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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Five Things You Didn't Know About Me...etc

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas. I saw this blog post recently circulating and I have been fortunate enough to avoid being tagged. However, thanks to Robert, I must now join in.

Five things you didn’t know about me.

I enjoy playing the piano and the flute, badly.

When I was thirteen, I gained my Pony Club level C+ Certificate.

In the summer of 2002, I did a sky dive over Magnetic Island in Australia.

I am a huge Volkswagen Beetle fan

I am the only member of my family since my grandfather, Michael Swann, to follow a career beginning in the Biological Sciences.

I tag Jan, Luke, Glowboy, Liz and I don’t think OB has been tagged yet.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

GLOW Not Frozen Yet!

With the second term ending within the next 24 hours, life is more manic than ever at school. The S6 Pantomime is looking great. The S6 have really pulled together; thank you to everyone that has helped us. We haven’t been able to rehearse on stage due to tonight’s Christmas concert (fingers crossed all will run to plan tomorrow). The Christmas concerts at Knox are just legendary. This year’s will be out standing as usual, judging by the sounds I could hear when passing the assembly hall today.

This morning saw my last lesson with my 3rd year INT1 Biology class before Christmas. There are two INT1 Biology classes that come to our department at the same time in the timetable. I, and my colleague, decided to give our INT1 classes the choice of working on their PowerPoint projects down in ICT or watching one of our DVDs (I think it was the world famous ‘Blue Planet’, but I am not entirely sure).

Having been given the choice, one pupil piped up:

Miss, did you know that Glow is still online?’

On hearing this, 10 out of my 16 pupils chose to carry on with their projects and have a 'cheeky' interaction on the portal!

What a very positive and encouraging note to finish the second term on.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Wishing You A Merry Christmas!

With the onset of Christmas, life is very manic. I am feeling very guilty that I haven’t sent any Christmas cards yet. However, I have decided to blog one online to you all.

I have taken an alternative approach. I have purchased a goat for the less fortunate in Africa.

However, sending or ‘blogging’, a card online is free.

Very Best wishes, enjoy this online card/clip.

Merry Christmas!!!

Tess :)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Oh Yes He Is!...........

gif animation
With the S6 Pantomime rehearsals in full swing, we are starting to practice our small production on stage. The Lighting is now fully functional as is the audio side of things. Tonight I am trying to compel a series of sound effects and theme tunes. I am on the lookout for any good sites where I can down load sound effect mp3s for free. I have found a few that will do, but I was wondering if any of my readers have any suggestions further to my own findings? I am also looking for the Big brother theme tune and the X-Factor theme tune. Please leave a comment if you have any ideas that could save me valuable time (and money!).


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Increasing The Network.

I was meaning to post this last night. If you are reading this and you don’t already have a blog (or are thinking of starting), take an outclick to Robert Jones . He has posted a really useful and simple guide to creating and maintaining a successful blog.

Give this a click and a read. Well worth your while I promise

Thanks Robert!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Festive Fun!

Ho Ho Ho! Christmas is only 14 days away!

my pimped pic!

Thanks to Andrew Brown and Ollie Bray for blogging the above Idea!

With the onset of the festive period I have offered to supervise the back stage activities of our School Christmas Pantomime. Having had surgery on my foot last year, I was unable to get involved. Although I have helped out in previous school productions out with Knox, This is my first time actually supervising backstage. I know that last year’s pantomime was a huge success so we have a lot to live up to. We decided not to go for any particular theme this year, but a kind of 'Mish Mash’ of a number of famous pantomimes with an added ‘X-Factor’ thread running through (I won’t say more as it is meant to be a secret!). The pupils have written the script and are now manically rehearsing for the last day production. I have got the ball rolling with scenery and costumes. The pupils have been great in supplying a lot of the materials themselves. So far, I am in communication with Tesco who are more than happy to send some old yet robust cardboard packaging my way, I have a mound of old retro clothes and a pile of outrageous makeup, but I am looking for any advise or suggestions as to where to search for more cheap, or even better free, resources.

Any ideas?


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Are You Keeping Up with The Commodore?

As mentioned in my last post. I have purchased a Commodore 64. The C64 was released in August 1982. It was the best selling model of the 1980’s. It had a huge 64KB of RAM and a graphics chip with 16 colours! It really was state of the art. My parent’s bought a C64, in 1986, with the intention of using it to manage farm accounts. This was not to be so. It took my Father 4 hours to program the machine to play ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’, let alone, create, calculate, manage and save any accounts. With so many failed attempts he gave up and passed the machine onto my brother and I. I don’t actually know anyone who used the C64 for anything other than gaming.

This is where my passion for all things ICT initially began. I would spend hours working out how to programme the C64 to do very simple (and at the time, fascinating tasks) I managed to play small monophonic tunes, draw very basic pictures and of course there was the game playing. I find it incredible to think that 20 years later I am now able to do the same tasks and much more from my mobile phone!

With regards to gaming I was an avid user. This, however, is not something that has stayed with me. I am not really very up to date with the latest games consoles (Sony Wee?) With 16 colours the C64 games were just fantastic! ‘Hungary Horace’, ‘Dizzy’, ‘Wheelies’ and ‘Road Blasters’ to name a few (others not the most PC in this day and age). It gave me a very nostalgic, yet strange, feeling when I set it up last week. Seeing the famous blue C64 screen, holding the ‘Run/Stop’ and 'shift' buttons simultaneously, waiting in anticipation for the game to load; would it load or would it come up with ‘system error’?

