Category Archives: 2.1 Curriculum

Enquiry and Planning in Social Studies

Following the input about enquiry and planning with children, I decided that I would like to look further into enquiry-based learning and explore the importance for using this learning strategy.

The input started with looking at planning.  We were given a whole-school topic on weather, in which we had to plan activities for each level.  Dinkele (2013) states that planning is key to a successful lesson in social studies. Therefore, when planning the activities that could take place, we kept in mind the progression across each stage and what would need to be taught in early level before the children could progress into first level etc.

The experiences and outcomes that we chose to focus on were:

SOC 0-12a ‘While learning outdoors in differing weathers, I have described and recorded the weather, its effects and how it makes me feel and can relate my recordings to the seasons’

  • At early level, the activities that could take place would focus on identifying weather and learning words to describe the different weather, possibly using songs to do so.

SOC 1-12a ‘By using a range of instruments, I can measure and record the weather and can discuss how weather affects my life.’

  • At first level, now that children would know how to identify and describe weather, the activities could now move towards using instruments to record the weather. For example, making windmills and seeing how fast they spin in the wind and using temperature gauges in the classroom to record the temperature.

SOC 2-12a ‘By comparing my local area with a contrasting area out with Britain, I can investigate the main features of weather and climate, discussing the impact on living things.’

  • At second level, the activities can begin to look out with the local area. The children could research what crops are grown in Scotland and what crops are grown in a different country (i.e. Spain) and then go on to discuss the differences and why these differences may occur.

(Scottish Government, 2009)

First, we need to look at what enquiry-based learning is. Catling and Willy (2009) describe it as encouraging children to ask questions and search for answers. It builds on the children’s prior knowledge, understanding, values, beliefs and preconceptions about the world, develops their curiosity and supports them making sense of the world for themselves (Pickford et al, 2013). Using enquiry-based learning is not about just passing information between a teacher and a learner. It is about using the knowledge children already have about the world, from experiences within and out with school, and using these experiences as a basis to build the child’s learning upon.

Enquiry-based learning is very heavily based on the work of Vygotsky and his theory that knowledge is not transmitted directly from a teacher to pupil; but rather children learning about the world actively (Roberts cited in Catling and Willy, 2009; Dinkele, 2013). Vygotsky theorised that learning and development is first meditated between a child and a more knowledgeable other (in this instance the teacher) which later moves through a process called internalisation (Dimitriadis and Kamberelis, 2016). Vygotsky furthered the theory by explaining that this is not a one-way transmission of knowledge from the teacher to the learner but is an appropriation in which information is taken in to develop new skills in different ways (Dimitriadis and Kamberelis, 2016).

Through the input and wider reading, I feel much more confident with my understanding of enquiry-based learning and certainly more confident with ability to use this learning technique when I go out on placement and when I have a class of my own.


Catling, S. and Willy, T. (2009). Teaching Primary Geography. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Dimitriadis, G. and Kamberelis, G. (2006). Theory for Education. New York: Routledge.

Dinkele, G. (2010) ‘Enquiries and Investigations’ in Scoffham, S. ed., Primary Geography Handbook. Sheffield: Geographical Association. pp 95 – 103.

Hoodless, P., McCreery, E., Bowen, P. and Bermingham, S. (2009). Teaching Humanities in Primary Schools. 2nd Edition. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Pickford, T., Garner, W. and Jackson, E. (2013). Primary Humanities: Learning Through Enquiry. London: Sage Publications.

Scottish Government (2009). Curriculum for Excellence: Social Studies – Experiences and Outcomes. [Online] Education Scotland. Available at: [Accessed 16th October 2018]

Maths in Music

I have never played an instrument in my life or classed myself as musically talented. My brother plays the bagpipes and it amazes me how he can look at the notes and knows what it means. My musical abilities go as far as playing the recorder in primary school. So, when I found out we had a musical input, I was a bit apprehensive with what to expect.

We started off by listing some things that we think link maths and music. We came up with:

  • Rhythm
  • Scale
  • Chords
  • Tuning

It was quite difficult to think of the relations between maths and music without having a musical background, as I did not know but about music anyway. Du Sautoy (2011) said “rhythm depends on arithmetic, harmony draws from basic numerical relationships, and the development of musical themes reflects the world of symmetry and geometry.”

