Monthly Archives: February 2017

higher assignment⤴

from @ fizzics

Your assignment will be based on an optoelectronics topic.  You will get some ideas for practical work by downloading this booklet. I have attached a copy of the Scholar notes for unit 3 of the CfE Higher course.  You will find background physics with appropriate energy band explanations on pages 103-142. Don’t print this document, ... Read more

The Higher English Folio and Equal Writes.⤴

from @ Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

There won’t be an English teacher in Scotland out there who isn’t currently stressing over the marking of written Folio essays for both Higher and National 5 classes. A pile which never seems to shrink; another pupil who’d like you to take another look; the demoralising realisation that deadline day is fast approaching. Indeed, over the course of my eighteen years in teaching the assessment of writing in the senior phase has changed several times, arguably not in a good way. I would argue that, at a time when equity in education is so much in focus,  the way we assess writing now has never been so unfair.office-594132__340

The new exam system is now in its third year and, while this might surprise some,  I have been mostly pleased with it. Teaching Don Paterson poetry has been a joy; spending time with Hamlet has been fantastic. The rest has been a chore. Time seems to be constrained; deep learning, at times,  rare. However, the writing folio – one creative piece and one functional piece of  a maximum of thirteen hundred words each – is externally assessed by the SQA and is worth thirty percent of the final grade. So, a good grade for Folio can take you much of the way to a pass.

The writing is assessed using a marking grid which every teacher and pupil can access during the writing process. So far, so fair. But not really. It would be difficult to argue that the external assessment is unfair; perhaps there is an argument there but that’s for another day. The real problems become clear, however, when we consider the preparation and support given. The SQA guideline suggests ‘reasonable assistance’. It also says this;

‘Assessors should not provide specific advice on how to re-phrase or improve responses, or provide model answers specific to the candidate’s task. It is not acceptable for the assessor to provide key ideas, to provide a structure or plan, to suggest specific wording or to correct errors in spelling and/or punctuation. This would go beyond reasonable assistance.’

Those who can, rush straight to their tutors for help. And yes, despite the above advice, tutors do. Parents often insist upon it. Those who can afford it get more help. those who can’t, struggle on. Different approaches are followed all over the country. It’s a system which, while appearing to be equal in terms of assessment is, in fact, anything but.

So perhaps, if we are to assess writing more fairly, it needs to return to the final exam. Why the hell not? It might re-emphasise our need to teach writing properly. Our whole curriculum was supposed to be a move away from our traditional exam system but it doesn’t appear to have worked. What was intended to be an attempt to narrow the gap appears to me to be exacerbating it. Let’s face up to that and do something about it.


Not easy on a bus⤴

from @ blethers

I was reflecting the other day how much more difficult simple faith (in God, mostly, on this occasion, but not exclusively) has become in the past century or so. And I think I was ruminating ruefully - do you have a vision of a sad cow? Trouble is, we know too much. All of us, in varying degrees, are equipped with more awareness of what constitutes our surroundings than were our forebears.

Start with something non-religious. Think of these medical dramas which show even the time of my own childhood, the documentaries which show doctors as white-coated invincibles, the patients as wide-eyed innocents ready to believe that all will be well as they descend into what Robert Frost called "the dark of ether". Nowadays fully-fledged hypochondriacs like me can look up procedures, statistics, symptoms, photos (God preserve us from the photos) and learn doubt. We realise when we are being soothed, and the best that can happen is that when we're actually in extremis we feel soothed. It's when normality returns that the doubt arrives.

And I think it's much the same with religion. All the old certainties - from hell to heaven and places in between - are now subject to the scrutiny of science and knowledge. We know what's up there, out there, beyond ... it's not a mystery any more. We can no longer feel sure that God's in his (note - his) heaven, which is up there in the sky. I remember wrestling at University with the teleological and ontological proofs of the existence of God, at a time when I didn't believe in anything. It was a struggle, but not a spiritual one. It changed nothing; it was easier than Formal Logic; I passed the exam.

