Thursday, November 30, 2006

All in a day's work

A mixed bag type of day. My Year 11s were excellent ... they listened attentively, contributed answers, and told any pupils who started talking to be quiet and listen. Maybe we should discuss contraception and STIs every day ...

My final minutes of the school day involved looking in on another class in the department who had a supply teacher. I'm not sure how you would describe what was happening in the classroom, but you wouldn't call it learning. Some pupils were outside, others were throwing paper balls around, one or two were trying to work, a few more were having conversations. My command to stand was largely ignored, at least until I had shouted at a few of them. Eventually I stood in front of the door until everyone in the class had completed some work - for the final few pupils, after a bit of a tantrum, that eventually resulted in the grand total of about six words. But at least it was something. Think I'll need to pop by a bit more often with that class. There are some quite good pupils in that class, but a few tough ones, and as a group they have a bit of a reputation. The worst ones weren't in the lesson that day ...

Scariest moment of the day was when I was talking to a girl in my form who had been out of lessons in the Referral Room because she'd been fighting another girl. At the end of the day I asked her about the incident. Six girls had attacked another girl. Had she thought about what she had done? Yes. And what did she think now? She'd do the same thing again. Well, that scared me. That she still thought it was okay for seven girls to attack one girl over alleged name calling, the names probably being as a retaliation to previous bullying. I thought of the recent murder, in the news a lot at the moment, of Tom Ap Rhys Jones. That the two boys seemed to mug people for fun. Where is the line between one and the other? I hope there is a line, and that she will not cross it. But her attitude at the moment scares me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Another day ...

I've sent out a few letters today inviting a number of year 7 parents to their child's detention next week. We'll see if that makes any difference to their behaviour ...

Had a good meeting tonight looking at Performance Management but also the difference between leadership and management. I need to try and think of my vision for the (read 'my' in the future ...) department. When I do, I should post it on here ...

Had an early night last night, but have managed to stay up later tonight. Accidentally.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Year 7 headache

Any suggestions as to what to do with my Year 7s?! I had them lined up outside for about 15 minutes ... all they needed to do was to stand in a line, facing the front, without talking, and we would go in. Is that really too much for an eleven or twelve year old to grasp? Really? We went inside, and spent another ten or so minutes waiting for silence so we could read the text. Then most managed to just about start the task before the bell went. And everyone had gone by about 15 minutes after the bell went ... it's hard to keep them for much longer without their parents' knowledge after school.

I'm thinking of inviting all their parents along to school next Tuesday for a whole class meeting, and to draw up a class charter. However, I'm sure the parents of the generally good ones would make the effort to turn up, and the ones whose sons and daughters contribute most to the lack of progress in the class would not be able to come.

I waited for 20 minutes at the end of the day for two parents to come in for a meeting to discuss their children's progress, but to no avail. So it would probably be similar. Ah well.

The Head of Year has been to see them, Assistant Heads have spoken to them, the Head has been in at the start of lessons with them ... and I've never seen another class like it!!!

Ah well, Malcolm in the Middle is on and H is bringing back some Chinese Duck, so all is right with the world!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Winter cleaning

I had a tidying up day today. The office is now looking a bit neater than yesterday, and the classrooms are a bit cleaner looking. Shame that the Year 11s weren't as neat and tidy about their work!

The phone lines were down all day today. Have a few calls to make tomorrow ...

Sunday, November 26, 2006


I got caught in a hailstorm on the way to Church this morning. It only lasted a couple of minutes, but I got soaked!

Obsessed by Bond

(The blog help has guided me to images that are licensed to freely share, or something. Not the biggest choice, but I wanted to illustrate this post!)

Just thought I ought to admit to being a bit obsessed by all things Bond at the moment. As you know, I saw the film last week, finished the book this morning, have spent the day watching Bond podcasts and listening to 30 second preview clips of all the Bond theme tunes. And even though I wasn't totally enamoured with "You know my name" as the title song, I've just been watching the video and learning the lyrics. Well, reading them ... learning might be taking it a bit too far. Would love to go again. Have also been reading the reviews. On the site there are about 139 positive reviews to 9 negative ones (don't worry, I didn't count, they work out the statistics on the front page). And I'm still waiting for someone else to go and see the film so I can compare notes with someone else other than H, who is now saying how boring the plot was and how he can't remember it. So I told it all back to him, pausing now and again to make sure I wasn't embellishing it with incidents from the book. So would anyone out there like to go and see it again with me?!

