Learning from Life


I cannot quite believe that I am back in Scotland. Two months definitely fly when you’re having so much fun. I have had the most amazing time over in the UAE exploring and getting to know all about the culture and the lifestyle there. It really is incredible.

I’ve gone from being a nervous 19-year-old who had never travelled themselves before, to a 19-year-old who now knows to never underestimate my own abilities and the things I am able to do. This placement has taught me a lot about myself and has done wonders for my confidence and initiative in new and unfamiliar situations.

I was lucky enough to work in both an IB school and a British Curriculum school over my 6 weeks of placement. It was so interesting to see a different approach to teaching and witness EAL (English as an Additional Language) teaching in practice alongside the differentiation that comes with it. For me, this showed me that lessons don’t have to involve everyone doing the same task and that we can find so many ways to teach a topic with different activities that meet the needs of all children. EAL was very interesting but also very challenging. For most of my pupils, Arabic is their first language and the language they use whilst at home. Consequently, their understanding of English and certain terminology is lower. When teaching and delivering lessons to groups of pupils, it often became more difficult due to the language barriers. This is where collaborative learning was a MASSIVE help. The pupils were able to translate what I had said into Arabic for some of their peers, which was so beneficial and because embracing the culture is such a big thing in my school, pupils are allowed to communicate using Arabic.

This placement also allowed me to fill a gap in my understanding that had been taunting me for years. Teaching Early Years. We had so many inputs about teaching in the Early Years during semester two of this year however I was still struggling to imagine how learning through play and planning and delivering a curriculum whilst incorporating play would work. I now have a much deeper understanding of how this is done and that although a lot of the day is playing, these experiences are vital and often have academic purposes. This has calmed me down significantly when considering my MA3 placement as I have now seen it in practice and have witnessed how to deal with behaviour, emotional attachment and the planning side to it.

One thing I would say to anyone considering going to the UAE whether it be to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah or any of the other emirates is to go with an open mind. This is something that looking back on my experiences, I wish I had. It is so so easy to be drawn in and form opinions about things based on what other people say. The UAE gets a lot of negativity due to some of their values, laws and culture. However, more often than not, this is blown out of proportion and when you actually spend time getting to know about the culture all these things seem so insignificant. I wish I could go back and tell myself not to have been so worried about what MIGHT happen.

Before I stop rambling, I would like to say that this has been one of the most incredible opportunities and experiences I have ever had. Learning from Life is a great programme and I would recommend going abroad if you ever wanted to. I am so thankful to Julie and Ray who let me stay with them and to all the people I met whilst there who really made my experience amazing. Here are some helpful tips below about the UAE.

  1. Parts of the UAE are very conservative. Try to be respectful when in public places such as malls by covering your knees and shoulders. This is a cultural thing there. At pools, beaches and hotels bikinis/swimsuits are totally fine and shorts and t-shirts can be worn out in public just not in places like the mall or any mosques.
  2. The UAE is slightly more expensive than UK prices but not significantly so. Make sure you check the exchange rate before you go so that you have a rough idea of how much money you are spending! There are loads of things you can do for free!
  3. Brunch – On Fridays in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah they have brunches. This is an experience which I would definitely recommend. You pay around 250 dirhams (£50- £55 this is the alcohol package) for unlimited food and drinks of your choice. The brunch is a great place to see loads of friends and have fun with amazing views.
  4. Although it is scary going to a different country yourself, everyone in the UAE was so welcoming to me so don’t be afraid to go and make friends – I’ve left Ras Al Khaimah with a new best friend!
  5. The metro in Dubai is a massive help. It’s very similar to the Subway in Scotland and gets you from A to B quickly.
  6. During Ramadan, you are not allowed to eat or drink in public places unless you are in a restaurant with covered windows. If planning a trip to the UAE I would take this into consideration as this year Ramadan fell in May and the temperatures were ranging from 35 – 40 degrees.

Some things to do –

  • Dubai Mall – This place is incredible however it is MASSIVE so make sure you give yourself time.
  • Dubai Fountains (situated outside Dubai Mall). The fountains are free and are well worth going to visit. They are also right next to the Burj Khalifa so if you don’t want to spend money going to the top of the Burj, you can see it up close from here.
  • The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is well worth a visit if you are in Abu Dhabi. This is also free and you are free to walk about the mosque. I was mesmerised by the mosque and the attention to detail! (Women will be given an Abaya to wear).
  • Kite Beach – This is a beautiful peaceful beach in Dubai with a view of the Burj Al Arab in the background. Lots of people surf here so it is very cool to see.
  • Ladies Night – Ladies night in the UAE is a way of getting males to come out with their partners by giving ladies a number of free drinks. Again this is a great way to catch up with your friends.

