Mar 29, 2007

Placement Conclusion (Student Teacher Beyond)

As with all great crossovers mine needed a twist to make "everything different". To help with this supplemented with the fact I've run out of cool Batman images to use for this entry somehow my placement became the altogether darker more futuristic placement.

Business as Usual

Having been in the class for such a long haul at this point classroom management was no longer much of a chore. I knew my typical hot spots and powder kegs so just had to watch them, and the class was pretty manageable.

So did this mean my big comic book crossover event had puttered out into a lame succession of typical Batman patrols dealing with mere ordinary thugs and crooks? Well turns out this was leading to a bigger confrontation then you'd think.

The Substitute

Our associate had a conference to go to in the middle of the week meaning me and my partner got to work with a substitute teacher. This was a very rewarding experience as it illustrated why one may or more to the point may NOT want to have such a job. It was also nice to see a different teaching and management strategy then we'd been exposed to.

It also meant that many of our established trouble makers felt a little flexibility in acting up. Not on this student teachers watch. In typical Batman crossover fashion I suddenly had some interesting "small scale" incidents suddenly boil over into kinda big deals.

Main force was the girl "gang". Their ring leader decided to push the boundaries (mostly due to our associate giving the "gang" a bit too much leniency compared to the boys in my opinion). She didn't tangle with the teacher team for too long getting close to a parent's worth of ticks (two from me and the critical one from the sub).

This was just the warm up for the big hit of the crossover. Unfortunately it was a BIG hit too. So maybe I shoulda gone with the marvel civil war comparison...

Last Assessment

Our program supervisor came out for a last look at our progress in the classrooms on Thursday. Though my teaching and student interactions were in her own words "excellent" there was one factor I had a weakness in, and has now led to life altering changes to my continuity.

My written planning was not up to college standards. Ironic that I have this great pic of Ink killing Batman Beyond. As my written planning could kill me in school if I don't improve it.

Despite this lingering plot point overall my assessment was very good. My actually implementation of lessons and dealing with the kids are in the top of the class.

However sadly placement does mimic a good crossover by having a lasting effect and threat in the life of our hero... I need to work on my written planning or I may not make it out of my book may not survive the next placement


The last day was good. Pretty easy going for me and my placement partner. Our associate handled all but one lesson. This lesson happened to be me reading the class the completed version of my story. It was a hit and generated a lot of discussion. Both the kids and my associate were a little blown away when I brought up that I had a part in the making of the book.

A good wrap up for the crossover. However my "Blight" is still out there (Blight is Batman Beyonds main arch enemy for those of you who don't know much of Terry Macgenus' exploits). Fortunately the course supervisor wasn't too surprised by this development in my progress. Apparently there's one of me in every year so I've started one on one clinics with her to try and fix the problem.

The End?

Well although this placement is over two more remain in the "future" (unfortunate I had to resort to my Batman Beyond theme already).

As for the classic Adam West style "The End?" with a question mark. One of the indirect causes of my lack of lack of planning was the busyness of my associate, and how we student teachers were second thoughts to her. The End? refers to how she asked us not to say anything about our leaving the school till the end of the day, and her then at the promptly dismissing the class. Meaning none of the students knew we were going to be gone...

Oh well I don't do this for the gratitude. I'm Batman after all. Okay not really. That did kinda suck. I just say the Batman bit to try and cheer myself up.

Mar 25, 2007

Placement Round 1 (The Grad Knight Adventures)

Well this week was dominated by a single thing for all us Primary Graduate Students.

Though we'd been in our kids schools for 3 weeks leading up to this, as of this week we were there the whole week...

It was a LONG week. By Friday all of us in the program were wandering around like zombies. Fortunately for next week we have the Monday off which should make the grid a little less exhausting (and hopefully we'll have adjusted to the pace).

Naturally there were a LOT of things that happened throughout the week. Here are some of the highlights...

