All entries for January 2011

January 28, 2011

I am Exhall–sted this week.

Well that was a manic week....

In total I was observed 3 times by a variety of people. The feedback was often critical, at times constructive, and surprisingly conflicting. Over the three lessons, I have been too safe, as well as being commended for my creativity and brave lesson plan. I have been told a real asset is my assertive discipline, and also that I am too soft on low level disruption. I was also told my modelling was exceptional, instructions clear, and in another lesson my instructions were not suitable and short of detail.....

So yeah, an interesting week. It is expected that each person has their own take on what is good and not, and my subject mentor clarified that I just need to tweak a little here and there and bring all the components together. So that's what I am working on next week.

Had a really good session at Uni today, Gill was great. Not sure she enjoyed the hug I gave her to create a diversion whilst I changed the slides, but we needed the info! Will definitely be looking to introduce some of those ideas into a lesson this week.

The Exhall Grange visit was fantastic and the school was quite an inspiration. I have never taken down so many notes, and there were so many little things that they do in modifying equipment to make it functional for all, it was class. My mum heads up SEN in Solihull, and used to in Warwickshire, so through her glowing reports I knew Exhall was going to great. It was a great training day, so well done Warwick for sorting it. However good that was, Alison's driving there was not that good :-)

One other thing to reflect on. Teaching when ill. I've been feeling pretty rough the last two days and had pretty busy days (4 lessons each day) too. I took on elesson at a time, and tried my hardest not to use my voice. Getting students to read important text from the slides you present seems to work well. The class were much more willing to listen to a peer than me! And I guess this would promote literacy in Science, so perhaps a simple way of getting that standard ticked?

Anyways, job applications to complete, and about a 1000 lesson plans to write and prepare for.

Have a good weekend guys and girls!

January 24, 2011

Dyson's suck

In the weekend that saw me buy a Dyson, something else has been confirmed in my head.

Now for a couple of weeks I have been much more efficient at writing lesson plans and making resources / powerpointsetc. Well later on today I've got an observation from the deputy head here at my complimentary placement. This 'O' word must scare the life out of me in transpires. I was wide awake into the early hours procrastinating and facebook stalking like you wouldn't believe. I am relatively happy with the lesson I am doing, which will feature some of my Masters Action research on peer assessment too.

Guess all I am trying to say is I am not very comfortable with these formal observations still!

Advantages though is that the year 7 class I am teaching I have taught period 1 today too. Lesson went well and we had quite a laugh. Hopefully that will keep them in good spirits to behave!

Massive game for Chelsea tonight vs Bolton. Need three points desperately. I played golf yesterday in a daily mail match and had the misfortune of playing Warwickshire's boys and youths champion. Our match ended all square, but the team scores were 2.5-2.5, and I had to play the playoff. Halved the first in pars, but my tee shot on the 2nd playoff hole was woeful. So yeah teaching is no good for my bottle and golf generally. Hate that. Roll on half term for some serious golf practice.

Have a good week all on complimentary or your new placements if you are PGCE'ing.


January 19, 2011

EAL trip, and meeting Jester and Minnie!

So back at complimentary placement today after a visit to President Kennedy yesterday to help collect EAL evidence. Finally have a free period to chill, and write a blog entry!

Firstly, I want to say I was thoroughly impressed with the day to be honest. For a school to take in a load of students and organise some worthwhile seminars and also getting some experience practically too. I was assigned to a student for a couple of lessons, spending one with him in a Geography lesson, acting as a TA, and also working one-to-one with him working through some BTec Science.

It was good to firstly experience first hand the role the TA plays. The teacher there was great, explaining exactly what the lesson was about and quickly showing me the resources she was going to use so I could familiarise myself with the lesson beforehand. The EAL student I was with is still in the early stages of learning the language, with limited conversational skills (probably more a lack of confidence than understanding). His ability to copy down work was great, and his handwriting skills are fine. But it became immediately apparent he was unable to access much of the lesson because he could not grasp some key words here or there. The lesson was based on the differences between developed and developing countries, and as he was from India, I was able to discuss some differences. Hopefully he met the first couple of learning objectives.....

