Saturday, December 31, 2005

Seven Things...

Back at the start of December, Stephen tagged me with this... bah!
  1. Seven things to do before I die
  2. Seven things I cannot do
  3. Seven things that attract me to my spouse
  4. Seven things I say most often
  5. Seven books (or series) I love
  6. Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would watch over and over if I had the time)
  7. Seven people I want to join in, too
I decided to wait until the holidays before I had a go.

Seven things to do before I die:
  1. Visit New Zealand. (I would have said space... but I think New Zealand is more likely.)
  2. Do something on Blue Peter.
  3. See U2 in concert.
  4. Appear in a film.
  5. Learn to play a musical instrument. (Guitar, trumpet, drums or saxophone - whichever is easiest/cheapest!)
  6. Juggle with four objects.
  7. Go sky-diving.

Seven things I cannot do:
  1. Play football.
  2. Play golf. (In fact, pick a sport, any sport...)
  3. Keep a tidy desk.
  4. Get Things Done.
  5. Get organised.
  6. Finish things I start.

Seven things that attract me to my wife:
  1. I'm sorry, I just can't do this one.
  2. How am I supposed to do it in only seven points?
  3. Even if I tried and said something like, "Joni Mitchell", ...
  4. ... I'd have to spend half a page explaining what I meant.
  5. If I could describe what makes her attractive, I'd write a book and make a fortune.
  6. Suffice to say...
  7. She's gorgeous.

Seven things I say most often:
  1. Emm!
  2. The same thing three times.
  3. Scunner!
  4. The same thing three times.
  5. Blue, leave it!
  6. Yes dear.
  7. The same thing three times.

Seven books (or series) I love:
  1. The Chronicles of Narnia.
  2. Lord of the Rings.
  3. Pratchett's Discworld books (especially Thief of Time).
  4. What's So Amazing About Grace?
  5. Pride and Prejudice.
  6. Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events.
  7. Feersum Endjinn.

Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would if I had the time):
  1. Star Wars (the original trilogy).
  2. Lord of the Rings.
  3. Anything with Laurel and Hardy in it.
  4. A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races.
  5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  6. Dark Star
  7. Rush in Rio (Sorry - I suspect that one is a bit of a cheat!)

Seven people I want to join in:
  1. Ewan
  2. John
  3. Lesley
  4. Chris
  5. Ollie
  6. Paul
  7. And I know I'm going to regret this... Colin

OK... let's see what you can do.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas
Happy Christmas,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir.
Happy Christmas and a good New Year to all.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Son of EdCompCast

Yogi's Akaash Vani
Yogi's Akaash Vani,
originally uploaded by Shambly Hermit.
When I posted EdCompCast - Take 2 back at the end of November, I said I had more of the interview still to edit. So this is it - EdCompCast 3. As before, it is just me talking to Neil and Graham. What do you think they were most looking forward to as they prepared to go out on their first major placement? Take a guess, listen and then leave a comment here to say if you were right!

If you want to subscribe to these podcasts, there is a EdCompCast button further down this page. I hope to release a podcast roughly once a month, so let me know if there is anything you would like to hear in future EdCompCasts.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

You know you are a teacher when...

I saw a couple of these pictorial questionnaires recently and thought I'd have a go at one for teachers.

You know you are a teacher when...

You have an overwhelming sense of nostalgia when you see one of these:
work in sapporo originally posted by puss_in_boots

...but most days, you encounter one of these:
Interactive Whiteboard
chad originally posted by cathycracks

You don't automatically fear a group like this:
Teen Hangout originally posted by tomswift46

...but start to panic at the thought of completing yet another one of these:
Report Card
First grade report card originally posted by yksin

When you hear the word "dinner" you don't think of this:
Candlelit dinner
birthday dinner originally posted by chiboulette

The word "dinner" makes you think of this:
Turkey Twizzler
Twizzler originally posted by Rob Lyons

You think this man is a hero:
Jamie Oliver
Home page background image originally posted by Jamie Oliver

... but you struggle to recognise the person in charge of education in your authority/district/country:

Clowning around originally posted by Impactmedia

You forget to eat at the weekends because you don't hear one of these to tell you it is lunchtime:
School Bell
School Bell originally posted by Sisters of St. Francis

It's not this bit of exams that worries you any more:
Exam room
1138 originally posted by rosschapman

... but the marking bit scares you silly:
checking papers... originally posted by adlaw

Your automatic response is, "Oh, dear. Oops-a-daisy!" when you see someone slip and fall on this*:
Icy path
icy trail originally posted by Sr.Mike

*True story! Primary teacher friend of mine said this to a chap that fell over and landed, painfully, on his backside in front of her. She was bending over to help him up when she saw the look on his face and decided it would be safer to hurry on past!

I'm sure you can suggest other tests. Send me your ideas.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

I blog, therefore I think.

Sometimes things just seem to come together... Various posts and events recently started me thinking about why I blog and why I think it's a good idea for student teachers to blog. In particular, I have been thinking about what skills a blogger needs and how best these skills can be developed. One of the things that started me off on this was a post from Ewan...

originally uploaded by itspaulkelly.
Ewan's brain is positively fizzing with stuff at the moment (although what has he done to his blogs colour scheme?) and I had responded to his post Education Panel: Ewan's Notes. I read a few more blog entries elsewhere and decided that a full blown response here was in order. Firstly, some of the things that I read.