(Borrowing from Peter's wisdom the names have been changed to protect the guilty. Let's face it the innocent people are boring and don't make make for good blogging. You might notice a theme. Probably a coincidence though...)

Off to a Great Start...

Well as with all big cross over events (I say this cause I was crossing over into the students normal continuity) this one started off with a bang! My associate (fancy way for saying the teacher I'm assigned too) had grown comfortable with my partner and I supervising the kids to the point that she left us in charge for a whole 45 minutes on Monday afternoon.

Now in lead up to this exact moment I'd been picking up on and noting the members of the classroom dynamic I needed to watch. The incident started with of the regulars of the rogues gallery: Penguin, Riddler, and the Joker.

Of these the Penguin and the Riddler were fairly easy to deal with averagely speaking. They'd get into trouble often, but a good confrontation from a student teacher and they'd smarten up (for a little while). The Joker is always trouble when he acts up, and I'd been fearing a confrontation was going to occur at some point. Little did I know how small it's flash point would be.

Penguin and Riddler were goofing off as they typically do during the class book. My partner from the college was reading the book to the class when I noticed that the Penguin and Riddler were provoking Joker. Before I could stealthily intervene (in an attempt to not disrupt the reading in progress) the Joker was aggravated into smacking Penguin. Though I knew he wasn't the instigator I had to defuse the situation, and since hitting is hitting I opted to move Joker so I could deal with the Penguin and Riddler.

Joker however saw this as an opportunity to test boundaries and try and challenge my authority. He actively refused to move and turned it into a public spectacle of student teacher versus him. If I backed down I was surrendering my role as a teacher, and would merely be a student from there on in...
I held my ground, and gave him the maxi um number of "batarangs" one can get in our class. He didn't care, but eventually relented in face that the rest of the class was scared of my resolve (and the consequences to the Joker for my having done this). Though this opening fight for the cross over event was over it was just the beginning (as all good cross overs start with a bang, but have lasting consequences)
The Parent

So it turns out that in my associates class getting the max number of batarangs means either the students parents are phoned or asked to come see the teacher. My associate opted for the latter option, and I was the one who had to do the talking!
Now fortunately this went as well as could be expected, and from here on in the Joker has taken me a little more seriously, but it was defiantly a big start to this cross over event!

The Girls

Though the battles with such rogues as the Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Bane, and Mr. Freeze tended to be the obvious and clear incidents, throughout the week as I established my presence these became less epic or noteworthy.

The girls of the class are developing into the more ongoing threat for this event. They are typically better behaved then the boys, but if they misbehave they can be quite a hand full.

Three of them in particular Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and Catwomen are very adapted and capable of swapping the misbehaviour. Meaning that if I catch one of them doing something they stop and one of the other two take it up.

The Observation

Well now of course placement isn't all behaviour management. There is of course some actually teaching to it too. Go figure.

Towards the end of the week my program supervisor came into the class to watch me do what I do. This is right on schedule with a big cross-over event: midway through the run you have to have a big cameo. How fitting I got the superman of my course...

Her verdict is my teaching style is still too camp-like (aka I'm too friendly with the kids). So I have plenty of room for improvement...

The Battle Goes On

That is where I'm at. Stay tuned as these are only the beginning of the crossover event.

Tomorrow I return to my patrols, and try to end the George Street Placement arc...

To be continued

Mar 18, 2007

Albatrosses Take 2

Having been in New Zealand now for about 3ish months things I did when I first arrived are starting to slip into that "long ago" file of memory we all have. Among the big highlights of my initial adventures here in Dunedin was my trip to Albatross colony. In my first week here the head master of Salmond was nice enough to bring me along on a trip with his nephew.

Though it was an incredible experience, and saw many of the birds it lacked one key experience. You see the weather was amazing, and by any reckoning it was a great day for a field trip. That was the problem. Albatrosses are so big that they can not fly under their own power, and must have sufficient wind to pick them up for flight. So that first time I saw no flying Albatrosses.

