Saturday, October 31, 2015

Have you heard about the word that's goin' round? (Iron Butterfly)

What's goin' round?

All Blacks! All Blacks! All Blacks!

...and now - back to the blog...

1 Portrait data
We start this edition with a long read on portraits and the data we give off/away with our portraits. It kinda broadly fit into my education world blog but who cares if it doesn't - it's interesting and therefore...erm...educational! 

That bloke on the right looks well dodgy innit! Is he smiling? Is he thinking, "Is this my neutral expression?" or is this just the way Kiwis celebrate being CHAMPIONS? Read that article!

This bookmark alerts me to the continued importance of UDL in personalised learning,  and we all need these continual reminders right?

3 Craig Kemp
I've probably blogged enough about Craig and his wonderful site but in case you were snoozing, or join us late - here is all you need to know about starting a Twitter account and using it for good!

4 A companion piece to Craig
This by Teacher Toolkit is the next thing you need to read after you've followed Craig's advice!

5 Project based learning
And we finish with this timely reminder about PBL as we head into our end of year activities with the juniors.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

There must be something deep down in the dark down there (Tame Impala)

Here's another tight five (go The All Blacks!!):

1 This mixtape of education goodies is worth it's own post but, hey - this is my tight five so they only warrant one place. 

It comes from the good people at Bright. If you haven't caught up with that source...what are you waiting for? It comes warmly Purdzilla recommended.

2 Lots of Lolly
Lolly Daskal (yes - her real name) writes wonderful stuff. Here she is on 12 hard truths about leadership! Again - this could be a post in and of itself but - yep - you got it - I'm in a generous mood.

3 Exams
The bane of a student's life. This Guardian article (I LOVE The Guardian) is a spot on piece of advice about sitting exams! Did you hear that in the back? Come on! You can do it! Never give up! NEVER SURRENDER!!

4 Social media
I liked this article about a school leader's use of social media to communicate stuff. Feels a bit revolutionary, a bit subversive, maybe a tad dangerous. I like it!

5 OTT blogging
In keeping with the OTT nature of this post here are twenty (TWENTY) educational bloggers you could delve into. Woo Hoo - how cool is that?!!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Your focus determines your reality (Qui Gon-Jinn)

Momentum is a delicate, hard won, easily lost, funny old thing.

Sports teams gather impetus from wins or strong performances. Each win builds on the last and confidence rises as a result.

Musicians and bands make progress via success as well - measured by concert sales and movement up a sales chart. When sales fall they need a new success to continue the momentum.

Momentum for students is an individual thing and harder to quantify. For a whole school it becomes even more nebulous.  

At this time of the year (two weeks away from the start of examinations for seniors) momentum is a delicate fragile flower.

Unfortunately, for me, the brakes were applied to any academic momentum I'd managed to engender in the first two weeks of the term.

A number of events have contributed

  • various Agriculture and Produce shows in our rural markets have meant girls and staff away from school at a crucial time; 
  • we held (very successful) athletics sports events on two days which meant changes to the routines of our school day and a complete focus shift; 
  • the anticipation and immediate aftermath of those sports days was little interest in academic activities (we were all in preparation mode or else bone tired); 
  • a large number of senior Year 12 girls are involved in a prefecture process; 
  • two holidays have happened creating less time in class; 
  • many Year 13 girls are shifting their gaze to 2016 and the rites associated with leaving a school many have known since they were very young; 
  • a major music competition is scheduled for the coming week.

All of these things may be worthy in themselves but none of them help me prepare students for some pesky little English exams.

I am a tiny bit kind of frustrated a smidge because I'm sure the school governors and senior leaders and parents will still expect me to get excellent results.

But we all know what happens when we take our eyes of a ball before it is caught don't we!

'Sright! It hits us smack in the face!!