At least I managed to get up to date with marking all the books of the pupils who were foolish enough to forget to take their books home with them to complete their homework. Which unfortunately for them is rather a lot, but fortunately for me not too many.

I still have a methodology and methods report to write though. Maybe tomorrow ...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Things I've Done

From Amy Loves Books, from Today's Lessons, from Quiet Life (these things go round on blogs, people see a good idea, look at the original, are more inspired, copy it and perhaps inspire others ...)

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game (and survived the crush afterwards)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse (of the moon ...)
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk.
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe.
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater

66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. (Missing?)
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild (bought ones though)
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language

139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Well, I make that 48 things out of 150 ... how did you do?

The end of another week

I've just finished reading Casino Royale, and am about to get some marking done. It's been a relatively relaxed week this week at school. We were discussing contraception in Year 11 yesterday, and they were remarkably sensible about it, considering the group. The other Year 11 class, that was very badly behaved last time I saw them, all apologised (not necessarily too convincingly, or meaningfully, but at least it was a recognition that their behaviour had not been accceptable last time, and they could all see that others in the class had had their parents contacted about their behaviour). And most then worked quite quietly through the work on the sanctity of life.

Right. Better get some work done!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Surprisingly subdued

My Year 10 classes were surprisingly subdued today. Not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but for the majority of the lesson the majority of the pupils were listening sensibly and on-task.

In fact, since the Year 11s were sitting an exam elsewhere, and my other class was A Level, it's been quite a nice day.

We're celebrating H's birthday tonight with lamb shanks and roast potatoes. I've never cooked lamb shank before, so I hope I can get it to be tender and tasty like the lamb shank we get in restaurants, rather than being tough and terrible.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Have learnt today that my application for a bursary has been accepted! So my uni fees will be paid, and I'll now need to organise a markers' course for my year 11s. It's quite exciting, but also a bit of a wake up call - it will be expected that my research will have academic results, so I have more pressure on that class to do well now. Their target grades at the moment are lower than they should be capable of achieving, according to their SATs results; I hope that most will get Cs, although it will be more than a surprise if they do, it'll be a minor miracle. Still, miracles do happen.

A few of the members of that class are owe me an apology following their behaviour in the last lesson. I saw one boy yesterday, and he told me that no-one is going to apologise. It'll be a nice quiet lesson then. I've arranged for the on-call teacher to come and have a conversation with me while the pupils arrive, so that if any do refuse to apologise, she'll be able to take them away immediately. But also, it might encourage them to apologise. We'll see ... anyway, hope we can get back on track so my research runs smoothly this year!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Muslim prayer

A tiring day today, which is a surprise since I didn't have too much teaching to do, and I wasn't up that late last night. Told the sixth formers the story of Clementine and Boater, during which one pointed out, "Miss, you should be in Eastenders!" Think it could have been over-dramatised ...

I think my year 7 lesson, on Muslim prayer, would have worked well if my class had been quieter (and had minimal listening skills). I got them to all stand up, and then say how they felt, and who they would stand like this for. We went through some of the prayer stances, including kneeling and bowing; pupils were often quick to point out "We do this in church!" and "This is how we stand when the Headmaster enters", before I showed them pictures of Muslims at prayer. We would then have looked at the differences and similarities of Muslim and Catholic prayer, if the bell hadn't gone, indicating the start of their detention. I will use this lesson again - it was very kinaesthetic, which the pupils liked, and it takes away some of the strangeness of Muslim prayer that pupils might have if they just looked at the pictures.

Had a late meeting, unfortunately, at school. I'd forgotten about it and was late - I think I missed the most important and interesting part. An important meeting, just annoying that it went on for at least 45 minutes later than planned. I was lucky that by the time I left school, the rush hour traffic had dispersed.

Monday, November 20, 2006

These boots were made for walking ...

Saturday is more interesting than today ... we went shopping along Oxford Street and I got some new boots. Very exciting, since I couldn't find any that fitted over my calves last year!

Anyway, today I'm tired and have had some lousy lessons. Probably because I'm tired! Anyway, my year 10s ended up doing posters and I got some lucid and accurate work out of a girl who never normally does much, so that was good.

Learnt that another friend has just had a baby and moved house. So that's three new babies in the past month or so ... November is going to be a busy birthday month next year!