Finally, I have attached a video of my time in the UAE where I visited many of the places mentioned above!

Enjoy and if anyone has any questions feel free to give me a message on Twitter – @UODEdu_Purdie. 




Is Curriculum for Excellence a ‘Sunk Cost Fallacy’?

For the past 8 years, Scotland has functioned on Curriculum for Excellence as a means for educating children. A curriculum that was created with a lot of hard work from government officials over a long period of time. However, many people would argue that the way the curriculum was formed has many flaws. One argument being, there was no communication with teachers until the curriculum had been made. Another argument is that education in Scotland is not as good as it could be and that, Curriculum for Excellence, is failing (BBC, 2017).

Which begs the question.. Could Curriculum for Excellence be a sunken cost?

A sunk cost is defined as something which has had a lot of work, time and money put into it by a company making them reluctant to stop or change it even if it starts to fail (Cambridge University, 2018). Priestley and Humes (2010) discuss Curriculum for Excellence in detail, more specifically the four capacities, what they mean and the general success of the curriculum. After being on placement, I witnessed a lack in cause for the four capacities meaning they were rarely mentioned and children were not aware of them. Priestley and Humes (2010) highlight that the four capacities have the potential to be highly beneficial, however, they currently are not used effectively in schools. Considering the four capacities role in the curriculum and what they stand for, children lacking awareness of them would suggest the way the curriculum is presented is failing as the foundations of the curriculum are not being discussed with pupils. Additionally, Priestley and Humes (2010) focus on the aims of the curriculum and put forward the argument that Curriculum for Excellence is not about the content but more about getting the right results. After experiencing placement, I can understand this argument as although what is learnt is essential. In maths, for example, we do not provide an education that allows children to have a deep understanding of maths, just an education which will enable them to pass a test.

A massive issue in education currently is Maths Anxiety in young children and can be caused by various things – failure, embarrassment or confusion. I believe that the way our curriculum is designed prohibits us from meeting every child’s needs. Realistically, with a curriculum so broad and full, we do not have time to spend ages on one topic to ensure a child understands – so most teachers move on. In terms of Liping Ma’s (2010) theory on the four concepts which make up a profound understanding of fundamental maths, pupils opportunities to experience these is limited due to the extent of the curriculum. Whilst having a wide variety of subject areas is beneficial, a curriculum which has too much crammed into it will result in students feeling stupid and anxious for not understanding a concept. If a child experiences this it can affect their confidence massively, and maths anxiety can start to form (University of Cambridge, 2017). If a child is experiencing Maths Anxiety the effects to their education can be significantly damaging as they will be reluctant to learn. The Scottish curriculum can be restrictive in terms of how we are supposed to teach things that it has the potential to damage the understanding of a child rather than enhance it. Going back to Priestley and Humes (2010) argument about the curriculum only providing what is needed for passing tests, could a lack of fundamental understanding be contributing to Maths Anxiety?. If we only teach children what they need to know to pass, how are they ever going to understand the real processes behind the maths they learn and how to link it to other areas?

The BBC (2017) put forward the idea that the current state of Curriculum for Excellence could potentially widen an already large attainment gap. Looking into this, it becomes clear that the reasoning for this is that due to the curriculum being so busy, we often turn to homework as a resource to try and consolidate any knowledge we couldn’t during class time. However, not every child is lucky enough to be born into a family which can viably support them through their education at home, therefore, causing children in lower classes to fall behind with homework as they do not have the same support system as someone coming from a numeracy rich environment. For these families, they rely solely on the education they receive at school – yet even then it has the potential to be better.

However, it would be unfair to look at this from a biased view and not consider the opposing argument as not all areas are failing. The Scottish Government (2017)  released statistics relating to the achievement of primary school kids in 2016/2017 in the areas of reading, writing and numeracy. These statistics highlight that pupils under Curriculum for Excellence are actually achieving in these areas with the lowest SIMD quantile at 66% for reading and 67% for numeracy highlighting that when we break down the success of the curriculum, whilst it has its flaws it is also providing young learners with an education. However, this could be improved significantly.

