Pope Bridges Separation Between Church and State by Marcus O’Cyrus

Laughter is the best medicine... Pope Francis  and President Obama share a joke. Photo found at www.mirror.co.uk
Laughter is the best medicine… Pope Francis and President Obama share a joke. Photo found at www.mirror.co.uk

Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States was a historical and noteworthy one. The Pope first met with President Barrack Obama on September 23, 2015 and made a speech at the White House addressing the press. The following day Pope Francis was scheduled to address a joint session of United States Congress with the Supreme Court in attendance. This was a first for the Vatican to address the United States in this fashion.

Weeks before cities began their safety planning for the arrival of Pope Francis by rerouting entire freeway systems to escort him quickly and conveniently to each speaking engagement. Preferential treatment of this magnitude has not been seen for any person before in our country’s history. Surprisingly, not once was the mention of separation of church and state broadcasted as each municipality, county, state, and even our national government bowed its will in servitude to Pope Francis’ visit.

Addressing the Nation... A historical even in the making as Pope Francis addresses Congress and the Supreme Court.  Photo found at post-gazette.com
Addressing the Nation… A historical even in the making as Pope Francis addresses Congress and the Supreme Court. Photo found at post-gazette.com

During Pope Francis’ address to Congress, members of both Houses applauded and gave several standing ovations as he spoke words of peace and encouragement. He addressed topics covering a wide range; from the importance of family, taking in refugees fleeing ISIS, religious entities joining together to combat radicalism within their ranks, solving the abortion issue in America by helping solve the cause verses preventing the choice, use of technology to improve lives, encourage the need to solve climate change, and to continue to help the homeless.

The historical significance for the United States on this occasion was immense. This was the first time the Pope and Vatican had directly addressed our national government in this manner. This is the first time the United States has officially acknowledged the Pope as an authority in spiritual as well as a political influence throughout the world.

What did the United States learn from the Pope’s visit? Pope Francis demonstrated his kindness and compassion to all he came into contact with. Instead of receiving an expensive luncheon provided by Congress on the taxpayer’s dime in his honor, he chose to visit a homeless shelter. He kissed babies, shook the hands of the homeless and those assisting them. He visited New York and the epicenter of 9/11 now fourteen years passed. His words of encouragement touched many lives and brought hope to many weary people in our nation.

Live Justly, love mercy, and walk humbly...  Pope Francis demonstrates many biblical traits to those around him.  Photo-by globalsistersreport.org
Live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly… Pope Francis demonstrates many biblical traits to those around him. Photo-by globalsistersreport.org

As time elapses after Pope Francis’ visit, it is up to Americans to not lose hope in their country. People need to continue to seek and practice justice at every decision, and yet remain merciful in how justice is upheld.   Pope Francis reminds us of this, but it is up to Americans to put it into practice. No law or legal system can bring out a desire to help others that must come from within each individual.



Despite Many Predictions; We’re still Here… Story by Charles Harrison

Earth our beautiful home... What are the chances a extinction event could take place scientist speculate the Earth has had 6 already thus far. Photo-by
Earth our beautiful home… What are the chances a extinction event could take place? Scientist speculate the Earth has had 6 already thus far. Photo-by NASA

Chances are you have noticed a number of doomsday predictions on the internet for 2015 on the internet. Specifically, a number of websites have been claiming that an asteroid will hit the Earth sometime in the past month. If you have not heard, simply Google “September 2015 Asteroid” and you will get pages and pages of results ether perpetuating or disproving the theory. There are theories that FEMA is stocking up on body bags on the eastern seaboard. Some believe that there is even a massive cover up on the part of NASA itself to convince the general population that they are in no danger when in fact; they will be destroyed by an asteroid. (It is difficult to insert a link here because I don’t trust these websites not to give me a virus. You can if you want. Just Google September 2015 asteroid NASA cover up.)

