All entries for October 2010

October 22, 2010

What to do with 9 days?

So yeah, went to uni today. Got constant abuse from Alison, was informed of my reputation as a serial blogger by the course leader, and when our guest speaker this afternoon mentioned somebody had left a question about football, the room in unison looked at me. It wasn't me!!

Another sound core session I thought, on differentiation and assessment. The assessment chapter in the book I thought was pretty good indeed. I will indeed plan more stringently, much like Wayne Rooney's agent in his planning of the PR stunt of the century to gain his caveman client an extra 20k a week, to complete more assessment FOR learning. In the solo stuff I have done, I have actually done it, but to be perfectly frank (talking about perfect Frank's, I'm hoping Lamps will be fit and ready soon for Chels) whether I really utilized that data to help my teaching practice I can't say.

Some points of reflection on my first 6 weeks:

1. Love the school I'm at. People are great to me and they really do embrace the GTP training as they should.

2. Form group each morning is probably my favourite part of the day. It is a chance for me to be me and it is great to chat with 60 year 11's, try and help them with any issues, what they might do next year, perhaps some science intervention with them etc. It also makes lunch duty on Thursday on the upper playground a positive experience too.

3. Craig has a 3 word vocab: Emotive, Moving, Humbling

4. For any PGCE's reading this; the first 2 minutes of your first teaching experiences are scary. From then on, it is really rather fun and I found it comes relatively naturally.

5. Sitting in a staff room full of women leads to some interesting conversation topics which literally you can have no input in.....

6. The indoor staff cricket team is pretty strong. It's a bit annoying that as a batsman, I find myself the league's leading wicket taker so far!

7. I do need to find more time really to chill at home on a night and perhaps chat to the wife every now and then. Even more importnatly, I need to find time to play golf more!! Half term will be full of it though.

8. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

9. Year 7's love a comedian.

10. Year 9's can't cope with sarcasm.

11. I think group sizes are very important.

12. A piece of paper with prompts on to have on your desk as you teach is awesome to help with the pace of the lesson, and making sure resources are ready and in place.

13. Organizing a trip is ridiculous. Something needs to be done to make this easier.

14. Observing subjects other than your own is a must.

15. Differentiation has a whole new meaning to what I've been used to for 12 years.

16. Chelsea are cruising to the title this year.

As a final note, I just wanted to mention something on class dynamics and behaviour. I have a year 10 BTec class which I team teach. The behaviour is usually disruptie and it takes both of us in there to keep them on task. One pupil was away yesterday who is often a nuisance (though they are so funny), and my giddy aunt the class were impeccable and worked so well. It was just amazing what a difference one pupil can really make.

Over and out. x


October 21, 2010

Half Term #1 is nearly up

Mornin'

Off on a school trip this morning, taking some A-level biologists to my old place of work, the Microscopy department at the University of Warwick. I cannot believe how much is involved in organising such a trip. It is quite simply ridiculous. I may try and keep my mouth shut next time instead of making suggestions that we could pop along to the Uni to do some demos. Still, it'll be ok, and will be useful evidence towards the standard regarding trips.

My teaching load has stepped up; am actively involved in 3 of my classes every lesson now. Am teaching solo in my year 9 class, feedback so far is pretty good. I did forget to take a register (whoops) on Tuesday though (though of course I knew they were there which was the main thing!!), and the level of chat is sometimes a bit too much. Need to just wait for them to quieten down when I'm talking. Generally though, they're doing great. Year 10 class this week has been team teaching. Lots of group work where I lead one activity whilst the main teacher leads another. The BTec year 10's I have are pretty mental, but never ceases to make me laugh. There is some exceptional work in that group though, along with some pretty terrible stuff. The only difference is attitude, not talent or intelligence. Something for me to try and sort out and encourage.

Tuesday was a ridiculous day. In a lesson all day, including teaching two lessons (1 planned, 1 cover) and team teaching in another two. There was a break duty, running the badminton club at lunch (couple of talented guys turned up this week), with two meetings after school and one before school. I proper hit 'the wall' that evening. Need to really plan carefully for that day in particular, as it will always be busy.

