Saturday, December 23, 2006

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.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

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.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

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???

Thursday, August 24, 2006

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.

Friday, August 04, 2006

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.

Monday, July 03, 2006

The latest

Well I've visited my school for the probation year, it's seems very nice, it's about 2 years old, the current crop of probationers have enjoyed it and done very well there so there's a lot to live up to.

The computing department is kitted out with Dell Computers and the rooms are pretty spacious.

Onto the timetable, as it stands i'm going to be taking:
2 S5/6 Higher/Int2
3 S4 classes - Standard Grade
3 S3 classes - Standard Grade
1 S1 - general ICT

The computing department is part of a faculty with business studies

The one bit of news i didn't want to hear is that the higher course is doing the AI optional module, this has always been a very weak area for me and so will be a big challenge.

So aside from the school i'm now focusing on flat hunting in edinburgh and it's amazing how much RSS can help with that it just downloads adverts for me it's "Stunningly Useful".

I think i've bored you all enough now so i think leave it at that tonight.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

East Lothian here I come!

Well about 6 months ago i ticked a little box on a form that said i'd go anywhere for money (Yes I’m greedy so sue me). The votes have been cast, the results counted and verified. I've been assigned to East Lothian. I'm still awaiting word on what school exactly but it's gonna be one of six so watch this space...

That's the APD assignment complete (Part 2 is ready to be handed in now) the C&P classes have pretty much wrapped up and everything else is a distant memory so to quote another blogger it does seem as if the "The guns ... they've stopped!"

It's been an insanely fast ride since august, and next year’s not gonna get any slower.

After speaking with the C&P tutors David Muir informed me that my new LEA are going to be giving every student in the area a blog so it looks like I’ve landed myself in a very ICT friendly authority.

Well when I have more information I’ll put it up here.

Until next time folks!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

3 Days left!

Well thats the last of the tutor visits complete and the school report is already in so all thats left is to get assignment 3 completed.

In the hope that he reads this David when was it you quoted the phrase "Stunningly useful" originally? I've heard it many times through the year and would like to use it for this assignment and just want to make sure i get my reference right for the essay.

i've been looking at the internet with my S2 classes this time round, specifically Malicious software which I've quite enjoyed.

S3 have been going through a small section of Commercial Data Processing so that I could do a research project but they are now starting to work through the fan letter project on publisher.

It's time to start the last week of placements and it doesn't seem that long ago we were getting ready to start placement 1! i'm gonna be sad to leave the school once again but i'm really excited to find out where i'll be going next year.

To anyone that is still to have their visit, what you doing reading this? (Only kidding) good luck.

The end is in sight!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

It's been a while!

it's been almost a month since my last post so i thought i better put something up.

Placement 3 is now well underway, only 8 teaching days left for me, and in that time the 3rd and final assignment for the course. For me the assignment is all about ICT. I can hear the cries of "That's easy for you" but knowing me I have to make my life difficult.

The crit date is set, and hopefully i'll feel a bit better once that's out the way.

Everything in the school seems to be winding down, the senior school are off for exams, the teachers are more relaxed, there's still plenty of work to be done though.

the 2nd years are currently looking at the internet, and for all my grand ideas for lessons with blogs, podcasts the same problems keep coming up...
my account's locked out,
I don't know my username / password

so trying to teach about the internet and email when some of the class can't actually use it becomes a slight problem.

As i'm writing this i'm working through 3 different things so I think i'll leave this for now.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter, what a great time to have a holiday!

We've been off for the last 2 weeks and what have I done with the time...NOTHING!!!

This probably wasn't the best thing I could have done with my time but I just haven't been able to motivate myself into getting up before

The deadline for changing my mind has passed and I'm now locked into going anywhere next year, well anywhere in Scotland that the GTC decide to send me (Providing I complete the course successfully!). It's a pretty scary thought, to up and leave everything and everyone behind. The week leading up to the deadline I had a worrying feeling about it but almost everyone I talked to about it said it was a great idea and that I should go, I'm unsure if they just want rid of me for the year or if they generally think it's a good idea...LOL.

So now I'm waiting to hear where I'm being sent before planning my summer. The GTC have said we'll be told by the 26th of May which is a pretty significant day, the end of placement 3, recall day 3 and it's the day assignment 3 is due...Talk about things happening at once!

Well if you'll excuse me I'm going to go back to doing nothing.


