Friday, 28 November 2008

*!?**!**!! Vodafone

Vodafone are USELESS. I've been having various issues with them recently - and their astoundingly poor levels of customer service. This has now culminated in them cancelling my Sim card!!!! So not only can I not make any calls or send texts - but if anyone is trying to contact me, you'll not be able to !!! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Time for a new network methinks - anything has to be an improvement on Vodafone.

My advice to anyone out there is don't use Vodafone and don't order anything from the Vodafone online shop unless you want them to keep your money then refuse to answer when you ask why the goods haven't been delivered - they had me on hold for almost 36 minutes last night - until I eventually gave up and hung up, which was presumably the idea. And they won't respond to emails at all. Just hopeless.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Ice balls

The ice balls lesson was FANTASTIC - wish I had kept that one for my crit. My very excited class of mini scientists investigated, observed, made predictions and tested their ideas. It was BRILLIANT! And amazingly they were all so absorbed in what they were doing that we didn't end up with water everywhere or anything.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Quick update

A quick update - taught 2 lessons yesterday and another one today. All went well. I'm loving it - apart from all the paperwork - struggling a little with the sheer quantity of paperwork, especially with my wrists.

Onto ice balls tomorrow - should be interesting.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Ayr Santa Dash - part 1

I'm just back in from Ayr Santa Dash. It's a fundraiser for the Ayrshire Hospice - and also part of the Christmas Light Switch-on party in Ayr. I was so intrigued by the idea of the Santa Dash that I had to go - even though it's not a very nice day (cold wind, sleety rain ...). I'm really glad I went though - I've had a great afternoon. Got well kitted up - thermals, waterproofs, hat .... and camera. There were about 300 Santas doing the 5km run/walk. They've raised in the region of £8000. I got lots of photos (will upload some when I get time) - there was a lovely, friendly atmosphere at it and adults, children & dogs alike were all dressed as Santa!

The fun run went along the esplanade, so I went along there for a bit and then went a walk along the beach. Cold, but my back was to the wind luckily, and the light was lovely. Lots of oystercatchers about too. Then I headed off to Wellington Square to the big stage - the Santa Dash finishes just by Wellington Square and there is entertainment laid on - and the Red Hot Chilli Pipers were part of it - so I stayed to see them. The act before them was pretty good and warmed the crowd up a bit - but the party really got going when the Chillies came on. They were fantastic - that's the first time I've heard AC/DC played on the bagpipes, let alone jazz and Hey Jude!!! They also did some fantastic traditional tunes and really got the crowd dancing and clapping along.

The event was building up to the 'climax' when I left - well, the switching on of the Christmas lights by 2 guys who were, I think, from Big Brother may have been the climax for some - but certainly wasn't for me, especially after the Red Hot Chilli Pipers had finished their set, so I headed off home for a hot drink and more lesson planning and making of resources.

Friday, 21 November 2008


It's been a looong week. I've had a cold and a bad throat - which has made teaching very challenging at times. Trying to control a class with no voice (ok slight exaggeration, but not much of a voice) has been a challenge and a good learning experience. I've now taught several lessons on my own: language (a few lessons including functional writing & phonics), drama/PE & art. Next week I'm onto maths and a few others, so it'll be a busy weekend getting all the paperwork from last week in order and up-to-date and also writing my lesson plans for next week. The first lesson plan (full grid & implementation) I had to write too about 4 hours - luckily I've got a bit faster with them now!

We have a lot of other paperwork to do as well - evaluations (both of our own teaching and assessment of the pupils' work) after each lesson taught, as well as 5 observation tasks, wider professional issues to investigate/reflect on/critically evaluate - and our chosen 'special interest topic'. And of course notes to make on school organisation & policies, class organisation, daily & weekly timetables/planners .... We're certainly kept very busy but it's all valuable learning - and I'm getting a great experience in my school and am learning a huge amount from all the staff - and the pupils!

On another topic, I saw some of the folk from the kayak club tonight - they're off for a weekend's paddling. OK for some ... :-) Meanwhile I'll be doing 'door duty' at the pool session, and getting on with all my paperwork and planning. I think I'll have to make time to watch more of my new kayaking DVD (This is The Sea 4) as a consolation - I've watched the 2 films on the bonus DVD so far (New Zealand circumnavigation & the Queen Charlotte Islands in BC, Canada) and they're excellent.

Monday, 17 November 2008


I'm starting to feel like a real teacher - I've got work home with me to mark tonight!!!

Well, it's not really to mark. I taught my first lesson to the class today and I've brought their work home as I have to assess it and work out the next steps and so on - and I have to assess my own teaching also. I can think of several things I would do a bit differently next time! It went well though, I enjoyed it and more importantly so did the children - and they learned something too :-)

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Lesson planning

My weekend is being spent doing a combination of lesson planning and hopefully starting to make the game & resources for my Maths and English assessments. Lesson planning is the main focus though - and making/gathering all the resources I need for Monday's lesson.

I'm still very much enjoying placement - and feeling very lucky that everyone at the school is so helpful and willing to give me advice and guidance as required.

I tried to listen to Radio Orkney's Children in Need broadcast - but unfortnately someone in the BBC in Glasgow had forgotten to put the 'live link' on the webpage, so I had to make do with the Radio Scotland programmes instead, which weren't nearly as entertaining. Radio Orkney raised almost £20,000 which is a great effort, as always.

I went out earlier to get some shopping - everywhere was really busy, I think that's the Christmas shopping rush starting ..... Managed to get the 'treasure' I wanted for my games.

