Tuesday, 16 January 2018

A few Changes

Sunday evening after a long weekend and by long, I mean that there was a lot to do and it seems to have lasted a long time.  I am trying to make some changes.  For example, I am going to try to stop watching or using a screen an hour and a half before bedtime.  I didn't manage it last night because I went to see the Last Jedi and didn't get in till nearly 11 pm.  However, tonight I do plan to stop watching TV and writing here by 8 and I would like to be in bed no later than 9:30.  I have also decided to stop eating in the evenings by 6 or 6:30 and then not to have breakfast till 12 hours later.  I've managed that tonight and am sure that I will tomorrow morning so this is a start.

So, it is 8:00 and I will stop here for tonight.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

It's been a while

Yes, it certainly has been a while.  Not that I haven't been writing but nothing systematic and in one place.  I've written academic pieces relating to education; I've written about the work I've done or planned on doing for my classes and I have written in a diary.  It's all over the place.  I am considering making this blog private since I'm not sure if I want others reading it any more.  I am also considering trying to turn the blog into a editable document and then deleting the blog from the internet.  We shall see.  I find it easier to type my journals than to hand write them, though I do have a written journal in a book entitled Alexandre Dumas, just in case anyone ever decides to look for it among my possessions when I shuffle off. 

I am looking at how I want to improve my life at the moment.  I need to work harder or more consistently at sorting out my medical needs - my diabetes, my aches in my knee and the big toe of my right foot and my right upper arm.  I swam today and that was a mistake for my arm.  Back stroke is not good when you have tendinitis...if that is in fact what it is.  I am trying to carry my bike only with my left arm and I have switched my bed around so that I sleep on my left side instead of my right.  Time will tell if that helps.  What didn't help, was falling off my bike just before Christmas.  At least my left leg is better now.  Hopefully my arm will be soon as well.  I sound as if I am falling apart, don't I.

I also want to work on my diet.  I had tried to eat only within a 12 to 10 hour period.  That fell by the way fairly quickly because of eating with the family.  I am going to have to plan better now.  I also would like to improve my quality of sleep.  It is obviously so important and in order to maintain my quality of life and my ability to continue teaching and writing, I need to ensure that I sleep well.  I haven't been because of my arm, the cats and the need to go to the bathroom more than anyone should need to.  I have booted the cats out at night, changed my bed around and have found that I don't wake as often, if at all, and thus don't need to go to the bathroom.  Now I just need to stop my screen time 90 minutes before bed and try and read from 8:00 till 9:30 each evening, or work on my Latin.

Finally, I am going to write every day.  Let's see what happens!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Never Did Finish the Second Round of 28daysofwriting

And no, I never did!  However, I am about to start my trip across the states and I will easily be writing most days.  There may be time between blogs but that will only be because I am on the road and where there is no wifi.

I have talked about the itinerary before but here it is again!  I fly to Toronto and spend two nights, I then take a train to Windsor, cross the border to Detroit, and take Amtrak to Ann Arbor where I am going to stay with a former colleague for a few days.  After that, it's back on the train to Chicago and then down to Kansas City.  I'm there for 3 days and then off again on Amtrak to Reno, Nevada.  I'll be there for nearly 2 weeks and then I do the final leg on Amtrak to San Francisco before flying back to Canada.

Along the way, I'll visit friends and former colleagues, read books set in the cities and towns I'm visiting, listen to my music and study a bit of Latin.  I am really looking forward to this!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Back Again!

(I hadn't meant to take this much of a break from writing during the better part of April.  It just seemed to happen that way.  First I was in Taipei, then I was coping with jet lag (which didn't make me sleepy tired by destroyed my cognitive abilities), and finally we arrive at this week! )

So, #28daysofwriting round 2 post 16!  My, my March has gone on a long time!

I hadn't meant to talk about Taipei in my #28daysofwriting posts but my slow debrief (if that is the right word) after my visit, has led me to some observations.  One in particular jumps out at me since we are in the lead up to a general election.  In 2012, the voter turn out in Taiwan was over 76%.  For presidential election in 2000, it was 82%.  In the UK, it was 65%.  In 2001, it was 59%.

I've been pondering what conclusions to draw from this.  I did notice that Taiwan's voter turnout has generally been on the increase, especially since the death of Chiang Kai-shek.  The voter turnout in western countries such as the UK, the United States, Canada and France, have gone from high turn out in the 50s and 60s to ever increasing lows.

