I was running the blogging part of my blogging and wiki course again this week, twice, and was ashamed that I had not posted in so long as the attendees were using my blogroll to get to others. I resolved to post that night (Monday) and yet here I am on Sat morning just getting round to it, although about two hours later than planned after catching up on loads of other peoples blogs and finding some great new ideas, especially new wikis that I can show at the wiki part of the course next week.
I have just felt too busy to blog even though I have had loads I could have written about this term. I have been keeping my running one up to date as it is my training diary as well as a blog and so it has taken priority.
Work has been super busy, but brilliant, I have been trying to train for these crazy running races I am doing (which are getting frighteningly closer) and I this last couple of weeks I have travelling around the country a bit and organising my summer!
In the last two weeks I have been in Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow at a series of networking events for International Education masterclassers and others like global teachers and link schools. I was there with the charity LINK that I went to Malawi with to highlight the glow group I am working on with them which will be primarily for global teachers and link schools but obviously for anyone else who wants to join as well. It will sit within national international education glow group and one of the things I was doing was gathering resources from people to share within the group.
Glow was one of the things brought up quite often, especially when in the afternoons the groups split into their local authority groupings with some QIO’s present by this point. It was fascinating to hear what different councils thought of Glow, obviously based on the experiences that they had to date and what stage their council were at in rolling it out. It made me realise just how far SLC and other early adopters like Dundee had come when I when I came into contact with authorities who were at the very beginning stages. I did feel bad talking about sharing resources and ideas etc on Glow when some teachers still seem very far away from getting a glow account.
There seem to be many different ways of rolling it out within authorities and I am not even going to pretend to begin to understand the work needed in setting up the infrastructure for local authorities when they sign up. However with the amount of content now on the national site both in terms of resources and in glow groups it seems unfair for teachers not to at least get their username and password so that they can access the national site, even if nothing else is available for them at a school or local authority level. I did hear of this happening a bit in one council but I am sure there are very good reasons for it not happening too!
I had three brilliant days of co-operative learning training recently and have since been anxious to try it out with a class, particularly since I am now expected to deliver training on it. So I asked at Castlefield and will be trying it out with a class who are particularly in need of some social skills! I was amazed at the training at the things I thought I had been doing well in group work that were really just scratching surface and I now feel really enthused to try out things ‘properly’ like think, pair, share and peer teaching as just two examples. I would previously have said I was doing these things, but now have an entirely new take on them!
I am going to tie in this work with Malawi. There are a couple of reasons for this. My school has recently become an official link school with the school I was in in Malawi (Gwengwe Primary) but I was was not feeling terribly enthused as I was unsure of how to take it forward when I was not actually there. Going into the school this week to talk to the SMT about it and getting their support has helped, as did going to all of the networking events and getting ideas and the fact that just this week, after huge amounts of time on the phone, I have booked flights and trips for the summer.
I am going to Malawi for 2 weeks with one of the other teachers from the programme last year. We are doing this independently although since we are both link schools the folk from LINK out there will give us a hand getting to our schools, either themselves or by arranging transport for us. I am then leaving and going back to Nairobi to then travel to Tanzania and climing Mount Kiliminjaro. I was talking about this last year so I had the idea before I knew about the celebs doing it! I paid attention to what they did to prepare though and have watched the programme twice now so it was actually useful that they did it first! In fact it persuaded me into spending yet more money to do a longer trek and not just doing the quickie, cheaper one to the top which you have less chance of getting to the top with anyway! Not that I was trying to cut corners but with a brand new kitchen and huge total costs for this trip in total I was a bit worried! When I saw how slowly Fearne Cotton was wallking and how much of a struggle it was for her I thought I would pay atttention!
Travelling back to Nairobi after that and going onto the Masai Mara for a three day camping safari and finishing with a couple of days in Nairobi.
The Kiliminjaro trek is partly to help raise funds for the teachers house I am raising money for in my village. I am looking forward to going out and telling them that I am doing this for them and hopefully I will be past halfway by that point with a further very generous sum to come from someone if I make it to to the top of Kili.
I had sent letters asking about coming to stay again which unfortunately never arrived and so I had to text and ask but I got lovely texts back from my head teacher saying they would love to have me back:
“Caroline, your message has answered the dreams of a lot of people here. They were asking me to call you and have a visit at Gwengwe school, but I had nowhere to start. Come and visit us. You are most welcome. The village headsmen, the family and all the teachers want to see you again. The DEM and PEA say you are most welcome. I am Jimu”
I since then asked them what they wanted to work on while I was there and they said english grammar, alphabetical order, global map, phonics and other things for maths. Now despite my A at English higher I would not say my english grammar was the best and neither would my dad whenever he proof reads my assignments. I am also not convinved that should really be a priority but I am going to keep thinking of it in terms of infants and maybe things like sentences and simple ideas of verbs, adjectives etc. I would like to do more this year where I worked in english but the teachers helped the pupils to do it in Chichewa so they have a better understanding.
I would like to take out really simple jolly phonics books as well as teachers guides and other picture books and loads of other resources. I will have to buy gradually over the next few months since I am already spending so much on the trip as a whole. As part of the co-operative learning teaching I will try to enthuse the class I am working with at Castlefield to do things/make things/write to Malawi and work with the rest of the school to raise awareness and get behind the link and my visit.
More to follow on all of this after the holidays and a couple of questions to finish this one.
I signed up to twitter but have not really got into posting although I do log in and see what other people are saying. It is blocked at work and I do not have present have internet access on my phone, although not sure if I can change this. Can I send ordinary texts to twitter that would go on the web – that would be useful, and I hope interesting, when I was in Malawi again. It was hard enough getting phone reception though never mind internet access so I doubt I would be able to do it through the internet even if I had it on my phone.
Also I have been trying for a while to put powerpoints on slideshare, to then put on glow – it looks so nice! These are all to do with Malawi and are reasonably big with lots of photos. I am having terrible trouble getting them onto slideshare and just wanted to check if this was down to the photos and size of them – if it is I will just have to split them into smaller sections.