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Monday, May 31, 2010

How would you rate education in your country ?

Are you surprised at how well (or not) your country performs compared to others ?

What do you think makes the difference ?

What would improve your county's standing ?

What issues stand in the way of your nation imporving in terms of educational attainment ?

Is there something in the water in Finland ?

International Education league table from PISA
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment#League_Tables


I could learn to hate triangles

Result of today's scintillating revision.


I could barely keep my eyes open contain my excitement.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nurse Codface

After a phone call from an ambulance at MILs house a couple of weeks ago she has had to be hospitalised for a while.


It is hard to trust a loved one to the tender loving care of a head nurse who insists that if the full time carer we provide can't there 24\7 they can't guarantee that she will be fed.

Despite being a diabetic.

All uttered with what would be a straight face,  had the woman not distorted her visog with so much lip collagen that you have to accept the urge to give a fat lip is somewhat redundant.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

History and geography collide

when you make an interactive map of the ancient civilizations..especially if you are still getting the hang of the zoom tool.

In true obsessive style, we made another revision aid

Friday, May 28, 2010

Are books sprinkled with fairy dust ?

"The disclosure follows the publication of a study that found keeping just 20 books in the home could boost children’s chances of doing well at school. "

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/7763811/Children-more-likely-to-own-a-mobile-phone-than-a-book.html

(If you are bored by my yammering on incessantly about education issues - again - I have a guest post up on the lovely Really Rachel blog, where I swear I don't get all hot and bothered about teaching/schools/learning once)


Books don’t have magic properties.

Their presence does not cast a spell that ensures educational attainment or interest in learning.

The kids of the nouveux who buys them by the meter to fill his “library” will not garner a benefit just cos they are there.

The “magic” is in what the presence of books tends to represent. Parents who value educational attainment, learning, information, thinking, seeking knowledge and “risk taking” in terms of breadth of interests.

For the last few centuries books have been the primary mode of presentation of knowledge, further along the line in the digital age you are likely to be able to measure the same impact on a child’s education, thanks to parental attitude, via a diverse range of non-paper based information sources.

It’s not the books themselves, it is the reason why people have them, that makes the difference.

You can’t buy that. You have to be it.

There are a couple of TEDs that illustrate the tight box we put ourselves in when we attribute "magic properties" to a form of presentation. I don't buy into 100% of the message, 100% of the time for 100% of the kids , no matter how inspirational, but it does highlight how the mystic of books may well be holding educators back from engaging the children of the digital age.

Plus the speaker is really funny so well worth a watch.
 
The first video has subtitles in Italian for anybody interested.



Thursday, May 27, 2010

Not spineless here.

Just knackered after making this....cos we are both bored to tears with flashcards. Click the grey arrow at the bottom to move through the digital revision aid.




oh we are spineless ! Here is one that Son of thor made this morning.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Revise your bum off

Lucky us, our exam date will be in July.

All the schooled kids get tested at the end of the academic year. All of us who have to take the parità exams (some private schools have to have the pupils tested externally) take the exams a month after school is out for the summer.

To avoid everything we have learned falling out of his head without taking away his summer fun at centro estivo I'm making flashcards so we can have daily reviews that keep things fresh without taking up loads of time.

I like this one if it is of any use for anybody else.

http://www.proprofs.com/flashcards/

Here is an example.


and here is another one cos I am showing off now ( :

Computer says "No spik inglish"

500 euros later, new computer, complete with Italian keyboard and Italian OS.

Mega sulk in progress.

But she is pretty.

Even if she "talks" funny.

On the sick computer, after a solid 24 hours of painstakingly reinstalling Vista every couple of hours (with much bad lanaguage) in order to (incredibly slowly) save to a flash key all my stuff, I think I managed to get all the files I really didn't want to lose.

Never again.

 From now on I am uploading to a remote hard drive even if I have to pay for it.

