Category Archives: 2 Prof. Knowledge & Understanding

Maths has changed my thinking…

Maths has never really been a huge problem for me. In primary school, I was in the ‘top’ group and from what I remember, I generally only struggled with fractions and trial and error questions. My only issue was that if I were to get a question incorrect, I would feel as if I had failed and I hated the embarrassment of being handed my work back to correct (however, this was not specific to maths, it was a personal thing with almost everything). I remember I would try to be the third finished in the class (straight after my two best friends). I would never try to be the first or second, as I knew I would never overtake them in my academic abilities. I was a complete visual learner and still had to write out my times-tables on the side of my page when working out a problem. In fact, I think I would still do it now.

My favourite part of maths was probably symmetry, because I was one of the first to understand it and it was a fun topic, as I enjoyed art/drawing. My teacher used boards with stick out parts and elastic bands for one lesson and would make one side of the board a complicated shape with the elastic bands and I would have to replicate the other. I enjoyed this most probably because I was better at it than my two best friends who would usually overtake me and outshine me in reaching potential.

In high school, it was a big change. I started off in the top maths class but then in third year was moved to the 3rd class. When I asked my teacher about it, he admitted there had been some sort of mistake and would sort it. However, he failed to do this even after asking him again, so I assumed I was supposed to be in this class. All of my friends were in the top 2 classes and I supposed I felt a bit crushed they would be enjoying their class without me. As time went on, I began to hate maths. Before, I didn’t mind it, but the teacher I had was belittling and only wanted to talk about her favourite animal (polar bears – btw). The work was almost too easy for me and I would be finished a considerable amount of time before everyone else, so I would sit bored for about 20 minutes of the lesson while my teacher went around every individual, attempting to help them but eventually just getting frustrated asking, “how can you not understand this?”. She was small but probably one of the scariest teachers I know.

For me, as an upcoming teacher, there is every chance I will try to encourage active learning in maths, and not intimidate my pupils by putting them on the spot and expecting them to know every answer possible. Reflecting through this blog post on my personal experiences has allowed me to realise the type of teacher I would like to be, not just in maths, but in general. I want to engage and be an enthusiast about everything possible to entice my class, to make sure they are enjoying their lessons, and enjoy coming to school!

Drama TDT – Bringing a lesson to life.

Drama may be stereotypically presumed as a group of people on stage following a script and acting it out. However, drama in the curriculum is rather diverse, and focusses more on the simple elements, such as understanding body language and emotions. Drama has also been said to enhance other areas in the curriculum (Woolland, 2010, p41), for example, health and wellbeing. For me, children generally expressing themselves is very important as it contributes well to our mental health. Participating in drama could also potentially increase confidence as children can present their work in front of others. This can also encourage meeting CfE outcome EXA 2-01a: I have experienced the energy and excitement of presenting/performing for audiences and being part of an audience for other people’s presentations/performances.

Within the video, “Teaching Drama: A Structured Approach”, the drama facilitators had a clear structure to their lesson. They found that having a warm up, exploring some drama conventions, then having an evaluation discussion at the end was an effective way to teach children drama. They also had an “agreement” of “3 C’s” (communication, cooperation and concentration) and included a stimulus of photographs at the beginning to get ideas flowing. Some of the drama conventions used were still image/freeze frame, visualisation, soundscape and bodyscaping. The structure used conveys to work very well, the point in the warm up is to encourage decision making and physical activity. The stimulus is used to develop ideas and the drama conventions are great ways to explore different elements of drama. They also allow questions to develop and open up the discussion more. Lastly, evaluation of what the children have learned in the session is a good way to not only recap on their learning, but also to let the children calm down after such a physical, exciting lesson. The lesson as a whole meets a variety of the Es and Os, including EXA 2-12a, 2-13a and 2-14a.

