Bleh

About all I can manage right now, but I made it a personal goal to blog at least once a week and it’s not like I have nothing to say.

Coursework deadlines, coursework marking, more coursework deadlines, chasing pupils who don’t meet coursework deadlines, taking on a lot of (too much?) collaborative stuff, writing reports, planning curriculum/SoW updates.

No time for blogging right now, but I did have fun with a video camera, a whiteboard, a Y7 class and the internal components of some old PCs we had knocking around. Not sure how much the kids really got but it was a different lesson and good fun.

Right, to bed. G’night all.

To move on… or not?

It’s difficult decision time in the Hippy household.

It’s also really hard to write this post.

My anonymity is laughable, given the way that I have carefully protected my pseudonym over the years (I originally intended it not to be obvious who I am whenever I posted here, believe it or not) and so colleagues, potential employers, even students may see this. So I must be careful. Tactful. Oh dear.

In short, I’ve seen a Head of Department job at a very good school nearby, have looked round the school and need to make a decision about what to do next.

At the age of 29, I’m an Assistant Head of ICT with an appropriate TLR. Where do I go from here, and when? Do I jump straight in for the Head of Department job? The pastoral side is not for me – I like having a tutor group, but have no intention of becoming a Head of Year or Head of House. Do I wait a little longer to be more settled and comfortable? Do I want to be a Head of Department? What advantages will it offer? Am I better off looking at an e-learning or whole school role?

The advantages of being a HoD seem to be freedom/autonomy, responsibility, money and something good to put on your CV. Where I work I already have the freedom and autonomy, responsiblity is tempered with accountability, the money I’m on isn’t bad (although I could always find a use for more), and the last point is where I’m stuck.

But do I want to take a risk of leaving the school that I love working at, with colleagues I’ve come to know well and like, with students who know me and (generally) respect me and all of the others things that are great about where I work – for the sake of improving my CV?

But if I don’t, will that leave me sat here, unable to move should I want to because I’ve stagnated; procrastinated for too long?

I’m really torn, as you can probably tell. And I can’t really say I’m looking for someone to tell me an answer. This blog is a good way for me to reflect, and the things I haven‘t written have likely helped me as much as the things I have.

A difficult decision indeed…

Glutton for punishment or a terminal procrastinator?

I’m not sure why I do it1. In recent weeks I have:

  • spent an entire day signing every pupil in the school up to the World Maths Day website and collating the maths sets so that password can be distributed
  • created Wordle quizzes based on the text from famous books for World Book Day, along with an online quiz using a Google Form which I still haven’t marked
  • recorded around a dozen Moodle screencasts for my colleagues
  • created resources for a Y9 options evening tomorrow
  • set up an interactive (Google) calendar for the school website
  • made a variety of subtle, but time consuming, alterations to the school website (you update an old logo and find the page it links to is subsequently out of date, and so you have to rewrite a whole page of text…)
  • attempted to enter into negotiations with a major film studio over the use of 50 seconds of soundtrack
  • co-created a wiki about copyright implications in education
  • installed, edited, tweaked, hacked, advertised, recruited for and moderated a school-wide blog

And yesterday I decided that the visiting Cafe Scientifique visitor ought to be recorded and podcasted, rather than simply blogged about.

So here I sit, at 11:10pm, devising disclaimers for our guests to fill in, trying to work out whether I can use PodPress with a WPMU installation, worrying that the media tech returns the mixing desk tomorrow as promised – and I’ve yet to actually do any of the curriculum planning or marking that i need to get done for tomorrow.

Oh, and I had an idea today to gather some obsolete laptops and start a school Linux User Group.

I think I need a Time Turner…

1 Of course I know why I do it. I love doing it!

Student Blogs Live

AUPs are signed, accounts set up and students are now posting at the Egglescliffe Student Blogs site. Only two posts so far, one of which was held back until personal blogs start going live after Easter, but a little over a dozen students are poised and ready to report on the latest goings on.

Why run around trying to get the latest gossip from individual departments when you can get the puils to do it for you!?!

Not just normal

Want to look at filming techniques? Camera angles? Dialogue?

Xtranormal is a really useful site. You choose your characters, type your dialogue, set your camera angles and movement and away you go. It renders in seconds and works really well.

I had a couple of minor issues this morning when I first used it in anger, mostly due to my own mistakes – but the staff are incredibly quick to offer support via both Twitter and email and I’m looking forward to some promising developments due in the near future.

I really should get out more

Have you heard of TeachMeet? As far as I can tell it’s a semi-formal gathering of technologically minded teachers – or rather teachers who want to make the most of technology in the classroom. Speakers put their names into a (virtual) hat and have a 2 or 7 minute slot to talk about or demonstrate something practical. No PPTs or Keynotes allowed.

I’ve not had the time/opportunity to attend one as yet, but having seen @Lisibo’s contribution from January this year I’m making it my goal to attend one at some point in 2009…

When good lessons go (slightly) wrong

I had it all planned. I needed a citizenship lesson about crime and punishment and after 5 weeks of paper-based reources and activities my form were starting to revolt.

So, we’d watch a video from TrueTube, discuss alternatives to prison and then the pupils (in pairs or small groups) would choose a presentation method – from Slideshare, Mind42 or Museum Box.

Problem #1 – At first everyone loved the idea of a collaborative mindmap, or the fresh approach of Museum Box. 30 seconds later almost everyone had decided that creating a PowerPoint and uploading to Slideshare was the easier option. Harumph.

Problem #2 – Slideshare is blocked in school. Despite testing (my teacher’s account is slightly more open) and then editing the firewall policy I still couldn’t get it to work.

Problem #3 – If you’re using Museum Box and you accidentally close the window without having saved your work then you lose your work. Both pairs who chose that option made the same mistake.

Problem #4 – Once you;ve convinced the disheartened pupils from #3 to quickly knock together what they can, the box then has to be submitted for moderation which is likely to take days.

Problem #5 – Having decided to overcome #2 by uploading the PowerPoints myself, I find that most of them are half finished and not really of presentable quality. So do I upload them as they are? Don’t upload any? Upload just the ones that I approve of? Not an easy decision.

But take heart faithful readers! All is not lost. The class DID enjoy the lesson, certainly moreso than last week’s paper-based activities. And some learning did take place, even if the outcome is not what I had hoped.

A seasonal quiz

A couple of things in one this morning.

Over the weekend I put quite a lot of time into making a World Book Day Quiz using Wordle, Prezi and Google Forms. You use Prezi to view 15 word clouds based on the text from some popular books – you have to guess the title and author of each one and enter it into the Google Form so that I can collate (and examine the data with my Y9 as part of their database unit).

The other thing is that I’ve started a more school-friendly blog on the local WPMU installation. The aim there is to model an example blog for the pupils and also to share some of the appropriate ICT links and resources I stumble across. So I’m currently actively involved with 3 forums, 2 blogs, Twitter, Facebook and a weekly Flashmeeting with EdTechRoundup. Thank God I don’t have a full time job or kids, otherwise I’d never manage it all!

The Quiz

My school blog