First was Blogging as Attempts at Understanding where I had a real, "Yes! That's it!" moment. Some quotes will give you a flavour, but read it yourself and follow the links for the full effect. Konrad says, "... classroom blogging is primarily about responding to texts and not producing them" and "... we learn best when we write and have to defend, reorganize, refine, and further develop our thoughts". Reading and responding. Writing to help us think!

I then came across Anne Davis' blog entry Guidelines for blogging. Again a couple of quotes will give you the flavour: students should be... "asking questions that will make a reader think and want to comment" and "practice writing their thoughts about what they are learning, what they understand and don't understand, why it is meaningful or not". Reflective learners.

I also enjoyed Will's Disclaimer. I especially liked the idea that the opinions he expresses in the blog are the ones he considers "good enough criticize".

I'm not sure if I've responded to Ewan's post or just gone off on a tangent of my own, so I think I'd better summarize a bit. Ewan asked, "Who teaches people how to read blogs? Is it required?". My response was that the button pushing skills of using the technology are the easy bit, but there is a need for pupils and and teachers to learn about communication - see for example David Warlick on Why do we have to "“learn how to blog"”? The blog entries above show some of the skills that are required. Supporting and nurturing reflective learners, who respond to what they read by writing stuff and allowing others to comment, refining their own thoughts accordingly, requires more than the teaching of technology skills!

So, what do you think? Do we need to teach how to read blogs? What skills do learners need? How best can we develop these skills?

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P.S. Such is the state of my life at the moment that it has taken me a week to finish this entry. I hope it's still relevant.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Open the windows

A quote reported by Ewan really caught my attention:
"A house without doors and windows is safer than a house with doors and windows."
originally uploaded by work the angles.
This follows on the heels of moderate or not moderate posts from Ewan and John. It reminded me of the representative of an education authority who insisted at a recent meeting that it must be possible to pre-moderate all pupils' email. It reminded me of David Warlick's post on Our schools are leaking. In other words, it brought various bits of thinking together and has resulted in what I fear will be a a bit of a ramble with no clear point. You have been warned.

I was at a meeting of the Scottish Information and Communication Technology Development Group on Friday. (It's acronym is SICTDG and it's pronounced sickdog!) It was a really interesting meeting and I hope to blog a bit about it soon. Just a couple of things from it now though... One of the topics being discussed was the difficulty Education Authorities (EAs) had just keeping ICT provision at the level it is now, never mind improving or expanding this provision. I asked why Authorities made it so difficult for people to bring in their own technology and asked if this was not a bit silly? It's not just the pupils, but staff too that can run into problems. Our student teachers can take in their laptops to some schools, but are almost never allowed to plug into the school's network. It was admitted that that this might be a bit silly and that with more than thirty EAs in Scotland there were probably about sixty different flavours of silliness in operation. One EA representative acknowledgeded that they gave Probationary teachers a laptop and then gave them the choice - they can connect to the school network or their home network with the laptop, but not both! Clearly there are security and safety issues that EAs have to consider and I may say more about this later, but for now, suffice to say that there was a feeling EAs should move from a can't do mentality to can do.

I continued a conversation on this theme with an old friend at lunchtime. I mentioned Ewan's quote about safe houses and we talked about the wisdom of putting a window to the world in the classroom only to slam it shut in pupils' faces. I expressed my opinion that I would like to see more local control over things like blocked sites. For example, if a pupil tries to access a site which the EAs system blocks, I'd like teachers to have some sort of password that would allow them to override the block if they thought it was appropriate. My friend, who is clearly much wiser than I, said that while we might have the confidence to do this, many or even most teachers do not have the confidence to make that sort of decision on the spot and would be concerned about the consequences if they made the wrong judgmentnt call. Hmm! Am I expecting too much of teachers?

At first I thought he was just wrong, but then I thought of my own unwillingness to sign up for a First Aid course. Now I know this is stupid, but I'd rather not have a First Aid qualification that would give me the responsibility of helping if someone was in trouble. I know, I know. What I'm saying is that I would rather a bad situation gets worse because of my willful ignorance than have the skills that would at least allow me to try and help. It's silly, I know it is, but even while knowing it to be silly, I still resist going on the courses. So, yes, maybe there are many teachers out there who would rather live with the boarded up Internet windows than run the risk of opening them up see what is out there.

The university recently sold off some of the land round our campus so that someone could build houses on it. For a while we had to enter the campus through the building site. There were loads of signs up (e.g. "Hard hats must be worn" type signs) but one in particular read, "This is a risk-free zone". A retiring colleague remarked that he knew it was time to retire when he was greeted at the gates of an education faculty with the declaration that it should be a risk free zone! That's as close as I can get to a conclusion to this post just now. Giving pupils Internet access is risky but what it the alternative? That brings me back to David Warlick and a recent post where he asks What's the story? If you want a better conclusion, see how he says we should be preparing pupils for the future.

As for me, I think I'll continue to encourage teachers to push the windows open, and may even sign up for the next First Aid course that comes along.

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