tinyjo: (laden coal creature)
Somehow, coming back from a holiday always seems to mean that I've fallen so far behind with things that I have to scramble to catch up again. Thus, I see that I haven't written here since getting back from the Caribbean, even though that was about a month ago now. I think this was compounded by the fact that (a) I was sick for a lot of the Christmas holiday and so didn't manage to get much done then, so I felt like I was trying to catch up for most of term 3, (b) we were away for most of half term, which is when I would normally get caught up with things and (c) the amount of pressure we're under as a result of the ridiculous farce that is KS2 assessment this year means that there's much more work than normal to keep up with. Still, I feel like I'm finally getting somewhere, which is nice and probably not unconnected with the fact that there's more daylight and the occasional glimpse of sun. I even went out and did some garden cleaning up last weekend.

I'm finding the whole thing with assessment this year is really weighing on my mind - I seem to be spending much more time than usual feeling really stressed out or, alternatively, furious with the DfE for putting us in this ridiculous position. We're teaching practically nothing but Maths and English at the moment, even in the afternoons, which is depressing and tiring for all concerned but given that there's no way we're going to reach the targets set this year, we have to show that we've done everything possible to achieve them. Parents evening consisted of a lot of me saying to parents "the expectations have been massively raised this year and while your child would have met the old writing targets, they won't meet the new ones". A few parents asked why the expectations have been raised so much, which is a fair question, and it took all my self restraint not to just say "Because the DfE are fuckwits who don't know what they're doing and have no idea about how teaching and learning actually happens".

Between all that, and the current behaviour of the democratically elected government, I am currently giving serious consideration to leaving the country. Unfortunately, it looks as if my teaching qualification would not be accepted in Canada, which is annoying, so I'll have to look into doing some further study before we could do anything about it, but that's not the end of the world and will hopefully be useful even if things change and we end up not flitting. Bah. I miss just being able to enjoy my job. At least SATs are in May - after that, we can have some fun again, but right now, it feels like a long time coming.

I need to think about what I want to do next educationally anyway, as I'm about to finish my OU degree. Currently, I've reached the bit of this course which I find least interesting, but at least it doesn't matter too much as my mark in this module is irrelevant to my end result and there is another interesting bit before the end. I just can't find it in me to like Dickens! I rather surprised myself in the last assignment by actually writing a poem though, which was a completely unexpected but rather interesting experience. I don't see it starting a trend or anything but it was still very rewarding as a one of experiment.
tinyjo: (wine)
So, in the spirit of the new DW/LJ plan, I thought I'd post a little summary of 2014, given that I posted all of (goes and checks...) 11 posts this year. Of these, 4 were essay writing procrastination, one was report writing procrastination and 3 were variations on the "how do I use my journal these days" theme.

so what else went on )
tinyjo: (relaxing)
Well, this is my final MAST day in Reading. Quite a few people haven't turned up and to be honest, I wish I was one of them - so far no useful content at all and I have a ton of work to do this weekend :( Still, I did get the chance to sing along while driving, which is always a pleasing experience.

I've finally had my day off for next year confirmed and I will not be working on Fridays, which is what I always hoped for because we do Big Maths and Big Write on Fridays so I'll be able to do the whole teaching of the week and my job share will then just do those independent tasks plus whatever he picks for the afternoons (which we haven't talked about yet). It also opens up the prospective of long weekends albeit with Brownies still on Fridays to negotiate around, which is lovely. I only be doing one academic course (which I'm really looking forward to) and hopefully I'll have a bit of actual free time! There's the prospect of having a really good year of just developing my own thing.
tinyjo: (charlie)
Looking back on here, I actually posted more than I realised last year. Not anything like regularly, but more than I thought I had, which is quite pleasing. Still, could do better. I've been thinking that I miss writing - I'm going to try to kick start my fiction writing again this year by pushing myself into it a bit more and perhaps I could do worse than write more here too. It's all practice after all.

Got my second TMA back from my history course and just squeaked a first out of it which I was extremely squee-ish about! Also, as with previous essay, got good helpful feedback from my tutor. She's definitely the best tutor I've had at the OU by some way for giving clear, helpful feedback about structure and content. Now I just have to manage to apply some of it to the next essay!

Had a conversation with my head about dropping to four days a week next year, which is in many ways my ideal lifestyle. She seemed totally up for it - accepted the idea with no hedging at all. We have a lot of part time teachers, mostly for maternity reasons, so I guess she figures it'll be easy to find someone happy to teach my extra day without too much trouble, which is probably true. I'm hoping it'll be a Friday (the extra day, I mean) so that I can take long weekends more easily, although I will still have to negotiate around Brownies for that one. Still, all in all, I'm excited about the prospect.