TDA skills test are 1 week today. First visit from my Professional Link Tutor is on November 9th.

Big hand to Inter Milan last night. 4-0 in 36 minutes put me ina jolly mood as I editted my year 10's podcasts on renewable energy sources.....

'Nuclear Energy is dangerous because if it explodes people will die'. There's a fact for you.


October 17, 2010

Hectic and Electric

Time to reflect on the last week, the busiest I've had so far on the GTP course.

Saying that, it did start with Monday. My new timetable shows that Monday of week 2 = 1 timetabled lesson. I did manage to fill the remainder by sorting through all of last year's year 7 folders, putting them into alphabetical order (280 folders give or take) and putting them into their new classes to distribute to the year 8 teachers. And I also helped out in a couple of troublesome classes in the afternoon; a spare pair of hands does make it a LOT easier to get things done it seems.

Tuesday arrived, starting with some A-Level Physics. Here it was decided I would now run A-level support classes (a couple a week) alongside another physics teacher who is in charge of intervention within our science department. These start this coming week, so I best get revising what the students are doing! During break I was sat in the science faculty office, better known as 'FAC OFFf' (said in a cockney accent). The phone rang and it was Jane Freshwater; I thought I was being kicked off the course, as why else would she want to speak to me? I thought perhaps the GTP crew had found out about that thing I failed to mention to them.... ;-). Turns out I was just wanted for my dashing good looks, and was asked to do a small speech to 'a few' potential PGCE and GTP trainees for next year at an event Warwick were organising. I agreed..... Tuesday lunchtime was the first Badminton Club session I ran, this will happen every Tuesday lunchtime from now. The afternoon was spent with a BTec year 10 class, making and painting volcanoes. It was fun! And my gosh, wow, the mess! I did enjoy team teaching that lesson. The B-Tec lessons are more coursework based, and require independent research from the pupils. It is a whole different style of lesson in general, making sure the pupils are really on task, and asking appropriate questions, not so much to get an answer from them, but to trigger the correct processes for them to look up appropriate material. Subject mentor meeting followed school, which was then followed by another meeting to discuss a scheme of work of a new class I'll be taking over in the near future.

Wednesday morning was dedicated to microteaching. Shuna and I had been paired together, and we managed to put together a pretty nifty presentation, get some ideas on what we'd say, how we'd get some audience participation and assessment of learning etc. From neither of us being that confident with what we were trying to achieve, I think that morning went pretty good! I also managed to stick a few slides together on 'Modelling' for a presentation we had to give in the core session on Friday afternoon. More year 12, more B-Tec and making a motor with a year 10 class followed, with my new lunch duty slot sandwiched in there too. Wednesday marked only the 2nd time since term started that I could leave school at 3.30pm. It really really really isn't a 8.45am-3.30pm job. I arrive at school every day just before 8am, and rarely leave before 4.45pm. There are meetings and briefings before and after school, and your teaching planner becomes your best friend pretty quickly. Most will point out the planner is probably my only friend, but that's another debate! Though I left early I headed to Warwick, dropped in a form for Donna Jay, spoke to Jane about the speech the next night, and collected a fire lantern from Alex Begbie for a demo I was doing the next day. So didn't get home until 5pm anyway.

Thursday, wowser. At school early, was teaching a large part of a lesson today on radiation to year 9's, and was meeting my 2 new classes for the first time. A year 8 and a year 7 class. Both were pleasant enough I guess, couple of 'characters' in the year 8 class I need to be wary of, but the year 7's were actually quality. I was gutted to lose my other year 7 class when my timetable changed, but I'm not feeling so bad now. Teaching went well, did some demos outside on radiation and convection using a 30 foot long bin bag (ripped by a thistle bush), and then the party lantern I got from Alex Begbie (burnt in the name of scientific learning - may you rest in peace oh great party lantern). Went down well, and the pupils were really good in explaining what was going on. I was almost proud. My plenary utilized some SMARTboard interactive stuff, using a random name generator to choose groups of people to answer a randomly selected question, before returning to a starter about insulation I used 3 or 4 lessons ago. It went down really well and I was pretty pleased.

