Sunday, 25 November 2012

Internet safety and our children


Since reading this article  posted by a fellow tweecher earlier in the week, I have been unable to stop thinking about the importance of education  regarding internet safety.

.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2234956/Internet-porn-rape-suspects-aged-TEN.html

Along with the majority ( I think)  of teachers , I am a "digital immigrant" having been born and educated at a time pre social networking and internet access . Today's school children and students could be described as " digital natives" having been immersed in the super technological world we live in today.

Don't get me wrong; I am certainly not against social networking,  blogging (I would be somewhat hypocritical if I was!) and the use of the internet in schools. I am looking forward to a time in school when ICT is fully integrated into every aspect of my teaching. ( As it already is in many schools)

The article highlighted the dilemma we face in schools: to filter, or not to filter?

There are plenty who say not to filter because it is our role, as educators, to ensure that children are taught how to use the internet appropriately.http://ianaddison.net/flexible-filtering-in-school/ and http://www.josepicardo.com/2012/05/why-schools-must-teach-social-networking/    are most interesting reads and present a case for not filtering and embracing the use of social networking.

On the other hand there are those who say that we must act to protect the children we teach , so must block/filter web sites. http://www.esafety-adviser.com/blog/2012/08/31/a-pragmatic-view-of-internet-filtering-from-the-perspective-of-school-and-la/


I agree with both sides of the argument.
HOWEVER  I see the issue as a far wider one than we can deal with in schools. Yes, we can run parent workshops, we can send home guides, invite police and CEOP in...but that only works for the 'worried well' and certainly not everyone.

Children are accessing the internet from earlier and earlier ages ,http://www.childwise.co.uk/media/CHILDWISE%20MONITOR%202011-12%20press%20release.pdf

and are often more knowledgeable about the internet than their parents,  http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/security/3283597/uk-kids-spend-42-hours-a-week-social-networking/



So, how DO we protect our children?

In my opinion we should be teaching children how to use social media safely, yes in primary schools too- children are using facebook and other social networking sites and not talking about it isn't going to stop it.

What is as (if not more) important is that  parents need to be taught how to help their children to be safe online and how they are responsible to monitor what their children are accessing.



This is a bigger issue than we as teachers can deal with.

In my opinion, this is something that needs to be tackled by the media which is accessed by the vast majority of the population. Nadine Dorries was mistaken in thinking that her time on , "I'm a celebrity" would get her message across . It is widely known that most of what goes on in "reality shows" never makes it past the editing room floor. However, she did have a point in so far as more people vote on these shows than in elections...http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20441840

Viewing figures for soaps are at similarly high levels- is there a reason why they cannot do a public service and demonstrate safe and appropriate internet use as part of the "day to day life" they show. Not in wall to wall shock tactic storylines, but in a way that shows parents having open discussions with their children,

I am not suggesting that this will suddenly turn the situation around, but surely it would be a step in the right direction? As a primary school teacher I worry about the internet content that children can access. Have my hands tied about what I can and cannot teach them in schools.

I know that many schools and LAs have relaxed their filters and that this has worked well for them. How we can address the issue of what children are accessing at home I am not sure. I shall continue to follow developments through the news, twitter and education forums and remain optimistic that internet safety will be given a higher priority both within and beyond the education system.


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

100 words for grown ups week 67

I can't quite believe that there are only 5 school weeks until we finish for Christmas!! I have been trying to do a multitude of things; some better than others and had intended to do some decorating today. However, a cricked neck has put paid to that so thought I would have  a go at this week's challenge . (Julia's page at http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/100-words-for-grown-ups-week67/  )

When I read the prompt ," I really tried not to laugh" it made me think of all those different types of laughter that you can have.  A good belly laugh with a mate, a stifled giggle when you should be terribly serious, a nervous laugh when things are not going to plan, a wry laugh at yourself for not seeing what was going on, laughing til you cry... the list goes on and on. 

Here's my effort for the challenge. Read the rest at http://www.linkytools.com/wordpress_list.aspx?id=172612&type=basic



Life, love and laughter

I really tried not to laugh:

When I opened the exam paper
            
                                               to see I couldn't answer any questions,
When I failed my driving test

                                                                      for the third time :/

When my friends told me it wouldn't last;

                                                                        and when it didn't.

When I looked in the mirror

                                                        to see the woman I had become.


BUT...

I really DID laugh:

When I had the strength to walk away

                                                                     and never look back,

When my precious son smiled at me
                                         
                                                                  and melted my heart.

When I met the love of my life

                                                                   who gave me wings.

When I look in the mirror 
      
                                                    and see the woman I have become.


                                           *    *   *


Thank you for reading .





