Nursery visit

29 05 2008

The nursery teacher was off yesterday and since the depute was in my class doing german until 10am I offered to go down to the nursery and help out for an hour until cover arrived.  I think you can often feel a bit of a spare part in the nursery as the staff and children know what they are doing and you definately don’t!  Also some kids that age can be quite shy when they do not know who you are.

A couple of kids went straight to the drawing table when they came in so I thought this was a fairly safe option and went to join them.  Five minutes later there were 10-12 kids round it all drawing me pictures!  I think I was a bit of a novelty!  When I left I had nearly a 6 inch pile of pictures and glued together pieces of paper with me promising to decorate my classroom with them!  I hope they do not come to check up on that!

They were a hoot though and it was really nice for a change, I would actually have liked to have spent the whole morning there to see a whole session.  One girl, a pre-schooler, said to me in a sudden realisation after about half an hour:

“You went to India”

It took me a minute to work this one out but then remembered that the nursery had come along to a small talk I did for them on our Scotland-Malawi day back in October and she had suddenly remembered this. Okay she got the country wrong but I was just stunned she remembered at all and that she knew the country India.  So at this I started telling them all how I was going back and would be staying with a family in mud hut with a hole in the ground for a toilet and no lights, television, DVD etc and although they found the hole in the ground hilarious they could not get their heads around the thought of no television!

Just as well it is a holiday tomorrow…

25 05 2008

……as I might not be able to walk!

Edinburgh marathon – 3.54.44, ave pace 8.53m/m (28 mins taken off my pb)

Absolutely delighted!  Read my full report on my running blog, although it might be pretty boring for non-runners!

More on children teaching

22 05 2008

I had three girls teaching the class first thing on Monday morning and it was quite different to when the boys did it although there were common factors too.  They were going to be doing fractions, percentages and angles – a bit of an odd combination but never mind.  They explained well what it was the lesson was going to be about so some good WALT and WILF at the start.

They then started off by doing numerators and denominators which I am ashamed to say none of the class knew!  They had various questions and bits of teaching they did on the board to do with fractions which they did well although it was a bit easy.  They were good at trying to encourage everyone; for example they kept asking if there were any circles who could answer (my lowest group) and then later people up at the back when they had not been joining in enough.

They then did percentages which again was a bit easy and it took a while for them to draw their things on the board.  They had good games on the internet that they got the other pupils to do for both fractions and angles.

The unfortunate thing during all of this though was that the listening from the others was really poor.  I did interupt a couple of times to stop it but they were unsettled all day, not just for the girls.  The thing was that the girls were quite quiet and just talked through the noise without feeling able to get the others to be quiet and listen first.  The difference with the boys doing it was that they just shouted over the rest of the class to be heard!!!

They had prepared really good worksheets which had explanations as well as questions on them and were differentiated for each group.

They were trying really hard too and saying some really good stuff and were very enthusiastic so I felt quite sorry for them.  The problem was that my pupils were going for their secondary visits on Wednesday and Thursday and were just as high as kites all Monday and Tuesday.  I found those two days really hard work!

I have just realised that I forgot to do the self-evaluation with them and the class and am disapointed about that as it was really useful last time.

With my class away on Wednesday and Thursday I got the chance to cross off quite a few things on my to do list, although of course in my experience being a teacher means it is never empty, you just keep adding more things on the bottom.

I covered in primary 4 for a while on Wednesday morning though and that was lovely as they are a really nice class and it was a good change having the younger ones.  They actually listened the first time you said something!


I don’t just work…..

18 05 2008

                Smile this Way!

So excited by how well my weekend went that I had to blog it on this one as well as my running one.

Ran 14.5 miles on the West Highland Way from Kinlochleven to Fort William on Saturday afternoon and just had a fantastic time.  It was so good to be out in the hills exercising after such a tough week at school and even though I ran all the way by myself I was not thinking about school as I had to concentrate on my running so much.  I had a bit of a head start on the others running and did not want them to catch me so that spurred me on and I flew through the route.

Thought my legs would then be done in for the Women’s 10km race on Sunday but had a brilliant time at that and took 1min and 20 secs off my 10km pb to run it in 47.50mins.  I was absolutely delighted.  Bring on the Edinburgh marathon next weekend!

You can read my full reports on my running blog – mrs pacepusher 

A busy week!

16 05 2008

I am shattered and it is only 8.30pm!  Here is a week in the life of a p.7 teacher in May who has a fair amount of extra responsibilities:

Monday:  Took p.7 to Choices for Life at the Clyde Auditorium in the morning, dropped the kids back at school and straight into my car to go to the Advisory Service for an ASG meeting.  After that drove back to school and was supposed to have about 45 mins before a council Curriculum for Excellence meeting but I ended up doing a lot to help set up laptops etc for the people organising it.  That finished about six and I went to Braehead to buy more webcams for the school on the way and ended up playing about with them and with Glow until 10.30pm.