Internet withdrawal and sick hard drive angst, what a combo for a woman currently full to the brim of raging hormones.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Computer Death

Leaves one mourning for lost files, photos and songs.


All suggestions for online storage facilities to avoid future data wakes accepted with gratitude.


Excuse me while I go weep into a soggy tissue.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I am now a very famous person, please form an orderly queue for autographs

Bursting with self importance here.

Yes, I, Blogger of the Year (Home Educating and Pilgrim Infested in Italy category) have been interviewed by Italy Magazine...where I managed to demonstrate just how suitable I am to be solely responsible for my son's education ..... by failing to proofread my answers.

Ahh well

Fame, fame at last !!

http://www.italymag.co.uk/italy-featured/milano/blog-week-home-educate-italy

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

This RAF baby is grounded.

I had no doubt that industry pressure was brought hard to bear in terms of deciding the safe limits within which commercial aircraft could fly while a volcano had an extended belch. And not to a point that was inside my comfort zone.


Read this and went into mega wibble.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/may/11/ryanair-emergency-landing-ash-fears

I grew up on RAF bases, my father was a fighter pilot, one who survived ejection when a German helicopter got in the way, but I've never been that happy about being up in the air in a tin can. I guess bird envy is not genetic.

I don't think it helped that my virgin flight was in my early 20s, direct to Bangkok, to meet the (slightly royal) family that my husband had neglected to inform about our marriage. 16 hours of worrying that I was either going to die as we hit the earth hard, die from being confined for 16 hours solid, or die when his family went ballistic and had me sent to the Tower or something to await execution.

After some thought about how to get home and back as well as manage my newly increased loathing of flying I'm plumping for letting the train take the strain.

You can get to London from Milan with one change in Paris. It's not as cheap as flying, it's not as fast as flying, it's probably not as safe (allegedly) as flying, but it doesn't involved a nose dive from on high if it all goes horribly wrong.

I reckon we can also take advantage of a stop over for one night, so I can show Son of Thor Paris.

The big issues for me now are...

How to keep the DSi charged for an extended period to avoid parental hurling of small child out of train window by hour nine.

Learn a bit of French so some mad taxi driver doesn't end up driving us off to the wrong place during the station transfer.

Manage the panic attack when in the chunnel, imagining some terrorist bomb that thrusts me into a personal version of the Poseidon Adventure, which I really don't think my parents should have let me watch at such an impressionable age.

Build resistance to being internet free for 12 hours without coming out in a rash or going into twitchy, dribbling withdrawal.

Other than that, I feel it is time to bid farewell to SleasyJet, that passport controlling freak of a git at Linate (who always tries to stop me leaving the country with Son of Thor cos he is convinced I am kidnapping the kid from his father) and suitcase angst as I endless weigh my bags hoping that some miraculous diet has taken place which means I can take home all the stuff I have bought without paying through the nose for it.

I am already planning the purchase of some seriously heavy items that have been off limits for the last 15 years.

Tesco's, here I come baby.

Brace yourself darling.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hanging on to your seat ?

To see if parliament is hung, or the Tories are back in again (by skin of teeth) ?
First time in my life where I haven't actually known who I want to win.

Just as well I don't live there anymore or I'd be holding up the queue dithering over my ballot.

One big disadvantage of home education, cannot indulge self in staying up all night to count the Portillo moments, cos have to be up at the normal time to teach.

In an awake and not going "Uhgg, wot ? coffee !" way

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It don't rain unless it pours...

33mm of rain in ..a matter of hours. On top of about 15mm yesterday.

Back garden submergible pump evidently blocked, given the river of water pouring like an ambitious creek from the back garden to the front garden...via the kitchen. Luckily I had moved the Dyson earlier or it would have floated out of the door

Put off any attempt to hoik out pump and unblock cos am holding a screaming child and husband gets off the phone to the pediatrician saying "we have to take him to hospital now, she thinks it's appendicitis"

Turns out it is Papa's fault for buying him chips from the kebab shop. Evidently not hygene freaks there, very nasty tummy upset not appendicitis, he is now fast asleep and a colour approaching just pale rather than grey.

