1st Year Module Review: Mathematics for Understanding

I throughly enjoyed the Mathematics for Understanding (MfU) module. It was a module that the university call ‘long and thin’ as it runs from September through to March across both terms.

As someone who doesn’t enjoy maths the most, I didn’t think this module was going to be as enjoyable as it turned out to be! The two main lecturers on this module are Carol and Steph, and both the lectures and the workshops are interactive and enjoyable. They would usually involve using resources that are commonly used in primary schools to teach maths such as tens and units or 3D shapes.

This module ran on a Wednesday. In term 1, we were in university between 9 and 12 and then after Christmas we were in university between 9 and 1. Each week, we would have a lecture between 9 and 10 as a whole year group, and then there would be 2 workshops running, but each section of the year group (the year group is split into sections at the start of the year –  Section 1 and Section 2) would only go to one, and then the following week they would attend the workshop that the other section went to. For example, the lecture might be on mental methods for addition and subtraction, and then the 2 workshops might be on measure and symmetry. One week section 1 would go to the measure workshop and section 2 would go to the symmetry workshop, then the following week they would swap.

If you love maths or hate maths, there is something in this module for you. My favourite sessions were the ones on 3D shape, symmetry, history of maths and angles. My least favourite sessions were problem solving and place value/number bases.

In preparation for starting the module, we were advised to buy a book by Robert Haylock and the associated student workbook. For each lecture and workshop there would be pre-reading to complete that would help understanding during the sessions. After the session, you could complete questions from the student workbook to help understanding of the content of the workshop.

Module Assessment 

The assessment for this module takes the form of a non-calculator written exam. It lasts for 2 hours and is split into 2 parts. The first part is 10 questions, worth 20 marks, which assess your personal knowledge and ability in maths. The second section is worth 60 marks and is about learning theory. In this section you could be asked to show 4 ways of calculating 80%, or identify counting principles. Unfortunately, as a result of the coronavirus, no one in my year group sat the final exam so I don’t know what it was like to sit the exam,  but I did feel well prepared for it.

During the year, you are asked to fill in a reflective journal. You don’t have to analyse every session, and no maximum or minimum was given, but if you fail to submit it, 10% is docked from your final grade. I filled it in after every session, as it didn’t take too long, and it helped me to see which areas I would need to spend the most time revising before the exam

1st Year Module Review: Health and Wellbeing for Understanding

I thought I would take some time to review all the modules I have had in first year, sharing all the highs and the lows each module entailed, as well as what form the assessment took place.

The first module I will review is Health and Wellbeing for Understanding (HWBfU). This module took place between September and December on a Monday between 10.30 and 4.30. We had a lecture between 10.30 and 12 as a whole year group before having an hour off for lunch. After lunch, the year group was split in half and we had 2 workshops; one between 1 and 2.30 and the other between 3 and 4.30. One of these workshops usually involved spending time in the gym hall and learning more about how to teach PE sessions.

This module was new for the 2019/2020 session and I thoroughly enjoyed this module. My favourite sessions were the ones about food and nutrition, sleep, use of technology and SHANARRI. As someone who doesn’t enjoy sport very much, my least favourite session was the first one in the gym where we all undertook fitness tests so we could become more knowledgeable about our own levels of fitness.

The aim of the module is primarily focussed on making the student aware of their own health and well-being levels and how the student can improve it.

Module Assessment

The assessment for this module was in two parts. The first component was worth 40% of the overall grade and involved a five minute presentation about holistic health and well-being, factors that can impact HWB and different definitions of HWB and how they differ. We were told you didn’t have to use a traditional PowerPoint, even though I did, as you could also make a poster, make a play or a song or any other creative means of presentation. We didn’t have to present our presentation to an audience, you had to record 5 minutes of audio over the presentation.

