Monthly Archives: November 2006

2006
11/25

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Teaching

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Mad (well, QTS) skillz

So, after a full week (for me, that is… taught 4 lessons over the week – it’ll be 6 next week) in school, I went and sat my QTS skills test. These are the only tests per se that I’ll have to sit to qualify as a teacher and… well… frankly I felt almost insulted!

The three tests can only be booked at hourly intervals, the numeracy test is 48 minutes, the literacy 44 minutes and the ICT 35 minutes. Ultimately I walked out with 3 passes after about an hour.

  • The numeracy starts off with 12 timed mental calculations (something like 18 seconds per question), followed by another 16 questions (40 minutes, ish, but you can answer the questions in any order).
  • The literacy test starts off with a spelling test (all the tests are computer based and speak the words to you) and then the rest of the test is based around an extract (in this case from a report on an “alternative” curriculum – a skills based one – and its pilot scheme) and tests comprehension, etc.
  • The ICT test is a very simple test of basic computer literacy – can you send an email, format a document, re-sort data in a database.

So that’s that. Job done. But I can’t help but feel almost cheated at how quickly and painlessly it all went past.

*sigh*

The week in school went well, thankfully. I took my first literacy lesson (*gulp*) – two more next week – and survived. Literacy is the subject I feel most scared about – it’s just such a “wide open” subject to teach… I just have to keep remembering to refer to the medium term plans to know how to constrain each week and/or lesson. I’m definitely getting there, ‘though. And still loving it.

G’nite.

2006
11/18

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Teaching

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Business Enterprise Week

Wow, what a week!

First off we had parents’ evenings on Monday and Tuesday (for which I opted to attend, and even managed to throw in a few comments and suggestions here and there… maybe some were even helpful!) which got us off to a lovely tiring start to the week. Actually, it was quite interesting (only a couple of awkward points where parents don’t accept that their little angel might actually be a right unruly little so-and-so in school) and definitely beneficial, in terms of experience and training.

On top of that we were involved in a (you may have guessed this from the title) “business enterprise week” which, for us, meant that we had some Y8 pupils from a local secondary school (with a “commerce and enterprise” focus) in to help with designing/building some calendars. Tail end of last week actually saw me walking around Bramcote with four pupils, taking snapshots of various landmarks in preparation. Then most of this week’s literacy… and some numeracy… and pretty much any other lesson… was taken up with turning those into a calendar. Actually, in fairness, we made two calendars, but the class market research (a questionnaire was created and peddled around school) favoured the Bramcote theme.

Then, this afternoon, we took part in the final stage of the “BEW” which was a little competition of sorts with a number of other primary schools who had also been taking part. I took along four pupils to represent the school who had to give a short presentation of the calendar, why we made it the way we did, etc. Then there was a short “buying and selling” game where half the team went of to spend a virtual £100 buying other calendars and the other take orders on our calendars. Bargaining was encouraged.

Net result? We won… because we managed to sell a number of calendars yet still keep to within 82% of the RRP – other teams sold more, but made offers which meant that they were operating at less of a (theoretical, nominal) profit.

Yippee! Funnily enough, the pupils were rather chuffed and may even get their pictures in the local rags. And I? I got a “Head Teacher’s Award” sticker from AO for my efforts. *grin*

2006
11/13

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Teaching

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Observed, moi?

I survived! Yay!

Actually, it all went rather well, in the end. The lesson itself was much smoother than last week and in other areas my work seems to be okay, too.

My link tutor was, I think, rather impressed with the lesson content (she actually said she’d normally have tackled that sort of thing with Y6 pupils) and noted that I’d successfully explained the objectives and had challenged the higher ability children as well as keeping the others engaged… and also complemented me on my burgeoning class management skills (sink or swim does work as a learning strategy, y’see).

All of my notes and files are okay, although I need to start evaluating/reflecting on my own lessons (something I’ve been doing orally with my class teacher and mentor, but needs to be written in some form) and collecting the various bits of evidence that I’ve actually done all that I’m supposed to (which apparently consists of me getting staff to outline and sign bits of paper).