Tuesday:  Out of class first thing as we thought our Glow mentor was coming in the morning so I did some stuff on Glow.  Photographer in from the local paper to take P.7 class photo.  In class from interval to lunch doing reading national testing at levels C, D and E.  Out of class in the afternoon with the glow mentor while my class sat their second reading national test.  Cycling profiency after school, 10 mile run and then some work at home in the evening.

Wednesday:  Out of class until interval having review meetings for pupils going to secondary.  In class the rest of the day.  CAT night after school.  Worked at home in the evening.

Thursday:  Nurse was in to do p.7 puberty talks so a little maths first, then p.7 girls talk.  P.7 boys talk after interval until nearly lunchtime.  Some CCC time after lunch so went down to Cathkin High to collect headsets and things to use with Glow Meet.  In class 2.15-3.00pm.  After school I had the other teachers who did the rich task round to the school for a last meeting and to collect all of their stuff that I had borrowed for the Headteacher’s conference.

Friday:  Out of class until 11.45am having more reviews for pupils going to secondary.  In class for 15 mins and then setting up computers for Glow Meet while the pupils were at ‘Star of the Week’.  In class until 2.30pm and then out doing Glow Meet.

On Thursday I had the first of my kids who were going to be teaching lessons out to do their lesson on decimals.  It was two boys and I think they spent more time arguing between themselves about who was doing what than actually teaching anything.  I recorded the whole thing, it was good fun but I am not sure the children learned much.  The boys did some explanation, using a powerpoint presentation, played some games with the class and gave some written work.  They were not sure enough of how they were going to play the game and the written work was a bit easy for most of the class but they made up for all of this in enthusiasm!  I also recorded a self and peer assessment session at the end of the lesson.  The children were very positive about the lesson – more so than I would have been but they are popular boys within the class and this may have something to do with it.  I prompted the two boys who had done the lesson to say what they thought about controlling the lesson and that was interesting. They thought the listening was quite good, I would have said the class was safe and in their seats but very hyper at some points!  Really looking forward to doing more of this next week.

During this busy week, and last week, I was busy trying to get Glow Meet going in our school so that I could video conference at a conference in Aberdeen on Glow today.  Eventually I managed to get Meet working but then still had to get RM to install the webcams and get the sound working.  This has taken up most of time at school this week!  The webcam on my laptop was set up on Monday and worked fine but when we tried out Glow Meet the sound would not work.  I could hear the others but they could not hear me.  Tried to get RM to install the other webcams on the notebus trolley laptops but this was completed in time, there seems to be some problems with it, and could not get the sound on mine working at all.

I am usually in school at 7.30am but due to all of this, I have been rather earlier this week including 7.10am this morning!  Eventually we had to use my laptop with the webcam on it and log in with another laptop with the sound working on it.  I worried all day that it would not work when the time came but after a slow start to get in it did and I had two girls speak.  They were really funny as they had prepared stuff to say and were ready to do that but were not prepared for actually saying hello or introducing themselves!  They did well when it came to saying their bit.  The last thing I told them was to go slow and for once they actually listened and ended up going really, really, really slowly.  I am biased but I thought they did well!

Photos below of the boys teaching:

Kids preparing lessons

8 05 2008

I had my top maths group doing some more preparation of their lessons for the rest of the class today.  That fab classroom assistant of mine did another brilliant job with them today.  She started talking to them about different ways of learning and how they could help visual learners and not just talk through a lesson.  So they started coming into me asking for metre sticks, giant protractors, card, tissue paper, scissors and more.  I just left them to it as they seemed to know what they were doing.

When I called them back in as it was close to lunchtime I had a lot of trouble stopping them and some asked to stay in at lunch to finish (far too nice and sunny to allow them to do that though)!  What they came in with amazed me.  One group had made a 3D garden to illustrate area and perimeter and came in telling me about how this was to show how maths is needed in real life.  Another group had made up characters to help teach decimals and another had made a 2D house to with removable props for showing different types of angles.

I will need to video these as I think they are going to be really good and I want my classroom assistant to be there when we do them too as she had so much to do with it.

On another plus point the other two groups, particularly my middle group that I am pushing, worked hard today too although I tend to think that was because they were doing written work rather than having me teach them.  They are so poor at listening even though they know they need to.

I have begun to set up my cross-authority glow group and will hopefully be able to put it to the people who were interested over the weekend.  I am quite excited about this, although frustrated with trying to get Glow Meet set up.  The computers are not allowing me to launch Marratech and I don’t seem to be getting anywhere with getting it sorted.

