Glow

31 01 2008

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday having mentor training for Glow.  I had already set up quite a bit before I went to this with the help of the area mentor since we are an early adopter school and so it was nice to feel a bit ahead of the game – I still feel so unconfident in some areas that it was nice to feel I could do something.

I am really starting to see what the benefits will be of using Glow but it will be a while before it is all up and running, indeed there are some things I still cannot do that are available without RM coming in to do an update of Java.  I have been promised it this week!

I thought the video conferencing looked great and is about the only thing that is available that I had not tried or set up yet.  I am looking forward to trying this with Auldhouse Primary soon, as long as we can get some webcams.

I was asked to show to the rest of the group what I had set up already and it made it sound much better that I had thought it was when everyone sat and related it to Curriculum of Excellence.

My class survived without me very well and were able to tell the deputy head what they were supposed to be doing with their rich task so they were allowed to do it!  I was really impressed when I came in today and saw what they had achieved.  Their non-fiction books, although still needing a lot of work, look really good and they made some excellent african masks (we stole the idea from South Park).  It was great to see them all working really hard today and wanting them to look good.  The group that had worked together least well in doing their research had a book that looked really good.  It was obvious that they had thought hard about how to lay out and present it well.  They told me it was the best they had worked together so far and I am sure they are right.

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A bit excited

28 01 2008

I found today quite hard after two good weeks of doing this.  They were a bit over excited today and uninclined to listen to me which was giving me a sore head!

They spent a very short amount of time researching this morning using books and the internet but it was short because I wanted to do another GLOW lesson with them – showing them how to use the discussion pages on our glow groups and look up documents.

You could go on with researching forever but this afternoon we moved onto to looking at how we would set out our booklets and the conventions of non-fiction writing.  Through looking at the Longmans non-fiction books they came up with almost all of the things I was looking for.  They then decided in their groups how they were going to set out their books and I went round each group individually to help them.  They became more interested at this part again as they could see how there was going to be a final product after this work.

They are now ready to write these up.  The deputy head teacher will be in the next two days and between us we decided that if they could tell her what they were supposed to be doing she would let them do it and if not they would do other language work which is fair enough!

I think it will be quite hard for them to work together on this part as there are only three pieces of card in use and four or five in a group so I am not sure how they are going to work it but I did say they were to organise themselves!





Things never go to plan

27 01 2008

We ended up not spending any time on our rich task on Friday as we had a tae-kwon-do expert in, a group were doing a maths national test and we had Burns poetry to learn.  This was disappointing as I was looking forward to it.  I definately feel I have had the best week with them since before Christmas because of doing this rich task.

I am on a two day training course for GLOW on Tuesday and Wednesday and had been planning on leaving different language stuff for those days but I started thinking that if the class are taking on responsibility for their own learning and I leave some explanations then they should be able to do it themselves.  I think that would be scarier for me than for them as I do like to be in control of things and don’t like the thought of not overseeing what they are doing on this for two days.

As an aside – I was not so in control of things last night as I had ten people for dinner and have realised that a vegetarian cooking meat in a very dodgy old oven does not work! Raw meat, a smoky kitchen and smashing a glass jug with 2 pints of gravy in it all over the floor left me feeling very stressed! So I need to relax today and am off to the cinema instead of doing as I wanted to this weekend and making this blog look a bit more interesting!





Kids writing blogs

24 01 2008

The children were carrying on with their research today and I felt more able to let them spend them longer on it today as for part of it they had our notebus laptops to do research on the internet which I knew would keep them more focused.  This did work and they remained pretty engrossed until very near lunchtime.  (It might have helped that we had been swimming first thing as I think this tires them out!)

Added to this I had one group at a time come out to my laptop and add a post into their class blog.  I tried to get them to write not only about what they had been finding out but also about how well they were working together.  They needed help on this and we will have to work on them assessing their own work and being reflective.  They have been really excited to see the number of hits they have had go up and to have had comments from other people.

One group have been really struggling to work together, even with the help of my support assistant today, so I spent some time with them and suggested that they add another country onto their topic.  This worked – it had them fired up about finding out about a new country.  The newsround website is really well presented for children with, as would be expected, great information for kids on it in ‘kidspeak’.

Some other groups have worked really well, particularly ones where I was not sure about the grouping. 

