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  2006.09.24  16.54
Last Post

Meeting everyone at SETT last week and going and visiting more new blogs has persuaded me that I want a blog that a) lets people comment properly, b) lets me see how many people read my blog and where they come from, c) and lets me add javascript and cool thing in the side bars.  So I'm moving from Livejournal to Typepad.  My blog is now  You can still get at my old blog posts (because I'm struggling to move them across even though both sites are the same company!) at

I have also thought long and hard about the separation of "Digitalkatie" and my real life details (my RL alt ;-)  I no longer think its necessary to keep my name secret.  In the last two years in schools I have only seen one pupil try and find me online, and that's just my RL website.  I also don't feel the need to rant about problems in the classroom.  I'm getting better at dealing with bad lessons, and more professional in what I'm posting. 

So........ my RL name is revealed here!


  2006.09.21  21.47
Amazing things at SETT

I had a fantastic time at the SETT conference this week, mainly because of the TeachMeet get-together yesterday.

I met several people (who I've never met before) who have been reading my blog for a while but haven't been able to comment because of the settings I had used on Livejournal (all fixed now though :-) A huge HELLO to Andrew, David and Ewan, and anyone else reading who I haven't met yet!

I also found out that when I was going through job-hunting-hell David had showed my blog to his head teacher in the hope that there would be a job at his school! How unbelievably wonderful is that!

I met a couple of last years 6th year students from Balti High School today. It was great to see them and find out what they're up to now, so HELLO to Andrew and Chris too

I chatted to Ian from Islay High School yesterday too, who has inspired me to think much bigger in my plans. I need to go and speak to my headteacher tomorrow about some of the things happening at Islay and whether we could be following a similar path at Forthill. As well as doing vocational courses and courses in Macromedia software etc, and as well as running a TV news show with the local primaries, they have got a huge amount of funding from the executive, Microsoft and Dell to give every kid in the school a UMPC (ultra mobile PC eg the lovely new Samsung mini tablet PCs) and each teacher a tablet PC. They are also up a recording studio in art and a local cinema in the hall. They have 200 pupils. Govan High are doing something similar have the same number of pupils too, as do my school.

I also saw an incredible truck, like an outside broadcast unit, which travels round schools in Northern Ireland teaching kids editing and sound mixing. I really want to talk to to BBC Scotland or STV about possibilities.

Although I didn't get a chance to look around it, there was also a Determined to Broadcast bus which goes round schools in Scotland teaching them how to do radio shows. That and the excellent demonstration by St. Mungo's FM and the many schools now using radiowaves has compelled me to think about doing radio / podcasting better. Maybe I need to contact local radio stations about visits.

There was also the game making options, the best of which is by Immersive Education, called MissionMaker. I am definitely arranging a single licence to try out. Unfortunately a site licence for £2000 is very expensive as we only have 250 kids.

I also found out that LTS have plans for a Second Life school!! Fantastic! That's another thing I want to try at Forthill High - figure out if the internet connection will cope with running SL.

I want to try out the online video editing sites that I saw at TeachMeet.

I also want to figure out how many pupils have mobiles. I've avoided thinking about using phones in class because its an area of such high poverty, but it would be good to use technology the kids already have.

Oh, and I want to learn how to juggle using the juggling scarves I got at one of the stalls ;-)

Tomorrow and this weekend I'm going to take time to work out an order for all the things I want to do. I'm going to figure out what I want to do with the new first year course next year and what certificated classes to offer, possibly looking beyond NQ / SQA courses.

Its going to be fun!

Mood: high

  2006.09.21  13.50
SETT keynote talk - Edward De Bono

Disclaimer - these notes were typed on my mobile phone. I might go back and edit them, but in the meantime please don't point out spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes (that means you, Mum! ;-)

SETT's final keynote talker is Edward De Bono who invented the six thinking hats concept.

He's using an OHP pojector, drawing on it as he talks

The GG3 greek gang of three was Socrates, Plato and aristotle. Aristotle believed men had more teeth than women. Plato believed we think by sorting into boxes.

We are concerned about truth but not enough about possibility.

Now with computers people think that all you need to do is put data into the computer then analyse it. but information is not enough.

Operacy: skills of doing, not thinking.

Advantages of teaching thinking:
USAF researching sorting teams. Two ways - myerbriggs etc or preference for a thinking hat colour. The hat teams beat the other teams every time.Atkey found teaching thinking skills improved results by 30-100 percent
New Deal youngsters taught 5 hours thinking skills led to huge increase in employment.
Violent youngsters taught thinking were 90 percent more likely not to reoffend (or were too clever to get caught!)
7 year olds asked to write story would write 4 lines. After being taught thinking hats they wrote 40 lines av.