One of those ‘Love your job’ days

6 05 2008

I did maths first thing this morning and it went really well for what felt like the first time in ages.  I have decided to bite the bullet and go with my idea for children teaching each other so this morning I asked them all what things they would like to practice more in maths before the end of the year and from that we made a list of things that the top group could prepare in groups of 2 or 3 to teach the rest of the class.  At first they were very quiet and did not want to admit to the others in the class that they were stuck at anything but we got there eventually and they came up with the following ideas of what they wanted help with:

decimals, especially when related to things like litres and millimetres,

fractions and percentages

mean, median, mode and range

angles and measuring them

perimeter and area

I asked my classroom assistant (the amazing one I mentioned last week) to supervise them in the open area and I pretty much left them to it apart from giving them a couple of different levels of textbooks and the internet so they could research help tips.  We had spent a lot of time discussing how they would do this before so I was not just leaving them with no background help whatsover and Alyson was great at helping them.

When I went out to the open area after about 30 mins I was absolutely amazed at how they had sorted themselves, how well they were working together and how much they had achieved.  Between all of the groups they had made up sheets, lesson plan notes, explanations of how to do things, powerpoint presentations and had saved websites of different games etc to be used on the ebeam to help with learning.

I am thrilled at how  well this went on the first day and how intersested the children were.  I think one of the tricks of making this work will be not to let the planning stage for them go on too long as that is when they could start getting bored with it.  It has occurred to me while writing this that maybe this will help the children realise how important it is to listen as they will be experiencing the amount of prep that goes into a lesson.  That was by no means the reason for doing this though and I felt really excited today to be facilitating the children in leading the learning.  I really hope it goes well in the end as I will be really disappointed if it doesn’t, and I think the children will be too!

My middle group then also worked much better today as well although it was hard going as it was equal fractions and we all made rather heavy weather of it!  I think a lot of this might be to do with parents nights being last night and I could not over-emphasise enough there how much work that group had to do.

We had a parent council meeting tonight and it was really interesting to see how the new headteacher worked with the parents; it will be a great learning experience for me to see that in action.

I loved my job today as I felt I was doing something new and interesting for me and the children; we are all on a learning curve with this!  It is something I really hope will make a difference to their learning and will probably (hopefully) give me some new ideas on how to explain concepts in maths.  A teacher learning from the children!


5 05 2008

I have just spent the holiday weekend on Orkney with 9 out of the 10 teachers that went to Malawi with LECT last summer.  (Two of them live there so it was a perfect opportunity as none of the rest of us had been before.)

We arrived on Saturday morning and same as last week I spent the day feeling itchy and anxious about not working – I am finding this quite bizarre!  I did relax that night though and was fine for the rest of the weekend. 

It was lovely to catch up with everyone and hear what we have been doing about Malawi in our different schools throughout the year.  We also spent time researching for our topics – Skara Brae, Skapa Flow and the Churchill Barriers were highlights.  There was a lot of sharing good practice and we decided we could add this weekend to our CPD!  We might be pushing it a bit there!

We had dinner each night in each of the 2 people’s houses that live on Orkney – I had the best evenings I have had in a long time on each of these nights.  I felt so relaxed and so comfortable with all of the others, it was just lovely.  We are already thinking of planning another trip together!

Bit of active learning

2 05 2008

Going back to Monday morning……..

The class and I had a big talk about work and behaviour as I had been feeling pretty fed up last Thursday and Friday and there was no way I could continue with the kind of behaviour I had been getting until the end of term.  (It may have been something to do with me being away Tuesday and Wednesday).

I got them to come up with ideas of what would make them work better and the rewards and sanctions they thought would work.  The rewards and sanctions were just the ususal and quite reasonable.  The things they thought would help them work better were lots of things that I have done a lot previously but had given up on with this class like having music on, more active learning, working with friends and other people more often and teaching each other.

So I decided to give them a chance and organised my language session more the way I used to for Wednesday morning.  They had handwriting, active learning with spelling using whiteboards, wikisticks and/or playdough, and a reading task.  For the top group, this was independant reading, the lower group read with me and the middle group were to be using Glow to discuss the story they had read the day before.  The top and bottom group worked really well, I was especially impressed by how well the top group organised themselves and worked together during the spelling.

The middle group did not get on so well and this has so often been the case this year.  They were too excited and barely on task while doing the spelling, it is quite a large group which does not help.  They had to use Glow in 2’s or 3’s because of the numbers of computers available which ws not ideal.  Glow is working fine but the laptops took forever to load up and some children did not even get onto the task.  They had also chosen the people who they wanted to work with so the groups that did get on were not really on task and did not get a lot done.  Cannot wait to try it next week with a better group on Glow.  Unsurprsingly it was the middle group who caused me grief in maths that day too – there are a lot of the same pupils in each group!

I am not giving up with this class for the rest of the session, but need to think carefully about that middle group. 

Clicked on a link today from my stats page to see where views were coming from and found this comment which was nice, about my last entry:

 “I read an interesting article today about how GLOW was being used in an Educational Setting. Caroline Gibson’s article will hopefully inspire us and give us ideas about how we can use GLOW in our classrooms.”