Tuesday, 6 November 2012

100 words for grown ups

This week the challenge was a picture:
All the details can be found over on Julia's blog at http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week65/

At first I thought I might do something to do with the Ash dieback disease, but I couldn't possibly make light of what is such a potentially serious situation.
So instead I have used the picture to inspire some serious "Girl Power."

I have parent evenings coming up over the next three weeks so will be pretty busy with those and not sure how much time I will have to do the next couple of prompts. I recently sent the synopsis and first part of my nanowrimo to have some feedback from a publisher who were running a charity event .
(Further details here http://www.justgiving.com/MeetandCritiqueVintageBooks ) so am looking forward to hearing back from them with some pointers for improvement.

Other than that, my Grandfather has pretty much got up to the present day with recording his memoirs and I am busy typing up and getting into order. After parent evenings I am going to print out a draft for him to go through, then to get some copies bound. (I have never had anything made into a book - well only my dissertation a long time ago and I don't think that counts! Will be picking people's brains about how to go about getting A4 pages put into book size for binding...

Enough prevarication.
Here is my piece for the challenge.
You can read the rest at http://www.linkytools.com/wordpress_list.aspx?id=170427&type=basic


Comments/critiques welcomed.


Orange Spot


Muriel scrubbed her hands. “That’ll show them, bloomin 

beaurocrats !”  


The letter had  clattered through the letterbox  the previous morning.
“sustainable forestry... carefully selected.... replanting programme...”

 “Yaddayaddayadda.” She  tossed it into the stove. “I won’t let them, I’ll show’em!”


All her life she’d lived there, surrounded by  the trees she’d come to regard as friends.  They’d grown old together.


 Family gone, schoolmates  forgotten: each  tree held a secret from her past. Stolen kisses, sips of beer, engraved letters, the first time... she hugged her knees closer and laughed out loud.


 The truck rolled into view and she sat back to watch...



Saturday, 3 November 2012

A story in a tweet

I had a go at the writers bureau monthly competition; didn't get anywhere but had fun trying.
Here is my "scary story" in less than 140 characters (139 to be precise) excluding title




WEDDING NIGHT



Drifting to sleep, Josie marvelled at the coolness of his milky skin.
As she dreamt he crept, shadowless, to the window. 
Let feasting begin.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Secrets...

I have been reading through the nanowrimo that I did back in June and have started the editing process. It's interesting reading something after leaving it for a period of time as it has highlighted the areas which, although crystal clear in my mind, don't actually either make sense or confuse the reader.
So, I am trying to put some sense and order into it.
I'm really not sure what I will do with it once I have tweaked it; a couple of my work colleagues have asked to read it as have my Mum and sisters; at the moment it's a long long way from ready.
So, dear blog followers, I am going to throw myself wide at your valued opinions and put some extracts on here.
I don't want to give the story away so will be posting parts from various points in the story. I would very much appreciate feedback- pan it if that's what you think!
Thanks in advance.


This is a part of the backstory; set in the late 1960's


“And I’ve got... ‘til forever! Come on let’s go!” and taking her hand he pulled her towards the wood, “I’ve something to show you!” 
Kit went to pick up the spilled lunch. “Leave that, for now, you’ll see why!” She let him take the  lead along the familiar paths; they’d been meeting here for picnics regularly and had spent many an afternoon in the woods exploring. Henry’s parents had taken over the village pub, the Cat and Fiddle,  two years ago. Kit’s father, Albert,  had been a frequent patron there. Too frequent for his own good .
 Since his untimely death the previous summer,  Kit had spent more and more time with Henry and his family. Kit’s mother had taken her husband’s death badly and had thrown  herself into her cleaning jobs. Most evenings she was so exhausted  she fell asleep in her arm chair  not to wake until  long after Kit had gone to bed. The weekends were spent making half-hearted efforts at conversation to enquire of school and friends. She hadn’t noticed how infrequently Kit’s friends came over, nor did she notice how much time Kit had been spending with Henry. It suited them both for Kit to be out of the house so much. Her mother didn’t question and Kit didn’t volunteer the answers.  



This is a bit from later which is set in the 1980s (I set it then because that's a period of time that I know about - also because of the lack of technology and social networking that nowadays makes it so much easier to trace people...)




It had been a mistake coming. What  had  she hoped to achieve? Was she going to learn anything that would undo what had happened in the past? “What’s done is done!” She remembered those words from her mother. The past can not be changed. She had a future with Nigel. She could just go home now, home to him, tell him what she could and finally lock it all away forever. Forget the solicitor. What was he going to tell her? That she had been left a fortune- no chance of that. Gran had never had any money. The war pension had helped her to make ends meet, but there was not going to be a fortune waiting for her. She pulled over to the side of the road and beat her hands against the steering wheel. She wanted someone to make the decisions for her, to tell her what to do. But who?
  No,  she had to make that appointment. The wounds had been reopened and  she had come this far, to turn back now was not going to ease her pain. Maybe she would at last find out what it was that her Grandmother had known all those years ago.  Whatever it was she didn't want to hear it from her mother, she could never forgive her for what she had done.



