Tuesday, 30 September 2008


Another busy night tonight. Worked on my maths game until after 11 last night, so I've got some writing up of observations from yesterday to catch up on. I'm also trying to write up observations, etc. from today and am working on tasks for tomorrow when I'll be doing a singing rhyme with the whole class.

I'm busy looking for good resources to do with the weather too. So if anyone has any idea where I can get a CD with weather sounds or where to download good sounds from the internet then let me know.

Monday, 29 September 2008


Into the 2nd week of placement now. Last week I only had 3 days with the children because of holidays and strikes, but this will be a full week. I managed to remember everyone's names this morning - and got them all right - even the 2 sets of twins! Some of them are now remembering my name - or what they think it is: Mrs Nab, Mrs Mab, Mrs Mac, Mrs MacMab (very common that one), Mrs Snark and my personal favourite Mrs Stab!!!

The weather's pretty poor - cold, wet and windy - so the children were inside the whole time today. You notice the difference as the noise level picks up through the session when they don't get the chance to go out and run around. They're a fun bunch to work with though, generally interested in everything and mostly very good at sharing and playing without arguments. It's still very tiring though!!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

2 Star Award

Did my BCU 2 star award today. I'm still totally amazed that I managed it - I thought there would be so many bits I couldn't do because of my wrists that I wouldn't be able to complete the award. It's done both in kayak and canoe - and we had to do all the skills, rescues, etc in both boats - so we had to capsize twice - and it was freezing!!! Actually, the capsize in the kayak was quite interesting. Apart from the cold shock (which made me swallow a little water, now I see what all the books are talking about...) there was another astonishing happening which I only realised on the way home afterwards - I opened my eyes underwater. Now I know that doesn't sound that astonishing - but Mum & Dad will understand - it's a first for me!!! That's right - it's the first time I've opened my eyes underwater!!!! I have done it in the pool - but only wearing goggles. I'm amazed that I did it and didn't just feel for my spraydeck, but I opened my eyes and had a look around - wow!!!!!

I expected to look on all the canoe test parts of it as a necessary evil which had to be got out of the way so I can hopefully in the future progress on to 3 star and maybe beyond (they are sea specific, whereas 1 and 2 star are generic). In the end though, I really enjoyed all the canoe parts too and would quite like to have a go in a canoe again - and would maybe even consider a canoeing holiday sometime.

Now I'm off for a well earned hot bath to soak away the aching shoulders, followed by a whisky mac :-)

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Forest walk

I went a lovely forest walk last weekend. It's definitely getting very autumnal now - some of the leaves have started changing, and there was fungi about everywhere.

Friday, 26 September 2008

1st week of 1st placement

Well it's been a busy week, and a strange one too in some ways. Monday was a holiday, then Wednesday was a strike so the schools were open and staff in, but no pupils. So I've only had 3 days with the children so far. I'm really enjoying the placement - and learning a lot too.

I've now read lots of books to individuals and small groups, the challenge of keeping the attention of the whole class comes next week. We've spent a lot of time outside running around (mostly pretending to be horses) and playing throwing and catching with balls and hoops. I've also done fingerpainting on 2 different days which has been great fun, if messy. I learned a lot the first day and the second day nobody (including me) got quite as messy as I had 'distraction strategies' in place!

Roll on next week, I'm really looking forward to it.

Scottish Learning Festival

Due to the local authority strike on Wednesday I had an unexpected afternoon free as the school shut at the back of 1, so I headed off to the SECC to the Scottish Learning Festival. Managed to find my way there without getting lost which I was quite chuffed at, as that's the first time I've driven anywhere in Glasgow on my own (other than heading straight through on the M8). The exhibition hall was full of stalls and it was great to find out just what resources are out there, but there was just so much to see ... Several hours later I was so tired I could barely talk! And I picked up bags and bags of information, catalogues, etc - and some nice freebies too - maps to use as talking points for outdoor learning, a laminated map of the EU, a couple of books - and a packet of Love Hearts!

There was a 'local authority village' area and when I spotted Shetland there I quickly went round trying to find the Orkney stall as I thought there would be a good chance I'd know whoever was manning it - but there was no Orkney stall. They seemed to be the only authority not represented, although I did meet & chat to David Drever from KGS - but he was there in his position with the EIS, who he's currently on secondment to.

