Category Archives: 3.4 Prof. Reflection & Commitment

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]

Reflecting Upon the Discovering Mathematics Module

I would just like to take some time to look back on the past three months of this module, reflecting on how my opinions on maths has changed, and how I will moved forward with the experience that I have gained.

Beginning this module back in September, I didn’t fully know what to expect from this module. How much maths was I going to have to do? Would it help my worries about maths and improve the way I thought about it? Would it be beneficial to me as a teacher? There were so many questions that I was thinking.

Overall, I have to say my views about maths has changed dramatically over the past three months. I have gone from thinking that maths is nothing but sums and equations, to believing that maths can be truly fun across a variety of different subjects. As I mentioned in my first blog post about maths anxiety, I always enjoyed maths all the way through primary school, and only lost the excitement for it when I advanced into high school. This was the time when my view on maths changed, believing the myths that you were either good or bad at maths (me believing that I was the latter) and that you could not improve. You were either born with the ability to understand it or not. This took all joy out of maths when I was only learning formulas just to pass tests and exams, but this is not how maths should be.

Leading on from my own experiences of maths, I have always been apprehensive teaching maths in the classroom. If I did not fully understand a mathematical concept, then how can I explain it to learners and make sure they understand it fully? I do not want to be teaching maths the way that I was taught it, using textbooks and doing sums over and over until I ‘understood’ it. Maths should be fun, and not considered as the ‘boring’ subject that may children love to hate. During my placement, I did a lot of maths lessons, as I wanted to push myself to teach a subject I wasn’t 100% comfortable with. Although yes, I did use textbooks and worksheets sometimes, I tried to make many of my lessons practical, to get the children involved in their own learning. I found that the interactive, ‘fun’ lessons were the ones that produced the best engagement.

From this module I have learnt a variety of things.  One being that maths is not a singular subject that stands alone. It interconnects with every subject on the curriculum, and there are countless cross-curricular lessons that could be planned and executed linking maths with other subjects. My eyes have been opened to the fact that maths is in our lives every day, but not how we might expect it. The most interesting topic that has been covered in this module is the Fibonacci sequence and golden ratio. I find it hard to comprehend the fact that this sequence and number (phi) can be found everywhere: music, art, nature, the human body, even the galaxy that we live in. It was so fascinating to learn about and I would definitely love to take time out to learn more about it.

Overall, I feel that my confidence with maths has greatly improved as a result of this module. Seeing the fun side of maths and the many different applications of it has definitely lifted the barrier between maths and I. I will take all I have learnt in the past two months forward with me into practice and hope to use my new-found confidence to dispel the myths that many children believe about maths and show them in fact it can be fun!

Image result for maths is fun

Profound Understanding of Fundamental Mathematics

If someone asked me two months ago what ‘profound understanding of fundamental mathematics’ was, all I could tell you it was something to do with maths. PUFM sounds very confusing and complicated, when in fact it is quite the opposite. Over the course of this module, my understanding of this statement has developed greatly, and I now feel much more confident in my abilities of teaching in a classroom setting.

Ma (2010) defines PUFM as “an understanding of the terrain of fundamental mathematics that Is deep, broad and thorough.” There are four principles in teaching and learning that represent a teachers understanding of fundamental maths in the classroom: interconnectedness, multiple perspectives, basic ideas and longitudinal coherence.

Interconnectedness – 

Ma (2010) defines interconnectedness as when “a teacher with PUFM has a general intention to make connections among mathematical concepts and procedures.” Interconnectedness occurs when the learner is trying to make a connection between the mathematical concepts and procedures. Here, it is the teachers job to stop the learning from being fragmented, and help the students to develop the ability to make links between underlying mathematical concepts, and showing how maths topics rely on each other.

Multiple Perspectives –

“Those who have achieved PUFM appreciate different facets of an idea and various approaches to a solution, as well as their advantages and disadvantages” (Ma, 2010). Multiple perspectives is when a learner can approach mathematical problems in many ways, as they understand the various perspectives when taking on a maths questions, and are able to look at the pros and cons of the different viewpoints. It is the teachers job to provide opportunities for the learners to be able to think flexibly about the thinking and understanding of different concepts in maths.

