Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thursday again!

Two year 10 groups. Two very different experiences. One is (pretty much) focused, doing the work, responding, heads down, not disturbing each other too much - and the other group seems the exact opposite. Strange. One after the other, between break and lunch.

Finished my most recent essay and had another course meeting after school today. Fun. Shame it's the last one, really. Thought provoking. Ate chips on the way home. Still pretty full.

Friday tomorrow! Strange Year 10s and my nice Year 8 class. Not sure what I'm going to do with them, though ...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What's happening?

Have you ever, every felt like this? When strange things happen, are you going round the twist? (Emmm ... with apologies to the "Going Round the Twist" theme tune people).

Emmm ... the strange thing is ... lots of pupils seem to have been a bit more on task over the last couple of days! I feel a bit befuzzled by it all. My year 9s ... well, there are still too many with jackets on, listening to music and reading newspapers, but most actually took part in the lesson, and again, most wrote quite a bit down (copying, yes, but they should now have the answers to at least two if not three exam questions in their books). My year 7s were able to watch most of the St Francis of Assisi video in relative quiet, even silence at points, with only four having to be taking outside for questioning and threatened with the referral room and phone calls home. And my year 10s answered two evaluation questions today! So all in all not a bad day today, and it was similar yesterday.

Shame it's not like that with all my lessons, or those of my colleagues. I was in one room today talking to a couple of sixth formers about a forthcoming trip, when we heard a terrible noise from next door. We got up to see what was happening, and I saw one pupil about to throw a chair while we heard a table being knocked over. I told the sixth formers to take on the responsibility of being helpful sixth formers, which they did (they are very sensible and nice sixth formers) and they helped sort out the pupils who were fighting whilst I removed one boy who had captured the whole incident on mobile phone. Eventually managed to get him to delete it. Would have been good evidence, but I wasn't confident about actually taking the phone off him before he managed to send it to someone else, so decided best option was to have it removed asap. Got him to show me three times slowly that the video section was empty. Only hope he hadn't already saved it elsewhere - never thought of that. However, apparently he was moaning for the rest of the lesson about how he had had to delete it, so hopefully it's not going to end up on YouTube. Scary, though, that they see no wrong in videoing something like that for further distribution.

Tum ti tum tum, tum ti tum tum, tum ti tum tum - wooo-ooo-oooooooo!

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Sound of Drumming ...

... coming from the classroom next door. But only with a cover teacher and when I was in the office - I couldn't hear anything next door over the noise of my own lovelies this afternoon. I wonder why I bothered turning up for the Year 10 lesson, really. The highest mark in the exam was just over 40%, and eight students failed. Most got Gs. So I'd planned a lesson (with lots of pictures and a pinch of humour) to go over the shared weaknesses and help them improve - but instead they decided they wanted to play cards and/or dance insanely and inanely around the classroom. With some friends who should have been somewhere else. The one student who is always on the ball, really thoughtful and friendly, had failed to get a G by one mark, so he decided "Why should I bother?", and it was only when I explained to him towards the end that he has the knowledge inside his head - indeed, in some of the questions he was almost the only one who actually knew what he was talking about, he just hadn't written it down - and that next year we'll spend a lot of time practicing exam answers, that he brightened up a bit and decided to take down a few notes. Nice lad. He makes it all worthwhile. Had something similar with the Year 8s - lots don't do anything, and are noisy and disruptive, but at one point I counted those working, and there were 12 of them - so again, that's why I do it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Sound of Drums ...

Da da da daa, da da da daa, da da da daaa ...The drums are coming!

Doctor Who was very exciting tonight! How will Martha manage to save the world? How will she save the Doctor?!

To think that next week is the last episode ... If you missed it, you can watch it again here - a handy little website. May have to watch them all again at some point! It's been a great series. Can't believe there are so many rumours about David Tennant leaving midway through next season - hope not! I think he's been the best Doctor for ages. Helps that he's Scottish, of course!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Recharging my batteries

Meeting went well today - three more assessments planned with success criteria! Yeah!