The show was definitely worth the visit as a student teacher to see what's available in the way of resources for additional support needs in particular, but I don't know that it would be worth the journey for me in the future if I had far to travel to it. Any anyway - it's held on 2 weekdays and not in the evenings so once I'm teaching I'll not be able to attend it anyway!

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Paddling in the dark

This is from last week as I didn't go kayaking tonight - too much work to do for placement, lots of notes and observations to write up while they're still fresh in my mind. There was a "fresh breeze" (in Orkney terms) so George and Bill were trying to 'sail' back down the loch. Dave went fishing but didn't catch anything this week.

It was very dark by the time we got back - sunset is now around the same time as it is in Orkney.

I'm really missing having somewhere to get clothes dried properly too. The washing machine isn't wonderful and clothes come out pretty wet as it doesn't spin well at all. So I'm finding clothes are generally on the clothes horse for about 4 days before they think about drying - which doesn't leave anywhere for my kayaking stuff to dry. I was going to buy another clothes horse - but the cheapest I could find was £20. £20!!!!! I'm a skint student - so I went for the alternative option. I bought a clothes line for 74p and I string it up across the lounger between the handles on the window and the kitchen door handle. The biggest flaw with this is that it stops me getting into the kitchen, but it works well for hanging up my kayaking kit overnight and then again through the day while I'm out.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Placement - 1st day

Just back from my placement and I'm exhausted. It's been a good day though. It got off to a bad start when I started getting really - and I mean really - nervous about it last night, and didn't sleep at all well and consequently woke up with a thumping headache. As predicted, about 2 mins after I reached the school I was fine!

There's 20 preschoolers in the morning and 15 preschool and 3 ante-preschool in the afternoon - with a nursery teacher and a nursery nurse. So many names to learn.....

We went outside to play in both sessions, and there was lots of play with sand, water, playdough, drawing, role play in the home corner, etc. Interesting getting a look round the whole school too.

There's a strike tomorrow so there will only be staff in, no pupils. That might give me the chance to do a little more reading of policies, etc as well as a really good opportunity to go through all the available resources and familiarise myself with them.

Monday, 22 September 2008


My first placement starts tomorrow. I'm both excited and nervous about it. Went a drive out yesterday to see where I was being sent - it's about 15 mins drive to the east of Ayr and on a bus route, so easy to get to.

This first placement is the nursery one - 3 & 4 year olds. I've been preparing not just with the course reading, etc but also by listening to CDs of nursery rhymes and singing games and by reading lots of great kids books - The Gruffalo, Bear Hunt, Katie Morag ... great fun :-)

A seat with a view

Spotted near the Esplanade in Ayr - wonder which clever Council department decided this was a good place for a seat? And it's not only one - there's a row of them!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Resources 2

This is what my flat looks like when I'm trying to sort lecture notes, notes from workshops and new resources which have just arrived from Learning & Teaching Scotland.

Saturday, 20 September 2008


I'm finding that I'm thinking about teaching the whole time. I can see now why past students have said you forget family birthdays, etc - all you think about is the course. We've been advised to collect information on so many topics - education (obviously), children's health, religion - festivals, celebrations ... food pictures .... citizenship .... science ... basically anything which could be a resource. I'm not starting to look at everything as a potential resource, so I never read the news on the internet without thinking which stories I should print for future reference.

I was walking home along the river the other day when I saw a gull pecking at a polystyrene food container which was floating down the river. First thought - grab the camera, great resource for children to look at the photo and discuss their views on litter (good citizenship topic there, also wildlife).

The walk to uni

I'm really enjoying the walk to uni each day. It takes around half an hour - at a brisk walking pace - in the morning. In the evening I usually take a different route which takes a little longer.

This was a lovely morning last week, when I set off early and dawdled my way up the river, enjoying all the wildlife and the sun.

Looking back down from the New Bridge towards the harbour mouth (my flat is round the corner from here, out of sight).

There's a choice of bridges to cross the river on, so I can vary my journey each day.

And if I take the long way home I can detour to the esplanade and come along there.


Spotted over Kilbirnie Loch. Kye, is this some sort of a microlight? It definitely had an engine.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Arran, the mythical isle - further proof

A gorgeous autumn day, the most blue sky we've seen in days - and Arran is totally invisible. Is it really out there???


