Last Day of School Letter

The last day of school should be a time to reflect back on what we’ve accomplished and celebrate our time together. It’s usually a time of parties, sharing food and going outside to avoid hot, sticky classrooms. It’s the time when we find things in our lockers that we’ve been missing since November. But not this year.

This year has been a challenge for all of us in many ways. Even before the school closure due to COVID-19, you had to deal with job action that meant fewer extracurricular activities and several missed days of school. As we watched the pandemic grow at a distance, anxiety grew for many of you, and as it got closer to home, we all had to deal with changes to our routines. 

Learning from home is difficult. I know I’ve mentioned it several times already, but it’s worth saying again. You didn’t ask for this. You didn’t want this. And, I think it’s fair to say that most of us weren’t prepared for this. It was hard. Some of you may have felt that you couldn’t do the kind of work I was expecting you to do from home, or that it was too hard without the ability to ask questions when you needed to. Some of you may have felt just overwhelmed by the constant stream of alerts from Gmail and Google Classroom. I know that I felt that way in trying to keep up with responses to all of you. I hope you can take away some learning from this time of closure, because we don’t know exactly what September will bring yet. I know that I’m already thinking about what I will need to do, in order to support my students better. Ask yourself what you might need to do to be an adaptable learner – potentially working in class sometimes, and working at home other times. If you struggled with learning from home, please don’t feel that the problem was you. This was not an ideal situation and I’m sure you did the best you could, and it’s important to look after your health and well-being above all else. Use the summer to reset expectations for what school might look like next year. Think about what it means for you, when you know ahead of time that you might need to do more learning from home. What do you need to do to be successful? What can your teachers do to help you be more successful. Please, let them know!

I have learned from each of you this year, and I appreciate the different perspectives and experiences you bring to our classroom.  Throughout the year, you gave me a lot to think about, not just with regard to school and academics, but by letting me know about your lives beyond Teston Village as well. Thank you for bringing your questions, your curiosity, your stories and your sense of humour to school every day. I’m saddened that we lost so much time together this year. 

I have put a page on my classroom blog at https://monahan.testonvillage.ca/summer-learning/ to provide you with links to resources and activities that you can use to stay engaged in learning over the summer. One of the things I was happiest to see was that you can now get a library card for the Vaughan Public Library, without having to go to the library. This will allow you to access their large collection of eBooks and audio books, so that when we lose our full access to Epic, you’ll still have lots of quality books to choose from. You can find their sign up page at https://www.vaughanpl.info/online_registration. Please make sure that you continue to read every day over the summer. I also encourage you to stay active in math over the summer. Practice, play games and explore the ideas that you found challenging this year so you’ll feel confident going into grade 8.

For parents, thank you for all you’ve done to support your children this year. Don’t be too hard on yourself (or your child)  if you don’t feel that you were able to get your child to do their best with online learning. It wasn’t easy for them with the resources we had access to. I know I struggled to support my own kids and keep them engaged while learning at home. I know many of you were working at home, and your children were helping out with younger siblings or doing other things to contribute to the family. I encourage you to talk with your child about what worked, and what didn’t work, so that you can continue to advocate for their success next year.

I hope all of you have a safe and enjoyable summer (we say that every year, but this year the emphasis on safe is much stronger). I know that (much like our school year) it won’t be a typical summer, but I hope that you are able to do some things you enjoy. I am looking forward to seeing you next year, even if it won’t be in my classroom. When we get the all-clear, I hope you stop in to visit and tell me what’s happening in your lives.

Have a great summer! I will miss you,
Mr. Monahan

Update for June 25, 2020

Good morning everyone!

If we were at school today, we’d be spending the morning cleaning the classroom. You’d probably be recycling a lot of paper that you never want to see again, and someone would find a rotten lunch in their locker that they’d forgotten about. Unfortunately, we’re at home, and I’m still giving you work. I know – I’m awful.

In math, it’s your choice… pick any interactive lesson from the CEMC and try it out. It could be something you found really difficult this year, or it could be something that you enjoy and just want more of. I’m kind of working on that myself – learning to use GeoGebra to develop more interactive math tasks that we can use in the classroom. Who knows, with the addition of coding to the curriculum, maybe I’ll be teaching students to make interactive math activities next year.

In geography, I’m asking you to ready about the challenges some people face accessing clean water and having clean air to breathe. The textbook identifies problems in developing countries, but here in North America, we face our own issues too, so I’ve included a couple of YouTube videos that you might watch about the water issues Indigenous Peoples in Canada face, as well as the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, USA.

It’s the last Grammar Gap filler in Language. One thing I’ve learned is that I’m going to use these a lot earlier on next year. I think they would have been very helpful to some of you in improving your writing earlier.

Office hours today will be at 2:00 PM, and tomorrow will be at 9:00 AM.