Saturday, April 01, 2006


After reading the above article I felt like sharing my thoughts. Bullying in schools has always been a huge problem and it appears to be something that will never go away. Since the main theme of the article is centred around the use of technology it got me thinking (Very dangerous i know).

While out on school experience 1 there was an issue between 2 young pupils that at one time were best of friends. After a major falling out issues started to arrise outside of school, so the question is who's responsibility is it to sort this out. The pastoral care teacher from my point of view did everything he could, he tried to report it up the school but as it was out of school there was nothing they could do about it, his next step was to explain to the parent how to stop the messages getting through on Instant messaging software (Which will remain nameless).

I honestly can't think of any other steps he could have taken. It is possible that if the school had gotten more involved at an earlier stage the problems could have been sorted out but when it is not happening in school hours what can they do?

In a general sense what more can be done to protect children online, Should an internet security class be a mandatory thing for parents as well as pupils?

Any thoughts?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Playing Catchup

Well that's assignment 2 done, all thats left to do is hand the damn thing into the office along with everyone else in the morning.

Looks like we've got a bit of an easy week coming up, The final principles class on monday, a day trip to the universities main campus on tuesday, coupled with a long lie and finally APD on wednesday then I'm off until the 18th of april WOOOOO!

The really scary thing is that we're so close to the end of this course. With 11 weeks to go, two of these are holidays, four are on placement and we all know how quickly those weeks will pass, where has the year gone???

I also should make note of the fact i've now had over 100 people check out my blog so thanks for reading, I hope I've not bored you too much!

Not really much else to report for now i'm afraid

Good luck to everyone with Assignment 2


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Placement 2

So here we are, the end of placement 2. It's quite scary but on the
brightside I'm looking forward to a "break" when we return to jordanhill on

Anyone who has read the first few posts I made will be aware that I was quite
worried about this placement, but I have to say it's been good for me.
I've had the chance to work with pupils using macs and not PC's with
windows, I've had many server problems, Lost my temper a few times and
that's just been today...LOL

I have also had the chance to try out new techniques and new ideas, I've
seen some work well, I've seen some fall flat on their face but overall
I've enjoyed this placement.

With 2 fourth year classes I tried some peer assessment.
The class were to make up questions for the other tables to answer.
With one class it worked quite well, with the second some of the pupils
responded well to it, others didn't.
What I have taken away from these lessons is that when I try it again take
more time to explain the task and have more support in place for any
pupils not interested or not taking part.

With my second year classes I introduced a five second countdown, they had
five seconds to stop turn around and face the board, rather than having me
shouting at them to all turn round and be quiet. With all classes it
worked well but I'm sure I can make more refinements to it

Third year was an experience I'll not forget in a hurry, one class were good, the other was nuts. I really wasn't sure how to tackle the class and when I did what I tried didn't work. Did anyone else encounter a class like this?

Well that's all for now, only 4 more classes to teach then it's all over.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Update time

So the crit is done, I managed to get through it with a little help from a friend known as the robosapien. I used an interactive worksheet during it and david asked me to post it for others to use I haven't forgotten about this i'm just refining in before putting it up for the world to scrutinise. *EDIT - Posted on first class 28/02/06*

This week was quite interesting. Although it was week four it was only the second full week at the school. The PT of the department as just gone off sick and it looks like he won't be back by the time my school report is due so it will be interesting to see how this gets sorted out.

The school is getting a visit from the charter mark people on monday and have decided to visit my class period 1, the the class that always has network problems.

There are 3 computing classrooms in this school and they're furnished as follows -

1 PC room with 20 PC's ( Do not get to teach in this room )
2 Mac Rooms
- 1 with 20 Imacs
- 1 with 20 Emacs

Now the Imacs work perfectly but the Emacs for some reason just don't want to work. the school has bought all new pc's but are waiting until the higher programming coursework has been completed before converting the remaining two rooms

Not all the pupils have problems with the network which poses the question what do the pupils who have problems do if they cannot access the materials to do the work? how do i make sure all members of the class can do the same work? and with no ICT co-ordinator to help sort the issues (The PT has been doing that job) I'm slightly worried!

Well I'll stop boring you all now,

PS - I've edited the blog links at the side so they should all now be in alphabetical order if I have missed anyone from the list please leave me a comment and i'll be happy to add it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Friday was an in-service day in the school which was cool but it's a very eery feeling being in a school when there are no kids there. The best comment of the day goes to my old physics teacher who said "I bet you thought we did nothing on these in-service days" quite frankly i did think that, and given that all we students did was spend the day in meetings I still think that! I know next year I'll be working more on days like that though and that we didn't get to see all the work being carried out.