Fortunately this weekend I was able to head out to the colony again, but this time in the worst weather imaginable!

I was accompanied by Scott and Shannon as we set out to do some research for our next kids book project.

Having attended a special presentation by both the Albatross Colony and Otago Aquarium that presented these two venues as great field trips for teachers, we had free passes to both. As the subject of our current project relates to both we were out on a fun fact finding mission.

First though we checked out the "disappearing gun" which is also at the Albatross Colony. On this tour you check out the naval fortifications of the Otago Peninsula. It was the construction and alteration of the landscape of these emplacements that modified this area to be a suitable and attractive site of Albatrosses in the first place.

The gun itself was of course really cool. It was designed to pop out of it's emplacement (a 12 meter cylindrical trench) to shot at a ship, and pop back into it's hidden bunker preventing the enemy from detecting the guns exact position.

my favorite factoid was that the Otago lighthouse being just in front of the whole military complex blocks 5 degrees of the guns arc. Those red arrows underneath that solid black line mark the lighthouses position so that when aligning the gun for combat the gunners didn't blow away the poor lighthouse!

Now of course our main purpose was to see Albatross. Despite the fact that the sky was falling with rain and the wind was impressive enough to force poor Shannon to grab a lamp post at one point, it was PERFECT Albatross weather!

After watching for only 10 minutes we had a bird fly into feed its chicks.

If that wasn't enough (cause really can you ever have enough of anything?) minutes later a second bird came in and flew RIGHT by our position in the observatory.

Looking at them just sit on their nests my first trip out here in Jan the immense size of these birds isn't made clear. Watching them fly is another story! This bird is actually BEHIND that fence. At one point (I didn't get it on film sadly) it dipped so that from our vantage point the fence was in front of it. That fence is a good 10 feet high!

The other fun bit (again sadly missed by my slow picture taking camera) was a New Zealand Harrier (aka Hawk) that had been hunting rabbits on the hillside flew by this same Albatross. It looked like a Sparrow in comparison!

We also popped into the Aquarium for a look around. It was a nice facility considering how small it was, but definitely not anything to write home about, and thus I won't. Besides Traumador is telling me that he is planning on post on HIS trip out there. So stay tuned on his blog.

So what project might require us to check out these exotic and fun marine related destinations. It isn't Sally related if that's what your wondering. Scott and myself have been a little too busy to get much done on publishing our first book, but we are getting around to it. I'll keep you posted of course.

This is the ONLY hint that I shall drop about this new project. No this is not a giant squid (I point to the size of the waves above this fellow as proof of that), but his tale shall be larger then anything kids nature books have ever seen before.

So that was this weekend in a nutshell. This upcoming week I have placement at George Street Normal School for the whole week... Tune in next time. Same batblog same batsite.

Mar 15, 2007

Interesting Week

Now everything can't be happy go lucky fun happy times. Since we entered higher gear (note how I did NOT say high gear, but rather higher) at skool things have been progressively been getting more stressful. Yet at the same time a number of notable occurrences have been spliced throughout.


Probably the number one cause of all my stress has been the essential maths course that I've been "advised" to take. This is a review of all maths needed for the primary school level. Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a math pro or anything. However the means that I ended up in this course have left me a little annoyed.

We had to take a math competency test at the beginning of the course. On it I scored 56%. What was interesting was the breakdown. I got the majority of questions worth 1-3 points correct (with a few exceptions in measurement which I was a little rusty in). Where I lost all my marks were questions worth 5 and 7 points. It was interesting looking at the test that though I only got 5 questions wrong I did so poorly.

What were the manner of questions I got wrong you might ask? All were high school level math that you would NEVER teach a primary class. However they require you to take this course if you get lower then 75% on the test. So the cause of my frustration. Well apart from the fact I had to pay a ridiculously large amount for it.

Thus far in class it has not only been subjects of a totally primary level that I know, but due to a slightly flaky prof, I've been basically teaching everyone at my table group how to do our subjects. Leaving with a very cheated and exploited feeling on the part of the college. The test was rigged so that those of us who haven't taken math in 6-7 years would fall on account of rustiness.