Monday, October 19, 2015

I don't know where my home is (Nelly Furtado)

Another 5 things that are hovering in my bookmarks, all forlorn and unloved. Time for them to be brought out into the light:

1 Common sense media
As I've mentioned a few times already - one of my spectacular children works for this San Francisco based company. Even if she didn't, I'd love Common Sense Media.

This article is about how the company advocates for students at a political level. 

I'm a fan but it's always good to know about other, more negative views about SAMR.

3 Email inbox stuffed full?
I've tried but I can't seem to keep on top on my inbox. Time to reread this piece I think.

4 Blendspace
I'll hang onto this one in the bookmarks - project based learning is something I'd like to develop and TES always provides sensible solutions. Really!

5 Leadership freak on being blinded by experience
Ditto - I need to return to this wisdom whenever I start doing the old - 'I know best' routine (doesn't happen often I hasten to add).

Thursday, October 15, 2015

When people run in circles it's a very, very mad world, mad world (Tears For Fears)

Print media is so slow.

Each year we (Heads Of Departments) have to write an article about our department for the school magazine (that comes out at the end of each year). It's like a yearbook. A record of what goes on.

The worry is that hardly anyone actually reads our department blurbs. Instead staff and students look for themselves in photos! I know I do!

I asked a few of my buddies what I should write about this year and they said - just do photos.

So here is a sneak preview of this year's article - two months early!

The English department as The Fantastic Four!

My yearly report takes a less is more approach this time around and is dedicated to the four members of the English department. It’s the reason we go from strength to strength!

Here’s to my hard working, giant slaying, earth quaking, heart stopping, fun loving, house rocking English Department team. It is a constant joy to have them as colleagues.

Cover of ‘Iona Road’ by The Purdles (with Warren ‘Mr Fantastic’ Purdy)

Greg ‘Human Torch’ Semmens in awesome mode.

Andrew ‘Thing’ Plant – the serious one.

Amy ‘Invisible Girl’ Reid and other reiders

Warren Purdy       HoD English

Sunday, October 11, 2015

It's a world gone crazy (Tears For Fears)

...and school is back (actually for me it started yesterday - Sunday - with Parent Teacher Student conferences).

Hear ye, hear ye - here are five more cool things to bookmark (or they were when I did):

1 Brainstorming does not work
What?? I love brainstorming - what the...Have a read! And see your mind ticking over the possibility that working alone may be best.

2 True confession time
I admit it - I am struggling to use my ipad in creative ways in the classroom. My students laughed at me using the ipad to take a picture - I didn't realise (but they did) that it was on video setting! So I read this article and felt better!

3 A great Guardian article on Ken Robinson and creative schools.

4 A personal testament from a Less is Morer about (yeh) Finland

5 I love this one - I've blogged about it before. Books! And why we can't read anymore.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When you were young you were the king of carrot flowers (Neutral Milk Hotel)

Five more of my bookmarks for y'all:

1 Okay - long good read time 
I keep coming back to this bookmark - 

The McNamara Fallacy and the Problem with Numbers in Education from Chronotope.

It's endlessly fascinating, as in - so far I haven't managed to get to the end of it - you may have more luck. It's very thought provoking but it will test your powers of concentration. Are you up for the challenge?

2 and 3 Short good read time with Leadership Freak: The most important leadership idea, today. Yes that hooked me too! And I liked his answer. Then try this one about being exceptional, or not!

How to teach revision. Apposite timing Wozza! You need to reread this one.

5 How to transform a school. This is another Guardian article that I bookmarked. They have SO MUCH good stuff!! I love the Guardian. I really really do!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Now it's time to leave the capsule if you dare (David Bowie)

Check these out!

  1 To thine own self be true! Who doesn't love to quote the bard? Here are some favourites from some colleagues.

2 I do not think it means what you think it means! Here's a great list: commonly misused words!

This post is for the control freaks out there - you know who you are! Seven ways to rise by letting go.

4 I'm a SAMR fan so I was always going to bookmark this.

5 And another list to finish off with: Six reasons why you should be a blogger!