Arguement technique results in stalemates. With argument technique A believes one thing, B another and they argue. No effort to look at C D or E as other outcomes. Instead of A and B arguing, look around at different viewpoints so both seeing alternative.

Joke: a man painted his car half black, half white. Why? So that if he has an accident, the witnesses would argue "it was white car", "no it was black"

Parallel thinking - if one person wearing green hat everyone is wearing green hat. Reduces time of meetings to one quarter. Its much better for constructive thinking.

The Six Hats:
White hat is for information. What do we have, what do we need
Red hat is for full permission to express feelings.
Black hat is for normal critical thinking.
Yellow hat is for positive thinking. What are the benefits. "Value sensitivity"
Green hat is for creative thinking, where people look at alternative possibilities
Blue hat is for organising and overview. (Think blue sky)

If you want to show off you can, not by putting someone down but by coming up with more ideas with green hat on etc.

There is no particular hat order though you normally start and end on blue hats.

Hats are directions in which to think not innate abilities such as Gardner's multiple intelligences.

Perception is 90 percent error.

Johnny offered 2 coins by friends small 2 dollar coin and bigger 1 dollar coin. He always picks big coin. told smaller coin worth more but replies if I picked small coin they wouldn't keep offering it to me.

Court lessons
These are different from the hats, as perceptial directions.

PMI: Plus Minus and Interest
Should we legalise drugs? ten out of ten said yes, but after PMI training 9 out of 10 said no.

OPV: Other Peoples Views
Thinking about what other people feel reduces fights and arguments.

I missed what C & S stands for.
[Link to more info here:]

Creativity is essential. Over time information comes in. we have to make best use of information. Sometimes in order to go forward we need to go backwards and look at what we've got. The brain arranges thoughts in patterns and routine. Things then look logical in hindsight once we've made the leap. Its an assymetric system. We can use provication to help the jump from the routine path.

For example there are not as many taxis in London as other cities. Imagine the driver doesn't know the way. You could then have resident-only taxis so drivers could train up.

We can use chance, such as random words. To come up with a new sofa design, using the random word 'queen' you get a queen sized bed with a back on rails to convert it into a sofa. 10 seconds to get a new idea.

For more information about using De Bono's ideas in education, contact Denise Inwood of Atkey Solutions

There have been few audience questions. I think everyone's a bit tired at the end of the conference. Its been an interesting session though. I think I will have to read up a bit about these hats.


  2006.09.21  11.44
SETT day 2 session 2 - islay and Jura TV

Disclaimer - these notes were typed on my mobile phone. I might go back and edit them, but in the meantime please don't point out spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes (that means you, Mum! ;-)

A really disappointingly small turnout for this session. A real shame.... and they're having technical problems trying to get the videos to work

They wanted a way to bring together schools from a wide geographical area. Tbey wanted communication across all stages 3-18.

In-situ training from their peers so they could support each other.

Reporting Scotland style programme. Each school did a 2 min news item. These were sent to the high school to be edited. Music dept. did the music for the programme. Some schools decided to edit the 2 min themselves. It was then converted to flash video.

Standardised equipment was important. They also got green screen, lights, tie mikes.

Learning is social, so they wanted the training to be social. They ran out of CPD time and had a lack of supply teachers. They did has a social training day for all, and a Saturday training café for peer support. The authority funded the trainers and the schools funded the teachers. It was planned that they train one teacher per school then the next year they train the other teachers in their school.

6th year students edited the footage because they had spare time in their timetable.

The clip from the nursery was great - tiny little kids interviewing the others in their class.

One success that the Scottish Screen project hasn't managed as well was the fact that teacher were helping each other rather than contacting the people running the project or the ICT coordinators.

Two other projects in the school have happened because of the news item project.

The teachers chose not to put the programme on the www. They weren't happy arranging all the paperwork to get parental permission. Also they weren't happy with their 'mistakes' being shown on the web. Kids without permission can be operating the camera or sound.

They now think once a term is too much work so are going to do two shows a year.

The main goal had been to develop the skills of the teachers.


  2006.09.21  11.20

I'm sitting watching and listening to SMFM, St Mungo's FM broadcasting live at the conference.

They're using equipment from Clyde Broadcast Products and are partnered with Forth Valley College. The programmes are available at BBC radioblast helped them develop a radio soap, Albion Acadamy Radio Soap.

I'm realising that I need to be thinking much bigger!

They teach Int 1 and 2 media studies and will be running Higher next year. They also have a radio club where kids learn presenting skills. They perform every morning at the breakfast breakout, which is the daily bulletin news, chat and music. The kids take the bulletin home at night and plan, write a script and practice. Its then broadcast at registration. They are planning to do a lunchtime broadcast too.

