Learning time

Could look at this view for ages. It makes life feel so uncomplicated.

It’s been one of those school at home days. The sort of day that reminds me what I’m missing with caffeine (lots of it). The stronger the better.

The third cup of decaf just doesn’t hit the same mark…..

Before summer school basically used Showbie to run its lockdown home schooling system. Teachers delivered lessons via recorded videos, documents and resources available on the web. It was simple and largely worked.

School has now implemented Microsoft Teams and that is being used to deliver the current lockdown home schooling.

Now cards on the table, I have a masters degree in computing. So I’m ok with tech. Excluding the remote control, washing machine and my mobile. Hawklad sorts those out for me…. But Microsoft I can do…..

How can I describe the new Teams learning experience.

OMG 🤯

Really 🙀

##@@##%££🤬

For us its shocking. Talk about school over complicating things. Poor Hawklad has lost the plot. I’m not far behind. And reading many of the pupil comments (and a few teachers) – we are not the only ones.

Today Hawklad must have spent 20 minutes on actual learning. The other 5 hours has been spent dealing with app crashes, lockouts, never ending formatting issues, searching for stuff, trying to find ways to open audio and video files on the school iPad.

Much of this will be down to how school have set up the system. Yes Teams can do so much more and it helps the school with administration. But it’s been at a cost. It’s proving much harder for some of the pupils to learn. Hawklad just doesn’t find it easy using Microsoft apps. They seem to be designed in a way that just doesn’t suit the way his mind operates. Even some of the teachers will start a lesson off on Teams and within minutes switch back to Showbie. PLUS. My decaf budget is going through the roof….

But when your parenting day is not going well the last thing you want to hear is ‘live teaching’ or ‘real time classroom video experience’. Our day is finishing with that beauty. I just can’t wait and there will no doubt be another frustrated post winging your way….

Rollercoaster

The next bit of bad weather is blowing in. Yes that lake has sneaked in again…. Admit you will miss it when it’s gone.

The online schooling system is kicking back into life. Will it bring more support for Hawklad? Well if it’s like the last lockdown then it will certainly become a lot more structured. The day will follow the school timetable. The pupils need to sign in at the start of the lesson and work through the online tasks. A teacher ot teaching assistant is online to help and monitor work. Pupils then have until 7pm to complete all tasks and submit them. Failure to do so gets an automatic negative.

So on the bright side the chances of Hawklad being missed are reduced. But then the downsides. Increased timetable pressures. Often it feels more like monitoring than support. Lots of checks of work being submitted on time but often no feedback after that. Oh those pesky interactive video sessions. He hates them. I’m not far behind him on that. It just doesn’t suit him.

On top of that the one teacher who seemed to understand this has now left. Will someone else step up to the plate?

So here goes then. The rollercoaster is back in operation.

A plan

Walking towards the light. That sounds like a plan…..

So we kind of know what’s happening with school over the next few weeks. Well sort of.

School will be shut on Monday. Then this week pupils will be at home working through tasks that have been set for the week. Only minimal teaching support will be available as teachers will be trying to help volunteers in ensuring every child is self tested for covid. That’s just a one off test.

The week after some pupils will be back in the classroom. For Hawklads year they will be working from home. The full online teaching system will be switched on for the week. Teachers will do the full lesson programme fully online.

The week after all pupils will return to the classroom and the online teaching system will be switched off.

For Hawklad what does that mean. Well for a start he is not going back in January. So he would be home come what May. For the first week of term he is likely to get more work as all his classmates will be at home. The second week will see Hawklad get his first lessons since July as the online teaching system will be live. After that we go back to how we were before Christmas. Kind of just winging it. Maybe worse as the one member of staff who really tried to help has now left.

Why do I get a sinking feeling…

No surprise

Most definitely a nice change today….

So the end of term school report has arrived. When I say arrived I mean an email appeared informing me that the report was available online. After 3 hours of trying to get the app to work finally a unique set of parameters opened up the report. Fifth cup of decaf, third chocolate bar, complete packet of biscuits, the clock striking midnight and me threatening to hurl the laptop out of the window. All this worked.