So is CfE a sunk cost? Arguably yes. If we consider the practicality of changing a whole curricular area based on this, it just wouldn’t be realistic. The time and money that would be spent re-educating teachers to ensure there was a deep understanding of maths which they could pass on would be significant. Having spent so much on building the curriculum, educating people to teach it and presenting it to children, we are potentially in too deep to change – even when it is failing some children. No child should have to suffer Maths Anxiety as a result of the curriculum and the way it is taught. If we focus more on teaching children the basic ideas involved in the mathematical concepts they are taught, we could then introduce them to how it connects to everyday life and how they can use what they know to solve problems.

To finish, over the next 5 years, the Scottish government have committed to spending around 750 million pounds on closing the attainment gap (Scottish Government, 2016). The government are potentially putting money towards closing a gap in a curriculum which already has its own flaws. I cannot say for sure that it is a sunk cost, but after the lecture we had surrounding sunk costs, this sounds like it has the potential to be one.



BBC. (2017) New curriculum could be ‘disastrous’, says education expert. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-41134835 (Accessed: 24 October 2018).

Cambridge Dictionary. (2018) Sunk Cost Fallacy. Available at: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/sunk-cost-fallacy (Accessed: 24 October 2018).

Ma, L. (2010) Knowing and teaching elementary mathematics. New York: Taylor and Francis.

Priestley, M. and Humes, W. (2010) The development of Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: amnesia and deja vu. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03054980903518951 (Accessed: 24 October 2018).

Scottish Government (2017) Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence Levels 2016/2017. Available at: https://beta.gov.scot/publications/achievement-curriculum-excellence-cfe-levels-2016-17/ (Accessed: 25 October 2018).

Scottish Government. (2016) Making Maths Count. Available at: https://beta.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/report/2016/09/transforming-scotland-maths-positive-nation-final-report-making-maths-count/documents/00505348-pdf/00505348-pdf/govscot:document/ (Accessed: 24 October 2018).

The University of Cambridge. (2017) The relationship between maths anxiety and maths performance. Available at: https://www.cne.psychol.cam.ac.uk/the-relationship-between-maths-anxiety-and-maths-performance (Accessed: 25 October 2018).

Is there a place for old mathematical concepts in modern day maths?

This week we discovered Pascal’s Triangle – a number pattern in the form of a triangle where the numbers above added together give you a value for a new row. Within this number pattern, there are all different kinds of maths intertwined allowing us to explore it further in depth.

However, whilst learning about old mathematical theories and patterns is interesting, is there a place for them in the modern curriculum?

Although many of the theories were created decades ago they are still relevant and are the basis for the knowledge that is vital to understanding maths. Guiness (2003) highlights that whilst this information may have since been updated or expanded, the original idea that formed a mathematical concept could not have been created without this knowledge. Additionally, researchers across the world have concluded that children learn significantly better if they understand why they learn something and not just how (Alexander, 2017). A key CfE principle explored in schools is relevance (Scottish Government, 2010). It is KEY because by explaining and exploring where mathematical concepts come from and connecting it to aspects of the world, we make children’s learning relevant WHICH is more engaging than if this was left out and we begin to lose the ‘when will I ever use this’ line.

For that reason, I would argue that old theories do have a place in the modern curriculum through enhancing understanding.

So how does Pascal’s Triangle and the theory behind it fit into this?

Below is an example of Pascal’s Triangle made up of 12 rows (This can be endless). Each row is a result of the product above it. For example: the third row is made up of the numbers 1 3 3 1 and the fourth row is made up of the numbers 1 4 6 4 1. This is done by adding 1 + 3 to give us 4, 3 + 3 to give us 6 and again 1 + 3 to give us 4. What an interesting concept. However, this is not all the triangle does and this is where we can make an old number pattern and theory relevant to what the current curriculum teaches. After exploring Pascal’s Triangle, it became clear that when broken into smaller pieces it is actually made up of different number patterns.