Spent quite a while this morning watching a heron catching fish in the wee offshoot of river in front of the flat. The tide was the lowest I've seen it there. It was still a bit dark at this point - as you can see from the photo.

The walk to uni was lovely too as it was such a nice morning - a definite autumnal feel though, with a hint of a mist which soon burnt off.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Arran - the mythical island

I thought I would be able to see Arran every day when I look out of my window, but it's becoming a bit of a mythical island. Not quite as bad as Brigadoon, but it certainly doesn't seem to appear often at the moment. I think there's only been one morning so far when it's been visible - it mostly seems to appear for a short while some rare evenings, then usually vanishes again within an hour or so.....

I managed to catch a rare view as Holy Isle started to appear one evening...

And an even rarer view of the sleeping warrior.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Placement & kayaking

There is a link between the two - Kari-tek is situated between the 2 schools, so if I manage to take the car to placement some day I can pop along to the kayak shop after work :-)

Outdoor learning

Friday was a good day - apart from the lecture about assessment, most of the rest was very practical with PE and outdoor learning the main topics. We had a whole morning on outdoor learning (our advance homework for that was to go on a specific walk) - after a short introduction and a session on risk assessment we then spent the rest of the morning outside looking at lots of different activities we could do with children of a range of ages. We followed short trails, drew maps, did mazes, went on a sensory walk (well, more talked about it) and did some pond dipping. I can't wait to get the chance to actually do some of this with classes now!

Some of our finds:

PE workshop

Some photos from the PE workshop - there were 3 'stations' set up and we moved around them in our groups. I was in the "speedboats" so when we moved between stations we had to be speedboats! It was fun having a go with the equipment, and we got lots of great ideas how to set things up for the children, what sort of things to consider when setting up a session, behaviour management, etc. We also had a play with the parachute which was good as well. It's nice to get some light relief from all the reading and theory based sessions.


I've now found out where my first 2 placements are going to be. The nursery placement (3 weeks, starting a week tomorrow) is in Coylton Primary Nursery and the P1-3 placement (Nov/Dec) is in Ochiltree Primary. They're close to each other, but in 2 different local authority areas, which will make looking at subjects like transitions quite interesting.

I'm getting quite excited about the nursery placement now. We're in the middle of 2 weeks where everything we do is specifically for Early Years. We've had visiting speakers, lectures and workshops. The only bit I'm struggling a little with is all the theory of child devleopment, etc - I think my brain just switches off when it hears the words psychology or sociology. And not being able to use my previous learning method of writing things over and over again is making it more challening to try to learn about all the different theories about learning and child development - Piaget, Vygotsky ......

The workshops on the other hand have been brilliant. Each afternoon we get a 2 hour workshop which is much more practical and is full of ideas for things we could do with children in the Early Years. So far we've had Drama, Music, Art, Social Subjects and PE - and we actually do activities, we don't just talk about them. I've set myself some interesting homework this weekend to help with preparation for the Early Years placements - I'm listening to CDs of nursery rhymes, singing games, action rhymes, etc. It's years since I heard most of them, but they're coming back to me now. We need to know these things, you know! It's lucky that Mum bought Steven some CDs a while back and 5 Little Speckled Frogs was on one, otherwise we would have struggled a lot with one of the challenges in the Social Subjects workshop! And in one task on Friday out of 30 in our class only 2 knew the story of the Bear Hunt so they had to do that task for us.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Kayaking again

I was kayaking on Kilbirnie Loch again during the week. It started off nice and dry, but the rain came on by the time we got half way up the loch (so the photo is a bit blurred).

The rain came on much heavier on the way back - I was pretty wet and couldn't see much till I had dried my glasses, and it was almost dark by the time we got back, though it wasn't that late. It's very noticeable (and was from the first evening down here) the huge difference in the time it gets dark at night.

(The photo has been lightened on the computer as it was a lot darker than this)

Anyway, kayaking was great fun - about 12 folk were out (I think, I didn't count). I had a go of a greenland paddle which was great, I've wanted to have a go since I first saw them at the Perth show 2 years ago, so I grabbed the opportunity when Duncan offered me a go of his paddle. It's really nice to paddle with - the feel of wood in the hand is so much nicer than plastic, and it doesn't get as slippy when it gets wet (as it was unvarnished). I had bruises on a finger and thumb on my right hand the next day though - but my left was fine. I haven't worked out quite why yet.

