Disasters Learning Log

By definition, ‘a natural disaster is an act of nature of such magnitude as to create a catastrophic situation in which the day-to-day patterns of life are suddenly disrupted and people are plunged into helplessness and suffering, and, as a … Continue reading

By definition, ‘a natural disaster is an act of nature of such magnitude as to create a catastrophic situation in which the day-to-day patterns of life are suddenly disrupted and people are plunged into helplessness and suffering, and, as a result, need food, clothing, shelter, medical and nursing care and other necessities of life, and protection against unfavourable environmental factors and conditions (World Health Organisation, 1971). This in-depth definition covers all bases of a natural disaster and the events that occur as a result. Every year, natural disasters occur throughout the world whether this be extreme flooding in the Philippines, a tsunami on the coasts of Hawaii or a tornado tearing apart the United States. The WHO (2018) estimate that around 90,000 people are killed each year by natural disasters around the world. This is a frightening figure which really hit home with me as I reflected on how lucky myself and the habitants of the United Kingdom really are. The World Health Organisations definition really does cover all bases but other examples of a disaster could be heat waves, droughts, wildfires, landslides or earthquakes. Unfortunately, the list does go on and there are many more adverse disasters that occur through no fault of the world population. As an adult training to be a primary teacher I can see the effect these disasters are having on the world however putting myself into the position of a much younger primary pupil, I struggle to see the bigger picture. Of course, primary pupils understand a natural disaster and what it has done to a specific location however I don’t think they realise the magnitude of the damage left behind and the fact that those in need won’t simply be able to pick up their latest gaming tablet and forget about the world, as their world has quite literally just been turned upside down. Natural disasters are often described as a ‘act of God’ and they are completely out with the control of anyone on this planet. To me, that is the narrowing harsh reality of this theme, there is not much we can do to prevent them as this is the way the world was created, however we can build and develop strategies to try and combat them and reduce the destruction.


I think the key skill that everyone should be aware of in relation to natural disasters is being able to be culturally aware of what is happening around the world. Personally, I take for granted that throughout my life I will never truly experience a natural disaster due to where I live and the environment that is around me. However, across the world there are children experiencing and living through these disasters’ year in, year out of their childhood. I cannot begin to express the hurt that I feel for them and generally this topic and the harsh reality that there isn’t much that I, a young aspiring teacher, can do to help them. After researching not only natural disasters but all of the themes covered, cultural awareness is crucial as we must continually be supporting and praying for our human race around the world and their cultures that are being ripped apart every year. A professional universal skill which I think is crucial to this theme is being research minded. Research and science actively save lives every day. Research into natural disasters and the roots of these would allow governments and communities to plan coherently and effectively to try and minimise the destruction. Of course, disasters often happen overnight with sometimes very little or no warning whatsoever however if we could research and develop strategies that are on standby then we could try and combat the force of natural disasters.


While studying this theme, our cohort was split into groups in which we had to research and present a different natural disaster to the rest of the year. This was such a successful task as it allowed for differing individuals to come together and work as a team but also provide a different viewpoint to the many natural disasters. Forward thinking to my own classroom in the future, I would implement this task in the exact same way. I would allow children to choose and research a natural disaster and then present it to the class in whatever medium suited them. This allows children to be creative and innovative for the benefit of the rest of the children’s learning. This links to the GTCS Standard for Registration 2.1.3 whereby it defines that teachers much be able to ‘demonstrate that they can select creative and imaginative strategies for teaching and learning appropriate to the subject, topic and pupil’s needs.’ It is of course the children choosing their creative method in which they want to present however the class teacher is giving them the autonomy and resources to do so. From a pupil’s perspective I feel they would enjoy this task as children enjoy using their own initiative and creativity to create a project by themselves. If the class teacher then chooses to display this in some form then a sense of pride resonates with the pupils as their hard work and learning is on display for other teachers and children to see. Through the micro-teaching task, I developed my communication and teamworking skills as we had to split our team into different roles and responsibilities. We were all able to use our own initiative while at the same time working towards the common goal and as a team.


