It-Tagħlim Jibqa’ Għaddej

Bdejna ġimgħa oħra. It-tagħlim fl-iskola tagħna, għalkemm b’mod differenti mis-soltu jibqa’ għaddej. Prosit tassew lil dawk it-tfal (u l-ġenituri li hemm warajhom) li qegħdin jagħmlu x-xogħol li qed nagħtuhom bil-għaqal u r-reqqa. Nitpaxxa naqra l-kitbiet tat-tfal. Aktar minn hekk, nieħu gost nara kif it-tfal qed jaddattaw ruħhom għal din is-sitwazzjoni u qed jitgħallmu jużaw għodod diġitali li żgur ser ikunu ta’ għajnuna kbira f’ħajjithom.

Fid-dinja tal-lum, ħafna tagħlim isir remotely jew mill-bogħod. Sfortunatament, għadna nassoċjaw it-tagħlim ma’ metodi tradizzjonali biss. Għalkemm il-metodu ta’ tagħlim huwa differenti minn dak li mdorrijin bih, is-sillabi baqgħu għaddejjin, b’forma differenti, iżda xorta qed nilħqu il-miri kollha li nistgħu.

Ħafna drabi nieħdu for granted kif tibgħat email, jew kif tuża app, iżda f’din is-sitwazzjoni qed nindunaw kemm dan mhux minnu. Il-fatt li għażilna li nużaw il-metodi li qed nużaw huwa propju biex bil-mod il-mod, inrawmu lit-tfal fl-użu tat-teknoloġija għat-tagħlim fil-waqt li nixprunaw dak li bl-Ingliż jissejjaħ independent learning.  

Kull edukatur għandu bżonn lill-ġenituri biex it-tfal ikunu jistgħu jimxu ‘l quddiem għax mirakli ma nagħmlux. Hemm tfal (u ġenituri) li għadhom m’għamlux biċċa xogħol waħda. Hemm tfal li tant huma bravi li x-xogħol qed ilestuh f’inqas minn 3 minuti. Qed nindunaw ukoll per eżempju, li xi tfal (u ġenituri) lanqas biss qed jaqraw dak li qed nibagħtu, u jekk jagħmlu x-xogħol, jagħmluh kif jidhrilhom huma, imbagħad jippretendu li għandna naddattaw l-istruzzjonijiet għax-xogħol kif ikunu għamluh huma. Mhux ser inkompli għax il-fatti jitkellmu waħedhom…

Filwaqt li lkoll kemm aħna nippreferu kieku qegħdin l-iskola, irridu nieħdu li nistgħu minn dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi. Inħeġġeġ lit-tfal (u l-ġenituri) biex ikomplu jsegwu u jagħmlu x-xogħol li ta’ kull ġimgħa l-għalliema u l-LSEs qegħdin iħejju ħalli meta nerġgħu lura l-iskola nkunu nistgħu nkomplu bir-ritmu tas-soltu.

Inselli għalikom

Charlot Cassar
Kap tal-Iskola

Ġbir ta’ Kotba u Pitazzi mill-ġenituri minħabba l-COVID-19

Għeżież Ġenituri/Kustodji

Nitlobkom taqraw sewwa din iċ-ċirkulari. Fil-jiem li ġejjin ħa nkunu qed naħdmu biex intom tkunu tistgħu tiġbru l-kotba u l-pitazzi tat-tfal mill-iskola.

Nitlobkom tifhmu li fi skola kbira dan mhux eżerċizzju ta’ ġurnata. Importanti li tatuna ċans norganizzaw din il-biċċa xogħol skont id-dispożizzjonijiet tal-Awtoritajiet tas-Saħħa.

Intom ħa tirċievu messaġġ fuq il-mobile (sms) b’appuntament, bil-ġurnata u l-ħin meta tistgħu tiġbru l-kotba u l-pitazzi tat-tfal mill-iskola. Nitolbukom iġġibu magħkom baskett kbir u pinna (biro).

Intom mitluba tidħlu l-iskola mill-bieb tas-soltu, tiġbru l-affarijiet tat-tifel/tifla tagħkom, tiffirmaw karta li tindika li intom ġbartu l-affarijiet u tibqgħu ħerġin mill-bieb li jagħti fuq Triq il-Kunvent.

Importanti li kulħadd iżomm mal-ħin u ma jkunx hemm ġemgħat.

Niġbdilkom l-attenzjoni għall-fatt li meta l-iskola tibgħat messaġġ fuq il-mobile (sms) dan jinżamm fir-rekords tagħna. Għaldaqstant, għalxejn wieħed jargumenta li ma ġiex infurmat kif qed jippruvaw jagħmlu numru żgħir ta’ ġenituri.

