Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chemistry Lesson Reflections

The day started out like any other, wake up early, take some time to myself, have a tea, read my book, eat some toast. And, then came time for me to teach my chemistry lesson, first thing in the morning. I was in the lab beginning to set things up and I was tripping all over the place, knocking things over and such. Then I hip-checked a gas valve sticking out of one of the lab tables. Even still, I was replacing some stoppers on the delivery tubes, which are glass, and cut my finger…all of this before the lesson even started.

We started the lesson by reviewing the fire triangle and the elements need for a fire to even take place (oxygen, fuel, and heat) and by taking one of those away is how to put out the fire. We then discussed some of the fire extinguishers they had researched for homework. I then demonstrated how a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher works and that from the reaction, the carbon dioxide will displace water from a tube. The groups then carried out their practical, which was testing how the reaction changed when different amounts of the reactants were added. In the mean time, we had a test tube break, a conical flask break, and a girl spill a huge tub of water down her front.

Even with all the mishaps, and some really wonky results, it went well. I met with Miss Hughes, who's class I taught to discuss things she observed. There were some good things that she pointed out, for instance in the UK when you see 0.2 they say "not point two", where as in the states I would say, and did say, "two-tenths". She also said to make sure that all the students are recording results, and that I could ask questions as I'm walking around to check for understanding, and to make sure I have their full attention before trying to sum up the lesson. She said that she liked how I started the lesson, and that referring to their homework helped make a connection between the last lesson and the one I was teaching. I was very pleased and exceeded the expectations I had for myself. I also know that I have much to learn in the way of teaching science. More to come.

Half Term Holiday

Early Saturday morning we set out to catch the bus to Rhyl to then catch a train to Manchester and then finally our flight to Dublin (and, yes, using all three modes was MUCH cheaper than taking the ferry from Holyhead). We arrived in the Dublin airport at about 16:00, and Janet was there waiting for us! By the way, Janet is awesome, and Jen loved he within 5 minutes of meeting her. We went back to her place to grab some grub and catch the first half of the Ireland Rugby game and then met up with some of her mates to catch the rest of the game. After making new friends and a good evening out, we headed back to the house to prepare for our first full day in Dublin. Over the next three days we saw things like Trinity College, almost all of the free museums Dublin has to offer, the Hop-on Hope-off Bus Tour, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral, the Guinness

Factory (my personal favorite), the Gravity Bar at the top of the Guinness Factory with one of the best views of Dublin, St. Stephen's Green, Phoenix Park, Temple Bar (Bar meaning Street) area, etc. We topped our time in Dublin off with a pub dinner, where I got to pour my own Guinness and watch my beloved Manchester United beat AC Milan (who had David Beckham) and we WON!!! It was so good!

Wednesday morning, even earlier this time, we caught a cab at 4:30 (yes, AM) to the airport and landed at Paris Beauvais at 9 AM, caught the bus into Paris.

We had lunch at this little cafe where no one spoke a lick of English, so I decided to try and order chips (fries) and instead of chips, I got steak! It was comical. After a nice lunch , we set out to find Sylvie's apartment. That afternoon we spent a few hours at the Louvre. It was like nothing I have ever seen in my life. At some points like in front of the sculpture Aphrodite, Jen and I had to take a moment to just soak it in. We couldn't believe we were in Paris at the Louvre looking at the World famous Aphrodite! Needless to say, it was AWESOME!! I

can't even explain to you how great it was, although, all the signs and stuff were in just about every language but English (this was a theme while in Paris, obviously because they speak French, which frustrated me more than I had expected). Over the next two days we saw the Eiffel Tower, which was Jen's favorite and we spent a lot of time there, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysses, Notre Dame Cathedral, Montmarte and the surrounding area has sidewalk artists and delicious food (and was breathtakingly beautiful), the Opera House were Phantom of the Opera is based. and many other things. Surprisingly, Paris was my least favorite of all the places we went, it was dirty and stinky, the subways were scary and apparently the hot spot for couples to snog, and just overall not everything that everyone makes it out to be.

