Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year

2008 has been a bit of a mixed bag for me. I have had some great moments; creative arts week was a fabulous work highlight, as was accepting my new job and I am really looking forward to starting that in January. There have also been some real lows, especially seeing some of my friends go through very difficult times in different ways. To these friends in particular I send my love and wishes for a better year in 2009.

And wishes for my 2009? I hesitate to make resolutions as they inevitably end up broken or forgotten; I have, instead, a wish for positive fresh starts.
  • A fresh start with WeightWatchers and renewed commitment
  • A positive start in my new job
  • A year of good health (following nasty throat infections and 10 months of an inflamed shoulder joint this year)
So with only hours of 2008 left, I would like to wish all my readers a very happy new year and say, may the best of your past be the worst of your future.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Even More Christmas Fun.

The latest of the Elf Yourself videos. Having introduced Ted and Marley to the joys of Twitter and Twittervision, we then moved on to the very serious business of turning them into elves. And here are the results.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Creative Arts Week - Update

At long last I have finally finished editing my video overview of the Creative Arts Week that I was part of organising this year. Nothing very flash - just a short(ish) taster of the week, and looking back it still makes me smile. I have included two videos below - the first is the week's overview and the second is the complete Longsword performance.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Force is Strong on the Mac Side

After much thought and drooling over other people's, I finally bought an iPhone. I've had it for about a month and a half now and I have to confess that my conversion to church of Apple is now complete. For the first time ever all my contacts, diaries and e-mail accounts are in sync and up to date. I feel rather organised and virtuous. I have hardly switched on my PC since buying the Mac. The poor abandoned machine gets switched on periodically so that I can print but once I rearrange my network it will be visited even less frequently. Loving the iPhone but there are one or two things about it that annoy me:
  • To do lists do not sync from iCal - in my opinion this is a huge oversight and one that needs sorting very soon
  • Battery life is shocking - but I knew that before I bought it
  • I don't like the iPhone version of predictive text - it doesn't appear to learn your regularly used words and it is all to easy to send out a text with a random word substituted
  • All of the alarm tones are a bit weedy - none of them are guaranteed to wake me up
Other than that it is love all the way. May the force be with you.

Christmas Fun

My kids at school have been taking part in a Christmas sing off this week. They chose to sing the Carol of the Bells. I love the song but as you can probably imaging it is now firmly wedged in my head. This morning I decided to play with GarageBand on my Mac and see what I could come up with. This is the end result and yes I know it is a little out of tune in places and a bit rough around the edges but I quite like the result and it provides a little festive fun to my blog! And yes, all the voices are me!

Friday, 7 November 2008

What a lovely website. Any suggestions on how I can use this in lessons?

Thursday, 30 October 2008

A Door Opens

After seven years at Cleveland I have taken the plunge and last week I accepted a new job. It means working in a new school, a new borough and a new role. It is scary and exciting all in one go but I am more than ready for the move and it feels right. I'm still going to be teaching and in class full time but my new role is ICT co-ordinator and I have plenty of ideas to get ICT integrated across the curriculum, including the use of blogging in the classroom!

In truth, I can't wait to get started - there is lots to do and big challenges ahead but I am very ready for them. I feel very guilty about leaving my current class part way through the year but it had to be done unfortunately. So, half a term to go and I'll be gutted when it actually comes to leaving but for now...... :o)

Friday, 12 September 2008

An interesting find

It is amazing what you can find in a school playground. This incredible creature was found by a couple of the kids in my class. They spent their entire lunchtime gently cradling it in their hands and showing every teacher they could find. Their facination was as wonderful as the insect itself; and very understandable. This is the closest I have ever been to a dragonfly and it really was breathtaking. It is a shame that it had died but it seems to have died naturally and it provided a fantastic experience for dozens of kids and adults alike.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Bad Penny turns up!

Back in 2003 I helped several of mum's 6th form students to produce a short video as part of the 48 hour film challenge (now the 24 Hour Film Challenge), run by Johnnie Oddball. Our randomly picked title was Bad Penny and our genre action/ adventure. The film had to be no longer than 5 minutes. It was a great weekend; fun but tiring, with an all night edit and a mad dash to Edinburgh to deliver the final edit, which we did with only 5 minutes to deadline!

Until yesterday we thought that we had lost all copies of the video since the only DVD we had would not play. But, after a freak discovery and a little tinkering we have rediscovered a low res copy. Not perfect and there seems to be a glitch in one of the scenes, but better that than no copy at all!

I am delighted that we have salvaged it. I still think it holds up. Be patient when you watch it; it starts about 15 seconds in.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

From Babies to Boy Band

It is amazing what you can achieve in one day with a popular song, three keen nephews, a video camera and a decent piece of editing kit. I'm really pleased with how this turned out. It makes Shay chuckle now but I can't help but wonder how embarrassed he'll be by it when he is 16! Still lots of fun and silliness involved and no one taking themselves very seriously!

