Windscape is an exciting children’s adventure that explores the dilemma between the usefulness of wind farms and the beautiful scenery they can sometimes destroy.

Paul Murdoch, the author of Windscape has recorded the audio for each chapter, created learning material and made them available for free.

With Paul’s permission I’ve taken the resources and turned it into a Glow Blog.

Windscape – an exciting children’s adventure by Paul Murdoch

and a podcast to which you can subscribe on: apple or android.

I have already started using the resource with my class and am looking forward to continuing.

As the audio is a blog it is easy to change things, we are open to adding to the learning resources if anyone has ideas. You can get in touch through the site.

Lockdown 2 day 1

Well we didn’t get off to a great start.

Working from home today.

I’d set out a light weeks program in a blog post for the pupils and emailed the parents. In both post and email I’d try to make it clear we were trying to really get every pupil involved from the start.

Planned our first Team meeting for 2pm as that was the same time we used in the first lockdown.

Teams seemed to get off to a bad start across the country.

A number of schools, pupils and parents have reported the technology running slowly or not at all.

This didn’t cause me as much problems as some. I upload most of the files I want the pupils to use to the class blog. I figure this avoids password problems. Also Teams slowdown.

It did seem to cause problems in our meeting. Only about half the pupils managed to get on. The others could access Teams but not get onto the meeting. Hard to know if this was related to the reported problem or not. It was certainly frustrating seeing the messages from the class repeatedly trying to get in.

Worth noting that I joined the meeting on my mac and iPad. The iPad on mute and used as a screen share. This has improved a lot since the first lockdown. Joining on the iPad second it gave me a choice to swap to it or join without audio. The latter let me share the iPad screen, and from what I could tell it was not to laggy (as the pupils say). Laterally in the first lockdown I abandoned screen sharing or using PowerPoint and just share files in the chat as we had a pretty bad experience. This gives me hope for an improved experience.

From tomorrow I’ll be back in the digital classroom. I can’t say I’m very happy about it. For all my love of technology I much prefer the real classroom.

I’ve been reviewing my previous lockdown experience, I continue to find reading my old blog posts useful.  Also interesting to see what happened in the first week of term last session.

Last time I felt I spent very little time learning new stuff or seeing what other people were doing. As I recall my head was down. I believed that I cut out social media pretty much. I just had a look at my 2020 twitter stats:

And was surprised to see I was wrong about that.

It feel like there is a lot more pressure on this time round. I think, as teachers, we put enough pressure on ourselves, not sure the idea of teachers, schools and LAs having to produce data to justify themselves is a great idea. I gathered my own last time, and held myself to account  blogged about it, that felt tough enough.

I certainly hope that whoever tries to hold us to account understands the situation, the amount of prep needed to teach online, whether preparing for a live lesson or creating asynchronous ones.

During the last lockdown I made a wee webpage to use instead of a whiteboard and magnetic letters for phonics. It might be useful to someone else: Word Makers. Made with iPads in mind. It presents a list of  words and you can drag letters around. Here is a 30 second screencast (silent).

The words are from NLC lists.

There is a table of contents:

and a general board:

Doubtless a few bugs but someone might find it useful.

Books I’ve read this year. displayed with my favourite plugin display posts. I’ve found it useful to post books I’ve read. I need to write slightly better notes next year. Lockdown increased my reading a little. 30/10 male to female authors reflect the fact I get a lot of books after my wife.

