Monday, 31 December 2012

New Year Resolutions

To be honest, I haven't really got to grips with the things I set myself in September.

I hope that my attendance at the ASE conference will help give me some more ideas related to improving the literacy of my students.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, 30 December 2012

ASE conference sessions

These are the sessions that I am planning to go to at the ASE conference.

I hope that it will help other decide what to go to. Either avoiding the sessions I am going to in the hope that I can some information from them, blog about them and we can all learn more, or coming to the session with me and having a buddy.

Last year I did find myself sat next to Miss Molecules during one session, so it is a small world at the ASE conference!

The first two are booked courses that I have paid for, so I have to go if I want to get value for money!

Inspire future scientists through effective collaboration in the local community
Friday 11-1pm
Booked course

Controlled assessment
Saturday 11am-1pm
Booked course

I have also been asked to go to the following courses:

Models of online CPD for teachers
Friday 9.30-10.30

Celebrating 50 years of ASE - local events
Friday 4-5pm

Which pretty much fills up my Friday! I can't decide how to spend my Friday afternoon though. I have narrowed it down to the following two sessions. At the moment the presidential address is edging it, giving me a bit of time in the exhibition tent to talk firmly to the people at OCR.

Dr Hal, chemistry demonstrations
Friday 2-3.30pm
Chemistry lecture theatre 2

Presidential Address
Friday 2-3pm
Palmer G10

I want to balance my CPD needs, with sessions relating to policy, those that will support the development of the faculty and those that are related to the development of the ASE.

There are two sessions that I have identified as being helpful for the departmental aim of improving the attainment of the girls in the 6 mark questions. I think that I will go to the session on Thursday.

Preparing departments for QWC
Thursday 4-5pm

Success with 6 mark questions
Saturday 2-3pm
Carrington 101

A session I do like the look of is the first of the day on Thursday. I am interested in knowing more about the future direction of science education and this talk organised by OCR by Michael Risse of the IoE looks like it might fit the bill.

OCR talks policy and review
Thursday 9.30-10.30
Henley Business School G11

After the tweetup in York and my involvement in York Science I am really intrigued by the sessions being put on by the York Science education group. However, the only one I can get to is the one on Thursday afternoon.

A good question
Thursday 2-4pm

But I would mean I would miss

Dr Cyril Isenberg demonisation lecture
Thursday 2pm
Chemistry lecture theatre 2

Kevin Brennan MP - ASE policy lecture
Thursday 3pm
Palmer G10

There is a repeat of Dr Cyril's lecture at 4pm, but it is probably too far away for me to make it in the space of 1 minute! my partner Richard plans to go and see Kevin Brennan speak and if possible ask a question about the effectiveness of the labour party in resisting the problems caused by Michael Gove.

At the end of Thursday I will go to the members reception. A good opportunity to meet up with other ASE members.

Members reception
Thursday 5.15 - 6pm
Exhibition marquee

The other sessions I intend to go to are:

Curriculum reform at ks4 and how it impacts at ks3
Saturday 3.30-4.30
Henley business school 101

Leading science into the future
Saturday 2-3.30pm
Henley business school 208

My only remaining dilemma is the Thursday 11.30 time slot. There are four sessions I like the look of. At the moment I am thinking of going to the John Lewis lecture, but I also want to go to "teaching science, what works" and meet Brenda Keogh.

Chemical magic
Thursday 11.30-12.30
Palmer G10

Teaching science - what works?
Thursday 11.30-12.30

Applying to a Russell group university
Thursday 11.30-12.30
Palmer 106

John Lewis Lecture: challenges in predicting climate and the weather
Thursday 11-30-12.30
Henley business school G11

I think on Saturday morning I will make time for a Frontier lecture, a great part of the ASE conference. My dad kept Bees and was always concerned for their future.

Frontier science: bees
Saturday 9.30-10.30
Henley business school G10

But it does clash with another session that looks interesting as I continue with a personal quest to improve the literacy in my classroom.

Let's talk about science
Saturday 9.30-10.30
Henley Business School 201

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Marine Parade,Easton-in-Gordano,United Kingdom

Saturday, 29 December 2012

2012 - review of the year

Biggest revelation:
Going to the ASE conference in January. I discovered that CPD sessions could be worthwhile. (I also found out there were still advisors out there making a practical difference to teaching and learning in the science classroom. It is a pity so many are gone).

