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Maggie Jarvis

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Everything posted by Maggie Jarvis

  1. John, I have no intention of 'playing', but I am interested in making learning activities more attractive for the sort of students I teach. If that means using animated characters that will engage low ability students then I feel that this is an appropriate use of this sort of technology. My question was not intended to be frivolous in any way.
  2. Has anyone experience of using Microsoft Agents or Cam Studio? Having just read something about these in last week's TES on-line mag I thought I'd take a look.....Cam Studio appears to be discontinued (no free downloads seem available), and I am rather at sea in knowing how to use the 'Agents'!
  3. I'd like to repeat John's question about electronic whiteboards - "do they result in good teaching?" ... and add another question - how many teachers who have regular access to these 'interactive whiteboards' actually use them as they were designed, i.e. interactively, with children being part of the learning process and excitement that the technology can provide? These are extremely expensive items of equipment that the government is so keen to get into schools - are they simply electronic white elephants?
  4. The homework debate just won't go away will it? We had one on his forum a year ago! Here is the link for anyone who might be interested: What is the value of homework?
  5. Maggie Jarvis


    Over the last few years we have used elements of CASE and found that parts of it certainly have improved the 'thinking skills' of many of our KS3 students, as well as their ability to more clearly express some of their thoughts. We only adopted about 10 of the early exercises, however, as our students are not very able and would have found later exercises impossible to understand. For able students it offers some very challenging activities to really get them thinking! It is certainly worth using in any science department but staff do need to try it out together first to really get their heads around it, and the exercises do need to be used sequentially and regularly to really see the benefits.
  6. I don't disagree with these sentiments Andy, but I also have a huge problem with the amount of money such inspections must be costing. The cost of the actual inspection team's training, time, paperwork, expenses and other associated costs is, doubtless, astronomical - probably one reason why the system is to be changed. The additional time and energy spent by each school's teaching and non-teaching staff, the additional paperwork and other expenses are not counted within this expenditure of course. However, the combined cost, in terms of monies and time that should be spent in actually providing better conditions for all within the school system, is a national scandal!
  7. So do I Andy! It even started to get to me this week despite all my good intentions, and I consider myself to be pretty level headed. I don't think any of us has been unaffected by this experience but I really wonder whether the replacement system will be any sort of improvement. The threat of a visit from those 'men in black' will be with us constantly if they come in every 2 years at a couple of days notice...surely not a recipe for reducing teacher stress or for improving the education of the students in our care!
  8. Here is a link that you might find useful Jean - Teachernet is a source of all sorts of 'goodies' re UK education! Teachernet Happy reading!
  9. EAL stands for, as has already been said 'English as an Additional Language' and seems to be the most recent way of describing school children whose first language is not English. It is being used by school AEN departments (Additional Educational Needs - used to be SEN...Special Educational Needs) as the required and correct way of describing such children. AEN and ethnicity has to be one of the identified factors when Ofsted calls...you are required to have your class lists showing levels and types of AEN students and those with EAL so that you can demonstrate how you personalise their learning. See...simple really!
  10. EAL stands for, as has already been said 'English as an Additional Language' and seems to be the most recent way of describing school children whose first language is not English. It is being used by school AEN departments (Additional Educational Needs - used to be SEN...Special Educational Needs) as the required and correct way of describing such children. AEN and ethnicity has to be one of the identified factors when Ofsted calls...you are required to have your class lists showing levels and types of AEN students and those with EAL so that you can demonstrate how you personalise their learning. See...simple really!
  11. Of course there are a whole lot of rather less serious poems - this one is dedicated to you historians...... "My teacher wasn't half as nice as yours seems to be. His name was Mister Unsworth and he taught us history. And when you didn't know a date he'd get you by the ear And start to twist while you sat there quite paralysed with fear. He'd twist and twist and twist your ear and twist it more and more. Until at last the ear came off and landed on the floor. Our class was full of one-eared boys. I'm certain there were eight. Who'd had them twisted off because they didn't know a date. So let us now praise teachers who today are all so fine And yours in particular is totally divine." Thanks to Roald Dahl for that one
  12. I love the pictures that Wordsworth creates in 'The daffodils' and in this one here, 'Upon Westminster Bridge' Earth has not anything to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty: This city now doth, like a garment, wear The beauty of the morning; silent, bare, Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie Open unto the fields, and to the sky: All bright and glittering in the smokeless air. Never did sun more beautifuly steep In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill; Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep! The river glideth at his own sweet will: Dear God! the very houses seem asleep; And all that mighty heart is lying still!
