The new term!

Well it’s proving to be a bit difficult to catch a breath up here, so many things going on and I’m still getting used to the new way of working but so far I’m really enjoying working in the school.

I’m slowly but surely getting the department all sorted out and am certainly enjoying working with the smaller classes at standard grade level.

I’m in the process of creating a brand new S1 course centred around the idea of the pupils being band managers. This idea came from an ex-colleague down in East Lothian. The idea is the pupils learn how to use ICT skills with a purpose as opposed to just copying out and completing exercises in a book. So far there’s been some Word Processing and even a little bit of photo editing using iPhoto which has surprised me with how easy it is to use. I’m also trying to get other departments involved as much as possible so hopefully this is heading towards the curriculum for excellence that’s waiting over the horizon.

So what’s next? Computer Games of course.
I’m attempting to run the Int1 & 2 computer games courses and as such now have a TV and 2 games consoles in my room to help with the playing of the games. if anyone has any experience of teaching this course I’d love to hear from you.

How much would I like to attend this learning conference in London and get a free Nintendo DS!!!

I like the idea of using video games in teaching (Vital problem soving skills) but for some reason I can’t imagine starting off my classes by saying “OK take out your DS and play exercise ….”

Hopefully I will get to try out some games modules soon (The SNES, N64 and PS2 are on standby). I am starting in a new job (Permanent) in Gairloch High School and have some scope in my timetable to try out individual modules and introduce new initiatives and will post details here after they are complete.

If anyone has any experience with these modules drop me a line and let me know!

The new job will be an amazing experience, it looks like a very supportive school and I’ll have very different challenges to what I’ve experienced here in East Lothian and am looking forward to gaining experience in a new authority.

I’m aiming to make a new post by the end of June but please don’t shoot me if I don’t manage it!

State of the Union

I felt it was about time for an update, well I finished up my probation year and after a weird summer holiday/unemployment managed to secure a maternity contract teaching business education until Christmas and so have been very busy learning not one but 2 new subjects (Administration and Business Management) and on the whole I’d have to say it’s been a good experience so far.

I get to see school life from a different point of view and I have been lucky enough to still keep up with any developments in the computing field by attending the CPD sessions within the council.

So far in my current post I have applied many of the skills I brought to my computing classes last year and again work with varied success.

For admin I have been focusing on key skills involving Word Processors, Spreadsheets and will now shortly be looking at effective uses of the internet with the S3 pupils.

The S4 as I speak are revising for the final of their prelims and on their return will be heading towards their SQA practical projects of which I’m confident they will do well in.

In my NQT year I was well aware that I would have to leave the classes I’d worked with behind however I also knew I had a full year to work with them and to present them for their exams, this year I know I’m handing these classes over at Christmas and moving onto a new challenge and a new school starting in January and have mixed feelings about this on one hand I’m looking forward to teaching my subject again but at the same time never like leaving a job half done (Although in the case of doing dishes I’m more than happy to walk away from them!).

I’ll update again when I can think of something else to write.

Later!

Well it’s the end of a very quick teaching year, I’ve seen 2 higher / Int 2 classes through to their exam and one 4th year class.

I now feel I understand the phrase “two term dash”.

over the last few weeks I have been looking at graphics with the new S3 Standard Grade pupils and to do this I created a small investigation where they created a new school logo. to do this they used a drawing package and from here they transferred it into a paint package. The investigation then began incorporating computer systems by looking at file sizes and backing storage devices. This seems to have worked well however may have been a bit early to bring in bits and bytes.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been letting the pupils use Scratch, an excellent games programming language from MIT. Pupils from 3rd through to 6th year have been using it and seem to have taken to it well. It’s definately more fun than visual basic.

I had been using a class blog with the higher and Int2 pupils which worked well, however I will set up an online drop box for pupils to send me their homework electronically when I make use of it in future classes.

S1 parents evening tonight so if you’ll excuse me, I’m away to warm up my voice.

Well after years of resisting I’ve finally bought something from ebay, actually 3 things so far. 

It really is quite addictive and even if you don’t win, those last few moments of an auction where you drive the price right up make loosing ok.

whoever won it isn’t getting as much of a bargain as they thought they would and you’ve not lost any money.

Today is the final day of the holiday and so it’s back to school tomorrow. This term it’s time to finish the core units and set about the courseworks. This should be fun!

Guys this is going to be a big blog post so you have been warned.

So what’s the latest in my teaching?

Where do I start?

In my last post I mentioned creating a lesson using spreadsheets and packets of MnM’s. The lesson worked well apart from one pupil not being interested. The fact that they were getting to eat the chocolate after still didn’t help matters.

The class all created the spreadsheet no problem, some were leaps and bounds ahead of the rest but all got the basics for the topic which to me was good.

It has been a bit of a challenge to get motivated recently. Which when you’re trying to teach General Purpose Packages and are not motivated can prove difficult. However all seem to have grasped the basics of databases and so I am aiming to build on that when we start back.

The S4 have now been introduced to visual basic programming, with me only a few pages ahead of them. I’m really looking forward to getting into this software development side of teaching as it’s not a part of the course I have done before and will be a challenge.

From what I’ve seen so far it can be hit or miss for some of the kids but one pupil who hasn’t showed me much of a willingness to experiment while on the computers was able to complete an extension task I set for them which made my day (In actual fact my week as it was in the last week!).

Higher and Int 2 is still proving to be my biggest challenge and one I hope I’m working well on. I intend to apply some formative assessment techniques in the future as I fear I’ve been treating the classes too much like lectures. I experimented with this recently when starting computer software. This is the fifth and final topic of computer systems.

