First off thank you to everyone who joined us for our first Virtual Parents Coffee Morning on Thursday. It seemed to work really well, and we are planning to have a second one in two weeks. For those that emailed me about being unable to join at that time and asking for notes, I will forward those to you this weekend.
In general, it appears that all of us are getting into the flow of distance learning, but if parents have questions, comments or suggestions, please contact the coordinators, Ben or myself so we can help you out. We welcome feedback in order to make the system work as well as possible for our community near and far.
Closer to home it seems the long rains have started in full force. For some of us this has meant power and internet disruptions but for some in our community it has been much harsher. Please let us know if you have been heavily affected so we might be able to help as a community.
Yesterday should have been the last day of D2 classes as is noted below, so to all our D2 students know that wherever you are, we are still thinking about you. We will all have to put our heads together to find a way to have some sort of farewell for you even if it is delayed.
Stay safe and healthy,
Today, there are reportedly 1.53 billion learners out of school and 184 country-wide school closures, impacting 87.6% of the world’s total enrolled learners. In light of such alarming numbers, continuing education through alternative learning pathways is surely a non-negotiable.
We are so fortunate as a community to be able to implement a Distance Learning plan. Yes, it is fraught with frustrations. It is demanding. I have four children…I know! Across our community of students, teachers and parents, there is a huge range of comfort with technology. For some, navigating everything is a genuine and ongoing challenge. Many essential elements of learning at UWCEA do not necessarily transfer easily to online environments. In addition, working across multiple time zones adds another level of complexity for us as an international school.
As you have heard, the creation of our Distance Learning guidelines was in conjunction with teachers across the UWCEA community alongside the wider UWC global family, as well as other educators from across the globe. Indeed, we were inundated with ideas, suggestions, exemplars and so on.
What we have created is, of course, in its infancy but I applaud our entire community for making the best of a new and unfamiliar learning environment.
As I am sure many of you can relate to, I am being bombarded on a daily basis with a plethora of self-help recommendations, ways to maintain my mental health and wellbeing during these strange and turbulent times. At a risk of overstating it, I wanted to add my two pence worth for students and parents alike. I will try to be succinct.
Firstly, when it comes to learning, keep in touch. Teachers and coordinators are communicating regularly through various channels. Be sure that you stay connected to classmates, teachers, counsellors and so forth. If you have concerns, let someone know. Secondly, when it comes to mental health and wellbeing, stay connected with family and friends through videotelephony (yes, that is a word!) and online chat services. I have seen a marked lift in mood and mindset when my own children have had the opportunity to talk to a friend or ten(!) on Zoom or elsewhere. After all, our connections define who we are. Remember, physical distancing does not have to equate to social distancing.
Lastly, please let’s all remind each other to be polite, respectful and appropriate in our communications, both during online learning and elsewhere. At times like this, it is so important to be kind.
Today we should have been watching our D2 students leave school after their final formal lessons. Instead their departure was rushed over a month ago. Their exams would have started next week and they would have had an intense three weeks followed by their graduation. While we cannot replicate the school clapping them as they leave for a day of fun, we can find ways to have a virtual graduation. We are compiling ideas from students and teachers and I welcome suggestions from the wider school community.
The D1 students have been continuing their distance learning. There is a combination of Zoom or other online lessons along with annotated power points, work from books or other sources and a whole variety of other methods. The school community has embraced the IB concept of being life long learners as teachers learn new ways to teach and students find new ways to learn. The D1 online learning document can be found here. We have added a sheet for the times for Zoom etc classes although this is still being finalized. Hopefully you have received the Guardian summaries from Google Classroom, if you have a Gmail address you can adjust the settings to receive these daily or weekly. Please let me know if you need more information. We still need to decide what we will do about the end of year exams and more information about this will be sent later.
I need not remind you all that we are going through an incredibly difficult time, some more than others but none of us alone.
Last quarter embodied with the spirits of helping out within our community fellow diploma students Fien, Julius, and I were planning an Easter Food drive where all the proceeds would have gone towards supporting the Amani, Children’s Home. A children’s home that’s located a mere 17 minutes away from our school. Unfortunately, due to the unprecedented set of circumstances that we are all going through at the moment, such a goal could not take place.
However, unlike most of us that have been able to return home into the comforts of our families and loved ones, the children of the Amani shelter haven’t been as lucky. The home remains operational to this day, during this difficult period as most of the kids in their care have nowhere else to go.