Considering how thin the greenland paddles are, it doesn't stop you being able to paddle fast at all. It's a different paddling position, and your wrists don't have to twist as much, so Duncan suggested it may actually be easier on my wrists to use a greenland paddle. Paddling with it was fine, once I got the hand of the differences - even down to the angle the blade does in the water. Sculling with it felt very strange though - especially having the paddle so deep in the water that my whole hand was under!

I was paddling a different boat too (lots of new experiences here) - an Avocet. Apart from the obvious benefit of a bigger cockpit than the Skerray, I didn't like it nearly as much. The Skerray just seemed to 'fit' better; in the Avocet I felt my legs were being twisted a bit to force them to stay braced, and it was quite hard work to keep them in the right position. Think I'll try for a Skerray again next time.

Return of the internet!

My modem - a whole week and a half old - stopped working during the week so I've had no internet access at home which has been very frustrating (not least because of the watsed 1 1/2 hours I had to spend on the phone one evening when I should have been studying, trying to find out what was wrong and get a new modem sent out). Our coursework requires internet access - to get lecture notes, take part in discussions, etc - as well as access the many and varied government documents and other websites which we are expected to read.

So I now have to play 'catch up' with the blog - so it'll probably be lost of short entries all appearing in a short time.

Monday, 8 September 2008


Well I not only survived the Drama workshop today, but I actually enjoyed it!!! We did some nursery rhymes complete with actions - 1 2 3 4 5 once I caught a fish alive.... Twinkle twinkle ...(fine motor skills) and Humpty Dumpty (gross motor skills) then mime of Old MacDonald getting dressed and winter theme (our group did mime of making a snowman which also involved counting - one nose, two eyes, three buttons, etc). Then we had a look at movement and music and some props and did some work about the sea with the whole class working together. I'm still absolutely amazed how much I enjoyed it!!!

Viking pics

Photos from the re-enactment of the Battle of Largs and the fireworks which followed. The glow to the right of the fireworks at the Pencil in Largs isn't a bonfire - it's the Viking longship burning. It was set alight by flaming arrows shot by the archers.

Anyone for tennis?

Wow - Andy Murray beat Rafael Nadal last night in the semi-final of the US Open. I don't have a TV but managed to get it live on online radio. Fantastic.

The final - against Roger Federer -is on at 10pm tonight so I'm not sure how much I'll manage to hear as I'm pretty exhausted with the course and also I have a cold so I don't feel very great. But if it gets very exciting I'm sure that'll keep me awake.

Off to walk to Uni now - this is the start of our 2 weeks of Early Years topics in the lead up to the 3 weeks nursery placement. Got a Drama workshop today which I'm a bit nervous about - and an Art workshop tomorrow which will be even worse, especially as we had to buy an A3 sketchbook so we are obviously expected to draw. Oh dear.


I went to Largs on Saturday afternoon to the Viking Festival. It was really good. I went first to the Viking Village where lots of Vikings were living - they had accommodation, a smithy, etc and were demonstrating weaponry, weaving & spinning, food & cooking, etc. I got some useful ideas for project work with primary age children, and took a lot of photos which will hopefully be useful too. There were several different Viking re-enactment socities involved in the festival - they all do school visits in their local areas and one of them has even been to Shetland on school visits, so maybe Orkney is a possibility too... I was taught Viking 'knittting' (for want of a better word) and they kindly gave me a cardboard template of the 'loom' so I can hopefully teach pupils how to do it and make a strand for a friendship bracelet or something.

I went to the excellent craft & food fair too - and got some of the best dried fruit I've ever tasted. Then I headed off to Kip Marina where I sat in the car reading about Early Years education and the 3-5 curriculum for a few hours, before the Battle of Largs. More about this later.

Saturday, 6 September 2008


Had a nice, relaxing paddle on Kilbirnie Loch the other evening. I was in a Skerray again, but this time one of the older style ones with the smaller cockpit - making it much harder for me to get in and out as I had to take my full weight on my hands, never a good idea :-) Lesson learnt there - pick a different boat next time. The club has about 24 sea kayaks, and there seem to be 2 or 3 different types, so hopefully I'll have no problems getting a boat with a bigger cockpit next time.