They're also going to record CDs of books used in the primaries so primary kids can listen to them at home.

Determined to Broadcast boogie bus (executive project?)

They are trying to get a short term licence in the future. They are also starting to use digital video.


  2006.09.21  09.29
SETT Day two session one - Web 2.0

Disclaimer - these notes were typed on my mobile phone. I might go back and edit them, but in the meantime please don't point out spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes (that means you, Mum! ;-)

Back again for day 2 after a fantastic evening at the unconference 'Teach Meet 06'.

Ewan McIntosh is telling us all about Web 2.0 (or what the hell was Web 1.0) aka 5 things in the Live Web that will engage your learners... and why blogging isn't one

55 million blogs in the world.

1. if it can be captured give it an audience
can students work be published and displayed

Ewan's blog audience going from 2 to 25000, all over the world

2 my dad's got one of those but its better than yours
using mobile phone calendar facilities to remind kids to do homework

kids in highlands using podcasts because radio signal lousy
why not use mobiles to video films take still pics for storyboarding etc

3 what we teach, how we teach, how well we teach it

"why do we have to do this?"

what is a meaningful task?
old old tech - not using tech because it works, old old teaching.

old new technology eg doing chalk and talk using interactive whiteboard

new technology - new teaching ?find tool and want to use it wrong way round? doesn't matter

30 weeks 30 kids in a class
a kid a week deciding how we learn that week
students plan how content learned
students decide on ultimate product - can use wiki to plan

products are the key not subjects or knowledge

students feedback to each other, they receive guidance from teachers parents etc

4 differentiation - introduce complexity

podcasting in spanish with potential audience of 25000 means kids get more complex to entertain
films for mobile psp etc

5 create don't do

create: to make or cause to become
to pursue a creative activity
don't disturb him he's creating
kids passionate about creating

teacher = coworker

this isn't for the future
podcasts for teacher development
blog = personal learning environment

technorati - google for blogs
netnewswire - mac aggregator
bloglines - web aggregation

blogging all about sharing, giving kids an audience

building a virtual school in second life (LTS?)


  2006.09.20  15.23
Teach Meet 2006

I'm feeling more relaxed after starting to drink some lovely wine - many thanks to for supplying lovely wine.

First up is Theo showing us how to edit video online. DV seen as too techie, takes too long to set up kit etc.


means you only need a web browser to do video editing without high spec computer and in shorter periods of time.

The demo with jumpcut looks fantastic and incredibly simple! wonderful - definitely something to check out with S1-2.


Next up is 'Blethers' talking about creative writing and reducing marking and feedback by using blogs.

She asked her pupils to blog introducing a character. Her friend (a primary teacher who writes slash fanfic!) commented before she could. Others mark and comment as well which enthuses the pupils. They were doing work in between classes on top of homework.

A blog won't turn a bad teacher into a good teacher. Its a good tool though.


Next up is David Muir talking about online photo sharing (aka how to bore friends and family with holiday and wedding photos)

Flickr allows you to add notes to photos, comment about photos. Great as a getting to know you exercise. Its free to yus and has a creative commons licence.

Have a look at the chatting teddies site.

Advantage of posting school trip pics while on holiday - parents, other teachers can comment.

Slideshows and slide puzzles are also good.

Other option is bubble share.

If councils have blocked flickr then you could try citing becta using it as a case study.


Next up was us. It went really well, thankfully :-)


John from immersive talked about Media Stage. He showed us a created advert for body spray
The program looks great!

My battery is about to di but thanks to Stormhoek for the wine and promethian for the equipment and paying the corkage costs :-)


  2006.09.20  13.08
SETT key note talk

SETT's got a lot bigger since I last was here. they're now using a huge auditorium with very comfy seats ;-) there are lots of people in suits and many cameras too. I can't remember who's talking after Peter Peacock does his thing. Never mind, I have a comfy seat and an internet connection, what more could I want!

Unfortunately I haven't seen anything about the Teach Meet un-conference. I think there was supposed to be fliers for it in the packs for everyone. Maybe they though they'd lose too many punters to it ;-)

Strangely the only person on stage before the 'show' starts is Peter himself, waiting patiently. He's maybe not important enough to be announced onto the stage.

Peter has suggested we should not just look to England to compare our education system, but we should look internationally. I'm not sure what he said after that because I nodded off. He's got a book coming out in the next couple of weeks so I'm sure I can catch up then. Apparently its about the 3-18 framework.

One of the audience questions is about ensuring money for new teachers is spent on staffing by councils. It seems like the problem is still at the council level but he seems very determined to sort the situation.

Three quarters of the audience have left but there's now a talk on "knowledge is miscellaneous".