Assessing children through drama can be done in a variety of ways. Firstly, looking at their spacial awareness and body movements around others can be an indicator that the child understands that in order to present, we must have the appropriate space and be aware of our surroundings. Other things to look at can be:

  • Facial expressions
  • Eye contact
  • Emotions
  • Atmosphere
  • Context
  • Roles taken on

Also, it may not be a bad idea to let children assess one another, after all, it is simply peer learning and assessment, just as we would use in the classroom. It lets children get a better understanding when they watch another child who is maybe doing a different facial expression or body position which is more appropriate to the context, which can inspire a change of their previous thought.

Drama is a great way for children to express themselves, can be applied to other areas of the curriculum, and can also help gain more confidence in children’s performance and expressive arts. If we could teach history though interactive learning, for example, acting out an important historic event, why shouldn’t we? It can promote and enhance learning if children are out of their seats and getting creative and involved instead of sitting on seats listening to the teacher talking, resulting in a better classroom atmosphere for all.

 

References:

TeachFind. (2006). Teaching Drama: A Structured Approach. [online]. Available at: http://archive.teachfind.com/ttv/www.teachers.tv/videos/ks1-ks2-drama-teaching-drama-a-structured-approach.html [Accessed 22 January 2019]

Woolland, B. (2010). Teaching Primary Drama. Ebooks Corporation.

Language and Literacy Reflection

Regarding primary school, there are a variety of moments I can remember of learning the skills of reading, writing, listening and talking. In most of these memories, I vaguely recall of having to sit in a circle with my reading group (which was divided into levels) and take turns in reading out parts of the book. In primary one, the books we would focus on were the “Biff, Chip and Kipper” books. Inside, the pages were mostly filled by a large photo, with a sentence of about 4 or 5 words along the bottom of the page in a large font. I also remember in primary one having to practice our handwriting with joined letters and ‘finger spaces’. I slightly remember the orange covers on the reading books in primary seven with a picture placed in the centre. I also remember in primary 7 we read Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as a class. From around primary three, I remember having to do spelling tests, SRA and ‘listening assessment’ type activities frequently, although the SRA was usually brought out as punishment (in primary and secondary) which is probably why I have negative connotations towards it. We also took part in “ERIC” (Everyone Reading In Class) after lunch, sometimes to calm the class down after lunchtime excitement, as well as to encourage the class to read books more.

I remember from around primary five that I was in the ‘most able’ groups in literacy and numeracy. I think if I wasn’t, this would have affected my confidence and would have restricted me from putting in effort to improve, as I would have felt unable to do any work to a decent standard. I feared peer assessment with the embarrassment of getting something wrong and my peers knowing this.

As I got older and transitioned into secondary school, I continued to gain quality marks and I began to enjoy reading. This continued to improve my literacy skills and I began to feel more confident with my writing. I left school with an A at higher English, and if I were to have tried, I could have completed advance higher with the help of an English teacher who very much believed I could’ve gained a good mark in the exam. I began advance higher, but shortly after dropped the subject when in my first essay I was disappointed by a low mark when the rest of the class achieved better. Instead of comparing myself to them, a part of me wish I listened to my teacher who told me not to be disheartened as I was still learning and there was still plenty of time to improve. As true as this was, when Shakespeare was introduced, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I loathed Shakespeare. I simply couldn’t understand any of his work. I dropped it immediately, to the disappointment of my teacher. I still remember on my last day of sixth year while going around to get my shirt signed, said teacher and another colleague of hers who had me in S5 (for higher) mentioned that I should consider going to University to study English.

In S1, I have faint memories of learning some ‘tricks’ for Standard English. There were in relation to the differences between ‘to’ and ‘too’, ‘there’, ‘they’re’ and ‘their’, and why English isn’t spelled the way we say things (due to accents and dialect!). I enjoyed reading short novels and learning about critically analysing pieces of work, as well as writing my own. The only thing I didn’t enjoy when I was younger was solo talks. Being shy and reserved affected me greatly when it came to using my talking skills to present something to my fellow classmates.

I am very thankful for the teachers who have taken the time to develop my language and literacy skills, I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. My parents were also a huge help – even though they don’t enjoy literacy themselves. When getting homework, they would try their utter best to help me complete it, from writing short poems on ladybirds (thank you mum) to simply going through my letters and sounds with me (thank you dad)!

Dance can be for Everyone!