So is the report a surprise! Sadly not. It’s as expected.

  • Just grades, target grades, performance and behaviour grades. A mass of numbers and seemingly random letters. Absolutely no narrative from the teachers.
  • No information on areas of weakness or plans of action.
  • No test scores. No work feedback.

Almost feels like one of those automated factory production cards. Cold, faceless, uncaring. So what do the numbers and letters tell me. Hawklad is still seen as low attainment. The work I’ve seen in a number of subjects not reflected in the expected final exam grades (another 2 and a bit years time). A subject where his last teacher told me that he knows the subject better than the teachers is marked as just about squeaking a pass. Another subject in which he regularly gets 100% on the online teaching app tests is listed as an expected subject fail. A handful of subjects listed as expected passes (most just the lowest pass grades). Bizarrely one of which is a subject the school want him to drop as they are not prepared to provide any additional help. No mention of why some of his expected grades are falling. No mention of what action is needed to reverse that.

No surprise at all really. For children like our son the approach is to set the bar low. No need to invest in potential then. Then any results at the end are seen as a real bonus. Evidence that the education system is clearly working 🤯. What that really means is too many are left to stagnate. Too many are let down by the system.

So yep no surprise at all.

After three

Today brought the return of awful weather. Cold, stormy winds, driving rain, really dark skies. Days like this are not great for living on a hill top….

School, school, school.

It’s just keeps on giving…..

I had an email exchange with school trying to explain to them that at this stage Hawklad doesn’t want to drop French. He does want to try some alternatives first. Spending part of the teaching time using an online language package which teaches him the basics. The stuff school seem to have stopped. With school its all about learning the various spellings for the various forms of all the French verbs. That’s not really helping. It’s never going to work with someone with dyslexia.

Anyway I was getting nowhere fast with our award winning school. Yes it won an award for excellence. When they dropped into the conversation some news.

The one teaching assistant who has done the most to help Hawklad. The one who asks if he is alright (the only one). The one who is happy to chase up work and queries for him. The one who chases up the other teachers when they forget about him. Is leaving in two days…

PANTS….

I dread to think what that will mean for Hawklads homeschooling. I do have a pretty good idea.

So let’s look out of the window and think about the weather and say again after three.

PANTS….

Curve ball

Definite curve ball from school today.

I have wrote about the problems Hawklad has been having with French classes at school. The way the subject is taught just don’t suit him. Dyslexia complicates the learning process. Being at home adds to the difficulties.

I have been trying to get the school to modify the teaching approach in this one subject. Even switch the language to one which better suits him and one he is more interested in. Basically met with a brick wall. Then today’s curve ball.

The school doesn’t feel that he will be able to pass exams in this subject due to his learning issues. So they are now recommending that he drops the subject completely. Undertake no language learning at all. He would use the French class time to work on his other subjects.

So rather than try other learning routes they just want to ditch the subject. I’m kind of speechless. Will let Hawklad decide what happens next. BUT my initial take is that

…..Sadly it reflects the lack of flexibility in the UK teaching system. It also reflects the general approach schools take with those pupils who have learning disabilities.

Hanging around

A day perfect for just hanging around.

It’s was one of those school days yesterday. Four lessons scheduled. Four lessons that should take up many hours work for Hawklad. The first lesson had a few pieces of work on offer. But not much. Within a few minutes he had finished. The problem is that we are trying to stick to the classroom teaching plan. Hawklad through a misunderstanding ended up doing several lessons worth of work the other day. So he is too far ahead. He needs to wait until the class catches up.

Then nothing from the next two lessons. Absolutely nothing. No work. No research. No idea what the class has been looking at. Nothing for him to do. He tried emailing but got no response. It’s difficult for the teacher as they are trying to teach a class of 30. Some of the teaching assistants are good and they ensure the class material goes online so Hawklad can access it. Ok some verbal stuff is not shared but that is so understandable. The problem happens when the usual assistants are not in class. Maybe the class has no assistant working. Maybe the replacement assistant just doesn’t know about Hawklad. For whatever reason nothing is put online. Hawklad twiddles his thumbs.