Got up promptly, because I was worried the alarm might not go off again. Had forgotten to buy new weetabix, so had a banana and plum instead. Very quick breakfast, so decided to leave a bit earlier than normal. Raining, a bit earlier so more overcast and darker than normal, so put on my lights. Arrived at school early - not many others about - still pouring with rain. Switched off engine, sat in car until the rain was a bit less, then decided that I would get less wet getting out the passenger side of the car because when I get out the main side of the car I need to squeeze past the wet door of the car then I'd still have to open the passenger side to get my stuff out the car, so left by the passenger side. Arrived 40 minutes before briefing, so about half an hour earlier than I have been arriving for the past few months. Just as briefing was starting, a colleague came and told me that my headlights were still on. Ran out of briefing.

Realised that because I'd left by the passenger side, the buzzer thing to remind me about my lights hadn't gone off.

Turned the key ... no engine.

Well, to cut a long story short, I eventually found someone with jump leads who said he'd come and jump start the car at lunch. I arrived before he did - and this time the car jumped into action! I sat with my foot on the accelerator for about 15 mins just in case.

It's been all good apart from that. A few year 8s were a bit silly, but since the only time I see them is Friday period 6 and we only have about one lesson left, as long as they are not too silly, I don't mind too much. And some did some good work. And it was a nice atmosphere.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Key Stage 3 Assessments etc

I have had no classes today.

Instead, I have worked from 8.30 am through until now (11.20pm according to my computer) with time off to drive home and cook dinner.

Would be easier having classes!

No, it probably wouldn't, because I'd still have to do all the things I've been doing today! We have a meeting tomorrow morning looking at KS3 Schemes of Work, attainment targets, levels and assessments. So today I decided to plan what we are going to do. I started an overview of the three years (7, 8, 9) on a weekly basis. I managed about five SoW. Then I wondered how we should implement the new attainment targets that we have. There are six different strands. HoD asked if I was going to implement them straightaway, or form a working party, planning some SoW to implement later in the year. Well, I feel that would just confuse everyone. So then I began to panic a bit, feeling I had bitten off more than I can chew. (I probably do that quite often, but don't really feel as if I have!) Fortunately up in the staff room I met a colleague who is also doing her Masters and is a great sounding board as well as being an excellent practioner. (I'm not sure if she's an AST, but she should be.) So I ran the idea past her, and she came up with loads of excellent ideas, as well as helping me decide what the priority should be for tomorrow.

So ... I have spent this evening breaking down each unit of work assessment into one of the six strands, making sure there's one strand covered per year group. For each assessment I have also suggested a type of task eg letter, article, evaluation. Tomorrow I will explain the difference between AT1 (learning about religion) and AT2 (learning from religion), and in pairs, we will look at one assessment, and write out pupil friendly success criteria based on the one chosen strand. That means the members of the department should know one strand well to begin with.

Once we have the assessments, that will influence our lesson planning, so that we can teach the skills and knowledge necessary for the assessment - these are already in the SoW, so we shouldn't have to do much, perhaps just hone them so they fit more neatly.

We will focus on Year 7s. At Christmas, when the Year 11s are off on Mock Exam Leave (if they get any), we can use some time to plan the Year 8s, then this time next year we can plan Year 9s. So by 2008 all the levels and assessments should be fully in place. Having learnt about the strands with Year 7s we'll all be happier to use them next year.

So all I need to do now is to work out how to share the complex six strands with the pupils. I'll probably simplify it to their common denominators - ie we'll be back at where we were at the beginning of the year! But somehow I want to include AT1 and AT2. So still a few things to think about ...

Will let you know how I get on, I'm sure!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Year 7s were great today!

Mainly because four of them decided to turn up to my lesson 17 mins late after running around the playground, and since the rest of the class were settled by then, I refused to let them come in and instead a teacher took them to the referral room. I am working on a process of continual praise - putting their names up for being good and giving them postcards for good work. One of the boys who has been really difficult this year has turned over a new leaf, and having him not only behaving but also quietly working is making a huge difference as well. It only takes two or three to make a class almost unbearable, and having had six or seven playing up all year has made the class unteachable at times (this included yesterday ...) so it's great to see that they are capable, sometimes, with a few pupils missing, of behaving and working.

