Off-Site Teaching!

“Change is the only constant in life,” said Greek philosopher Heraclitus. There has been so much change in the past month for us all. One month ago we were adjusting to the time change. Now there are monumental adjustments in our lives.

The Fort McMurray Catholic Schools family has transitioned to off-site learning with incredible grace, speed, and passion. We can not be more proud of the work happening to make sure all students are supported to the best of our abilities.

For teachers the one on one connection with students is part of who they are. Our teaching staff have been incredible leaders for showcasing their own ability to quickly learn and adapt in challenging times.

Good Shepherd School teacher Jenny Price says it’s been a technological learning curve ,”I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about technology before all of this started, but I have identified a lot of gaps in my skills over the last several weeks! I keep telling my students that we will all be experts in Google Classroom and Google Meet by the end of this! We have amazing people working at the division level vetting digital tools for us and making sure that we have all of the support we need to use them effectively. I have never been more grateful to be part of the Fort McMurray Catholic Schools family than I am right now.”

Father Mercredi High School teacher Sara Wanner speaks about her adjustments, “Instructions in my courses have mainly moved to a google classroom. From here I have digitized many of the classroom notes for biology. My teaching platform now includes recording various lessons and activities and uploading them on to YouTube. This week for example myself and my partner bio teacher filmed and narrated a lab, edited it, and uploaded it to YouTube for students. I have had to become creative in how I present my teaching as well as how to engage students.”

St Kateri Catholic School teacher Amber Robichaud, “This temporary change to off-site learning has made me embrace the use of technology to connect with families and to continue to provide meaningful learning opportunities to my class. There have been challenges, but upon constant reflection and some tweaking, I’m so proud of where we are now!”

Teaching at Father Mercredi High School Dale Barfoot says she is adapting to off-site learning, “I am posting math and science work to my classes on google classroom. Students are completing assignments and contacting me through Google Meet if they have questions. I am posting short videos (Screencastify) on how to complete some questions that the students might be struggling with. I am sending YouTube video links that do a good job explaining certain concepts. I am becoming more comfortable with video conferencing and the use of technology to monitor student progress.”

Holy Trinity Catholic High School teacher Barb McInnis says this has been about adapting to our current reality, “You really need to prioritize the outcomes. Social Studies embraces the “what ifs” and thrives on dialogue and critical thinking… the students are missing that part of class. During the Google Meets, as we were currently studying economics, we connected all our outcomes to the current global crisis and its impacts economically. While we would do this in a regular classroom setting, it was necessary to focus where possible. Off-site learning has also changed how I check in with students who need extra support, using Google Forms to see how students are feeling about class, off-site learning and the overall state of affairs.”
Susan Wilkie at Holy Trinity Catholic High School says it’s all about connecting with the students however we can, “The plan also depends on whether or not students have internet access. For those without access, I’ve worked to create a package of some games and activities that will get students thinking about Leadership, Religion and Math (my courses) in the world around them. My math instruction has involved a few days of short pre-recorded videos students can use to help them do some practice problems. I’ve also tried to schedule one or two google hangouts during the week. After we’ve had a chance to check in with each other, I do a mini lesson from my whiteboard at my kitchen table. Students can ask questions. The session is recorded for others to check out at any time. It is not the same as being in our classroom but it’s been a great opportunity to connect with students!”

Sister Mary Phillips teacher Kelly Webber says this has expanded her knowledge of technology, “I have learned so many things in the past couple of weeks. From expanding what I know about Google Classroom, to Google Meet and what it can offer. I have also learned about FLIPGRID and what kind of tools it includes. With the many tools I have been given, I am able to use what I feel comfortable using and work with those to create and build my lessons to teach curriculum to students.”

St Kateri Catholic School teacher Tanya Quaglia says everyone has been working together, “I have definitely learned a lot about how to incorporate technology more effectively in my lessons. I have become better at using various apps and programs and how even our youngest learners can use them! It is actually incredible how much teachers have learned and shared during such a short time. Everyone is so willing to share something new and how to use it.”