Category Archives: 2.1 Curriculum

Using Film in History.

Building enthusiasm within your classroom is important if you are to ensure engagement from pupils in their learning. The curriculum for excellence: building the curriculum 4 documents that using enthusiasm and motivation for learning enable young people to become successful learners (Scottish Government, 2009a). A good way to hook pupils at the start of a topic is to make use of media such as television and film. More often than not, the first cultural experience children will have will be through TV and video (BFI Education, 2013). For many young people, they look forward to going home after a day at school to engage in some sort of entertainment media such as gaming or a movie (The Tech-Wise Family, 2017). Therefore, incorporating film into lessons helps to bridge the gap between home and school.  Additionally, it is exciting for pupils to do something they will perceive as fun,  I can guarantee you will receive a high level of engagement as soon as you even mention a video! That is why it is important we, as teachers, make use of such media to engage young people in history and to provide information at a level they understand.

For our social studies TDT, we were to choose a film that could be used for teaching a historical subject and devise some suitable learning outcomes and activities for an upper stage class. I decided to choose the diary of Anne Frank, which aired on the BBC in 2009 as a series of 5 episodes whereby the well-known diaries were adapted for television (The Diary of Anne Frank, 2009). I chose this because I remember watching it when I was in primary 7 myself, it wasn’t to do with anything I was learning in primary school, it was merely out of interest and I remember really enjoying watching the programme.

I thought it would be great to use in an upper stages class as an introduction to a topic on world war two that would focus on the holocaust. This could be linked with the experience and outcome “I can discuss why people and events from a particular time in the past were important, placing them within a historical sequence” (Scottish Government, 2009b). These diaries that had come to life in the form of a accessible TV programme would be great for engaging children in the topic and aiding their knowledge and understanding. It can often be hard for young children to comprehend such events that seem so distant and show no relevance to their lives, however these sort programmes allow children to use a medium such as TV which they understand and are familiar with to relate to the story of Anne Frank and develop their understanding as to why the holocaust is a tragedy for humanity (Lello, 1980). The use of voice-over allows the thoughts and feelings of Anne to be empathised with whilst we watch scenes unfold showing what it was like to be in hiding. The use of media would enable emotional effects, allowing the pupils to feel a part of the learning.

In terms of activities, I thought it would be a good idea for the pupils to write a letter to Anne Frank as one of the other characters in the programme. This will enable a more real learning experience and they will be able to draw on their knowledge and understanding to ask questions. Farmer (2015) suggests drama can provide young people with a purpose to their writing, this sort of meaningful context can enable improvement in writing skills as well as understanding of historical events. We would be able to discuss their letters and come up with possible responses, using the diary extracts to get into the role of Anne Frank to enable us to really understand her thoughts and feelings during that time. There are many famous quotes from her diary which can be used in a classroom to promote higher order thinking skills, allowing them to critically analyse her words – do they agree or disagree? Are what she discusses relevant to our society? The curriculum for excellence cites the importance of teachers promoting the development of higher order thinking skills (Scottish Government, 2009). There are so many ways you can take this topic but one way could be to get young people really thinking about what they would ideally like in their society, what is a perfect world? And what are our hopes and aspirations? Anne’s dreams for her life are often mentioned throughout the diaries and it can help put a positive spin on a sad ending, looking at what our dreams are as a class. Another great way to aid pupils understanding would be to play the programme as the pupils have their eyes closed, this enables them to focus on her words as she describes the situation so they can imagine it themselves and feel as if they are there. Following on from this, the class can then go on to look at the holocaust as a whole and being able to see where Anne Frank’s story fits in with the timeline of events. In terms of learning outcomes, learners will have developed knowledge of the story of Anne Frank and developed an initial understanding into the Holocaust, as well as begun developing skills such as chronology, capacity for critical thinking, enquiry – asking questions, empathy and historical imagination (Hoodless 2008; Scottish Government, 2009c).

Whilst the programmes are very thought provoking, they can be emotional to watch and could potentially upset some young people, however it is important time in our history which aids pupils’ understanding of the world we live in, for example, why we have the Holocaust Memorial Day. Additionally, it demonstrates the power of writing and how it can be used to enable us to understand someone else’s perspective. This is just one example of how film can be used to make history come alive and provide a meaningful learning experience for young people.