Another practical resource that I came across while looking into the theme of natural disasters was experimenting with volcanoes. Volcanoes can quite easily be replicated within a classroom using just baking soda and vinegar. When combined, they form carbonic acid which is very unstable therefore breaks down to create a fizzing or foaming effect which escapes through the eye of the volcano. I think this is a good practical lesson for people to engage with to try and understand the destruction left behind as the ‘foam’ or in real life, the lava, travels down the volcano and through the surrounding communities. This lesson links into the experiences and outcomes within Curriculum for Excellence as it defines that ‘through experimentation, I can identify indicators of chemical reactions having occurred. I can describe ways of controlling the rate of reactions and can relate my findings to the world around me’ (SCN 3-19a, Science Experiences and Outcomes).  This lesson could also be transferable to other curricular areas such as art and design whereby the children could create and design their own volcano in which they will then use for the science experiment.


Reflecting on this theme, it has been the most severe in my opinion due to the human element involved. 90,000 people losing their lives every year is a tragedy and it allows for those not affected to reflect and not take anything for granted. Teaching this within a school could be distressing to some pupils therefore I think I should be treated with caution and if a child is uncomfortable then the teacher must stop the teacher and think of an alternative lesson. It can become quite difficult for a teacher to make such a harrowing topic, like natural disasters, fun and enjoyable for the pupils however with the correct research and planning then it will be effective for all learners.


References and Resources

General Teaching Council for Scotland (2006) Standard for Initial Teacher Education. [Online] Available: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/the-standards/the-standard-for-initial-teacher-education.pdf [Accessed 20 November 2018].


Science Kids (2016) Baking Soda and Vinegar Volcano.[Online] Available: http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/experiments/vinegarvolcano.html [Accessed 20 November 2018].


Scottish Executive (2006) A Curriculum for Excellence: Science Experiences and Outcomes.Edinburgh: Scottish Executive. [Accessed 20 November 2018].


World Health Organisation (1971) Guide to Sanitation in Natural Disasters.(Minister of Health M.Assar). [Online] Available: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/41031/10678_eng.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y [Accessed 19 November 2018].


World Health Organisation (2018) Natural Events.[Online] Available:https://www.who.int/environmental_health+emergencies/natural_events/en [Accessed 19 November 2018].

Energy Learning Log

In a nutshell, energy powers the world. Everything that we do throughout our daily lives from sending a text message to cooking a pizza is powered by a form of energy, whether this be through traditional fossil fuels or new … Continue reading

In a nutshell, energy powers the world. Everything that we do throughout our daily lives from sending a text message to cooking a pizza is powered by a form of energy, whether this be through traditional fossil fuels or new alternative energy sources. My generation of society have been brought up dependent on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas and due to this these scarce resources are running out. Natural historian, David Attenborough, as recent as today claimed that “if we do not take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” I never thought twice about energy and the impending thought of running out of fossil fuels as growing up these things have always just been available whenever I wanted them. This is of course the view of an individual with a good upbringing from a developed country however people around the world do not get the luxury of heating and electricity every day of their lives. While looking at energy within this module, I have gained a vast amount of knowledge in relation to up and coming renewable and alternative energy which is making an increase in recent years. The UK Government conducted research into the use of renewable energy and the general populations thoughts on replacing the average fossil fuel power plants with new technologies. The conclusion to the research was that more than 82% of the UK population back the use of renewable energy in order to provide electricity, fuel and heat. Reflecting on my own use of energy, I have identified ways in which I can combat my own energy use and how to reduce this for the benefit of the world and future generations. Most people think that by one person changing one habit then no difference will be made however if everyone is in the same mindset and every human changes one bad habit for example turning the heating off when you are not at home, there will be a huge positive impact on the world and reserves of these scarce fuels. Looking at the topic of energy and renewable sources from a child’s perspective, it becomes more difficult as like I mentioned previously, these children are brought up to expect power and electricity to charge their gaming tablet or heating to keep them warm at night. However, if we impart wisdom through teaching they can be made more aware of the damage this constant supply is doing to the world but also what it could mean for them growing up and raising their own families.