Grazzi u tislijiet

Charlot Cassar
Kap tal-Iskola

SuperTmatik at Home

Many of our students are familiar with Super T, the mental mathematics competition that takes place each year.

This year, and in view of school closure, EUDACTICA has decided to organise a Special International Championship of SUPERTMATIK Mental Maths. Primary School students and those students following distance-learning education may play at home, taking advantage of the opportunity to practise their mental maths, while having fun, and participate in an exciting international competition at the same time. All students are invited to take part in the qualification phase (free of charge), which starts in the second week of May.

We hope many students will participate in this great competition which will certainly help to lift the heavy atmosphere we are all currently experiencing, and for young people to spend their time in a better way while in isolation at home.

While we wait for more details from the organisers, students can practise here.

Registration will open on 27 April. Please check the organisation’s website for more information.

Good luck to all the students who will participate.

Thank You!

Dear Parents/Guardians

Ara aktar l-isfel għall-verżjoni bil-Malti.

Thank you!

On behalf of everyone at Żabbar B, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for your support and understanding over these past weeks. I am also grateful for the support you have been giving your children in completing the tasks we have assigned to them.

The number of visits to our website over the past weeks has shot to well over 10,000 views each week. The number of children engaging in the activities is increasing, and it is heartening to be able to interact with the children, even though remotely.

Having said that, I am also sure that some parents may be questioning the kind of tasks that we are setting the children. I am going to go through the Easter Activities, one at a time, to give you some insight into the educational value and validity of what we are doing.

Beyond the religious significance of Lenten Sermons, we need to acknowledge that a lot of learning occurs online.

Online video tutorials are available for anything you can think of but simply because it is online does not mean that it is good. We need to learn to reflect on material found online and make informed judgements about such material.

We asked students to catch up with any tasks that they have missed from previous weeks. This is called accountability. Being accountable is all about doing your job and doing it properly. Children are not too young to be held accountable. Holding your children accountable is investing in their future, because there will soon come a time when you will no longer be able to make excuses for them.

We asked children to read! Now if ever there was a cliche’… Read! Read! Read! I will not repeat what I have said in a previous post but sometimes I wonder if we fully understand the reason why we insist so much on reading. It is not just about spelling, vocabulary, correct grammar… It goes much deeper than that.

Reading is about gaining an understanding of a story plot beyond the single words, sentences or chapters and therefore being able to see the whole picture. It is about understanding how one thing happens after another, and as a result of, something else. It is about gaining insights into events that we may never experience for real. It is about exploring “a whole new world” every single time we pick up a book. And, perhaps most importantly, reading is food for our imagination and creativity.

We hear a lot about the need to be creative – but we tend to forget that you cannot be creative in a vacuum. Creating something means combining old elements into something new. You cannot create something new if you do not have material to work with, be it words, paint, experiences! It is as simple as that!

We asked student to colour in a picture by a Maltese artist or artist living in Malta. Now, as an art teacher, I have to admit I thought twice about assigning this task. In the end, I assigned this task because it is a good opportunity for children to get acquainted with the art scene in Malta. But there is more. We also invited children to use an online application to colour in their drawing if they do not have access to a printer and therefore cannot colour in the drawing in the traditional way. Again, many tasks are moving online. Colouring a drawing online is a different experience altogether from what we are used to. But, most importantly, the idea is to make children understand that if something cannot be done the way it has always been then, then you need to think of alternatives.

We then asked the children to upload their finished drawings on Padlet. Padlet has many uses. For example, it is one way to collaborate on a project with people from all over the world, brainstorming ideas and providing feedback to others as you go along. Learning to use and collaborating over Padlet (or any similar application) is a skill that children will definitely find useful at some point or other.

This activity also shows the children how in a time of need, a group of people who do not necessarily know each other, came together to support a cause. Everyone has something to contribute in their own way.

We asked children to look up different Easter traditions because we do not live in a vacuum. This is a first step towards developing intercultural competences – realising that the way we do things is just one of many different ways. At the same time, we asked the children to celebrate our own traditions. Again, we asked children to use Padlet. Knowing how to interact and behave in online social spaces is as important as knowing how to behave in real life situations.

We want to acknowledge feelings. Children (and adults) may feel overwhelmed with what is happening at the moment and by helping children to acknowledge how they feel, we are supporting the development of their emotional intelligence.

We asked children to reach out because we are social beings. At times, we are so focused on ourselves, our needs, our wants, that we tend to forget others. COVID-19 is forcing us to consider what truly matters. Being kind costs nothing but it can make a huge difference.