Most things aren't knowledge but beliefs. We need knowledge to help sort out the facts from beliefs.

We like orderly knowledge and like sorting it into trees.

we represent knowledge in books but we need to store them in physical libraries. this gets in between of us linking ideas.

we're digitising everything. This includes the metadata which allows us to store books etc in as many catagories as possible.
Messiness as a virtue

There is also now no difference between the data and the metadata. rather than searching for author name we can now search for a line in a book and find the author.

delicious and tagging etc allow us to forget about the order of data. Due to other people tagging the world is doing research for us. We're using trees in different ways, instead we have a pile of leaves with metadata.

Digital storage is so cheap / free (cheaper to keep than to exclude eg posting flickr pics) so we should include everything.

Knowledge's properties
one and the same
bigger than we are
has a know-er

we are sick of being fed the simple that we're doing the opposite. This is the advantage of blogs. "its not as simple as that"

wikipedia - bottom up encyclopedia. the fact something is in wikipedia doesn't make it credible. you may hit a page as someone puts junk on it. we can believe it because we do the same process when we chat to someone at a conference of evaluating what we are being told. we can also see the edit documents and see discussions of why someone has entered.

imagine having wikipedia 50 years ago and looking at the entry on segregation. wikipedia will become an important historical resource.

an article is neutral when people stop editing it.

There are disclaimers in wikipedia which add to the credibility of it. britanica and the NY Times makes mistakes - they're human institution and get it wrong but they want to be authorative.

tomayto vs tomahto argument example - its social argument
if you keep reverting an article to your version you get banned, blocked out of the debate.

learning is social, and we're testing individuals in silence. it is good that pupils are working together on homework and school work, collaborating on learning.

in order to know what a hammer is we need to know about nails, wood, trees, etc. we need meaning as context.

andrew clark - being there
"we think in the world"
we externalise meaning
in tagging leaves we externalise meaning and allow others to make connections they would never have made before. a semantic web. we're doing it through web links, playlists, digg, wikipedia, etc

knowledge is becoming the same size we are.

wikipedia reflects human interests - someone has bothered to write it, edit it. it reflects us.

we are amazingly good at knowing things. knowledge is no longer seen as the pinnacle. we're building a web of meaning in which creativity happens
david weinberger


  2006.09.20  12.10
SETT session three - collaboration in an online environment

SETT session three - collaboration in an online environment

Kevin Thompson
Anglia Ruskin University

Society needs collaboration, technology, initiative and an ability to find things out.

Exams are currently based on working alone in silence using pen and paper and tests skill in memory recall.

Productivity vs creativity.
Assessments need to change to fit an ICT rich pedagogy.

The four 'c's of social tools
Communication - IM, email etc
Coordination - calendars, task managers
Collaboration - file sharing, wikis, blogs etc
Community - swarth (eg ebay stars)

Alternative to delicious

Marc prentsky - what you can learn from a cell phone? Article from 2004

Jot spot -
Working together collaboratively online
Seems very similar to
Shows where the day's world news is coming from
Collaborative art online

"The key to successful elearning is the use of technology for communication, dialogue and collaboration"

"In an online course noone can hear you scream"

"the best use of computers is to design and solve problems"

"we thrive when authoring and annotating"

Demo of videoconferencing
Cool webnote postit-like page

Make use of SMS messaging in class
Gives us an opportunity to publish student work worldwide rather than posting displays on walls

Sometimes we need to let kids have fun and slip some learning in where we can


  2006.09.20  11.57
SETT session two - Fife radiowaves

SETT session two
Radiowaves - a Fife cluster perspective

Auchmuty cluster - one high school and NINE primary schools!

Trying to use radio to meet ACE.
Making learning active, creative and enjoyable

Equipment used:
MP3 players, microphones and headphones
(one set per school)

Software used:
Audacity - easy to use and free

Looks like a great way of improving school's profile and image in the community and working with the community. Good for cross curricular working as well.

Children as editors, facilitating the show. Pupils write the script, it then gets recorded, edited using audacity and then published by the teacher.

First a group visited Kingdom FM before making their own show. They also listened to other shows on They had a competition to design a station logo, a jingle and their favourite jokes. They also did a poetry reading competition. The pupils also got an email from poet Gregor Steele complimenting their version. He was invited to the school. The kids interviewed him when he visited for the day.

Whole school activities included performing a pirate play (which was FANTASTIC), playground games and songs, WW2 songs, fav bits about school trips and a concert by the school orchestra.

The kids did really well at doing the presentation, including changing between lots of different audio clips. They were very positive about the benefits of the radio project in gaining confidence in using ICT and speaking to others. Its helped them speak to others, including talking to community people (especially with an MP3 player in hand and a reporter badge on). They've gained skills in research and questioning.

