Thursday 31 May 2007

Class Presenter and Conference XP

Video: Classroom Presenter

Once the pupils have their UMPC's (Big news on that very soon) I have been looking at how they can used within classroom. The most obvious way is that worksheets can contain more than text and still pictures. Individuals can watch a video clip or listen to a podcast o radio programme or they can read the text and watch an animation demonstrating what thy are being told.

They can record the ongoing process of their practical projects by taking stills (via a web cam) and adding text to it or record a video describing what they are doing.

One of the main ways I see is classroom collaboration. Sharing a 'whiteboard' that pupils can add notes too. The teacher can get individual

For example if you have a prepared powerpoint you can share it to all the pupils and they can make their own notes. You could have a question on the powerpoint and have the pupils feedback the answers. Assessment is for Learning and more than voting systems all in action.

Conference XP

New Timetable

Today is the start of the new Timetable.

I got my new Fundimentals in Web Design Class and we have started a wiki to record the developments as they happen

PS The colours and the mistypes are deliberate to get the class talking about what is good design. Honest!

Monday 28 May 2007

Other Changes - Vocational Education

As part of the widening out of the curriculum we have introduced Skills for Work courses (SfW).

This year it has seen the introduction of Construction Skills and Hairdressing. 

Both these courses have been running for this year.

Next year we will be introducting Rural Skills and Cosmetology (This is not looking at the cosmos as I thought but Beautician skills).

The idea is to get these courses in place as normal options within the whole school curriculum. With equal status to any other course.

Pupils are not removed from other classes to attend an FE college simply because it is not possible in our geographic position. Therefore we had to create a space within the school for this to happen.


Sunday 27 May 2007

Saturday 26 May 2007

Other Changes - Project Afternoon's

We looked at how the whole school community could take the skills and knowledge that they were learning in the classroom and apply them.

We are removing the 'Core' lessons from S3 - S4 and making Wednesday and Friday Afternoon's Project Afternoon's.

Project proposals are being developed at the moment. All staff getting ideas together and looking at how practical they would be. We have split the year into 6 week blocks. A staff member can offer a single block of 6 weeks using either one afternoon, and offer a different project the other afternoon (12 hours) or both (24 hours), a double block etc.

My proposal is setup a media group that will produce a TV News programme for the school intranet and podcasts for the internet. I plan to run this all year but I am hoing that the group producing it will change over the year.

This is how we are approaching a Curriculum for Excellence. What do you think?

Other changes - Multi-age classes

As part of the changes in the Age and Stage restrictions we have also decided to review how the classes are made up.

Traditionally subjects have been taught as a single age group but multi level in courses. Here, because the school roll being 250 (Yes, that's all the age groups form S1 - S6) we were either getting very small classes at a single level or a very wide, multilevel range.

We started to think about this and came to the conclusion that we could teach classes at a particular level and leave the age open.

Therefore when we removed the age and stage restriction we opened up classes to any age. This means that in the 1st layer classes have mainly S3 and also some 5th and 6th years.

Next year, now that the S3's have completed the first 5 courses, S3 and S4's will be selecting the same level of courses. By the end of S4 they will have completed 10 subjects before moving onto either Higher courses or more courses at the appropriate level, or a mixture of both.

This has created more space in the timetable.

The social side of mixing age groups would be a major issue in a larger schools but in a small school this almost disappears as the pupils mix naturally.

This is very much a quick summary. Please feel free ask questions

Friday 25 May 2007


I thought this was an interesting follow up to the Panorama programme

Thursday 24 May 2007

Islay Beach rugby

As some of you may know I am a keen sportsman. I manage to keep it well hidden under the strategically developed layers of fat middle age spread. I am still a playing member of Islay Rugby Club at 41.

On the 9th of June we hold our 4th Annual Beach Rugby Tournament.

This has grown over the last 4 years but has kept its character of true corinthian sporting values. So thats 3 very bad hangovers and even severe sunstroke.

This year we have 17 male teams and 4 female teams confirmed. With the defending champions, Melrose bring a particularly large support with them.

So if anyone fancies a quiet, cultural weekend of Birdwatching (Having been Inspired by BBC Spring Watch) then the weekend of the 9th June may not be the best time to visit.

PS that is me definately not handling the ball on the ground in the pic above.

The other changes - Removal of the Age and Stage Restrictions

I have realised that because I am so involved with and focused on the ICT part of the School of Ambition project that I haven't really gone into much detail on the other parts.

Over the next few entries I am going to give some more background on what the other changes are.

As you can see from the Column on the right we have several parts to our school of Ambition changes.

The one which is in the forefront of collective mind of the school at the moment is The removal of the age and Stage restrictions.

In Scotland's Education system we are coming to the final stage of our Exam diet but here this year, in IHS, it has been even more interesting and tense than usual. This is because we have had S3 as well as S4, 5 and 6 sitting their exams.