The smallest act of kindness goes a long way to change the world!

Decorating an egg involves more then meets the idea. You need dexterity, fine motor skills and it will also provide for a good laugh. It is also a keepsake that children can keep as a souvenir from this period.

And, as for the toilet paper roll craft, apart from developing fine motor skills and creativity, it should help us think and reflect on our own actions. From what I heard, some people have enough toilet paper to last them till 2021!

So, before dismissing any of the activities as frivolous, I would like to assure you that in so far as our children’s education is concerned, we do not really leave anything to chance. We take it very seriously and nothing will stop us, not even COVID-19!

Stay safe!

Charlot Cassar
Head of School

Changing the Mindset

Dear Parents/Guardians

Ara aktar l-isfel għall-verżjoni bil-Malti.

The period we are going through at the moment is a challenge for all of us. Earlier today I came across this graphic, which I find to be very powerful.

I do not usually reproduce images without acknowledging the source but I cannot find the original source for this one.

This graphic challenges all of us to think and reflect on the sort of person we want to be, beyond any curricular content that schools in the traditional sense of the word are mostly concerned about. Of course everyone is worried about the fact that children are missing precious contact time with their teachers. If we ever needed proof that digital technology could ever replace the buzzing face-to-face interaction in the classroom, COVID-19 is the proof we needed. It simply cannot.

But back to the graphic. It is very easy to start pointing fingers and blame schools and teachers for something for which no-one was prepared. I am always fascinated by the fact that in any crisis, the number of experts multiplies exponentially. All of a sudden, everyone has advice to dispense. Everyone has a solution that would work if only someone else made more of an effort. Everyone knows more than the actual experts. The collective expertise of a whole professional community becomes second to what a single person says on social media. Even worse, are people who rather than calming troubled waters, incite fear and instigate others, hiding behind a screen and closed chat groups.

It is understandable that some parents may be worried about academic progress. As a school community we are very much aware of that. But we should be more worried about staying healthy, physically and mentally. Some new content can and will be covered remotely. The rest will be covered next scholastic year. We are already making plans for next year and I would like to reassure parents that we will do our utmost to mitigate the issues caused by school closure.

I am trying my best (even though I will be the first to admit that I am not always being successful) to see this experience as a learning one that will eventually lead to growth. This is the reason why all along I have been arguing for a change in mindset, in the way we think about things, and in the way we do things. It would be extremely easy for us to make tons of worksheets available for students to work through. Would it help our students? The answer is a definite no. Rather, we are carefully choosing activities and tasks that will push students to develop other skills and competences beyond content. Are we succeeding? As yet, I do not have an answer to that question, not because I lack the expertise, but because no-one has ever experienced anything of the sort. But we will give it our best.

Over the past years, digital technology has revolutionised the way we think and do things. If during this period, our children learn to navigate the digital world comfortably, then we could start appreciating and perhaps even being grateful for this opportunity.

As much as is humanly possible, we are monitoring what the children are doing remotely. Some children are diligently working on each task we are assigning, very obviously supported by their parents. I am seeing some of the work, and I am impressed but at the same time saddened by the fact that some children (and parents) have not even bothered. But let us blame schools and teachers for not doing enough… because that is easy.

One the biggest achievements at school over the past months has been “Freedom to Learn”. “Freedom to Learn” or F2L as we know, is an Erasmus+ project which we have been working on with a school in Italy and a school in Poland. It would be easy to argue that because schools are closed we cannot continue working on this project. Instead, we are thinking of how to make this project accessible to anyone who is interested even though schools are closed. We are working on the details and will let you know more soon. And yes, we are excited about it.

In the meantime, consider letting the children getting bored but really bored! And when they (or you) cannot take it any more, suggest that perhaps they should try reading a book. Until I was 10, I hated reading. Then one day I was so bored that I reluctantly grabbed a book. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I must have read that same book ten times over. Its pages are yellowed, its spine broken, but it holds a special place in my heart and my library at home. And if anyone of you wants to read it, it is called “Five on Finniston Farm” by Enid Blyton.

Or you may want to encourage your children to read this new book by Ġorġ Mallia – L-Avventuri Msaħħra ta’ Melanie u Karl.

We are fast approaching Easter. Under normal circumstances we would be looking forward to the Easter holidays. As it is, we cannot wait for that moment we will be able go back to school. Next week we will not post tasks per year group but a few tasks for all children to enjoy over the “holidays” while we plan the best way forward for what would have been the last term at school. Cherish this time together as an opportunity.

Rather than spreading fear, let us all learn and grow from this experience.

Stay safe!

Charlot Cassar
Head of School

St Margaret College