In the second lesson, I was asked to help him complete some BTEC coursework. Explaining the EM Spectrum to a student who is hardly fluent was difficult. However we made a massive breakthrough when I asked him to explain what we used microwaves for...... he could say it, but he was able to draw it. So, using my best Rolf Harris impression, he managed to complete the assignment on using waves to communicate. It turned out he was a Liverpool fan too, so perhaps his EAL troubles will continue if he is trying to learn scouse....

After the day, I met two very lovely cats, Jester and Minnie, who unfortunately live at Alison's house. A cat that plays 'fetch' is rare I guess, but Jester was pretty funny!

Back to planning...............

January 17, 2011

What's mine is yours

One thing I also wanted to do with this blog is also try and help out where I can. Best way to help is sharing resources I guess. If any of these are of use to you, please just get in touch and I'll email them, and you have permission to alter them as you wish!

So, in year 7 land....

Electric circuits, covering:

key word definitions, circuit symbols, fuses and electrical safety, electricity in the body, series and parallel circuits, practical work.

Energy, covering:

Types of energy, energy transformations and fossil fuels, non-renewable and renewable energies, Sun as an energy source

Year 8

'How to revise'

Then  a series of 4 lessons I did 3 times on how to do a scientific practical. Themes were 'how does a hippo keep cool', 'rates of a chemical reaction', and 'reflection and refraction'. For each, identify the variables, the range, equipment required. Created a plan with a method. Then did practical, obtain results, display results, conclusions....

Year 9

BTEC - EM Spectrum, Radiation

GCSE - Insulation, Conduction, Convection, Radiation, Heat loss in Home, Mobile Phones, Microwaves, Analogue 2 Digital, Total Internal Reflection, Wireless Communications, Transverse Waves, Longitudinal Waves, Stable Earth Marketplace (earthquakes, volcanoes, UV light, Climate Change)

Year 10

BTEC - Surface Area, Rates of Reaction, Catalysts, Concentration, Roles of Science Technicians (4 lessons), DNA, Classification of Organisms, Internal and External Effect on health.

GCSE - Energy Transformations, Power Stations, Steam Trains, Radioactivity, Electrolysis, Surface Area affects on rate of reaction, The Big Bang and Universe, Life Cycle of a Star, Space Exploration, Orbits, Threats to Earth (Near Earth Objects, Cosmic rays, Asteroids and Comets, Solar Flares, Magnetic Fields), Series and Parallel Circuits

I also have a fair bit of year 12physics, and lots of year 11 intervention stuff I have done, revising GCSE science modules.

So if any of the above relates to anything you have in the near future, just give me a shout!

Maltesers – lighter than ordinary chocolate

Alriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiighty then (in the words of Ace Ventura)

So had a full day at my complimentary school today. Taught all 5 periods. I have a day like that at my main school too once every two weeks, and to be honest, I dread that day. I have break duty and badminton club that day too, followed by a meeting after school, and it just drains me.

Today, however, despite being the saddest day of the year, went surprisingly well. I felt a lot more upbeat at the end of the day, and overall the lessons were quite smooth. My complimentary school do a lot of double lessons, so planning for a 2 hour stint with a class was new to me until today.

Why did it go so smoothly?

Well, number 1, it was a Monday. Fresh off a Chelsea win (a rarity these days), golf in the rain yesterday, and being pleasantly surprised that Colin Firth can actually do some acting, I had some enthusiasm.

Number 2, I was just delighted that when I filled my car up with petrol this morning, the card machine didn't say 'Insufficient Funds'. £54. Oh my giddy aunt. This GTP wage needs to be increased to reflect the cost in travelling me thinks......

Number 3. I got a laminator for Christmas. I was told by a GTP last year that the best thing you can do is get a good laminator and really make your resources look good and also hardy enough to reuse on a later date. Santa got me a laminator (how old am I?) and it made its debut yesterday, laminating information packs on renewable energy resources.