There are now more than 60 schools in Fife and they have a partnership arranged with Kingdom FM.

Broadcast licence allows them to use up to 30 seconds of any songs, although if the show is longer than 30 minutes they can play full songs.

The radiowaves company is also trialling 'videowaves'. The school sounded quite positive about the company.

"Video's not killing our radiostars"


  2006.09.20  10.52
SETT session on Curriculum for Excellence

Notes from my first SETT session - Curriculum for Excellence
May Sweeney
Maggi Allan
Biggar High School are using the four ACE principles as scaffold building on existing challenge and enterprise days. Mainly using cooperative learning
Using days away from fixed timetables to support learning, such as sports days embedded in science and home ec. Enterprise days about healthy eating including product / package design in CDT etc.

St margarets acadamy in airdrie
Course choice for learning for the next two years is at the end of s1
Choice at end s2 allows pupils to choose between a modern language or a vocational qualification
HT questioning the overassessment of pupils in s3 s4 s5 and s6. Personalising learning reduces this.

Issues of personalisation and choice that enriches the learning experience. Increases depth by using S2-4 in S1

3-18 changes in 2007 will free schools and councils to change timetabling.

Schools succeeding at ACE are reflective, inclusive (no need for alternative curriculum), and where deep learning is encouraged. Not a prepackaged curriculum, but flexible and personalised.


  2006.09.20  09.17
Ian Rankin heckling

Although we really should have been getting ready for our presentation at the SETT unconference today, Sean, Daliah and I went to an impromptu gig by King Creosote last night. It was fantastic. Kenny did requests from his back catalogue (written on pages of his 1991 diary). Ian Rankin was standing ominously at the room. Later he started heckling! When we left we were given fliers for a gig on Thursday. They all had an individual silly comment written on the back. Daliah's was signed by Ian, saying "Ian Rankin loves KC"

Mood: tired

  2006.09.15  09.44

I'm finding it really handy having my calendar dates etc back in Outlook after a long time, and being able to see it on my phone. I'm discovering events I'd forgotten about. For example I found out that today is a friend's birthday (Happy Birthday Alan!) and that on Tuesday is was our anniversary - 10 years since we started dating!


  2006.09.14  15.26
Got to admit it's getting better

Things are improving at school. I don't know if its just that the awkward kids have been kicked out of classes but there seems to be less fights (emotional and physical) and most of the kids seem to like me, although I hope its not because they think I'm a pushover. I've had several pupils requesting to change to computing. Today a classroom asistant who has an excellent rapor with the kids said that I was doing well, which means a lot as she is seeing the best and worst of both the teachers and pupils. Another member of staff said the kids like me - cause her son who is in one of my classes says I'm barry, apparently. Yup at Balti HS I was Dave, now I'm Barry :-)

I also finally got permission to go to SETT next week. The Deputy read through the proposal I'd put together and saw the printout of the edu-bloggers gettogether that Sean and I are speaking at and told the Business Manager who arranges the class cover that "she's no daft" ;-)

Another strange thing today... I was clearing out a filing cabinet of VERY old handouts and worksheets when I found one with the name "Mr Curran" on it. Mr Curran was my computing teacher at Firrhill, but he taught at Forthill before that. I told my boss who said "wow that must be from 1968 or something" hmmph. Never mind, it can't all be compliments.

I took lots of plants in this week and put up lots of posters. The 5th years are now calling my room the Botanics, but suprisingly the plants are still intact and untouched. My biggest worries were the kids would use them as weapons but so far its fine. I also put up a mini Dr Who poster that says "I try to help them but they keep moaning!" :-)

Mood: happy

  2006.08.29  22.26
Nellie the Elephant vs The Archers

We retrained tonight in the new CPR resuscitation guidelines.  The main difference is you do 30 compressions to 2 breaths.  This is fine (well pretty exhausting) but it means you have to sing Nellie the Elephant (15 beats for the chorus at the right speed) twice.  Apparently The Archers works (30-32 beats depending on how you sing it, again at the right speed), but to be frank both songs are really annoying and get stuck in your head for days.

Afterwards while standing at the bus stop with Kathryn we tried to think of better songs.  'Tragedy' was a contender but we couldn't remember the words.  Perhaps "Hit Me Baby One More Time" would be better.  Any ideas?  It needs to be 30 beats at about the same speed as the Archers, easy to remember, and suitable for using in the presence of distraught relatives!


  2006.08.29  12.13
Skiving excuses

I'm off ill today.  I don't do it very often - just once last year, but my excuse this time sounded pretty lame.  However I'm sitting here watching The Biederbeck Affair (very good for daytime telly really), where two teachers have called in sick.  When the head questions a colleague he replies "Well, Mr Chaplin tends to mumble a lot, but it sounded like he had a touch of the PMT's"


  2006.08.23  10.35
I've been fired!!!!