Shame the Year 9s aren't anywhere near that. At least I only have to teach them once a week, but it's not even babysitting. There are only about three that actually want to do any work. So today I went round asking some of them what their dreams are, trying to impress upon them that they will only be able to reach their dreams if they put in the work and make the most of every opportunity. It's so frustrating seeing them throw away any opportunity to learn, to improve, to grow.

The Year 10s had their mock exam today. I now have almost 30 scripts to mark. I had planned on making an impact on them in the afternoon, but we sat around gossiping instead for much of it. Still, it's nice to relax every so often, and most of the year it's never possible - I love having the Year 11s away now and the Year 10s on exam leave! I now have no classes until the end of Friday, unless my AS class turns up tomorrow - they didn't today.

And it's been another beautiful day. The sun is still shining as I type. I ought to go and start cooking my liver and onions now!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sports Day!

Well, we lost, but only just, and we gave it a good go. Just a shame the Head of House who won will be insufferable all year!!! If we'd only had more year 9s and year 10s taking part - an extra 13 competitors, each coming last and gaining 1 point each, would have made all the difference. Let's hope the Year 7s and 8s who ran their socks off this year will remember that.

So many great scenes ... for example the Year 10 boy who ran alongside the Year 8 girl who was near the back of the group in the 1500m, encouraging her and helping her to keep going. The group of year 7 girls who joined their friend who I'm sure must have been on the point of being lapped, round the far side of the track, away from all the spectators, again accompanying her so she finished. The Year 9 boys' relay, featuring 2 Year 9s, a Year 7 and a Year 8, who just wanted to make sure there was a team in the race, the Year 8 girl who ran in the Girls' Relay for the Year 8s, 9s and 10s, in a row. And won two of them, at least. The hurdles, where one boy went down, managed to get up, crossed the line and collapsed in pain, and the first boy over was the one who had only managed to come in front of him because he'd gone down, who checked he was okay. The boy who ran in almost any race he could, even though he's not particularly fast, in order to make sure our house was represented. The sheer power, strength and speed of a Year 8 and a Year 10 boy, who make spinting look so easy - every muscle in their bodies must be going for it with all their strength, yet they both look so relaxed when they run, win the race, then get ready for the next one while others are in heaps at the finishing line. The photo finishes among the girls' races. The teachers' relay race, this year a close run race. The spectators in the stands shouting, yelling, waving their hands, their placards, their t-shirts, the bunting in the air, empowering their competitors. The music - Rocky, Thriller, Chariots of Fire, We Will Rock You, YMCA - that keep us all running, shouting, dancing, excited over the five hours or so, and especially during the longer races. The disappointed faces of the pupils that go over for events only to discover that they arrived a bit late, through no fault of their own, and have missed the event - yet come back and instead of complaining ask what else they can do.

It's been great. My form were great. And next year, we're going to win!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Pleasantly plump

Actually, I'm not that much, really, but I've enjoyed dinner. Salmon steaks in a lime, ginger, honey and white wine vinegar jus, with rice, lime and petit pois. (Won't use the vegetable oxo cube next time though). Strawberries and cream scones for pudding. Yum. And I've just finished watching Blink, the most recent Doctor Who episode, on the internet. Very good. Although I think I still prefer Human Nature. Fairly quiet day today - two sets of Year 10s, one okay, the other not so okay, so my throat is still a bit sore but not too much. Sports Day tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This week

I am trying to get rid of a cold. I have been taking Vitamin C tablets, drinking lots of water, eating satsumas, covering myself in Vic, eating chicken soup, drinking Innocent smoothies packed full of vitamin C, having extra sleep ... hope it shakes itself off soon.

Enjoyed the peace and quiet at lunchtime after the final pupils had left! Decided to come home early to try and get rid of the dreaded lurgy!