Basic Ideas –

MA (2010) says that “teachers with PUFM display mathematical attitudes and are particularly aware of the ‘Simple but powerful basic concepts of mathematics’ (e.g. the idea of an equation.”  Basic ideas is a way of thinking about maths in terms of equations. Ma (2010) has suggested that learners should be guided to conduct ‘real’ maths activities rather than just approaching the problem when practising the property of basic ideas. If a teacher is implementing this principle effectively, then they will not only be motivating the learner to approach the maths problems, but will also be providing a guide to for the learners to help them understand the maths themselves.

Longitudinal Coherence –

“Teachers with PUFM are not limited to the knowledge that should be taught in a certain grade; rather they have achieved a fundamental understanding of the whole elementary mathematics curriculum” (Ma, 2010). Longitudinal coherence is when a learner recognises that each basic idea builds on each other. When a learner does not have a limit of knowledge, it is impossible to identify the level or stage that a learner is working at in maths. the learner has instead achieved a holistic understanding of maths (fundamental). A teacher who has a profound understanding of maths is one who can identify the learning that has previously been obtained. The teacher will then lay the fundamental maths as a foundation for learning later on (Ma, 2010).

The four principles are vital to having a deep understanding of maths, especially when teaching the subject. I will make sure I have PUFM before I begin teaching mathematics, as without it, I cannot teach the subject as in depth and as thoroughly as possible.


Ma, L. (2010). Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics. New York: Routledge.

Online Unit 1 – Identifying Skills and Abilities

Improvement is impossible without reflection. Reflection allows you to look back at yourself as a person and see where you are personally and professionally. Reflecting on and identifying your skills and abilities is important as it lets you recognise your strengths and weaknesses. Without knowing these, you wouldn’t be able to advance as a person.

For Activity 1 of the Online Units, I rated my skills and abilities on a scale of 1 (not very well developed) to 3 (very well developed).

Throughout the year, I hope to advance and improve many of my skills, and hopefully gain more confidence within myself and my abilities.

Skills and Abilities 1 2 3
Flexibility   *  
Self Confidence   *  
Self Discipline   *  
Work Under Pressure   *  
Set Personal Goals   *  
Take Risks *    
Share Opinions Confidently   *  
Team work     *
Take Responsibility   *  
Build Social Networks   *  
Manage Time *    
Act as a Leader *    
Negotiation   *  
Make presentations   *  
Listen to Others     *
Debate Formally and Informally   *  
Contribute to Discussions     *
Converse Confidently   *  
Take Notes     *
Write for Academic Purposes   *  
Computing Skills   *  
Be Creative *    
Use Technology   *  
Problem Solve   *  
Generate New Ideas   *  
Work on Own Initiative   *  
Organise and Plan *    
Think Critically   *  
Evaluate Information *  

Why Teaching?

Whenever the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ arose, all I ever thought was a teacher. This has been the case for as long as I can remember. I have always had a passion for helping, encouraging and supporting people, especially with my peers and younger sibling.  I loved to help around the classroom and was especially inspired by a Primary Teacher of my own. She had a great enthusiasm for teaching and always made the lessons fun and interesting. She showed me what learning should be all about.

My real love for teaching, however, didn’t develop until I began work experience in my 3rd year of High School. My first placement was at the Primary School that I had went to as a child. Seeing how the children learnt and developed in such a short space of time was amazing to me. There was such a joy and pleasure spread by the children when they achieved something or overcame an obstacle. The children were also incredibly sweet, caring and easy to develop a bond with; something that can be hard to find in another occupation.

I also volunteered at a holiday club at a school during the Easter Holidays. We worked with the kids to decide the activities that would be taking place that day. I loved working with the kids to make decisions rather than just telling them as it made them feel more independent. It was such a fun experience and made my love for teaching grow even more.