I really enjoyed making this. It gave me a perfect opportunity to play with the video filters and effects and I am really starting to get my head around the software. However, the more I learn, the more I realise I still have huge amounts to discover. I think some lessons at the Apple store might be on the cards...

Saturday, 9 August 2008

I Did That!

So far I haven't really mentioned the school's creative arts week here. I played a large part in organising it this year because it was my brain child, born of a night of insomnia, and because it involved my area of (ahem...) 'expertise'. However, while starting to learn how to use Final Cut Studio today, I started to edit the video that I shot during the week. It brought home to me just how successful the week was and I thought that I should mention it here. In fact the article above says a lot really and once I finish the edit it should complete the story. But here for once I am going to blow my own trumpet and take the credit for a brilliant week - I made that happen!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Endings and Beginnings

I have a new bedroom. After five weeks of hard work it is finally finished, and it is beautiful! I love it. I've gone from what felt like a cramped and cluttered hole to waking up in luxury and it just doesn't feel like my room! It leaves only one room in my little flat that hasn't been redecorated since I moved in and it is now shouting at me to be done. I guess I need to start saving.

The new bedroom has prompted all sorts of fresh starts for me. I have got back on track with WeightWatchers and I am starting to see losses again. I am clearing out cupboards and have been ruthless about throwing out a large part of my video and cassette collection (I bet the bin men love me!). I have had a new cupboard built in the front room which is big enough to hold the snake's vivarium. It is enormous so has swallowed a lot of my (now sorted) clutter. And of course the snake is home. It is lovely that he is back here finally and it seems only fair that his last days are free from the noise of a classroom. Having said that he seems robust and healthy just now and his no food fad seems to have passed. He certainly had no problem getting outside of his welcome home mouse!
All of this has left me feeling optimistic and ready to tackle the pile (literally) of organising that I still have to face in school. I am in a new classroom and I now is definitely the right time for a fresh start.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Concerts and Cupcakes

No posts for a while - I have been up to my armpits in 'stuff'. It's taken a lot longer than I expected to get through the heap of school work, and as for the home stuff, well I am only just starting to tackle that!

Still, only 8 days until the freedom of the summer holidays. I am counting the hours. Meanwhile I am trying to acheive the status domestic goddess! I made cakes for my class cake sale tomorrow and for the Roding Players concert last night. My first attempt at lemon cupcakes and they disappeared fast, so I'll make them again!

There is still plenty going on; domestic goddess status is hard to reach with the flat turned upside down. My bedroom is currently being refitted and decorated and all its contents are stuffed into the corners of every other room. At least I know it is getting worse to get better!

At school we still have the dance festival to get through. This year I am putting up 4 dances and starting to think that it was a very daft idea! Then of course there is class 4's cake sale to raise money for The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. I still need to sort out my class assembly on Wednesday and at some point I'll be meeting my new class!

With all of this going on, blogging has taken a bit of a back seat and I haven't even started to get my head around Final Cut Studio yet. Still, hours of entertainment for the holiday!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Too Excited for Words!

This is my first blog post written on my brand new, shiny MacBook Pro. I have officially become a Mac user and I am loving it! I really can't describe how excited I am, but I feel like a kid learning to walk. I feel like this should be easy - after all I am very computer literate, but the Mac really requires a different mind set from that needed for a PC and so it is going to take me some time. Now I just need to work out how to install Final Cut Studio for hours of fun. Watch this space for my first creation!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

The Show's Over

That's it for another year; Market Boy is over after a 4 night run. I am exhausted, but this play has been really good fun to do. In fact one of the most enjoyable I've done for quite a while and I think this is a lot due to the fact that the group have been very cohesive and therefore great to work with.
So the busiest two or three weeks of my year is coming to and end. With the play now finished I can concentrate on getting my reports completed and get the horrible SATs  marking out of the way. I'm quite looking forward to getting my life back!

Saturday, 14 June 2008

A Little Relief

The snake ate yesterday. He was a bit tentative at first but the mouse soon disappeared. I'm still not convinced that this means everything is OK, but it is at least a good sign. Perhaps it really was coincidence that he was off food the last two times I tried to feed him. Anyway, I feel a little better now and I have made a decision; I am going to bring Galahad home in the summer holidays.

He has done very well during his time in school. Lots of children have learnt a huge amount from looking after him. Now I think that it is only fair that he lives his last days in peace and quiet, away from prying eyes, grasping hands and noisy classrooms. It is time I retired him and if he is at home I can keep a more careful eye on him.

I feel quite sad - after six years, Snake Club is over.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

To Do Lists

I am a list maker to the core. I have lists for everything. I have even been known to add things I have already done to new lists, just so that I can cross them off! I find list making incredibly cathartic, in fact I don't think I could function properly without them. So here is my latest list (and I might keep adding to it, but you can also be sure I'll get things crossed off); things I want to do/ see in London.
Hmm, the more I add, the more I feel is missing...