All this conspires to make me increasingly irritated at people who assume that if you adhere to a faith you are either "throwing reason out of the window" (what my father said when I announced I was going to be confirmed at the age of 28) or are somehow sufficiently ill-informed to accept a child's version of religion. (I also become irritated at Christians who insist that that's the only way, but that's another story). Someone who thinks and challenges and argues is going to bring that attitude to what they call God - and if having done so they can find themselves happy with the language and attitudes of a faith system, that is where they will exercise their minds as well as their souls.

God - that word we use to describe the indescribable, remember? - God hasn't shrunk because we know the workings of the world that we used to consider a sacred mystery. God isn't the little shrivelled creature of some celebrated fiction. My understanding of this word, this concept, is of something at once all-encompassing and omnipresent and at the same time tiny enough to be within every mind that allows itself to wonder, every heart that allows itself to melt. God is in every moment of thankfulness; still there when the heart hardens and shuts God out.

When a faith-structure allows for this kind of vision, provides the framework of beauty and wonder and loss of the self-consciousness that inhibits, gives space for sorrow and joy and the tears of both, that is what I call Church.  When I find myself in it, I am grateful. When it is threatened - and it can so easily be threatened - it is like an impending death. When it solidifies into something else, I'm better off without it, sad though that feels.

But try explaining that over the dinner-table. Or on a bus.

Not easy on a bus⤴

from @ blethers

I was reflecting the other day how much more difficult simple faith (in God, mostly, on this occasion, but not exclusively) has become in the past century or so. And I think I was ruminating ruefully - do you have a vision of a sad cow? Trouble is, we know too much. All of us, in varying degrees, are equipped with more awareness of what constitutes our surroundings than were our forebears.

Start with something non-religious. Think of these medical dramas which show even the time of my own childhood, the documentaries which show doctors as white-coated invincibles, the patients as wide-eyed innocents ready to believe that all will be well as they descend into what Robert Frost called "the dark of ether". Nowadays fully-fledged hypochondriacs like me can look up procedures, statistics, symptoms, photos (God preserve us from the photos) and learn doubt. We realise when we are being soothed, and the best that can happen is that when we're actually in extremis we feel soothed. It's when normality returns that the doubt arrives.

And I think it's much the same with religion. All the old certainties - from hell to heaven and places in between - are now subject to the scrutiny of science and knowledge. We know what's up there, out there, beyond ... it's not a mystery any more. We can no longer feel sure that God's in his (note - his) heaven, which is up there in the sky. I remember wrestling at University with the teleological and ontological proofs of the existence of God, at a time when I didn't believe in anything. It was a struggle, but not a spiritual one. It changed nothing; it was easier than Formal Logic; I passed the exam.

All this conspires to make me increasingly irritated at people who assume that if you adhere to a faith you are either "throwing reason out of the window" (what my father said when I announced I was going to be confirmed at the age of 28) or are somehow sufficiently ill-informed to accept a child's version of religion. (I also become irritated at Christians who insist that that's the only way, but that's another story). Someone who thinks and challenges and argues is going to bring that attitude to what they call God - and if having done so they can find themselves happy with the language and attitudes of a faith system, that is where they will exercise their minds as well as their souls.

God - that word we use to describe the indescribable, remember? - God hasn't shrunk because we know the workings of the world that we used to consider a sacred mystery. God isn't the little shrivelled creature of some celebrated fiction. My understanding of this word, this concept, is of something at once all-encompassing and omnipresent and at the same time tiny enough to be within every mind that allows itself to wonder, every heart that allows itself to melt. God is in every moment of thankfulness; still there when the heart hardens and shuts God out.

When a faith-structure allows for this kind of vision, provides the framework of beauty and wonder and loss of the self-consciousness that inhibits, gives space for sorrow and joy and the tears of both, that is what I call Church.  When I find myself in it, I am grateful. When it is threatened - and it can so easily be threatened - it is like an impending death. When it solidifies into something else, I'm better off without it, sad though that feels.