Woo hoo!!! I've been fired!!  Well, kinda.  My college boss phoned me (boss no. 2) to say they've shuffled around courses and need more hours for the permanent staff, so Higher Media will be taught by one of the full timers during the day instead of the evening (which makes sense, none of the students liked it being in the evening).  So technically I'm not fired, I just have a 0 hours contract.  I get my evenings back!!  The psychology department want me to do some teaching with them, but I'm not sure what or when, but the thought of teaching a completely new course next week is a bit too much work for me.  I might be persuaded if its 1 or 2 hours rather than three, and if its an intro course rather than a Higher class for students who are really Int 1 or 2 level but really really want to go to university.

We're off out to a show early tonight.  I think afterwards we'll go out for a meal.  Actually we have a bottle of champagne that's been sitting in the fridge since before the end of last term waiting to celebrate a new job, but we were away.  I think we'll open it to celebrate losing a job instead!

My 'real' job is going well.  Monday was tough, but things are better already.  My timetable Wed-Fri is a lot lighter, so I have a chance then to figure out where everything is, plan lessons, and tidy my classroom.  At some point I'll be organised enough to leave on time most evenings, but not at the moment.  I left at 5.30pm yesterday, not tooo late but I'm pretty sure I was the last person to leave except the four cleaners.  That needs to change - I need to be more organised but more lazy!

Mood: happy

  2006.08.17  15.53
Blog ban continued

I googled to find out what a "DDR score = 65" was.  It came back with Dance Dance Revolution pages!  Wouldn't that be an interesting way to block webpages in school - play Dance Dance Revolution for each site and the score determines if the site gets blocked or not.

Strangely the score goes up every time I try to access it.  Maybe the council's IT staff are getting better at the game!

Mood: confused

  2006.08.17  15.35

I'm getting very confused.  A new school means a new timetable, and new period times.  I now have 8 periods in a day rather than 10.  Period 1 still starts at 8.40am, but we finish 5 minutes later every day.  This balances out on Friday when we get to leave at 11.50am!!!  Hee hee.  Unfortunately I've been getting quite confused with times.  I was sure I was teaching Period 5 today, just before lunch, but I found out (beforehand thankfully) that it was P4.  Fine, however I got confused at 11.30, thinking it was lunchtime in 5 minutes so I got the class to pack away before they'd even got onto the computers!  They got 10 - 15 minutes of time on the computers once I realised, but it was a silly mistake.  

After lunch I had two periods with the fifth year.  Two periods is way too much with a class (90 minutes), and I think I must have got confused by it as I did the same thing as the morning and got them to turn their computers off 15 minutes early, thinking it was the end of the school day.  Doh!

Its going ok.  I'm kinda taking it easy and not getting stressed about things like the tension in my department or not having a clue what state classes are in or the fact I am teaching every single first and second year kid in school (well, those that turn up).  Instead I'm smiling and joking with stressed collegues, tidying lots to find last years classwork, and learning a few names every day.  Tuesday evening was spent working till 11pm, but Wednesday evening I didn't do anything except finishing my book and watching a film with Sean and Daliah.  I want more fun and relaxed evenings, and I think it will be possible at this school while still managing to do my job well.


  2006.08.17  14.59
Blog ban

Haa!  My blog has been banned by the council!!

"Access Denied The requested document,, will not be shown.
Reason: DDR score = 61. This page will not be displayed because it contains prohibited words or it has exceeded its tolerance of questionable words."

Strangely I can update my blog at work, and I can also use LiveJournal with the S4 and S5 to show them how to blog.  I wonder what I've been saying!?


  2006.08.13  22.04
"The smallest 3.34 mega pixel digital camera"

I've just found the receipt for our old, huge, heavy digital camera that we gave to Kids Connect.  I was looking for the cables so I could sent them to Dan.  We bought it in April of 2001 for a huge £549.99!!!  (Our new 6MP one was about $300 including a 2GB card, spare battery and a case).  It was a 3.34 mega pixel camera.  I was looking at mobile phones today that have 3.2 mega pixel cameras in them .  Oh, and the promotional poster that came with it proudly states that it is "the smallest 3.34 mega pixel digital camera".  Not any more!


  2006.08.13  12.29
Last Day of holidays

As today is the last day of my summer holidays, I thought I'd make some time to tell you about the last days of our American holiday.  A week ago today (last Sunday) was our last full day in Washington.  We took the subway to the Smithsonian stop, which is where the majority of the museums are gathered around the 'Mall'.  First we wandered in to the main Smithsonian museum, called "The Castle".  We saw the tomb of Mr Smithson, who was apparently a British scientist who had never visited America at all.  He donated his fortune to America because he was pissed off at Britain (they didn't say why!).  It was donated in British coins which they melted down into US coins. 