Biggest change:
Moving school on May 1st. It is great working in such a positive environment. I am just settling in, and really look forward to working at my new school and learning more about being the best possible teacher I can be.
I was worried that I had done the right thing, but I am happier there now than I was in my last school and I know I have the opportunity to build a great faculty.

Biggest surprise:
Being elected to the ASE assembly. I told my regional committee I would apply as the previous member from our area was taking a step back. I didn't really expect to be elected. I am really looking forward to the next 2 2/3 years working with the rest of the ASE assembly and hopefully moving the ASE forward so we can meet our aims.

Biggest challenge:
I did find leaving my previous job hard, but the biggest challenge was dealing with a student teacher while I was still there. The guy was really nice, but couldn't take advice making it a challenge to support him. He didn't pass the course in the end. I felt bad, but teaching wasn't right for him and it wouldn't have been fair on the students.

Biggest compliment(s):
The best evening of 2012 was the Year 9 parents evening where both the students and the parents thanked me for reigniting their enjoyment of science. It was really worth it.
On the last day at my previous school I was given a great send off by my Year 11 class and paid some nice compliments in my 5ft Velma card.

Biggest award:
I am proud of myself for achieving my RSci status this autumn. I hope I can gather evidence for CSciTeach in the coming year.

Biggest discovery:
Eventbrite. I had used this website as a attendee of an event, but never used it to run an event. At my suggestion we used it to enrol people to the ASE West of England November conference, which seemed to go well.

Biggest inspiration:
Continues to be #asechat and the teachers who share their ideas there. Going to York during the summer to meet some of these teachers face to face was a great experience. Positivity filled the room and it gave me a lot of confidence in myself.

Biggest development:
Is in progress. I am continuing to adapt my teaching and lessons to adapt to the new demands of the 2011 science GCSEs, in particular literacy, processing information and thinking skills.

Biggest event:
Going to the Olympics and Paralympics, and sitting on my sofa watching what I couldn't see live. I have loved the Olympics since I was a kid, but really got into it in 1996 when I altered my body clock to Atlanta time to make sure I saw it all! I hope there is a legacy from the Games, but I don't see a lot of evidence yet.

Biggest realisation:
I have something to give. It still surprises me that I have knowledge that I can share with others. Maybe that is a good thing and prevents the development of arrogance. Hopefully if I start to spout rubbish someone will tell me.

Biggest support:
My partner, Richard, still provides the most support and inspiration for me. I worry about how he is treated (or mistreated) at his school, but despite all that he continues to do his best to support his colleagues and the students in his school. I hope his new head will grow to value him as I do.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


I have posted previously about pinterest.

I am enjoying using it, although I can find the mobile app a little restrictive and not as functional as using Pinterest in a full web browser.

Getting started (these are mobile app instructions)

Sign up or sign in, depending on whether you have an account already.

When I sign in I am presented with this, or something similar:

If you do not follow anyone this space will be blank.

The menu to help navigate is on the top left. Click it and click search.

I find that connecting to people I am interested in using pinterest is so much more difficult than on twitter, facebook, google+ and tumblr. However, following people is really useful as you can share ideas easily.

The search allows you to find boards, pins and people of interest. By searching by board you can inadvertently find people you might like to follow.

I searched for someone I know, Lorna. She has some great science education related pins.

You can also use the menu to search for education related pins/images.

I often look through these pins. I find them based on primary education, but there is often a gem or two. If I find an image that I like the look of then I can "like" it, "share" it, or "repin" it.

Click on the image you want to repin/like/share and it will increase in size.

I decided to repin this image, so clicked on the repin button.

My images are divided into "boards", usually with the name of the units I teach, but also some more generic ones such as literacy, how science works and funny. I want to pin this image to "literacy" and not "funny".

So I click on the button that allows me to select the board to pin to. A draw pops out and I can scroll to find the appropriate board, or even create a new one.

Before I click on the red button to pin it to my literacy board it is possible to change the notes at the bottom describing the pin.

I am also able to add a comment and see who else has repinned that particular image/pin. These users might be people I would like to follow if they have similar interests. I can also add a comment to the pin.