“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”

Anne Frank

Reference List

BFI Education. (2013). Look Again! A teaching guide to using film and television with three- to eleven-year-olds. London: Department for Education and Skills.

Farmer, D. (2015). Drama For Writing. [online] Drama Resource. Available at: [Accessed 24 Oct. 2018].

Hoodless, P. (2008). Teaching History in Primary Schools. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Lello, J. (1980). The Concept of Time, the Teaching of History, and School Organization. The History Teacher, 13(3), p.341. Doi: 10.2307/491674.

The Diary of Anne Frank (2009). BBC One Television, 5 January.

Scottish Government (2009a). Curriculum for Excellence, Building the Curriculum 4: skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.

Scottish Government. (2009b). Social Studies: Experiences and Outcomes. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.

Scottish Government. (2009c). Social Studies: Principles and Practice. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.

The Tech-Wise Family (2017). How Teens Spend Their After-School Hours. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24th Oct. 2018].


The Importance of Health & Wellbeing.

Health and Wellbeing is becoming more and more prominent in the Scottish curriculum and is strongly embedded across all the curricular areas. Curriculum for Excellence aims to ensure that all children and young people in Scotland develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they will need if they are to flourish in life, learning and work, now and in the future. With Scots dying younger than in any other part of the UK (2010 Scottish Health Survey) and over two thirds of adults and one third of children classified as overweight, the Scottish Government has established a National Indicator to reduce the rate of increase in the proportion of children with their BMI out with a healthy range by 2018.  As children learn through all of their experiences, it is important that learning about health and wellbeing is embedded in the learning experiences of children from a very early age.

With childhood obesity rising at an astonishingly scary rate, I believe it is very important for children not just to do sport and exercise but to also have a very strong knowledge of how to be healthy in terms of food and their overall lifestyle. If this is taught from the early years they will grow up knowing how to be healthy and look after themselves properly. This will hopefully help with weight problems such as diabetes.

As a result of this, there are now 3 central strands to the curriculum that all teachers are expected to teach whatever the stage of development. These are: literacy, numeracy and health & wellbeing. I think it’s amazing that health & wellbeing is now being recognised as just as important as literacy and numeracy. It may have taken a while but it shows the public that the Government is aware of the increasing problem and is actively trying to solve the problem at the root through education.

Whilst it is essential to raise physical activity in children, it’s also essential to develop a good knowledge and respect for mental health. Mental health problems are becoming more of an issue in today’s society. With the number of suicides increasing each year, it makes complete sense to me that children should be taught about mental health from a young age. Being aware will allow them to not only help others but to help themselves if they ever have to tell with traumatic life experiences which can have a damaging affect on mental health.

Finally, I strongly believe food technology should be taught more in primary school nationwide. Many children may not have a stable home and therefore will not have a role model who can demonstrate healthy eating to them. By the end of primary school, I would hope that children can prepare simple healthy food and drink and also be able to discuss the journeys of food from producer to consumer. As a result, children should have established lifelong healthy eating plans.

Overall, as a teacher I would hope to make full advantage of health & wellbeing across the curriculum as I strongly believe it is central to children living a long and healthy life from the beginning.

Scientific Literacy

Within our society we are bombarded daily with various claims and stories about the impact of science on our world. These can range from global warming and medical advances all the way to the food we eat. When we have knowledge and understanding about scientific processes and larger concepts we can then hopefully approach this information in an informed manner. If we grasp the concept of scientific literacy we can question the world around us. The idea of scientific literacy is basically being educated as to how science moulds the world. This can hold great cultural, social and personal importance. The skills that are developed when we analyse and critique scientific information are transferable. Scientific knowledge then becomes a very observational, experiential, logical and somewhat sceptical way of knowing. This enables people to ask questions and find answers. If we are to be fed “facts” by the media it is with scientific literacy that we can decide whether to take them at face value or delve further for answers. This also grants us the tools to reach conclusions through fair debate and applicable evidence.