Parts of Pascal’s triangle, when added together, make up square number patterns. As shown below, 1 + 3 is 4, 3 + 6 is 9, 6 + 10 is 16, 10 + 15 is 25 and so on. Whilst this is not a massive part of the primary curriculum, it shapes a section of secondary maths which is vital. By using basic addition, taught at school we start to create multiple patterns that we were previously oblivious to. Furthermore, a simpler way to argue its relevance in our curriculum is to go back to the basics of how we form the triangle. ADDITION. This is a basic concept taught from the age of 5 which allows pupils and teachers to connect concepts and work out solutions but also enables society to work (Haylock and Thangata, 2007). Teachers who will take on the challenge of teaching about Pascal’s Triangle are teachers who work through the stages of Liping Ma’s (2010) 4 concepts when they take a basic idea, explore it and then connect it to any relative areas in mathematics.

This way of teaching maths, for a child, is so much more intriguing than textbook work. Yet, Robert Floden – dean of the College of Education at Michigan State University (Hartnett, 2016) puts forward an interesting argument about how we are trying to teach maths. He argues that often, when we try to teach maths actively and through games, we actually reduce a child’s learning as they end up carrying on and not actually learning. He believes that by trying to make maths active, children are missing out on fundamental understanding needed to be efficient in areas of maths. Whilst in some cases this may be true, I believe this has more to do with class management and not how we teach maths and for that reason, we should not stop engaging activities. If we set rules around activities, we can reduce the likelihood of bad behaviour when it comes to actually using them.

Boaler (2009) explored two schools who taught maths in very different ways. One school (Amber Hill) taught in a very traditional way. They had goals in the curriculum to meet and stuck to the path to get there. When explored, this type of learning showed that children found it difficult to remember how to do things after a certain amount of time. The other school (Phoenix Park), took a more relaxed approach whereby each concept was explored in a way that could be connected to another making it relevant and enjoyable. The outcome of this was that pupils who had been taught at Phoenix Park had a better understanding of their learning and because of this, they were able to apply it in different situations. This study highlights the point that if we are creative in our ways of teaching maths we open up more opportunities for understanding. By taking basic concepts such as addition and multiplication, we are able to connect these to other aspects of maths such as Pascal’s Triangle and expand our knowledge through our learning. If we were to be influenced by Robert Floden, we would essentially be following the teaching shown at Amber Hill, using a more traditional approach. However, as shown the more traditional approach is not always the most effective approach.

Overall I believe that old mathematical theories and patterns do have a place in our modern day curriculum, however, only when used a specific way. I believe we should use these theories and patterns to enhance maths learning by making it engaging and fun. If we make learning intriguing for children they are less likely to feel negatively towards it.


Alexander, P. (2017) ‘The Relevance of Relevance for Learning and Performance’, Taylor and Francis Online. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.1080/00220973.2017.1380592?scroll=top&needAccess=true (Accessed: 4 October 2018).

Boaler, J. (2009) The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children to Learn and Love Maths.  London: Souvenir Press Ltd.

Guiness, I. (2003) The mathematics of the past: distinguishing its history from our heritage. England: Middlesex University.

Haylock, D. and Thangata, F. (2007) Key concepts in primary mathematics. London: SAGE.

Hartnett, K. (2016) ‘Meet the new math, unlike the old math’, Wired, 10 August 2016. Available at: https://www.wired.com/2016/10/meet-new-math-unlike-old-math/ (Accessed: 4 October 2018).

Scottish Government. (2010) Curriculum for excellence building the curriculum 3 a framework for learning and teaching: key ideas and priorities. Available at: http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/1240/7/0099598_Redacted.pdf (Accessed: 3 October 2018).

Discovering Creativity in Maths

If you had said to me this time last year that today I would be sat in lectures genuinely interested in the small parts that make up mathematical concepts, I would probably have laughed. When I was taught maths, it was just maths. You learnt a concept, did some examples and then were assessed on your understanding.. or memory.

When we were introduced to tessellation, I was so intrigued, yet shocked, at my obliviousness to this concept and the amazing things that can be done with it.This week’s lectures in particular have opened my eyes to the idea that maths is everywhere. In music, in art, in biology and so on.

Tessellation is based around shapes which all join together to create a bigger shape or picture with no gaps. For example, regular shapes such as squares, equilateral triangles and hexagons are perfect for tessellation as all the corners in these shapes have a point which links them together. These are known as regular shapes. On the other hand, irregular shapes such as normal triangles, octagons and circles can still be used in tessellation by changing the properties of the shape. This is done in a cut and paste structure and if done correctly can produce some great pictures and great examples for pupils. Escher was a graphic artist who used shapes, adjusted them and then created new shapes that were in the form of animals or humans. However, in order to understand tessellation children must first be taught the properties of these basic shapes and how to identify irregular or regular shapes. In all areas of maths children must have a profound understanding of the chosen area in order for them to maximise their success.

