September 16, 2020
This update is coming to you from Janelle (board member and parent). The first week of learning has been an adventure, with smoky air keeping the learners indoors more than they or we would like. The big, open space of VISII is particularly valuable on such days; there’s enough room for students to move about, stretch, and work out their wiggles.
In this update:
- VISII Centre Phone Numbers
- Individual Inquiries
- Group Inquiries
- Resources for Inquiries
- Sagas Inquiry
- Centre Hygiene Report
- Parent/Guardian Participation Sign-up
- Ensuring Learner Safety — Police Information Checks
- New Resources on the Website
- Recruitment of New Families
- Centre Wish List
VISII Centre Phone Numbers
The centre’s mobile phone is with Ms. Littledale at all times. The number is 250-883-1667 You may phone or text this number to report your child’s absence, illness, late arrival, or early pickup.
There is a wall phone in the centre kitchen: 250-294-8397. There’s no answering machine. Your child may call you from this phone if necessary.
Ms. Littledale reports that all the learners are settling in to their individual inquiries. I have been in the centre several times to help the two students who are pursuing a sewing inquiry in the new sewing space (currently equipped with three sewing machines, ironing board, cutting mats, fabric, thread, and ideas!). It’s great to see the students busily researching and reading, with Ms. Littledale to guide them and help them formulate questions.
Ms. Littledale is teaching Spanish to those learners who are interested. She reports that she’s launching a birdwatching inquiry soon. Helmut (IT guru and parent) is guiding some of the learners through a Minetest and mapping inquiry, to be complemented by an inquiry into the Icelandic family sagas (guided by me).
Resources for Inquiries
The VISII website now has a landing page where we can post links to current group inquiries. You probably want to keep up with your child’s adventures and maybe learn a bit yourself to facilitate dinner-table conversations! (“How far did you get on that sod house today?”)
One of our learners is keen on the Icelandic family sagas and suggested we read the Ere-Dwellers (Eyrbyggja) Saga together. Helmut stepped up to offer a Minetest space where the learners could create the places of medieval Iceland. I volunteered to lead the literary side of the inquiry; at this point, my enthusiasm outweighs my knowledge, but I think that’s a good place to be at the beginning of an inquiry! I’ve made a page with information for us parents/guardians and some preliminary links for the learners: “Resources for the Ere-Dwellers Saga Inquiry.” No doubt we’ll find many more resources.
Fortunately, UVic has a long history of teaching Old Icelandic, bringing in guest speakers from Iceland (thanks to the Beck Trust), and acquiring research materials for the library. I’ve selected a number of books for learners at various levels and will leave them in the learning centre for learners to peruse there. They are signed out to my own UVic Library Card; if the books come home in your child’s knapsack, please make sure the books make their way back to VISII. I also have two wonderful colleagues who are experts in Old Icelandic (one of whom taught both me and Ms. Littledale!). I hope they will be able to visit us at the learning centre. You can expect to hear about battles, journeys, medieval politics, strong women, funny names, and Things!
Centre Hygiene Report
VISII has three one-person washrooms that are used only by VISII. These washrooms are being cleaned regularly by parents. We have a volunteer janitor coming in twice a week to do a deep clean of the entire space. There are three sinks in the learner areas, each equipped with handsoap, washable handtowels, and baskets for clean and used towels. Students are washing hands, wearing masks, and remembering to sanitize as they come into and go out of the space.
Carolyn (board member and parent) has been coming in at lunch to clean the high-touch surfaces (light switches, faucets, doorknobs, tabletops, and chairbacks). The learners are taking over the lunch-time clean as of today. If other parents/guardians are able to come in at the end of the day and do a surface clean, please let Carolyn know (email@example.com) or sign up on the GoogleDoc we’ve shared with parents/guardians by email.
Parent/Guardian Participation Sign-Up
Can you spend time in the learning space? Our big space does present one challenge, namely that there are times during the day when the learners are spread across four spaces in a big L-shape. While the spaces flow into one another and are nicely designed for the teacher to keep an eye on all the students from the bend of the L, there are times when we need an extra adult in the learning space so that Ms. Littledale can provide 1:1 attention to individual learners or work with a small group. On Mondays and Tuesdays, our distance learning teacher, Meghan, will normally be in the learning space. On Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, we’d like to have parents/guardians come in for two-hour blocks if/as your schedules permit. If you are able to help students with their inquiries, please do. If not, simply being in the space (cleaning surfaces, sorting books, or tapping away on your own laptop) is also helpful.
Please sign up via the GoogleSheets workbook linked from the password-protected VISII Parents page.
Ensuring Learner Safety — Police Information Checks
Note that you must arrange for a “Police Information Check — Vulnerable Sector” check to spend significant time in the learning centre or any time alone with any of the learners (e.g., driving on a field trip). You can apply for this check via the police department in your municipality. Let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org) where you will be applying and we’ll supply you with the appropriate letter confirming your volunteer status:
- Oak Bay: http://oakbaypolice.org/help/police-information-checks/ (no fee with a letter from VISII)
- Saanich: https://www.saanichpolice.ca/index.php/police-information-checks.html (free for volunteers)
- Victoria and Esquimalt: https://secure.tritoncanada.ca/v/public/landing/victoriapoliceservice/home (free for volunteers)
New Resources on the Website
Here are some pages to bookmark in your browser:
- Learning Calendar: https://visii.ca/2020-2021-visii-calendar/
- 2020-2021 Links: https://visii.ca/2020-2021-links/
- VISII Learners Page: https://visii.ca/visii-learners/ (password required; see your email)
- VISII Parents Page: https://visii.ca/visii-parents/ (password required; see your email)
- News: https://visii.ca/news/. Updates and newsletters will be turned into blog posts and findable via this News page. If you can’t find an email, you can always come to the News page for key information.
Recruitment of New Families
As you know, VISII has a very small cohort — 9 students, one FT teacher, and one DL teacher. While this super-small cohort is lovely for all kinds of reasons, we really do need a few more families to be comfortably sustainable. Please spread the word among your friends, neighbours, and family members. Your endorsement is the best advertising of all.
SHARE: To make it easy for you to share on social media, I’ve made a “Spread the Word” page here: https://visii.ca/spread-the-word/. There are various social media sharing links on this page.
FLYER: On Thursday, you’ll find printed flyers in your child’s cubby. If you have a place to post them (grocery store pinboard, afterschool activity venue), please do! There’s also a downloadable version of this flyer on the “Spread the Word” page and here:
Centre Wish List
The starting of the centre comes with many small expenses that quickly add up. If you can donate some small items to the centre it helps us immensely. Make sure that any items you want returned are carefully labelled. We have a wish list on the website as well, at https://visii.ca/visii-wish-list/. We’ll update the list on the website as requests are filled and new needs arise. Please share the page with neighbours, grandparents, and friends.
Some items that the centre currently needs are:
- Hand soap (pump preferred)
- Hand towels (small face cloths are especially good for drying small hands)
- Unscented laundry soap
- Gloves for cleaning
- Fabric scraps for practice sewing and bigger fabric pieces for projects
- Scissors for cutting fabric
- Pencil crayons
- Storage bins with lids for kitchen staples, craft supplies, makerspace supplies (all sizes)
- Whiteboard markers
- Whiteboard erasers
- Cups and glasses for the kitchen
- Baking sheets for cookies
- Roll of parchment paper for baking
- Maps, inspirational wall posters, charts
With all good wishes for this Wednesday,
Janelle (Secretary) and Carolyn (Communications Officer)