The final day of school was Friday, Dec. 18 and for some, that simply meant turning off their computer.

Rocky View Schools students in grades 7-12 have been back at home learning online since the end of November when RVS implemented the Scenario Three learning option due to the pandemic. Some students however have chosen to work online since September. 

The consensus from teachers, students, and parents is that this time around, the transition has been smoother than in the spring. You know the old saying, practice makes perfect. Of course, there are glitches and hiccups, but that is to be expected even in the classroom. All teachers are adept at adapting to fluid situations.

Grayson Adams is an online teacher from Fireside School in Cochrane and is currently teaching science and math online to students from various schools.  He admits that this time around the transition to online learning has been easier.

“There’s a lot of positives, I wouldn’t choose it forever I really miss actually interfacing with kids and the collegial aspect of a school but for right now it’s a real gift. There’s a lot more good with online than I would have expected I think, it’s different than the spring.”

Of course, the goal in teaching is to always strive to have your students actively engaged in their learning experience and this time around teachers are testing the waters a little more with some creative, interactive lesson plans.  

For example, Mr. Adams’ grade 7 science class recently participated in an *owl pellet* dissection via Zoom.

The kids collected their owl pellet from their school, and then the entire class did the pellet dissection online together.

With the help of technology and Zoom Adams says, “We all just had our cameras on, and I had my owl pellet under my document reader, and I was pulling mine apart and pulling out the bones and skulls and the feathers and kids were doing the same and it was wild fun I really enjoyed it.”

Adams says it worked really well and the class was able to do it all together. They were able to pause and look at something someone found and then compare.

“It felt a bit like a real science lab and in some ways, there were actually advantages because we could see each other’s stuff almost easier than if you were in a real lab because it pops up large on your screen. It was really cool.”

Adams says another cool thing his class was able to take part in was interacting with a guest lecturer, a conservation biologist from Connecticut. He spoke to the class for which was supposed to be 45 minutes and lasted over an hour with kids remaining engaged and asking questions. Again, technology allowed for something that otherwise would not have taken place in a regular classroom. Adams says it was fantastic, the speaker was a super nice guy and super engaging with the kids. Many stayed on long after the designated Q&A time to continue asking questions.

While the plan for what the new year will bring regarding the learning scenario is unclear, it is safe to say that confidence with the online route is growing.

So, what does Mr. Adams have planned next?  Adams says there are a lot of science experiments that can be done with stuff you have around home. He is hoping in the new year if online learning continues, that he can do more labs.

He says, “Most of us doing (the experiment), that feels better than just me doing a live demonstration and everybody watching.”

As classes catch their stride with online learning it is a learning scenario that can only get better with innovative teaching ideas and…again practice makes perfect.

* A pellet is the mass of undigested parts of a bird's food that an owl regurgitates. The contents of a bird's pellet depend on its diet but can include the exoskeletons of insects, indigestible plant matter, bones, fur, feathers, bills, claws, and teeth.