Haylock (2007) discusses the importance of cross curricular activity throughout school and highlights how vital it is for pupils to be informed of the links between subjects. A geometric multiplication circle is something which we studied this week in Discovering Maths and a tool which would be great to use with pupils in a class who struggle to enjoy maths.

A theorist came up with the idea that by using geometry and times tables, art could be formed in the shape of stars. The process works by having a circle with numbers one through to nine surrounding the circle. By picking a times table such as 6×7 we get 42. This simplified gives us 6 and from there on we can join the dots creating Islamic Art, or as kids would say ‘stars’. This shows the importance of primary school kids being able to take a subject like maths and use their knowledge to enhance their creativity in art. By giving the pupils these opportunities we are taking MA (2010) ideas of basic ideas and inter-connectedness and linking them to other aspects of the curriculum allowing pupils to use their multiplication skills and logic.

By carrying out geometric multiplication circles, pupils are participating in maths without realising they are doing a lot of it. A teacher with a profound understanding for fundamental mathematics would take a topic such as shape, apply the basic ideas of the topic such as the sides and angles, connect it to other areas in maths and as a result expand the child’s overall understanding of maths whilst making it significantly more interesting. These children who have these experiences also have the ability to transfer skills from one area to another enabling them to think and connect all subjects to their mathematical understanding.

Here are some examples of Geometric Multiplication Circles:


Haylock, D. (2007) Key Concepts in teaching primary mathematics. Los Angeles: SAGE.

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

Warner, M. (n/a) Digital Root Patterns. Available at: https://www.teachingideas.co.uk/number-patterns/digital-root-patterns/  (Accessed 27 September 2018).


A Fear of Mathematics

When it came to picking my elective for second year I was extremely hesitant to choose Maths. I thought it would be so interesting, however a part of me could not get over my original fear of maths itself – a fear most people share and have had from a very early age.

As a primary school kid, I went through some states trying to complete my maths homework and failing to understand what it was that I was doing wrong. It would constantly cause arguments with my dad, who was trying to help, because his way of solving a maths problem was different to the way I had been taught. I imagine kids today would look at my way of learning and agree that their way of learning is significantly different too. This is what makes the approach teachers take so important as it can significantly affect the child’s confidence and ability in maths.

Despite this, every time I think of maths I am reminded of those nights spent in tears over my maths homework fearing I had done it wrong. As a training teacher, this is a feeling I hope my pupils never go through. Every day children learn new things and so do adults.

It would be hard to find someone who could honestly say maths hasn’t scared them once in their life because the reality is that everyone has a small fear of it. I believe this can stem from lacking basic knowledge of concepts which therefore inhibits a pupils’ ability to understand how to complete a task. Often, if the topic is broken down into small bits a child will know how to do most of it but because they can’t yet grasp one aspect of it, they say they can’t do maths. This is where it is vital that we provide the support necessary for pupils to develop confidence and understanding in maths. Maths is essential for everyday life and because of this it is vital that we find a way to avoid children fearing it.

The University of Cambridge (2017a) discusses maths anxiety and how it can affect a child. Maths anxiety can affect pupils ability to develop skills in maths as it causes significant fear when the subject is mentioned. There are numerous things that could contribute to math anxiety however a large factor that could cause maths anxiety is that the child has encountered embarrassment and failure within maths so now associates it with fear (Joseph, 2017). The University of Cambridge (2017b) released data showing that if a child has poor maths skills they are more likely to suffer from maths anxiety and if pupils have maths anxiety, their ability to complete maths problems will decrease significantly. I believe that maths anxiety can be avoided or overcome by taking the right approach to teaching maths. Maths can, and should be fun. Instead of associating it with textbooks and texts we should associate it with fun and activity.

As I said at the start of this blog, I was so scared to take this module however after one lecture I soon realised that I was not the only person who had this fear of maths, we learn something new every day and that with the right approach and knowledge, maths doesn’t need to be scary…

Oh, and I learnt what an angle was… at the age of 18.


Joseph, A. (2017) Sciencing. Available at: https://sciencing.com/definition-math-anxiety-5666297.html (Accessed: 14 September 2018).

The University of Cambridge. (2017a) Maths Anxiety. Available at: https://www.cne.psychol.cam.ac.uk/people/themes/ma (Accessed: 14 September 2018).

