Monthly Archives: February 2013

Weeknotes 2013 – Week 8.

Here’s what’s been going on this week.

  • Our cluster was privileged enough to have Sir John Jones speak to us at our staff meeting on Friday. It’s the 3rd time I’ve hear SJJ speak, twice in person and once on a video link. I find him to be funny and inspiring which is a good combination for a teacher to have and something which we should all aspire to. Among the things he said which made me think were his ideas about Rock Thinkers and Water Thinkers and the idea that we can’t keep on doing what we’re doing (even when it what we do is brilliant). I thought of British Cycling who are always changing things up to maintain their success, but also companies like Kodak who were at the pinnacle of the photography market, had digital photography available, but rather than develop that stayed with their traditions of film photography for too long, they didn’t go backwards in the digital age, they just got overtaken by the ‘water thinkers’ who moved more rapidly than them. I will post more of the ideas from SJJ here in the coming days.
  • Minecraft – wow. Our digital leaders are trying to create their own minecraft club and are doing a fantastic job. It will be great when it’s up and running. They are so creative with their ideas for their club, creating challenges, creating simple wiki websites with links to good sites on and despairing of my general uselessness at the game. The children in our school (and everywhere else in the known universe) are desperate to play minecraft, to create their own worlds, objects, towns, cities, homes with it. It’s something us teachers should begin trying to use to develop deeper learning, the children would be delighted.
  • We had maths training on measurement delivered by the excellent John Sexton. The session was on measure and one of the key messages I took away was the need to allow more time for practical measurement activities. These concrete experiences are what the children will use to support them in their measurement learning when the context is more challenging. It’s not good enough firing up the worksheet of conversions and so-called ‘real-life’ problems and hoping. If you want examples of amazing maths problems look at Dan Meyer’s brilliant work.
  • I attended our parent council meeting (and volunteered to run a family quiz at school) on Tuesday evening. It makes for a late night but it’s good to hear about what our children tell their parents about school life and how positive they are about it. The parent council also do a brilliant job in supporting the school through raising money and our profile in the community.
  • Pupil council at school are doing brilliant work (with little help from me as ever!!) on developing diamond time, organizing comic relief events, reviewing school meals (answering questions pupils have about school dinners). They are true independent learners and thinkers and are dealing brilliantly with the responsibilities and frustrations that real life contains. I am incredibly proud of their work.
  • I made another video – I hate it, you hate it, we all hate videoing ourselves but… making a quick video (don’t worry about your hair, your clothes, fancy editting etc) can get across an idea in 2 minutes that might take 30 minutes to blog.
  • On a ukulele front I discovered Richard G’s ukulele song book which has some great tunes to strum!
  • I discovered that Sky Sports is available for ¬£4.99 a month on iPad – thus allowing me to keep up with all things cricket without a) paying for a full subscription and b) hogging our TV.
  • Finally the baseball season is nearly here which means I am back in charge of my fantasy baseball teams. Great fun, lots of geeky stats, lots of banter a good stress buster.

Weeknotes 2013 – Week 7

Here’s what’s been going on this week.

 

  • My Ukulele arrived. Whoop. Sounds great even with someone as ham-fisted as me playing it! I also attended the next Uke course. It was a bit meh as we didn’t cover anything new, just recapped the previous songs and chords we have done. Also, I get that not providing a tea or coffee saves cash in the short-term, but would the cost of providing a biscuit and a drink be repaid in the work and attitudes of the people taking part in a course? I’d be interested to see if there’s any research into it.
  • I had my half-term holiday, or a day off as it has reverted to. No-one has explained why the week has become one day again and why six weeks has become seven in the summer, but I’m sure there’s a well reasoned argument behind it. However, what seems to have been well researched and documented is the effects of summer holiday learning loss which suggests that “Two-thirds of the academic achievement gap in reading and language found among high school students has been explained through the learning loss that occurs during the summer months of the primary school years.” and “In general, low-income students lose around 3 months of grade-level equivalency during the summer months. Middle income students lose about 1 month of grade-level equivalency over the summer. Thus, the achievement gap widens, due to out-of-school influences and lack of summer learning opportunities” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_learning_loss
  • On our training day our maths guru Alison Earnshaw shared some more of her excellent work on calculation with us. Again, thought provoking ideas about how children learn (and are taught) number.
  • I developed my use of evernote to assess/evidence a piece of reading from a child. Simple to do, I photographed the page and the child recorded themselves reading it. The next step is to work with the child and discuss the reading and begin to create targets for reading development.
  • Digital leaders have been busy planning an in school minecraft club. It is hugely popular with loads of our children. What impressed me about our Digital leaders was their thoughts on how to make the club more than a ‘free play’ minecraft experience. Hopefully they will blog about it on our DL page.
  • Dannielle has published her nursery resources wiki. I am really pleased with the effort she has put into this in her own time and I hope it proves useful for our nursery staff.
  • I have begun working on the Learning Creative Learning MOOC and as part of this I’ve been looking again at Scratch and how it can be used as a creative tool. Clearly it can, but along with that I feel that some of it’s rigour (i.e. you have to be precise in your scripts, careful where you save it etc…) add to its value as a tool for use in the classroom.
  • As part of the LCL MOOC I also created a google+ group. This was so easy to set up, manage and use. The more I use Google+ the more I like it. It’s been a slow burner but it’s beginning to prove really useful for work ideas, storing photos from my phone with the instant upload feature, and even using Hangouts with my Mum!!
  • Finally, and sadly I completed season 2 of Borgen. Great series, great characters and storylines. Bring on series 3.