The next thing we looked at was the Fibonacci sequence within music. Having previously looked at the Fibonacci sequence within art, it was interesting to see it appear in music as well.  I have written about the Fibonacci sequence in my last blog post so I won’t go into too much detail in this blog. There are 13 notes in an octave, scale is composed of 8 notes, the 5th and 3rd notes of the scale form the basic ‘root’ chord and are based on whole tone which is 2 steps from the root tone, that is the 1st note of the scale (Meisner, 2014).  This links to the Fibonacci sequence (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13…). A piano keyboard scale goes from C to C with 13 keys, 8 white and 5, also split into groups of 3 and 2.  This 13th note as the octave is essential to computing the frequencies of the other notes (Meisner, 2012).

Here is the piano scale.

We then had a shot playing the instrument ourselves, which at first, I found a bit difficult, but after a few tries, I began to get the hang of. Getting the opportunity to play the instrument allowed me to experience it for myself and improve my understanding of notes and rhythm, which allowed me make connections between maths and music.

Finally, we looked at tuning an instrument. If a guitar is tuned perfectly, the notes that are strummed out are in perfect Fibonacci sequence. This is, however, not the same with a piano. If a piano was tuned in Fibonacci sequence, it would not sound right to the ear. Instead, it has to be tuned with a man made adaption on this sequence. This video does a great job of explaining why a piano cannot be tuned using the Fibonacci sequence.

It was not until taking the discovering maths module that I realised how many different areas maths connects to. This reinforces the ideas of Ma’s (2010) ideas of longitudinal coherence and multiple perspectives. I will take what I have learnt form this module into my practice as a teacher, showing the pupils how maths interconnects with other subjects, whilst creating some cross curricular lessons involving maths, music and art. I thoroughly enjoyed this input as it was practical and I liked getting to have a shot of it for myself.



Du Sautoy, M. (2011). Listen by numbers: music and maths. [Article]. Available at: [Accessed 27th November 2017]

Meisner, G. (2014) Music and the Fibonacci Sequence and Phi. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 27th November 2017]

Minutephysics (2015) Why It’s Impossible to Tune a Piano[Online].  YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 27th November 2017]

Tindal, C. (2017). Maths in Art and The Fibonacci Sequence. [Blog].  Available at: [Accessed 27th November 2017]


Maths in Art and The Fibonacci Sequence

In our input with Anna, we learnt that there are many different aspects of maths within art. It was very interesting to learn about and see for ourselves.

The first activity that we took part in was drawing in the style of Mondrian. Piet Mondrian (1872 – 1944) was one of the founders of the Dutch movement De Sijl (The Art Story, n.d, b). De Stijl was an avant-garde style, that was appropriate to all aspects of modern life, from art to architecture (The Art Story, n.d., a). Mondrian was best known for being simplistic, using lines and rectangles to create his paintings.

Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray, and Blue (1921)

Here is one of Mondrian’s abstract paintings.

I then had a go at drawing my own Mondrian inspired piece of work. I started off by drawing two parallel lines about 9cm apart. I then began to draw lines within the first two lines, both vertically and horizontally, which created rectangles. I then coloured in some of the rectangles that were created and this was the result:

Here is my own interpretation of a Mondrian style of artwork.

The next thing we looked at was the Fibonacci sequence. This sequence starts with 0, and is when the two previous numbers add up to the following number, so it goes: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89…etc. When this sequence is drawn out in squares, it makes spiral, also known as the ‘Golden Ratio’. This video looks at Fibonacci’s sequence and how it is found in nature. It also talks about the golden ratio and its relevance to Fibonacci’s sequence.

The golden ratio is the number 1.618033, also known as phi (Φ). This number is found by the formula  (a+b)/a = a/b . This relates to Fibonacci’s sequence, as ratio of each successive pair of numbers in the sequence approximates Phi (1.618. . .), as 5 divided by 3 is 1.666…, and 8 divided by 5 is 1.60 (Meisner, 2012, b).  Phi was first used by Greek sculptor and mathematician, Phidias (Meisner, 2012, a). It was Euclid that first talked about Phi as taking a line and   separating it into two, in a way that the ratio of the shortest segment to the longest will be the same ratio of the longest to the original line (Bellos, 2010).

