My S5/6 class are bored. I suggested we could make a short film as a diversion, maybe something about hacking or something. Nah. They pointed out that most of them weren't particularly outgoing. They suggested a radio show, I enthused. They then changed their minds and wanted to make a web site. They told me what they wanted on the web site - they came up with a cross beween GLOW and bebo.
They wanted the main page to be a blog that has daily bulletin style news as we haven't had a daily bulletin in school for a few years. The pupils decided this way we'd save the cost of printing it and we could use the data projectors to show the page at registration.
The other features they wanted were a subject/revision wiki, links to youtube and blogmusik etc, a whiteboard feature like bebo, photos from trips and of art work that pupils can comment about, and a way for other people who meet pupils from our school at trips to be able to write comments about how nice and well behaved they are so that the school gets a better reputation. They wanted it to be adaptable for every pupil like yourminis.com but I don't think it's possible to teach them AJAX in a couple of weeks.
They also wanted useful things like calculators at the side of the page so I showed them how widgets can be put onto blogs and wikis. I also showed them my blog (quickly scrolling past the header - I don't think I'm ready for my pupils reading my blog yet). I showed them the maps with red dots on the places round the world where someone has read my blog. They really liked this, especially as they though if I have people in America and Australia reading my blog then there is a chance that people will read theirs. This was neatly summed up by one pupil as "No offense Miss, but you're nothing special". Hmmm that's one for the annual performance review I think. But it's true - with blogs you don't need to be 'special', just connecting 'ordinary' people with similar interests.
Anyway, by the next lesson they'd had doubts again - "Miss, what if we do all this work and no-one uses it?" So we created a survey (sorry Mum, I didn't use your online lessons on questionnaire design ;-) and managed to get 10% of the whole school fill it in and analyse the results by the end of a double period! Of course it helps when there are just 300 pupils.
So we now know there is a demand. All pupils asked want the site, most would also like to be able to add news stories too....and a first year boy told us "This is a great idea. You have to do it, even if everyone says no!" Hopefully the fifth years will get as enthusiastic about the site as that boy.
I'm not very good at this teacher business, well actually it's the everyday life during term time that I struggle with.
It's my dad's birthday today (Happy Birthday Dad!!!) and for a few weeks now I've known exactly what I was going to get him. Unfortunately I haven't ordered it in time to get it for today. It's really shoddy that I've done this. I have some small gifts for him though, but I've just wrapped them in flipchart paper cause I haven't been organised enough.
I went to the doctor yesterday and finally got a repeat prescription for medication that ran out just after the end of the summer holidays. It's nothing urgent or essential, but it still bugs me that I can't manage to remember to do this sort of stuff. The teacher I used to get the bus with every day last year used to have a list of about half a dozen things every June and would book a double appointment.
I don't think I can ever be the sort of teacher that disappears the minute the bell rings.
At least its not just the teachers leaving things to the last minute and being disorganised. I spend a couple of periods with S5/6 who were preoccupied with their personal reflective essays for English which are due in tomorrow. Two pupils were asking me for help writing their essay plan! I showed them PinkyParky's blog where she has been working on her essay and getting comments from lots of different people.
I worked with one pupil on her plan (it was a cover period for business management but never mind). She was wanting to write about animal cruelty and testing, to which my first thought was how bored English teachers must be of the same old essay topics. However this girl told me all about this horse she has (I think its a joint ownership thing, not sure) that had been used for animal testing before they bought it. She told me all about the awful condition the animal was in and what had been done to it, and how she helped the animal recover. I was so engrossed in helping her write out a plan that I hadn't realised the bell had gone and my first years were waiting next door. I popped my head in later in the period and she announced "It's OK Miss, I'm sorted. I'm going to do corporal punishment instead". Uugh! I wonder what she'll come up with by tomorrow?
Being a 'casualty' yesterday made me realise one of the reasons I got into education in the first place. Simulations are a fantastic way to learn first aid. For a weekend or fours days you learn first aid in a classroom. You get talked at lots, try out bandaging and recovery position on each other, but it's only when you have someone screaming and crying and refusing to let you come near their broken arm that you stop and realise that there is far more to first aid than the content of the first aid manual.
Simulations don't always work though. I spent about an hour lying on a cold floor yesterday wondering when someone was going to come and help me - not just ask me "Am you alright" but get me a blanket to lie on, check what was actually wrong with me, check medical conditions etc. I did get a blanket on the ground eventually, but the relief crew and the WRVS didn't really know what to make of me probably because they haven't been involved in many simulation before and you need to know the rules of the 'game'. I was asked by a WRVS woman "Are you OK, I mean apart from this silly role play thing", which is a fair question to ask if you don't realise that there are safe words if you are really ill and observers watching who know that I'm a trained and often devious casualty ;-) There also didn't seem to be a point to the last hour of the scenario, just people reading and playing cards. There was nothing new for the response teams to achieve.
