There’s Something About Sunday… It’s the Yorkshire puddings.

There really is something about Sunday that makes it realistically essential to my sanity. This stems from a mixture of time to sort out my life & food.

I got up late this morning after LSH let me lay in until 9.30 (bliss!) as I’d been up half the night coughing like a plague victim. I needed sleep. I needed my body to just get on and heal itself.

So at 9.30 I dragged myself downstairs to drink the final cup of coffee from the machine and commence on the standard Sunday morning homework marathon (them doing it, me marking it!). I find this quite relaxing now as they know Sunday is homework day – there’s no arguments, just get on with it. And now beanpole likes her teacher, she’s throwing herself into her tasks!

LSH took the girls over to his mum & dads at around 11, leaving me at home due to the evil germs that I really don’t want to share around. So, I carried on with various prep & marking bits until 2 then put away some laundry until they got home.

Our afternoon was spent with TinyPants drawing, making dens and playing strange computer games whilst Beanpole and I made a start on her take home task (like homework, but long term) which she’s chosen to do on dinosaurs (huge surprise)… The task is to chose a time and place in history that you would like to travel back to & make a scrapbook about what went on there. She’s throwing herself into this one!

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The best bit about Sundays is that we have time to cook. Traditionally, it’s a roast, and today we’ve got roast chicken with all the bits. Especially Yorkshire puddings.

These are my domain & today’s are sage & onions yorkshires.

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They start off looking a bit weird, but then I sit in front of the oven threatening to maim anyone who dares to open the oven as they start to rise….

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Wow, my oven needs cleaning… Well that’s on the list!

After this stage, it’s basically witchcraft to get them to this stage….

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Cue one big family dinner, bath time all round and ready for another week at school 🙂

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CSI in the classroom – Teaching Imaging Technology

You know you’ve watched a bit too much CSI when you start planing lessons around it. The start of next half term for my GCSE & AS Computing people will commence with a spreadsheet. Yep, a spreadsheet.

The plan is to introduce some practice of the binary & hexadecmial that they looked at last hald term and combine this with an understanding of bitmap and vector images and the theory behind them. (It’s the zoom in, enhance that image ongoing joke that prompted the whole project) There is a real possibility of this topic being very dry and losing the interest that was sparked in the first half term with programming. When it’s dry, it’s just as boring to teach as it is to be taught. Enter CSI School…

The spreadsheet guides them through a set of tasks where they answer questions and undertake practical activities from picking out hexadecimal colours from a bitmap to find a secret message, to writing a program to calculate maximum file size, to using a drawing list to create a vector.

I’m planning on this taking a good 6 lessons for them to go through all the tasks and create a set of written notes (A Level) to highlight the key terminology.

CSI School Dashboard

It looks like fun. So, here’s a copy of the resources basically because I’m lovely.

CSI School

Note: You’ll also need the BMP file and password for the ‘nope’ sheet. Please drop me a message and I’ll email them to you (wordpress don’t allow bitmap uploads)

Sunday Smells

It rained today. All day. Add to this that LSH has a streaming cold (which could take him from us at any time) and today looked like it wasn’t going to go well.

As it turned out, today was possibly one of the most relaxed weekend days I’ve had in weeks. All down to the new routines we have in place for ‘helping’ and my lax attitude to childcare.

This morning started with the smell of bacon. There is no better smell to wake up to (unless Johnny Depp, as Jack Sparrow doesn’t smell of bacon). And as I staggered downstairs in ruffled pyjamas and make up spread down my face I realised that not only was LSH cooking breakfast, I was up in time to get in on the action! I claim Sunday morning pre-9am my time to be completely incapable of logical thought or conversation. I’m not that much better most other mornings, but Sunday morning I verge on finding Nick Jr an academic challenge.

Breakfast done, I could smell coffee freshly brewing and this liquid nectar was just the thing needed to kick start our Homework Hour. In previous weeks, this has been horrific. Tears, snot, shouting, threats and full on sit down protests have ensued since the start of September (not just from me). But the last few weeks we have learnt about GoHenry and the power of pocket money! (The nice thing about this is not only do they get bonuses for tasks like actually doing their homework, I can deduct money for poor behaviour) They are mercenary little souls, but homework was got out, completed without fuss and done well.

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They instantly both logged onto their GoHenry apps to make sure next weeks pay reflected their newfound efforts, which it did. Payday is Saturday, so they still have to wait a full week for their money, but they can see it coming and both are budgeting their sweets accordingly. BeanPole even started her take home task by designing an Ancient Greek vase that she is determined to make and paint. She used a photo found online “but left out the Minotaur’s willy in case Mr T gets cross”.