A rush of anxiety flowed through me at a velocious pace when I heard our workshop was going to be on dance. I stereotypically pictured a dance workshop with mirrored walls and a choreographed routine that we would have to memorise and repeat. I recalled on memories from school where I was a hesitant child and didn’t enjoy joining in on active sessions or expressive arts, unless it was art such as painting and drawing. However, I persisted and rid the negative thoughts and memories from school, and went into the workshop with an open mind.

After the workshop, I was surprised and overwhelmed by how much I actually enjoyed it! It especially made me realise that everyone can dance, and it doesn’t have to be a strict routine where only those who are fluent in dance are able to greatly participate. With being a shy child, I wasn’t one to express myself through things such as dance, or generally any exercise, so taking part in the workshop was a significant step for me in my self confidence, and not just in my studies.

I have found that dancing is a great way for children to release anxiety and gain confidence which can contribute to other areas of the curriculum, not just the expressive arts. It can encourage critical thinking in children which they can apply to things such as their maths problems or creative writing, for example. If I were to use the lesson plan kindly given by Eilidh Slattery, I would be certain that children were working together in teams, thinking about sequencing and creating solutions to problems. All of these skills can be applied to other areas of the curriculum as well as in every day life. I haven’t realised until now the affect these types of activities can have on children, as these are well needed skills which are being taught through dance.

After reading ‘Get Scotland Dancing’, a Scottish Government policy by Creative Scotland, I gained a better understanding as to why we have to get more people dancing. Key findings from the Scottish Health Survey reported that although 70-72% of children under 10 meet the Recommended Physical Activity (RPA), this figure reduces to 50% as the children progress into teenagers (age 13-15). The RPA for children is 60 minutes of physical activity per day. Some schools can only stretch in an hour a week for a PE session, which can be considered unacceptable, as in this generation, a lot of children are going home to play on their online devices and therefore are less likely to be playing actively outdoors. Get Scotland Dancing managed to achieve 546 dance events (and 74,636 participants!) with 448 of those events being over Scotland. With how important exercise and keeping active is, I’d like to think this was a great achievement.

I chuckled at the title of, “What? Me? Teach Dance?” by Russell-Bowie (2013), as I felt it was fitting to myself. With having no dance background, I found this article interesting to read, with its conclusions being that nationality backgrounds may play a fair part in teachers’ abilities and willingness to teach dance. In South Africa, participants were much more confident in teaching dance to their classes and strongly agreed/agreed that they had a stronger background in dance compared to those from Western countries. This was because they have been raised around dance from birth and it is a cultural thing for them to take part in. 34% of all participants said they did not enjoy or feel confident teaching dance, and only 20% said they felt they had at least a “good” dance background. If we continue to increasingly teach dance in the UK, wouldn’t we gradually find it more accepting and enjoyable to teach?

Through the workshop, I have been shown that dance can certainly be for everyone. I would like to go into schools with this attitude to show the children who are as shy as I was, that dance can be fun and refreshing! All it takes is some effort and an open mind, and the best thing to do is to give it a go and join in! It does not have to be a complicated, hard-to-remember sequence or a daunting performance, but just an enjoyable, creative lesson and routine for children to express themselves, and to give an opportunity to work on different skills and abilities. I am particularly glad that I had the chance to take part in this workshop, as it was very insightful, and I now feel a great amount more confident with teaching the expressive art of dance.

References:

Creative Scotland. (2014). Get Scotland Dancing: A Literature Review[online]. Scottish Government. Available at: https://www.creativescotland.com/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/26149/GSDLitReviewv2.pdf (Accessed on: 12 January 2019)

Creative Scotland: Get Scotland Dancing, 2014. Phase Two. Evaluation Report. [online]. Scottish Government. Available at: https://www.creativescotland.com/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/31626/Get-Scotland-Dancing-Phase-2-Evaluation-Report.pdf (Accessed on: 12 January 2019)

Russell-Bowie, Deirdre, E. (2013). What? Me? Teach Dance? Background and confidence of primary preservice teachers in dance education across five countries. Research in Dance Education. V(14.3). P216-232.