High Notes, Vol 21 No 38, November 27 2020

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From the Principal

Mandatory Life Ready Course

The Department of Education has a mandatory course that must be completed by all students in stage 6.  In order to save the 25-hours of instruction from interrupting our Year 11 programs, we decided a couple of years ago to run it in the last week of Year 10.  Ms Chan, HT Wellbeing, designed a 3-day experience for our students.  This year, the program commences on December 14 with a “Mindfulness” session followed by a RYDA ‘safe driving’ course.  On Tuesday 15th, students will attend a 2-hour ‘Breaking the Man Code’ workshop, a Commbank’ Smart Start’ presentation on smart earning, enterprise and saving; and a Headspace presentation on ‘How to Support a Friend’. On Wednesday, Brent Sanders will deliver a presentation on ‘harassment, discrimination and sexual crime’.

The school incurs expenses in hiring professionals to deliver modules of the course, necessitating a charge of $79 per student as a co-payment.  We see the course as a valuable opportunity for teenagers to be exposed to the issues, privileges and responsibilities of adulthood.  I am asking for the support of all Year 10 parents to deliver this compulsory part of the curriculum.

End of Year Reports

All boys in Years 11, 9 & 7 should have discussed their reports with me. Boys in Year 7 requiring ‘Clearance Forms’ who have not collected their reports will have time slots available to book in for interviews next week. For some days after that, I set aside a period to allow ‘Stragglers’ to book a time to discuss their report with me. Thereafter, they will join the other Years in having appointments only out of school time or in breaks. Please make sure that your son meets his obligations to the school and then books in for an appointment.

Student Leave Requests – Reminder  

There is a Department of Education and school policy on Student Leave of Absence – Extended Leave Travel requests. This applies to leave that is five school days or more in duration. Parents are reminded that as a matter of policy leave may not be processed or approved unless four weeks’ notice has been given. Also, cogent reasons for travelling during school term need to be supplied. The effect of this decision is that all leave requests that involve that last four weeks of term must be lodged with me for approval by the end of week 6, each term. If you are planning to travel during the school term you need to download, complete and submit the form for my approval by the closing date.

Leveraging our CANVAS Learning Management System

In the short space of one calendar year, the teaching staff at High acquired and employed a learning management system that allowed the school to maintain its full timetable right through the lockdown period. Since the students returned to school, staff are utilising CANVAS to enhance student engagement and to improve outcomes. The features of the system that staff have mastered and are using routinely are: Creating Announcements, Marking Assignments (speed grader), Uploading and Managing Files, Using the Inbox, Creating and Organising Modules and Creating and Modifying Assignments. Early adopters have employed many or all of the fourteen other features within this powerful system. Professional learning in 2021 will be directed towards raising the operating skills of the whole teaching staff in CANVAS.

What are the benefits for students? First, students have unprecedented access to learning materials posted on the system. We plan to extend our services in asynchronous mode to students who are on extended leave.  It should help them to know what the work was while they were missing school through illness, misadventure or extended leave for travel.  They may suffer less disadvantage because of their absences. Second, feedback to students will be enhanced. Several features within CANVAS allow teachers to rapidly assess, quiz and comment on students’ work. Peer assessment, discussion and collaboration are facilitated. Teachers can post annotated tasks or assignments for student reflection. Third, information flows to parents will be increased as we introduce parent access to CANVAS in 2021. We have restructured our reporting system by standardising teacher ratings of various outcomes levels and learning behaviours. There are strong administrative benefits for doing so but, as a consequence, the reports are less personal. Allowing parents to see teacher feedback sheets, annotations on assignments and comments on assessments will help to mitigate the loss of the teacher comments.
Dr K A Jaggar

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