As casualties, we are always assessing the treatment we are (or are not) receiving. If the first aiders are achieving well, our condition will deteriorate to see if they cope. It can get very annoying if the treatment is so good that you can't believably deteriorate. On the otherhand, if the treatment is poor (particularly if you are being ignored) then collapsing can shock them into taking the simulation seriously. If they haven't asked you about your medical conditions they won't pick up that you're diabetic and suffering from low blood sugar levels - if you're feeling nasty wander off to the toilet and pass out there and see how long before they realise they've lost a casualty somewhere.
Simulations need to be 'FABA' - Feasible, Achievable, Believable, and Accurate:
Feasible - do you have the equipment and people to portray the scenario. If you're testing treatment of whiplash, then you should have a car available to stage a car crash, and a car park, private road or cul-de-sac so that the first aiders can work safely.
Achievable - if you are testing the skills of novice first aiders, don't have a casualty that requires defib skills. Don't have five casualties and just two first aiders. If you want to test treatment of burns, have running water available. Oh and don't wander round with a knife refusing treatment ;-)
Believable - if you are a female aged 30, don't play a 7 year old child or a 70 year old man. If you are in a car crash, sit in a car outside, not on a chair in a classroom. If you have a broken arm, there should be swelling and redness; an open fracture needs fake blood (and maybe a piece of bone sticking out). DON'T say "oh, look at all the blood pouring out of my arm" and just have red felt tip drawn on your arm!
Accurate - a casualty needs display the right sympoms and respond in the right way to correct or incorrect treatment. If you are unconscious and in shock and the first aider wraps a blanket around you, your condition should improve. If they don't warm you, or chuck a blanket on top of you but leave you lying on the cold ground, your condition will get worse (preferably in a way that the first aiders can rectify the situation, like you shiver more noticably so they have a visual clue that you're not warm enough)
Simulations are great fun, for both 'sides', as long as everyone takes it seriously. Yesterday everyone was told they could come out of role for lunch, which defeats the purpose of running a simulation over a number of hours. The first aid teams in an emergency response situation would then have been having to think about whose been working longest, who needs a break first, and then had to continue working with the same number of casualties but less staff. They would also have needed to think about feeding the casualties. There will be casualties who can't eat in role (I had a bad stomache ache and would have been refusing food). In that situation its important to have food set aside for when the scenario ends.
The Red Cross (at least in Scotland) stopped running casualty simulation weekends a number of years ago, mainly for cost and H&S reasons, but it was a real shame. Sometimes 'camps' are arranged by individuals, and everyone signs a waiver that we're not insured and its all our own fault if we get hurt! It was amazing the numbers of people signing up voluntarily, paying their own money and going for a whole weekend to improve their first aid skills in (very) realistic situations. There are some photos on the Napier University Red Cross Group website (the group folded years ago but the site is still up!), including photos of when we 'crashed' a Napier minibus outside Teviot (an advantage of working for the university - they didn't mind me borrowing a minibus, although I never told them what I was doing with it!). We even had the paramedics turn up, which really shocked the first aiders but added to the realism. Some of the first aiders trained through these events are now doctors, nurses and consultants, and every one of them said the experience doing simulations was much more worthwhile than the lectures they had in first aid as part of their courses.
Strangely enough I don't really live in Kelso. We got taken in a coach. The Red Cross organiser did a fantastic trick of asking the couple who are normally late for Red Cross meetings (Sean and I) to check the names of people arriving in the morning as he had to go down beforehand, so we felt obligated to arrive early ;-)
We've been asked not to use our real names, which standard practice when being a casualty. For years I used Helen Forbes (my middle name and a family surname) except now we have a Helen Forbes in the family, my very young cousin. So today I am my Second Life character, Katie Farina. I don't have the blue hair and I can't fly, but it's a name I remember.
Actually the internet connection is useful because I've just been able to look for the symptoms of shingles as the casualty with that condition wanted to get worse as he was bored and being ignored! (You can get quite cruel as a casualty if you're acting you heart out and no-one's paying attention.