You'll notice that I have used the name Kit - one of the names I have used in various 100wcgu . The inspiration for the story came about from one of the 100 word pieces I wrote a while back. I rather like the name and it seems to suit the character. 

Thank you again for reading...











Tuesday, 30 October 2012

100 word challenge week 64




This week Julia's challenge is to create a recipe fit for a witch.
Now, I thought about this when I read it and decided to try to  do something different to what I expect the others to do, for after all witches do not have to be bad do they?

This time of the year, with Haloween looming (and I hope the forecast is correct so that the trick or treaters stay home) it is all too easy to slip into bad witch territory.

So, here is mine- hope you like it. If it seems somewhat confusing see the note at the end :)

Comments good or bad welcomed. 

(By the way, have I ever mentioned that I own not one, but two little black cats? ) 


                                      >^..^<         >^..^<       



Recipe
A breath of air,
From a mother’s kiss silver dust,
From a butterfly’s wing a newborn babe,
Suckling from the breast an orb spider
Weaving her intricate web.

Sparkling dewdrops,
From snowdrop’s petals a fizz,
From a sherbert dip a tender kiss,
From a lover to his sweetheart a glorious tune,
From a skylark  warmth.

From the midday sun a flicker,
From  a fire gentle purring,
From a sleeping cat bubbles rise,
From a freshwater brook hope springs ,
From an eternal optimist.

Lastly I will stir it once, twice, thrice.
My recipe for a future not yet told.





If this all seems somewhat random, I used the poem , "I saw a peacock with a fiery tail" as my inspiration; it is a poem I have often used in class with children to stimulate creativity. http://www.potw.org/archive/potw193.html

I adore poetry and love teaching it to children ; if I was in charge of the curriculum I would have far more emphasis on it because it is such a rich and varied genre of writing. But I'm not , so I just do it as much as I can.  And I wouldn't be without this book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rhyme-Not-Teaching-Children-Poetry/dp/0340611480/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351617050&sr=1-1 
I have been in the classroom for more than 20 years now and have not found a better poetry book than this.


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

100 words ...returning...


I haven't done one of these for ages. Have been exceptionally busy since term started. (Goodness, how I hate that excuse! But I really have!) 
I have been working with my (92 year old) Grandfather to help him write his memoirs. Each week I visit him (he's in a nursing home) and download the next lot from the dictaphone. I then type it up before visiting him the following week and sorting out parts which I couldn't quite make out.
So far we have covered his war years and his working life as well as what he could remember from his childhood. It has been absolutely fascinating.
As we draw near present time I will have to embark on the editing process; so far I have been pretty much typing up verbatim. The aim is to eventually make it into an e-book for all the family to read and maybe to get a copy professionally bound for him (Thanks to the lovely SJ for that suggestion)
I am going to go through his photos and scan those in to be inserted at appropriate places and have also been adding links to elaborate on various things that he has mentioned.
Oh yes, been teaching my (enormous) mixed age class of 35 year 4 and 5's too!
And been starting to look through my nanowrimo I did in June to edit that.
Parents evenings are looming and I STILL haven't got the decorating done. 
But I am NOT bored which is always a good thing (in fact I don't think I can remember the last time i was bored to be honest. Sometime before becoming a parent perhaps?)
Anyway enough of that. I will endeavour to do some more of these as it is a great way to practise my writing. Still no luck with any competitions...


Here is this week's piece.
Link to Julia's place is http://jfb57.wordpress.com/tag/100wcgu/



Mists of time



As the steam rose from her mug, June stared through the once clean windows . The pain would pass, they told her, we’ll keep in touch.
That had been in Spring.
Words spoken after her darling Doug had finally lost his battle.
Summer had been and gone, the pain remained sharp as ever.  Promised visits not made. “Call soon. Must dash. X ” the text had read.
 Autumn brought its muted hues, lace cobwebs jewelled with crane flies. A golden anniversary remembered alone.
A buzz from a drawer: “Plane booked. All 2gether 4 Christmas x”
And winter will bring them home.  


Thank you for reading. I will be on half term next week so will visit the rest then. I am hoping to put some sections of my nanowrimo on here; comments, as always, welcomed.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Endeavours

This is a piece I recently submitted to a writing website for publication. It was written in response to a photograph of a girl with a reflection behind her of wings. I would very much appreciate comments (good or bad!)