According to theorist, NASA is vehemently denying the truth to keep the world in the dark about their impending doom for the purposes of… world domination? There are mountains of sketchy evidence against NASA, including leaked photo shopped documents, anonymous tips, and good old creepy websites, complete with news that planets lightyears away are actually changing our day to day weather.

The rumor became so widespread that NASA, along with several news organizations such as Fox 8 and CNN have released press statements specifically addressing the rumor. According to NASA’s own statement, “There is no scientific basis — not one shred of evidence — that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth…”. That was from Paul Chodas, Manager of the Near Earth Object office at the Jet Population Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The moral of the story here is DON’T BELIVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET. Before you repost or share something, check with a reputable source on the subject. NASA is excellent for doomsday predictions, astronomical news, and anything to do with space. CNN, Fox News, anything that ends in “.gov”, university websites, research institutes, there are plenty of reliable news and information sources. You could disagree with everything the organizations I listed above stand for, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are more infinitely reliable than that blog you saw one time that was run by a single individual claiming the arrival of our alien overlord, or that website that was saying that the world was actually going to end September 23 using only crazy theories to back it up. People have believed end of the world predictions from the same websites for years, and they have been wrong every time, as evident for the fact that we’re still alive and kicking. Because the fact is, if the world is going to end, I can guarantee you we won’t hear about it first from “messianicmessiah.blogspot.com”.

Polar shift: The End of the World?… Story by Sherman Peabody

The End is Near! Could everything be ended by a massive polar shift?
The End is Near!… Could everything be ended by a massive polar shift? Photo by timeanddate.com

There are many theories on when the world will end, and nearly all of them describe the cataclysmic circumstances that cause it. Some theories are based on the destructive nature of man, such as a nuclear war or global warming. These theories are preventable, as it is possible to destroy nuclear weapons before they detonate or reduce our carbon footprint. But what can we do when the very core of our earth is going to change patterns?

The polar shift theory describes an event just like that. Imagine all migratory animals going North during fall instead of South, GPS satellites not knowing where they are, and navigation systems all pointing the wrong way. These are just some of the things that could happen if the polarity of our North and South poles switched, and some think that this could happen soon.

But NASA has thoroughly debunked this theory in an article they wrote[1], explaining that in the last pole shift “no drastic changes in plant life or animal life” occurred. So, if we trust NASA with this (which I do), we shouldn’t worry about global chaos caused by the shifting poles. But what about the lights in the sky? And I’m not talking about aliens…

What are those strange lights?... The aurora borealis makes its grand appearance in Sandpoint, Idaho several times these past few years. This is a photo of Priest Lake and the northern lights. Photo By Craig Goodwin
What are those strange lights?… The aurora borealis makes its grand appearance in Sandpoint, Idaho several times this year. This is a picture of Priest Lake and the Northern Lights. Photo By Craig Goodwin

The aurora borealis, or the northern lights, is caused by space weather (solar radiation) and our magnetic field colliding. This is actually indirectly associated with the polar shift, as the gradual moving of these poles makes the magnetic fields vary in strength. These beautiful sights can actually be seen by us here in Sandpoint. Amelia Goldworm describes these lights as “whiteish with a tint of brown” and “cloud like.”

Though it is rare, it does happen, so if you don’t want to miss out on the next one throw Soft Serve News (http://www.softservenews.com/gps-aurora-borealis-forecast.html) onto your bookmarks bar and check it out, it predicts where the northern lights will be seen and when.