Friday, 6 June 2008

Grey Days and Weekends

The Under Toad was strong today. I could feel it in the fine, soaking drizzle that descended on the afternoon. But it was more than that. Today was not a good day to be out of bed!

It is an odd feeling when a day changes direction. This morning was fine, even the weather was reasonable, but by mid-morning the shift had happened. I had another bout of dizziness, and it came on really fast. I was fine going down the stairs but on the way up I felt like I was going to fall over. It was so bad that all I could do when I got to the classroom was sit with my head on my knees. It was the quietest the kids were all day, although the fact that my ears went funny at the same time might have contributed to the quiet! I felt less dizzy as the day went on but it didn't really go completely until the evening.

After school I went to do Snake Club as usual. The minute I picked up the snake he felt wrong; too light and weak in the muscles. We offered him a mouse - a big one, since he refused food last time it was offered and he was likely to be hungry. He refused it. That's 4 weeks now without food.

He was milky, so it might just be that he refused the mouse because he is preparing to slough, but that never used to stop him. Galahad has always been a voracious eater. His refusal of food added with the fact that he felt weak makes me think that this might be the beginning of the end for him. He will be 19 years old in July; a very good age for a corn snake. I have to prepare myself for the possibility that he is dying. I managed to hold my emotion in check and I got though Snake Club, but at 4 o'clock that was it, the Under Toad broke through.

Yes, today was a bad day. I am hoping that the weekend is better.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Fun with Cupcakes

I made these! Yes, they are probably the simplest of all cakes to make and hardly require any skill, but I still feel rather pathetically proud of my pretty pink creations. They really taste very good too. Now I'm wondering, with more practice and the purchase of some icing tools, could I turn this into a miniature cottage industry? Maybe I'll have a cake and think about that!

Friday, 23 May 2008

A Spot of Road Rage

I clipped some one's wing mirror this morning. She was positioned in the left lane but over the dividing line; I had to pull out over the centre line to get past her. This particular road is very busy in both directions at 8 in the morning, so I couldn't pull out too far or I would have been in the path of on coming traffic. So I ended up just clipping her mirror. Not a huge collision, but wing mirrors always sound worse inside the car. I quickly looked to see if I had caused her any damage but everything was fine. No biggy, it happens, that's one of the reasons that wing mirrors are designed to give.

Don't get me wrong, I don't feel great about clipping her, but in the great scheme of things it really was inconsequential. So I drove on, or at least continued to pull up to the lights.

Meanwhile, the driver started to flap and gesture aggressively at me. I decided that I wouldn't make eye contact (she was flapping hard enough that a I could clearly see her in my peripheral vision). Not that I am a coward you understand, but really, what would be the point. The lady was clearly ready to wind herself up into a frenzy.

I have enough daily stress and aggravation not to have any desire to start my day with a confrontation over nothing. And what could I have said? If she hadn't started gesticulating I would have waved and mouthed an apology, but what more is there to say? There was no damage, no harm done and no need to waste time for either of us.

As the lights changed colour she positioned herself ahead of me and flapped at me again. I still ignored her and at at this point she either realised that I wasn't going to acknowledge her or her common sense kicked in and she calmed down enough to realise that she was making a boil out of a tiny pimple.

We both went on our way without the confrontation (and who knows how far she would have taken it). I was left thinking 'how sad that she had to be so uptight and aggressive over this, to the point where any attempt to acknowledge my slip and apologise could have inflamed an obviously tightly wound individual (perhaps she is a teacher? We are all fairly tightly wound at the moment!).

Are our lives so stressful and miserable that the little things that go wrong can send us hurtling into a hostile and destructive spiral? I will try to remember her moment of road rage the next time someone cuts across me from the left at a roundabout!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Classroom Blogs

Wow! What a day! Since catching the blogging bug I have been wondering how I might use a blog effectively in my teaching. So I set up a new blog and a new Google account using a safe email address and password, and then I headed into new territory.

It has been a revelation. I have had a brilliant day and my class loved it too. We hit 3 subject areas with one activity and stretched it over the day giving us plenty of time to actually finish something we started (for a change).

Our class blog could run and run, and the best thing about it is that the children are asking what else they can do with it. What started as a place to share one project is now being viewed by myself and the children as a place to share this term's work.

Looking at the comments widget I know that many of them have already viewed the blog at home. Brilliant! Now when a parent asks "what did you do at school today?" they can see for themselves.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Back to where it started

This is the video that started it all. Yes, I know it's silly and its production values are low, but making this video on a one day course at 21cc reinfected me with the editing bug. Now I want to do more; make silly shorts and collaborate with like minded friends - just for fun. Who knows where it might lead me? (so far, to an expensive longing for a Mac and Final Cut Studio!)

Friday, 2 May 2008

All new to me

I have finally joined the blogging world. Until today I have only thought fleetingly about doing so. My efforts at diary keeping as a kid would suggest that I may only ever be a sporadic blogger but perhaps I am underestimating myself. Time will tell.