Division News Article

How is “Learning At Home” different from “Home Schooling”?

April 7th, 2020

By definition, “home schooling” requires a huge teaching commitment from parents as they must learn curriculum and “teach” their children at home. The current situation is very different. With “learning at home” parents and students continue to rely primarily on their teachers for guidance and support. Parents do not need to become home-school teachers, but their support and guidance is very important.

While students and teachers learn how to interact and connect in a different ‘classroom’, we can look to the experiences of successful distance education students.

  • Go slow
  • Learn the structure and norms
  • Learn how to communicate in different ways, and allow time to practice
  • Start with manageable amounts of content that you understand
  • Check out #ABLearningAtHome to see how students and teachers across Alberta are experiencing “Learning at Home”

The variety of approaches taken by teachers will depend on the grade level, the experience of the teacher, and the experience of the students.

  • Our teachers are learning to teach from a distance.
  • Teachers will communicate using phone calls, text and email, and digital face-to-face tools like Google Hangouts/Meet.
  • Teachers will be available during normal school hours. Check with your teacher for their individual schedules.
  • Some students will be able to do some of their work on devices. Some of this work can be shared back to the teacher for feedback.
  • Some work will be done using hands-on, paper and pencil resources. Students can return this work by taking pictures or scanning their work with mobile devices.
  • Individualized supports:
    • Counsellors and support people continue to be available by phone or digital face-to-face tools like Google Hangouts/Meet.
    • SLPs and OTs are reaching out to support individual students.

How can parents help?

Help your children by monitoring their progress daily.

  • Help them to set up schedules.
  • Create a specific space for your children to do school-work.
  • Help your children communicate with their teachers about struggles and or barriers.
  • Parents of students in kindergarten to grade 6 should remain in close communication to inform the teacher about what is going well, and what is not.
  • Ask your children about the activities they are doing and the learning goals for those activities.

How much should students do each day? And how long should they be doing school work?

Students are not expected to be directly engaged in coursework for the same length of day as they would in a classroom setting.

Alberta Education has released guidelines to direct what and how much students will learn while in-school classes are cancelled. These guidelines are described in this news release: Continuing student learning. See also this list of Questions and Answers from Alberta Education.

Regarding Assignments, Marks and Final Grades

Is every student getting a free pass to the next grade?

No, students are still expected to continue with their studies for the rest of the school year.

  • We expect students to put a reasonable effort into their work right through until the end of June.
  • Teachers will work with students to meet their needs as the situation warrants.
  • Simply advancing students would cause difficulties for them at the next level.
  • Many courses rely on the skill and knowledge developed in previous grade levels.
    • For instance, Grade 10 Math relies on skills and content acquired from a full Grade 9 Math course.
    • Teachers are very aware of the developmental progressions from grade to grade and are applying their professional understanding to teach what they have determined to be the most crucial pieces.

How will teachers mark students’ work?

“Teachers will be responsible for assessing a student’s progress and assigning a final grade.”

In general, teachers will ask students to complete tasks that reveal their learning. Like all assessment of learning, this can done in many different ways and it will vary from grade to grade and subject to subject.

  • Principals will continue to work with teachers and assist them with making professional decisions about students’ academic progress.
  • A final grade is not automatically going to be a passing grade.

What does it mean to be “on track” to graduate?

“Those who are on track to receive 100 or more credits will still be eligible to graduate and receive a high school diploma.”

“Every student will receive final grades and will receive a report card, appropriate to their grade level.”

This refers to students’ scheduled courses prior to the cancellation of in-school course delivery. “On track” means that a student had a schedule that progressed them toward graduation, AND they had been performing successfully on that path.

  • Students must continue to put forth an honest effort to learn in all courses that they are registered in, and that continue to be offered by the school. If there is a course offered that the student cannot complete, the principal should be informed and alternatives should be explored.
  • Teachers, principals, students and parents can discuss what that means for each student.
  • As stated earlier, teachers and principals have a professional responsibility for assessing performance and knowledge to determine a final grade.
  • There would be no benefit gained by promoting students who have not invested reasonable engagement and effort to demonstrate their learning.

What about the “Unallocated Credits” announced by Alberta Education?

“If the student is unable to complete a course that would have led them to achieving a high school diploma, such as a work experience or a career and technology studies course, principals have the ability to award credits to ensure the student graduates.”

The authority to assign unallocated credits lies with the principal.

  • There are many individual factors to consider before simply awarding credits.
  • We have advised principals to reserve these decisions for later in the school year.
  • Students or their parents who believe they should be awarded unallocated credits need to discuss their situations with the school principal.

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