Scientific literacy is very important as not having it can lead to misunderstandings. This happens a great deal with media reporting when the journalist didn’t have a good level of scientific literacy and writes a report which spreads incorrect information to the public, this can often have a very negative impact. An example of this is the report which claimed there was a link between the MMR vaccine and ASD, which has now been proven wrong. However this report was picked up by the media and they spread hysteria across the country over whether or not it was safe to vaccinate children. In 1998 BBC news published an article titled ‘Child vaccine linked to autism’ the Telegraph also published an article in 2007 which restarted the concern over the vaccines claiming there was a ‘New fear over MMR link with rising autism.’ This panic meant that hundreds of children were not vaccinated which could have been avoided by ensuring people have a good level of scientific literacy. Scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity. It also includes specific types of abilities.

A “fair test” refers to an experiment that is carefully controlled to ensure that the information gathered is reliable. In science, it is an experiment conducted in a manner so that it does not provide any advantages to any of the conditions or subjects being tested. To insure that your experiment is a fair test, you must change only one factor at a time while keeping all other conditions the same. Scientists call the changing factors in an experiment ‘variables’. For example, imagine we are wanting to test which toy car is the fastest while going down a sloping ramp. If we gently release the first car, but give the second car a push start, this is not a fair test! This is because we gave the second car an unfair advantage by pushing it to start. The only thing that should change between the two tests is the car. To ensure a fair test, we should start them both down the same ramp in exactly the same way.

Reference List

BBC (no date) Home. Available at: (Accessed: 7 February 2016).

The telegraph – telegraph online, daily telegraph, Sunday Telegraph (no date). Available at: (Accessed: 10 February 2016).

The national academies press (no date). Available at: (Accessed: 14 February 2016).

Oxford dictionaries (no date) in Oxford Dictionary. Available at: (Accessed: 13 February 2016).

Ailsa Mackie, Polly Ford, Rebecca Muir & Rebecca Birrell

Drama Llama.

Drama has always been a good hobby of mine. Growing up, I was part of a theatre company were every year we would put on a show in the local theatre. However, it wasn’t part of our school curriculum until you chose to do at standard grade. I felt this was a real shame as personally I think drama can do great things for a child’s confidence and self-esteem. It allows you to express yourself in a form of acting and generally many will find it quite enjoyable pretending to be someone else and leaving the real you behind at the edge of the stage. Additionally, drama allows a child to understand different ways of communicating and expressing your feelings, e.g. through body language, tone, etc.

After my first drama input, I definitely felt more confident to teach drama as it had been a while since I had done it myself but brought back my childhood love from drama. The TDT we were given was all about reflecting on the structure of a drama lesson with the stimulus being this video:

This video, was all about teaching the teachers how to structure a lesson for drama as this is essential for a successful lesson. The lesson is structured through stages, the first one being an agreement were there is a discussion between the teacher and the pupils about a set of rules that will be put in place for the drama lessons which should help with behaviour as it easy for the class to get over-excited with fun, practical lessons! I found the 3 C’s to be a great idea as any problems that may occur during the lesson will be down either communication, cooperation or concentration. This keeps it simple but effective to ensure the children are aware and compliant. Next was a warm-up which helps to differentiate between play and learning especially as it’s different from there usual maths or literacy lesson. It also incorporates teamwork which will get them engaged physical but also mentally. Following on from that, they were talking about creating a focus using a stimulus such as picture which helps the children to develop their ideas through talking with one another. The development section, is all about building up how to create a drama bit by bit. They are also creating a visual scene here which gives a child something to focus on and engage in by creating sounds themselves. Performance is an important stage as this is the finished product and will be what drives the children to actually get to that point. Evaluation is the last stage which enables the children to differentiate what they have learnt from what they already knew so they can see a purpose to the lesson they just participated in. Additionally, it allows them to calm down after an energetic lesson.

There are many benefits to come from structuring a lesson in this way. Throughout, the stages were based on how to keep the children focused and engaged in what they’re doing so they don’t get too off task, especially with practical lessons being quite exciting for them. Drama was presented in a very simple manner, it wasn’t one big scary play but it was broken down into little bits for the children to easily grasp and allow them to build on their performing. One curriculum for excellence experience and outcome I think is being addressed in this video is: “Inspired by a range of stimuli, I can express and communicate my ideas, thoughts and feelings through drama. EXA 0-13a / EXA 1-13a / EXA 2-13a”. As this structure was using stimuli to get them developing their ideas and then expressing them through use of voice, etc.
Additionally, there was an emphasise on how drama can be used cross curricular. For example, one teacher gave an example of how she could have used it in her class that very day as their topic was fairy tales. Personally, I think the children would find it really enjoyable to re-enact their own world war 2 rather than just reading about it or doing a presentation on it. It allows them to really get a grasp on how children similar to them must have been feeling and this would hopefully strengthen their understanding.