The University of Cambridge. (2017b) The relationship between maths anxiety and maths performance. Available at: https://www.cne.psychol.cam.ac.uk/the-relationship-between-maths-anxiety-and-maths-performance (Accessed: 14 September 2018).

Scientific Literacy

Explanation of the concept of scientific literacy

Scientific Literacy is the knowledge and understanding of processes in science. It involves pupils being aware of and being able to identify skills and concepts associated with science which allows them to make informed decisions relating to science (National Science Educational Standards). It focuses on giving young people a wider variation of skills and knowledge whilst encouraging them to explore the question of ‘Why’ things happen.

Scientific literacy highlights ways in which we understand how to critically think of the modern world in a way which allows us to be creative whereas science literacy focuses more on embedding facts into pupils and the end result (Maienschein, 1998).

Within schools, scientific literacy is at the centre of the curriculum standards for science as it moves away from the standard science curriculum enhancing understanding and allows us to change the way in which we teach science and thus learn it. Smith (2011) highlight that often science is the first subject which people forget about when they leave school. It is hoped that the progression of scientific literacy will make learning science more interesting and will embed new knowledge and skill into young people so that they can carry on these skills to future learning.

Analysis of an example of where a lack of scientific literacy has led to inaccurate media reporting

Being scientifically illiterate can lead to inaccurate media reporting and have a severely negative effect on society. A famous example of this was Dr Andrew Wakefield’s research (1998) which claimed there was a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. His paper was retracted due to fixed and fraudulent results and other scientific papers have shown no link between the MMR vaccine and autism (Taylor et al., 1998). The supposed link with autism heavily influenced vaccination rates as between 1996 and 2004, rates fell from approximately 92% to 80% despite the target being 95% to stop the spreading of the disease (BBC, 2015). Due to the fall in numbers of people being vaccinated, there were a number of breakouts all over the country. The herd immunity effect was not in place, meaning that since a significant percentage of the population were not vaccinated, the chances of a non- immune individual coming into contact with an infectious individual were increased. This shows the importance of scientific literacy as it can affect society as a whole.

Discussion of how teaching fair testing in school science links to scientific literacy

It is important to conduct fair tests as it is the essential part of doing a good scientifically valuable experiment, ensuring you only change one factor at a time while keeping the rest of the conditions the same (Science Buddies). This is important for us as teachers, that we ensure our pupils are shown the importance of fair testing, so it helps their understanding and development of science literature. Although it is not always the most interesting science experiments it covers the most important aspects of scientific literacy, it is important pupils are taught this to gain skills throughout experience (Fizzics Education). Fair testing gives children an opportunity to be taught in a way to give them a better understanding of what scientific literacy is. It is considered vital as it ultimately gives pupils a better understanding of what scientific literacy is hence why it is important the pupils learn about fair testing.

It is clear to see the importance of scientific literacy being taught through science experiments in school and that they are given a deeper understanding of what they are learning in terms of science. This will allow them to develop their skills and understanding of the basics so they can continue to enhance their understanding of science throughout their school lives. As shown above, if scientific literacy is not present, there can be serious misunderstandings which can cause issues to numerous people in terms of health or perhaps other issues. By teaching about fair testing to children at a young age, this will help them understand why we carry out certain experiments and what their purpose is thus showing us that scientific literacy is vital to a pupils understanding and should be a main focus in schools.

Anna Mcewan, Eilidh Purdie, Robyn Risbridger and Hazel Neill


BBC (2015) Childhood MMR vaccination rates fall. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-34335509 (Accessed: 09 February 2018)

Dhillon, A.P., Thomson, M.A., Harvey, P. and Valentine, A. (1998) ‘RETRACTED: Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children’, The Lancet, Vol.351(9103), pp. 637-641.

Fizzics Education (no date) Available at: https://www.fizzicseducation.com.au/Blog/x_post/Variables–fair-testing-teaching-the-heart-of-science-experiments-00085.html (Accessed: 11 February 2018).

Maienschein, J. (1998). ‘Scientific Literacy’, Science, pp.917. Available at: http://science.sciencemag.org.libezproxy.dundee.ac.uk/content/281/5379/917 (Accessed: 4 February 2018).

National Research Council. (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Science Buddies (no date) Available at: https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/science-fair/doing-a-fair-test-variables-for-beginners (Accessed: 11 February 2018).