After school was a year 11 tutors meeting, and a meeting about school reporting systems, before I went to Warwick and gave a talk to a 'few' people in the Maths Lecture theatre. There was over 150 people there and what became apparent was, that other than myself and Rhiann (a Maths GTP asked also to make a quick speech) all the other speakers were a lot more prepared. We were pretty good blaggers though and got through it ok. Had a few questions afterwards during the 'networking' sessions, and looks like the GTP application process will be inundated with people for next year too. If you are thinking about it, do it. Do it. Do it.

Friday, microteaching in the morning, think Shuna and I did well, I made a small mistake at the end, but our 15 minutes had some good analogies, learning objectives, videos, audience performing roleplay, volunteers, assessment of learning.... Think it went really well. If there are any of the PGCE's in our group reading this, a lot of you will be awesome at teaching as I was really impressed with what I saw from a lot of the other groups too. Afternoon, yet more presenting to do.

Thank you for inventing the weekend Mr Calender. (I'm assuming that was the guys name who put this 365 day rotation into place?)


October 15, 2010

Live blog!!! – A GTP core session

My first ever live core session blog (does it get any better than this?)..... Perhaps I should be paying attention to the session more. Well, will test to see how effective this is. Perhaps this will give you an insight into the teaching theory work we do on the GTP course at Warwick.

____________________

I have, along with Sarah and Alison, done a talk on 'Modelling' 5 minutes ago. This has nothing to do with our stunning looks. Though my god we're good looking..... First slide featured Derek Zoolander

We have Jess and Jess up now. I'm going to take notes here for their talk, and perhaps subsequent ones too.

They're talking about Glombots... What the? I have no idea what this, but some people seem to know!

Ok, they are going to be talking about Engagement according to the Secondary National Strategies. 'Some activities may leave pupils quiet and focused but not mentally engaged. This is the starting point for their talk. Love that.

What can engage pupils? Active activities, Novel, clear objective, relevent to their lives.... (I was engaged from April 2009 to August 2010. And I rang my mate yesterday, he was engaged too.)

Research shows - for pupils to be engaged mentally they need to be constructing meaning - deep stuff.

How to engage - PACE OF LESSON - concentration levels. Differentiate work, challenge the gifted, value the struggling pupils. attained by good lesson planning.

WHY BOTHER? (this is the next slide title...)

longer concentration span, complete work, stay on-task, better behaviour, good attendance, better self esteem, faster progress

Provide an appropriate climate, enables pupils to take full advantage of the knowledge and experiences being presented to them

Use a variety of strategies and approaches that allow pupils to construct their own learning.

ENGAGEMENT IS THE TEACHER'S RESPONSIBILITY.

That's it from Jess and Jessica.

A discussion has started regarding AtL scores. Assessing our lesson plans and ideas............

_______________

Ok, next up is Shuna of Myton and Kayaking fame and my morning microteaching partner, and Matt, a fellow physicist. This will no doubt be awesome. Its 'Metacognition', or for me who has no idea about this, 'knowing about knowing, or 'thinking about thinking'. There is an ape on the screen. Love monkeys. Love that.

What is Metacognition?

  • Thinking about your own thinking and learning behaviours
  • Develops from very basic and needing to be vocalised (very young age)
  • Grows through the stage of thoughts needing to be written down
  • Finally, becomes an internal dialogue.

Planning for thinking...about thinking. My brain hurts at this point.

Develop - Maintain/Monitor - Evaluate

How do we do it?

Evaluation - Enquiry - Reasoning - Creative Thinking - Information Processing; are the buzz words here. Develop these skills to improve metagognition.

