pass through but not the solid. – Teeyana Shaik Mahomed
We would like to congratulate our students for doing a phenomenal job at completing this project.
Year 6 Teacher
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
Here are 10 reasons why reading is important for children:
- Improves concentration.
- Improves memory.
- Discover other parts of the world.
- Brain exercise.
- Boosts critical thinking skills.
- Develops empathy.
- Develops & expands language skills.
- Enhances imagination.
- Better performance in school.
- Source of entertainment.
Year 2 Teacher
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
– 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