Angel


Nobody believed me; they just laughed or chose to ignore. “Poor little thing.” I could hear their hushed voices, “She’ll grow out of it, you’ll see.”
“It’s just a phase.”
I don’t remember the exact moment it started but to me it seemed the most natural thing in the world. For the first time since she’d died the world had started to make sense once more. They said it was my reaction to losing her- those whisper-voiced people who mistakenly thought I was unaware of their conversations. I heard each and every word.
It was the way they looked at me, or if I’m more precise, didn’t look at me that particularly grated. Never quite making eye contact, over earnest smiles that stopped at too thin lips, the talking about me as if I wasn’t there. Or worse was too young (or stupid) to understand. They knew it was true but because they couldn’t explain or understand it they chose to hide behind their hands and write me off as precocious, attention seeking. A problem.
So, they’d point and laugh when they thought I wasn’t looking, “That’s the one, you know, she’s a bit different.”
“Never the same since her mother died.”
“Over active imagination. Lives in a fantasy.”
They are all wrong. I can feel myself growing stronger each day. Last night I managed my first flight. Mother held me tightly the whole time but I could feel the strength in my wings, almost ready to fly solo and join her at last. Then they would see I hadn’t been lying. 
The doctors said it was a tumour just like the one that took her. That was the reason for my mood swings, my “imagination”. Tablets would help they said, but I knew they wouldn’t. I let them believe I was taking them- I had them well hidden along with the long since shed downy feathers. Now I have white ones - golden fringed- the exact shade of my hair when the sunlight catches it.  They light up my darkened room when spread. Mother doesn’t need to hold me tonight. I am ready for the journey.
I wanted to leave a feather for my father. Try as I might it wouldn’t come with pulling so I had to resort to the nail scissors. Strangely it came away, before the first cut had been made, to be instantly replaced by another. It faded a little as I placed it on my pillow. I knew that Father believed me deep down, but would never admit to that in front of the others. As a respectable doctor he had to keep up appearances. I would be sorry to leave him, but since she’d died he’d been increasingly distant, the pain etched more deeply across his face each time he looked at me. The feather would keep us close. If he let himself believe he would be able to see us both in more than dreams.
They would all know that I had been telling the truth once I’m gone. Perhaps I should stay a little longer but the need to spread my wings is too great. She is calling me.
 Can you hear her?
I feel her reaching out. Maybe I will come back one day...

100 words week 57






I haven’t taken part in the 100wcgu since July as I have been concentrating on a variety of mini writing projects as well as recharging ready for the new school year.  Now that the new term is underway I will endeavour to take part as often as possible in an effort to improve my writing skills. This week's prompt is:
...returning to the routine...



I have (so far) been unsuccessful with my submissions to various websites and competitions but will keep trying!

As always, constructive criticism is welcomed J



September

The alarm snaps me out of my dreams and the incessant bass of the music drums out the final vestiges of sleep. I reach for the snooze button, glowering at the illuminated numbers. I haven’t seen this time since the last day of term. I reluctantly leave the music playing, swing my legs over the side of the bed and half stagger to the bathroom, eyes beginning to focus. Not until the water is pulsing over my body do my eyes open fully. Stretching, I dry off and sing along. A new term and class awaits; retuning to the routine isn’t so bad.


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

100 word challenge week 51


I haven't had much time these last few weeks with the end of term craziness that all teachers will be familiar with. 
And now summer has finally arrived and I am sitting in the garden, shaded by the parasol with the hum of bees in the fuchsia beside me, two contented cats sprawled out on the patio, a cloudless blue sky, a gentle breeze and a glass of Pimms  water (it's only just after four in the afternoon; far too early for that just yet!) by my side. 
I have just about managed to resist rereading my campnanowrimo piece just yet- leaving it for a while longer before some major editing and maybe then I will share some here as I would love some feedback.
I am very lucky to be heading off to the Dordogne at the end of the week- surrounded by vineyards and no wifi to be found. I have a notebook ready for writing in while I am away in between the pile of books I plan to read...
This week's prompt from Julia was …. the line was drawn …. 


Here is my contribution. Thanks for reading. Comments, as always, welcomed :)


You said what?

He stopped as though someone had pressed pause. His fork hovered between plate and mouth, spaghetti strands unwinding in slow motion before rejoining the others.
“You’re what?” he spluttered.
“You heard. I’m leaving.”
“You can’t. You’re nothing without me.” he placed his fork on the table adjusting it until it was at precisely 90 degrees to the table’s edge.
“It’s over.” she pushed the piece of paper across the table. He picked it up to see the line was drawn through their surname.
As she walked towards the door she ran her hand along the
 row of perfectly aligned pictures leaving each one askew.




Read the others at http://www.linkytools.com/wordpress_list.aspx?id=155445&type=basic