We were given talks about the probation year, discipline and behaviour management which were all very informative as well as that we were given the chance to participate in discussions regarding new policies for the school, most of the students ended up in the same room.

I'm trying to plan my lessons for the week which include spreadsheets for second year, automated systems for 4th year, word processing for one of the 3rd year classes and my crit but i keep getting distracted...(Damn internet). If anyone has any advice on spicing spreadsheets or automated systems up please let me know, the best i've got so far is a short video of Wallace and Gromit to try and grab their attention.

I have however today managed to get video's ready for the classes to watch but i'm not sure how much use they actually are.

I'm quite worried about taking over one of the 3rd year classes, they've been up and down like a yoyo over the past 2 weeks and it's been very difficult to step in, even the class teacher has trouble with them and has co-op lessons with the class.

Anyway i best get back to work!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Ok so i'm feeling a bit better about this placement now, i've taught 2 lessons on DTP which i think went really well, had them doing the theory however i ran through my slides far too fast, i tend to speak far to fast at times and when i know i'm running out of things to talk about i get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach but improvisation is a great thing. The second lesson went far went far better, i cleared up some confusion and went over some more theory before backing everything up with a practical activity so things are looking up.

I've even got some marking to do for an assesment i gave an S2 class last week, and i'll get to run the assesment with 2 other classes this week so even more marking...yay! :(

I've been trying to think of good stuff to do about automated systems which i'm to do with 4th years for 3 weeks - All theory! All i can think of so far is a couple of video's like robot wars for the robotics section and i've got a great one for introducing automated systems with wallace and grommit after that i'm dead in the

It's been nice to see COMAL being used again, it's such a great little programming language but getting the classes to do the analysis and design first is a bit of a problem, i'm getting used to being asked for help with a program and wehn i ask to see the analysis and design for some reason they say they find it easier to program without it and work backwards...AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHH!

I've also has my 3rd crit arranged and would u believe it it's on friday the 17th, date of resubmission of assignment 1 and the day after my birthday so i guess my night will be a quiet one this year, just need to make up for it on the friday night!

I'll stop boring you now,

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ok so two days down, 5 and a half weeks to go which I know is just going to fly in especially once I start getting more involved in the classes.

I'm finding it a bit more difficult fitting in with the department this time out, even though there's more people in it. I'm just not settled, but ask me again in a weeks time and things will probably have changed.

I'm going to have to sit down and work on my lessons for Automated Systems standard grade for 4th year classes that I've not really been in with yet (one of the classes was in today). I've got until the week after the assignment 1 resubmission which will give me a bit of time to deal with that first.

3rd years are very strange this time round, my previous placement had 2 mixed ability levels for standard grade and higher, not this time round, now it appears to have been streamed and I'm with the opposite ends of the spectrum which means totally different lesson plans, totally different techniques. I've seen the class teacher loose it with them already so I'll need to watch my temper!

Now for the second years, these are the kids I'm hoping to get involved with blogging so watch this space for more on that as it develops.

The school is also trying to set up a multi-media club which it seems podcasting could be something they will look at while I'm with them which would be fun.

At present the school is preparing for an influx of pupils next year due to the closure of another local high school so I was invited to a meeting to discuss concerns about the various issues arising. Basically all that happened was a lot of questions and no real answers.

This has been a really long winded blog and so for the benefit of those still reading and nodding off I'll leave it at that. (Which I nearly did in a higher class


Monday, January 23, 2006

Ok so thats the initial placement visit done and this one looks like it's gonna be a challenge, but a good one.

First of all the department hasn't changed much over the years since i left (In fact they're still using the same I-macs and programming notes) .

After the initial meeting with the regent, and being taken to the department it was down to business, finding out what the classes were doing and what was expected of me and afterwards I was able to sit in with some classes.

But for now it's back to Jordanhill for 4 more days and I the joys of 2 lead tasks (Wednesday and Friday) which should be fun.

So in the words of Bugs Bunny... Thats all folks!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Post -1

As David has posted in first class (prematurely i might add) I’m indeed planning to keep a blog over this placement, i was planning on waiting till Monday and I’d had my first day (Second first day if you count my time as a pupil) at my placement school, more meaningful posts will appear over the next few days (I hope) but until then all I’ve really got to say is: