Well, tomorrow I make my way to the North East for the first Inset in my new role as a consultant. Got to make sure it all goes well as this is now the way I earn my money!
All prepared, early night and an early start.
It's my last day!
This is it. All over and done with.
From Monday I'll be a Digital Teacher on the loose!
It's been great fun creating all these projects, going around the country visiting schools, and developing my own skills in the process.
I'm really proud of Dragonsville - from planning, building, publishing through to seeing the contributions arrive daily from children. I think its the best piece of work I've ever done (it's also fun and that helps)
Ofdoe was a pleasant suprise - I didn't think it would work in Flash, yet the proof is there.
So, now I am off to seek work. Anyone want a web project developing.....
I watched channel4 last night and a programme called That'll teach 'em. It was about a group of GCSE students who went back to 1960s education to see the differences between then and now.
I found it fascinating. Especially how the staff are beginning to be respected as authority figures by the children. Non of the modern day "Please don't do that again", it was "YOU WILL NOT DO THAT OR ELSE!", and one comment from a child was interesting. He commented on how non of the students could work out the teachers, they didn't know whether or not to try being silly, as they didn't know how the staff would react.
In addition to that it was amazing seeing just what the children didn't know - being unable to spell imaginatively, and (last week) not knowing where Scotland, London and Plymouth were on a map. Basic skills were needed, not pandering to government targets that are irrelevant.
Finally, seeing disillusioned boys wanting to take part in lessons on changing a car tyre, listening intently for over an hour, shows the importance of practical lessons that have a relevance in the real world (although giving the girls lessons on "cleaning the house for your husband" may not be appreiciated in todays classrooms!
I hope that people from the DfES were watching and taking notes. It was fascinating viewing.
I had a play with Photoshop the other day. I normally use Paint Shop Pro for any images that I am creating, simply because I have used it for years and know how it works. Anyway, I redesigned the banner at the top of the page in Photoshop (I liked the drop shadow effect) and also a logo to be used on websites that I create.
During my last few days here in the office I am now working on the new look for the teachers portal. Once this is done the site will sit in 'dormant' mode for the forseeable future. If at some point further funding becomes available then there is the possibility that more resources will be added to the ones that are already present.
There was one thing I was not looking forward to when I knew that this secondment would last until the end of August; knowing that the school summer holiday would be spent sat working indoors while all my teaching friends would be laying out in their gardens, resting in the sun.
Oh well, guess I didn't need to worry about that did I! For those reading this who do not live in the UK I will sum up the weather this summer is just one word - WET.
I can't remember a summer as washed out as this one. It has rained everyday for what seems like forever. On the plus side it has also triggered frequent thunderstorms (I can't help but stare out at the sky when the lightning is streaking across the clouds).
So, where has the summer gone. Is this El Nino spreading further, or just an effect of Global warming?
Am I ahead of the game?
I mentioned Wikipedia a while back (post 'Quick Info') and how once I had discovered it, I tried to catch it out by throwing curve ball queries at it. I also mentioned that on the pages that had no info, I was able to add my own to it if I wanted to.
Well, imagine my suprise when I opened a computer magazine this week - Webuser, Issue 90 - and they were doing exactly the same thing!
Did they read the blog and think what a great idea, or is it just a strange coincidence? I'm opting for the latter, surely...
Well I had a week away from work, but not a holiday as such. I spent it looking after my dad while my mum took a well earned holiday for herself.
I'm back at work now, and was faced with over 150 submissions to Dragonsville. (There are quite a few letters being sent in now - seems that the possibility of getting a reply posted to the letter is making children want to write in to the dragons).
There was also an email from a school in Australia that was interested in creating an Island within the Adventure Island project. Once the site goes live, they may well be the first non-pilot school to use it.
Away from work, I've been updating the website that I maintain. I've seen several sales on eBay that have been taking the images off the site without permission and using them in their sales, so I'm templating the site and building into it the inability to right click and copy / save an image, as well as disabling the Internet Explorer image toolbar that pops up over images. Hopefully that might stop some people. The downside is, it means I have around 900 pages to recreate in the new template :-(
The slow death of email continues, and this morning I read a news item all about how the London Grid for Learning was filtering the mail that is coming into their pupil email accounts. It seems that not all of the mail is desired;
Perhaps the most worrying part was the analysis of the mail that was sent;
50% - drug related
20% - pornography
20% - software
10% - cheap mortgages
Why can't something be done about this. It's getting beyond a joke.
I now have mailwasher on my computer at home to intercept mail before I download it, but that doesn't always work as the people sending spam are finding ways around the filters although I've heard reports from friends that the new version of Outlook (2003) does a pretty good job of stopping the spam. I'm seriously worried about the email that my daughter might be getting sent, and wonder whether or not to cancel her mail account. My mum has already stopped using her email address because of the spam she was receiving.
So, best be prepared for the end of email. A short comment for its book of condolence:
You were active in your youth, but as you aged, you became frail and weak. R.I.P.
'The first week of a project to filter the e-mails travelling across the London Grid for Learning has revealed that 75% of the messages are junk. At peak times 95% of the messages scanned by the filtering system were junk.'
Well, I've been meaning to get around to looking at the Wikipedia for a long time now, and finally today I did.
WOW! this is what the Internet is about. A free to use, free to add to, free to edit encylopaedia. There are no rules (as such), but the motto 'Given enough eyeballs, all errors are shallow' tells you that the site is watched by its users.
I thought I would try a few searches out when I was looking at the site and see if I could beat it, so I searched for a link to the perseid meteor showers (as they are due soon). The page was here.
Well, I thought OK, it handles regular encyclopeadia entries, but what about the unusual? I went for a an old childrens TV series based on Robin Hood (Maid Marian and her Merry Men) and found one here.
Next I thought they wouldn't have anything on Dead Parrots, but they did - here! Drat.
Finally, how about a series of books I read as a child, Alfred Hitchcocks Three Investigators? Well, they are mentioned here at the bottom of the page, but the link then goes to a blank title page. However - I could write about them if I wanted to and add the page myself.
So what do I think? There are no videos and animations like you might expect to get if you bought Uncle Bills all singing, all dancing encyclopeadia, but its free, its growing, and you can feel part of it.
I like it.
More submissions to Dragonsville - and more letters from children sent to the main six dragons. It sounds silly, but I really enjoy pretending to a dragon and writing back to them!
You can see the letters that are sent in here, and the 'dragons' replies here as well.
I really do hope that I am able to continue to edit the submissions that come into Dragonsville after my secondment ends. I find it fascinating reading the work of children from all over the world.
Last week I mentioned that the bathroom plaster had fallen off when we removed some tiles. This evening the plasterer will be calling to see just how bad the bathroom wall looks at the moment, and then he will be quoting a price to plaster and tile. I just hope that my sharp intake of breathe as he announces it isn't too noticeable!
On the plus side, we got the hall, stairs and landing completed late Saturday evening. Once we packed all the paint away, hoovered and put the furniture back it looked good. And it is so nice not to see newspaper, masking tape, tins of paint and brushes everywhere.
So, totally exhausted, it was just what I needed that the weather was so muggy overnight as well as next door deciding to have a party until 4am (spending it trying to sing/shout loudly to the music playing). I'm walking around here like a zombie today. Wonderful !!