  13. The whole issue of pictures is potentially a thorny one, I agree. Isn't it sad that we have to be so cautious? I think that as a general rule pictures of students in groups, not identifiable by names or email addresses etc accompanying the pictures, and wearing normal clothing, should not present a problem. However, if in doubt, it is best to ask parents for their views/ permission before going ahead. It might be advisable to restrict any student pictures to those areas of the site that are password protected for access by school members only. School websites do attract unwanted interest, I know. We were aware, some time ago, of people who were looking at our school site through carrying out searches for 'college girls' - our school's name, at that time, contained those words. I don't think that they were innocently looking at a school site to benefit their intellectual development!
  14. Thomas Hardy - particularly liked 'Far from the Madding Crowd'. Also Chaucer's 'Prologue' to the Canterbury tales ... in the old English with a brilliant teacher who helped us appreciate the wonderfully expressive words it is extremely funny! Also really enjoyed 'The Moon's a Balloon' - autobiography of David Niven which made me laugh out loud on a crowded commuter train! Also 'The Hobbit' - Gollum scared me rigid as a child. Also Journey to the centre of the Earth, and War of the Worlds - started me on a lifelong love of scifi books. The list goes on and on! I wonder how people manage to go through most of their lives not really enjoying books. I know quite a few of those!
  15. Blair has said that he will serve another term but not a fourth - he plans to resign before that election takes place. As was remarked upon during a conversation I heard on the radio yesterday, this is a first that a PM plans his resignation as part of his manifesto for the next term of office....a case of 'vote for Blair as he is leaving'!?
  16. No problems to report this morning so far Andy! All navigates fine and, as was previously mentioned, I haven't noticed any differences. It may well indicate that I don't protect my machine as well as I ought to from attacks but with my limited technical knowledge I have installed (and regularly update) anti virus software, a firewall and popup blocker. I'll just keep surfing until........
  17. That thought cheers me up Derek! I'll bear it in mind ... we have only 4 weeks before the 'invasion' begins so all ammunition must be ready!
  18. This is not unusual Graham - I have had the same thing happen to me when visiting european countries and trying to converse! It seems that everyone wants to practice their English when they enounter a native speaker and have little time for encouraging someone wanting to speak the language of the country they are visiting. My first real experience of this was when, at age 18, (many years ago!), I spent 6 weeks at a summer school in France for students from all over europe who were there to improve their French. I was able to use almost no French for the entire time I was there - students from England were used for English practice by tutors and students alike! It was very frustrating but they would not be thwarted! In addition, there seems to be an amazing lack of ability by most non English speakers to comprehend the meanings of words from their own language not pronounced with the precisely correct accent. My father battled with this for many years as he tried to speak basic French, and to learn Danish (as he married a Dane) - he never was able to converse adequately in either language as his accent always confused native speakers even though his vocabulary and grammar were carefully learnt. Regarding the lack of interest by English speaking school children in learning european languages - part of the problem is that they see little relevance in learning. When do they ever hear another language being spoken apart from at school? Any time that anyone appears on TV speaking in another language, it is very quickly translated by a helpful 'voice over'. This gives an impression that the language is not worth hearing and that English is much preferable! Films are rarely subtitled so that the language can be heard at the same time as reading subtitles - this is the way that many English or American films appear on european TV, so their youth are much more exposed to the English language. Similarly, most youth music is recorded in the English language so the singing of lyrics in acceptable and 'cool'. Imagine most English speaking students singing lyrics in French!? I fear that the demise of learning foreign languages is not an easy issue to resolve.
  19. I really am Maggie Jarvis, and I really am a science teacher at a school in Kent, UK. I am currently a member of the management team at my school. I still enjoy my job after almost three decades - it is never the same two days running and is never boring. I have enjoyed reading and participating in the open debate that takes place on this forum, having been a member since the early days of its development. Of particular value is the fact that it is a place where people express and discuss their widely varying viewpoints with politeness. A true indication of civilisation! Others could learn a lot from such a model!