Looking at my calendar to fix up one or two things this morning, realise it's really not that far until my birthday. Think it will be a quiet one this year as nothing can possibly top the Avengers eating and drinking party from last year (seriously, it was epic) and we only have had 2 of the next group of films out so far :D
tinyjo: (kittie relaxing)
So, new year, new post and all that. I am currently waiting on tenterhooks for the two assignments I did before Christmas to be sent back to me marked so that I can see how I got on. I don't think either of them were top flight work but I'm curious as to what they will therefore actually get graded as. Am actually a little behind with my Welsh course, which is not good - need to get a move on and get that finished as it has it's final TMA at the end of January. Once that's out of the way, I'll only have my philosophy and my masters work to do (only!) so I've decided that I need more to do and am planning to join a choir with [livejournal.com profile] geroge. Seriously though, we were talking about choral singing and I was saying how much I missed harmonizing and we somehow decided to go along to a choir which doesn't have auditions and sings on Tuesday nights to try it out. Anyone else up for it?
tinyjo: (candle trail)
So, I should start off by saying that I am already loving my new OU course to bits. The course website doesn't open for another 10 days and I've already finished off book 1 (The Self - all about what does personal identity mean/consist of) and am starting off philosophy of religion. One of the activities early on is to think about the following question

What is my main reason for my current view about whether God exists or not?


It asks me to think about it as carefully and as honestly as possible and to discuss my response with a friend or friends. Hello, friends!

read on at your own peril - navel gazing lies herein! )
tinyjo: (relaxing)
I have to concede that my tutor is a lot better than me at getting her marking done! The closing date for my last effort was the 5th and I've just had it back today, which is very pleasing. Also, I seem to have cracked it with regards to the structural stuff because I got a 95 this time - very gratifying! Of course, I find it much easier to structure philosophy essays for some reason - I guess it's because the sources tend to be very structured so it's easier to see the best way to organise things.

Now all I have left of this course is the reflective TMA (which will be tricky as I always find reflection hard to write without feeling too self obsessed) and the EMA, for which I have a choice of three - one about the seaside and codes of behaviour, which doesn't interest me at all (although I haven't read the chapter yet, so who knows), one about sacred space and tourism, which I think is a really interesting question but the course materials only seem to approach rather obliquely so would need a lot of work, and one about the seaside as "experience machine" which, while I found the experience machine a very interesting thought experiment, doesn't really appeal as it implys a way of thinking about it which is totally contrary to the way that I have been and so would be a bit of a strain.

The downside of this mark, as [livejournal.com profile] oxfordslacker pointed out is that now if I hit distinction on the last two assignments I can get distinction overall so I will have to really make the effort :)

Have also been spending time since we got back from Italy (lovely lovely holiday) sorting out the house. Managed to get a huge amount of tidying done on Saturday - felt very productive - and then gardening on Sunday, although I've neglected that for so long that there is still absolutely loads to do to get it into a fit state for summer. Still haven't heard back from the builder about doing the decking - might have to look around for quotes, methinks.
tinyjo: (sunflower)
Woo hoo! Got my fourth TMA back and got another 85! Am feeling very pleased with myself as I wasn't at all happy that I'd managed to pull together a coherant argument - it wasn't a question that leant itself to a focused answer very easily. I think I can do better, but that's cool - I still have 2 essays and an EMA to prove that in (plus the reflective thingie, but I'm not counting that :) ). Have a horrible feeling that I have to submit the EMA through the post - must make sure that I remember that and give myself deadline time to actually get it posted! Have skipped one chapter (the Shostakovich) but might go back and catch up on that over half term, particularly as am feeling motivated to read the next Benin chapter this evening, so will be ahead of myself, which will be good. I might even get the next TMA done earlier that the week of the hand in date :)

Am dithering about what to do next. I could do the second year philosophy course, which would be very interesting and I could theoretically do with Ruth but has an exam at the end which I would have to find time to revise for (I have checked and school would be OK with me taking an afternoon off to do it) or I could do the third year history course I want to do, which would also be interesting but presumably harder TMAs. I'm leaning towards option a, but just a bit worried about the exam.
tinyjo: (Default)
So, just got my first OU TMA back. On the plus side, I got a very good mark (83, 2 marks off distinction level). On the minus, I have made the second assignment much harder for myself! I am supposed to use my tutors comments to improve my answer and then write a reflective commentary about it and there really isn't much of substance I can do - most of my tutor's comments say "good point"! I'll have to email her and ask for some more detailed feedback on how I can make it a 90 point answer, I think. Oh woe is me :)
tinyjo: (Default)
It's sad to reflect on how vain I am sometimes. I posted to the tutorial forum for my OU course (some stuff about Plutarch and the Life of Anthony) and got a very complimentary response from the tutor with a further question. I replied to that and now I refresh the forum every half hour or so hoping for further compliments. Sad eh.