Update for Wednesday, June 24

Hi Everyone,

Some of you have been asking about the last day of school. Officially, the PA days that were scheduled for tomorrow and Friday have been cancelled, so they’re still school days (sorry). On Friday, I’ll have office hours from 9:00 am to 10:00 am, but after that, we’ve got staff meetings. I won’t assign anything new on Friday.

Others have asked why I’m still assigning work when report cards are already submitted. Well, we missed a lot of school this year and I’m trying to make sure that you have as many chances as possible to pick up learning that will benefit you for next year (and in general). How much of it you choose to do is pretty much up to you. I’m still available every day for office hours help and to answer questions or talk about things that come up through the work.

I will update the Learning at Home page on our classroom blog to provide links to activities/resources that you may find useful over the summer. Some of you may have heard that the math curriculum has been updated for next year. One of the new expectations is that you memorize your multiplication tables up to 12 x 12. Some of you have that – others don’t and it would be a great idea to practice them through games and other activities over the summer.

What else can you do over the summer? Read every day! Read a lot! Read different things! Take advantage of some of the free offers that I’ve already shared (Epic/Audible/etc.) or read up on current events using sites like CBC Kids news. If you’re on a screen, don’t just watch Zombie TV (that’s what I call the TV my kids watch while I’m running office hours with you), but look for documentaries, educational programs and current events that give you ideas to think about.

In math today, you’ve go the choice of probability or measurement activities. In our last assigned science reading, we’re looking at global warming and alternative energy sources. In language, we’ve got our second last Grammar Gap filler. You may want to save some of those cheat sheets so you have access to them next year.

Hope you have a great day today and to see some of you during office hours at 10:00 am.

Update for Tuesday, June 22

Good morning everyone!

First off – office hours update for Friday. Friday’s office hours will be from 9:00 am to 10:00 am. They’ve been standardized for the school to enable staff to participate in a couple of meetings on Friday. Friday was originally scheduled as a PA day, but was switched to an instructional day because of the school closures.

Report cards were uploaded yesterday and distribution for the whole board will begin today. I do not know when you will get your report card, but it should be by Friday.

In math, you can continue with your chosen strand. Kudos (congratulations) to those of you who are trying both the probability and the measurements strands. I hope the CEMC lessons are OK for you. I find them really well done, but if you’re trying their interactive activities (which you should be doing) and not being successful, let me know and we can see what needs to be done to help you out.

In Geography we’re looking at flow resources – resources that can be used when and where they’re found (i.e. sunlight is a flow resource because it’s only around for part of the day). If you can, I’d like you to try and calculate your freshwater footprint using an online calculator I’ve shared with you.

Finally, PE with Joe is winding down. He’s switching to a three day per week schedule. I don’t know how he did it, but ti was pretty amazing. Along the way he did a fundraiser for England’s Health Care service and raised over half a million dollars. So, feel free to jump into Joe’s back catalogue of workouts, or try something else on your own.

Have a great day! Office hours are at 2 PM this afternoon. No office hours this evening!

Update for Monday, June 22, 2020

Good morning everyone!

Last week of school! . . . Although it may not feel like it . . .

We are going to keep going with academic content through this week because we missed so much school this year. I want to try my best to make sure you’re as prepared as possible for next year.

For math, you should stick with the unit/strand you chose on Friday (or if you change your mind, you should go back and do Friday’s lesson before attempting today’s). Of course, you’re more than welcome to try both 🙂

In science this week, we’re going to be looking at how we generate the energy we use to enable our lifestyle. We start today with conventional energy sources, but on Wednesday, we’ll more into alternative energy sources.

In language, there is a two part Grammar Gap Filler – so make sure you try both parts!

I hope you all have a great day today!

Office hours are at 10:00 am today. Remember, no more office hours on Tuesday or Thursday evening this week. Let me know if the scheduled office hours don’t work for you and we can arrange another time.

Report Card Info

Hi Everyone,

We did get some report card information at our meeting. I’ve attached the letter that should be going to your parents as well.

Parents: If you didn’t get this letter yet, ask your child to log into their Google Classroom and look for the original version of this post where I’ve attached the letter

A few highlights that are going to be relevant to you…

Grades:
Grades will be determined based on their learning from the beginning of Term 2, February 3 to March 13, 2020. So, as I’ve already mentioned, your grades will not have gone down based on our time when we’ve been working from home. For some of you, who have been active and engaged, you may find that your grades have gone up a little bit.

The mark “I”:
In several cases you will have gotten the mark “I” instead of a number grade. This is for two main reasons. If we started a unit AFTER the March Break, you will get an I. I know many of you worked hard, and where that is the case, I have tried to include that information in the comment section of the report card. In other cases, such as health, where we only had a couple of lessons (due to job action, weather, and the school closure), I didn’t feel I had enough information to give you a valid mark.

It’s important to know that “I” doesn’t mean you didn’t do a good job or understand the material that we covered. It just means that there is insufficient evidence for me to put a grade in.