A2 had their exam today. My final one. GCSE Year 10s and Resits yesterday - most pupils seem quite happy with it, and I thought it was a fair paper. Most of the topics that came up were ones that were expected.

When we were visiting a friend on Saturday night, quite late, I heard a strange, unearthly screaming sound. I looked out the window, as our friend told me it was foxes. Outside there were at least six foxes, chasing each other through the streets. They were quite aggressive, and our friend's sister was attacked by them once. So I was a bit scared when we left, but it was okay!

Sports Day on Friday. Was a bit offended in the staffroom today at lunch ... a couple of colleagues were discussing who would run in the women's relay team, and were asking loads of women, and mentioning the names of many women on the staff - but not me! Eventually the man sitting next to me suggested "What about NL?", but there did not seem much interest. The original girl discussing it then phoned over to someone else, and mentioned who might take part, "Me, Miss X and -" (here she laughed a bit) Mrs NL"! I know I don't ever take part in anything sporty at school, but I was in the relay team at primary school! (Although I'll definitely not be doing it this year, since I can hardly breath when I'm not moving, never mind trying to run!)

Monday, June 11, 2007


It's really late but I just had to share my experiences of my second ever concert, and my first ever in a stadium, and especially in a stadium as large as Wembley!

We went to see George Michael, and we have had a great night! It was quite awesome, walking up the stairs and suddenly looking down over all the thousands of people sitting in the stadium! By the time we had arrived, George Michael had just started - ten minutes early, just before 8pm, and he went on until about 10pm. There was a great range of songs, some that I didn't really know but were good to listen to, and some of the good old fashioned favourites. His encores were Careless Whisper and True. There was a lot of dancing, clapping and waving hands in the air. Great fun!

Also enjoyed the hot dog (£5.50 for a hot dog and a coke), and the toilets inside were clean and had toilet paper (unlike those outside) although the queue was really long during the break.

There was some good community singing, and the graphics on the stage and the whole set were really vibrant. He also had a blow up George Bush and a blow up Tony Blair. George Michael was some distance away from us, so pretty small, but like H said he still managed to look quite tall so he must be.

I'd like to go to a football match at Wembley - even though we were almost the furthest away, and all the other people were really tiny, the pitch still seemed quite close. And it was filled with sound, although I suppose with all the electrics it would be.

It was really busy on the way back - there were loads of police horses keeping us all calm, and every so often they had to close the tube to ease congestion. But we got back home no problem, and around midnight.

A great night out - and I feel as if I've caught the concert bug! When's the next one?! (Oh - Prince, at the O2, in September ... !)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

200th post!

Well I never!

Anyway, still really tired. And am a bit concerned that the George Michael tickets haven't arrived yet. Hope H will get onto that tomorrow.

More revision classes today. A different group. Okay, but not as good as last one. Very tired.

Had another course after school. It was good, and managed to keep me awake.

Want to go to bed.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I've just slept for about an hour and a half. Could have slept longer ... but the football's on, and I want to sleep through the night tonight! Three late nights in a row ... one marking, one designing computer applications, one entertaining H's agent. Good evening last night. The manuscript is back, with not too many alterations to make.

Sent six pupils from my class to the referral room today. Year 7s. Very calm and organised - I didn't feel at all bad, guilty or "needy" about it. The others thought that it was the most work they'd ever done and have asked that I send them all away next lesson too.

Year 10s are just rubbish.

Want to try and add to my Mediator project tonight - I showed it to some Year 10s today (not the rubbish ones!) and they thought it was quite good.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Back at school

I have enjoyed the week off - very busy getting ready for the Open Studio, which was fun. Really good to see everyone else's work.

I had training last night in a program called Mediator. It's excellent ... I can put a whole unit of work with tasks and downloadable revision sheets onto something that looks like a website, and it should be really easy to make into something that pupils can use to revise from. Up till midnight playing on it!

Had loads of revision today - but so nice. Top set pupils who sat, listened, took notes, and made good points occasionally.

Waiting for dinner to be served ...!