SQA Fieldwork – what’s it all about?⤴


No, we’re not talking about tattie hoakin’ or anything similar – it’s an interesting piece of work by SQA about what parents, pupils and teachers in schools think about the SQA qualifications our youngsters take in schools, and especially the changes that have been (and are being) made.

Although not written for parents, it is worthwhile taking a look, particularly if you have a youngster coming up to or in Senior Phase at secondary school, or if you are on a parent council at a secondary school.

From our perspective, the key issues for parents (and parent councils) in the report are:
-       The move from Broad General Education (at the end of S3) into Senior Phase (S4 onwards) is still an issue. Many schools are looking for subject choices before the end of S3 – in some cases in S1. This may be for a number of reasons, but many parents fear this, and varying numbers of subject options are narrowing choice for their young people.
-       Slow pace of learning and ‘treading water’ in S1-3 was also raised often
-       Many young people and teachers feel the pace of learning and the complexity of the subjects goes up too steeply as they start working for qualifications – the aim of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) was that the pace would be even from S1 – 6
-       Parents and young people say they are not clear about the CfE levels are, and what they mean for youngsters’ learning
-       Parents overall do not have a clear idea of their youngster’s progress
-       Over-assessment continues to be an issue, with young people feeling under a lot of pressure

-       N4 is discussed a lot: while teachers generally would like to see and exam at the end, pupils are more in favour of different levels of pass (at the moment it is just pass or fail.)
-       There is also a lot about whether N4 is a worthwhile qualification, whether it is valued by young people, parents and employers.
-       ‘Over presenting’ at N5 is also highlighted: teachers say they are under pressure to put pupils forward for an N5 even when they don’t believe it is the right thing. They say the pressure comes from parents as well as head teachers and the local council.
It is interesting that ¼ of schools said that good communication with parents and carers where decisions were being made about N4 or N5 led to little or no parental pressure to put a pupil forward for a qualification the teacher felt was unsuitable.
The report throws up a lot for schools, parents and young people to think about.

From our perspective, the big things are about how schools are communicating with individual parents, and how parent councils can help. There is also a big question mark about how parent councils are making sure the school management are listening to the views of parents (and pupils) about qualifications. If schools that communicate well with parents report that good parental communication removes or reduces parent pressure to put pupils forward at the wrong level, what does that tell us about the other ¾?

Powerful Knowledge in the Social Studies Classroom⤴

from @ The Pedagogy Princess

So, after a wonderful summer of work, work, Paris, work, its back to third year and within my first day I have been subjected to TDT’s! Nothing quite like getting into the swing of things, is there? My elective module this year is Scottish Studies (unlike me I know, but when I signed up to […]

Wanderings with a Wikimedian⤴

from @ ammienoot.com

Reading Time: 2 minutes

It being a lovely evening this evening, I convinced Ewan McAndrew, our Wikimedian, to walk to the station with me, taking a circuitous route to snap some photos for the Wiki Loves Monuments competition. Last we checked, we were getting properly humped by our UK cousins in the image upload stakes. Given that we are rubbish at football, rugby, weather, and healthy eating we need to have some sort of win for our national pride. Also we live in a city with UNESCO World Heritage status, so there must be the odd good shot or two out there.

Typically as soon as we stepped out of our office building the sun slid behind the clouds and then slowly sank down below the rooflines. Curses. Nevertheless, we persevered.

In our short 40 minutes we discovered many treats: a beautiful mosaic over the door of an otherwise unremarkable bank; an art deco style telephone exchange; St Cuthbert’s Cooperative Society; and our final destination – Gardner’s Cresent – a late Georgian Street, cast adrift from the rest of the New Town and now sandwiched in on all sides by a ram-jam mix of other architecture.

Gardner’s Crescent was built in 1822, on land feued by William Gardner, to a design by architects R & R Dickson. The crescent is an “unbroken arc of fifty-two bays” with a pretty little communal garden seperating it from Rosebank Cottages on the other side of the street. The gardens were refurbished and re-planted as a community space after a local campaign to return them to their pre-WW2 state (the railings were removed for smelting in WW2). J.K. Rowling apparently rented a small flat here for a short time and found it depressing.

Prior to William Gardner’s ownership, the land was owned from 1722 by the Society and Fraternity of Gardeners and a large building called Gardener’s Hall stood on the land. The Free Gardeners were a form of mutual aid and insurance society, quite strongly influence by Freemasonry. The first lodge was formed in 1676 in Haddington and the last lodge in Dunfermline closed in the mid 1980s.

A rare treat this evening to take a slow meandering route to the station and look a little more closely at this fine city.

Exiting audioboo(m) part 1⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

AudioBoom is closing its free tier:

If you take no action, then after 2nd October 2017, you will no longer be able to upload new content and your account will become private. We will continue to enable distribution of your existing content for a period of a month so all your RSS feeds and web embeds will continue to work for that period. If you choose to move to another podcast provider, let us know by emailing us at support@audioboom.com and we will redirect your RSS feeds for you. We’ll need at least 5 working days to comply with your request. After 36 months from 30th August 2017, your account will be deleted (including your old podcasts and your RSS feeds, so we recommend that you arrange for redirection of your RSS feeds, download your old podcasts and back them up elsewhere, before that period expires.

from: Subscription Changes

Which is depressing news for me and for Edutalk. I have 50 odd boos which range over field recording, audio recorded for Edutalk and some microcast type posts. Edutalk has had several hundred contributions from many different people over the years.