How The Cat Stole The Fish.

Creating a short clip using animation about how a cat stole a fish is certainly not what I expected to be doing in my first ICT input! However, it did introduce me to teaching ICT in a enjoyable, innovative and creative way. It did take it us a whole hour just to make a 20 second clip but working in a team and finding out exactly how to make an animation is something I very much enjoyed.

Teaching ICT in primary school is growing increasingly important as we are living in an expediential world where we are heavily reliant on digital technology. I can remember being at primary school and getting a 1 hour slot each week for ICT and that was it. We would spend our time learning to use Word, PowerPoint, etc. nothing nearly as innovative as animation. I don’t understand why, however, as children would love to learn about animation! Growing up I watched Wallace & Gromit which is an animation comedy series that still remains popular. In this respect children should be able to relate to animation as they may have tried Pivot themselves at home or watched Wallace & Gromit on television.

Pivot is a great way to introduce children to animation as with the right support from a teacher, they will easily pick up on the basic skills needed to create your own animation. Even if it’s just a few clips that tell a very short story, its a start and something they can grow on at home if they gain a real interest for animation. Through creating their very own animation on Zu3D in a group they can gain valuable teamwork skills.

Animation isn’t something that is widely taught in primary schools as some teachers may lack the knowledge or confidence needed. However, it shouldn’t be something teachers are afraid to do, as I learnt that it is a relatively easy task to implement in the classroom. Additionally it can be found in the Experiences and Outcomes for Technologies under stage 4: “I can use features of software to create my own animation which can then be used to create an animated sequence. TCH 4-09c”

Unfortunately, there are various barriers that teachers may face within the primary school. For example, if they are only given a short amount of time in the ICT suite a week, it can be very difficult to be able to fully educate pupils in animation. However, even if it’s just for a short period of time they can learn to use Pivot gradually throughout the year. Additionally, it could potentially be done in the classroom where there is one computer which would allow small groups to rotate using the computer each week to create their own short animation using Zu3D with the help of their teacher. This way, pupils will be able to slowly progress with their animation skills and gain the confidence and knowledge to explore animation more in their own time if they wish to do so. Furthermore, a simple and fun homework task to get them engaged could be to create their own animation booklet using just a paper and pen.

Animation is a great way to enhance a child’s creative skills in a fun and interactive way. There may be barriers that can prevent some schools from doing so, however, it’s always worth going the extra mile for the greater good of a child’s learning. After this input on animation, I feel I have the confidence to expand my knowledge in the topic which will hopefully make use of a child’s vast imagination in an innovative way.

Planet Earth.

From my experience with primary school, I only have a few vague memories of science lessons which we were given from external educators. There was much more emphasise on subjects like maths and literacy which we would spend most of our time on daily. This makes it all the more surprising that I had a real passion for science at high school. Not necessarily physics but I really enjoyed chemistry and biology. Growing up, I wasn’t religious at all and never felt the need to follow a religion. However, I did believe in science and was deeply interested in the vast variety of topics that all stemmed from science. I would frequently question myself about why things happened and how.

Planet Earth incorporates: biodiversity and interdependence; energy sources and sustainability; processes of the planet and space. Following our first science input, I’ve decided to focus on biodiversity after watching BBC’s planet earth which sparked an interest for the variety of life in the world.

My SMART Targets:

Specific: I will plan a lesson for a primary 4 class on biodiversity which involves Planet Earth and meet the criteria for SCN 1-02a.

Measurable: I will create a lesson plan – 2 pages A4

Achievable:  I will discuss my idea with peers and research the topic area through the internet and the resources the university has to offer. Additionally, I will visit Edinburgh Zoo for added expertise on the topic and any fun facts I can gather.

Relevant: Children tend to be quite interested in animals. Some may have seen documentaries on the BBC such as Planet Earth and Natural World which are educational and enjoyable.

Timed: I will complete the research element by the end of my placement observation block.

I aim to meet this target to enable my knowledge of science to expand as it is such a vast area. Although it is impossible to know everything, doing this will hopefully prepare myself more for future science lessons I will give.