We had brunch there, and chatted to an American guy who lives in Geneva lecturing in Information Science (how to be a librarian).  There wasn't much more in 'The Castle' though, so we wandered on to the sculpture garden at the Hirshhorn Gallery.  It was nice, but too hot to appreciate fully.  Our next stop was the National Air and Space Museum.  Sean went off looking round all the exhibits while I slowly sauntered round the shop (three levels!) and looked at the jet exhibition.  I sat and watched this old comedy show from around the time when the jet engine was developed.  (I was taking it easy because I had more bites, this time in ackward places like the side of my toe.)

Next stop was the Museum of the American Indians.  We had a little look around, but it was very near closing time.  It was a lovely building, very Guggenheim-ish.  Round the outside of the curved building was a fountain and pool, and I was soooo tempted to go paddling (but there was a big sign saying no paddling :-(

We walked for a while trying to find the subway station.  One entrance we found was closed (at the office of the Transportation Department!), then we realised it was just the entrance that was closed, not the station so we walked around the block a bit more (feel sorry for Sean though cause I was hot, tired and grumpy, and moaning lots about my bites!)  Eventually we found it, then tried to decide on where to go for dinner. 

Our original plan was a boat cruise where they fed you snacks while telling you about the history of the buildings andplaces you were floating past.  It said reservations only, and we had been phoning all weekend but not getting a response.  We toyed with going to Chinatown too, but in the end we decided to get the subway all the way back to Shady Grove and get a taxi to the Washingtonian centre and sit at Joe's Crab Shack watching the lake and people wandering by.  We sat and chatted over the best / worst / wierdest bits of the holiday.  It was very pleasant.  It was where we ended up on our first day in America, and it was nice to come back on our last day.  The waiter recognised us too and was really friendly. 

We then wandered back to the house and managed to pack our cases before midnight!  Our plan was to pop into Washington on Monday morning before the flight and go to the Red Cross shop when it was open, but our alarm clock didn't work so we just took it easy on Monday.  We went for a walk - the opposite direction from our usual Washingtonian route, towards the supermarket which was three minutes walk away.  We sat in Starbucks and had lunch.  We popped into the supermarket and bought some crisps for the journey, then headed back.  We only had about 10 munites before the taxi arrived about 15 minutes early.  We got changed (Sean had a ultra-quick shower!) finished packing our hand luggage, then we were off. 

We got to the airport and found we had only one dollar left over after paying the taxi (we thought we'd have an extra $20 but we'd spent it at Starbucks and forgot).  Our luck still holding, we got checked in and our bags weren't over the weight allowance.  We bought stamps for the postcards (I know, I know, FIVE weeks in the states and we couldn't find time to send postcards!) and the lovely woman who told us where to get stamps said she'd post them for us, so if you don't get your postcard its her fault ;-)  We had a nice meal while watching the rain and thunder and lightning outside!  It was then time to get onboard. 

The flight was fab again.  Comfortable, relaxed, and we chatted to the friendly Americans in front of us (who wanted to know why it was called 'Virgin'), and we wandered round the plane and found the free supply of Virgin Coke.  it was a little infuriating that it took an hour and a half before the entertainment system started up, but we were then quickly skiming through the hundreds of films and shows.  We watched almost half of '16 blocks' (I suppose about 7 blocks worth ;-) but got bored with Bruce Willis shooting and being shot at.  We switched to 'Thank You For Smoking' which was fantastic!  Eventually we got some sleep.  I slept through breakfast (a muffin) but managed to wake up in time to get off the plane.

It was strange being back in Britain.  Most of the time we didn't realise, it was just an airport.  The only signs were walking past the London Underground entrance when heading to the other terminal, and being asked "smoking or non-smoking" when we went to a cafe for breakfast!  We hah to sort our seating first before checking our bags in.  When I checked in online the website crashed halfway through, then thought the process was finished  and wouldn't let me make changes.  Unfortunately this was while I was in the process of moving our seats so we were then sitting 24 rows apart!  Suprisingly at the end of such a long holiday we were still talking to each other and wanted to sit next to each other so a very kind woman finished the check-in process for us.  Astonishingly we didn't have to pay excess for our luggage!  The woman at the check-in desk was just happy we didn't have too much hand luggage.  (This was Tuesday morning. thanksfully!). 