Friday evening, we caught the bus back to Paris Beauvais Airport and headed for Glasgow, Scotland. It was more beautiful than I expected. We got there really late at night, almost 1 AM, so we headed straight to the hostel. The next morning, we woke up slowly and took a walk around the city. We walked down the River Clyde to Glasgow Green, which is a huge park with monuments. There is an arch, a few statues and a huge pillar called Trafalgar (like in London). We then found the biggest terra-cotta fountain in the world outside the People's Palace Museum and Winter Gardens. The fountain depicted the four colonies of Britain: Canada, South Africa, Australia, and India. We then went and had a cup of tea in the Winter

Gardens, and walked around the People's Palace. It was a really interesting museum talking about the dark history of Glasgow, where they are now, and how they have accomplished the successful improvement to the city and the people. There were still people living in pre-fab houses from after the war up until 1990!! But in 1990, Glasgow was the City of Culture, so they have come a long way. We then went to the pub to get a late lunch and watch Manchester United lose to Everton; I was gutted!!! Everton was at the bottom of the rankings and we were number 2!!! Ugh! Such is life! We then took the long walk to Glasgow Cathedral, and it was beautiful!!! It was dark when we went so it was lit up and very mysterious. At some point during the night we got food from a chippy and when we were eating in our room, some yahoo pulled the fire alarm; firetrucks came and we had to evacuate. We decided to call it an early night since we had a long day of train and bus rides back to Wales!

We left at 10:30 am the next morning, and after like 4 train rides and 2 really long bus rides we made it back to Rhyl (15 minutes from Denbigh) and two of our friends were there waiting to pick us up! It was nice to see familiar faces, hear familiar accents, and most of all be back in my own bed at my own flat.

Jen and I compiled a few funny blogs about our trip, so you should check those out at her blog site. We had so much fun, and surprisingly, after being together 24/7 for 8 days straight, we still like each other! Thankfully Jen and I get along great!! Good trip, with a good friend!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Approaching Half-Term

Wow! I can't believe there are only 4 days until half term! It is going by so fast! But as most of you know I really LOVE it here! Would probably stay if I got the opportunity. I taught 2 double Maths lessons today, they both went pretty well, wish we were moving a little quicker through the curriculum, but that happens. I have the last lesson in our "Gases" unit for year 5 tomorrow. They are presenting their fact files on their choice of topic under the gases umbrella. One of my students already turned hers in and it is BRILLIANT! 10 points for Gryffindor! No, but really they get merit points that go towards house points, and I have the authority to give them out! Professor McGonagall, at your service :) She used scrap-booking and science to create here file discussing "Air" and what elements make up the air we breathe and uses for each one! I am thoroughly impressed! Next we start a unit on Space, which is absolutely my favorite science subject! but that is after half-term.

We went to London this weekend and had a nice relaxing weekend watching Rugby and visiting
friends. We had to watch our dear Welsh team loose to England in London, with our Welsh jerseys on and caught many dirty looks, but it was very fun; some playful banter going on.

We are heading to Dublin on Saturday. But not before we have a dinner party Friday evening. Chili and queso are the menu, courtesy of Mamaw, Papaw, and Jen's mom! Thanks!!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fun Days at Hogwarts aka Howells

Today was an exciting day. I taught my first lesson in senior school, year 7 maths. I was introducing fractions to them, and as I know all of you are cringing, fear not because my girls did too. They started off very confident, and then by the end of the lesson they were hopelessly lost. Although, Mrs. Scott, my mentor teacher, complimented me on my boardwork and class involvement, saying they were "brilliant"! How exciting! Maths is definitely my comfort zone!

Then off the the prep school for double maths with the year 5 girls. We were discovering mental math short-cuts for multiplying. For example if you have 14x35, you can halve 14 to make 2x7x35 and then double 35 to make 7x70, which is much easier to calculate in your head. Took them a little while to catch on but in the long run, they will be better off, because those are practical math skills, that I feel we miss out on a lot in the states. We focus so much on methodology and application, that we miss out on the practicality of math.

Then off to year 6 science. The girls were completing circuits and testing metals to see if they would conduct electricity. One of the materials they wanted to test was gold, well, there wasn't a sample readily available (don't freak out Mom and Dad) so I let them use my Aggie ring! It was so cool though. So of course I had to document it, and my students loved looking at my ring.

Only 2 more days until London!!!!