Friday 27 June 2008

Review of the Year 2007-08

Today is that last day of the school year. The video below is a montage of what the pupils have been doing.

They have been involved in a lot of amazing things.

I thought I should reflect on what has been a pretty amazing year all round.

Just over a year ago Islay High School hit a mile stone with the arrival of the first 100 Samsung Q1’s. life has been pretty hectic since then. Younger pupils had already been developing very good skills such as the one below and

Video: Islay House Square in Sketchup

senior pupils were taking off to have adventures in Malawi.

In school last June we were installing Panasonic wireless projectors with sound system and connection plates. Then the summer was spent doing loads of preparation.


We started to roll out the UMPC’s to the pupils. We had a few teething problems with some of the wireless coverage in some parts of the school but this was sorted. Though I know that we need to develop it further.

Also in September (Was it really that long ago) we had a camera team from the BBC come in at do a piece for the Politics Show Scotland.

I started the Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH) with Strathclyde University. This year was perhaps not the best year to start this but I was assured that nobody got on the first time they applied so I thought I was safe. In the opening tutorial we were told that all our time would have to be dedicated to the SQH and it was extremely demanding………… Hmmm.

I attended the Scottish Learning Festival and attended Teachmeet. Both of these were good but Teachmeet works in so many ways as an opportunity to share and learn.


I was invited to speak at the HandHeld Learning conference.

I heard so many great and inspirational speakers that I felt quite over whelmed.


While this was all developing I was working with Keith Hamon and ‘Meach the Teach’ to develop a cross Atlantic class.

This is probably the thing which I feel I couldn’t develop as fully as I would have liked and I really regret this. The reasons are many fold but we got a couple of good sessions and I know that Mr Meacham has taken it on and developed great links with the American School in Valencia. I really do wish them good luck and maybe I can try and catch up with them, as they will be so far ahead of us, some time in the not too distant future.

In late November myself and Caroline, my wife, were invited to visit the International School of Monaco. How the invite came about was because one of the teachers at the school is from Islay. In fact the schools director is also from Islay. They had heard, through their on island contacts, about what were doing and were very interested. I think the links will continue to develop.


Islay high was selected to be part of the British Councils ‘Dreams + teams’ project to link young leaders and and sport. Islay was linked with the Islands of Palau in Micronesia. Added into this will a world Challenge adventure based on Borneo. The Pupils must plan and raise the money for this part of the trip. More info appeared in January too.


We started to experience our first digital distractions. I knew this was going to happen and we had the Assertive Discipline script in place and ready to go. This has reared its head several times throughout the year but not has much as I had predicted. Though I am certain that what we ‘catch’ is only a small part of what is doing on.

An Article appeared on the FutureLab site which gave a good write up of what had been happening so far.

Andy Wallis in the English subject area encourage some senior pupils to use a blog to put up some of the work they were working on. This was to encourage interaction from the big world about their writing.

I presented to the Scottish ICT Development Group (SICTDG- pronounced SICKDOG). They seemed to be blown away and I had lots of great feedback.


This month we are lucky enough to have a full week off. So how did myself and Andy spend it? We drove, at our own expense, to Perth to talk to other teachers about using technology in education. We attended Teachmeet North. I should point out that it was great fun and we got loads out of it.

It was also about this point that we started to experience some of our digital natives realising that school work is still school work no matter what the media used to deliver it. And they had to work for course work and exams.


As well being the ICT Coordinator I also have a classroom commitment and a dept to run. From Feb through march I was struggling to strike a balance. Add to this the failing of my first SQH assignment and the pressure was on. It really was a heads down time. I must confess when I look back now I am not sure how (if?) I survived. Some things did crash including the resubmission for the SQH.


With my head still spinning I reach the Easter Holidays.

We had a great time with a Consol Day. Had great fun and discovered that I am total crap at Guitar Hero.

At the end of the month I was invited, with one pupil, to a reception at the Scottish Parliament. It was a great experience and Aaron (the pupil) was an absolute star. He talk well and confidently to everyone he met.


I have been piloting and now running the SQA DIVA course ‘Fundamentals in Web Design’. This is a very popular and practical course. In Islay we count it as one of our Vocational Courses.

The course is design based with real world design issues. One pupil actually made it a very real design course by designing, creating and publishing a web site for the Islay Book Festival

I was also asked to speak at the prestigious Education 08 Conference in Westminster


2 thing both happened on the same day. Friday the 13th

We held an ICT Open Day to demonstrate what we have been developing over the last couple of years. I was so please that so many people traveled to Islay and they have written some wonderful things about the day. I was also disappointed that so few islanders came along. This is something I have to think about and see what I can do.

Maybe the second thing that happened that day will have an effect on turn out next time.

Islay became the LTS School of Ambition at the National Education Awards. This is a huge honour for everyone who has had anything to do with the changes that have been happening.

I haven’t done a great deal of reflection yet. I think I will take some time with that over the next few weeks.

What I do know is that we have done a lot this year and this is the start not the finish. We have the basis of something very good but now we need to embed it so that its the natural way of teaching and learning. We need to to think and reflect as a community about what works and even more importantly what doesn’t and needs changed. To quote Bill Gates on his last day “Success is a bad teacher”.

We need to remember one of our core values as a school is to have the confidence to fail. So long as we learn from that and move forward again.


andy wallis said...

One word will suffice...


John said...

An wonder filled year Ian, An inspiration to all involved in teaching. I hope you have a wee bit of a rest over the summer holidays.