  20. Congratulation on the resurrection of the forum and welcome back! How disappointing that some people are so small minded as to want to stop other people having free and open discussion. Not only that, but to employ such bullying tactics anonymously is beyond the comprehension of thinking people! For intelligent people these individuals should consider that they have actually sunk to a level that is lower than those who display the most mindless, loutish and destructive behaviour in civilised society.
  21. John says: It has certainly caused us all to focus rather intensively on the (public) 'exam results' - the tension starts to build up as the Spring term reveals the 'mock' results and worried staff discuss and plan how much more they can manage to do to ensure that the school refuser comes in to more lessons, or how the disruptive child, on yet another period of exclusion, can be persuaded to complete those three pieces of coursework still outstanding. The list of such efforts is almost endless and contribute to the increasing levels of exhaustion and stress we are seeing in staffrooms. Yet are these efforts really for the benefit of the students or simply the response to the demands for the A*-C percentage requirements? Are the statistics really showing that we are all 'doing better'? Doing better at what exactly? A colleague and I (along with the rest of the school!) have spent the last three working days with a mixed ability group of 30 Year 7 and 8 students. We have been in the same two rooms, taking breaks at the usual times, although there have been several occasions when students have not wanted to leave and have to continued working on their projects. There has been an atmosphere quite unlike that of the normal school day. No rushing around, no arguments, no major 'controlling' needed by the adults present. Instead there has been focussed, self direction by each student, and use of the adults as sources of assistance, information and ideas. We have enjoyed listening to a variety of quiet music and there have been quiet conversations between students and between adults and students. Sometimes there has been no conversation at all as everyone was so engrossed in their chosen activities. Some of these students I have taught for the whole of this year, but I know them far better after these few days than I did after a year's worth of lessons! So, what have we been doing?? We have been involved in our annual 'Arts Week'. Our group learnt how to decoratively paint china, glass, terracotta, wood and fabric. They learnt to make lace, braiding, simple jewellery, small puppets and peg dolls. Not academic? Not demanding? In some senses, maybe, but consider these facts: Every student in the group has completed a number of practical projects at their own level of ability(differentiation). Each one has researched for their projects and designs in books and on the internet (use of ICT, literacy and research skills). Each student has discussed their ideas with one another and with their teachers (oracy, citizenship and social skills). Each student has learnt new practical techniques, improving these noticeably over the three days so that their finished projects look increasingly professional (design and technology, & vocational education). Each student will be able to take these skills and apply them to new situations in the future, such that they may be able to utilise them in a future career, business or hobby(careers, life skills). Isn't this the kind of thing that education should be more about? Not easy on the staff though....I have to say that the preparations for it all was just as exhausting as any thorough lesson preparation!
  22. Rob, I think you are starting to stray on to dangerous ground here!! In my mind's eye I see a vision of some of my male colleagues dressed in grey flannel shorts, sagging grey socks, short stripey ties and overtight blazers stretched over rotund beer bellies....Ha Ha!!
  23. Derek it appears that we actually agree on something! I suspect that Warwick, like other redbrick Universities, wanted to be considered as an 'academically elevated' establishment on a par with Oxford and Cambridge which would therefore include adopting and maintaining similar traditions. Perhaps they do not find it absurd at all! I find it absurd that women still choose to wear white frothy confections for their marriage ceremonies, especially as the traditional reasons for wearing white are obviously being ignored as is often evident in the ballooning shape of some brides I have seen! They, however, do not find it absurd and simply enjoy wearing a 'traditional' outfit for a traditional occasion. Let's face it, they wouldn't ever wear such dresses to any other occasion, but they choose to spend a small fortune on them for a single day's wear. Not unlike the graduates we have been talking about!
  24. Graham, I think we have come full circle then : If students wear a school uniform there is then no distinction between the 'haves' and the 'have nots''. If teachers are expected to dress smartly - a 'uniform' requirement - they are conforming to a 'professional' standard of dress appropriate to their work place! The 'paternalistic' attitude you mention is not dissimilar to the attitude of schools towards their students- the pastoral systems and provisions required of schools have grown enormously over the years I have been involved in education! 'Schools should do more and take more responsibility' for almost all of society's problems it would seem. That, however, is another debate!
  25. Jay, I haven't had the time to read the document yet but will certainly do so - holidays start next week! As usual, everything is pretty manic towards the end of the term so reading anything of substance is bottom of the list! Thanks for the link though!
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