The pupils were asked to create PowerPoint slides giving information about one of the layers of the operating system. One higher pupil was paired with one Int 2 pupil and sent on their way.

Some of the pupils presented their own work to the others in the class, some I had to go over. I then made these all available to them on the network and set them some questions to complete individually.

If you’re still reading this I hope you have/had a Merry Christmas and enjoy the festivities over the New Year period.

All the best for 2007.

Later! 

I remember reading in another blog that it was their worst fear that the pupils find their blog, 
well that’s exactly what happened to me. 

Not only did they locate this blog (Not very difficult to do right enough) and through this my personal E-mail address.They were also able to locate my MySpace account. so after a night of panic the email account is now dead and so is the myspace account however the blog is still alive and I’ve been in 2 minds about continuing with this one or starting a fresh version however there should be no problem with this since i’d never write anything down I didn’t want people to read.

Finally moved into my flat, strange experience now living away from home but it had had to happen eventually.

Onto the important things…School.

1st and 2nd years are coming to an end of their business studies course and are coming into the computing section. I feel more comfortable knowing that this is going to be my subject now and not something I’m not trained in.

S3 are moving onto Spreadsheets this week and I think i’m going to borrow a technique from Bart and do the MnM’s lesson. Will post once i’ve tried this although I do have one question, do I buy the small bags or the big bags of Mnm’s

S4 are almost at their prelims so its theory for the next couple of weeks.

S5&6 I will be doing artificial intelligence when we start back I think, this may change though. Thankfully the scholar passwords are now with the pupils which takes some pressure off me, all we need now is the internet speed upgrade to be completed.

Well under way

A tried and trusted method of getting 15,16,17 and 18 year old kids to be quiet, Is something so simple that you will not believe me.

Quite simply all you need to do is ask them a question.

The higher group has been quite a daunting experience so far. I’ve been worried about the class for a while mainly because of the artificial intelligence module but now it just seems like they’re not getting anything I’m talking about.

The computer systems topic is a very dry one and involves lots of written work and questions.

The two support teachers I am working with and share my higher groups with are doing different subjects, one is doing AI the other is doing Software Development.

The plus points to this method are that when it comes time for me to teach these subjects with the classes that haven’t covered it already the materials are ready and waiting to be used.

The class is a mixed ability class as well as mixed level (Higher/Int2) which also worries me but the decision that has been made is that we will teach to the higher course which incorporates all of the Int 2 course just to a more demanding level. While this may be ok for now I’m worried that the pupils who are Int 2 level will struggle to pick out what they need to know.

Anyone got any advice on this???

August 25th

First off i’d like to appologise for the lack of updates. The school has been in for just about a week now and it’s already proving challenging, I’m now on about the 8th version of my timetable which i now have more S1 and S2 less standard grade and the same amount of higher work. A fairly even spread I think.

I’ve not been able to get a grip with the higher groups just yet. The 2 classes are mixed groups or higher and Int2 (The school does not run Int1). During the course of the student year I observed very different methods of teaching the higher but am finding it difficult to develop my own style. The classes are not only split in ability but split between teachers.

I got quite worked up about it the other day and on advice from some supporting staff I spoke to my mentor (This is also something that has not been finalised yet as to who is going to be my mentor due to in school staffing issues) and raised my concerns so this is now being looked at. (I have noted in my profile for entry that i needed more experience with the post 16 courses)

Both sets come to me 3 times a week and another teacher in the department takes them for the remaining 2 periods. So the decision has been made that I will teach the Computer Systems Unit and the optional AI 😦

Hopefully by the end of next week I’ll have a better grasp on where I am with the classes and how I’ll take them forward.

I also now have a 4th year registration class who seem to be really annoyed by my persistance about their school uniform but again hopefully by Monday they’ll not need to be told.

On the accomodation front I’m still technically homeless, fliting from a flat, to hoime and to another house, doesn’t make my weekends any easier and an hour’s travelling time to and from the school is taking it’s toll but it should only be for another few weeks.

I had pretty much decided to go for a mac laptop, got the money in place but am now pondering spending less money and either upgrading my computer or building a new one from scratch. Since my computer is not only used for my work it is also used as an entertainment hub for music, TV and movies maybe thats the best way to go.

I realise that I’m possibly sounding negative at the moment and giving a bad impression of the school and so i’d like to make a positive ending. I’m very happy with the school, The support I am receiving from my department is fantastic. Everyone is approchable and happy to help (So much so that I feel like i’m taking advantage at times). The pupils all seem good and generally are well behaved.

Thats all for now folks.
Andy.

Summer 2006

I’m not less than 2 weeks away from starting through in East Lothian and so far my attempts at finding a place to live have not been very successful. I’ve been to see the council who have said I wouldn’t qualify for priority housing with them but would help me find somewhere privately,

I’ve been to see some flatshares in Edinburgh and nothing’s really got my interest that much. So the plan is to stay with family up ubtil the september weekend and just come back home at weekends so we’ll see how well that works.

In light of the fact that i’ll practically be homeless i’ve been considering the merits of buying a laptop so that I have my own workstations wherever I am the question is which one should I go for, On the one hand there’s windows based machines, all seem to be decent but none have really caught my eye and on the other hand there’s the shiny all singing and dancing macbook. I’ve never owned a mac but have been impressed by them over the last year even in the face of chris shouting “Click the right mouse button” when anything went wrong in a presentation.

The only issue was the price however by the time I personalised the windows laptops they were about the same price and the processor wasn’t as strong so anyone got any advice???

Not much else to say right now, i’ll have more educational thoughts the week I start back, until then I’m gonna enjoy this holiday.