The golden ratio was first called the ‘Divine Proportion’ in the 1500’s. Many people believed that by taking measurements of your body, and then using the formula of phi, you were beautiful if the result was 1.60. We had a try at this ourselves by measuring:

  • Distance from the ground to your belly button
  • Distance from your belly button to the top of your head
  • Distance from the ground to your knees
  • Length of your hand
  • Distance from your wrist to your elbow

Then we had to divide:

  • Distance from the ground to your belly button by distance from your belly button to the top of your head
  • Distance from the ground to your belly button by distance from the ground to your knees
  • Distance from your wrist to your elbow by length of your hand

Some of the results i got were 1.7 which is very close to the golden ratio, and others were way off with results of nearly 2.1.

Many Renaissance artists used the golden ratio in their paintings to achieve beauty. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci used it to define all the fundamental proportions of his painting of “The Last Supper,” from the dimensions of the table at which Christ and the disciples sat to the proportions of the walls and windows in the background (Meisner, 2012, a).

Image result for the golden ratio in the last supper da vinci

Here is how Da Vinci has used the golden ratio in two of his most famous paintings.

The golden ratio and Fibonacci’s sequence is also a prominent feature in nature, as mentioned in the video before. Here are some more examples:

Fibonacci’s sequence in the bones of a human hand.

The golden spiral in a hurricane.

Image result for golden spiral in milky way

Even our own galaxy that we live in is made up of  Fibonacci’s sequence.

I found this input incredibly interesting and will definitely be taking what I learned into the classroom. This input has definitely benefited me in not only seeing the link between maths and art, but also with nature, science, and much more. . Moving forward, I can see the possible cross-curricular activities that can be undertaken with maths, linking it with art or science, by creating our own artwork using Fibonacci’s sequence or looking at how plants grow in particular ways that link to the golden ration. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this input and can’t wait to look at it again.



Bello, Alex (2010) Alex’s Adventures in Numberland London: Bloomsbury

Meisner, G. (2012, a). History of the Golden Ratio. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed 24th November 2017].

Meisner, G. (2012, b). What is the Fibonacci Sequence (aka Fibonacci Series)?. [Online]  Available at: [Accessed 24th November 2017].

Memolition. (No Date). Examples Of The Golden Ratio You Can Find In Nature. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 24th November 2017].

Robb, A. (2017) Maths and Art. [PowerPoint Presentation] ED21006: Discovering Mathematics [Accessed 24th November 2017]

The Art Story. (No Date, a). De Stijl Movement, Artists and Major Works. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23rd November 2017].

The Art Story. (No Date, b). Piet Mondrian Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23rd November 2017].

TheJourneyofPurpose (2013) Fibonacci Sequence in Nature [Online].  YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 24th November 2017]

Health and Wellbeing – Relationships

Yesterday, we had a health and wellbeing lecture about relationships. It was very interesting to learn about the kind of relationships children form at each age group and how they change as they grow older. To help further our understanding of the importance of relationships in the early years of a child’s life, we were asked to watch two videos,  one from Suzanne Zeedyk and  one from John Carnochan.


In the video, Zeedyk explains that human babies are born prematurely in comparison to other mammal species. This results in the human babies being born with an undeveloped brain. The brain is left to develop outside of the womb and the environment that the child is in can have a significant impact, positive or negative,on the development of the child’s brain.  The relationship’s that the baby forms in the first few years of its life are vital. The first four years of a child’s life are the most important years and can impact them for the rest of their life.

If a child is living in a household with domestic abuse, then their brain has to develop to cope with the threatening nature of this environment. As a result of this, they are using so much energy looking for their next threat that they can’t concentrate or learn. Carnochan goes onto mention that children need consistency in their lives. They may not be getting this at home in their threatening environment, so going to school can be their one happy place away from their troubles. As a teacher, it is valuable to recognise the importance of making your classroom a fun, safe and welcoming place for every child, especially if it is going to be an escape from their home life. Even children that are not facing difficulties at home need this environment at school.

After watching these two videos, it has made me more aware of the importance of relationships in a young child’s life and the valuable role of teachers if these relationships cannot be formed at home. Seeing how this affects a child’s learning and capabilities, it will allow me to have a wider understanding of every child and why they are acting the way they are. In turn I can accommodate my teaching methods to fit to every child and make them feel happy and safe inside my classroom.