On the other hand, it should remind me of the power of praise with my class tomorrow.
tinyjo: (Default)
My assignment for my first OU tutorial is to write a review of a book, play, film or exhibition to read out to my tutorial partners and have dissected. We're then going on to talk about academic essay writing, apparently, but I'm sure some of the reviews will be interesting :) Anyway, I thought I'd post mine here, about The Declaration, a book I pinched from [personal profile] coalescent when we were over there watching The West Wing. When I'd finished it, I bought and read the other two in the series on Kindle over the next week, so you can infer that I enjoyed it; I'd also definitely recommend it as an enjoyable read.

The Declaration by Gemma Malley )
tinyjo: (Default)
- Reading books
- Cats
- Lunch
- Looking at OU courses
- Playing with the qualification planner and degree classification predictor
- Reading reviews of the reading list books on Amazon for the new OU course I am going to do (AA100)
- Reading my essays for A181
- Cats
- Trying to find my essays for A200 and realising that I don't know where they are
- Hunting for USB sticks and exploring their content
- Finding the charger and charging up an old laptop to investigate the contents
- Reading FP on LJ
- Reading FP on DW
- Reading back entries on people's journals who popped up on the above when I haven't seen them for an age
- Cats
- posting entry deploring own procrastination

I *think* the essay must be on a USB stick whose existance I recall but whose whereabouts is currently uncertain (probably at school somewhere) but there's a distinct possibility that I might have deleted them because I thought they were also on Dropbox when they weren't, which would be quite annoying. Ah well, can't be helped if that is the case, I suppose, but must be more careful in future.
tinyjo: (candle trail)
Must stop checking my inbox to see if my essay has been marked yet! It's only been a week! I should know better.

Also, I feel that I would like to boast. I diverted my science lesson this afternoon to explain chemical symbols (CO2, H20, etc) and the chemical reaction of photosynthesis (off the top of my head, too) in reaction to the class being really interested in the whole thing. They didn't all follow it, but they all got something out of it and some of them definitely got it and got really excited and kept asking me what elements other chemicals were made of - they were particularly amazed that salt molecules had chlorine in them.
tinyjo: (relaxing)
  • Radiator in my study fixed
  • New Roomba battery ordered
  • 1.5tb drive for Fry ordered
  • New futon cushion for our sofa ordered
  • Bin for compostables bought (to replace series of random skanky plastic containers) and lined with biodegradable rubbish bag
  • Removed out of date anti-virus and replaced it with free in-date one from Alex's work (great workplace perk!)
  • Xmas pressies for Dad purchased
  • Xmas pressies for brother purchased
  • Xmas pressies for sister-in-law purchased
  • Part of Xmas pressies for Mum purchased
  • OU course for next year picked out (along with about 6 others I don't have time for!) but heroically not signed up for yet to allow people to buy me OU vouchers for Xmas if they want.
  • Amazon wish list updated to facilitate purchase of Xmas pressies for me by other people.
  • Lampshade for our bedroom purchased and installed
  • New, brighter bulb for living room lamp purchased and installed


Seriously, that first one makes me so happy! With a bit of help from the internet and Alex, all it needed was unscrewing the thermostat, some WD40 on the pin and a little bit of firm pressure to release it and now I am warm in the cat cave again! Lots of these look like really small things but are actually little jobs that I have just not been getting around to for ages and ages and ages so it's really pleasing to have actually got them done.

The OU website is so addictive! I spent about an hour planning out qualifications I could take. I want to take enough second year courses to fill the requirements for 2 degrees! Still, one step at a time, so I'm going for a first year philosophy course which looks really interesting and doesn't involve an exam to get myself back into it. I also spent a certain amout of time being very amused how many of the shows I remember from my childhood can now be bought as complete sets from Amazon. I guess the nostalgia market is alive and well. Have added the Mysterious Cities of Gold DVD to my wish list :)
tinyjo: (butterfly)
Oh, god! I want so much to do this ethics course. My finger is actually hovering over the sign up button despite the fact that it is a crazy person plan. I really miss academic study - doing those OU courses really whetted my appitite and although my teaching course was many things, academic it wasn't. It is a crazy plan I tell you. I am going to be an NQT next year! Maybe I'll sign up in April so I can do most of it over the summer. Also, [livejournal.com profile] dyddgu, what do you think of this course?
tinyjo: (kitn ninja)
I have been very restrained and managed to keep my checking of the OU site to twice a day ever since I noticed that my A200 result was due out by the end of this week. I checked just now having got distracted at lunchtime and, lo and behold, I got a distinction! I am so chuffed and its a first step to getting another first overall :)