I thought I had explained really well at the beginning of the rich task why we were doing this, wanted we wanted to learn etc and we had done all of the usual brainstorming.  Then today one of my bright ones asked “why are we doing this anyways, I don’t get it!” Typical!  This is the same child though who asked when we were having an impromptu discussion on religion if Jesus had been alive during World War 1!  One positive point from this was that she had obviously realised he wasn’t going to have been alive during World War 2 since I might have mentioned that during our topic!

That same religious discussion involved me getting asked questions such as “How did Jesus die twice to get up to heaven” and questions about the Holy Trinity all being as one.  I was a bit stumped!





Kids writing blogs

24 01 2008

The children were carrying on with their research today and I felt more able to let them spend them longer on it today as for part of it they had our notebus laptops to do research on the internet which I knew would keep them more focused.  This did work and they remained pretty engrossed until very near lunchtime.  (It might have helped that we had been swimming first thing as I think this tires them out!) Added to this I had one group at a time come out to my laptop and add a post into their class blog.  I tried to get them to write not only about what they had been finding out but also about how well they were working together.  They needed help on this and we will have to work on them assessing their own work and being reflective.  They have been really excited to see the number of hits they have had go up and to have had comments from other people. One group have been really struggling to work together, even with the help of my support assistant today, so I spent some time with them and suggested that they add another country onto their topic.  This worked – it had them fired up about finding out about a new country.  The newsround website is really well presented for children with, as would be expected, great information for kids on it in ‘kidspeak’. Some other groups have worked really well, particularly ones where I was not sure about the grouping.  I thought I had explained really well at the beginning of the rich task why we were doing this, wanted we wanted to learn etc and we had done all of the usual brainstorming.  Then today one of my bright ones asked “why are we doing this anyways, I don’t get it!” Typical!  This is the same child though who asked when we were having an impromptu discussion on religion if Jesus had been alive during World War 1!  One positive point from this was that she had obviously realised he wasn’t going to have been alive during World War 2 since I might have mentioned that during our topic! That same religious discussion involved me getting asked questions such as “How did Jesus die twice to get up to heaven” and questions about the Holy Trinity all being as one.  I was a bit stumped!





Short and sharp is better!

23 01 2008

Our children had to be sent home yesterday as our heating had broken so we had to catch up on 2 days work today.  I had them split into their six groups but two groups did the same task at the same time.

The first thing they had to do was complete some African designs and then start to make cards using African templates or design their own wordsearch to sell at our African Book Day.  They had to trim and mount their own designs as I want them to have responsibility for as much as possible and even this seemingly straightforward task ended up needing guidelines put on it!  It was one girl who had come up with the idea of using the stencils to make a card and so now we are all doing that as they look really good. 

The second thing they rotated round was researching and notetaking.  This worked better as it was only for 25 mins and they knew it was only for this short time so they worked harder and they had access to more books at a time which helped.

My third rotation was GLOW.  Our school, and so my class, are an early adopter school within the council for this and so we have to try out some lessons and evaluate them by the middle of February.

The children were simply logging on today, changing their passwords, looking at all of the different pages and changing their theme.  I have set up a few things so they got to see what things will be on it at present and the things they can do to their own page.  Some of them got onto joining in with a discussion I had set up for them on their rich task.

 The class had had one look at GLOW before Christmas when I had put my pages on the whiteboard for them but that is all they had seen.  It was interesting to watch how  quickly and easily they negotiated their way on and were so confident in just trying things out.  (Apart from spelling their user names and passwords wrongly!)

I have really enjoyed Monday and today and I am sure that has a lot to do with this rich task.  They are really interested in it, they are trying to be more independant and they are getting better at working together.  It was great showing them their blog today with the number of hits they had on it and the people who had replied to them.  They were really excited about this!





Finding Information

22 01 2008

I tried to let go yesterday and let the children lead their own learning.  This was scary, especially since I had invited the headteacher in to see what they were doing (and obviously I gave her a group to help).

They had to organise their groups with the roles they would take and how they would research to answer the questions they had set and take notes.  Most groups started off well, with just the odd one or two not joining in.

I think at 45 mins though the session was too long as by the end most groups were not being very productive.  What also stopped them though was the difficulty of reading some of their information as it is really hard to find child friendly information!