foolfillment: the blog

Archive for the ‘blogging’ Category

As I mean to go on…

8:45 pm on the 3rd of January, 2008

With only a few days left before the start of the new term it’s time to come back here and write something new. It’s hard to believe it’s been so long since my last post. Needless to say I’ve been busy at school, but next term things should return to something more like normal again, and you should also begin to see more activity on the Ross High CDT blog.

One thing I have been meaning to post about has been the fantastic start that my friend Krysia Mrs Smyth has made with her first year class at St Luke’s. Towards the end of the term there was a flurry of posts, written by the class, all about the projects that they have been working on.

This sort of thing is what I had really hoped to be able to do at Ross High. The excuse I’ve been using I suppose has been ‘I don’t have the time’ – the same excuse that I’ve argued against in the past. Truth is I really don’t know how I will fit class blogging into my classes, there isn’t space in the timetable in 1st year, especially when I lose my class a lot from Monday holidays, and with doing Standard Grades in S2 and S3, again I feel like it is a race against time to get the students prepared for their exams. Another obstacle to class blogging, and I mean real class blogging where the pupils do it not me, is that I am in workshops most of the time and getting access to the graphics room – and internet – is a rare occurrence. My other class, an S4 Graphics Higher/Int2 course over 2 years should be giving my loads of chance for class blogging, but the obstacle there is the pupils themselves – they aren’t so keen on sharing their work online, something that I’m going to badger them about. I know there are a couple of S4s who know about this blog, so maybe they can spread the word?

One final thing, Nick Hood, physics teacher and all round good guy, has closed down his wiki after it being blocked in his school.

I’ve also found that skills in “ICT” are so threatening for some in education that they have been a distinct career disadvantage for me. For this reason, I am not going to waste my time on these things I cannot use to advantage me or my students.

This is a huge shame, Nick had put a huge amount of his own time and effort into his wiki and previously VLE. That he has been left feeling he has no choice but to abandon it I think is appalling. I find myself feeling equally frustrated sometimes, using ICT in the classroom comes with a large number of advantages, often just using the usual stuff on your PC is enough. However it is so much better when you have control over your system and can configure it to work for you – something you can’t do with the locked down school systems; then when you find yourself some great software while using your machine at home you are fighting a losing battle, trying to use your machine at school is not worthwhile (you can’t get on the network) and trying to get software installed on your school machine is often not worth the effort (takes too long to get a licence, get it installed, or the machine doesn’t have a good enough spec). Why should teachers with the expertise to run their own machines, to securely set up a good productive working system (or run a webserver in the case of many teachers) not be granted privileges to either use their own machine on the network, or to tweak their work machines to suit them? On a related note, why should pupils not get similar rights?

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This SLF I will be mostly doing…

8:59 pm on the 13th of September, 2007

On AB’s prompt I’m noting what I’m doing when I got to the Scottish Learning Festival next week.
I can only go for the Wednesday but I’ll be trying to pack in as much as I can, starting off with Ewan McIntosh’s We’re Adopting session, then Our Journey to Excellence along the Microtech Road and finishing up with Stephen Heppell’s keynote Twenty First Century Learning.

Then of course I’ll be heading over the bridge to TeachMeet07.

I’ll be busy twittering and hopefully doing some live-ish blogging throughout the day too.

I’m also wondering if I’ll have the time to get to the In the Wild event in the afternoon.

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Blogging goes down a storm in Campie

5:32 pm on the 14th of August, 2007

So, as I said earlier today there was a session at Campie Primary on ‘ICT in East Lothian’ for all the new probationers. I tried to keep schtuum yesterday when people seemed to think it would be a day on how to get your emails.

Needless to say people were pretty surprised to see just what is going on with edubuzz and I spoke to and heard people who were excited by the possibilities of what the tools could offer for learning and teaching this year. When it came to my turn in the blogging session my cover was blown and I was named as an active blogger, and that of course set the challenge of finding my blog.

Hello to anyone who finds me, why not leave a comment? You can start by saying how chuffed you are to get a free 2gig pen drive!

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Winding up for the big kick off

1:34 pm on the 26th of July, 2007

In between enjoying all the fabulous weather we’ve had this summer I’ve had a few ideas spinning through my mind about what I want to try doing next year along with all the emotions that come with starting a job like this one.

One of the things I’ve been trying to work out is how I can best use some online tools next year, much of this will all work itself out when I start and I find out just how much time I have and what services are available in school. What I’m looking at though is using Pownce a lot. If you’ve not had a look yet and want to know what it is that I’m banging on about then I’ve got an extra 6 invitations. Leave a comment if you want one.

What I’m quite excited about is the ability to create groups of people/friends – I want to use this to collect all my classes together then find a way to carry out their course. The ease in which you can send messages to groups means that I am certain that this is a really cool way of getting some peer assessment going, as well as simple sharing of files appropriate to that day/week’s lesson.

Another of the benefits I think it will have is that there is no need to post long messages, something I think will appeal to the pupils, and will make managing time more easy.

What I’m looking at doing is running my presentation class for Craft and Design with a little pownce work throughout. As they progress through the different stages of their folio they will be required to post various work online – thoughts, links, items of work – and also to spend time looking at the things that their classmates have done and replying to them. Peer assessment if you will, but more than that using other people’s opinions/preferences/ideas to refine their designs.

There’s so many possibilities, I’m pretty excited about it, much more so than I was about twitter. My enthusiasm has brought out a side of me I thought I’d managed to suppress for a while – my need to constantly redesign. Those of you who read this on the site itself and not in a browser will see I’ve added pownce to my sidebar, I think I’ll use this to add shorted posts that don’t warrant a whole post on the main blog, so if you want you can subscribe to the feed.