It's almost 9pm, so I'm off to bed now.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Casino Royale

We went to see James Bond last night. I enjoyed it. I'm going to post a few comments/reflections here - I hope this doesn't spoil your own enjoyment of the film if you haven't seen it yet! (And I definitely recommend seeing it.)

There were about five different allusions to different forms of gambling in the opening five minutes or so (a pinball machine that reminded me of fruit machines, putting money on the outcome of snake/mongoose fight, a game of cards, the stockmarket, and something else, possibly another reference to cards). So the scene was set.

I wasn't too taken by the music ("Remember my name" or something like that), but I did quite like the graphics for the opening sequence. I'd already read that there were no women in the sequence, apparently the first Bond film not to feature Bond girls in that opening credits, so I wasn't surprised by that; instead there were quite seventies-like drawings with the suits of cards being shot out of guns etc. Quite stylish, I thought.

One thing I noticed more than before was quite a lot of product name-dropping, which was especially noticable in the light of pre-Casino Royale advertising. For example, there is a scene where Vesper Lynd asks James Bond about his watch. "Is it a Rolex?" "No, it's an Omega," he answers, and you know he's about to say that because you've seen the Omega advert quite a bit beforehand. Bond doesn't ask for a martini - instead he asks for "two shots of Gordons", one of tonic, this and that and a slice of lemon. Or whatever makes up a martini. He specifies the champagne (although I can't remember what it was, not being a connoisseur of champagne), and of course there is the Aston Martin.

Well, what about Daniel Craig as Bond? I was convinced. Not only because of the long, lingering shots of Bond as he emerges from the sea, Ursula Andress-like, I should point out! He has a good mix of seriousness and lightness, his humour is witty, not too obvious, or too often, he is very physical - lots of running, jumping, chasing, falling, climbing, as well as fighting and killing. The torture scene is very physical too. The first chase scene, on foot, is very well done - although perhaps a bit too much like a Playstation game! I can see it working very well with a joystick.

H thought that Daniel Craig is so good he should get an Oscar; he also thought that this Bond was quite a "masculine" Bond, in that there are few women and few sex scenes; however, I pointed out that the long close up shots of Bond smouldering might be said to make this a more woman-friendly Bond, with the female viewers definitely in mind! The one weakness is perhaps the relationship between James and Vesper, which is strong in some scenes and not so in others. One good scene takes place as they both sit in the shower.

Finally, I was surprised to see Richard Branson very briefly - he was blurred, walking through airport security, over Bond's shoulder, and I whispered to H, "Look, it's Richard Branson!", but by then he was long gone. Thought I might have imagined it - however, afterwards, H said he'd read that Branson had a part as an extra, so I'm pretty sure, with that beard and hair, that I saw him. Which leads me to reflect on what part H might have had if he'd gone along as an extra when he had the opportunity during the summer. One of those sitting round in a tux watching the Baccarat game, perhaps? We'll never know ...

Hope you go and see Casino Royale, hope you enjoy it, hope you post your comments about what you thought!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Nocturnal annoyances

I've been away on a two day conference for Heads of Department. It was really interesting - I learnt a lot about the different exam boards, funding, and the new 14-19 curriculum. It was great meeting other people and being able to share ideas with them.

I woke up around 5.15am and decided to get up. Thought to myself that I didn't want to get locked out, so, feeling very pleased with myself for remembering, I picked up my key. As I pulled the door closed and it clicked, I looked in my hand - and saw, not my key, but my hair clasp!

I couldn't find anyone to let me back in my room, so I spent the next couple of hours sleeping on a cushion on a bench, with my cardigan wrapped around my head to block out the light (I'd fortunately put it on in order to keep myself more covered up - I hadn't taken my dressing gown with me). At around 7.15am I headed to the dining room, where they were getting ready for breakfast. The dinner lady gave me some coffee and cereal while I waited for the man with the keys to arrive.

Shame - it was actually quite a comfy bed and I'd been sleeping well before I woke up!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Observations - what's the point?

Was on a course tonight, where we thought about observations. Very interesting, actually. Ofsted want to know what the learners are learning, and how we know that they are learning, and how we know what they are learning.

