Based on the Curriculum for Excellence Es and Os for talking and listening, I have devised a set of group rules for talking and listening as follows;
I then selected a novel called ‘Holes’ by Louis Sachar to design a lesson activity to meet the outcome LIT 2-07a (“I can show my understanding of what I listen to or watch by responding to literal, inferential, evaluative and other types of questions, and by asking different types of questions of my own.”)
First step was to define the terms for the different types of questions;
- Literal Questions – directly stated in the text
- Inferential Questions – Inderectly stated, induced, or require other information
- Evaluative Questions – Formulate an opinion-based response.
Bearing this in mind when reading the novel I formulated the following questions which would form the core of a lesson on Chapters 1-4, and would include group discussion and mind mapping.
Michelle’s input on language was very engaging and led to me reflecting on my own experiences of learning English. I expect most native speakers like me take this ability for granted, and because the initial processes began so early in life I can’t really remember the actual process. I was also quite literate before attending primary school so have always felt very confident in using language. This instinctive or at least early development of the understanding of how to communicate is marvellous in and of itself, but does not help me analyse the process in terms of teaching it to others. On reflection one of the key aspects is repetition, or practice, along with immersion in real world use of language and exposure to vocabulary, initially with parents/care givers and then broadening out from there.
With reference to children achieving second level outcomes, I would be hoping to observe engagement and confidence in using language, and the ability to summarise, discern between facts and opinion and to explain the purpose of an instance of communication. Bloom’s Taxonomy (represented graphically below) suggests the kind of language to use when assessing learners’ stages.
Another method might be to use ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ tasks, which give teachers an insight into learners’ stages and give their pupils an opportunity for self-assessment, reflection and benchmarking.
As literacy underpins attainment in all other aspects of the curriculum, and therefore one’s role in society, I am a keen exponent and practice what I preach. I read a great deal from a wide variety of sources, both professionally and for pleasure. This is a habit which both my own young children have adopted by osmosis and one which I hope to pass on to young learners in my charge. For if young people can express themselves, communicate and comprehend effectively, then there is no limit to their potential.
My first ICT workshop involved group work using the Zu3D software to create simple stop motion animations such as the one below.
This abstract piece set to Bernstein’s Mambo allowed us to play with the software and hardware to get a feel for the piece and imagine what it would be like from a learner’s perspective. Although we were able to create a satisfying result in under an hour, I still felt the whole experience was very rushed. I would imagine in the classroom, this is something that would need to built up to over time i.e. becoming familiar with the music, learning about the geometric shapes, investigating other animated features etc etc with the animation short forming the quantifiable result of a block of work.
Our second input saw us endeavour to portray a narrative with a ‘claymation’ approach building on our experiences with the Zu3D setup from the previous workshop. I can see how, like in the other Workshops, the scope of the outcomes for learners can be very broad. For example, we were developing not only our ability to engage with and evaluate technology, but also group working, story telling, using our imaginations and fine motor skills and so on. This involved cross-curricular skills such as planning and organising, utilising materials and tools and developing design skills.
Although the end result is terrific and I really enjoyed the Workshop, I still have reservations about using this exact lesson with primary classes. Using my own ability to critically analyse the technology I think there are far too many variables (ageing machines, usb drivers, fragile hardware, updates, glitches etc etc) which might make this unwieldy for a whole class to undertake at once. Perhaps this might be better suited to a lunchtime ‘Animation Club’ or similar with a dedicated workspace and perhaps 6 learners at a time. That said, it was a fascinating session which illustrated very well how simply a fairly professional-looking little movie can be put together :oD.
Despite having no formal training in dance, I have been known to bust some serious moves from time to time on the dancefloor. Until this semester, I hadn’t considered the role of dance within the curriculum, but was pleasantly surprised by how straightforward it will be to integrate it into my practice.
My own experience of dance at Primary School was only really the dreaded annual Scottish Country Dancing session, where not only did one have to keep one’s school uniform on rather than gym kit, but one also had to HOLD HANDS with a GIRL! The arbitrary gender division and partnering was the source of acute embarrassment for some and just getting in the way of what could have potentially been a fantastic game of netball/dodgeball/tig instead for others. The rigidness and tartan-and-shortbread Scottishness of it all did not sit well with me back then (and still doesn’t) and that was pretty much it for me and formal dancing. Until now.
The contrast between what I learnt from Eilidh and what I learnt at school could not have been starker. By that I mean dance is now framed (I believe correctly) as a creative, expressive art, almost the exact opposite of the thinly veiled military drills we learnt as “dance”.
One of the main things I will take from the lesson is the ability for dance to help transcend difficulties with literacy and numeracy; learners who may struggle to express themselves on paper may find that dance will help engage them. The second thing was that very little resources are required – one does not require special equipment or even necessarily a beat to be able to teach and enjoy dance. And finally I am very pleasantly surprised that individuality and creativity are now encouraged and fully supported by the Curriculum for Excellence.
…and this has been especially true of the last couple of weeks! As a (numerically) mature student with no prior experience or family history of University life a new world has been revealed to me. Throughout my life I have worked in a variety of jobs, most recently 16 years as an outdoor educator.
My own experiences at school were a mixed bag. I’m not sure the teachers knew what to do with me. I was a disruptive wee schemie who in a prior generation would have been considered factory fodder. I was academically quite bright and achieved a decent fistful of Highers. In my youthful naivete I assumed this meant I could pursue my ambition of becoming a writer like Conan Doyle or Orwell, taking attic lodgings in Paris or Cambridge, living out my days pontificating and smoking a pipe whilst a nice old lady brought me cups of tea. Nae luck. Turns out that, if anything, I might get to make the tea.
My parents did not understand the concept or intricacies of Further Education (still don’t, bless ’em) and so I left home as I turned 17 and struck out on my own. The inequalities in our society were starkly apparent to me then and an instinctive sense of social justice developed. Various pop culture and political figures became my role models as I tried to lead a worthwhile, compassionate life. This fed my interest in the environmental movement and issues around sustainability, setting me on a course to becoming a Countryside Ranger which has been an enormously fulfilling career. I have been lucky enough to work with a vast range of people from all walks of life and from all over the world who have influenced me in a great many ways. I also discovered that I possess the qualities of a good leader and have the potential to be a great teacher.
Sadly, I don’t have any tales of inspirational teachers who prompted an epiphany regarding my life’s work; rather each day and every experience has incrementally made me the person I am. Observation of and reflecting on my experiences and the examples of behaviour and lifestyle of people I have encountered along the way have helped me reach this point where I can say that I am worthwhile. I have something constructive to offer. I am as good as anyone else and hope that I can set a positive example for and inspire young people to strive to reach their full potential and lead a happy life. :oD