Sunday, January 25, 2015

Superheroes in Training

I've been teaching at my new school for about 3 weeks now and, wow, things are hectic! There's a lot to be said for driving into work and parking your car with a massive mountain in view. I really enjoy the new staff, grounds and facilities but it's a lot of change all at once. It will take a little while to get fully comfortable here at Bridge House.

I'm fortunate enough to be in charge of the Foundation Phase IT lab here. It has 26 student stations and one teacher station, as well as a projector. As I can't help myself, I've decorated it in a theme: Superheroes in Training! I mostly used a great free font called Komika. Here's some pics of what I've done to the place:

The centerpiece of the theme, 6 posters with the tagline: What's Your Superpower?

My door reads "JP Information Technology, Superheroes in Training"
I love how my Tech Alphabet turned out, it borders the top of the wall, A-Z, across the front of the room.

Some great superhero classroom rules I found free on Teachers Pay Teachers.
My overly verbose but required lab rules, which live on the whiteboard at the front of the room.

All 26 computers have a unique 'name'. I tried to include a bunch of female heroes for diversity and coolness factors.
I'm already getting to grips with having a lab to run. There are many differences from my old job but I must say I'm really having a blast. The staff are very collaborative and willing to try new things. A large part of my job will be integrating the IT skills I'm teaching with the learning across the curriculum. Another new angle will be using iPads, I'm doing a lot of reading on how best to use them with young students.

I've set up a Symbaloo, my first one ever, to help my students navigate web resources. For now, I've sorted it by Grade but have found it tricky to decide what website falls into what Grade. This has been remedied by just cloning the tile across the Grades. It's not a perfect solution but having a shortcut to the Symbaloo page on their desktops has taken a lot of the frustrations out of URLS and browsers.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Wrap-Up and Moving On: A Photo Essay

What happened at the end of the second term:

In English, my Grade 7s excitedly read Roald Dahl's excellent Lamb to the Slaughter. Afterwards, we ran a mock trial to determine whether Mary was actually guilty of murder. My girls got to test out their acting chops and even brought in costumes. Our characters, prosecutors, defense and jury all put their heart and soul into trying to sell their case to me, the judge.

The defense team lawyer, in costume, questioning a character.
I also got to meet my nephew for the first time in person when I flew down to Cape Town and attended his christening.

My nephew and his mum.
What happened in the third term:

Production! Our school play devoured the term. While I was originally just involved in the writing of the script, this morphed into directing along with other dedicated teachers. It ended up being a heck of a lot of fun. All 400 girls participated in one way or another, with about 30 of them in acting roles. The 30 speaking parts and I became very close due to the many afternoons we spent together, running lines and endlessly going over scenes. In the end, we did 5 full performances, including a swanky gala evening where the teachers let off some steam afterwards at a wrap party.

Me in my awesome Crew shirt, reserved for us hard-working backstage crew only!

In terms of the IT side, I oversaw the development of the computer lab. This turned out to be a project that continued all year as we sourced a digital projector setup, printers, and so on. We were also lucky enough to get four computer stations up in the library. Unfortunately, that meant that we had to, again, clear whole shelves to make way for the wiring. Here's a shot of the lab in use by a Grade 4 class.

Practicing our typing basics with an internet flash game.
What happened in the fourth term:

I was lucky enough to go on camp with the Grade 7s! We traveled all the way from Grahamstown to Hartenbos in the Western Cape. It was such a great trip. My phone's battery was acting up so I don't have any pics from that time. We visited an ostrich farm, the Cango Caves, a waterpark, and, best of all (according to my students), a mall! We stopped at a ten-pin bowling place with a few arcade machines and I happily got to trounce the best Tekken player in Grade 7. The girls were very well behaved and our accommodation was lovely. It was a worthwhile week.

We weeded a large amount out of the library, and accessioned a pleasing amount of new books - particularly fiction. I couldn't have completed these massive tasks without the help of some very eager library monitors.
A page from one of the outdated books that we removed.
On a personal note, my amazing fellow teachers and staff surprised me with a bachelorette lunch, tea and night out on the town! I had thought that I was going on a camping trip with my two teacher friends but, actually, we showed up to a long table crammed with staff happy to be in on the joke! I have never felt more loved and had a blast.

Having a wee dance in my themed bachelorette outfit.
It's been a busy year! My time at this wonderful school has sadly come to an end. My new husband and I have relocated to the Western Cape, and I have been fortunate enough to find another post. I will always miss my Grahamstown family, but have moved to be closer to my actual family here in Cape Town. This month I'll be starting at a co-ed private school in Franschoek called Bridge House School. It'll be a different environment but one in which I hope that I can be fulfilled.