Making it even worse they have scheduled it to be at the end of the two LONGEST days of my week, and in one case I have to book it from my placement school to skool for the stupid course.


Woredrobe Malfunction

So on the second day of my hardcore student teaching back at the kids school (last week having seen them at camp) adding to the pains of my maths stress of the Monday was the destruction of my dress shoes. The sole fell right off my left shoe. In the middle of a rain storm no less.


No One Makes Me Bleed My Own Blood

If there is a subject I'm worse at then Math its languages. In this course we're required to learn and teach the language of the indigenous Maori. Now normal this class is interesting enough as is for me. However in this weeks lesson a girl sitting cross from me suddenly points down at my leg alarmed saying "you're bleeding!". Darn tooting right I was. It had soaked through my pants allowing her to see it.

The culprit a rather impressive nick on my leg. The thing is though I have NO idea how it happened. It didn' t even hurt?

New Roommate

Traumador the T-Rex my old partner in crime from the Tyrrell and Badlands Science Camp showed up at my door this week asking for a place to stay. Now I don't have time to waste it telling you about this. Check out his blog for his side of things.

Having him around here is bound to add to my current "interesting" factor.

Finished the Book

Me and Scott as of this weekend finished the first draft of our kids picture book. Sally and her world now encompass a 17 page prototype draft that we showed off to a select crowd throughout the week.

Response has been overwhelmingly positive, and this is from 2 key profs of ours who know what their talking about.

Our next step on this front is looking into publishing. Obviously keep you advised on progress with this.


My placement has been going well at the kids school. I got my first evaluation here this week, and it was mostly good. I'm naturally pretty good at managing a group of kids these days, and attempting to teach them something. My major weak spot is adapting to the classroom environment, and in particular the environment of my current classroom. My behavioural management style differs a LOT from my associate teachers, and I'll need to adapt to it for the short term anyway.


So whats all this mean, and where am I going from here?

Well we've been noticing that ALL of us student teachers are starting to feel the crunch. Stress levels are high, brain capacities are being maxed, and in some cases tempers flare (again read me speak about Maths).

I suspect this is what cults aim to do to converts. Stretch and push them to the point that their on edge like us. At moment I think we're being prepped for major molding and reshaping.

How exactly I'm not sure. I just see it coming. Which hopefully doesn't ruin the process.

I don't know in any case. That's an overview of my last chunk of missing time. I'll try to update more frequently. I have been meaning too. Just like today so much going on, and so little time. Speaking of which I need to pop off to bed here. Damn early mornings!

The End of an Era... The Beginning of a New

How ironic that in the wake of my camp outing here in New Zealand, and the slight call/yearning to be back at camp that a HUGE bit of news and events has transpired at Badlands Science Camp.

So to begin with I do and must certainly WILL miss BSC. I am not saying however I regret my to coming over to New Zealand. I just wish I could be in two places at once is all LOL.
Definitely in my top 3 aspects of homesick is the absence of Camp Team: Extreme! in my life. Now this has been a major factor since camp ended in September 06. At that time it looked like camp was going to be devoid of the majority of us minus Tyler.

Well things have changed on that mark quite a lot. It's a bad news good news scenario:

The Bad News (from a camp ONLY perspective!)

The big kahuna Mr. T himself is NO longer the coordinator of camp!!! That's right strongman himself has seen his last science intro (granted so has Traum, but it was SM that carried the bit I assure you)...

Now this situation has been labelled as bad news, but in reality this is only from a Camp Team: Extreme! point of view (and as the Team is already kinda dead dead with me and Peter both overseas). The cause of this "tragic" situation.

Tyler has just been promoted to a high tear management position at the museum! That's right he goes from middle management to a high paying secure government one! Sweet as (we'd say down under).

I'm super happy for him, and this is fantastic news. Just not from a camp perspective. Or is it?

