Sunday, 30 November 2008

visit with Raye

My friend Raye was here over the weekend and we went into the city last night. We were walking along Regent Street and saw these amazing lights strung over the road. These are my kind of Christmas lights: simple, monochrome, and geometrical.

We turned onto Carnaby Steet and saw that it was hung with huge snowmen and snowflakes.

We got tickets to see Sound of Music at the London Palladium. (We got ripped off, though. I will happily give several useful tips to anyone hoping to buy cheap tickets for a show.) The show was really good and we both enjoyed it loads. We were sitting in the top row of the Upper Circle and actually had a decent view. We bought the theatre ice cream (£3 each!) at the interval.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

recycling and fashion

My friends and family will be forgiven for describing me as a recycling dictator. But really, what is not to like about recycling? It's good for the earth, and it feels good for me. It's not really that big a hassle. I am dedicated to recycling paper, bottles, cans, and plastic bags. I have a favourite type of recycling, though: buying second hand clothes! There's a brilliant second hand charity shop near me that I often pop into on the weekend. Hopefully I will take some more photos to show you what I have bought there, but let me try to describe some purchases. Three things stand out over the last year. I bought a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress there--I admit I pulled it out originally because of the label. I know that DVF was the inventor of the wrap dress but never thought I'd try one on, let alone own one because of the cost. I tried it on to find that it fit and actually looked quite good. It's a graphic print design, mostly black and white.... Really a picture would help so I'll get one soon.

Then a little while later I found a Jigsaw suit--it's an expensive high street brand that is above my usual level by a long way. It's a very smart brown suit that came with a skirt and trousers. The trousers were a a bit too tight and also much too short. But the straight, slim skirt was perfect and I love the jacket. I bought a light rose blouse at the same time that I tried on with it. It's been such a good purchase and I've worn it on parents' evenings a few times. I feel very professional wearing it.

Today I stopped by on my way home to find a Zara black tweed suit (above) that I am so excited about! It's got a line of piping around the top of the skirt and the lapels of the jacket. The skirt has a little set of pleats at the back just above the hem. So cute and very much the business. It's great that someone decided to recycle such a lovely outfit. I also send donations there and I hope that others enjoy my clothes. (And in the process, the charity benefits, too.) Isn't recycling great?

Monday, 17 November 2008


Pretty much my favourite thing to do: learn. New ideas for learning:

1. Download podcasts from iTunesU, a part of the iTunes store that has thousands of free lectures, audio files, and videos about loads of things.
2. TED talks. I have seen a few now and they are brilliant and so diverse.
3. Maths Ed connections. I went to a day conference on Saturday and started networking. I heard some interesting talks and plan to continue attending day conferences once per term. The next one is in Cambridge. I also plan to start attending seminars at King's College London as well.
4. The Cornell method of notetaking, that Paul told me about. I love listening to people teach me things. Why doesn't it happen more often?

Sunday, 16 November 2008

recent cooking

In my continued quest to find meat dishes I enjoy I have discovered this recipe for lamb kofte. My recipe books has it as "middle eastern meatloaf" and one of its variations is to grill it it in small cylinders to use in pittas. We like the taste better than the ones we buy at the kebab shop.
400g lamb mince
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t ground coriander
Mix and then shape into cylinders. Grill and serve in pitta pockets with tomatoes and parsley salad.
--From Simply in Season

I made Borscht, a Mennonite dish, for the first time yesterday (also from the Simply in Season cookbook). It is made with beetroot and so it comes out really pink in colour. It's really easy to make with chicken, carrots, potatoes, dill and parsley. Justin is staying with us for a while and we enjoyed it together last night with toasted pitta.

Monday, 10 November 2008

i <3 my washing machine

This is the first time I have seen the bottom of the laundry basket in months! Our new washing machine has a bigger drum and is so much quieter!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

tiring but profitable

This year I have had a little promotion to Gifted & Talented Coordinator in Maths. And this week was the first time I ticked off some of the things on my job description. On Monday we had an INSET day. In the morning there was a whole school session, half about More Able, Gifted, and Talented education and half about Learning to Learn (shortened to MAG&T and L2L respectively). In the afternoon I led a session in the maths department about how we wish to choose to identify our gifted students. We did a little card sort activity in pairs and used the results to agree as a group the criteria we felt most delineated which students we would consider gifted in maths. I wrote this up and added it to the MAG&T policy that my Head of Maths and I wrote while we were part of the G&T action group last year.

One provision we make for the more able and gifted students in maths is to enter them into the national Maths Challenges. The first of these was on Thursday, for students in years 11 to 13. I organised two lunch time training sessions and then the event on Thursday. It was really good to see that everything went smoothly and I sent the completed papers off to the University of Leeds on Thursday afternoon. The challenge was 90 minutes long and we had 35 students participating. I think one of the students may have out-scored me, which is indicative of his ability! I'm sure he'll get a certificate and be passed on to the more advanced rounds.

This was a really tiring week with all this extra stuff going on as well as teaching, prep work, reports, and marking. But it was profitable and I feel like I will be more ready for organising the next Maths Challenge. Working with gifted students is really what I love and I hope my career will continue in this sort of vein.