The final lesson did email some work but it was work Hawklad had already done. That’s another problem you get when the teaching assistants change. They have no idea what work has already been sent in previous lessons. Hawklad quickly redid the work and that was the school day. Well that’s not quite true….

When I say Hawklad was twiddling his thumbs, that is not exactly true. We know these days much better now. Hawklad can sit and just wait OR

I could set him some work that may or may not fit with the teaching schedule OR

I could just let him play on his Xbox until some work turns up.

Guess one we went for. Yep bad parenting option. Can’t believe he beat me repeatedly at FIFA…..

Fibonacci

We had a bit of a perfect storm during the morning. AND for a change it wasn’t the Yorkshire micro climate to blame.

MATHS

In particular number sequences. A whole 90 minutes dedicated to the little beauties. Geometric, Arithmetic, Square, Cube, Triangular, Fibonacci. I always remember thinking Fibonacci sounded like a really cool wrestler. The Maths Tutor didn’t find that thought very amusing.

For those who quite rightly have forgotten mathematics from school and college, the Fibonacci sequence is where the next number is the summation of the preceding two numbers. One of those things you are taught and will probably never need it. Fibonacci has only ever cropped up twice since school. Annoyingly not in the school exam. I remember giving one unfortunate External Consultant a bit of a frosty reception when he tried to convince me that I should be using Fibonacci to better manage agile teams at work. I think the poor chap learnt some new Yorkshire words and was then ushered out to annoy someone else.

The second time Fibonacci entered my world again was today. This morning we discovered that our son struggles with number sequences. He just can’t see the patterns. It wasn’t helped by the frequent use of decimal points to make the patterns even more pesky. Much frustration. Son couldn’t see the patterns at all and his dad could see the patterns BUT I struggled to describe them in words. Clearly one of those things I can do with out thinking but I’m not entirely convinced how I do it. Bit like trying to programme the washing machine.

But here’s the thing. I convinced son that it didn’t really matter. If sequences do come up in the exam then they won’t count for many marks. He can still have a stab at them and if all else fails, guess and move on to stuff that he will be able to do. And after his exam unless he meets many keen External Consultants, he is unlikely to need number sequences again. He’s better off learning stuff he wants to learn and stuff that he will use.

Let’s leave Fibonacci as a wrestling star.

Go again.

Schooling often feels like a river. Sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes frustrating and if you follow it then it takes you were the river wants to take you, not where you might want to get to.

I was talking to Hawklad yesterday about school and homeschooling. It’s his call what happens going forward. He will be doing school at home until Christmas. Then it’s time to make another call. Currently he just can’t see himself returning to the classroom in January but he’s not yet ready to call time on school. So it looks like we will start 2021 still in home at school mode.

If that’s the case then it’s time to start making some adjustments to the teaching delivery. Starting with French. The time the school allocates to learning things like perfect and imperfect tenses is just currently a waste of effort for Hawklad. So that time will be spent on using an online language learning app. Probably Rosetta Stone. I’d rather him pick up a few words that he might be able to use in the future than to parrot learn stuff just for one exam in two years time.

Decimal places

A lovely start to the day. Looks are deceiving. Over my shoulder was a mass of grey YUK rapidly heading towards us. And now…

Wet, cold, grey and just grisly.

Another thing which is grisly here is DECIMAL POINTS.

Hawklad is dyslexic. That’s both letters and NUMBERS. 4,6,7 and 9’s can be difficult for him. Somedays they are fine others not so good. This is so frustrating as he is really good at Maths.

Something which is never fine are those pesky DECIMAL POINTS. He just can’t process them. He can do really complex calculations yet struggles to do the simplest additions if you introduce DECIMALS. When it comes to schooling it’s just keeping those fingers crossed that DECIMALS just don’t appear. They can mess up Maths, Science, Geography and Computing lessons.

His Maths Assessment Scores fluctuate according to those pesky dots. His last score was 60% as there was a large section on rounding up decimals and standard notation. He did another paper yesterday. This time only one decimal appeared. From what I can see he got that question wrong but was perfect on the other 16 questions. That paper as a final in 2 and a half years time would be so cool for him.