But try explaining that over the dinner-table. Or on a bus.

A Facebook Like⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

Facebook was the key to the entire campaign, Wigmore explained. A Facebook ‘like’, he said, was their most “potent weapon”. “Because using artificial intelligence, as we did, tells you all sorts of things about that individual and how to convince them with what sort of advert. And you knew there would also be other people in their network who liked what they liked, so you could spread. And then you follow them. The computer never stops learning and it never stops monitoring.”

from: Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media | Politics | The Guardian

Carole Cadwalladr’s article in today’s Observer, is both fascinating and frightening. The technology used by Cambridge Analytics is incredibly  powerful the use it has ben put too worrying. Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s comms director in the quote above doesn’t have a Facebook account quoted in the same article:

It is creepy! It’s really creepy! It’s why I’m not on Facebook! I tried it on myself to see what information it had on me and I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ What’s scary is that my kids had put things on Instagram and it picked that up. It knew where my kids went to school.

Featured image on this post created with a wee AppleScript Makes auto complete google search gifs.

Medium

Keeping going…⤴

from

A year ago I wrote this.

https://staffrm.io/@lenabellina/05CwLBnsxL

I am copying it in full at the bottom of this post because it is quite heavily referenced below.

It is one of my most read pieces of writing and was reblogged by the Mighty. It got a huge number of shares and comments on various platforms. Almost all were positive and the post seemed to strike a chord with many. The one that touched the deepest nerve was “wow, you slept til 5.15! Lucky you!” That was, for me, what I think is referred to as a trigger and I had to fight hard not to rise to it.

Today, a year on and I am in a similar but very different place.
Some of the actual stuff in the list has shifted. I have changed job, partly because of things related to number 1 and I am back in school, now as Head of Secondary. I am not putting myself in for the music festival this year. But much of the “stuff” and pressures are the same. The workload at school is immense. We have huge staffing pressures, massive issues with pupil mental health and further cuts and changes ahead. The personal financial pressures have not eased and neither has my husband’s situation.
The words “what else can go wrong?” have been a mantra but so have the words “we’ve survived before!”.
But the significant change has come in my outlook.
I have worked really hard to keep the mind tricks at bay. I have used writing as a way to keep my feelings in check. I have written an awful lot!
I am much better at not catastrophizing, (although at 8am when Steve informed me that his back had gone, there was a momentary relapse).
Over the summer I read a number of key books and more recently I have read “Frazzled” by Ruby Wax.
In the autumn, I did an online mindfulness course through FutureLearn. I have learnt amazing stuff about the brain and the relationship between body and soul.
I have engaged with educators who have helped me to realise that authenticity and a focus on wellbeing are not separate from raising attainment and closing gaps. Things like this keep me going: http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/this-town-adopted-trauma-informed-care-and-saw-a-decrease-in-crime-and-suspension-rates-20170222?utm_content=bufferafceb&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

I have found a tribe of likeminded educational souls and I feel supported, even though many of the tribe members are not in close geographical proximity.

I still fight the chimps, the demons, the internal voices that try and win from time to time. But on the whole I am winning. And you can too. It takes a bit of work but it is worth it. For those around you. For those you teach who will know when you are being authentic and will trust and learn from you because of it. But above all, for you.