New teaching idea for me ... read out a piece of writing, from which pupils have to memorise then write down five key words. In pairs, therefore with up to ten words, pupils then try to write down what was read to them as accurately as possible. They can then compare their ideas to the original. Practice for note taking, summarising, prioritising, listening and recounting. I think. Must try this out, maybe next week ... Jumbled sentences are still the teaching tip of the week though!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I've decided my Year 7s are just plain bonkers. At one point I had about five pupils in the room - that was all - and they were *still* bouncing off the walls! When the rest of them arrived, we all had to go and line up in the rain for about five minutes. "When you are all silent and facing the front, then we'll go in." I thought it was easy to understand ... I didn't even ask them all to be silent for five minutes, or ten, or fifty - just to be silent. They're not too good at silence. Individually, some very nice pupils, and a lot are enthusiastic and friendly personalities. But not necessarily conducive to learning ... At least we managed to get to the end of the lesson this time. And only about five minutes or so after the bell went at the end of the day.

One more teaching day, then I'm on a two day conference. Hurray!

Monday, November 13, 2006

School Meeting

Bad Boy Bingo!

Well, it wasn't quite called that, but it was an interesting exercise. Write down some of the most difficult pupils, think of reasons why, then see who has the same names, and which pupils have support in place. Revealing. Didn't manage to get a full house ...

Actually, I found it really hard to come up with five really difficult pupils. Not because there were more than that! But instead, most of my pupils, looking at them individually, are actually quite nice, friendly, interesting people. It's just that, as a group ... !!!

Overheard ...

... on the tube.

A man with a large rucksack sat down beside me, and next to another woman. I was engrossed in "Casino Royale". He turned to the other woman and started telling her something. I thought they must have known each other, although there hadn't been any sort of greeting when he sat down.

Then she said, "How do you know that?"

"I was told by British Intelligence. That's absolutely true."

Hmmm. Had he been inspired subconsciously by my choice of reading material? Don't think MI5 would be involving someone who blabbed quite so indiscriminately!


"The country is full of facist agents. It's despicable."

Quite. And at that, H and I reached our stop.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Going to Uni

I'm just posting a quick blog before I leave for church.

I had been asked to give a short presentation about my research last year to a group of Masters students - it seemed that they would be first years, about to embark on their first piece of research. However, when I got there, some of them were doing their dissertation, like me, and most seemed to have already completed some research! Never mind, I did my presentation anyway, and the rest of the day was about research and writing reports and it was very useful.

Leaving the building, I passed a large and lovely autumnal tree.

In the evening, we visted friends that I've not seen in years (H sometimes meets up with them during the day). Hopefully the visit will be reciprocated for H's birthday. It was a nice evening out, although we were a bit late home and I'm now quite tired!

Friday, November 10, 2006

It's the weekend!

My own experience of today was mostly good; I don't think that was the same for everybody. We had intruders on site during the day, although I never saw or heard anything until later on.

My first year 11 class went really well - the same lesson as yesterday, different class. The pupils really seem to enjoy the jumbled sentences race! I noticed that the EAL speakers did particularly well at trying to work out combinations of words. I tried to reinforce structure and grammar - "ghostly" is an adjective, so what noun must it be describing? etc. Maybe not the best selection of visuals - quite a difficult concept, the paranormal - but hopefully most of them will have some idea now of how non-religious people could still believe in life after death.

My year 10 class was okay, but then my other year 11 class - the ones I had yesterday - were appalling. One girl sat on the floor chewing gum and playing with it. Eventually sent her out. However, the others were in a strange mood too, so quite a few will have letters home.

I was a bit worried when I heard I had a year 11 cover in the afternoon, but there were only 5 pupils so it was quite relaxing. The pupils had to revise electricity, so I told them the little mnemonics and stories that I learnt in Guides about how to wire a plug (you plant bulbs in the *earth*, then green and yellow daffodils grow *up*, straight and tall ... bLue to the Left, bRown to the Right ... lIve to the rIght ... Fun.

My A2 group and I had a discussion about the conscience. How is it formed?

Drive home took 2 hours. Terrible traffic. At least then it was dry ... we had a lovely meal out, with aromatic duck pancakes, and then walked back in the rain. Nice though. A good walk.

Right. I'm off to sleep now. Uni beckons tomorrow!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Danish pastries ...

I've been really tired recently when arriving home, so no posts ... lots of fireworks at (or around) school. All the pupils had assemblies yesterday. Seemed a bit calmer today. We're all getting pastries tomorrow, just because it's been a tough week. Doesn't make it all go away, or get easier, but a nice gesture, nonetheless.