[1] Please see this article for more indepth information on pole shifts: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012-poleReversal.html

Student Council Winnings… Story by Miranda Paddack

A Unified Front.. President Ellie Mearns and Sophomore Rep. Carissa Lonzisero friends on council
A Unified Front… President Ellie Mearns and Sophomore Rep. Carissa Lonzisero friends on council.  Photo-by Sherman Peabody

The student council votes we tallied and presented during lunch September 25th. Their first official meeting took place September 29th. For those who missed this exciting event Jack Meier is now the Director of Social Media, Andrew Van Winkle as Secretary, Deryk Harlan as Treasurer, Orion Syth as Vice President, and our one and only Eleanore Mearns as our brave new President. These are not the only members of the student council, our representatives are very important too. They attend meetings and are the voice for each year; Drew Meier and Kai Jacobs as freshmen reps, Carissa Lonizisero and Matthew Deacan for the sophomores, Martin Chilcott and RJ Rogers for the juniors, and Amanda Berntsen for the seniors.

Oddly enough, the representatives were more willing than the “actual” student council members to answer questions about the first council meeting. All reported that they made progress, as well as getting to know one another. “The first student council meeting was productive because we all talked as a team and everyone listened to each other. We talked about everything on our agenda in one meeting and our agenda helped the group stay focused,” Stated by Carissa Lonizisero.

When asked if they believe this year’s Student Council will make a good team, all gave similar answers. “Yes, because we all were born to have an impact that no matter how small the role we can still,” Kai Jacobs boldly stated.

“I’m positive that this group is going to be a good team. Already we are working together making decisions and getting great ideas,” said by Eleanore Mearns.

“That’s a question that will be answered in the near future. I know a few people on the student council, but there are some people I don’t know. I’m interested to know if the student council will work together as a team just as much as the rest of the student body,” Stated by Amanda Berntsen.

With barely a whisper on the fate of the fall dance, the student body is left to wonder. However, the word is that an announcement regarding this event should take place Wednesday, October 7th. This school is filled with students raving about the 1985 move “Back to the Future.” Why? Well, this year is when Marty McFly and Dr. Emmet Brown travel too, October 21st, 2015, the year of hover boards. Students have been speculating that the dance could be “Back to the Future” themed. Will this dance be themed, or will there be a special event commemorating this event?

Director of Social Media? What’s That? . . . by Catherine Jay

More Communication... Director of Social Media will improve student council communication. Photo-by Mr. Webber
More Communication… Director of Social Media will improve student council communication. Photo-by Mr. Webber

Social media is a big thing in our lives right now. It helps us connect to people from around the world, share our ideas and accomplishments, and helps bring people together. So why not combine it with student government? The head of the student government at Forrest M. Bird Charter School has added this new position to the student government. Now what is this position you ask? The Director of Social Media is the title of this newfound role. Why was it added? Well, that’s why I interviewed Holly Walker herself, the woman behind this new position in our school’s student government.

On September 14, 2015, Holly Walker was interviewed about her most recent addition to the student government. The Director of Social media actually was inspired by the events of last year and the events that transpired through student government. According to Ms. Walker, last year there was a photo historian who was responsible for photo documenting everything in the course of the year. A student also created a Facebook and Instagram account which needed constant attention. This inspired the position Director of Social Media. The person in charge of this position must regularly maintain Instagram and Facebook, with the clearance of Hillary DeCecchis. Sending email blasts are another thing in which they must get clearance for. Communication with the tech lab is key part for this person for website updates as well as updates to the reader board in the study lab. Coming up with marketing and media campaigns for all of our school’s events is also a part of this position. Doing all of this, while maintaining a steady supply of pictures.

After getting the interview from Ms. Walker, I went straight to interview the candidates. The first candidate to agree to my interview was Kolton Carroll. Mr. Carroll said that he has been completely informed about the position and still didn’t back out because of all the responsibilities which he has been given. Handling all of these things aren’t something that will shake this candidate from this position. “I’m running because I know this is a position I could handle 100%, and I know the works of most all social media websites. Plus I would love to be a part of this school’s student council.” Unfortunately, since this interview Kolton Carrol has decided to drop out of the race.

The other candidate, Jack Meier, hasn’t responded to any of the requests for an interview. His posters, however, have been causing somewhat of a positive stir with the witty, “You have my sword, but do I have yours?” slogan that has spread throughout the school.

