I had a good few mentor visits to schools during the last couple of weeks of term. They were mostly positive with some great work going on, particularly in one school. This is not to say there are not schools where is limited activity but there are usually reasons for that. One school for example is having problems with seemis codes etc and this is hampering progress a bit for various reasons which are not the fault of the glow mentor.
Time is really the problem for everyone as mentors are often not getting time out to develop things with budgets the way they are. Plus if I visit other members of staff they are using their CCC time or I am meeting them after school which eats into their preparation and marking time. This is just the way things are and we have to work round it unfortuntately.
One school I love going to is going to is doing fabulous things and the glow mentor said she felt it was embedded throughout the school. Factors for this would be the enthusiasm and dedication of the glow mentor, the interest of the staff and the huge backing given to it by the head teacher. This is a school incidentally where the mentor gets an afternoon out a week to work on glow, and other ICT things as well I think! When I did an inservice training session there the HT was the last one still working on her glow group and was highly enthusiastic. She takes a level E reading group and has a glow group set up for them so that if she is not able to take them, which must happen quite often, she can leave work for them on glow and they can post work etc to her. This is just one example of the great things they are doing.
I also had another visit to one of the smaller schools I go to, which has 2 classes and a joint headship with another school of similar size. The mentor there only started doing it this year and only works part time. They only have 2 computers that are fully functioning, and one very old, very slow on the internet laptop and although the mentor had set up a group to work on with the class on a current topic she found it hard to get anything sustainable going on with such a small number of computers.
I came up with the idea, partly after having been at the previous school I mentioned, to have a language glow group that they could have work on for their different reading groups and then it would be in more manageable numbers. We set up one page with the Learnnewsdesk webpart and a discussion web part so that a task a week could be to write in their own words about a piece of news.We then set up a writing page with just a documents store and a discussion page so that sometimes pieces of writing could be uploaded and pupils could do two stars and a wish for each other. This would maybe work best with story starters, or just character description etc. These two ideas came from Lesley and Karen-Ann’s great 10 steps glow group. We then set up a page for each reading group and just put discussions, documents, web links and picture library into it so that with the novels each group are doing next term they can have their space for work etc. One task for each group per week could be to go in and complete a task set by the teacher. I am looking forward to seeing how this works and am going back to help with the teacher and the pupils a little while after the holidays.
SLC are investing in some gaming materials just now and have already done some workshops for head teachers etc. After the summer we will have various consoles etc to loan out to schools to use with the curriculum in some way. I now presently have at home a Nintendo DS with brain training and Professor Layton, a wii with the sports and the guitar hero rock band package. At some point we should also be getting Endless Ocean and another one that I cannot pronounce never mind spell! We are having a try with them just now to see how we could help schools to think about how we would use them in the curriculum.
I have never been into gaming really and so felt a lot better when I read in the article in the Scotsman on Ollie Bray that he had never been into it either until a couple of years ago! I am really enjoying the DS brain training and have played a bit of the wii, although what I really want is the wii fit which I have tried before and think is great. I certainly can’t get one until after Kiliminjaro though! I have had a go on guitar hero before but I was so, so rubbish! I am having a couple of 13 year old friends to stay next week so we will get that out then and I will try again. One plays guitar and one plays drums so it’s perfect for them! They already have the guitar hero so I am looking forward to seeing what they think of the rest of the package and getting some ideas from them about how to use it in school! That’s inbetween climbing Ben Lomond, going on a 15 mile cycle, taking them to my running club for a track session and possibly doing some indoor climbing! They are pretty active and will beat me at everything hands down!