The shelter’s desperately trying to keep their operations running for as long as possible, especially during this difficult time but fundraising remains to be their biggest problem. At times like these, many people are nervous (understandably so), and giving tends to drop quite sharply. They worry that the children within their care stand nearly zero chances of a decent future without the Shelter’s presence, even without the current pandemic.
Now more than ever do these kids need our help. So we humbly ask anybody and everybody if you can donate anything right now, we understand that it might be difficult, but if you can, please go to their GoFundMe page and give what you can. All donations and contributions would go directly towards financing and supporting the Children’s Home. An extra dollar can make a huge difference. In times like these, we all need to pull together and help out however we can.
Stay healthy. Stay Creative.
Sincerely, Peter, Fien and Julius
From the Counselor
This week was the first full week of the fourth quarter, and hopefully you began to find a way to establish routines and find a way to create balance in this new (temporary) normal. I’m glad to see that many of you are accessing the document that has been created to share resources to help maintain your mental health and well-being during this time. If you have not accessed it yet, please click here to see the frequently updated document. If you have any specific concerns that you would like support from the counselors, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Ms. Ford or Mr. Kileo.
We are still looking forward to celebrating our D2 students and setting them off to soar by leaving well (ie. Transitioning by building a RAFT). If you have any ideas for ways we can honor our D2 students given the current conditions, please feel free to contact either Ms. Ford or the campus DP Coordinator as we are exploring a variety of options. In addition, I am compiling a list of destinations that our D2 students are heading off to, and look forward to sharing that information in the upcoming weeks as decisions are finalized.
All M5 and D1 students have been provided access to their post-secondary planning dashboard via our this new platform. Both groups have specific tasks assigned to them in Maia Learning to assist them with the process of deciding what they want to do after they complete their time at UWCEA. Please ask your child to share with you what they have been exploring in Maia Learning and the assignments that they are responsible for completing over the next few months. I will be setting up meetings with D1 students and parents over this time, so feel free to reach out to me when you are ready to schedule your appointment to review your child’s plan.
Lastly, as I continue to encourage students to explore their options, I want to highlight this event occurring next week. 28-29 April College Block Party (Attached flyer), will be taking place in the early morning hours of our time zone, but if you register, you can receive the recording. There is also a webinar on the 28th about building character and the role that social emotional learning plays in the selection process at competitive institutions. Feel free to learn more about that event via this link. Also, there are a number of other virtual university presentations all listed in the Maia Visits section of Maia Learning. I am updating the list constantly, so please make sure your child is checking regularly for presentations that may be worth exploring.
As always, your counseling team is here to assist in any way that we can. Please feel free to contact us via our email addresses on top of COVID-19 Resources document.
Take care and persevere.
Distance Learning We are thankful to the parent community for their support. Lessons are continuing well. Teachers are using Managebac and Google Classroom to send communication to both parents and students. Zoom and Google Meet are in use for feedback and virtual lessons. We encourage parents to access the virtual lessons schedule on google drive. In case of any problems, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We remain available on email as well.
MYP Events Due to the pandemic, it is clear that some of the events earlier lined up for this quarter will be suspended. These include M4 and M5 examinations together with M5 Work Experience. Others include the MYP Service Focus days, and the M3 IDU trip to Makumira University. Details and logistics are being worked on how best we can modify and retain some of the events. These will be communicated soon.
Assessments in MYP All MYP assessments will continue this quarter with tasks and results being available on Managebac from time to time. We encourage parents to access these and feel free to contact teachers as and when necessary.
On behalf of the PYP Team, I would like to thank you for the feedback from the virtual Coffee Morning. It is clear that some parents would prefer more physical learning packs. Even though we will continue with some sessions of online learning, this does not have to be on-screen learning. We will find ways to ensure screen time is kept to a minimum and children are having more hands-on activities. The PYP Team will be discussing these packs on Tuesday and I will contact you with more information. I have had so much fun with the photos children shared as we celebrated Earth Day. It gave us a chance to stop and appreciate the moment. We came together as a community and this brought smiles to the children’s faces. It is our hope as a school, to keep the children smiling and enjoying their lives even during this difficult period. We are looking at organizing Spirit Days, Primary Gatherings, and more activities on mindfulness and well-being.