As I asked for my purchase to be delivered to school, I couldn’t resist setting it up and letting my own pupils see my new toy. As you may have read in previous posts, my INT 1 Biology class are working on the subject of ‘Alcohol and Its Effects’. Under the umbrella of this subtopic is ‘Reaction Time’. What better a way to demonstrate reaction time than with a good old 10 minute game of ‘Crazy Cars’ (This is a game where you have to race around a circuit avoiding other cars and potential hazards, ideal for testing reaction time!).

After overcoming the basic graphics (one boy asking me, ‘but where is the car?’) the pupils surprisingly got really into the game. They were also very inquisitive as to how the machine worked. (I.e. loading of cassettes and the general setup). I am pleased to announce that my reaction time was not the worst in the class! Though I do have the advantage of several years of C64 experience.

Why am I writing a post about an old computer I ask myself? I don’t know really, a trip down memory lane.

The Commodore 64, such a fabulous computer of the past, they have even commissioned a classical orchestra to play the music from the games!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Glowing, Going, Gone

I am sorry that my recent posts are set in the past tense of ‘yesterday, I….’. With the onset of the Festive period, life in and out of school has been very hectic.

However, this week saw the last of the Glow portal trial at Knox Academy. As of 6pm today, it has been taken offline.

On Tuesday evening, I met with Karen Robertson, Elizabeth Cowan, Paul Smyth, Dawn Adams and my fellow mentors Leeann McMillan and Glow boy Dave. This was our official feedback meeting. We reported on pros, cons, progress and the general usability of Glow. No new issues have arisen in the last week, hence I won't repeat details. On a very positive note, Dave, Leeann and I agreed that we have really enjoyed being part of the trial Glow portal. We are hoping our feedback will be useful and we are very much looking forward to using the ‘real Glow’ in 2007.

My last Glow lesson was yesterday. My INT1 class and I were very pleased to welcome John Connell and Karen Robertson in to observe. As it was the final lesson involving Glow, I decided that, in addition to our usual interactions on the portal, I would ask the class to fill out a short feedback form. This will be sent to RM in addition to the formal feedback Dave, Leeann and I gave on Tuesday. The pupils had to download a word document that I had posted on to our glow group. After typing out there responses on the form, I requested that they print them out. This was the fourth Glow lesson for these youngsters. I was very pleased to see how they had adapted to using the portal with great ease in such a short period of time. We are very much looking forward to using the real Glow next year. I would like to thank John and Karen for taking the time to visit us yesterday.

This will probably be my last ‘Glow’ post for a while. Thank you for all your comments, queries, questions and words of encouragement.

Goodbye Glow! See you again in 2007!

What am I going to blog about now? Well on the ICT front (and in the absence of Glow) I have just purchased an old Commodore 64 (much to the utter dismay of my parents).

No, I am not mad; I am keen to compare the ICT I grew up using with the technology I am now using every day.

Combating ‘cold turkey’ in the absence of Glow? No. An investment I say!

Watch this space ;)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Beginnings Of Glow

Yesterday I was very pleased to have informally met John Connell. John is the former Director of Glow (SSDN) He will be visiting me and my INT1 Biology class tomorrow morning to observe Glow in action. Yesterday John showed me a little of the background planning and specifications of Glow. This was an excellent opportunity for me to gain a wider knowledge of what we are now currently using in the classroom. Glow has been planned, created and constructed over the last 6 years. Initially, glow started as a simple idea. John illustrated the concept with this diagram

From this, a more complex mind map was then derived. Many concepts branching from the initial three. This mind map illustrates how the planning progressed

Let’s take a look:

SSDN ‘State Of Requirements’

The Scope of the Procurement
‘The procurement of the intranet will embrace the design, delivery and implementation of the software and applications as well as the management of the intranet as a service to authorities, schools and national bodies for the agreed period of the contract. An agreed subset of intranet functions will require to be made available to all users across the country whatever they’re networking and connectivity arrangements’.

It was fascinating to see how such a huge initiative originally stemmed from such simple concepts. Obviously the process of where John was 'then' and where we are now is far more complex. I won’t go into excessive detail, but John also showed me some of the prototypes that were initially involved.

Prototype created by Robert Skey

This looks very different to the trial portal. Indeed, my first vision of Glow was similar to what we see above. Though this is largely due to the fact I use applications like windows media player and MSN Messenger every day. The portal is still in it’s trial phase. Other collaborative and VLE tools will be integrated between now and mid-2007.

All very exciting nevertheless. I would like to thank John for taking time to meet Dave and I yesterday, it was very interesting to see some of the foundations of Glow.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Art Of Science

A 'must click' for any Scientist

'Waltz Of The Polypeptides'

More from the makers

Friday, December 01, 2006

Glowing; Dusk Till Dawn

On route to Haddington.

The view from my Beetle.

Sunrise Over Seafield Road

One of the many beautiful sunrises that are, frankly, just 'glowing'.

After a manic week, I am trying to fit in a bit of ‘power blogging’ before the weekend. On the glow front, I am pleased to be meeting John Connell (former Director of the SSDN, glow). John has accepted the invitation to visit Knox Academy. He will be observing his ‘vision’ and years of planning in practice. He will join my INT 1 class, and I, on Wednesday morning. We are really looking forward to his visit.

This week also saw the trial of glow in the Primary Sector. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Leann McMillan (King’s Meadow primary school, Haddington) trialed the glow portal with her pupils. Unfortunately I was given cover on Tuesday and I was teaching on Wednesday. However, Dave R was able to attend. His review can be found here. (Thanks Dave)

Alas, it is the weekend. Have a good one :)

Where I have been