So I’m pretty happy, all in all 🙂

2006
11/10

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Teaching

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Late night nerves

So here I am, the night before my first formal observation (by my link tutor) watching Grey’s Anatomy (the episode with the unexploded bomb) and I’m starting to feel a little apprehensive about it all.

Ave caesar, morituri te salutant… in other words, wish me luck.

2006
11/07

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Teaching

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A ple… what now?

Encountered a new situation today… the complete opposite of my last problem… I ran out of lesson! Yup – things went so well that I actually fell short.

It was in a numeracy lesson, the supply (my class teacher was out on a course for the day) who was a teacher at the school until last year (when she retired) had warmed them up for me, and kept them firmly and successfully in line. I had them up and about doing some “body maths” on sequences and suddenly realised that I was rapidly running out of lesson. So I extended the lesson to also explore some basic properties of numbers, in terms of odd/even numbers. Still falling short of lunch time, I, frankly, panicked.

I ended up playing a game of “buzz/beep”* with them and spent so long on that, that I then lost track of time and forgot to have a plenary!

I am assured that this is not the last time that something like this (or indeed, like Friday’s ICT fiasco) will happen to me. In fact MB assures me that it not only will happen, but it still happens to her, too… and that is some consolation, because she is a truly inspiring teacher for me to be training with.

* Which, for the less “up” on modern classroom games is a way of testing times tables at the same time as practicing listening skills… two times tables are specified, the play starts with a pupil calling “one” and then moving around the class the sequence extended. Each time the number would be a multiple of either of the two nominated tables, the child must say “buzz” or “beep” (or “buzz beep” if the number falls into both camps).

Bad end to a good week

Oh my… what a mess!

This last week I’ve been really diving into taking an active role in the numeracy lessons – I had to plan this week which I did, the week before half term. It was supposed to be a few days of co-ordinates, followed by the start of a sequence of lessons on, um, sequences. However, in the grand tradition of all best laid plans (see what I did, there?) it had to be amended on the fly. Between by MB (my class teacher) being impressed with how much the children were enjoying the main activity on Monday and then being in college on Wednesday the whole week ended up on co-ordinates (leaving me with only three days to plan for this week… which was nice).

Wednesday was… interesting… too. Seems the game is most definitely afoot now, with a great number of fellow students starting to come under varying levels of pressure. Some personal (a big blog shout out to Darren whose girlfriend has been rather unwell), some professional (again, a big blog shout of encouragement to Helen, who had a nightmare of a link tutor visit) but above all, mostly just stressful. Plus, between Darren and myself, I worked myself up into a “bit of a twizz” about my own upcoming link tutor visit (which between us we managed to bring forward by a week). And so I came back to school, still panicked, and it took me until lunch time to realise why I was feeling so jittery and get over myself.

The maths (I think we can call it maths again, as I’ve just noticed that the newly launched “Primary Framework” talks about literacy and mathematics) went well – very well, actually. My interactive whiteboard (henceforth, IWB) battleships was very well received, the use of the scale map of the acropolis that we’ve been using (note the cross-curricular links to the history topic) was suprisingly successful and the tangrams were rather fun (only one pupil managing to actually solve a tangram before we gave them the solutions so that they could do the actual co-ordinates work).

ICT on the other hand… eep! There I was… I’d been through the actual introduction, showing the children how to use the drawing package (OpenOffice.org Draw, actually, given that it’s free) and then got them seated where we wanted (for the differentiation, don’t y’know) and got to the first, brief, point of the main activity – get the children to copy the relevant file from the network into their local folder ready to start work editing… and… then the lesson ended. Yup. Th-th-th-that’s all folks. So, just to spell it out, I spent about 30 minutes trying to coach 29 children into copying a file from a shared folder on the network. Aargh!

On the bright side, I have a perfectly good lesson plan for this next ICT lesson; which, given that I’m being observed, can only be a good thing.

*sigh*