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Monday, October 31, 2005

Only on Hallowe'en

I promised myself I wouldn't use this blog for things like this, but this one is too good to miss...

We had an unplanned trip to Inveraray today as my machine has gone toes-up, so Maggie and I with a million things to discuss set off in Rosemary's car. (No car today as I'm doing my bit for the environment and cutting out unnecessary trips by car - as you can see it's working!)

On the way back we were overtaken by a hearse!

Shame on you hearse driver! We were doing 60!

This could only happen on Hallowe'en...

The train which will shortly arrive at this platform is for...

These were the words that would have been echoing at Craigendoran as I was just finishing uploading my presentation to my website for Learning & Teaching Scotland. Talk about cutting it fine! I then sprinted to the station to just catch the train to get to Glasgow in time for the meeting. We were presenting the work I have done on the Help & Training site, and the preparatory work done with Breeze. Want to see the presentation? It'll be online for the next fortnight.

How did it go? I think the answer to that is quite well. Very impressed with the work I had done, and the strong possibility of forming a partnership for a future project. Further information as events warrant.

Great to get the opportunity to present, but I had of course to cancel a visit to Port Charlotte and Port Ellen in order to do this. I've rescheduled Port Charlotte for the beginning of December.

I suppose I now have a lot to think about...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Faith Restored

Up until a few months ago, Luss was famed in my mind for tartan, free shortbread and the fabulous 'Lodge on the Loch'. Now the first thing that springs to mind is a lovely wee school, set in arguably one of the most beautiful locations in the authority. This evening I was there to work with the staff on their newly installed whiteboard - only one hitch - it hadn't quite been installed. We got to work anyway, setting it up on a table instead. I'm a bit disappointed at the contractor who was recommended, but hopefully the situation will be remedied. Nice to have a Promethean board actually working for once! Fantastic swf activities in the ActivPrimary software. Staff were keen to get going with the technology and already thinking about how use it in class with the pupils - brilliant!

Big news of the session which I had completely forgotten about was that Ticket to Space started this week! If you don't know what this is, then check out Learning & Teaching Scotland's site and follow the links.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Third time lucky...

9 people for Clicker4 tonight in Kilcreggan. 4 from Kilcreggan, 3 from Roseneath and 2 from Garelochhead. You have no idea how worried I was on the way there that things would go ok after the last couple of sessions at the school, and I am relieved to say that this session went well.

Took the opportunity to show my website and Maggie's to raise awareness, which was met with approval. We then had an introduction to the program, but more importantly a chance to look through the wealth of grids on CGfL. We then had a bit of time to look at how to make your own grids.

I gave each of the schools represented a CD with the collated Clicker Grids for Learning on it which they could install on their machines.

The best bit about the visit was hearing about the media coverage the school had today from STV news. They had a book launch that was recorded and broadcast on the news today. Go Kilcreggan!

Friday, October 14, 2005

And for my next trick... i(can't)Photo

In-service with the staff from Cardross today. Each of them now has exactly the same digital still camera, so we were looking at how to make use of them. I set them tasks in pairs – sequencing, odd one out, spot the difference and storyboarding. They had 15 minutes to go and take the pictures they needed, and then come back together to put them into the computer attached to the projector. Surprise, surprise… it didn’t work with my machine!

This is now becoming embarrassing – I think I’m going to stop using my Mac completely and only use kit that is in the school. Either that, or just give up completely. The signal it sends out is clear – if he can’t get it to work, then how will we? He does this for a living!

Thank goodness one of the staff had their own machine there which I used – it of course worked perfectly. The moral of this story? Only buy the cheapest, most basic Mac – PowerBooks are nothing but trouble.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

You can tilt Google Earth!

Today was one of our day long marathon meetings with John. Maggie and I have regular meetings with John to catch up on a million different things, so today we went to Drummore for the meeting. A long day, but worthwhile. Maggie drove, so I was a passenger for the near 4 hours there and back for the journey. Spent the way up making a huge list of things we needed to discuss and show John. In amongst the million admin things, the best bit of today was showing John the work we have done on websites. He seemed really pleased that we are now putting out money where our mouth is, despite the obvious fact that this is going to generate work for us all. After all, having a website is a huge commitment. He also agreed for us to go on training with Dave Lawrence concerning filemaker & php, as try as we might, we just can’t get our heads around it (despite Maggie now owning every published book on the subject!)