Number 4. My mentor asked to seemy lesson plans for periods 3, 4 and 5 on Thursday. So I had to plan a long way in advance. Needless to say, this does infact pay off.

So, if I was to offer any advice on teaching a full day..... take lots of food with you (I managed to build in maltesers into a year 10 lesson today). Take lots of drink with you. Plan a few days before. Buy a laminator.

Off on the EAL visit tomorrow, looking forward to that. Hopefully pick up some tips to apply in my current classes, when English is certainly not a main language (Is brummy an official language? Is Yam Yam?)

Take it easy boys and girls, Steve

January 12, 2011

Parental Advice

Well the puppet donkey was a hit. My mastery of puppeteering was a sight to behold.

Just wanted to quickly reflect on a first for me today. A parent's evening.

After teaching 4 lessons (3 I was happy with, 1 was a bit shoddy) today at my complimentary school, I headed back to Myton to help out on year 9 parent's evening. I am particularly fond of this class, who are the group of students I taught first, and have taught the most so far. Having that much time with them has meant I know their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses. Overall a lovely class with some cracking personalities.

What was great though was to meet the parents. They were all very receptive to what I had to say, and I did alongside the student's other science teacher. It was interesting as what I noticed in a student would be the polar opposite for the other. Seating plans it turns out play an important part. One disengaged student in my colleagues class works amazingly in mine, and it turns due to the people the child sat next too in each class. In my class they have developed a fantastic working relationship where they support each other and do amazing group work. The love of Physics was good to hear, triumphing over Biology hands down!! So am happy with that!

Anyway, off to Russia now to plan 4 lessons for tomorrow.... Moscow.

January 11, 2011

Stuffed Toy Story

So busy spending my whole night doing more plans and more slideshows, making more resources to chalk up another 12 hour+ day.....

But I felt compelled to take a quick break, and blog to rejoice about the excitement I have for my period 5 lesson tomorrow, a year 10 BTec class. For those who have taught BTec science, Unit 3 is on Biology, assignment 2 is on classification, and I am faced with this tomorrow. For years, I have been living with my wife putting up with all her junk. She is a hoarder, and owns many an unnecessary item which gets proudly displayed throughout the house. My golf clubs however are thrown into the under-stairs cupboard with such little regard..... Our spare room / my teaching prep room is littered with cuddly toys, yet tomorrow they finally serve a use. It came to my attention this evening that within those toys was an example of an insect, a bird, a mammal, a fish, a chocolate raisin (why Sarah?)..... basically I can cover most taxonomy groups using these things. So I am going to do that!

Anyway, another 100 lessons to plan and prep for Thursday. Have a parents evening tomorrow so little time to work after school!!

Bloody hard work this teaching :-)

January 10, 2011

Complimentary Reflection


One week into my stay at Perry Beeches, and I have to say, it is quite simply mint.

Guess the idea of the complimentary placement is to give you a broader scope of the education system, see how another school operates. Well there are notable differences from the start of the day to the end here compared to what I am used to. It is my opinion that the school is much more efficient and streamlined in many of its actions compared to my main placement school.

The start of the day for a student here requires them to bring their passport and show it on arrival. Failure to do this is sanctioned. The 'passport' is used interactively in all of the lessons; it provides a mini-whiteboard, even a ruler. Each subject has it's own page dedicated to the levels / grades they are working at and aiming for, along with ways to move up that next level academically.

I am really impressed with the B4L policy. At my other school, there is an old and a new system running alongside each other, and students are both confused and to be honest lack any respect or fear towards them. PB have a low-level policy (the yellow slip) and a major issue (the green sheet). Everything is recorded in the passport too, and the slips and sheets are posted in the staffroom at the most convenient time (via the head of department).

The day is structured differently, with registration at the beginning and end of the day, no registration taken formally in lessons, only 1 lesson after lunch. And they also have a mentality of scheduling meetings during timetabled hours, with just one meeting after school every fortnight or so. I can therefore be realistically at home by 4pm most nights if I want too.

