Saturday, 13 June 2009

Fabulous flu graphic in yesterday's Times

This caught my eye yesterday (someone was reading it at the newspaper stand in Waitrose, Abingdon, and it looked so interesting I just had to buy the paper).

The good news is it is also available as a PDF file from the Times web site where you can also read the related report: 'Britain is braced for mass school closures in the autumn'.

It's ideal for displaying on an interactive whiteboard and also prints out very clearly onto an A4 sheet. There's so much to absorb that it's hard to know where to look first...

but remember the great thing about PDF files is that you can zoom into particular bits. Once you have got the area you want to see lined up in the window (see screenshot, below left) you can print just the 'current view' onto an A4 sheet to make an instant worksheet (see screenshot of the Adobe Acrobat print dialogue box below right - you can click on this screen shot to zoom in if needed).

Unfortunately a) it's almost the end of term and b) I'm teaching E1-2 at the moment so I don't think I'm going to get a chance to use the graphic in class. BUT if you do and want to share your ideas please leave a blog comment or email me via

Here's just a few starter ideas (for L1-L2) using the enlarged part of the graphic shown above:

Pictograms - look at the pictogram and read the surrounding text.

  1. How many doses of flu vaccine does each syringe represent?
  2. Why are there 12 syringes in the pictogram?
  3. Explain why there are only 10 anti-viral drug icons.

For more ideas on using newspaper graphics in numeracy classes have a look at my Guardian Eyewitness - numeracy resource for film lovers post of last July.

Swine flu - literacy resources galore

In light of yesterday's news about the now pandemic status of swine flu anything that helps to spread accurate information and advice can only be a good thing.

So, unsurprisingly, swine flu resources are very popular on thisAdd Image month (overtaken only by the Susan Boyle and Diversity resources!).

The latest, a set of 10 L1-L2 multiple choice reading comprehension questions (contributed by Elaine Slingsby) based on the Official UK Government leaflet, will be added to the site later today. (See large picture, right).

A further two resources (pictures below left and middle) have been available for the past month. One gives general teaching ideas for using the official leaflet with E2-L1 readers (3600 downloads since May 5th) and the second, contributed by Pam Benfold (Victoria, Australia), is a set of web research questions for L1-L2 learners (2100 downloads since May 10th).

I have also been informed of a useful simplified version of the UK leaflet (picture, above right) which looks ideal for reading work with E1-E2 learners (please note this is an ‘unoffical translation’). It's on a fascinating site, Simply Understand, run by Corinne Pritchard whose aim in life is to get rid of 'gobblydegook and jargon'.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

What's in a Name?

A regular site user (thanks Ruth) has alerted me to the news that the DIUS (Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills) is no longer

Further and higher education are now grouped with business under the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (headed by Lord Mandelson).

Ruth points out that just in this century the name has changed from the DfEE (Department for Education and Employment) to the DfES (Department for Education and Skills, 2001) to the DIUS (2007) and now to the DBIS. Previous to 1995 the name remained unchanged for 30 years (Department of Education and Science, 1964-1995).

She goes on to comment:
“The way it goes is: when it isn't working, change the name!”

Having just emerged from a year of heavy Harvard referencing (whilst studying for the Level 5 Numeracy Diploma) I have also noticed all these name changes. They were particularly evident in the references used in my first essay (The History and Developing Role of Mathematics / Numeracy) and my final presentation (Changes in the Mathematics / Numeracy Curriculum).

I will be sharing many of these references with site users later in the summer when I intend to set up a new section of Level 5 Numeracy links. These will mirror the existing Level 4-5 Literacy Links section I set up after my literacy studies in 2004-5.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Site down due to server problems - not available, not running ...

Apologies to all site users but the site has been down all day. I have no idea when it will be available again but fingers crossed it will be up and running soon.
The problem is with my hosting company 4U Hosting (4UH Ltd) and is out of my control. It does happen occasionally although not normally for such a long period of time.
Please excuse the strange repetitive nature of my English but I am trying to include as many 'down' / 'not running' / 'unavailable' synonyms as possible in this post so that site users typing 'skillsworkshop down' or 'skillsworkshop not running' or 'skillsworkshop not working' will find this blog in their Google search results.
Please don't email me on my email to tell me as that is down too! You can, however, send messages via this blog.