The most important skill that I have learned throughout this topic would be that I am now more ethically aware and socially responsible as to what my everyday actions are doing to the world. This is a skill that is not just transferrable to teaching however something to be aware of at all times. Everything every human on this planet does, affects the world in some way or another and it is imperative that we are aware of these consequences. Topics such as global warming and fossil fuels are not caused by one individual or one generation or country. Individually, we are contributing to these catastrophes whether we are willing to accept it or not. Being socially aware of how we affect the world and coming to that realisation is the first step to reducing the amount of energy we use and which in turn allows us to be open to newer ideas such as renewable energy.


One of the key roles of primary teachers is to educate and encourage all pupils to be active, critical and responsible citizens within a local, national, international and global context (GTCS, Standard for Initial Teacher Education, 2006). These skills are transferable as if I, the teacher, is socially and ethically aware of my decisions, these will then in turn pass on to my pupils who will begin to develop a sense of ownership as to how they are changing the world. These skills are progressed the entire way through education and can be supported by the ‘.Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes’. Introducing the topic of energy and developments within society through early level, pupils should ‘enjoy playing with and exploring technologies to discover what they can do and how they can help us.’ (TCH 0-01a, Curriculum for Excellence). Progressing this through to second level whereby children should be able to analyse how lifestyles can impact on the environment and Earth’s resources can be able to make suggestions about how to live in a more sustainable way (TCH 2-02a, Curriculum for Excellence). This second level experience and outcome links directly to the generic skill of being socially and ethically aware. At an early age and the entire way through education, children should be encouraged to investigate what they can do live a more sustainable life. Reflecting on my own childhood, as a generation we never got taught about energy and what we could do individually but also we never had such a robust system like Curriculum for Excellence which ensures that all children are reaching these academic milestones. Curriculum for Excellence changes as the country grows and develops and is constantly introducing new topics and experiences and outcomes to ensure that children are engaged with the world and society that they live in. Within a classroom setting a topic such as energy allows for a cross-curricular approach to take place as areas such as science, health and wellbeing, and social studies can be interlinked and students can begin to see how not only the curriculum but also society is interlinked.


Throughout the lectures and workshops for this theme, we were introduced to many resources that enabled us to engage more with the topic such as circuit boards, debating through the topic of wind turbines and solar power energy. These resources could be used within a classroom setting however some may have to be augmented in order for it to suit the age range in question. However, some resources I could see myself using within my own classroom in the future such as building a kite. This straightforward task actually has a lot of learning involved in it as it allows pupils to begin to understand the force of the wine and the mechanics of flight which is a renewable energy source. With guidance and support, I would aim this lesson for first level pupils are the intricate building of the kite may be too difficult for early level pupils.


I would say this theme has had the most impact on me so far as it has allowed me to see how much energy I am using but more importantly how much I am using without realising or actually needing the power. Being a student teacher, I can see the impact that my life choices could have upon my future class and how much I could educate them to change the world. New government initiatives that are coming out now and proposed plans for the future will focus solely on renewable and alternative sources of energy so hopefully the country will take shape as the policies and legislation evolve. I think renewable energy is such an important topic as it allows the human race to live a longer, healthier lifestyle.


Resources & References

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (2017) Energy and Climate Change Public Attitude Tracker.[Online] Available: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/678077/BEIS_Public_Attitudes_Tracker_-_Wave_24_Summary_Report.pdf [Accessed 24 November 2018].


General Teaching Council for Scotland (2006) Standard for Initial Teacher Education. [Online] Available: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/the-standards/the-standard-for-initial-teacher-education.pdf [Accessed 25 November 2018].


McGrath, M. (2018) Sir David Attenborough: Climate change ‘our greatest threat’. BBC News.[Online] 3 December. Available: BBC News. [Accessed 3 December 2018].


Scottish Executive (2006) A Curriculum for Excellence: Technologies Experiences and Outcomes.Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.


Sustainable Development (2017) Technologies in Alternative Energy.[Module Resource] Available: Sustainable Development module on Moodle. [Accessed 29 November 2018].