It will be interesting to see what this new position will bring to the school and student body throughout the school year.

Who will be the New Commander-in-Chief?… by Charles Harrison

The presidential elections are coming up on Friday. We have three candidates: Ellie Mearns, Brandon Michelsen, and Savanna Stierle.

More than a book worm... Ellie Mearns is a presidential hopeful this 2015 election.
More than a book worm… Ellie Mearns is a presidential hopeful this 2015 election. Photo-by Charles Harrison

Ellie Mearns, presidential candidate, stated, “The president stands for the student body, council, and school. They are the orchestrator, leader, and main communication point of everything they stand for. So personally, I believe that this person has to be organized and well rounded. This year, we have had a lot of good people running, all qualified for that job; it’s super rad.”

Ellie Mearns also stated that she would be happy to debate the dress code with the school board, and that she wishes for school fundraising to be more in the hands of the students. When asked about her motivation to run, she gave this answer:

“I am so motivated for this council. In the past years, they [the student council] have all had their advantages and disadvantages. So, I would really love to combine all of their past advantages.  Also, student council is such a great experience; I just wish everyone could be council position of choice … I really hope to make this year the best.”

A man of vision... Brandon Michelsen delivers his vision to the student body.
A man of vision… Brandon Michelsen delivers his vision to the student body. Photo-by Charles Harrison

Candidate Brendon Michelsen gave brief, honest answers. When asked about his motivation for running, he answered “I was motivated to run for president because several of my friends recommended I should. Because of their encouragement, I joined this race.” When asked about fundraising, he answered that he did not have a plan and would address that issue later. He did however give some more specific answers. When asked about his plan for the school, he stated, “My main agenda is to re-organize the way we as a student body communicate our ideas to the council. I hope to make it easier for student’s ideas to reach the ears of the representatives and parties involved in the council.”

Willing to lend a hand... Savannah Stierle assists Vice Presidential Candidate in journalism class while during her interview. Photo-by Charles Harrison
Willing to lend a hand… Savannah Stierle assists vice presidential candidate Orion Syth in journalism class during her interview. Photo-by Charles Harrison

Candidate Savannah Stierle has stated that she wished to change dress code, allowing more shirts and reviving hoodies on Fridays. She also said that she would change the lunch program to include more healthy options. For fundraising, she said “…I would like to do fun things such as bake sales, car washes, etc. With these fundraisers, I would like to create bigger and better dances, better supplies for teachers, ect.” She said that she chose to run “Because I feel as if I really hear my fellow students, and I believe I can really make their wants happen.”

Your write-in candidate... Senior Colin Hislop wants to make a difference in the school and brings his previous council experience with him.
Your write-in candidate… Senior Colin Hislop wants to make a difference in the school and brings his previous council experience with him. Photo-by North Idaho College

Presidential Candidate, Colin Hislop, is running as a write-in candidate for president. He is a senior who has served on student council for two consecutive years as a class representative. “I think fundraising is going to be a very important part of the student council’s job, but I would prefer not to release any of my plans until after the election.” He stated that he would not change the lunch program, stating that “changes to the day to day schedules… could cause harm that would outweigh the good,” and that the lunch program was “very solidified.” When asked about his motivation for running, he gave this statement: “My main motivation for running entails the fact that I feel like I would do a good job. I have a lot of past leadership experience, with that I want to help this council grow and benefit the school as a community.”

It is important for everybody to choose a presidential candidate who they believe will represent them, not just the individual person, but also the entire school the best. I invite you to carefully read every response given and make a choice that best suits your beliefs about the school. I also have the complete interview answers; and if requested, I can publish those along with the questions for a more complete picture of the candidates and their stances on the issues. Remember that these are brief summaries of the candidates’ opinions, and I encourage you to walk up to the candidates themselves or talk to them during the Q and A sessions if you want a more detailed answer or have specific questions for the candidates.