Weeknotes – Week 6

Here’s what’s been going on this week.

  • I bought a ukulele. This bad boy is winging its way to me as we speak. It’s a bit of a risk as I haven’t played this model, but Ukulele Hunt highly recommend it and it’s not stocked in any shop in Scotland. Hope it’s as good as it sounds on youtube!!
  • Digital leaders are nearing completion of episode one of our podcast, which will be available to listen to from here.
  • Another of our digital leaders has completed her wiki of useful websites for nursery!
  • I had an attainment meeting with my brilliant HT Fiona discussing my forward plan and attainment within the class. This was great, so much better than being given a feedback sheet about my forward plan and as the meeting was in real time, rather than paper 2.0. If there was anything either of us were unsure of we could discuss it…there and then! Simple, but so effective.
  • Sadly I missed our CPD about probability with John Sexton the staff who were able to attend said it was really good, and I’m looking forward to the next CPD session, and looking at the presentation which went along with John’s CPD.
  • I had a lesson observation this week for which I was really nervous. That too was about probability, and for me the most interesting thing was using a ‘What do we know..?’ type questions in the starter and subsequently changing my groupings ‘on the fly’ as one child answered brilliantly and could clearly do a more challenging task. This ‘what do we know?’ start is one I also used in an IDL lesson on Monday – and helped me to create an independent working group who developed the task further and at a greater pace.
  • I discovered that if your Step-Daughter is involved in a house fire, and the person whose house she is in doesn’t give you any details about the fire, you can request and receive a copy of the fire report from Lothian and Borders Fire Service by e-mailing them. A really efficient service, albeit one I hope you never need to use.
  • I was really pleased with 8 of my children choosing to present their poetry work in a poster/book style this week. At the start of the year, they would all have chosen to use a computer, as I feel it was a bit of a novelty. Now they are viewing ICT as the tool it is in their learning toolbox and are making decisions for themselves on whether it is the tool they want for a particular task! You can see the work, ICT based and paper based here.

I’m on half-term break next week – well I’m off on Monday anyway.

Weeknotes – 2013, week 5

Here’s what’s been going on this week.

  • Digital leaders are well underway with their podcast work and are ready to interview children and teachers alike. The P7 children have been trained (Ok, it was more this is the program, have a play…) in using Audacity and are confident using it now.
  • Another of my digital leaders is creating a wiki for our Nursery, which will provide details of a range of suitable websites for the Nursery children to use for different activities.
  • A couple of digital leaders also enjoyed playing about with scratch 2 and loved it!
  • I have worked briefly with our awesome and knowledgeable maths co-ordinator Alison Earnshaw, watching how she is currently assessing in depth our children as part of the Stages of Early Arithmetical Learning (SEAL) project. I thought I’d learned loads about maths from the NNS in England, but I’ve learned loads from Alison. It’s absolutely fascinating and is making me think hard about my teaching and my class’s learning of maths, specifically number.
  • I’ve enjoyed strumming the Ukulele as part of my West Lothian training – I’ve found a site, Ukulele Hunt which has great guidance and tunes on it.
  • I’ve continued thinking about homework and my feelings towards it, I think I’ll be blogging about this soon.
  • Kevin McLaughlin floated the idea via twitter of children creating something like Lifehacker, but about topics relevant and of interest to them. Sounds like an idea which has lots of possibilities in it. Be great if enough of us can find time to get it off the ground, as Kevin suggests, as a collaborative blogging project.
  • I’ve seen tweets, pics, blog posts and videos from BETT13. I’ve been envious of the teachers who have presented with their children, as I would love to take a group of children to That London, and see them presenting. It would be a wonderful experience for them I could easily see that type of experience and opportunity blowing their perceptions of education and of life’s ideas. Any sponsors wishing to make this happen, please contact me – the children have the creativity and the talent, but we’re over 400 miles from London.
  • The Glow2, Glew debate carries on North of the border, I read a fantastic blog post by Jaye Richards-Hill here, and I had some fun commenting on this blog post¬†
  • I battled with Youtube (not my favourite tool…but I’m working on it) to create a video about multiplication using a grid method for our blog page. I even added some text to the video!
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