This week the children turned their attention once more to their PYP Exhibition. Many of them were able to watch the online exhibition presented by the P6 students at Eton House, Malaysia on Tuesday so we know it can be done! I will contact you early next week to discuss the date of the presentations (we will not keep to the original May 6th date as we took 2 weeks out from the process to reflect on how best to move forward.) P6 have been busy writing books, composing songs, making sculptures, making wooden blocks, planning gardens, tending to compost bins as well as completing the daily maths, reading and writing assignments. The children continue to impress me with their resilience and motivation. I look forward to seeing them on Seesaw on Monday.
This week I was able to speak to most of the class. It was great to see their smiles and hear their laughs. It was also special to be able to edit their work or look for things on See saw together while chatting. Next week, we hope to start online chat groups for our book clubs and have our Friday meeting online. Please let me know if there are times daily that will not work for them to get online. The following week we will begin math groups online and have a casual time for them to check in and say hello. I encourage them to keep in touch with one another!
We will continue our weekly chat time. Please ensure they are ready to go. I also need help to support them while uploading photos to Seesaw. Please show them how to hold the camera above and close to the document. That will ensure I am able to read their work.
I would like to thank you for another successful week of shifting from Zoom, Seesaw, and personal emails. The students came through beautifully with their Summative Assessments. They all shared very authentic ideas and came up with intricate designs of their inventions. I was impressed with how they were thinking on their feet and answering the questions asked by their peers. I would also like to commend the students for their commitment. I have Zane who logs into Zoom as early as 7 a.m. in Oregon, to keep up with the distance learning.
We will continue working on Data handling as a means of collecting, recording, and analyzing data. We will look at factors leading to the endangerment of animals and compare these in different parts of the world. As we continue to research, citing sources is at the forefront of good practice. This week we will have a chance to focus on this.
Online learning has really taken off this week! The P3 students have been diligent in completing all their tasks. We had a series of Zoom meetings that allowed us to see each other and talk about some things that have been challenging and things that we’ve enjoyed doing. It was lovely seeing all the students who signed onto their meetings. It really sunk in about the personal connections we have with each other in the classroom and how the energy really comes from being together.
We had a screenless day to celebrate Earth Day. The students completed a series of tasks that involved them being outdoors and using things in the environment to create art. One of the activities for Earth Day was using recycled materials to create a collage. You can see a couple of the collages in the image for this week.
On Monday, students will be receiving their project for this unit. It will be great to see them all on Zoom again!
P 1/2 Class
Thank you to all who shared their Earth Day celebrations through pictures and videos. It is always freeing and inspiring to remember that we are part of a larger global community. We are connected in more ways than we can understand.
I hope you have all had a chance to get inspired by not only Earth Day but also by the creativity that we can all bring to make the world a better place to live in. This coming week, we will focus on our personal creative traits and we will seek to bring these out and share with one another. We will be embarking on a major personal project as we round off our current unit. All the details will be in our google classroom Monday morning as usual.
I hope we can all meet again Monday for a class meeting. The time will now be at 10am. This will give everyone enough time to get ready. As much as you are able, please allow your child to be in a quiet space to reduce background noise. Our main discussion point will be the personal project of the week to showcase their creativity.
EC began our story telling unit this week. We’ll look at:
How stories help us express our ideas and feelings
Different ways art can help us tell stories
How we can create our own stories
We began with cave art from Kondoa and had a go at making our own. We wondered about how the first stories might have been told through pictures and added shapes to our art. EPIC is proving to be an accessible resource and this week we looked at a book about two cave-guys, Mo and Jo. Some of us read the story, some listened, and we all responded.
Using our cave art we began to think about the stories we could tell from the pictures orally. We looked at the fossilised footprints from Laetoli and made our own sets of ‘number footprints’. The children made a ‘story path’ to think about character, problem and resolve- through art and readily available resources.
The story of ‘Dave the Caveman’ helped us to think about sounds and we built our own caves. You can see one in the picture. On Friday we made our own cave-people puppets, told stories and acted out some basic number work.
A huge thank you for the hard work, patience and good humour of all involved in keeping our learning alive at UWCEA. Looking forward to next week’s interactions. Well done to Mr. Emmanuel and Ms. Grace who have been completing all of the activities too! Mr. Emmanuel is becoming quite the yogi.