It was a lovely evening (a pleasant change from the rain we've been getting every single day....) and we enjoyed bobbing about at the far end of the loch watching the sunset.

Waverley again

Later that evening, after refuelling, the Waverley headed off again and I went out the pier to watch her steam by.


The Waverley was in Ayr the other evening - its last call in of the season (after an afternoon trip round Ailsa Craig), so I popped out to see it. I nearly missed it coming in as it seemed to be quite early, but then it took a long time to manoeuvre in the harbour area so tied up at the pier dead on time. It was really interesting seeing it manoeuvering in such a confined space.

This is her passing the end of the 'offshoot' of river which goes along in front of my flat.

She then went into the part of the dock oppostite, then had to go back round the corner...

... down the far side of the river ...

... and forwards again to the pier at 'my' side of the river.

This one is taken from the end of the esplanade, just at the end of the pier - showing how close the Waverley was to my flat.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Lots and lots of reading

Well I'm now into the 2nd week of the Primary Teaching course, and the reading is building up. I'm going cross-eyed this evening from staring at the computer screen, and am over my (self set) limit of PC use for the day so will keep this short. The course is going fine so far, although the uni is having a few IT problems (don't you just love computers?). We had no internet access, no access to blackboard (where all the lecture notes, etc are put for us) and no access to the e-portfolio, which has made some of the classes a little more challenging. It's gradually all being fixed, so hopefully they'll get it all sorted out soon!

I'm finding I'm printing lots of documents so I can read things offline and not be tempted to use the computer too much - I'm already on my 3rd ink cartridge for my printer!!! And talking of computers - don't you just love red tape too? To be allowed to use my ergonomic mouse in the computing labs at uni, I had to see enabling support, OT, another woman in Student Services (all extremely helpful and supportive) and now I have permission but - wait for it - I have to get an IT Technician to plug it in for me................. so I will avoid the computing labs whenever possible. And what happened to not forcing me to make it obvious to other students that I have "a disability"........... it's lucky that I'm more than happy for people to know, in the hope that I can give them some advice and prevent them from developing problems from too much computer work, etc.

Back to the reading - so many government policy documents are just so long, which adds to the panic when you see how much reading there is to do. Lots of different documents - and pages and pages and pages of them. One we were advised to read is 256 pages long - luckily the first 8 or 9 pages are a summary of the rest, so you can get the gist of it and then read in depth on the areas that particularly interest you. If you tried to read everything in such depth there's not a chance of you remembering it.

So far I've only had one subject session (maths, it was really good); the rest has been School & Professional Studies - topics such as Child Protection, Creativity, Psychology, etc and also introduction to our first placement which is pre-school and is in 2 1/2 weeks - eek! Over the next 2 weeks we'll be focusing heavily on early years education in preparation for the placement.

For the rest of this week the focus is more on subjects - Language, RME, Art, Social Subjects, Science & Technology. We're all wondering what the music and PE classes are going to be like - because they're not just lectures, they're practical classes.

That's it for now, but hopefully that will have given everyone a little more idea what I'm up to.

Monday, 1 September 2008


Sunset, on the pier (just across the bridge from the flat), looking across to Arran.

And looking back down the pier towards the flat ...

Kayaking in the rain

Yesterday morning I had a great time (despite the weather!!!) paddling from Croy to Maidens and back. My first time out on the water since May...... gannets diving in front of us, good company, a nice calm sea. My first time paddling a Skerray too - nice boat, much lower in the water than my Perception Sealion (large banana boat), meaning I got a wave over me right at the start before I had the spraydeck fastened and ended up sitting in a puddle. Oh well, you expect to get wet kayaking in the rain...

We passed below Culzean Castle - not that I got a good view of it, even when the rain stopped for a bit my glasses were so covered I still couldn't see much.

Definitely a paddle to do again sometime when the weather's brighter.

My 1st blog post

I've decided to try a blog - so I can add photos and let family & friends see what I'm up to, as I suspect during my PGDE year I'll not have much time to keep in touch with people properly. Hopefully I'll work out how to add photos too...