The second he dropped off I waded through the kitchen to the back and managed to get large clump of what looks like a T-shirt that managed to fall down the well (Sock Dropper, famed for leaving clothes lying around, chief suspect) out of the sucky end of back garden pump.

Sweeping water out of the house when not on mini break involving internet based whinge about having a really bad day.

So let's see

Goldie died.
Whiskers got stuck up a tree involving late night dramatic rescue.
House flooded with child looking close to death.

That's three right ?

Not that I'm superstitious or anything.

Touch wood
And left tit
Just in case fate is Italian.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

And you wonder why students cheat in Italy ?

Taken from a primary school teachers' forum, just one example of many that either directly or covertly indicated that in the upcoming INVALSI exams (think SATS), where no external invigilation impeded it, they would be "helping" their students pass the exam.


"Trying in the meantime to respect the rules, but many of our colleagues refuse to even consider it, when the day comes they'll give (dictate ?) the answers. And frankly, I'm beginning to think they might have the right idea."

(cercando nel contempo di rispettare tutte le regole, ma molte nostre colleghe non ci pensano nemmeno,  quando verrà il giorno detteranno le risposte e francamente si comincia a fare strada in me l'idea che forse loro fanno bene.)

Kind of unfair to expect the kids to chose to do the right thing if at school somebody is actively INSTRUCTING them to cheat.

Especially if that person is their own teacher.

EDITED TO ADD...apparently if you have doubts about teachers, inserted hidden webcams seem to be not only allowed, but really rather effective.

http://www.corriere.it/cronache/10_aprile_29/catania-schiaffi-ai-bimbi-maestra-arrestata_6546d924-536d-11df-afe0-00144f02aabe.shtml

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May Day ? Mayday !

Whiskers, Son of Thor's kitten that we found dumped in the woods some months ago, that we defiantly weren't keeping, is now sterilized and slightly less silly. So we have spent the last few weeks introducing him to the great outdoors.

He has been pretty good about staying in the garden, only fell over the wall into next door's garden once. Thankfully just their big dog was out at the time and limited himself to barking furiously. I had to cut down two bay trees to avoid a reoccurrence cos he was up on the wall again five minutes after rescue.

Yesterday evening however, he decided it was unfair that he was the only cat with a curfew and shot out the door when the Sock Dropper finally gave in to my demands that he take the rubbish out.

Four hours later I was wandering up and down the track calling him and banging on a tin of cat food in utter panic, thinking that two animal funerals in the same number of days was more than I could bear and well beyond Son of Thor's misery tolerance.

I found four of my other cats all sitting under the big oak. Looking up with a distinct expression on their collective female faces that said "Well he does still have a penis, so what do you expect ?"

A quick survey of the situation ended with me three meters up ladder, precariously balanced on a rather floppy hedge.

The Sock Dropper was allegedly holding the ladder, but kept letting go to chain smoke (from the stress, cos being on terra firma is soooooooooo much more stressful that being in mid air with a spiky hedge underneath you).

Son of Thor aided operations by running around making loud suggestions about what kind of damage I would sustain if I fell and imploring me to make sure that if I did, it was Whiskers side up.

Half an hour of heart stopping grab attempts later I descended with many puncture wounds and a growly kitten, who only discovered he is afraid of heights after he shot up a huge tree and discovered that he couldn't do the trip in reverse.

Whiskers is grounded. Under house arrest. Inside from 5pm onward come hell or high water.

Cos I can live with rescue attempts.

But not in the dark.


Still, Son of Thor has become really interested in gravity.

Especially the splat factor.

He is mulling over how high I would have had to be for each of the hypothetical gory outcomes he has hypothesized for me.

This is not what I had in mind when I bought into the "The World is Our Classroom !!" deal.

I was thinking more along the lines of happy, clappy slightly smuggy-knickers posts.

I want my money back.

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