I know why I had a nice day today ... I had a good lesson with my year 11s. They had some jumbled up sentences, and there was a race to see who could work them out and copy them down most quickly. Some of them got quite competitive! Maltesers for the winning team ... Quite simple to prepare, but fairly effective and enjoyable.

I was at uni last night. We had a lecture on Methodology. Helpful ... doesn't seem quite so difficult now!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pupils! Huh!

At least the day started well. I observed our NQT and she taught a really interesting lesson to a low ability class, using a wide range of teaching and learning strategies to motivate the pupils. They were really enthusiastic in the lesson and learnt quite a lot.

It's a shame the day had to go downhill with my classes! My year 11 group decided that it would rather make silly noises rather than follow my interesting and varied lesson plan that I was so pleased with last night. My year 7s - well, there are not enough desks for them now, never mind chairs and books, so I suppose it's not surprising that I was being constantly attacked on all sides by little people asking for this, that or the other now! now! now! Aaaargh! It took my Year 10s about 15 minutes to begin to settle ... most managed to complete copying out the key words, although with very little input from me because of their poor listening skills, and I only sent one pupil to our school pupil referral unit, and eventually when the bell went, they were quiet enough for about 10 mins for me to read a section of the book and make sure they should have learnt at least one point about the Church. Still loads to do. It makes me feel like pulling my hair out sometimes. It's so frustrating, planning interesting, fun, focused, learning objectives-led lessons, that end up boiling down to "copy that page into your book" just to try and get some order in the classroom. Order, that is, rather than learning. Frustrating.

We also had a year group meeting. That was interesting, since we looked at some pupil support plans. There is a lot of support put in place for many pupils; often the teachers aren't even aware of what support the pupil is receiving, since they can receive it from so many different places. And yet still the pupils sometimes can be so difficult .... !

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Remember, remember ...

... the fifth of November.

How could we forget, when we're surrounded by such beautiful displays? All night, my large window in front of the computer has had sparkling red, gold, green explosions, halos, circles, rockets, fireballs, whizz-bangs, pop-pops, wheeeeeeeeeees and all sorts of other displays. I can hear them all in surround sound, too. Wish I could be bothered to get up and take some photos, but it seems a bit too much like hard work and I keep thinking that if I look for the camera they'll all stop!

Beliefs in Life after Death

Here is my lesson plan for my Year 11 next week.

Starter - Guess the aim of the lesson/"Shark". A variation on hangman - the words of the aim (Explain why non-religious people might believe in life after death) will be marked with lines (instead of letters): _______ ___ ___-_________ ______ _____ _______ __ ____ _____ _____ Pupils will have to guess what words they think will be in the aim (they will be told it is an exam question, so should be able to guess words like "outline", "explain" and "agree"). If they are correct, the word will be filled in the correct space. If not, normally this would mean the addition of a piece of body on the gallows, but this will be a more kinaesthetic version, so instead a volunteer will take a step from the wall towards my desk. If he or she reaches my desk then they have fallen off the cliff and are eaten by sharks, and I win. If the class guesses the word before the victim reaches the desk, the class will have won (and will know the aim of the lesson).

Input - Three pictures will be shown, one at a time. I think they will be of a seance, a person looking in a crystal ball, and an image representing a Near Death Experience. Perhaps also a ghost. In pairs, the pupils will talk about each image. They will answer the questions, "What is happening?", "Why might this encourage a non-religious person to believe in life after death?" and "How might a Christian respond to this image?" (and perhaps also, "What might a scientist say about this phenomenon?") After we have discussed the pictures, there will be some feedback, and I will share a couple of Biblical quotes that warn against communicating with dead.

Demonstrate - Pupils will have to answer the exam question shared at the beginning of the lesson. However, to help them, they will first of all have to unjumble some sentences which will form the first half of the exam answer.

Plenary - Once the questions are unjumbled, pupils will need to write a further two points using PEE (point, evidence, explanation) explaining why some non-religious people believe in life after death. We could then have the answers read out.

So, there you go. A lesson on beliefs in life after death and the paranormal. Who knows, I might even mention my UFO encounter!