I’ve got a few other ideas I’m trying to work out in my head. Do you have anything to offer?

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Another quick one

8:57 pm on the 15th of June, 2007

I don’t want to make a habit of these short posts so I’ll try to make this the last.
I found out my school today – Ross High in Tranent. I’ll not say any more than that for now, I’m hoping to manage a visit on Monday and after that I’ll maybe have a firmer idea of what I’ll be teaching next year and how much blogging I’ll be able to get in. Afterwards I’m planning to make it along to the next edubuzz open meeting.

On an unrelated note I was at uni today for a session on Inspiring Creativity and Design with 3D Modelling, I’m going to try to write up some of the presentations here soon but it’s looking like I’ll be bust for the next wee while. I will really have to nag Eddie Mack (one of my lecturers and the organiser of today’s event) to get around to putting his presentation online using youTube and technobuzz.

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eduBuzz open meeting

8:22 pm on the 14th of May, 2007

I went along to my second eduBuzz meeting this afternoon, and there was again a lot of interesting discussion which covered a few different topics. I think it is a great sign that these meetings are open and the likes of me are welcome to come along and take part (or just listen as I mostly did), it shows a great deal of openness, but also gives them the chance to hear a perspective from outside East Lothian.

One of the first areas discussed was the edubuzz site itself. There was also time talking about how to get more people on board and push it beyond those who are already using it. I’ll try to cover these in more detail below. (more…)

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9:13 am on the 31st of March, 2007

Another post about a resource, I’ve just found Scrapblog (via This tool lets you easily create scrap book style webpages where you can bring in photos from loads of different sites like flickr and photobucket, videos form youTube, then style them as you like, add text and colours.

Once it’s done you can publish it to a load of different places, you can produce DVDs, or flickr photosets, or books, even embed it in your own website.

It seem very easy to use and links in with loads of different sites so it could be a fantastic tool to use in schools to create reports about school trips, experiments, shows, anything.

Go and have a look at the scrapblog tour to see how easy it is to use.

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Ultimate Tag Warrior

8:32 pm on the 28th of March, 2007

I’ve been playing with a plugin tonight (while keeping half an eye on the football) called Ultimate Tag Warrior, I’ve been very impressed with the possibilities it’s presented.

Underneath some of my more recent posts you can now see a list of tags, click them and you go to a page with all posts that use that tag. Currently most tags are only used once but that’s because I’ve never been very good at adding tags to each post, this plugin should make it much easier to add them though.

Better is there is a new page that allows you to search all the posts by tag, and another page that has a lovely cloud of all tags. I may try to integrate these into the sidebar sometime.

One of my favourite features about this plugin is that it creates a tag system for this site so it organises all the posts here instead of other plugins I’ve used which just use tags that technorati can pick up on. Not only that this plugin allows you to have those self-same technorati tags in the background as well – so there’s no give for the take.

I looked into this while I was trying to figure out how how to get another exciting project to work – hopefully more about that in the future.

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Teaching Scout

11:34 am on the 21st of February, 2007

I’ve had a few short discussions with the hard-working Krysia on my course recently, like most of the people on my course she’s been spending a lot of her time on the final year project in the last wee while. As part of her project she wants to put together a resource for new CDT teachers – she puts it better:

for probationary Technology teachers to: blog, have an open forum, post resources, help each other out, and not feel too isolated during their first year.

Concerns I have are, how to ‘break down barriers’ such as: peoples’ willingness to share what they do, to overcome the ‘can I really be bothered with this’, how best to maintain a common focus. Things that I feel will be needed, and I’ll need to develop, are maintaining real life contact with each other, the use of critical friends, having a progressing (monthly) focus, a structured resource database and unfortunately some kind of security as I don’t know how pupil suitable the site may be.

Why am I mentioning this here? Well, she needs a way of setting this up that is going to be manageable, cheap, and easy to use, so any suggestions people have would be welcomed,. But also she wants to see if there is anyone out there:

Though I wonder what’ll be needed to get everyone on board, to create a common aim in our teaching practice? I feel we’re all doing it for different reasons – which is no bad thing – but I’ve not yet had a sense of ‘whole school/ across schools community’ which I feel is vital

I’ve probably ripped enough out of her post already so why don’t you go over to her blog Teaching Scout and read it for yourself, then try to give her an idea of the sort of community that can exist.

Support networks

4:21 pm on the 25th of January, 2007

In August I’ll be doing this teaching thing for real and I expect I’ll find it hard work, there’ll be ups and downs, and I expect I will need to talk about how I’m getting on just to help me through it.

Ordinarily the two people I fall back onto for support most are my girlfriend and my mum, next August though things are going to be different – my girlfriend graduates from vet school this summer and the chances of us ending up working in the same place in August are minimal so she’s going off to do something very exciting instead by volunteering to work as a vet in the Cook Islands for two months from mid-August. I’m very jealous.

She hit a small stumbling block when she found out she’d be the only vet there at the time so asked my mum (a recently retired vet) if she fancied an adventure…

The upshot of all that is that next August when I’m starting my probationary year two of my main people to fall back onto might be larking about on a paradise-like island on the other side of the world!

That’s probably where blogging will come in as a big help. There’s an interesting discussion going on over on Don’s Learning Log about the benefits of blogging and people’s resistance to it, the idea that it is a vanity thing.
The main reason I blog is I find it helps to write what I’m thinking and feeling, putting things into written words give me the opportunity to clarify my own ideas. It then has the added bonuses of people chipping in their comments too and helps me shape my ideas further, and giving the chance to read about what other people are thinking through their blogs, in general blogging just helps me make sense of things. So I don’t do it to make me look good, I blog it because I think it helps me do whatever I’m doing better.

[tags]blogging, teaching, probationary year, cook islands, vet[/tags]

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