We got up to Edinburgh fine, got our bags, made it to the airport bus, got home, tried to stay awake as long as we could (about 45 min!) then went to bed.  Sean got up after about five hours sleep and dragged me up.  He went to the supermarket and we had pizza and chatted to Daliah, who was happy to see us back (but then she's only known us a week!)  I did some unpacking, then we went to bed again, at the right time this time.

It was a fab holiday.  Unbelievably good.  When we chatted in Joe's Crab Shack, we really couldn't think of worst parts of the holiday.  It was all good!  We've had a nice week this week too, with meals with parents, films at the open air cinema (although we were Red Crossing, but I got to drive the ambulance there and back!), wandering round the Royal Mile experiencing the Fringe atmosphere, going to a flatwarming party of one of my new collegues at my new school, and meeting up with Clair who is taking over my job at Balti High School.  Sean started his new job on Thursday and seems to be enjoying it, and hopefully I'll be the same tomorrow.  This week the blog will change again, and you'll get tales of who about classes and pupils rather than my holiday diary.  Thanks for reading though!


  2006.08.06  01.02
Today (finally cleared the backlog!)

Today Leon took us to a place called Harper's Fields, which was a lovely little town where the Shenandoah and the Potomac rivers meet.  It took us a while to find the car park, which is miles away and there is a shuttle bus.  Leon got pulled over when he got bored trying to find the car park, did a u-turn in a no u-turn area, and then drove past the park guards we had just driven past in the opposite direction.  They started flashing their blue lights and pulled us over, but they let him off with just a warning.  The town (when we eventually found it) is very old , and many of the oldest buildings are set out as they would have been historically, and there are people wearing old fashioned clothes pretending to work in the shops etc.  We had a walk around and then paddled in the river for a while. 

When we were driving up to Harper's Fields Leon asked if we wanted to go tubing on the river.  Now, both Sean and I had an image of the white water rafting that happens in Perthshire, so we said 'no', however here 'tubing' consists of lazing about in a rubber tube ring (like a car tire), drinking beer (you can get a spare tube for your beer cooler) paddling about in the water and getting a tan.  It looked fantastic, but we didn't have our swimming gear with us, and after five weeks in boiling hot temperatures I am still ghostly Scottish white (we've mainly hopped from undergrounds to air conditioned buildings).  Even half an hour in one of those tubes and I'd be bright red.

It took us a long time to get back as there had been a bad car accident on the road out of the town and they were having to cut the car and stretcher people out.  Eventually we got past it and headed back.  Leon cooked fish on the BBQ and we made some salad, while Lucia and Goga went for a swim.  Sean and I then walked to the Washingtonian mall as we'd both finished our books.  Sean released his last book into the wild while we were there.  We listened to some live music before sitting in the Barnes and Noble reading (Sean managed to finish the two books he hadn't finished in NY that belonged to Skye)

We walked back.  Leon and Goga had a couple of friends visiting them who were really nice.  A bit too much gruesome talk about giving birth for our liking, but some fun stories about being drunken kids in Croatia.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Washington before we fly back on Monday :-(


  2006.08.05  15.42
Wierd things about America

ALthough I'm finding America very similar to Britain in many ways, there are a few quirky things I've seen.

Some of the toilets have sensors in them so they flush when you stand up.  However they're really sensitive, so they flush be accident.  My record is four times!

In cinemas they don't have sweet or salty popcorn, just this liquid, that tastes vaguely of butter, that you pour over your popcorn

The National Guard have been hanging around railway stations.  I wondered if they were there to look scary and frighten off terrorists.  Sean pointed out "The police have guns and vaguely know what they're doing.  That guy has a water bottle and a compass".

Telephone and internet cables go on poles, so they don't need to dig up the road every time you change cable provider.

There is no diluting juice here.  Ian and Hongying say they have found a shop that sells it, but I've looked in every supermarket so far and not seen any.  Apparently Britain developed diluting juice during rationing because fuel was rationed and it made more sense now to ship the water part.  I just see it as a huge waste of plastic here.  People buy crates of water in small containers here, and they buy small bottles of juice in bulk too.  Soon they will need to change!  They do have a cremola foam kind of powder for drinks but it tastes disgusting.

The smell of hot dog and kebab stands on the street corners in NY was like Guide camp cooking!  I didn't try any ;-)

Americans have a lot of RVs (Recreational vehicles).  There was one next to Carol's house that was as big as a bus, and I don't mean a minibus.  The sides popped out to make it wider too.  It was absurd.  Oh and there are yellow school buses.  You can even get little mini school buses.


  2006.08.05  10.00

Leon bought a present for his daughter in Annapolis yesterday, a little orange plastic squeaky crab.  When he presented it to Lucia, she yelled "Crap".  Surprisingly accurate ;-)

(She did know the correct name for the crab in Croatian.  Pretty good for a kid that isn't quite three years old yet)


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