Catching up

9 02 2009

I thought that with doing those lessons on literacy I would feel I had teaching to write about and would keep this up to date but obviously so many other things have got in the way that I have been too busy to keep this up.  I have really  been trying to focus on my running blog lately to help me keep going with that as the 53 mile Highland Fling race from Milngavie to Tyndrum is only 11 weeks away now!  I am starting to wonder how I am going to keep going for about 12 hours!  

I did 5 lessons in a primary 5 class on Lets Think Through Literacy.  The p.5’s were definitely at the bottom end of the age group for these activities and the ideas were very typical of that age.  When we had the training day we actually did some of the lessons as if we were pupils and had some great ideas and really got into it.  I think this may have given my too big ideas of what to expect from children as their ideas were nothing like ours!  Maybe if I did it with p.7 it would have been slightly different.  I was pleased to be in this class though as the teacher was really enthusiastic and followed and took notes through every lesson.  She was definitely the type who thought that children should be given the chance to use drama and talking and listening to gain in confidence and she could see big differences in some of the pupils from the beginning to the end.  I am looking forward to running some CPD on this next year and getting teachers to do this in the same kind of way we did at the training.

And then I started doing lessons in a secondary!

I was looking at shoo fly resources and as I am going to be running CPD on that next year as well I thought I had better pilot some lessons on this.  This resource had specifically been given to a secondary to try and I was working with the PT of the English department when I suggested I do a series of lessons which he watches and then he does a series that I can watch. 

I chose to do the poetry work as it is one of my weaker areas so I thought I would challenge myself but it was also probably the piece of writing the children would find most interesting as it was a bit scary and was entitled ‘A Gothic Tale’.  The resources can be used on the interactive whiteboard or viewed through power point, which was what we had to use. 

It was a first year class, and although I have done a lot of Malawi work with classes from 1st to 6th year this was my first time at trying out teaching at secondary level and it’s fair to say I was a bit worried!  The class are an absolute dream though, I would have loved to have them in p.7.  The things we could have done!

So we spent time on the poem, wrote a synopsis and researched gothic culture and history so far.  Tonmorrow we will write a poem and then on Wed they will put it onto powerpoint like the original poem and make it look gothic.

I have really enjoyed working with the class and find secondaries fascinating but being stuck to a timetable is very restricting and I am not sure I would want that all the time while teaching.   50 – 55 mins is not very long to discuss things and get the associated work done and I have felt I, and the children, are just getting into things properly when it is time to stop.  And that is with a wonderful class where the behaviour and the work ethic was as close to perfect as you get.  With Curriculum for Excellence schools are definitely going to have to look at timetabling, as I know some are, so that pupils can go into a particular topic in more depth and not be restricted by time.  It made me realise how lucky we were in the primary if we were given the freedom to be loose with the timetable and spend longer on subjects/topics the children were interested in and that consquently generated more learning.

New Job

22 09 2008

Now I can finally write about my new job!  I am on secondment with South Lanarkshire Council as a Development Officer.  I am working on Glow and more specifically we hope to focus on how to help teachers to use Glow to support learning and teaching.  Other parts of my remit include the Curriculum for Excellence area of literacy and I am doing a lot of International Development as well, plus looking at gender.  So quite a few things on my remit! 

I am really enjoying it so far and am getting the chance to do a lot of different things.  One new challenge for me will be working with secondary schools on International Development as I have set up talks/questions and answer sessions/workshop afternoons with several schools, working with first to fifth year.  I can’t believe I was worried about going on secondment in terms of not being able to do my follow up work for LINK as this has actually led me, even in this short time, to have far more opportunity to disseminate information to pupils across the council than I would have had if I was in class.

I have only ever looked after kids, worked in pubs or restaurants or taught so it is a novel experience for me to be working in an office.  It’s great to have a change!

Better session on our rich task

6 02 2008

Thank goodness it went better today!  Everything that I wanted to get done on Monday but didn’t we got done today.  The children were really well behaved and on task for the first half of the session and although they got noisy in the second half they had got exctied and were noisy as they were trying to tell me so many things for our mind map!

I read them some well known fables first and they listened really well and provided some good thoughts on the morals of the stories.  They are not a class of readers but they really enjoyed hearing all of the stories I told them today which was great.  It is funny how it is often the ones I have to give into the most trouble for various things and who are not necessarily the cleverest children in the class who answer the most questions and they may not be the right answers (although with these questions it was more about opinions) but at least they are showing willing and are keen which is more than I can say for some of the others who I would expect more from.

I then read them a couple of examples of African stories, we talked about those and then I gave them stories in pairs and asked them to read to each other and decide what the moral or main idea of the story was.  They did very well and myself and my supprt assistant were able to go around and help because they were on task.

I had then intended reading them a couple more stories before we did a mind map together of what they had learned so far about the content of African stories.  However we got sidetracked and this is one of the things I love about a rich task/Curriculum for Excellence.  I showed them my book of Nelson Mandela’s favourite African folk tales and asked them if they knew who he was.  A couple of them did and we got into a 20 min discussion about apartheid in South Africa, the slave trade to America, the American civil rights movement and finally the news about Lewis Hamilton being racially abused.  This is where they began to get noisy as then it all started to relate to football and get out of hand!  However they had listened to me and each other really well about something they obviously found interesting and had loads of curious questions.  If one pupil goes away to find out more about any of those things I would be really pleased.  Where were we supposed to have time to do that with 5-14?!

Doing our mind map is where they got a little rowdy but they were full of ideas of all animals and other things that appeared in the stories and about words they did not understand.  I am now looking forward to the next day on this!