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I usually sleep well but today I have woken at 5.15 and can’t sleep.
There is fierce raging activity in my head that consists of a series of worries.
1. Something happened at work last week and I am worried that, although I know that I did the right thing, others may not see it like that.
2. I have to run a working party today with a range of colleagues and I fear that they won’t like me and that they will realise I don’t know what I am talking about.
3. When the meeting is over I will have to write it up and produce notes and actions but I have not put any time in my diary to do this.
4. I have training to deliver on Monday and Thursday next week and feel as per 2 but also haven’t planned the training yet.
5. I have entered a singing competition in 3 weeks and do not know any of the songs yet.
6. My daughter is still unwell after flu and has stopped eating properly.
7. My husband may have to stop working which may leave me with sole financial responsibility. And my cleaner has left.
8. I have woken up too early and will be exhausted today but have arranged to take my kids to see a live stream Shakespeare for three hours tonight but am now worried that I will go beyond exhaustion because of it.
I could actually continue with more but 8 is probably enough.
What to do? Give up? Ring the doctor? On paper, these things may seem trivial, over dramatic, irrational. But they feel very real.
But I can manage them. Because I have before. A useful exercise that I discovered before Christmas is to write them down, name them as feelings/ worries and then force myself to counteract them with what I KNOW.
So
1. I have lots of evidence of what really happened and I need to hold to that.
2. It is not about them liking me. I have done huge research, I have a plan, agenda and a clear vision which is to work with the team to improve outcomes for children.
3. I will write detailed notes in the meeting.
4. I have PowerPoints I can adapt and experience and ideas. It is not about me but about what my audience needs.
5. I can record the songs and listen to them as I drive.
6. I can’t control her or her eating.
7. We only a have to get through 2 years and things will improve. I do need a new cleaner, though.
8.  University days. Frequent nights of 4 hours sleep. Baby days- ditto. Did I die? Nope.
Our minds can be devious and feelings and worries play tricks. But by getting them out, ordering them and challenging them, we can get through them.
Solution focus; we have within us the skills and experience to solve problems and face challenges.
Happy Thursday.


The Big Pedal 20th – 31st March 2017⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

The Big Pedal is our UK wide inter-school scooting and cycling challenge, where schools compete to try to get the largest percentage of pupils, staff and parents travelling to school by two wheels.

the-big-pedal

 

Details:

This year’s challenge will be running from March 20th – 31st. It is open to primary and secondary schools who register and then log their data each day.  Schools with the highest participation win great prizes.

Schools can choose to enter a 1 or 5 day challenge where their best day or best 5 days out of the two weeks count. On the final day of the challenge we encourage schools to run a Superhero Day, where pupils dress themselves and their bikes as superheroes.

This year’s theme is Around the World in 10 Days and schools will track their progress on a wall chart – register using the link below –  learning about the countries and cities they pass through along the way.

Information and registration is at http://bigpedal.org.uk/.

The value:

We see the challenge as a great way to get whole school communities excited about active travel and to impact school traffic issues.

 

Red Nose Day 24th March 2017⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

https://www.rednoseday.com/schools

Red Nose Day is back on Friday 24th March 2017. Thousands of schools across the country will be getting involved and making their laugh matter.

Comic Relief has designed lots of learning resources and fundraising activities for teachers in nursery, primary and secondary schools.

There are  films, assemblies, learning resources, tutor time activities and an interactive story to make Red Nose Day come to life in the classroom.

How is your school getting involved?

To get involved go to www.rednoseday.com/schools and order your free fundraising pack.

Follow @rednosedaysch for fundraising tips, ideas and lots of fun!

 

The Big Bang Fair Scotland⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

the-big-bang-logo

Location: Perth College UHI

Date: Tuesday 13 Jun, 2017

The Big Bang Near Me programme plays a vital role in inspiring the UK’s future scientists and engineers at a regional, local and school level. We encourage more people to take these subjects, as well as celebrating young people’s achievements in science and engineering through displaying their STEM projects and letting them talk with engineers and scientists, face to face.

The UK needs many more scientists and engineers and equipping young people with skills in science, technology, engineering and maths is key to their future employability. Students attending a Near Me fair really enjoy themselves too – with nine out of ten rating the event they attended as “good” or “very good”.

Zones will include:

  • Engineering
  • Construction
  • Food and Drink
  • Science and Maths
  • Career Zone – Companies to provide careers advise in their sector.
  • 15 minute presentation slots available to address small groups of young people.

There will also be a chance to experience a selection of STEM challenges available to schools including the ‘turbo charged’ National Final of the Bloodhound Scotland Rocket Car Challenge and Scottish Big Bang Competition final.

If you would like to attend this event please contact Energy Skills Partnership at info@esp-scotland.ac.uk