Smith, K. (2011). Scientific Literacy Under the Microscope: A Whole School Approach to Science Teaching and Learning. Australia: Sense Publishers.

Taylor, B ; Miller, E ; Farrington, C P ; Petropoulos, M C ; Favot-Mayaud, I ; Li, J ; Waight, P A. (1999) ‘Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association’, Lancet, Vol.353(9169), pp.2026-9

Wakefield, A.J., Murch, S.H., Anthony, A., Linnell, J., Casson, D.M., Malik, M., Berelowitz, M.,


Classroom Organisation

Organisation and Accessibility:

  • Having room for pupils to sit on the carpet in front of the interactive whiteboard can be effective as it gives a teacher the opportunity to join the pupils together and manage their behaviour as they are closer together so easier to see/ control.  Having a clear carpet space is important as if there are tables in the way it may create barriers to pupil’s sight or may influence their behaviour if they are being hidden by an obstacle.
  • Having smaller groups of 4 or 6 to avoid big groups talking and a lot of noise. Additionally, I would have mixed groups to avoid bad behaviour and would have a plan in mind which avoided sitting groups of friends together. This is so that behaviour management can be controlled. In relation to the seating plan, I think it would be good to change it every term so pupils get to sit with other children and develop their communication skills. This would also be a good indication of how certain pupils work together.

Use of Resources:

  • Resources such as; paper, pens, pencils, sharpeners, rulers etc can be located next to the jotters and textbooks. These should be accessible to all pupils and pupils should be encouraged to help themselves to these.
  • Having set places for jotters and finished work means that pupils can access these themselves and there would be no confusion about where to find these. It also encourages them to clean up after themselves and avoids work being lost.

Effective Class Rules and Routines:

  • The basic rules of the class can be located next to the teacher’s desk. This is beneficial to have as it limits confusion over what is acceptable in the classroom.
  • There should be clear routines in terms of going to the toilet at lunch or break and not straight after said times. Additionally, when leaving the class as a group, they should line up quietly in pairs at the door to avoid chaos.
  • Having a morning routine such as having a daily challenge each day whilst the register is being taken can be beneficial as it settles the pupils in the morning and stops them being restless. At this point, the class noise level should be almost silent to make hearing everyone easier.  The curriculum is brought into this as each daily challenge can focus on a certain aspect of the curriculum or consolidating previous learning. At my placement school, the class take lunch orders at the same time as the register and choices are identified by colours which they say in French to practice their languages.
  • On the other hand, it is equally important to have an end of the day routine to ensure all resources are put away and that the classroom is left tidy and ready for the following day.

By having routines and rules, the process of delivering the curriculum is much easier as behaviour will be better and there will be less time spent explaining basic expectations for activities to pupils.

Allocating Activities:

  • I believe it is beneficial to have certain jobs for pupils which change weekly giving them opportunities to be responsible for specific things – this may also help with managing social development.

Display and Presentation:

  • Having photos of the class/ pupils on the door could be a good thing to have in a class as it gives each pupil an identity and supports everyone being the same. It also introduces the class to any new visitors.
  • Current topic displays can be beneficial as they allow pupils to refer back to the basics throughout the course of the topic if they ever need to. It also shows off the skills and abilities of the class which could encourage them to continue to work well – Ethos of Achievement.
  • Having VCOP, French words and timetables throughout the class is good as it gives pupils ideas for words and reminders. Having French words encourages language communication between pupils and works on developing their language ability.

Overall it is extremely clear how important planning and organisation in the classroom is good organisation provides a good foundation for effective lessons and good behaviour management.

Rough Classroom Layout

Lil bit of Science – The process and outcome of The Fizz Inflator

After our first science input we were given the task by Richard to think of, and plan, a small science experiment which we would present to our peers in a ‘teaching’ way. Initially, this scared me as I had no clue what to do but after swiping through Pinterest and Googling a bit I decided what I would plan to do. A Fizz Inflator! If you don’t know what this is, (I didn’t either), it is basically a chemical reaction which occurs when bicarbonate of soda is added to vinegar and then blows up a balloon. Seems straightforward enough…

Not for me… I looked the experiment up numerous times and on a few websites, it said you could either use bicarbonate of soda or baking powder. So off I went to the shop to buy baking powder and vinegar. Wrong Choice. After buying the materials I needed for my experiment I decided to try it out and it is just as well I did. As you can probably guess, it didn’t work and I couldn’t work out why. So, I tried again numerous times because I was so confused. I then decided I would get bicarbonate of soda and try it with that and…IT WORKED!!!! I was ecstatic about this. So, now that the experiment worked it was time to apply it to teaching.