The second component was a reflective essay about your own levels of HWB and how you intent to improve before the next HWB related module in BA3. This part was worth 60% of the overall grade. You had to reflect on the module sessions and explain your strengths and weaknesses, how you could identify these strengths and weaknesses and then go on to explain how you would improve them (ie. I only get 5 hours sleep each night and I wake up really tired each morning. My wearable technologies helped me to identify this, as well as guidance from the NHS that states….. In order to feel more refreshed each morning I will go to bed earlier and as a result I will be able to concentrate more at university and my work will be of a better quality)

Placement summary

On Friday 15th May, it was 2 months since I finished placement, so I thought I would take the time to reflect on my overall placement experience.

(I’ve just finished writing this and realised it is quite lengthy – be sure to get comfortable and maybe get a drink before you start!)

This is my experience, not all placement experiences are like this and I consider myself to have been very lucky. I came to university straight after leaving school, which I do not in anyway consider to be detrimental in anyway as I had a wide range of work experience, both in primary and early years settings, during my senior years at school.

My last blog post talks about my experience of the first few serial days. Following this, I completed the last of these days before embarking on my 3 week block placement.

We had tasks to complete during both the serial days and the block placement. These included observations based on the GTCS standards for registration and observations of lessons we saw in mathematics, health and well-being and literacy. We also had to record ourselves telling a story without a book to a small group of children, as this formed part of the assessment for the Situated Communication module. As well as this, we had to co-construct, with our placement partner and our class teacher, a total of 6 lesson plans and my placement partner and I taught 3 each.

When I reflect on my lessons, they definitely got better the more I taught! My first lesson was based on a health and wellbeing experience and outcome about responsibilities at home, which I found was quite a tricky lesson to teach. My 2nd and 3rd lessons were so much better. I taught a literacy lesson on World Book Day about Book Reviews, and I taught a maths lesson about the 5 times table. This lesson had to be my favourite on this placement. The children were in three groups and had three stations to visit: one where they did a multiplication colouring by numbers, one where they had to choose a fact from the 5 times table and work out how many times they would need to draw around their hand in order to have the correct number of fingers to match the answer to the fact (ie 7 x 5 = 35 so in order to get 35 fingers they would gave drawn around their hand 7 times) and the final station wa5 times table competition between the other members of their group. This lesson was my most successful lesson and the class really enjoyed it! When I was at school, I completed my Advanced Higher in French, and I used this to teach 2 French lessons while I was on placement.

My school was a really nice school to be in. It was fairly large, something I had to quickly get used to considering my first primary school only had 37 in the WHOLE school (when I was in P5, there was only 1 child in P1!) but I found that students and staff alike were very friendly and the teachers were supportive. I really enjoyed being in the staffroom, however I wont lie – on the first few serial days and the first couple of days during the block placement I did feel awkward. I found little conversation starters (like the weather, the weekend, what people were eating for lunch, their day etc) were the best for getting to know teachers on the first few days, but it was difficult sometimes but DO NOT GIVE UP! One of the lecturers and the year group head, Rae, had said that the staff room was the best place to learn. And she was right. I learned so many little things in my staff room which I will take forward in my teaching practice!

It is okay to have bad days when on placement, especially when a lesson may not go the way you want it to (I felt like this!) but dont dwell on it – think of what went well and what didnt, then work out (and this is the important bit!) how you will improve next time. We aren’t perfect teachers yet, and we aren’t expected to be!

In terms of workload, I didnt find the workload too much and it was manageable. I do not work at the weekend, but with other uni work/assignments/exam revision etc. I never felt bogged down at all.

I finished my placement on Friday 13th March (unlucky for some!) which was the same day UWS cancelled all face to face teaching as a result of the coronavirus. It is so strange to think that two months ago life was so different compared to how it is now, and completing a placement in a primary school seems so stange now we have social distancing measures!

I thoroughly enjoyed my first placement, and I cant wait to complete my 2nd year placement. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email: b00362939@studentmail.uws.ac.uk

Serial Days Review So Far….

