October 31, 2010

Reflections on Week 4

It's half term! Shame it's almost over, I need more sleep. It hasn't exactly been a break! 

On Monday, I went to the academic writing session. It was really good, and I've got loads of ideas about essay writing now. 

On Tuesday, my group went to the Transport Museum to do SCT3 (Maths Trail). It was actually quite an interesting museum, at least for the first half hour. I got very serious bored after that, something to bear in mind as many pupils will go the same way, and will probably reach that stage in less time than me! We came up with some reasonable questions, I really wanted some open ones but couldn't come up with any good enough to make the group vote. I took down some data on Ground Speed Records and I'm still thinking up a question based around that. The information on it comes from a large room with chairs in it so it's the perfect place for an extended question. The other one I quite liked which isn't on the list so far is based on a ton of parallel lines on the floor, windows, doors, ceiling, etc that made up one little section of the museum. Emphasis on little, though. I thought it could be a health and safety hazard to encourage pupils to cram into a tiny space and shove each other out of the way to check they haven't missed any parallel lines. If we could come up with a way to stagger the groups of pupils/put a member of staff there to limit access, then it could work. 

On Wednesday my requested books came into the library for me to do SCT2 (Questioning and Differentiation) so I had a good old read of those. I got fond of differentiation in the early weeks of the course. I started with the thought that you can differentiate in 3s, low, medium and high ability. But it's not really to do with ability (ok, it is a bit). It's about doing what the pupil needs to learn this topic best. For example, SEN isn't "low".  It could mean working better with text on yellow paper. It could mean working better with less writing. As a pupil my A level maths classes contained 3 people. Me, a very fast writer. Another guy who wrote pretty fast. And a dyslexic guy who struggled with writing and was painfully slow. One of our two teachers would spend every lesson writing stuff on the board until it was full, then would ask us to copy it down. Then two of us and the teacher would wait in silence, doing nothing, until the other guy would have finally finished. He would get really embarrassed and write as fast as he could, which was probably really awkward and hurt his hand. I never understood why the teacher didn't prepare a sheet for him (she wrote on the board stuff she copied off a sheet or from a textbook much of the time), leaving blanks for the important words and formulae. I have some issues with SEN designation anyway, but here isn't the time to go into it. (Briefly, I think the labels are somewhat damaging. Non SEN Children can have similar needs not met because they don't have the designation, SEN children have assumptions made about them. I know I have some of the characteristics of dyslexia. I have some of the characteristics of Aspergers. I think basically all of us have some characteristics of something, some people just have enough of certain ones to get the label.) 

On Thursday I finished off my SCT2. I realised I'd written too much description and too little analysing and evaluation in my first draft so I rewrote it, which was hard given the word count. Lots of people struggled with the word count, most people's essays I looked at are near the 1100 mark, I haven't seen any so far down near 900. Some people seem to have stretched the use of Appendixes to write more. I guess we'll see what is and isn't allowed in the Appendixes when we go through them on Tuesday.

On Friday, I had a tutorial with my personal tutor. She's outside the usual people we have teaching us so it was really good to hear her opinion on things we'd done. I'm got increasingly unhappy with the feedback we've had, there has been very little and much of it has been peer feedback which is hard to work off as one of the times it was in subject sessions and we were all clueless and the other my assessor didn't want to be mean. My tutor has already said to ignore one point for improvement which I've been given from my peers as she thinks it's wrong. I've now hit a plateau, I've done all I can to improve but I've going to need input from elsewhere to do any more. Since we're almost entirely based in school for the next 6 weeks, I guess it will come from them. I get on really well with the maths staff so hopefully they'll be comfortable telling me what could have been better. I'm at a stage where I'm happy so don't need any of the good comments, probably later on I'll get really stressed and need to hear I'm actually good at something. 

On Saturday I did lots of lovely reading for my Master's assignment. I've been reading all week too, around the tons of other tasks that got dropped in. I've got into 'request wars' over lots of books. 'Request wars' are something my arts student friends would talk about. You take out a book. 3 days or 1 week later you have to return it because someone requested it off you. You request it back and 3 days or 1 week later you get it back. And so on. It's meaning daily trips to the library which is a bit of a pain, but I've got through lots of the smaller books (most of the Black Box related ones) now. 

Today, now, more reading to do. Also preparing  to go back to school tomorrow. It's an INSET day! And it's on assessment! (AKA my Master's topic.) I've been looking forward to it for a while, we've already had a session with one of the senior staff about their assessment practices (I like them) so it will be excellent to find out more and work out what things I'll be able to implement in my classes. 

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