  1. 26/12/2020 - Read: Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi ★★★★☆The damage parents(mothers in this case) do. There isn’t any redemption or reconciliation as the mother drops into dementia.
  2. 13/12/2020 - Read: Recursion by Blake Crouch ★★★☆☆ enjoyed the morph from crime to sci-fi. A nice page turner, maybe a bit too much recursion😀📚  
  3. 12/12/2020 - Read: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart ★★★★☆ set in my home town powerful stuff. Growing up poor with an alcoholic mother Shuggie didn’t have to look for his troubles, chinks of hope shut down one after the other. ShuggieBain (edition) | Open Library
  4. 27/11/2020 - Read: Pine by Francine Toon ★★★★☆ “Gothic Horror” is well out of my usual reading zone, but I enjoyed the slow introduction of the hopeless father & his daughter in the highlands. 📚
  5. 22/11/2020 - Read: Expectation by Anna Hope ★★★★☆ surprised that this feminist, to an extent, literary fiction kept me reading page turner. 📚
  6. 13/11/2020 - Read: Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor ★★★★☆ lots of fun with the life of Bram Stoker. Told through fragments of notes, letters and memories. Some nice opacity, hints and the odd ghost.
  7. 26/10/2020 - Read: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite ★★★★☆ well that was fun!
  8. 26/10/2020 - Read Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins ★★★☆☆ pretty twisted tale with an increasingly suspect unreliable narrator. Tense & queasy.
  9. 13/10/2020 - Read:  The Odyssey by Homer translated Emily Wilson ★★★★☆ easy to read, put in context a lot of novels based on greek tales I’ve read in the last couple of years.
  10. 13/09/2020 - Read: An Unnecessarily Women by Rabih Alameddine ★★★☆☆ 📚a strange mix of the Beirut setting and literary references dominated the plot.
  11. 22/08/2020 - Read: The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt ★★★★★ several unreliable narrators, set in the NY art world beyond my ken. Became an engrossing and affecting read. 📚
  12. 06/08/2020 - Read Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto 📚 ★★★★☆ two sad stories of young folk dealling with death.
  13. 06/08/2020 - Read: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata 📚 ★★★★☆ enjoyable strange tale.
  14. 31/07/2020 - Read: Kartography by Kamila Shamsie ★★★☆☆ 📚
  15. 22/07/2020 - Read: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. I loved the paragraphs, often lacking fullstops and capitals, carried me along. ★★★★★ 📚
  16. 12/07/2020 - Read: The Little House by Kyōko Nakajima, trans: Ginny Tapley Takemori ★★★★★ beautiful story, delicious food. Glimpse into social and domestic life in Japan before & during WW2 📚
  17. 07/07/2020 - Read: The Seduction by Joanna Briscoe – Queasily page turning. ★★★☆☆ 📚
  18. 26/06/2020 - Read: A God in Every Stone - Kamila Shamsie ★★★★☆ page turner, interesting history of WW1 & the Qissa Khwani massacre in Peshawar 📚
  19. 26/06/2020 - Read: Ma’am Darling by Craig Brown ★★★☆☆ 📚 99 witty chapters. Some laugh out loud.
  20. 26/06/2020 - Read: Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout ★★★★☆ lot of darkness with light at the end. 📚
  21. 14/06/2020 - Read: Redhead by the side of the road by Anne Tyler ★★★★☆  📚
  22. 13/06/2020 - Read: The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald ★★★☆☆ Enjoyed revisiting my teenage library. 📚
  23. 13/06/2020 - Read: Old Baggage by Alissa Evans ★★★★☆ Comic novel about Suffragette in the 20s & 30s
  24. 04/06/2020 - Read:The Wedding by DorothyWest ★★★★☆ quite outside my normal zone. I enjoyed all the dips into the history of a middle class black American family.
  25. 20/05/2020 - Read: The Hiding Game – Naomi Wood ★★★☆☆ Covers lots of interesting ground with a bit of mystery. Looking back at the Bauhaus during the rise of Nazis. Love, art intrigue, drugs…
  26. 14/05/2020 - Read:The Women in Black – Madeleine St John ★★★★☆ perfect read for the time, brief looks at the lives of women working in department store in 50’s Australia. Enjoyable, funny and characters very Australian.
  27. 24/04/2020 - What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt ★★★★☆ Well that was complicated. My wife said it was 3 different books in one. I enjoyed them all.
  28. 12/04/2020 - Read: Here We Are by Graham Swift ★★★★★ Really engaging novella. I both wanted to get to the end and find out what happens and keep having more to read.
  29. 10/04/2020 - Read: A Drink Before The War Dennis Lehane ★★☆☆☆ Though a detective might cheer me up, but too may big guns and bangs.
  30. 06/04/2020 - Read: Actress by Anne Enright ★★★★☆ 📚 enjoyed the descriptions and characters, especially the actress herself. Like the layers being revealed.
  31. 01/04/2020 - Read: A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry ★★★☆☆ This was good fun but I think I prefer his less eventful books such as Annie Dunn.
  32. 28/03/2020 - Read: Nightingale by Marina Kemp ★★★★☆ I enjoyed this, absorbing description of seasons in France, reviling characters and story slowly. Slight fall away at the end.
  33. 22/03/2020 - Read: The Fifth Book Of Peace by Maxine Hong Kingston ★★★☆☆ I didn’t really enjoy the middle section set in Hawaii, but the last about working with Vietnam veterans was interesting and absorbing.
  34. 19/02/2020 - Read: Middle England by Johnathan Coe ★★★★☆ Almost like a series of sketches played very much to my liberal values. Enjoyable rather than thought provoking.
  35. 08/02/2020 - Read: They Knew Mr Knight by Dorothy Whipple ★★★★☆ I am getting through most of the authors books by now. This seems most obviously moral, although I didn’t notice all of the Christian symbolism. The writing is clear and I enjoy being taken to the period.
  36. 31/01/2020 - Read: The High Window by by Raymond Chandler ★★★★★ re-read of a favourite, so good.
  37. 24/01/2020 - Read Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout ★★★★★, maybe not quite as great as Olive Kitteridge but still... got better and better as it went on and the last paragraph... 📚
  38. 17/01/2020 - Read: A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier ★★★☆☆ I enjoyed the gentle pace and mild despair. For the most part it felt like it was right in place in between the wars.
  39. 10/01/2020 - Read: the confession by Jessie Burton ★★★☆☆ 📚
  40. 04/01/2020 - Read: Surfacing - Kathleen Jamie ★★★★☆ "you are not lost, just melodramatic. The path is at your feet, see? Now carry on. " 📚 super book connecting archaeology & or relationship with nature. Must try her poems as I've lived all the books of essays. (1st book of 2020)