Well then if this was "bad" news what might cause Craig to think that. Well the counter effect of this development was the appointment of a new Science Camp Coordinator, and their being picked couldn't be more worth of being labelled:

The Good News

Don't look so surprised there Amy. I couldn't think of a better candidate!

That's right ladies and gentlemen. I present to you Amy Carlson second master and commander of Badlands Science Camp!

To her and the future crew of camp I wish my very best in their exploits this summer of 07. Under her leadership I know that it'll be smooth sailing (due to her rainbow belt in camping). I'll be present in spirit and definitely Legacy. The amount of programs and materials I made last year should more then outlast any of the fossils at the museum.

If you have a 9-12 year old science or adventure enthusiast be sure to check out Badlands Science Camps website as a possible summer destination for them here in 07.

Mar 6, 2007

New Zealand Camp

Though the post on this has been a little overdue I've been INSANELY busy as of late...

Last week as part of my classroom placement I got to tag along with the kids as they went to camp. New Zealand style.

They went to a place called Camp Iona. The week's activities resembled a very moderate outdoor ed program at Kiwanis. The two days I spent out there were pretty fun. I've started to enter my yearly yearning for camp so this sorta hit the spot.

I got to lead orienteering, first dinner, and assist with leadership and fire cooking. Though by no means the usual extent of my roles or responsibilities at camp it was nice to get to use my true strengths in my first placement.

How do New Zealand camps compare to Canadian ones. Well as you can see from the pics their just as nice in buildings and grounds as ours. This place felt like a slightly smaller and cheaper Kiwanis. That being said and done there is a key reason for both these minimalisms.

Here down under camps aren't staffed by anyone (other then a site manager), and aren't used in the summer for true camp. Rather they are purely rental facilities. This kinda dulled the place to. It didn't feel lived in like a camp back home would.

As of such programs were all carried out be teachers and parent volunteers (oh and student teachers if their kicking about... duh LOL). Though this would seem a bad thing in my logic it actually is a fantastic thing for me at least. Unlike other teachers I'll be wanting to do ALL things camp when my skool goes. As of such if and when I'm teaching at camp I'll be able to relive the glory days!

The only other major point of note was the lack of true camp fire. Though I assisted with making fires at camp these were daytime blazes and used strictly for cooking. There was none of the ritual of fun of a good old sing song campfire at the end. This really robbed me of getting camp out of my system, and thus I'm still left kinda jonesing for it a bit...

Overall camp was definitely a fun part easing into my first placement. I got to know the kids a lot better, and them definitely better me. Was a nice familiar setting and environment to get back into kid mode, and figure out NZ kids (their a little more sporty with things like Cricket and Rugby, but otherwise the same as Can kids).

The camp itself was kinda meh. However I need to remind myself I've worked at 2 of the best camps in the world, and I'm "past" that part of my life... So with that realization I'm off to go cry in the bathroom a little while.

Mar 4, 2007

Fishing Trip

Righto so the conclusion to a already great weekend was a impromptu fishing trip with my new partner in crime Scott.

Jumping in his car he took me to one of his favorite spots in the Otago area (Scott is a big fishing maniac)

It is located about an 1 and a half south of Dunedin. This was the FIRST time I have left Dunedin since I arrived there nearly 2 months ago (it is 2 months on my bday midweek here...).

Cannibal Bay the place is called. It's a very large estuary that we hit at about 11am just as the low tide hit it's peek. Meaning that while we were there the tide was steadily coming in.

We waded into the water about knee height and began lure fishing (my first time fishing in over 7 years, and the FIRST time ever without a fly!). Now this had two interesting events occurring while waiting for fish. The first was the swarms of sandflies that acted for intents and purposes like mosquitoes ate me alive. My legs are COVERED in red mozzie like bites. Boo!

The second being every 2 mins or some I'd get a tickle or pitch through my gator sandals. Looking down would be a crab(s) that had scurried up to my foot through the short, but infinite kelp mates surrounding us.