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After an unusually pleasant homework session, it was my turn. As I sat down, the smell of LSH preparing the pork joint for slow roasting wafted through the house… Mmmm…..Session three of marking and planning for this weekend (I’m breaking it down into 3-4 hour chunks). I set a lot of tests this past week and I’m paying the price this weekend. The upside of this is the lovely progress graphs I’m collating for the term so far. This is a long half term and right now graphs are making me happy. I feel more organised and the more I feel I need to chase people to catch up, the more coloured conditional formatting I use. I am an INFJ – I need to feel in control!

A full 10 hours of marking and planning since 5pm Friday night and I feel back in control for tomorrow. I don’t begrudge this time. It’s what is needed to be effective and give the kids my full attention when I’m at school. I am pleased that I got it all done though.

While the kids played on various computer games & LSH fell asleep in front of the Grand Prix, I snuck into the kitchen with the iPad and attacked the groaning pile of ironing. The smell of the slowly melting pork loin mixed in with the lavender steam from the iron for the next two hours made the house smell lovely and warm in cold contrast to the continued miserable weather outside. Over the course of two hours I pressed and folded what felt like every item of clothing my children own, being kept going by a marathon catch up of Miranda and Mock the Week. I giggled my way through tedium.

Next followed something truly shocking. Having placed each child’s clothing in a personalised pile, when asked to take them upstairs and put them away nicely….. They did! No arguments, noises or arm swinging. I checked. In shock, I duly ticked off the ‘put clothes away’ task on GoHenry and thus another 50p was added to next weeks payday.

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Dinner finished by LSH, I frantically finish the apple crumble as everyone sits down to eat. Mum is shattered after being in work all weekend – more to follow on that next week… But dinner smells amazing. LSH makes a mean roast dinner and the 6 of us always make a point of making Sunday dinner a family meal. We talk. Or ‘debate’. And the kids make everyone laugh.

After dinner, it’s bath night. The kids are duly scrubbed clean for Monday morning. Hair is washed, and the lovely orangey scent of their shampoo makes me want to hug them tight and sniff their heads once I’ve dried their hair and snuggled them up warm in their pyjamas. This is not to be though as they opted so spend some of yesterday’s earnings on sweets which they had for pudding instead of my apple crumble (rude!) and were subsequently bouncing off the walls. Ah well, it’s LSH’s turn for bedtime. So while he reads them something in a low monotonous voice in the hope of boring them to sleep, I can sink into a lovely Radox filled bath and contemplate just how nice today was. And that Sundays smell really nice.

I’m Just a Little Black Raincloud (who won’t do her homework)

It’s been a Sunday. We’ve built up a bit of a routine here. Sunday morning is Homework Morning. I have planning to do for the week ahead and it’s the optimum time for BeanPole to address her 2 hours or less of ‘home learning’.

So this morning we started at 8.30. I sat and in between ranting at her for her lack of any productivity, I spent 4 hours creating an array of worksheets, test papers and death by PowerPoint for my lucky lucky students. BeanPole stropped, sighed loudly, scribbled, doodled, and when this did not have the desired effect cried, sobbed, and snotted on her homework sheets (did I mention, she has a mild cold that is putting her at imminent risk of death? The rest of us have the sniffles.). Eventually, my mum ushered her up to their room where she used mum’s desk to actually do her work before I throttled her. Seriously, how hard is it for a G&T 8 year old to write a list of adjectives and ten sentences?! She has a reading age of 13! It took her THREE HOURS.

LSH and I are holding onto the fact that eventually, the more we push the regular time for homework thing, the easier the habit will be and we won’t be having this screaming match with her when she gets daily homework at high school. We’re in denial. Please don’t let this continue for the next 10 years.

My head hurt and being a believer in fresh air, we headed out for a walk. We went to the one place where our family walks MUST take place every autumn!

Back in 2006…

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And then again today…

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Same tree, same family. This is affectionately known as ‘our tree’ – it’s looked like it’s on it’s last legs for years. I love this place. It’s where The Gruffalo used to live when they were diddy. Now it’s a playground for survival camps and catching weird wildlife.

It’s always nice to witness IT Consultant in outside of his natural environment (yes, iPhone in hand, but he was just geotagging the walk….)

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The walk was lovely, and as hoped did all of us a lot of good. The kids when combined with mud, instantly forgot their germy moaning. There was no bickering. Just squishing through the woods with the occasional rushing into the bushes with cries of “I’m Bear Grylls!!”.

