Sunday, 28 September 2008

Dungeons and Dragons and Key Stage 3 Maths

It sounds like the start of a bad joke doesn't it?

'I say, I say, I say. What do the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons and Key Stage 3 Maths have in common?'

But it's not. It is, in fact, all to do with one teacher's attempts to involve his pupils in the demands of the modern Mathematics curriculum.

I immediately latched onto this article from the TES due to my long-held interest in fantasy gaming (in one of my many authorial guises I write Fighting Fantasy gamebooks and wargaming novels) and it makes for intriguing reading.

My one concern regarding such an approach is that having got hooked on role-playing games, how do you then get your mind out of the dungeon and back into the classroom. And that's just from the teacher's perspective!

What is Myrrh Anyway? Out this week!

Hark, I am the bearer of glad tidings, to you and all your kin. For lo, What is Myrrh Anyway? is out this week!

So that's all your Christmas shopping needs sorted, in one easy to read, easy to wrap book, that's the ideal size to fit inside your Christmas stocking!

What is Myrrh Anyway? hits the shops this Thursday, but you can already order it online at Amazon.

Ho, ho, ho.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

SATs - Stress About Tests

A little controversy for a Tuesday night.

According to last week's TES, an online survey has revealed that many parents believe SATs cause too much stress in children and that they also have little or no confidence in the abilities of their children’s teachers.

Now - putting the SATs thing to one side for a moment - as a teacher and the parent of a child at school, I immediately feel very defensive about such a finding. But the fact remains that many parents do perceive teachers in this way, which is as much a damning comment about the image of education in this country as it is about any particular teacher's ability to do the job.

And certainly exams will always bring with them a certain amount of anxiety but the important thing is to learn to manage this stress. I suspect that some of those parents who think that SATs are too stressful for children are also the ones worrying about how their children will fair and so impose their own anxieties onto their children, making the whole thing a self-fulfilling prophecy.

To read more about this topic click here. To find a simple solution to exam stress, click here, and take with a warm drink at bedtime.

Friday, 12 September 2008

What is Myrrh Anyway?

Much excitement in the Green househould this morning, as my author copies of What is Myrrh Anyway? have arrived. And for what started out as a relatively short stocking filler of a book, it's actually turned out to be quite a weighty little book on the subject of Christmas and its traditions.So if you've always wondered why Christmas Day falls on 25 December (and not the 15 Augcember, for anyone who's seen the new series of Harry and Paul on BBC1), or can't understand why Brussels sprouts are always on the menu for Christmas dinner, then this little Christmas cracker of a book is the one for you.

The book isn't officially published by Icon Books until 2 October, but it is available to pre-order over on Amazon. And you can discover more fun and fascinating facts about the festive season over on the dedicated What is Myrrh Anyway? blog.

Ho, ho, ho.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

The Big Bang: Take 2

This morning, scientists on the Franco-Swiss border will flip the switch on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - a.k.a. The Big Bang Machine - a 12 storey high, 17-mile long underground ring, built at a cost of £5b, buried more than 300ft under the Alpine foothills, where subatomic particles will be accelerated to astonishing speeds and then smashed into each other.

The LHC will blast protons - one of the building blocks of atoms - at a velocity close to the speed of light, generating temperatures of more than a trillion degrees centigrade. Each proton beam will pack as much energy as a Eurostar train travelling at 150 kilometres per hour. The resulting collisions will hopefully replicate conditions found in the moments following the Big Bang - or the beginning of the universe - and scientists will study the fallout. Let's just hope nothing goes wrong!

And if you're worried that man's meddling is going to create a black hole under the Alps which will suck the Earth into it, then have a look at this to help calm your nerves.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Match Wits at the Science Museum

I was at London's Science Museum on Sunday and popped into the branch of Waterstone's that they have there - an occupational hazard when you're a writer. I was very pleased to see that they had The Horror of Howling Hill (my Doctor Who adventure) there among the other DW merchandise, but also Match Wits with the Kids.

There's plenty in the Science section of Match Wits that you can tie to exhibits at the Science Museum, which has many practical models to help demonstrate how things work. There are even links to the History section with the development of the Industrial Revolution.

From the shelves of the museum bookshop it was quite clear that there has been a recent explosion in books about school and schooling aimed at adults, everything from Homework for Grown-Ups to England: 1000 Things You Need to Know.

But if you want one all-encompassing book that takes the subject seriously (whilst presenting it in a light-hearted way), that keeps it up to date and relevant for the modern generation of school-goers as well, then you can't beat Match Wits with the Kids.