When I was in Taipei, a lady I met talked about life under the nationalist Chinese and Chiang Kai-shek and compared it to the North Korea of today.  Since people have been able to vote freely and had options other than the one party, they have taken to democracy whole heartedly!  Do we need a few years of a dictatorship to shake off our lethargy and indifference, (and I do talk here of the west as a whole and not the UK in particular), and make us realise the value and importance of our democratic freedoms.

Oh dear, I do sound as if I am beating a drum here.  I don't mean to.  Furthermore, I do understand how this could have happened.  Slowly the major parties have been merging and at one point during the labour government under Tony Blair, Labour seemed more conservative than the conservatives.

Scotland seemed this fall to have rediscovered enthusiasm for the democratic process and I do envy them the excitement that seems to have been generated.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Post 15 part 2 of #28daysofwriting: Taiwan and First Impressions!

I did wonder at one point if I would ever take off from Heathrow and then later, whether or not I would ever get off the plane.  Having said that, I did take off and I did land, first at Bangkok, and then finally at Taiwan, oh so many hours later.  I had decided before leaving that I would have a device-less flight and instead read a book or do some writing.  Well, that plan fell apart before we ever got off the ground and after a two hour delay, all I wanted to do was sleep once I got on board.  I packed 3 books in my backpack...well I was on a 17 hour flight!  I will take a lesson from this and not take so many books when I go to North America.  Why didn't you take a mobile device, I hear you say.  Well, as I said, I wanted to go without my I-pad and truth be told, I much prefer physical books!  I learned another lesson from this flight as well.  The next time I fly a long distance, I am going to spend the money for a more comfortable seat.

Enough of the flight!  Despite the delay in London, we arrived only an hour or so late in Taiwan. As we drove from the airport to Taipei, I couldn't help comparing the city with many I have seen in the US, except of course, for the Chinese-English signs.    There were wide highways and sweeping overpasses.  The traffic sped along and then emptied into the wide treed, city boulevards. At intersections, the stoplights counted down, often as much as 90 seconds, giving pedestrians plenty of time to cross. Western shops lined the streets, many of them high end designer labels, interspersed with local ones and on every corner, or so it seemed, a 7 Eleven. I was later to discover that 7 Elevens are so much more in Taiwan than their counter parts in the US but that for a later post.

And then my taxi started to climb, up through the ever narrowing streets.  I had no idea till this point that Taipei is surrounded by mountains and that my daughter lived part way up one of them.  The taxi took a sharp turn, dipped down a narrow road and crossing a bridge, we arrived at the entrance to the complex of appartment buildings where I was to stay.  Even though it was dark, the street lights revealed a mass of white bricked buildings with red tiled rooves and over hangs.  It wasn't beautiful but it was impressive. And standing outside one of them was Emma.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Farewell 28daysofwriting!

I have not been very good in my second round of 28daysofwriting at keeping up with things.  Now that I am on the Easter half term break and heading off to Taipei, there is even less likelihood that I will.  However, when I come back I will have plenty of tales to tell of my travels!  Best wishes to all for a good and restful break.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Post 15 Round 2 of #28daysofwriting: Note taking and summarising: The Continuing Saga!

I don't know if this post really counts in 28 days of writing since I have been working on it for days, it seems.  Certainly I will have spent more than 28 minutes on it once I have finished!

Note taking and summarising: The Continuing Saga!

Having come to the conclusion that we must somehow (somewhere, sometime) start to teach summary skills, the obvious place to start would be in the English classroom.  However, we would also have opportunities to hone these skills in various other curriculum areas where students are required to read non-fiction texts and take notes for research.  At my school, I would suggest that humanities and science would be ideal subject areas in which to start.  Students do a lot of research projects in both these subjects.  The trick now is to come up with activities which teachers will not find too time consuming (i.e. which take time away from their subject matter)  and which appear beneficial, in a timely fashion.  If it takes a school year before students are showing progress, I think that would discourage teachers.

The first article I looked at is a pdf entitled, Summarizing Strategies, and is well work downloading. In 24 pages, it offers background information, strategies, teaching activities and a good bibliography. I haven't 'digested' it all yet but will and hope to comment further at a later date.

On the first page, the article mentions a site for teachers of history (any humanities subject really) to assist them in helping students with reading comprehension in such a content and reading heavy subject.  The information appears to be secondary school related though I am sure that some of it could be adapted.  I will definitely be suggesting this site to my humanities department.  Again, a further analysis of the site will come at a later date.

And finally (for today anyway), though written in 1988, Teaching Students to Summarize offers a good explanation of summary skills, the importance of developing these skills, how they develop, what teachers can do, and the importance of starting early.

The more I read, the more I am convinced that summary skills are overlooked in the curriculum of my school and that they are vitally important to help students understand the texts they are reading and take notes from them.