If you came here for the Bakken, scroll down or check out the sidebar at the right. This is simply for the archives and the grandchildren.
Wow, talk about feeling mellow, relaxed.
It's been a busy, busy week.
May is still in Portland, OR, helping the younger daughter and her husband with six-month-old twins, Judah and Levi.
I'm in Grapevine, TX, where our older daughter, son-in-law, and three granddaughters live. The two older granddaughters are pretty much on their own: one is in her first year of high school; the other is a senior in high school completing her second year of college. Yes, you read that correctly. There are programs now available in which high school students can meet requirements for graduation in their first two years of high school, and then attend college for theor junior and senior years of high school, earning both their high school degree and an associate of arts degree upon graduation from "high school."
In Texas, those two years are entirely transferable to a four-year-Texas-college program.
Two of the three granddaughters are enrolled in school via remote / distance learning. The middle granddaughter is physically in school, her first year of high school, as noted above. It's a huge school. Two students have tested positive for Covid-19 but the school is pressing on. Good for them.
The youngest, Sophia, started first grade this year. She was really, really looking forward to:
- her own desk;
- recess with her friends; and,
- riding on the bus.
Unfortunately not to be.
But wow, Sophia is having a blast.
The first three weeks of school for Sophia was a "soft opening." All elementary students were issued an iPad, WebEx, Seesaw, a lot of applications, and learned how to stream from home. After those three weeks, students were given the option of continuing to stream from home, or attending school in person. The decision deadline was mid-July and there was still a lot of concern, so the family decided to continue having Sophia stream from home.
This is the first full week of "real" school. Wow, it's worked out well. I am really, really impressed.
There are two components. The first component is the school, the admin staff, the teachers, the technology, the iPad, the WebEx, the apps. I am blown away. The teachers obviously spent their entire summer putting their end of the project together. I cannot believe how incredible the school-side of the operation is.
The second component is the home, the parent or whoever is helping the student at home. Sophia is very, very lucky.
This is Sophia's schedule. From 7:30 a.m. to noon she is assisted by her oldest sister and her dad who is working from home. At noon I pick Sophia up and take her to our apartment so Arianna can do her own schoolwork, and her dad can do his work, uninterrupted.
Sophia knows how to sign in; she knows how to navigate the system to find her "main" teacher, as well her "specials" and her physical education teacher. Once in the morning, for half an hour, the teachers, school room students, and the streamers are in synchronous mode on WebEx (a much better system than Zoom based on what I've read, and way, way better than Microsoft Teams). Then, the students are "on their own" until 2:15 when they have another synchronous period.
Sophia and I have turned the entire dining room table and dining room itself into her classroom.
Here she is at one of her specials, music:
I keep a daily "journal" of Sophia's activities which I give to the parents at the end of the day.
In addition, Sophia keeps her own journal on WebEx / Seesaw. I assume it's called Seesaw because there is a constant give-and-take between the teacher and the student, and between the parents and the teacher. Back and forth, or up and down, like a seesaw. It's incredibly clever.
For streamers, the process can be incredibly efficient. Much more so than the experience at school. No standing in lines waiting for everyone to walk to the lunch room; no waiting for everyone to wash hands, use the restrooms, etc.
The students are locked into the choice the parents made during the summer for the first 9-week grading period. After the first 9-week grading period, if the virus is still an issue, students will have the option for remaining a streamer or going back to school.
I think being a streamer is much, much better from an educational point of view, but from a "whole student" point of view, Sophia needs to "go to school." But wow, we're enjoying the gift we have now.
The Sad Realities of Virtual Learning
Although Frederick M. Hess pretty much has it right -- I disagree with a few things he says -- but I wonder if he has written the "biography" of distance learning too soon.
I don't know if he mentioned it directly, but it was clear from the long essay, with distance learning the gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" will widen. And not by just a trivial amount.