Developing the plan

  • What in my prior knowledge will help me with this particular task
  • In what direction do I want my thinking to take me?
  • What should I do first?
  • Why am I reading this selection?
  • How much time do I have to complete this task?

Seems pretty obvious I guess. as is the way. Common sense prevails.

For the thinker....

Skills improve by posing and defining problems, connecting new info to previous knowledge, select appropriate thinking strategies, planning, questioning and monitoring....

Strategies

Who, what, where, why, when?

  • Classifying - sorting info
  • Mysteries - card sorting, ranking information
  • Reading images - label, annotate decide upon title

Monitoring / Maintaining the plan

  • How am I doing?
  • Am I on the right track?
  • How should I proceed?
  • What info is important to remember?

(too fast for me too take all the points down!!)

Evaluation

How well did I do? Did my particular course of thinking produce more or less than I had expected? What could have I done differently?

This can be done by pupils AND teachers

References (how thorough): http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/node/95608

____________________________________

Next up........

STARTERS! By Paul, James and Judith.

  • Engage the learner as soon as they arrive
  • gets mind into MFL (for example) from their previous subject
  • Raises interest levels and enthusiasm
  • Injects a sense of fun, competition, excitement...

Paul has some examples of starters he has used. He has a dog squashed in a car chair - starter for acceleration. Learning objective on the picture. Open question - leads to discussion.

Then used the footprints from birds (made famous by Lynn Reynolds a couple of weeks back).

Then using an interactive tablet to hand out to audience to draw on and it appears on board (magnetic field lines). Coolest thing I've seen today.

Now onto MFL Starters. It's in french. 'baguette, ananas'. I want to sing some Flight of the Conchords. Oh dear, I've got myself involved in some interaction with Judith. I've got a house point for saying 'chien'. In trouble though, i pronounced the 't' in 'un chat'. Oh no. I suck at French.

But yes, anagrams, vocab tests, linking french words to English definitions....

Now James is here to talk about Plenaries. He is speaking at the end. Nice touch. You see, cus' its like a plenary isn't it? Do you see? Do you?

A plenary is:

'A book or manuscript containing a complete set of sacred writings' OR'bit at end of an activity where I hope to see if the ****** ^*^%%&^ have learned something' - quote by anon.y.mous

Ofsted - plenaries are often weak. Good planning is critical to make sufficient time for them. Need to mkae sure pupils have the chance to articulate what they have learned, not simply sum up whats been covered.

Aim of plenary - for pupils

  • Summary of the lesson
  • Showing accomplishments of the class
  • Focus on the most important part of the lesson

for teachers....

  • assess the pupil learning
  • plan for the next stage of learning

A 'good' plenary

  • Well planned in advance
  • Not rushed
  • Not constrained exclusively by time
  • Includes pupil participation to assess learning
  • highlights where progression has been made in learning
  • Indication from where the next lesson can begin

And to end the Plenary session 'Ensure the pupil leaves the classroom with more answers than questions'

_________________________

Ok I cannot be chowed to take any more notes here. Oh wait, that was the last talk. I might even do another blog shortly about my week's work, and reflect on that.

Have a class weekend.

Stevo x


October 12, 2010

Work load on the up!

Bumblebee tuna, bumblebee tuna! (Ace Ventura)

Yeah but no, but yeah but no. It's 08:10am and I'm living it large on a sugar rush.

Just wanted to say that the workload has gone astronomical in the last day. Lesson plans everywhere, changing classes, micoteaching and SNS presentation for Friday, couple of assessments on the horizon, primary school placement to sort. That weekend painting the garden fence doesn't seem so bad now......

But we're staying on top of it, bit of a late one last night playing with Smartboard's Notebook program. It is wicked. I've adapted a rolling banner into my presentations on there, just leaving at the bottom of each slide with the lesson learning objectives continuously rolling through. It is I think a neat little touch, not to busy that it draws all the attention to it, but enough to make the lesson more interactive. Also going to use a random name generator in lessons. Comiled one for each class I'm assigned to now, and hopefully over time this will get everyone in the class contributing when they otherwise might not. Takes the pressure off me a little too, as I cannot really be blamed for 'picking' on a pupil. Love that.