Revelation of the day is that you can tilt Google Earth! Why did I not know this?! Thanks John -

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Never wear red on an away mission

Woke up this morning completely unable to move my right shoulder and in agony. Had to cancel the session I had arranged with St. Kierans primary, but have rescheduled it for Wednesday 23rd November. What a shame! It was soul destroying to go in to the school and have to cancel, after travelling all that way to do Southend and St. Kierans in the one trip. Drove back home in agony and went to the doctor. It turns out I have a frozen shoulder, which is probably the combination of carrying a heavy bag, using a computer and driving, which is infuriating to say the least.

In ‘Lost’ tonight there was a lovely wee comment about Star Trek and away missions – remember when Captain Kirk and the others would beam down to the planet surface with another couple of random crew members? They were always wearing red and you could guarantee they would be dead before the end of the episode. After the day I have had and travelling back up from Campbeltown, I think that sums it up perfectly… never wear red on an away mission...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The edge of the world...

I’ve now made it finally to the extremity of the Authority. Today was a visit to Southend, to speak with the Head Teacher and staff about the use of ICT in the school. They have bought a SMART Board, and were looking for training and advice about how best to use it. Also, some advice about digital video, which I must say they make excellent use of anyway.

What a lovely wee school! They are in the middle of building works at the moment, which are to be completed by Easter. I look forward to seeing it complete.

After school we had a session on using the whiteboard with all the staff who took to it like ducks to water. Here’s hoping they continue with the same enthusiasm.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Scottish Schools Get Online

One of our primary schools, Rhu Primary, has been taking part in a project with Learning & Teaching Scotland called ‘Scottish Schools Get Online’. The obvious purpose of this is to help schools develop and maintain a school website. To do this, they have been using a product called ‘Take2theweb’. I went to visit them this morning to see how they have been getting on using this method of web creation. Margret McPhail of LTS was also there today to work with the children. Great kids, keen and enthusiastic, but I left convinced of the need for 2 things:

1. Content. No matter how sophisticated or easy the method of creation for a website is, it is completely useless without content. The school have a lot of things to put on a website, but not readily in an electronic format. We need to have this in place first – or a change in mindset has to take place – the purpose of class work changes from being ‘the teachers red pen’ to ‘a worldwide audience’.

2. Kit. Without relatively decent kit, it’s just not going to work. This doesn’t need to be a significant investment, but strategic planning. If you are going to connect a digital camera to a computer, can you get the images out of this computer (if need be) in an electronic format to put on another one?

Well impressed by how easy take2theweb is, but a bit frustrated by its limitations. Still, it gets schools online which I reminded the HT that it puts her school significantly further down the road than others…

Also, impressed by how simple the use of an iPod was for creating and uploading sound files. Now, if only I could convince others of the benefits of podcasting…

The aren’t up and running yet, but you can find out more about the project at http://www.take2theweb.com/ and http://www.take2theweb.com/pub/sso/lts/ or if you want to see how many Scottish schools are online already, check out http://www.scottishschoolsonline.gov.uk

Friday, October 07, 2005

Live Profiling

Today I visited Oban High to discuss how they as a school were integrating ICT into the curriculum. I love visits where I leave more inspired than I enter. Discussion with the Depute responsible for ICT left me assured that their focus in spot on - what difference does ICT make in direct teaching and learning? It is all about making comfortable, innovative small steps - building confidence all the time for both staff and pupils.

The biggest thought for the day had to be the concept of live profiling, which I hadn't given too much consideration to before. Using a whiteboard (or even simply a projector) the teacher could flick between their applications and 'Click and Go' and mark up the pupils merits in real time. From what I gather, the response from pupils is considerable. Realisation that this happens in real time infront of them greatly improves motivation and radically alters how a school can track achievement and progress. I'd never really thought about the benefits of the admin tool of profiling in the classroom before. Life is such a learning experience.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Not so interactive whiteboard...

Went to Kilcreggan Primary this evening for a twilight on using an interactive whiteboard. The staff there were joined by the staff from Garelochhead Primary for this session. Such a shame then, that I couldn't get the Promethean board to work with my Mac! After all the assurances by Anne as well! What is wrong with this thing? It was working fine after the initial hiccup. Good thing I had another computer in my bag otherwise we would have been stuffed. Having said that, it behaved strangely with my PC too, so I am not remotely happy. Despite the added functionality of the software, and the ACTIVote devices, if it doesn't work it is worse than useless. I can feel my allegience switching back to SMART - at least they work when you plug them in! AND FLash player is part of version 9... food for thought.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Day 1 - getting online

Finally getting around to this - the purpose of this blog is to document my travels and thoughts as an ESO. Hopefully I will be able to link this in with an existing website?!

Further news as events warrant...