You do not have to follow all the boards from a particular user. For example discovery education. I am not interested in "arts and crafts" so I only follow the "science board". I don't want my home page to be filled with pins that are not relevant to me.

To upload a pin using the mobile app it is easiest to have the image already saved to your mobile device. Use the menu and select camera. Then choose the image you want to upload, which board to upload it to and add a comment.

I think pinterest has massive potential I helping to share resources and ideas in education.

Happy Pinning!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 28 December 2012

ASE conference - what should I go to?

I am going to all four days of the ASE conference - mainly because I can this year. It only cost £132, before the hotel.

There is a lot of choice at the conference. I want to get the balance right! Policy, science, STEM, the future of the ASE and pedagogy. Here are the events I have picked out so far:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 27 December 2012

In school teachmeets

Is it sad that we have to have the idea of in-school teachmeets either subject specific or whole school?

Why weren't schools already encouraging and allowing all members of staff to share good practice? Do we need to have a teachmeet or could we have just used meetings or even gatherings?

Can the sharing of good practice and ideas occur by another means than someone standing in front of a presentation and recycling an idea? I would hope so.

In the first school I worked in we discussed classes, ideas, strategies. There was no competition between staff for favour of the management so we were happy to share and support each other. More than that we had a layer of middle management who wanted to improve the experience for the students and also support other staff: They didn't want to get an assistant associate vice championship league division 2 head teacher position. The ideas didn't need a acronym and they didn't need to be celebrated during morning briefing, there was no mention of "boosting your CV".

In the third school I worked in it was all about point scoring. Young staff who saw possible positions on the management team, usually via a head of year position. There were no organic sharing of ideas only attempts to get the management to favour you. Discussions were not about pedagogy, they were about organisational matters. Re-writing schemes were about filling in boxes in order to look "innovative", not about ensuring best practice were embedded first. More over there was no learning for peers because everyone had to appear as the expert, no one was allowed to be humble as that was a weakness.

Maybe the schools that intend to do in-school teachmeet need something to kick start the sharing of practice. But I worry. The only time I was happy to "show off" at an in school teachmeet situation was when the management appointed someone over me and I was happy to use the opportunity to show that I was by far the better candidate(!), and I had the opportunity because no one else wanted to volunteer. I spoke every other week at the departmental teachmeet. Not the best motivation for sharing practice!

So what is the answer? A culture where teachers are allowed to seek support from each other and are happy to share their ideas. Not immediately easy, but a few key characters who naturally talk about their lessons help to spread this culture.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Paying compliments to staff

I was given advice by the "improving behaviour in Bristol schools" team in 2003/4. The main idea they put across is that you praise the behaviour you want to see from the students. Nothing is too small. Other advice included praising 5 time more than you criticise.

All through my career teachers have listened to this advice and tried to apply it in their classrooms and when using school behaviour systems. All the time bemoaning the lack of consistency in the way that teachers are treated by school mangers. Where is the 5:1 ratio in praise to criticism when dealing with staff?

Is it patronising to be told "well done, you have marked your books"? Maybe, but it does make a difference. I was told this in 2008 and it was nice to hear.

Last term my head teacher complimented me on knowing my tutor group well. To me it is part of my job to know my tutees, but it is also nice that someone realises you are doing your job.

A few years ago (2007) my head of department complimented me on my imagination and problem solving in his Christmas card. It was appreciated after another hard and miserable term in that school. The staff were constantly on edge in case we were summoned by the head and it was never for a good thing.

When moving schools I wrote various schemes of work, contributed various ideas and pointed numerous teachers and managers in the right direction. I wasn't made to feel valued: Going from a school where no thanks were given to a one where every element of WWW is only given so it can be followed by EBI has made me unable to take praise gratuitously and I also struggle to give it out. (Which is the worst aspect of it).

I spoke to my out going head teacher at her leaving party about this. Apologising for the ungracious way that I accept her praise. She exclaimed that it was her role to give out praise and maintain morale and the next head better do the same!

We shouldn't have to give out praise to sugar coat bad news. Praise should be natural and an every day part of our teaching. More praise please, I like it!

The written examples of praise from my line mangers are below:

I really like that Joy uses the word "commitment". I can't remember that being used for me before, even though I am nothing if not committed.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:United Kingdom