Now though I was pretty into the fishing thing you can't expect a Crab hunter like me not to pickup a few, and check them out. Among today's Crabs were all new species again.

This one being a representative of the most common variety here in the estuary the Smooth Shore Crab (which is VERY similar to BC Crabs I'm used to, but their pincers are a bit bigger).

All the Crabs here at Cannibal's Bay acted like the Crabs I know back home. Paranoid and aggressive. I received a good snip or two from these guys, but like usual it was worth it just to get the Crab Kung-Fu pose like this one!

Though the Smooth Shores were fun and interesting, they were everywhere, and kinda close to what I'm used to seeing. Fortunately like so much else of New Zealand this place didn't let me down.

Along the muddy flats were a species of borrowing Crab with the longest arm to body size ratio I've ever seen. These Tunneling Mud Crabs are as cool as Spider Crabs, and just as hard to catch (most of my bites were from these guys as they can reach RIGHT back to your fingers on their hind quarter. I found the best way to catch there guys is a top based grab that pins their arms to their chest).

You find them in a holes along the beach, and if you dig up the big holes you get big Crabs. Sadly we discovered this origin for them too late (when the tide was coming in quick and fast) so we were unable to turn up any big ones this trip.

Speaking of the trip let's return to the point of the story. Fishing. Which I partook in to the max. So much so in fact that I caught the days only catch (poor Scott). A nice 2-3 pound Brown Trout. Now what makes this guy so unique is the fact that is among the only Trout species in the world that is OCEANIC. You read that right. This guy lives a life style similar to that of a Trout.

Now I didn't get to see if it tastes like a Trout or Salmon as I didn't have a fishing licence, and frankly I don't need food at the Hall I opted to release this fellow. Scott was keen on the idea as he enjoys catching them more then eating them, and as he put it "I'm all about looking after my fishing grounds". This healthy female hopefully will make it onward to give birth to several more targets for our next trip out here.

Mar 3, 2007

Child's Play... or Rather Work

Well was a very busy week like predicted. I started my placement on Monday. Was placed in a year 5 and 6 split (in Canada grades 4/5). Was pretty good first couple days. I had to teach an art lesson within my first hour of being in the classroom (my associate taught it to half the class, and then I had to repeat it for the other half when they returned from a different period block).

Second day we went on a field trip to teachers college! What an exotic destination I have to say... Seriously I went on a field trip with my kids class to MY skool. The reason is the class I'm with has a communication exchange going with a Japanese class, and the college facilitates the video conferencing. It was actually very cool to watch.

The trip back to the kids school was interesting though. I was responsible for the bulk of kids in the rental van as the vice Principal had driven the remainder in his car. While I was in the back of the shuttle van tightening kids seat belts, the driver suddenly decided he had another fair to get too, and ordered the kids to shut the back door. I meanwhile was still in the back dealing with the seat belts with no empty seat for me. Suddenly the driver takes off leaving me to hang onto the "oh shit" handles. I was NOT impressed. Not only was I unsafe the whole trip, but I was role modelling bad driving practise on my first week in class!!!

After that it was on to the rest of my week of lectures and classes. Lots of homework to be had.
However with them MOSTLY out of the way (I'm taking a short break from them right now) me and my friend Scott hammered away at the children's picture book we've been working on for the last month. Here for the first time is a sample of our work from The Sunny Side of the Hill

Keep you post on this project as it comes along. It's about 55% done at moment, and is mostly being held up by the fact me and Scott have a lot of homework weekly, and that it takes me about an hour per picture like this.

Upcoming stuff for me: tomorrow I'm going on a fishing trip with Scott south of Dunedin. This will mark the first time I've been out of town since I got here! The day after that I'm back in the classroom on placement, but only for an hour, as we are going to CAMP!
Meaning it might be a few days before I get a post up, but will be good when I do finally get back! So stay tuned mid week!