The police and fire bridage and ambulance service are also 'playing' today. The firemen are having fun outside cutting a car up. I wish I'd put my name on the 'serious' list earlier - that would have been fun! Normally as a serious casualty you lie on cold muddy ground for ages until you really are hypothermic. Unfortunately there are too many first aiders, social workers and WRVS people today which means I've been asked five times what's wrong with me and in the last few minutes I've been asked three times if I want lunch, which I don't cause that doesn't fit with my symptoms. Oh I've just been asked if I'm alright two more times. Right what can I do to amuse myself now? Maybe I'll pass out when no-one's watching...... ;-)
I've been evacuated from our house in Kelso. All I've managed to find out from the police is that there's been a fire in a building nearby and they've found some tanks of oxyi something or other in the building. The police have moved us to a showground building and the red cross are treating people who tripped on the way out or whatever and the WRVS are giving out coffee and biscuits.
It's all a bit boring. There's nothing to do but sit around and blog and surf. I am so glad I have this phone cause otherwise I'd be playing eye spy like the time we got evacuated in Bathgate or when we were in that plane crash and sat around Edinburgh Airport for hours waiting for our relatives, or when I was in that train crash and broke my arm and had to sit in the new Royal Infirmary with loads of people waiting for hours to get my arm plastered. Oh well, at least I didn't get drunk and have the police batter down my door like some people here ;-)
Yesterday evening didn't go to plan. My plan was leave school early (4ish), go for a swim, go home and cook tea, go to bed really early instead of really late.
As I left my classroom and walked along the outside corridor a cry of "Ms Digitalkatie" came from two 4th year girls sitting on the ground swigging from wine bottles. They were doing filming with a couple of the youth workers. I was asked along to help, which was fun.
I then tried to leave school again and realised that John the physics teacher was still working so I popped in. John showed me how to mke a 'thowee' - an LED sellotaped to a battery and a magnet. He was sourcing batteries and magnets to make lots of them. Not for school...just for fun! There's a great video of a group who made hundreds of them and threw them at this metal building in Manhatten. Very pretty.
After dinner Sean realised that our teen SL accounts now worked for Global Kids so we logged in and said "wow" and "cool" lots while looking at the maze and the volcano. Then very strangely about 20 avatars logged in looking totally newbie-ish. They were all default shape and clothing, and they were all walking into each other while Barry (THE Barry from Global Kids ;-) stood and watching. We didn't realise it straight away but this was the group of kids on the 'Playing 4 Keeps' who have been blogging about how much they are looking forward to playing SL. We struck around and helped them change their appearance and not walk into each other a bit. Great fun though. I'll add pics when I'm not sitting on a bus.
Maybe tonight I'll get an early night but I think it'll be more fun to explore the volcano!
Update - There are some pictures of all the 'newbies' on the Global Kids (Holy Meatballs) blog
Our trip to the Campus in Teen Second Life is going to be diverted for a short while. We are only allowed access to one island at a time in the teen grid, and we've been asked along to the Global Kids island. Business Week magazine have called Global Kids the most notable non-profit in SL.
The Global Kids island will be hosting the SL part of a United Nations Forum on "Our Common Humanity in the Information Age" on 29 Nov, basically how we can further the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) via new technologies. The conference is going to be webcast the event and also streamed into teen Second Life so that we can also target a younger population by having a virtual forum. There is also a blog.
Here's the official blurb:
"This conference will gather top-level speakers, including Nobel laureates and some of the leading thinkers and innovators of our time. They will focus on the values that unite our common humanity and how these values may be expressed globally through the Millennium Development Goals, empowered by the new and rapidly developing information and communication technologies."
There's a blogging campaign to alter the results Google displays (using Goolge bombing) when you search for Martin Luther King. I wasn't going to do this as lots of people have already, but I see the page people want to get rid of (martinlutherking dot org) is still near the top of the listings.
Also here’s the code copied from Tom's post, so you can join in too just by pasting this into a blog post.....
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr." title="Martin Luther King">Martin Luther King</a><br />
<a href="http://www.thekingcenter.org/" title="Martin Luther King">Martin Luther King</a><br />
<a href="http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2269" title="Martin Luther King">Martin Luther King</a><br />
<a href="http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-bio.html" title="Martin Luther King">Martin Luther King</a><br />
<a href="http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/mlk/" title="Martin Luther King">Martin Luther King</a><br />
<a href="http://www.time.com/time/time100/leaders/profile/king.html" title="Martin Luther King">Martin Luther King</a><br />
<a href="http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2000/01/24/mlk/index.html" title="Martin Luther King">Martin Luther King</a><br />
<a href="http://www.pps.k12.or.us/schools-c/pages/buckman/timeline/kingframe.html" title="Martin Luther King">Martin Luther King</a><br />
<a href="http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/" title="Martin Luther King">Martin Luther King</a><br />