Read: Pine by Francine Toon ★★★★☆ “Gothic Horror” is well out of my usual reading zone, but I enjoyed the slow introduction of the hopeless father & his daughter in the highlands. 📚

Wednesday evening I hurried home after school to join the zoom meeting for the launch of the Virtual exhibition Doing Data Differently.

In the current climate, discussions about data in schools are usually linked to pupil attainment, data are represented using charts and graphs, and teachers rarely initiate data collection themselves or use it for their own purposes. The widespread use of attainment data in schools has been widely criticised for its impact on the curriculum, on teaching and learning, and on teacher and pupil wellbeing.

I’d heard of the project from Ian Guest, @IaninSheffield, an academic working on the project and an online pal. Ian did interesting work on teachers use of twitter. We talked to him about this and many other things on Radio EduTalk. Ian took a rather individual approach to gathering data during his phd.

The virtual launch was a great taster for the Doing Data Differently site or exhibition. If the idea of data in education is unattractive this will change your mind. The recording of data was done on postcards in very creative ways. A quick scroll down the Metaphors, for example, collection gives you different view of “data”.

I was particularly interested in was the amount of discussion and excitement generated by the postcards. One mention returning to change something in her class immediately. Perhaps I heard someone saying that the project vaccinated them against data. An interesting idea.

I felt that these postcards gathered more complex, subtle, less easily simplified data. This could be approached conversationally as opposed to mathematically.

The project is continued in a colloquium on vimeo. I’ve listened to the first, thanks huffduffer, Data harms and inequalities and queued up a couple more. The first was an interesting discussion of data misuse, bias, and bad algorithms. I am guessing that the videos are more academic than the postcards and should compliment thinking about data use in education in the round.

There is a lot more for me to read and think about on the site. It is facinating seeing an unusual view of other teachers practise.

This is harder than it used to be.

We have just added our class podcast to iTunes I though it might be worth noting the steps.

The RSS feed from Glow Blogs is not optimised for podcasts so I used Feedburner to create one. You need a google account to set up on Feedburner. Once you have done that you add your RSS feed from your blog to Feedburner and tick the podcast box.

An important setting is to have an image for the podcast art.
You need to upload a square image bigger than 1400 by 1400 pixels for iTunes. Remember to change the maximum size in Settings-> Media as by default Glow Blogs resizes image bigger than 1200 pixels. Then add the URL for that image to Feedburner.

You end up with a url for your podcast feed, ours is:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/BantonBiggiesPodcast

you then submit that at the apple iTunes Connect site. You need an Apple ID for that. It is pretty straightforward. You can check the feed and submit it.

Feedburner is showing its age and is missing some of the tags that Apple likes but it still works. Feedburner was taken over by google a while back and I hope it does not go the way of Google Reader. I don’t know of another free service like it?

My classes podcast is approaching episode 1 and we are having a deal of fun working on it.