Got my TDA skills tests @ half term, had a dabble on them yesterday. They're not so bad. English is a bit tedious, as a scientist I communicate with nothing but symbols, that's how mint science is.

Big hand to Alex Begbie who is sorting out some equipment for me to borrow on Thursday for a demo which will get my year 9 lovely's outside in the sunshine (fingers crossed - need sun and warmth for my solar bag experiment too).

Ooh, and I'm playing with a steam engine next week. Yesssss

Have a wonderful day one and all, and fingers crossed Liverpool will be on minus points some time soon!!

Come on the Chels.


October 08, 2010

Started it 27, finishing 28

HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOO planet Earth

A new post, and this one comes with an all new blog background appearance... I thought it only right I change something now I'm really old.

So yeah, interesting week. First bit of teaching done, having taken a year 9 class three times - Insulation, Conduction and Convection. Radiation next. Delighted to have started on the long road to teaching domination. Two things, more from self-evaluation than from comments from observers I really need to work on, is use of language and pace. I found myself for a split second using complex words ideal to presenting at conferences during my PhD, but to a bunch of year 9's just after lunch?? And pace. Pace of my speaking (too quick) and pace of my lessons (too slow). The content is fine, the predicted timings is fine, appreciation of how long it takes a class to pack lab equipment away is waaaaaaaaaaaay out. I'd go as far to say as my predicting skills are as good as those who predicted Liverpool, would win the league this year.

I had a mini-rant in my last blog about losing one of my favourite classes from my timetable, but you know what, I'm over that now. Fingers crossed I meet some excellent pupils in my new classes next week. Bring on the bottom set year 8's!

Positives from the week:

I've done some teaching. Boom.

I really have an awesome subject mentor at school, confirmed from the feedback she has given me from her observations of me so far. Praised me in the areas I deserved, but was extremely honest about what I need to work on initially. And I feel she really has my back too.

Got 2 birthday cards from the Myton GTP crew. Very nice! Though they didn't sing happy birthday, unlike my year 11 form group. I'm really enjoying being an associate form tutor; knowing 60 kids really helps about school, and lunch time duties on upper school playground are actually a delight, away from the usual chat from the female-dominated science staff room! :-)  The GTP guys are all mint, even Adam (sorry, I mean Alex).

Observed a Drama and a D+T lesson. Would love to do assignment 1 again. Saw some quality teaching in very diverse subjects. Drama at school for me was a total non-entity, I honestly can't remember a single thing bar the teacher's name. The drama lesson I saw was unreal. Year 7 kids putting in acting performances that make Ben Affleck look like an amateur. Wait, what do you mean he is an amateur? He helped save the world in Armageddon. Give the guy a break! Or are you from the Team America World Police school of thinking; 'I miss you like Ben Affleck missed acting school' Haha. I love that film. Infact, I might watch it now.

New Chelsea golf bag gifted to me. Its wicked.

Good session today at Warwick too, despite the fact the Science GTPs didn't get any lunchbreak at all. I more than made up for it at dinner. 3 pork chops!! Love that. But yep, seen lots of demos, videos etc which will be useful.

Had a Twilight SMARTboard session, which has revolutionized my template notebook file already for my lessons. Couple of quality little applications were discussed. I'll trial them and let you know how effective they are in due course.

Negatives

No Premier League football this weekend.

Another year til my next birthday.

So it is time to start thinking about assignment titles for this MA dissertation we have to do. My ideas I had initially have been quashed by the fact we can only 'experiment' on one class from one year group. It seems strange, but 5000 words really doesn't seem a lot to me to do a decent bit of research justice. But I warn you, having been the subject of word limit warnings previously at Warwick, you really must stick within the +/- 10%. But alas, all you need to do is say the magic words:

'Word count, excluding titles, name, references, appendix, graphs, tables, figures, abstract..... = 5549'  Perfect.