There are useful ideas in the first part of the entry, find it at:

Also this link has lots of links to other glow blogs and articles: including several links to this blog!

What we actually said….

1 05 2008

I think I may be getting a bit obsessed with blogging!  I really wanted to put on here the things I said on Tuesday as I am certainly no IT expert and through things outwith my control I have not been able to use Glow chat and meet yet but yet was able to explain how I was using Glow in other ways for learning and teaching.

I had initially put info, news, web links, photos and learnnewsdesk@LTS on my pupil, staff, school and class pages so there were things there to make it interesting when the children first logged on.  Once we had their passwords changed the pupils in my class found it easy to navigate around and liked the fact they could change their theme and had their own page to customise.


I then set up two glow groups – one for our African rich task and one for our electricity which was an active learning open area topic.  Again I put the news, whats on, photos and web links on the pages initially and then we began using the discussion pages.  The pupils were desperate to use Glow Chat but the java updates would appear to still not have been done properly for this.  I used the web links and documents pages to give help for the pupils to answer the questions I set on the discussion pages and I really like this part of it as there is so much document space on this and really saves photocopying etc.

The two kids with me then said a little bit about how they got on with the discussions – like how they started off just saying hi etc but gradually they began to answer the questions I set.  We used it to discuss some of the things they had learnt and how they had got on working in a group – they thought it was good to have a safe way to talk to each other.  They also felt less threatened having a discussion on glow as they said when people could not disagree with you to your face it did not feel so bad.  I think they were a bit more honest about how they worked together when writing it rather than discussing it in class.  And because it is recorded I have got the evidence for as long as I want it!

On these glow groups I have been able to embed video, put RSS feeds in, use web page viewers for our blogs and email and have used text editor to put in lessons for the children.  For example I put in a punctuation exercise that the pupils could then cut and paste into a word document to work on.  A lot of these things could be done through the documents page or web links but it is fun trying things out to see what works best.  I love the fact that I can embed video so easily as I had never tried to do that before for my class in any other way as it seemed tricky!

I also set up a gallery page within my African rich task glow group.  This has photos in it that I could then use for discussion within glow or orally within the class, or as starters for writing or art for example.

I had set up a couple of surveys in my African rich task; one about the knowledge the children learnt from the topic and one on self-assessment of how they had worked in a group.  I really like these as there are lots of different ways to answer from full written answers to mulitple choice, options of being compulsory or not, anonymous or not and you can set so they can answer more than once if you want.  You can then see all of the individual answers or together with percentages.  Again this is giving me lots of evidence without a huge pile of paper.Some of the questions I set in the self-assessment task were:

At the start of the rich task how well would you say you worked in a group?

What role do you think you are best at and then why did you think that?

Do you think you have improved in group work during the topic?

Have you learned any strategies to improve your group work?

Group work was a major part of this rich task so this was really useful and I again I think they answered more honestly than they would have in front of everyone.  I think these are great for less able pupils as they will hopefully feel less nervous about doing tests this way.

The kids talked about how they thought doing the surveys on glow was easier and simpler than having a written test.  One of them said how they liked doing the surveys as it felt more like a fun quiz.  They thought that doing the self-assessment survey was a good way of thinking about how they had worked themselves and in a group without having to talk about it in front of everyone.

They have had some funny answers in the survey about why they were best at which role, most of them said they were best at being chairperson because:

“Because I suck at the other two and I like to take charge”,

“because I take charge and am not a wimp” and


I was then at the stage of putting lesson plans onto Glow with WALT and WILF.  I loved this because my class are not good at listening and this means I am not having to repeat instructions multiple times.  The kids that need challenged got to do more and I was able to spend more time with those that needed it.  I loved what one of my kids finished with, which totally summed it up for me:

“As for me, I think it is fun and challenging, especially doing the surveys and I cannot wait to use Glow Meet.  Stuart in our class said he likes glow because it is an online community.  We really like the idea of having this in school.”

I am now ready to move on by developing my use of lesson plans etc on Glow, using glow chat, meet and learn and by starting the staff off this term by using the whats on, news and calendar.  I am really looking forward to starting off a cross-authority glow group on something to do with my Malawi trip this summer, at present there are 5 authorities across the country interested in this.  This will really start to develop learning and teaching within an online community spread throughout Scotland which is surely what the purpose of Glow is.

I know a lot of the people reading this will already be using Glow and will know all of this and be doing far more things than I have been doing but maybe this will help to stop some of the fears people who have not started using it might have.

I had really wanted to put in snapshots of some of my Glow pages within this post so it showed what I was showing on Tuesday and so it was not just all writing but wordpress does not want to let me paste the snapshots in so I will make up an animoto or something tomorrow probably and post that on.