The Treasurer is More than Meets the Eye . . . by Lauren Stidham

Most people don’t realize just how important the treasurer is, a good treasurer is usually behind a successful event. They are in charge of the budget, advising the student council on the spending of money, work with Greta to write sign and deliver checks, do ticket sales, and organize spreadsheets for ticket sales.

So the treasurer has to find a balance in the budget to bring out the full potential of every dollar.

Former President Nolan Stidham states the best qualities in a treasurer is someone who will get their job done without being asked and someone who has skills with making budgets. If the treasurer sits around and waits to be reminded to do something that burdens the president. So a treasurer is someone who stays on task and is on it and is good at giving wise economical advice.

Amanda Berntsen is a senior with experience handling money who hopes to make an impact in her last year, one way she wants to do this is by being your treasurer.

“Let’s make this year fun!” . . . Amanda Berntsen is working hard to get stuff done to allow more time for fun. Photo-by Lauren Stidham
“Let’s make this year fun!” . . . Amanda Berntsen is working hard to get stuff done to allow more time for fun.  Photo-by Miranda Paddack

Her slogan “let’s make this year fun!” was created because she wanted to make her last year at Forrest Bird one to remember. She wants to create an experience that will make this year a fun one for everyone.   As your treasurer Amanda would like to benefit you by fine tuning the budgets and saving money for the future student council.

Amanda Berntsen already has plenty of experience with money from helping her mom run her retail store. Her job at the store is to make budgets for new items, take inventory, and book keeping. While working at the store she learned just how important her job of making budgets and saving money is. All of these skills will be valuable as a treasurer and will definitely help. Also being treasurer would help Amanda gain experience for in the future when the chases her dream job of being an accountant. “To ask what the importance of being treasurer is like asking what the importance of student council is.” I think that this quote in itself displays her passion and understanding for the position.

Amanda showed good character during our email interviews. She responded as soon as she realized that she got the email. She acted as quickly as possible and apologized for anything that came in later then she would have liked. Also when she responded, I have to note that she used clear, easy to understand sentences that gave me the impression that she was quite professional even before I had even really met her. I can already tell that she puts lots of effort into what she does and takes time to do it right.

For 'Murika . . . Deryk Harlan running for Treasurer. Photo-by Miranda Paddock
For ‘Murika . . . Deryk Harlan running for Treasurer. Photo-by Miranda Paddack

The other candidate running for treasurer, Deryk Harlan, has no comment.

Candidates vie for Vice-Presidential Responsibilities . . . by Miranda Paddack

The fate of student council is in the air with this years’ election. In the past, we have had council’s run us broke, or double, even triple our money. The Vice President organizes dance committees, collects student suggestions, assists the President, and on occasion covers for the President. Who are this year’s candidates, and what do they want to change in this school?

His kitten is cutest.... Orion Syth VP hopeful. Photo-by Miranda Paddack
His kitten is cutest…. Orion Syth VP hopeful. Photo-by Miranda Paddack

Orion Syth is running in the election for the position of Vice President. The competition is hot, using cookies and his clever slogan, “We are the voice,” to win over the student body. Will this be enough? “I think that my chances are as good as the other candidates. We all are stuck at an even 3.33 repeating chance. Hopefully with me having that little extra .1 percent!” Orion seems to be content with any outcome but clearly, he wants to be the President’s right-hand man! Improving communication between teachers and the student body are Mr. Syth’s main concern.

Department of Wombat Defense... Carissa Lonzisero hoping to make changes though the VP roll. Photo-by Miranda Paddack
Department of Wombat Defense… Carissa Lonzisero hoping to make changes though the VP roll. Photo-by Miranda Paddack

Carissa Lonzisero is using no posters or other campaigning techniques; however, she may give a joint speech with Ellie Mearns, who is running for President. Miss Lonzisero and Mr. Syth have very similar ideas on what would improve our school environment. “A change I would like to make is having the student council members work together more than in the past. Another thing I think we should do as a student council is listening more to other student’s suggestions on how we can improve the school and make events more fun so more students come!”