Right, time to clean my golf clubs, October medal becomes at North Warwicks Golf Club beckons for me, 9.14am tee time, playing with Ratty and the other half of 1x (www.one-times.com for more details).

Yours sincerely,

Stephen of Essex


October 06, 2010

One step forward? 'X' steps back. What is X?

I have a free and feel compelled to tell you something.

So school has been awesome to this point. Really happy with the support I've received, and having met all my classes over the last fortnight I've been able to establish some good relationships with the pupils, sorted out seating plans, learnt some names etc. Awesome.

So yesterday, during my subject mentor meeting, spent mainly evaluating the lesson I had taught that morning, I was informed by the HOD I was getting a new timetable to cover maternity leave. Which is fair enough I guess, but I am pretty disappointed to lose a couple of the classes I originally had, in particular the year 7's, who each to a man laugh at all of my jokes. This is a very important quality I look for! If people don't laugh at my obvious hilarity, then either they're too old to be my friends, or Will Ferrell probably isn't their favourite actor of all time. Having just been with the year 7 class for the final time before lunch, there are rumours a petition will be started :-)

Anyway, got to go with the flow, and hopefully my new year 7's and 8's I'm picking up are equally as cool.

Observed lesson number 2 coming up in 25 minutes, so best go stretch. Topic = Conduction!

As an aside, I hope the Boston Red Sox owners are equally as poor as Gillette and Hicks. Come on the Chels!


Lesson 1

Well well well

Yesterday = first full solo lesson. Nobody died. Everyone left with a smile on their face. Learning objectives met. Was pretty mint and had a lot of fun.

And I love that.


October 04, 2010

Love Blackpool.

Howdy doody

Hope y'all have had a quality weekend. I have. As have Blackpool. And Sunderland. Love that.

Anyway, keep on task with the teaching theme Stevie boy.

Right then, my last week on reflection? Rather cool. Got some teaching to do this week, plans have been sorted(didn't take as long as I thought), online resources identified (they really will make a great contribution to teaching), SMARTboard files done and ready. These year 9's and 7's best be appreciative of my efforts! I did take an A-level class last week, one which I normally justobserve, but with the teacher absent, it was left to me. Work was already set and I was more a facilitator than teacher, just helping individuals with their problems. Still it was good, reputation not damaged, and thankfully the old subject knowledge held up sufficiently to answer all the questions. Worryingly, a couple of pupils couldn't define velocity or acceleration.

Session at Warwick was really good on Friday too. I now know how science works, got given information for some good online resources (ASE, upd8) and the art of questioning I now have down to a tee. Well, we'll see in time!

Talking of tee, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish the Europeans a very fruitful Monday today at Celtic Manor. This is a big negative for teaching. In my previous research post, missing the golf today wouldn't have been a problem (work from home, book a days holiday etc), but today as Lee Westwood pings one down the first I'll be taking a form group register. And as we lift the Ryder Cup after an 18-10 victory (that was my bet at the start of the week (go on Europe!!)) I'll be observing some year 13s. Still I can watch sky + tonight!

Booked my skills tests for half term, decided to plump for all three on the bounce. I did decide to start with the one I'm more comfortable with, finishing with dastardly English test! Since when has a scientist needed a command of English? I last wrote a full sentence in 2002.

Whilst I'm rambling, our school had a Target Setting Day last Thursday. So no lessons, just kids coming in for 15 minutes to visit their form turor, with their parents, and discussing progress and setting targets for the year. I was dubious to be honest about its effectiveness, but it was really interesting to hear the views of the kids, the parents and the form tutor, and get to know the form group members individually. I was grateful I was allowed to get involved as much as I did, offering advice on careers etc. I've got myself a little study group sorted for people who want to do some extra science during form group for revision purposes....

Bell has gone, day is starting

Have a good day. Go on Europe!


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