making the most of resources
Parents of Rachel Kahn's Grade 3 students at Santa Maria Catholic School in Toronto find her new class web site as useful as their children do. Among the links parents can explore is one to Kahn's record on the College's web site of her professional certification as a teacher and her qualifications in ESL.
With the live link that Kahn has set up to her professional credentials, "they can look at my record and see that I am qualified in ESL and I hope that will reassure them that I have that experience."
The web site resource is called e-class and is provided by the Toronto Catholic District School Board so that teachers and students can "extend their classroom activities to include all the benefits of a virtual school." It's password-protected. Students have a log-in ID and password and they know that any content they post to the discussion board is monitored.
"I told them straight up that I have access to anything they write and they have to follow school policies - no bad language, no harassment. But there has never been any problem like that."
When students forget their textbooks they can check the site and access the homework related to their current lessons through a link to the Nelson Math site.
Kahn knows that not all students have a computer at home, so she strives to make her class site useful without being essential.
"It's just a tool," she says.
She posts things like the class schedule, that reinforce what they are learning. "In Grade 3 you teach how to read a schedule, look at times. So if they use it online that's great and if not, there's no harm."
She also posts pictures from field trips and of students at work in the classroom. "I can say, 'Oh, I only take pictures of kids who are behaving and doing good work.'"
Kahn is pleased that she has only 20 students in her class this year, compared to 24 to 26 students in previous years. She feels that she has a better idea of what's happening with each student and, with many first-generation Canadians from Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking households, this helps her ensure that no one is quietly falling behind.