Mirror Mirror on the Wall... Tara Smith willing to work for the student body as VP. Photo-by Miranda Paddack
Mirror Mirror on the Wall… Tara Smith willing to work for the student body as VP. Photo-by Miranda Paddack

Our final candidate is Tara Smith, handing out candy as well as hanging posters making this a tough vote for students. However, Miss Smith is not as hopeful as the other candidates, “To be completely honest, I am a little challenged by my competition because the other person(s) have been in the school longer and have more experience.” Confidence is key, Smith has plenty of that, but nerves seem to be in the air. Miss Smith is taking a very different direction on what changes she would like to see. “Changes I would like to try and make this year is to have more activities and events.” With a fall dance on the way, this seems to fall under Smith’s forte.

Secretaries: Paper & You . . . by Alistair King

Many of us have heard about the upcoming student council elections, especially with the impressive number of candidates this year. Many of the candidates are our friends, and if two are running for the same position then it will make a hard decision. Here to help you choose is the interviews of the secretaries; Andrew Van Winkle and Emily Invernon.

Our Next Great Leader? ... It's possible Andrew Van Winkle is ready to take notes. Photo-by Darth Syth
Our Next Great Leader? It’s possible; Andrew Van Winkle is ready to take notes. Photo-by Alistair King

Andrew Van Winkle is in the eleventh grade and was in student council last year. Andrew’s platform is keeping student council organized and keeping detailed notes. He really wants to fix what went wrong with the student council last year he says, “Last year they were just writing the overviews.” He also wants to have the students’ voice be openly heard in student council and wants to find an innovative way to get their voice heard. So far, his campaign strategy has been handing out cookies and candy with the Michelsen-Syth campaign, hanging up a poster, and generally getting his face out there. His greatest strengths for the secretary position is his experience and his intelligence. There is also another candidate that has equal claim, Emily Invernon.

Stretching for Student Council... Emily Invernon promises to be flexible with student council responsibilities. Photo-by Darth Syth
Stretching for Student Council… Emily Invernon promises to be flexible with student council responsibilities. Photo-by Alistair King

Emily Invernon is also in the eleventh grade and is running for the secretary position. She wants to run for this position to “take on some more responsibilities”. She’s not sure where she wants to go with this position, but she wants to make changes that are better for everyone and be the voice of reason for the student council. Her campaign strategy is telling the truth and being honest to the people she talks to. Emily’s greatest strengths for this position is wanting to improve things for everyone, she can keep calm during difficult situations, and has a great understanding of people. But, what do these people think of their opponents?

When asked about their competition, they both had nice things to say about each other. Andrew Van Winkle believes that he has an even chance with his opponent. He also thinks that popularity could be a factor in determining the new secretary. Emily views Andrew as a good friend and only wishes him the best of luck in this upcoming competition.

The secretary position is all about taking meticulous notes during discussions, posting notes daily to the student drive, and work together with the social media director on marketing and publications for events. But what do our candidates think this position entails? Andrew Van Winkle believes the secretary position entails taking notes and making sure they make the right choices. Emily Invernon’s definition of the secretary position is making sure that everyone knows everything that is going on, as well as taking notes.

It’s a scary note filled world out there, we will soon know who has the talent to take it on.

Why Canvas? Why Not? Story by Mr. Webber & Ian McConnaughey

Canvas-The Cons

Story by Ian McConnaughey

The school of Forrest Bird   Charter High has gone through numerous separate systems of computer systems to run the assignments and keep track of homework. Last year, there was the less-than-successful attempt at using EdModo, which ended in disaster. This new year, the website Canvas became the new platform for the school to moderate the student’s work on. The new system is frustrating, because by the time the students have adapted to the latest system, the school has a new one already started and paid for.