Report Card Delivery:
You will be getting an ELECTRONIC COPY of your report card. The details haven’t been shared with me yet about HOW it will be delivered, but delivery will begin on the 23rd of June and may take a few days. All students/families should get their report cards by the 26th. You will be notified when your report is ready and how to access it.

All I have right now is what’s in the letter. If I find anything else out, I will pass it along to you as soon as possible.

Update for Friday, June 19, 2020

Good morning everyone! Happy Friday!

Many of you have been asking about report cards. We have a staff meeting this morning, so hopefully I’ll have some more information available soon about when and how you’ll get them.

You’ve got some choices available to you today. In math, you can decide whether you want to (or need to) take another attempt at measurement (that was the unit we finished off before the break but which some of you really struggled with) OR you want to explore probability. If you love math – you can try both. This also applies if you’re bored and looking for something to do 😉

Take some time and finish up any science or geography that you need to from this week.

In language, I’ve posted a couple of BreakoutEDU games. Try and choose one of them to work on. I encourage you to work with a friend and do it together (over Hangouts/Skype/etc.). There’s also an additional Grammar Gap filler.

Office hours this morning are at 10:00. If you want to try one of the breakout games together then, I’ll be up for it 🙂

As soon as I find out what’s happening with report cards, I’ll update you here.

Have a great weekend!
Mr. Monahan

Update for Thursday, June 18, 2020

Good morning everyone! I hope you’re doing well and not getting too hot! Looks like today is going to be another scorcher.

I’m going to cut out the evening Office Hours for today and next week. I’ve had a couple now where no one has shown up and in others people are just chatting. We’re winding down now. If you need to do a Google Meet with me in the evening (or almost any time) let me know and we can set something up.

Yesterday’s math was challenging (and if you didn’t do as well as normal on the quiz – don’t worry – you’re not alone). You need to be really careful on those questions, both reading and answering. It really matters where the dilatation is performed from (i.e. O in most cases). I’ve posted another quiz today where you can try similar challenges.

In geography, we’re looking at forests and how renewable/sustainable they are. Forests are still a large part of the economy for many small towns in Northern Ontario and we still use a lot of wood products, so it’s important that we look after them. One interesting thing I learned from the reading is that a mature tree in the tropics can capture more than three times the amount of carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) than a mature tree in our area can. That’s amazing!

In language, there is a new kind of grammar gap filler today. It’s looking at sentence structure, rather than just word choice or spelling so pay attention.

Office hours are this afternoon at 2:00 pm. If you need to get in touch outside of that time, send me an email and I’ll respond and we can set up a Google Meet if we need to.

Have a great day!

Update for Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Hi Everyone!

We’re winding down our Geometry Unit. Only two more lessons’ including today’s! And tomorrow’s should be pretty easy – though today might be a little challenging, so it’s OK if today’s lesson takes today and tomorrow to do. After than I’m going to be giving some choice activities. Just before the March break we were working on a measurement unit, and it caused a lot of you some difficulty. That’s where we were finding the surface area of shapes and solids. So, I’ll be posting some lessons/activities on that. For others, I’ll post lessons from the remaining unit on probability (Unit 8 in the Jump Math book). You can choose what you feel would benefit you the most – or do both 🙂

In science today, I didn’t get a chance to record a talk-through of the lesson on radiation (heat – not nuclear) but I did find a video from a series I used to watch in the 80s to introduce the concept of radiation. There is also an optional interactive Gizmo that you can use to explore radiation on Explore Learning.

In language, I still recommend that you review the resources I shared on Friday and come up with a recommendation for the class. There are also two more Grammar Gap Fillers.

Office hours today are at 10:00 am. Hope to see you there! Have a great day!

Update for Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Hi Everyone,

It looks like a beautiful day out there! I know it’s hard to keep going with the learning when we’ve been apart for so long and the weather is so nice, so do what you’re able to. Even if we were in school, this would be pretty tough (especially since the temperature is supposed to go up into the 30’s over the next few days). My own kids are having a tough time sticking with it, so I understand if you’re going through the same thing.

Today in math we’re re-examining the concept of similarity. You might remember that we looked at it with regard to triangles a few weeks ago. This will be a little more in-depth than we did before when we were just comparing congruency and similarity. We’re going to use the interactive lesson from the CEMC again so that there are multiple chances to check your understanding as we go through the work. That lesson will also help you understand tomorrow’s lesson on Dilatations where we will increase or reduce the size of similar figures with a scale (i.e. draw a similar triangle that is exactly two times as big as the first triangle).

In geography, we’re going to look at fish as a renewable resource. Unfortunately, due to overfishing and environmental damage, they may not be a renewable resource for long. You’ll develop an understanding of how changing methods of fishing and bycatch contribute to declining fish stocks around the world and thus poorer food sources and fewer jobs.

I think this is a significant chunk of work so I’m only assigning one Grammar Gap Filler in language.

Office Hours today will be at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM. For those of you who want to complete yesterday’s science experiment together, we can do it then.

Have a great day!