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New Look Blog

I have finally wrestled WordPress into submission, and reorganised the blog so it makes more sense. Hopefully you like the changes. You can see my Twitter feed on the right, and I have added links to my Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn, as well as my “social bookmark manager” Diigo. During my PGCE year I saved a lot of useful links in Diigo so you might want to look there for content as well as here/Twitter/Pinterest. I hope you are less confused!

The header image for this post is an homage to the 90s when we all had “Under Construction” images on our Freeserve personal webspaces. Reblog if you know what that means ūüôā

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My ten top tips for trainees! :)

More top advice from a fellow NQT.

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How-to guide: surviving teacher training.

Wise, true, and might I add, funny. And true. Definitely all true.

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#ITTChat & #NQTChat meetups – reblog

Unusually, this isn’t a massive catch up post. Be prepared for one of those in about a week and a half, but today is all about having the details for all the #ITTChat and #NQTChat meetups in …

Source: #ITTChat & #NQTChat meetups

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Starting PGCE? Don’t waste this summer!

I was briefly involved in the very valuable Twitter chat that happens every Wednesday night on hashtag #ITTchat. (I had to break off because I was actually attending my daughter’s end of Year 6 play – this year has been mostly SATs and Drama – on many levels).

I managed to answer one question, and my responses are attached in the image. But I will elaborate now. The question, with my responses below, was:

Question 1: With the year drawing to a close, it’s time to reflect. What advice would you have wanted/be giving ITTs in September?

ittchat

What I meant by the above was: this summer is your last free time before the hard work begins. If you read my earlier “rollercoaster” or “Repeat after me” posts¬†you will know that the PGCE is a tough year. It’s going to get manic, and you will never have enough time. What will go out of the window first, sadly, is reading time. You will get a¬†long reading list from your tutor, and you will be required to reference a¬†lot of academic material when the assignments come around – which will be quicker than you think. Also, this material helps you build your classroom practitioner skills, and develop your “teacher identity”. Ask your tutor for the reading list now, and borrow or buy some books to read over the summer. Ask other trainees or NQTs what they read, and read that. It doesn’t have to be academic literature, on my course reading list were some “mainstream” books including Mindset and¬†Why do I need a Teacher When I’ve Got Google?¬†and the “Teacher Toolkit” material¬†is pretty much essential.

Get on Twitter too, and follow #ITTchat, #ukeduchat and #NQTchat conversations, build your “Personal Learning Network” (PLN) now, and subscribe to blogs, podcasts and YouTube channels related to teaching. Fill your head with teaching material. Going into¬†teaching is a change of lifestyle, it’s a profession with its own language and codes, its own way of looking at the world, it is ever evolving and in many ways it is like a huge global conversation. Get involved now, to grow your understanding, develop your skills and – probably mostly important – to discover why you want to do this and what you hope to bring to the party.

There will be times you doubt yourself and your ability to teach. There will be what I call “kick the dog days“. On those days you will need to be strong: remember what you’re doing this for and who you hope to become. You will need to have at least the beginnings of what we call a “teacher identity”. It’s easier to cope with the lows, if you have a sense of what the highs might look like. It’s easier to keep going if you know what you’re aiming for. And it’s easier to cope with the challenges if you are well-prepared. If you have several¬†books full of teaching experiences, ideas and strategies already in your head before you start, you’ll be better placed to cope with whatever the classroom (and your tutor) throws at you!

But don’t forget to relax, enjoy the summer and see lots your family and friends. Because soon it will be all lesson planning and late night assignments. It’s a tough year but one of the most rewarding. Teaching¬†is a noble profession.¬†Be proud of who you are becoming.

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Ed Tech software costs

I am pricing up software for use next year. I really love Prezi, Socrative and Quizlet, among others. The free versions all have limitations, however, so I am considering “going Pro”.

The sum of the premium licenses for those three items comes to… $114 or about ¬£88 at today’s (terrible) exchange rate. And I’m sure that I’ll discover, over the summer, lots of other software I want to buy.

What software have you bought for teaching and why? Let me know here or on Twitter, and I’ll do a longer blog post in a few weeks.

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Manchester Baby 

I’m at Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (they used to call it MoSI but no more, something to do with branding…)

Ive been learning about Baby (see pics), rebuilt in the 90s to the original spec. It uses the Williams-Kilburn Cathode Ray Tube memory store, which I found hard to grasp until today, when a helpful volunteer showed me it close up. Never underestimate the value of physical demonstration to get across difficult concepts. 

The store holds 32 words of 32 bits each, or 128 bytes in new money. This was used to store programs and data, in the world’s first proper stored-program computer. 
They used to have iPads in front of the machine, to encourage people to compare computing power between 1948 and today. However they found that this distracted the kids and diminished the message. 

I’ve used clips of The Imitation Game showing another early machine (Turing’s Bombe) and drag/drop guess the year of the old machine exercises in my classroom, but I think I’ll plan a trip here at some point. 

How would you get across the difference between 128 bytes and 750 instructions per second, and the power of an iPad? 

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Repeat after me: PGCE is hard!

I received my PGCE confirmation letter today. Although I knew the result, it’s nice to see it  become”official”.  I mentioned in an earlier post how hard it was. I just read this from 2010 on the TES forums: “however hard you imagine its going to be, times it by 100 and thats actually how hard its going to be. I never thought it would be THIS difficult.”

I’ve actually described it a few times as two years work in one. The coursework and study (if you do it properly) could consume most of the year on its own. As could the teaching practice.

What were your experiences? I am particularly interested in what teaching standards you found hard. Was it the Behaviour? Planning? Differentiation? Comment below, or tweet or DM me.

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Computing Ed. Echo Chamber

I have just discovered this “echo chamber” blog, which curates the best Computing/ICT blog posts from the UK. I hope it is useful.

https://ictcomputingechochamber.wordpress.com/

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Teacher blogs I follow

I’ve just followed a handful of Teacher blogs mentioned in this article. If you know any good ones to follow let me know in the comments.¬†Teacher blogs: who should I be reading? | Teacher Network | The Guardian

Incidentally, I use WordPress itself to follow other WP blogs, and Feedly for everything else. It pains me that some of the “kids today” don’t use RSS, preferring to distribute updates¬†via social media, and don’t get me started on subscribing¬†to blogs “by email”. What weirdo does that?