Last year had an invitation to the Holy Childhood Girls' Catholic High School from Ian McCleary, one of the teachers we had in Reading in 2010. Was blown away by the school, particularly the standard greeting, "May God bless you always". So when an invitation to come back this year, from an ICT teacher Hayne Cooper whom I met at a masters class at the University last week, I could hardly wait to go!
I was asked to do an assembly, which initially I thought was to be in a hall with the girls physically present, so I prepared this PowerPoint. However, it turned out - fortunately I knew about this in advance - that the assembly was given through a tannoy system as the girls were, mostly, in their form rooms.
So, I was introduced to the principal, Sister Maxine, who took me to a ground floor office with a microphone and a restricted view of the courtyard. Sister Maxine led the initial, devotional part of the assembly. At one stage she asked the girls to stand, whereupon there was one enormous great crashing of chairs and tables against the stone floor as the girls complied - and indeed, a small number of girl we could see in the courtyard also stood. I suppose I'm not used to the idea of asking children to do things when you can't see whether they're doing it or not. Sister Maxine's devotional finished with two songs which she led with a most beautiful singing voice, couldn't hear whether the girls sang with her but I found it most worshipful.
Then it was my turn. Aware that my voice would be booming across the campus, I spoke slowly and clearly - which only served, of course, to exaggerate my English (British? Received pronounciation?) accent. Used the structure of the PowerPoint but went easy on the 'Hurrah for her Majesty the Queen' bit. Gave an example of mathematical reasoning that I was able to deduce that Jamaica must be running out of telephone numbers before being told that this story has actually been in the newspapers - full details on request. At the end could hear - but not of course see - applause and cheering, and afterwards was assured I could be understood!
Stayed on for two lessons and learnt a little song for adding algebraic terms to the tune of "Row, row, row your boat":
Same sign, add and keep,
Different sign subtract,
Take the sign of the larger number
Then you'll be exact.
Not convinced that I'll be trying to introduce it to the UK but rather liked it nevertheless! All in all, a great time, hoping to be invited back before I leave.
Back to the University in the afternoon for a session on the interactive whiteboard (IWB) - please see PowerPoint in the resources section. Particularly trying to make the point that, whilst the IWB is great in a number of ways, pretty well every activity I demonstrated could be done some other way, an important message given that many of the teachers there were saying that their schools don't yet have them or have maybe one per school. A great group of students to work with, thanks for listening!