I actually only got 82% in the exam and I thought I needed 85% (my source questions let me down, as I thought they would - both my essays were in the 85-100% bracket) but the FAQ says that the examiners have discretion to award a higher classification if academically justified. Looking at the overall breakdown, only 22 people were in the 85-100% bracket for the exam so I guess they decided that the boundaries were too high. Still, I'm really happy about it!
tinyjo: (cat don't care)
I see that in my posting fit on Friday, I failed to mention the fact that I did my history exam on Thursday! Yes, it is finally all over and I think I did pretty well. I got lucky with question selection and think I produced a pretty creditable pair of essays and source questions at least up to my usual standard. I didn't end up feeling I should have worked harder or anything so I think even if I only get a grade 2 pass (I definitely didn't bomb it) I'll be happy that I did my best and gave myself the best chance of a distinction I could.

After the exam was over, Alex and I decided to have curry for dinner (well that was mostly me, but he agreed :)). We ordered and I watched some Location, Location, Location while we waited. The doorbell rang, I paused the computer and got the curry and then sat down to a blank screen! Our first instinct was to blame the computer. We fiddled with the connection, changed the wire & rebooted with no joy. Eventually we decided we must have somehow shafted the graphics card and decided to watch a video. I connected that to the scart and we then discovered that it wasn't the computer, it was the scart socket on the TV :( We managed to watch a video over the old fashioned aerial connection but now we need a new TV as all our other tech will only communicate via SCART, unfortunately. TVs have got a lot more complicated since I last bought one as well. Any recommendations? Brands to avoid?

Saturday was Jeremy and Jo Go To Ikea day! It was fun, and productive but extremely exhausting. I came back with a car literally completely packed with stuff, 2 items I hadn't managed to collect (sofa and TV table - the original items I was looking for :)) and a vision of the living room and how it's actually going to work and be transformed into a really nice room (Alex looks at me like I'm odd when I start squeaking about my rocking chair :)). Also, complete crockery set so that all our stuff will match and other miscellaneous bits and bobs which are of win. Of course my living room currently looks like a bomb has hit it because it's full of flat packs but I'll work on that tonight.

Sunday we went over for lunch with Sadie & Tim and managed to get onto the "shocking people with films I have never seen" game :) They were particularly shocked by Casablanca so after we'd eaten and drunk we repaired to the living room for a double bill - Airplane followed by Casablanca. Airplane was kind of fun in a silly way (and funnier by recognising bits from a House ep where he has to treat people on a flight). Casablanca was awesome. I had somehow managed to not know the story at all, just the famous quotes so I came to it completely fresh and had to have a little cry at the end, it was so sad. I was fascinated by the fact that it was made during the war, which to me made it more poignant because no-one writing or seeing it knew how the world situation would turn out - they really could have been stuck in Casablanca forever. Also, there's presumably a propaganda motive in there too - showing an American in the centre of the action, making a heroic sacrifice for the good of the war effort must have been a popular message.
tinyjo: (candle trail)
I'm feeling restless today - not getting on very well settling down to do any work. Perhaps when I've had some lunch I'll feel better.

Had a lovely time at the weekend. Niall, Nic and I all went cheese festival visiting, which was really fun, even if Nic and I did both end up going to get extra cash for cheese purchases out! Still, some of mine are freezable so I don't have to gorge myself or anything. After that we headed back to the old homestead for cheese, pork pie, wine and West Wing - all very convivial.

Sunday was rather unexciting in comparision but I did get some revision done, which was good. I don't seem to pick up on the same things as the people who wrote the commentary on the sample exam paper though, which is a little worrying. Not sure how much leeway there is in what sort of material you can discuss - I think my answers have been relevant to the question and so on but they still seem to be off base from what they're expecting. Ah well, I suppose I'll just have to see how it goes. I really want to get this unit of revision over with though - the Civil War just doesn't really get me going.
tinyjo: (computer cat)
Yay! Final TMA returned with a mark of 91%! That gives me marks in the 90s for my last 3 TMAs and a clear first on the continous assessment componement of the course. Now I just have to do as well in the exam...
tinyjo: (computer cat)
Well, I didn't do too badly with my to-do list of yesterday. Lots of minutiae off there, which is good but still plenty to do. I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed by the amount of revision I need to do for my history course - my exam is in a month! Haven't had my last essay back yet but my tutor did warn us these ones would be a little bit late. Still, I do seem to have everything going on at once right now! I'm trying hard not to feel overwhelmed and mostly succeeding, although I did have a rush of guilt this afternoon when I realised that I've hardly hit the board at all since I got my Entries SH a couple of weeks ago :( As well as work and academics, I've got Truck this weekend and gigs to go to - it seems like my feet are hardly going to touch the ground for the next month!

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tinyjo: (Default)
Emptied of expectation. Relax.

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