Next weekend it's apparently the Ayr Santa Dash. This I must see!! I think it's a charity fun run (or some such thing) along the seafront. I'll try and get some photos of it.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


I'm really enjoying my placement so far. The school is a small one around 15 miles drive away. The staff are all really friendly, and the pupils are great too. I stayed on late tonight to help out in the hall during parents' evening, which was really interesting.

I think the learning curve over this 5 weeks is going to be huge, but I'm lucky I've got the opportunity to learn from a group of staff rather than just one teacher - I'm seeing some great active learning in the classroom and it's good to be able to see in practice what we've been learning about in theory.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Random photos

Here's a wee selection of recent photos:

It's dark by the time I walk home from uni now.

Umbrella graveyard. And also good teaching resource to illustrate wind :-)

Trees on the walk home from uni.

A gorgeous still morning last Monday - I was out early and caught the steam rising as the coal was being loaded at the harbour.

Kye saying hello to the resident swans outside the flat.


It's been a busy few days. It was my birthday - I got lots of great presents, including the new This is the Sea 4 DVD. That'll be my evening watching for the next few nights. I went up to Andy & Clair's for the night on Friday - had a lovely birthday tea including some dairy free sticky toffee pudding which was great. I had a brilliant time, as always, playing with Steven - who said "Fona here to visit me" when I tried to sit on a comfy seat and chat to Andy & Clair when I first arrived. So I'm supposed to play with him the whole time - right, now I know.

Steven kindly helped me open some presents, although he decided the one from Callum made a good seat for watching Fireman Sam on. Then he helped me open it and he liked the look of the two boxes of dairy free chocolates (luckily the alcohol & DVDs didn't hold much appeal for him). He was into the first box of chocolates in about 5 seconds. It was mint chocolates and we split one in half and he had half and I had half. Then I packed everything away into the big box again for putting back in the car. 2 mins later Steven's back into the box and got the box of mints, ripped it open and took out 2 - then handed one of them to me!!! Cute.

We got the marks back from our active learning assessment on Friday - that was the powerpoint presentation we had to do. I was quite pleased with my marks and thought they were fair, so I'm happy. We get the marks for the group assessment back on 28th November which is our day back on campus during our placements. Other than that day we're now out on placement until Christmas. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and meeting my class again, although the sheer amount of paperwork in this placement is a little daunting.

Met up with Ann and her wee daughter Catriona (who is great) today and we went to Prestwick to visit the Moffats. Worked out that we last saw them 17 years ago in Arran! It doesn't feel as long ago as that that we were climbing the Witches Step and going swimming in the Blue Pool in Glen Rosa!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Bonfire Night

I meant to post this last night as it would have been appropriate then, but didn't manage to get it done. For some reason, however, Ayr's fireworks display was actually held on Monday night. It was at the racecourse - I didn't go but could hear the fireworks from the flat so went out to the river and watched from there. It must have been very a very impressive display from close up.

Royal Mail's poor service

The Royal Mail's service here (and everywhere!) seems to be so hit and miss, but generally is really poor. I ordered some things to use in our sparkling introduction. They were posted 1st class on Friday morning in Wales which should easily have got them to me in time for using them on Tuesday morning. But this is the Royal Mail, so they didn't arrive until Tuesday afternoon - too late to be of any use.

And to add insult to injury in the same post on Tuesday afternoon I received a birthday card, also posted in Wales - but 2nd class - and guess when it was posted?????? 6.34pm on Monday evening. So the 2nd class item got to me in less than 24 hours while the 1st class one took almost 100 hours! How can the Royal Mail justify this?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Lots of assessments

Well we did our 'sparkling introductions' assessment this morning - it seemed to go ok though it's always hard to tell. Our group were doing a lesson about map making and had turned it into treasure maps for pirates, so we were all dressed as pirates. Our pirate song seemed to go down quite well :-)

This photo will give you all a laugh at least - this is about the most flattering one of me - by quite a long way. Oh dear!

I've also now submitted my Social Subjects assessment (due tomorrow) and my Science assessment (due Thursday) - it's been a busy week for assessments! We also have a formative assessment of a group task in Language tomorrow, but it's not been nearly as onerous as the others and is formatively assessed rather than contributing to our overall course mark, so it's not nearly as stressful - thank goodness!

Now I can finally start looking forward to my next placement which starts on Monday for 5 weeks - in a composite P1/P2 class - and read up on all the things I need to know for that and remind myself which lessons I'm going to have to teach and do full lesson plans for, etc.

Monday, 3 November 2008

River contrasts

I haven't got any photos of the river at the weir at its highest or lowest I've seen it, but these should give some idea. The water is normally lower and the concrete walls can be clearly seen, but the river's been pretty high lately.

It's high here but you can still - just - see the concrete walls.

Then the water got higher.

I didn't see it at its highest but I can guess what it must have been like from the tree it left behind!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

More contrasts

Another gorgeous day here, met Mum & Dad and got taken out for a nice lunch. The views across to Arran from Ayr today were stunning - it's the clearest it's been since I moved down here, just gorgeous. Some photos of it will hopefully follow in a few days, but meantime here's some more contrasts. Again all taken in the last week, all from roughly the same point - looking out across the beach towards Ailsa Craig.

Yes I know this one has a squinty horizon - I was trying to hold the camera still while being buffeted by the wind!

That's a big log in the foreground which has been swept in with the power of the tide.

Saturday, 1 November 2008


These 2 photos were both taken last week from almost exactly the same spot! They're looking along the beach at Ayr from the pier.

Snow on Arran

It's been very cold for the past few days but lovely - those lovely crisp, autumn days that you don't get much in Orkney. A very pleasant change from all the rain for the previous week! And it means you can scuff through the leaves again - a great novelty for me. The previous week when Kye was here the leaves were all soggy because it rained so much.

There's quite a bit of snow on the Arran hills now.