Thai and friends

H and I had a lovely time last night, out for dinner with some of my uni friends. At a Mexican bar I had a delicious Bailey's Daiquiri, then we moved on to a Thai Restaurant. The last time I remember having Thai was when we got engaged, and ordering a Green Thai Salad almost blew my head off. This time I had delicious coconut rice with a red duck curry that had a beautifully aromatic and tasty sauce. Very creamy. The only down side was when I ate a green leaf that I thought was harmless, that burnt the back of my palate, and had me reaching for the jug of water. Shame there wasn't one ... Finished off with a Bailey's liquour coffee ... I almost didn't have one, because I thought it was an Irish Coffee, which I ordered once and didn't really enjoy - however, last night one of my friends told me that an Irish Coffee was made with whisky (or rather whiskey, being Irish), not Bailey's Irish Cream, which is what I had expected. A Bailey's coffee, however, is very nice!

So, great company, great food, great drink, altogether a very pleasant night out.

Makes a change from marking!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Curriculum Evening

It was another late night last night. My form, and the rest of their year group, had a parents' curriculum evening last night, where the parents were given a presentation about what we are focussing on in their year, and the strategies that the school is using to support the pupils. There were about 70 pupils there, and their parents, so the hall was full, although that only represents about one third of the pupils.

I was able to talk to a handful of parents, finding out their concerns and making lists of things to follow up with other members of staff. It was nice to recognise so many parents; being able to greet them and talk about the progress their son or daughter is making is quite gratifying.

It was a late night on top of another busy day, though, and today was equally non stop. (I had to leave straightaway at the end of the day with a pressure headache - however, after a painkiller and a short sleep, I'm feeling well enough to post an entry on here.)

One of the best bits about yesterday, though, was a conversation I had with one of my colleagues. We were talking about career development and the many options that are open to teachers in terms of working outside the classroom a bit more but still in school. We're thinking of trying to start up a voluntary cross curricular teaching and learning group ... I spoke to the relevant Assistant Head last night, and he's keen, but we'll have to chat about it more. I'm going to try and come up with a proposal or something ... watch this space!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Drove to the East Midlands last night, with another colleague from another school in the LEA, to take part in a conference looking at the Black Pupils' Achievement Project. A fine drive - we talked non-stop - and we arrived just in time for a delicious dinner: sundried tomatoes and artichoke salad, cannon of lamb with fondant potatoes, caramelised betroot and fresh veg with a jus d'orange, chocolate brownie with banana ice cream, and coffee with tablet and mini chocolate fondant filled meringues. Delicious! We had time to briefly run through our presentation, then I sat up chatting until 1am with the leader of our project and presentation and a friend of hers.

We were first on this morning, and I was glad of a tasty, filling and not too greasy cooked breakfast beforehand. The presentation, which included a couple of models of teaching methods ("articulate" and visuals/oracy/questions model), was well received. There were three main parts - an overview and explanation of the course, given by the course leader, leading the conference in an interactive activity modelling the teaching idea, "articulate", led by my colleague, and my brief presentation of my research, explaining how the course leads into working on a Masters. I had to rush my section, unfortunately, because the first two sections went on a bit too long! However, I managed to demonstrate one effective strategy, and a couple of people afterwards said that it was helpful and they are going to use it.

Good discussions afterwards about the BPAP strategy in our individual schools. Very interesting to hear what other schools are doing. I think it would be good if we could start a teaching and learning group at our school, with members of each department, so ideas and strategies could be shared with all members of staff on a subject-specific basis, although still with a cross-curricular emphasis (eg on literacy, or BPAP).

Another issue that was raised is the paucity of good, relevant images on the web of black people, and other ethnic minorities, for example in Catholic churches. There are images of black people in Pentecostal churches, for example, but very few in Catholic churches. Someone suggested that I write to parents to see if they have photos they would be willing for us to use in lessons, so that our visuals could become more representative of the communities that our pupils come from. I'm planning on following that up.

Right. I think I'll head to bed and get some rest before tomorrow - when I have a parents' evening with my form!

UFO Sighting!

Is it a falling star? Is it a comet? Is it a firework? Is it ball lightning? Is it an alien lifeform?

As we were driving back from the East Midlands on the motorway, I suddenly saw a ball of fire, bigger than a tennis ball but smaller than a football, with a firey tale, falling from the sky onto the road in front of us. H saw it too, just before it disappeared or burnt out. When I first saw it my first thought was of a firework, but it was big, and seemed to move more slowly. I slowed, ready to swerve, imagining that it might impact in the road or fall on the car. It didn't, and we looked for any other strange unidentified flying objects, but saw nothing.

A curious incident indeed.