Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The PRU Dilemma (unplanned) Part 2

What I forgot to mention in part 1-

As a teacher in a PRU, you are able to experiment with different schemes of works/projects/teaching methods/activites etc etc etc. You have real freedom and that is fantastic! In addition, the options for career advancement are varied and numerous (mostly thanks to the excellent SLT where I work).

On a more down to earth note, whilst you may not teach your subject as much as you like or in as much depth as you like, you can make real, lasting differences to pupils lives for the better. There is nothing like teaching in a PRU, if you haven't experienced, try it for a day!

Monday, 27 April 2015

21st Century Teacher

Not sure about some of my wording, but here we go!

Click on this link or the picture for the full size version (via google drive PDF and JPG)

Saturday, 25 April 2015

The PRU dilemma

So I work in a PRU, part of what those senior to me at school calls the "SAS" of teaching, and it's an awesome job! The little successes are even greater in importance and magnitude, the freedom in the classroom for teaching the way you want is vast, and the interaction with the pupils can be absolutely brilliant! As a teacher in a PRU, you have a real chance to make a very big difference to the lives of the students around you, both as a teacher in the education delivery sense, and as a mentor, and as a professional. 

This is not forgetting the staff team, a senior member of staff once told me "the rougher the kids, the closer the staff." This is so true! It would be fair to say that my social life (what little I have as a teacher), revolves around the people I work with. It would also be fair to say that I meet most of my closest friends each morning across the photocopier.

However, there is a flip side, a darker side, and maybe the reason why mainstream teachers tend to shrink away from me at training events/teach meets/other teachery things, I don't get to teach in the conventional sense very often. Yes I get to have learning conversations all the time, however most of these concern the write way to ask for attention etc, not the function of a mitochondria or another subject related topic. This means I very rarely get to see students really fly in my subject(s) and really go for it! This is heartbreaking as a teacher passionate for his subject (biology/physics) and STEM.

Future PRU teachers beware, this conflict awaits you!

Enjoy the picture of the maths below, this took a full a 50mins to get done.... Guess how much of that was maths.....

(Blimey that was a deep post! Time to do something more cheerful!)

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The need for entry level

There has been a lot of talk of late about the demise of entry level, which has been mooted but not decided upon. As someone who teaches entry level science a lot, here's a few thoughts on the matter (biased towards entry level science... naturally).

Firstly, what entry level isn't. It is not an alternative to GCSE, it doesn't carry nearly the same weight and is not nearly as rigorous in either it's content or development of scientific thinking. Personally, I view entry level as something to be taught alongside GCSE if there is a chance that pupils will not complete the GCSE course.

What entry level is, however, is a great safety net! My pupils come from unstable backgrounds and quite often school is the only consistent point of contact. Therefore, as teachers, we need to make the most of their time with us and make sure they have something to show for their work developing their subject knowledge and understanding by the close of year 11 or year 10, depending on whether pupils are moving out of area or returning to mainstream.

The drip drip of entry level assessments, married up to the appropriate place in the GCSE course, means that most pupils will have achieved a bronze qualification, if not a silver by the end of year 10. When this happens, entry level has done its job in science.

At some point I will blog about the need for entry level in computing, but that's for another time.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Radio Pi!

I volunteer at Cross Rhythms Radio Plymouth from time to time, fixing various bits of kit. I also have the privilege of working with a very talented Y10 computing student. The stage was set for some real world computing fun.....

Over a few week we have built a system that links a raspberry pi to the current Sonifex Silence Detector. Whenever either the studio feed or the backup feed go quiet, the silence detector triggers an alarm. This causes a relay to connect, joining two pins on the rear DIN connector. The pi connects to these and sends a text, stating which feed is down. Really useful real time information!

The system also sends a text once a week to say it's alive, and if a feed goes down and then comes back, reports that all is well once again. This is a bit of an oversimplification of the program to say the least.

The python program with reads the GPIO inputs on the Pi and sends texts via the USB 3G modem is a really neat bit of software (entirely written by the student). Hopefully I'll post the source code here in time, but we forgot to back it up before installing the device in a hard to access spot. For the meantime, here's a photo-

It looks a bit rough and ready but works a treat!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Why this blog?

Back when I started using twitter as a teacher, I said I would never write a blog! When my sporadic attempts at being a teacher on twitter are hardly high class, how could I deliver a regular stream of high quality content?

However, after some encouragement from other teachers (@PaulGarvey4 amongst others) here is the blog! The focus is obviously science, technology, engineering, maths and computing, but will probably branch into teaching pedagogy, particular that related to emotional and behavioural difficulties.

A bit about me-
  • I trained as a secondary science (biology) teacher at Leicester University via PGCE
  • I've just started my third year teaching at a PRU (it is my first non-supply job!)
  • Raspberry Pi's are awesome, I wish I had more time to experiment and build cool stuff using them. Their education potential is amazing too!
  • Open source software as much as I can, I experimented several times with using Linux as a teacher. However as the rest of the teaching world uses propitiatory software didn't last long!
  • Running to de-stress is great, particularly in the company of a particular crazy spaniel. Been known to do a bit of mountaineering (obviously outside of the South West)
  • A Christian