So far, I have been on placement for 3 Thursdays. `I have 2 Thursdays left before I start my 3 week block.

I am really enjoying my time in my school. It is a huge school – something that I am not used to as the primary school I went to only had 36 people in the school and there are just short of 300 in my placement school!

Last week, I read a story to the children called ‘What The Ladybird heard’ which is by Julia Donaldson. They really enjoyed this story as they thought it was funny. I really enjoyed telling it because the children were joining in with the animal sounds.

The children have also been doing lots of maths, literacy and Health and Wellbeing. On the 2nd serial day, I observed a PE lesson where the children were focussing on the different types of rolls in gymnastics. Last week, it was Children’s Mental Health Week, and they were talking about times when they were brave.

I am really enjoying my time on placement, and I can’t believe this is the 4th Thursday!

‘Finding out about others: the skill of questioning’, in Hargie, O. (2011) Skilled Interpersonal Communication: Research, Theory and Practice. 5th Ed. London: Routledge

This was a post session task: to read a chapter from of a book (as stated in the title) and then write a review on the chapter based on given question

The main aim of the chapter is to unpack the topic of question and to help the reader improve their knowledge of the broadness of the topic and the range of questions that can be asked and their effectiveness. Some of the key themes mentioned in the chapter are: the purpose of questions, types of questions, the effectiveness of different types of questions, the suitability of types of questions for different age group and the different contexts where different types of questions may be used

I agree with the point made about recall questions being more appropriate for those at lower ability levels. This is because process questions require more complex thinking skills that some individuals may not have developed yet, so they may find this style of questioning more complex. My view can be supported with evidence from Rubie-Davies from 2007 which is given in the text to back up this claim.

I disagree with the style of questioning used in the example of the 4 year old girl giving evidence in the Old Bailey. This is because it was clear in the example that the type of questioning used was not suited to the girl’s young age and the questions used seemed to be putting words into her mouth. As well as this, she didn’t understand the question and as a result the question wasn’t answered clearly. I can back up why I feel this way with evidence from the chapter where it says “One journalist reporting on this case concluded “There has to be a better system for gaining justice for infants than cross-examination in court” (Anthony, 2008)

There were a couple of words in the passage that I didn’t understand. After looking them up in the dictionary, I understand the meaning of these words to be as follows:

  •  Dyadic – something that exists in two parts
  • Acquiesce –  to accept something reluctantly but without protest
  • Ubiquitous – found everywhere


Situated Communication – Den Building: Post Session Questions

This is the den we built!

Today we we learning about communication in different environments and how our communication methods may change in different situations. In class, we went outside and build dens in random groups and we had to reflect on the task after the session using the headings below.

Group and leadership
My group didn’t really have a main leader as such, but instead we all took on this role as we all had individual strengths and weaknesses which helped us to complete the indivudual elements of the task. By doing this, it meant that no one was excluded and everyone had a role to play. The most challenging part of this task for me was working with people that I hadnt worked with before because I didnt know what their strengths and weaknesses were before starting this task.
The group explained very clearly, meaning I fully under stood the ideas they were coming up with. They explained their ideas by showing me what they were trying to achieve using the resources we had. I feel I was good at explaining the task and the criteria of the den and throughout the time we had I would reflect on whether the den we were building met the given criteria.
We had to speak louder so that we could hear each other over both the natural environment sounds but also the other groups working. When we were outside, I had to talk a bit louder than I would in a classroom environment, and I also found myself getting distracted by the environment, more so than I would in a classroom. To overcome this in an educational class, I could gather the children in an area where they may not be distracted such as in a corner.
Our negotiations were moderately sucessful.  Whilst we gained resources that we required, we lost a member of our team, meaning it took us longer to complete the task. The most challenging part of the negotiation was working out what item we would swap with the other team as we had to quickly work out if giving the item away would hinder our progress in building our den.