Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Bad Dog!

My dog has blagged two dinners tonight!  I fed her before going out at dinnertime, then she kids on to my husband  that she's not been fed (pawing and drooling like she's starving!) and he feeds her again!  Sneaky!

ICT in English

On Tuesday had a great lecture on ICT in English by Trevor Millum, who is a former Director of NATE (National Association for the Teaching of English).  His ideas on how to use ICT interactively were fantastic and I think I've probably got ideas for serveral lessons already out of that lecture.  I really loved the brick wall idea, where you use the highlight to block cover words making a brick wall effect, and then randomly uncover the words to try and guess the context of the text.  He used it with a food label on a tin of cadbury's hot chocolate.  As we uncovered the blocks we were guessing - is it a recipe?  Is it a poem?  Is it an instruction manual?  It was really difficult to ascertain what type of text it was for ages!  Pure genius!  I also loved his way of taking a poem and sorting it by alphabetising the content.  You were then left with an amount of random words in alphabetical order and you can make of them what you wish. You can then ask pupils to sort words, ideas from this, perhaps make up their own phrases, lines of poetry.  Quite often the ideas from the original poem would surface!  It was all really inspirational stuff, and very practical and achievable too.

2nd Placement

On Friday I visited my 2nd placement school for the first time.  I had a very enjoyable but tiring day.  The school seems quite similar to my first placement in demographic although it is much bigger, and all the classes have more pupils in them.  Not sure yet what I will be teaching them, but it looks like I may have to do some more of the dreaded poetry with the 2nd years and maybe the 1st years as well.  I really must get to grips with my fear of the poetic!  I would happily talk about any novel or play till the cows come home, but poems are problematic for me!  I think it's just a mental block thing.  Sometimes I read a poem and think wow! and sometimes I think what a load of pretentious twaddle.  Anyway I think I will just keep it simple and do a lot of related activities that don't have to rhyme!  I honestly dont hate poetry per se, I'm just very selective about what I like and what I "get" without having to try too hard.  Crikey, I hope nobody from the English department reads this!

It's such an unusual position isn't it?  Being parachuted into a department and having to hit the ground running, gauge your colleagues, fit in to the order of things, not get in the way, be useful and interested but not too needy and demanding.  I've had various jobs in the outside world, ie not in education, and I think I'm pretty experienced in the art of fitting in with work colleagues, but teaching is a whole new ball game.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to starting afresh on Monday, and being prepared for a lot of hard work over the next few weeks.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

This week I will mainly be talking about...

The publication of the Donaldson report this week has given us plenty of food for thought.  Numeracy, Literacy and, horror of horrors, psychometric tests for prospective student teachers!  Surely the entrance requirements for a PGDE or BEd course are proof enough of how numerate or literate a candidate is? However testing during the course with support for those who fall short may be a less controversial option if the powers that be insist on testing. As for the psychometric testing, is this to assess if a candidate is a suitable type of character?  What type of person is a "typical" teacher?  A quick scan round Tombs on a Monday morning will tell you it takes all sorts!  And quite rightly so, we don't want a homogenised corporate-identified profession, we want diversity and interest and uniqueness in our teachers!

I do agree that the 4-year BEd could do with an overhaul, and it seems sensible to combine it with general study at University such as doing part of an Ordinary Degree in combination with a teaching degree.  This would give more breadth and depth to the course. 

Numeracy has been a big talking point this week, especially among us English students.  Tuesday's English tutorial on Numeracy in the English classroom was lively and interesting and raised some important issues for us.  A quick poll of English teachers would normally result in Literacy winning hands down over Numeracy in terms of importance to everyday life, however after much discussion many of us realised just how equally important both were. The main thrust of government argument would be that Literacy and Numeracy skills in our workforce are essential for economic development but the necessity for these skills goes further than that as they are life skills.  We talked about issues of managing your money, coping with medicines, protecting yourself from unscrupulous credit card companies, understanding insurance policies etc the list was endless.  In many ways giving this some serious thought was an eye-opener for us.

Lastly, we spent some time in Ed Studies looking at qualifications.  As a pre-Standard Grader (I have O Grades - how ancient!) I was just about getting to grips with Standard Grades - Credit, General and Foundation - and Ints 1 and 2, and found them really confusing, as do many of my contemporaries.  My son is in S2 and will be the last to sit Standard Grades, and my daughters will sit the new Nationals 4 and 5.  Firstly I'm worried about the overload this is going to cause in my brain, but mainly I'm concerned about whether or not employers are going to understand what these new qualifications mean (given that many admit confusion about standard grade and intermediate).  I also wonder what is going to happen to those kids who dont get a National 4 or 5?  Will they have no qualification?

Friday, 14 January 2011

Something I have learned this week

This week I have learned that there is a huge amount of interesting non-fiction literature that can be a useful way of stimulating reluctant readers, especially boys.