The S3 have been doing studying 5, 1 year courses 5 periods a week instead of the more usual 8, 2 year courses at 3 periods a week.

The Anecdotal outcomes have been positive. Some of the staffroom comments are:

- the S3 have learned in a deeper way because they spend 'more' time per week in a class and a small number subjects to concentrate on.

- S3 are taking the exam process much more seriously

- S4 seem to have forgotten all they were taught in S3

Of course the analysis of the results will be the true test.

Next year the present S3's will make another course choice at the same level. This means that by the end of S4 they will have sat 10 courses before making their move onto S5 and Highers or more width to their curriculum at a level which is approriate to them.

Tuesday 22 May 2007

Current tv TV 2.0

Over the last few months I have been dipping into Current TV on Sky. It shows a large range of interesting documentaries, Art work, Music videos and I decided to investigate further.

Current Tv Web Site

Over the last couple of weeks I have been exploring the site.

I have come to the conclusion that this is brilliant! It has several sections but the 2 I dip into most are

Watch and Vote

Here you can look at the viewer produced films and decide if its ready for TV. Whole discussions on what needs to be done or if the viewpoint is slanted in anyway. Getting the viewers to actually make some editorial guidance on the channel. You can make your own show and upload it for others to see. So how is this different from YouTube? Because the whole process is not overloaded by teenage boys lighting their own farts. At least not yet.

Make Video & Ads

Here you have help and advice to get you started and help you with the process.

Yes its full of film students trying to show how smart they are but you get some very thought provoking films. One of my favorites so is this.

What do you think?

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Monday 21 May 2007

Well? Did you watch it?

Panorama I mean.

What are your thoughts?

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Dell goes all Tablet

Thanks to the Guardian I see that Dell are releasing a Tablet PC. Its aimed at specialist markets ie Education, healthcare etc.

I am hoping that they will cause the Tablet PC market to shift its price point. Making the Tablet PC the challenge to traditional laptops they always have been.

Now when do they plan to produce a UMPC?

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Teachmeet07 and tough choices

Teachmeet is a gathering of like minded teacher (et al) who are interested in using technology to develop a lot of aspects of the learning and teaching process.

I missed the first one as I was speaking the next day in Glasgow and I didn't want to be too late. I made the next one at SETT 06 but we ran out of time for me to speak. Though I was happy to sit back and drink the wine.

So I was all set for next week. The school had said I could go to eLive and my authority said they would pay for the travel costs. Put my name on the Teachmeet Wiki (before I had booked for eLive actually) and then Wilfred, the french assistant, said he was having his going away party on the 23rd!!!!

Wilfred has been a star all year. Getting involved with the life of the school.

This was the tough choice going to teachmeet07 or saying goodbye to a friend. OK so it wasn't that tough a choice after all.

I have offered to make a contribution via the internet. If I get enough notice then by Marratech but I am sure that all those who are at the event will have a fantastic time.

Wednesday 16 May 2007

Bowmore Distillery Web Site

From Blog Pics

I have just had a look at the new Bowmore Distilery Web Site.

It looks brilliant. Have a look at the background video and see some great images and video's of the Island.

Bowmore is the nearest Distillery to the school. In fact the address of the distillery is School St.

The site also has some wonderful old tales from the Islay. Shame it can't be accessed from inside the school

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No this not a new educational initiative. It is the Royal Commission for Ancient Historic Monuments Scotland RCAHMS

We had a big day with Brian Wilkinson and a group from the Royal Commission.

We took all S1 and S2 (I know, that's still less than 60) to see a couple of the local sites. We were suppose to split the year group into 3 sub groups and go to 3 different sites but it was wet, very wet.

S1 went first. We took a Minibus and 2 LWB Landrovers and got as close as possible to the sites. The groups moved up towards the sites along the muddy tracks. They then split into groups of 3 and they measured the remains and recorded them. They asked great questions and listened to he answers. They then headed back to the transport. We got back in time for morning break.

The S2 repeated the trip periods 3&4. Getting back for lunchtime.

S1 were in history and Geography those periods. Those teachers went with the S2. I took the S1's together and got them to work on a PC in the 3's they had worked together at the site. They tried to recreate what the sites would have looked like in Sketchup.

The team from RCAHMS seemed very impressed with what they had produced.

I would like to thank the Staff, the Royal Commission team and especially the pupils who walked in rain and mud and still had a great time.

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Saturday 12 May 2007


to Sandy Smith for becoming the latest, full time permanent, member of IHS's staff. He is our new Technology teacher.

I spent most of yesterday interviewing. We had 6 applicants, all of whom were very strong.

Well done Sandy.

From Blog Pics


PS the beard has now gone


Monday 7 May 2007

Careful what you wish for .....

After a very busy week I arrived home (And I mean in the house after getting into school off the 7am ferry) at 8pm last night.
My wife has also been away since Wednesday so a pile of mail was behind the door. Amongst all the junk mail was the letter saying I had been accepted onto the SQH Course.................