In terms of teaching this, I think I would focus on the Chemical Reaction aspect of the curriculum area and explain that the Vinegar mixed with Bicarbonate Soda creates an acid-base reaction which works to form Carbon Dioxide, a gas and that due to there being no place for the gas to go it then floats up and blows the balloon up. However, I would use the Predict, Observe and Explain process with pupils so that they could think about what might happen and then engage more in their learning.

After carrying out the experiment today in the workshop and reflecting upon the result, I came to the conclusion that it had both good and bad aspects to it. In terms of the good aspects, the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda reacted creating a chemical reaction and blowing the balloon up. However, the flaw in the experiment was that the ratio of vinegar to bicarbonate of soda was not as it should have been as the balloon did not blow up to its full capacity.

I really enjoyed this input and in terms of teaching Science, it has made me much less apprehensive about it as I now know that I don’t need extensive knowledge on the subject in order to be able to teach it and it showed me how to make Science fun in a simple way.

Want to try it yourself? Here’s how:

  • Half cup of vinegar
  • Fill a balloon half full of bicarbonate soda
  • Attach the balloon to a bottle with the vinegar in it and pour the bicarbonate soda into the bottle.

Health and Wellbeing

Dr Suzanne Zeedyk and John Carnochan discussed the topic of brain development in their videos highlighting that when babies are first born their brains are still developing and portrayed the importance of this stage in a child’s life as it enables them to understand how to communicate and respond to other people. In the teaching profession, I believe this is essential knowledge for us to have as it gives us the ability to identify any issues within children’s brain development/ progress which otherwise people wouldn’t know about. It also looked at the importance of doing simple things such as smiling at a child and making eye contact with them when growing up as it helps creates links for relationships. However, it is important to acknowledge that not all children will have experienced this as a child and therefore might struggle to communicate how they feel to a teacher. As a teacher, the importance of making sure resources are accessible for all children of all background is essential.

Moving on, the Sugar Crash video shocked me significantly. I had no existing knowledge about this topic and when watching the video, I realised how damaging sugar can be. Things such as 42 million 5 year olds in Ireland being obese in 2013 is shocking however, it was interesting to see this broken down into what was being consumed. This video, in particular, stresses the fact that whilst something may be ‘low fat’ it can be, and usually is, filled with added sugars. Sugar Crash focussed on the physical and mental development of children consuming so much sugar and highlighted the food and health aspect of Health and Wellbeing and the importance of children acknowledging how fatty foods can be.


Reflection on Semester One 💭

Last semester started off as I imagine most people’s first semester at university does – quiet, shy, lack of confidence and nerves from being thrown into situations out-with your comfort zone. This was something which I really had to work towards overcoming in my first few weeks at university in order to be successful as a learner. It didn’t occur to me at the start of the semester how independent university was and how true the saying ‘you get what you put in’ was. Out of both modules we carried out in first semester, the one which helped me to achieve this the most was the Working Together Module.

Initially, my working together group was awkward and for a while, this limited our progress. On reflection, I believe this can be linked to us not knowing each other or much about the course and everyone having nerves about their first semester (Schön, 1983). However, this was something we had to overcome.  Gradually, as the weeks went on, members of the group started to contribute their ideas more which helped us to have proper discussions about our tasks and complete them to a higher standard. This, in particular, gave me the confidence boost I needed last semester as it enabled me to share my views and opinions without feeling the nerves that I might be judged. This was the most important moment for me from Semester One as it is where, I believe, my professional development started to grow. Throughout the working together module we were strongly advised to peer assess or evaluate the people we were working with. Initially, I found this to be very hard because I didn’t really know any of my peers and didn’t want to criticize them. After a lot of reflecting at the time, I soon realised that it was more beneficial for myself and my peers to be honest and critical of our work as, inevitability, this was how we would be successful and achieve our goals.

I believe we could’ve used our time more effectively rather than assume there wasn’t anything to do and as a result leaving things till last minute. However, I believe that this is something which I would use as a future goal in my learning. This semester has proven to me the importance of being able to critically reflect on my work thus allowing me to understand how to improve my learning.