This year, Canvas was not met well. The system was very confusing, and not at all user-friendly. The confusing system combined with the fact that Canvas is a very slow website did not increase popularity. Quite recently, the internet at the school has been slowed to a mind-melting point. Now add that plus the already slow Canvas, and you have a school that barely runs.

Canvas is, like any other site, rather glitchy. Many students receive low grades because the teacher-end versus student-end update at separate intervals, where a student turns in an assignment and the teacher does not see it for days, or the same problem with the teacher creating the assignment.

Furthermore, Canvas could do with a little decorating. The original format is a little…plain. Boring. The design could use a little spicing up.

Difficulties with assignments, though, are not always the fault of the site, as teachers quite often forget to place a “TURN IN ASSIGNMENT” button on pages, and the whole class loses credit because of that. Annoying as that is, it doesn’t get as bad as when an assignment gets turned in, but the inbox for the teacher has been cluttered up and the teacher does not notice that late assignment that had been just turned in, resulting in a zero-point grade.

Most users of Canvas have grudgingly learned to use it. The slowness of the site, as said before, makes it difficult and frustrating, and then we get to the matter of the less-responsible crowd. Everyone in the school knows that one person who plays games or YouTubes during class and study-hall, which diminishes the bandwidth dramatically. When we attempt to load Canvas to see or turn in an assignment, we have, quite annoyingly, often been met by the “Connection has Timed Out” page.

Another problem with the Canvas system is the unwieldy properties of links. Several links do not work properly, or if the link is supposed to show something in the main page, the user may have to refresh the page multiple times to view said link.

Canvas, as a whole, is riddled with difficulties, errors, glitches, slow-responses, delays in updates, and the occasional Administrative Error left when a teacher forgets a button or link. Perhaps at a later time Canvas may become a popular and useful sight, but quite obviously it is not now.

All in all, Canvas may not have been the best choice in the list as what to use, but it appears we are stuck with it, whether we like it or not.

Canvas: Why Should We Invest?

Story by Mark WebberPhoto by Mark Webber: Screen shot of US History 1.1 Canvas page

Over the past two months, there has been fewer complaints about Canvas.  Teachers at first looked at Canvas with a suspicious eye.  Was Canvas eventually going to replace classroom instruction?  Was Canvas Forrest Bird Charter School’s desire to be an online school with children boxed into cubicles instead of a classroom?  Or, was Canvas something much more valuable than the teachers realized?

Last year, each teacher had their own websites to communicate information to their students.  Blogger, Wix, Googlesites, and Edmodo were all being used, depending on the teacher’s comfort level with these free programs.   Since they were free, teachers used the program that worked well with their classroom instruction.  However, this did not always translate well with the

Photo by Mark Webber:  Screen shot of US History 1.1 Canvas page
Photo by Mark Webber: Screen shot of US History 1.1 Canvas page

students and parents.  Many parents and students became confused on where to find assignments, due dates, and directions since each teacher was different.

Thus, enters Canvas an answer and alternative to the random diversity at FBCS.  Canvas allows teachers to post their assignments in modules.  Photo by Mark Webber: Screen shot of US History 1.1 Canvas pageStudents can then access those assignments easily during study lab, classes, or even at home if they have Internet access.  Students can also submit their assignments online guaranteeing the teacher will not lose the digital copy of that assignment.  Canvas allows teachers to give feedback and comments to students instantaneously while they grade, so the students may see the comment immediately instead of waiting for a paper to be handed back.  Some teachers are even using Canvas to allow students to take quizzes online, allowing Canvas to grade the test for them, so students know how well they did by the time they finish the last question of the test.

Even though Canvas has caused a few headaches this year for some, the learning curve has been steep.  As teachers and students become more experienced using Canvas, the ease of doing classwork and getting teacher feedback quickly will make it all worthwhile in the end.  Try and be patient and eventually the results will surprise you.