What I’ve learned this week #2

This week I have:

Joined a curriculum sub group (or tribe?) to design the blueprint for the new Curriculum For Excellence S2 course at my school. I’m really looking forward to this, not least because I’ll be able to fight for more specialist computing skills to be included in the curriculum. I also want to find out more about what goes on in other subjects and identify areas where I can work with colleagues to deliver meaningful cross curricular content – if that’s what they want!

Learned that computing and information systems courses are going to be combined into a single subject: good for schools which only have staffing levels to support one or the other but bad news for schools that have a large number of senior pupils choosing both subjects at int 2, higher or advanced higher. The progress report for technologies states there is a clear downward trend in pupils taking Computing and Information Systems nationwide, so we are perhaps in the minority. Bottom line is that less classes undoubtedly means less staff so I’ll be following the developments on the SQA website closely.

Confirmed I’ll be in Dunblane on 16th September for the SQA course investigating Skills For Work Creative Digital Media (Int 1). Looked at the SQA site and found that some NABs are to be offered via the SQA GamesSpace site.

Worked on a few long overdue mix CDs for friends. I can class this as a form of work as it involves researching suitable websites for future multimedia classes. Fun work! I love making mix CDs (used to be tapes) but found it requires a good understanding of the person you want to make it for: their likes & dislikes, sense of humour, current mood and situation. If you don’t think it through and sculpt the mix cd to the listener it doesn’t work as well. It’s a bit like teaching, every pupil in every class needs handling differently and although it is a lot of work the dividends are undoubtedly worthy of the effort.

Used bubbl.us for the first time. Initially I was really impressed by the simple interface and trialled it with an S2 virtual school tour mindmap which I’d previously created on the smartboard. The plan was to organise this into an order of work with the class on Thursday but unfortunately the site was down all day. A real issue with web2.0 tools in the classroom is the potential for unexpected downtime. I’ll export the mindmaps as images if I use the site in future.

Observed a huge improvement in the submission of homework by all years. The secret seems to be something that isn’t secret at all: little and often with plenty of opportunity to receive support. This is forming part of a blog post on using GoogleDocs in the classroom, coming soon.

Observed that the department Google Site website is heavily used now. This is a real success story now from when it was introduced in February. Pupils can access homework tasks, smartboard notes, course notes, images and weblinks easily. Google Documents can be embedded into pages to allow surveys to feed changes to the site. The fact that pupils can access the same collection of information at home and school is something GLOW should be able to do, but can’t due to pomposity. I hope this can change in future so that home-brew solutions aren’t required.

Learned to take the odd night off and to switch off completely from thinking about work when I do. It feels good! Try it!


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