The situation at Edutalk is more worrying. I could pay $9.99 a month to keep my own account alive. But Edutalk has had contributions from many different people, we could not expect them to pay up for the privilege of having their content syndicated onto Edutalk.

AudioBoom did not provide any export that would help with importing into WordPress (or anything else). This differs from the posterous closedown which did give a WordPress export option.

We do have a while to sort this out. There is a month until the accounts become private.

AudioBoom does have an API, and we used it before.

I am not intending to rush, so this is the plan.

  1. Download the information about the posts using the API
  2. Download all the mp3s by parsing the JSON the api provides.
  3. Delete all the posts on edutalk that have been syndicated from AudioBoom.
  4. Upload all the mp3s
  5. Create posts that embed all these mp3s with the matching titles and descriptions etc.

Today I managed to download the json files and the mp3 I used AppleScript as I find it easier to get stuff done with that than pure shell scripting.

Thank goodness for the JSON helper for AppleScript which worked a treat.

I’ve put the script here:

in case anyone is interested.

I had to run it 10 times, I guess I could have just made a loop but as I ended up downloading 890 mp3 for a total of 2.6 GB batches of 100 files at a time seemed like a good idea.

I am a wee bit worried that there are 2186 posts syndicated from audioboo on the Edutalk site, but there does seem to be a lot of duplication presumably caused by FeedWordPress.

Next Steps

I’ve now got all of the data and the mp3 files I can get.

I know how to post to WordPress from AppleScript, but I’ve discovered a couple of hurdles. I don’t seem to be able to add an enclosure with AppleScript and I can’t see how to ad multiple tags to a post.

The first is probably not a problem. These posts are all so old that they will not feature in our RSS feed. I would like to include all of the tags. I may end up creating a WordPress export file or try one of the csv import plugins. There is now not such a rush. I can test these approaches on this blog with my own boos.

I guess the main lesson to be learnt here is about the temporary nature of the free layer of the web. The AudioBoo app and service were wonderful in their day but reliance on free services costs.

The featured images is a gif captured with Licecap, of a mp3 download.

Mathematical Mindsets – course responses. Unit 1.⤴


Why are schools keen to label children as smart or gifted?


My intiial reaction is that I have no idea. Maybe using gifted allows SMT to ask class teachers what their plan is for ‘stretching’ some children. I feel this is used as a counter balance to the question of what teachers do to support less able children in lessons. This differentiation battle has been ongoing for a while and is not in line with the AiFL which I have studied when reading the Shirley Clarke books.


So what is a belief message you can give to students when you’re talking to them about their work?


You have to give them the belief that they will get there eventually. I remind them that I have failed at many things but I have always managed to get the hand of something if it mattered enough to me. I also discuss with the class why I am asking them questions – not because I don’t know the answer, but because I want to know if a certain person knows an answer but more importantly how that person works something out.


The evidence that those with a “growth” mindset have more brain activity than those with a fixed mindset is pretty amazing – and important. What does it make you think about? Is there something you may do or say differently because of this evidence?


It reminds me that as well as telling my class that we learn stuff which is hard, because it grows our brains, I must remind them that they will find it hard and that they will get there in the end.


How can you help parents with math anxiety?


I think several approaches/actions are required here leading to an understanding of why they are anxious.


Firstly you can share links to video clips, reading matters, research, courses etc showing how growth mindset works and how this links into mathematical understanding.


Secondly you need to remind them of that time in maths that they felt terrible because they couldn’t answer a question in a certain time limit. Ask them how that shaped their feelings towards maths as a subject. Discuss with them the way maths is taught at university where depth and understanding matter more than time limits.


Share with them some of the rich learning tasks from youcubed and ask them what they think someone is learning when the are working on these tasks. During this model maths talk with them too and explain how this cements learning.


Discuss my own feelings towards maths and how they changed when someone took the time to explain how maths worked to me in a way in which I could understand it.


From all of this, ask them how well they feel maths was taught to them. If they feel the teaching they received was not the best, this can be linked to their anxiety. It’s not their fault, a lot of it is the way things were in the past in maths teaching.


What were the main ideas you heard from the interview with Carol Dweck that you think can be helpful in your teaching or interactions with students?


Growth mindset is telling the children that they can develop abilities.

Struggle is good but needs some support.

Be ‘casual’ about mistakes whilst offering to help the student get it right and scaffolding their answers.

Some people are unclear what a fixed and growth mindset are.


What are you most excited to learn from this course?


New ideas for use in class.

How I can support children who struggle the most with their maths.

Things to say to other teachers, SMT and observers in my classroom when they question what I am doing and why I don’t have maths groups.


What ideas do you think were most helpful for the students in the video? What impacted them most?


The idea that getting things wrong in maths is OK and that finishing first does not mean the best. Also, the idea that only struggling through maths develops the brain. Immediate recall and pages of correct does not grow the brain.