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We found things hopping around (thankfully, Miss Grylls decided that eating the frog wasn’t on the agenda).

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As we walked conifers conkers (argh autocorrect!!) were discovered and collected.

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And we collected a bag of sweet chestnuts which have been stored for roasting later on during the week. (Get us foraging for food!)

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Throughout the walk we found a variety of mushrooms – generally unidentified, but very pretty (wont be eating them!).

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Finally, it was back home to make the final bits of the roast ham dinner that had been sitting in the slow cooker in brown sugar for the past 5 hours contemplating its fate. And a resounding success with the Yorkshire puddings! Extra eggs in the batter. Who knew!

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And the cat agreed, we’ve ended the weekend rather relaxed!

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Fresh air. Curing all ills from homework tantrums, to the common cold!

Horrible History – A Trip to the Museum

The girls have been out with my parents all day while I got properly stuck into some resource preparation (and mass lamination) for September. I won’t bore you with the inner details of my flash cards and help sheets – suffice to say my sixth formers have some homework to do. Right up to Christmas! I’m feeling more in control and the more filing and laminating I do, the more ready to get this show on the road I am.

To give me some peace, Mum & Dad took the girls to a Roman palace ruin & museum. They weren’t quite as excited about seeing the Original mosaics as I would’ve been, so I don’t think they’re quite ready for Bath. Fishbourne is somewhere I remember going as a child, and with them both learning about Celts & Romans at school, it gives them something to think about.

The place certainly has a sense of humour!

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And TinyPants came back having learnt how to make Roman style friendship bracelets.

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And she’s doing a lovely job!

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Last year, BeanPole roped me into a seven hour stop frame animation filming session (oh the pain!) for her Roman & Celts project. It’s just reminded me that TinyPants is going to want to go one up. I’m doomed! Although I’m still rather proud of our historical animation. Not bad for an 8 yr old & a 33 year old 🙂

Any ideas on a Romans / Celts project would be gratefully received!

Yaaaaarrrrrh!

I have pirates on the brain. My year 10 computing classes are running around our current topic of database driven websites using pirates (two teams – pirate dating & how’s my sailing? – their idea, not mine!). And my little TinyPants had some homework to find and write out a pirate poem.

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She wrote it out beautifully, then started to decorate it…

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Then I covered it in tea…

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And just when she thought I’d lost the plot, I screwed it up, rubbed another tea bag on it and when it was dry set fire to the edges and burnt a hole in it!

Result? One piratey poem on a piratey style treasure map!

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Horrible Homework and the Sunday Night Panic

Picture the conversation last weekend at the start if half term:

Me: “Do you have any homework?”
Tiny Pants & Bean Pole “Nooooooo”
Me: “really??”
Cue protests at my disbelief and slurs on my trust of their commitment to education.

Now fast forward to an hour ago as I ready myself for my own return to work and their return to school…. “But our homework has to be in tomorrow!!!”…. This is the homework which magically appeared today and is suddenly MY fault for not letting them do it because we were out swimming, feeding ducks and going to the cinema.

So here we are with two children sitting at the dining table in homework hell. With me and the long suffering husband taking it in turns to refuse snacks, redirect the wandering one back to the table, and mention to the beanpole that she isn’t actually going to die from doing a bit of maths.

So what joys of education do we have this evening?

Well, tiny pants is writing a book report and seems quite enthused. We have one of her favourite poetry books out and I’ve given her a list of questions that she has to answer to make a good report. She seems to be following the instructions and aside from the occasional “how do you spell…” she’s got her head down.

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The bean pole is a whole other story. She’s on maths and we have some ‘instructional issues’. As in she has an inability to actually follow any. She’s been given a page of shopping receipts which she is using for long addition (kudos to her teacher for implementing some constructivist learning techniques, but who was the nail varnish for Mr C?!). The long suffering husband is making an attempt to guide her through the process and is getting increasingly flustered by her lack of willing participation and insistence on telling him that her way is the right way.

I probably didn’t help by taking a photo of her enthusiasm for homework.

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So, how do we get past this homework block?

My initial thoughts were based on shouting and other military drills, but actually I think the long suffering husband has got it right. He’s letting her do it her way (the teacher in me is screaming that it’s not the right way, but it is her way and I have to let her do it the way she’s being taught). He’s just sitting quietly next to them reading a magazine and offering occasional help.

This is why I’m teaching other people’s children and not my own. I have the patience of bloody saints when it comes to other people’s moody teenagers, but cannot fathom why my own offspring just won’t sit down an learn.

AARRGH!