It honestly just seems to work better. Not to say I do not love my main placement either. My mentors there are unbelievable, and I have made some excellent friends, as well as meeting some exceptional practitioners. The students are a great bunch too, and I miss my form groups a lot! I went back on Friday to conduct interviews with staff for my Masters assignment, and they were fantastic. I had a lot of conflicting views and ideas on implementing peer assessment, which ill invariably now mean my introduction to the topic will be 12000 words. I do not approve of this 5000 word limit!

I have taught my first two lessons today; a year 10 BTec class and a rather sprightly year 7 class. When filling in that form ascertaining targets for complimentary placement, I asked for more exposure to SEN students; well I got it. 80% of the year 10 class I taught today have a school action, school action + or statement in place, and there are 10 of 31 in a similar situation in my year 7's. I met my year 9 BTec group last week, and again there are SEN students within that class too. I now have exposure to EAL. Unfortunately my Polish is poor, so I need to prepare my resources well. Mixed ability sets I asked -> well how about a year 7 class with level 2c up to 7b students in......

I also achieved a huge ambition of mine today. I used Lego in a lesson. My Lego box was a nucleus, the instructions inside were the DNA, I was making bases using Blue and Yellow bricks (A & T), and Red and Green bricks (C & G), inter-twining shoelaces for my strands of the double helix..... it was fun, and the year 10s seem to really engage in it.

Basically it is ticking all the boxes I desperately need to achieve my standards. I was chuffed with how welcoming the students were in my two lessons this morning and their willingness to listen and learn. The attitude towards BTec at PB is refreshingly upbeat, with a string emphasis on teaching and letting them get on with it, rather than crowd control and gentle reminders of what students need to do.

All in all, I really impressed with my complimentary placement.

That is all I want to reflect really..... :-)

Hope you are all having a good experience too.

And oh my god, how good were Chelsea yesterday. playing with a smile on their faces, Care Free football. Love that. Little Josh McEachran is a class act, and the undoubted star when England win the 2014 World Cup!!!

January 03, 2011

2011 – two terms to go.

The complimentary placement is dawning tomorrow. The draw of Ashes cricket on TV tonight. Do I attend fresh as a daisy tomorrow, or watch the mighty England give the Aussies a whooping? Besides that tough decision, I have another conundrum. Do I go to the school along the A45, A452 or take the more direct route of the M6, knowing full well that it will destroy me with barbaric amounts of traffic. I am not looking forward to getting up at 6am again. Have gotten over that little routine! Though my new school is closer, the day starts 30 minutes earlier so I have to get up at the same time anyway. This is a tad gutting.

I managed to play my first round of golf today of 2011. Garbage it was. Hands were cold, I struck the ball like a drunk monkey. Needless to say I can't get any worse.

This afternoon has been tidying up the start of my masters; title is settled (Mr Caswell approval pending), intro and summary sorted, and I have two research methods ready to go. Which one I take depends on Mr Caswell's approval again, and also the timetable I get at my complimentary placement.

New printer and laminator have found their place within the spare bedroom / study / art gallery / cuddly toy room after a good sort out yesterday. Turns out me and the wife are hoarders. So much stuff from the last 10 years has gathered into our box room, of little sentimental or monetary value, yet we keep it anyway! Still its gone, along with our Christmas tree, who had little regard fro maintaining its needles this year. Perhaps it was the council's water it took offence too, but that thing displayed as much enthusiasm for life and Christmas as the Grinch.

Along with the GTP, I will also be steepping up my prpeartion in organising the Students Matchplay Golf Tournament ( I, along with a couple of colleagues in Germany, organise this international golf event for universities to enter teams of 4. In April will be the UK qualifiers which is my main concern for now. How the devil I am going to do this with the spare time I have is going to be a tough nut to crack. But hey ho, we'll do it somehow no doubt!

Not sure what else to reflect on currently, other than I need to get my mind in gear ready for the hard work of term number 2.

Good luck everyone on your complimentary placement x

January 2011

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