Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Important Announcement

At about 3pm today I finished my PGCE dissertation. I submitted it two hours later to my tutor. It was another two and a half hours before I was able to drink a beer: the longest it has ever been between submission and alcohol.

I have now rectified this.

The title is "Teaching Evolution to Diverse Groups of Students: Opportunities and Threats". It's the same as the abstract I've submitted for this year's SVP.

Sometimes my students think I have no idea how difficult it is to do coursework, to fit in everything they want to say within the confines of the word limit, and to cite their references correctly.

Even before I did this, I knew exactly how they felt. I have pulled all-nighters, fuelled by dry toast and tea (MSci project on Cetiosauriscus), and by Flavia hazelnut coffee and frosted Mini-Wheats (finishing up outstanding reports at Wash U). I've had 3,000-word, 7,500-word and 10,000-word limits, and the 3,000-word limits are the hardest to meet.

Normal service may resume on here...

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Microteaches #3: A-Level Exams Begin

AS Biology is the first exam of the season, and it's happening on Monday. Precisely 0% of my students showed up to the final class before the exams, so I hope the little sods were all at home busily revising.

Maybe they'd find this video, linked from Seven Deadly Synapses, useful for reading pedigrees:

My A2s will be leaving by 10th June, and I wanted to get them something to remember me by. They've been a small group (no more than 10 students) and we've all got to know each other well (they were the darlings that pretended I was their adoptive mother to get free cake at Nandos). So I bought them each a copy of "Do We Need Pandas?" - the crapness of pandas has been something of a running joke throughout the year. And in each copy, I wrote the same words my A-Level biology teacher wrote to me 13 years ago:

Myosotis arvensis should sum up my message to them quite nicely...

I submitted my abstract for this year's SVP meeting in Las Vegas: "Teaching Evolution To Diverse Groups Of Students: Opportunities And Threats". I've put it down for the E&O Poster Session - really hope it gets accepted. It's formed part of my PGCE course this year, so I'll have a short paper to around the time of the conference itself.

On the subject of conferences, if this is what climate scientists get up to when they all meet up then it's clear that SVP need to up their game:

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Coursework Hell

The A-level students are meant to be handing in their coursework this week, and I need to have an abstract good to submit to SVP before the weekend, so everyone is rather stressed to say the least.

Despite trying to live by the sticker on the door to the Cambridge Earth Sciences photography lab ("A lack of forward planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine"), the kids are leaving things to the last second, and their stress and panic is scaring me too.

However, I had to laugh when the biggest, scariest-looking student I have ever had the pleasure of teaching came up to my desk, said "Hi Miss," then took several steps backwards before confessing he hadn't finished his report.

Still got it.
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