Community blog

Community

When preparing myself for this volunteer work, I pondered upon where to go to complete it. After searching in my local area for something suitable, I thought staying close to home and volunteering at something that directly effects my community would be the best option. Less than a mile from my home is where my local church is located, as a church they hold multiple community project and events to serve the surrounding area. On a Thursday evening, the church holds a community kids club called ‘Basement club’ (as it is held in the downstairs of the church that is nicknamed ‘the basement’) where children for the local community can come to enjoy games, activities and socialise with other children their age. Many of the children who attend are from deprived backgrounds and having a safe space to attend a free club, I think is a wonderful thing. At the club the leaders (who are all church members) plan the evening usually with a theme or message at the centre eg. friendship or honesty. This provides some purpose to each night instead of just letting the children run wild for a couple of hours.

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of children who attended and the enthusiasm of parents for ‘basement club’, in recent years church has lost its image and some may think it no longer holds purpose or importance within our society.  I was encouraged by the work that this church does to serve it’s community, from having a deaf social group to a mens bowling group and even a large toddler play group. This is the case in churches around our country, they focus on serving and bringing communities together, I now think that churches play a key role in communities but the way they contribute is different to the past. (BBC bitesize, 2019)

The people who live around this church recognise the work that goes on and this reflects on the attendance and that parents are keen for the children to attend ‘basement club’. I found volunteering at ‘basement club’ a fun and enjoyable experience, especially as I was interacting with children in a different way that I am used to as a student teacher. I led a few of the games and this was well received by the children and even the adults took part too.

From this experience, I have become aware of the importance that small community clubs like ‘basement club’ hold within our communities. Children were able to enjoy interacting with new people and be in a safe and secure place, I had noted that parents appreciate the fact that the club is free and that the leaders give up their free time. The community are appreciative of and value this club, it brings children a sense of belonging where they can socialise and have fun.

Through volunteering at ‘basement club’, I was able exercise the use of my leadership, collaborative and communication skills, I did this through leading games and volunteering alongside other leaders. Moreover, I have become aware of some attributes that I used but feel I could develop further these being; listening skills,  being more enthusiastic and being able to improvise. I believe that by developing these particular attributes it will benefit me as a teacher and allow me to educate children in the best way possible. As a whole, to volunteer at a club like this some skills I recognised that are required are; communication, collaboration, leadership, listening and decision-making. These are all key to ensure the club is run smoothly , effectively and provides and enjoyable experience for the children.

Prior to attending ‘basement club’ I was unaware of the impact similar clubs/groups have on our communities. They provide a service that benefits many and give opportunity for social links and bonds to be made between people connected to the group. I have also realised how beneficial it can be for a child to take part in clubs out with the school setting, it allows them to connect with different people and make them feel part of a community other than school. This particular club has children from deprived backgrounds attend, having a free club that is child-centred is important for these children. They feel supported and safe when they are there and they can feel part of something thing, for more deprived families it can be difficult to let their children take part in expensive hobbies or clubs, but this club serves for them.

When reflecting upon my experience, I recalled the prior work we covered in our Sustainable development module that concerned rights.

article 31 (leisure, play and culture)Every child has the right to relax, play and take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities.

(UNCRC,n.d)

This article highlights how we should allow children to experience play and other leisure activities. I believe that at ‘basement club’ this right is at the focus and the children who attend are reaping the benefits of sharing that time of leisure together.

References

  • UNCRC. (n.d). A summary of the un convention on the rights of the child. [online] Available at: https://downloads.unicef.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/UNCRC_summary-1_1.pdf?_ga=2.101876993.1869046368.1574806956-1895018062.1574806956 [Accessed 26th Nov. 2019].
  • BBC Bitesize. (2019). Role of the Church in contemporary society [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zvgp47h/revision/1 [Accessed 26 Nov. 2019].

Energy

Energy

Everything that happens in this world requires energy, so this topic is more than relevant to be taught in the classroom. Energy is never destroyed but is transferred, we are constantly taking part in this energy cycle too through the heat our body makes, the CO2 we produce, the food we consume and many other things. I found this video that I think we be useful in a classroom as is simplifies what energy is:

As an energy source, we are dependant upon fossil fuels, this use of fossil fuels is damaging to our environment and these resources will not last forever. This topic is well discussed and debated due to the damage is causes, however to transition into renewable energy that doesn’t harm our environment will take time and these methods also need to be developed . In Scotland, our government set a target of being 100% reliable upon renewable energy for electricity by 2020 and 50% reliable of all energy by 2030 (Scottish Government, 2018). This is encouraging to see that our country is taking action to become more environmentally responsible and I think that the changes we have made should be globally recognised and used. I think that focusing in on our own country would be an important thing to do in a classroom for this topic as it provides relevance and a realisation that this effects us and our communities. This video highlights some reasons on why Scotland is leading in the UK for renewable energy use:

To delve deeper into the benefits and drawbacks of alternative energy, with focus of wind power, we prepared for and carried out a debate as a large group. We got into small groups to research both for and against arguments concerning wind power and then joined with another group to share the points we made and note main ones. We then had two groups to begin the debate, the ‘For’ arguments were said and then as a group we had to quickly decide on a relevant ‘against’ argument using the research we had collected. This task developed communication and collaborative skills through working in groups and sharing our information with each other. I believe this would be a meaningful task to carry out in a similar way in a class room, as well as the pupils gaining knowledge and understanding of the topic they could develop as a person by gaining confidence and working within a group.

As an educator, a crucial aspect that we should engage in to ensure we are doing our job to the best standard is reflection. The theorist, Donald A Schön provides an interesting insight to ways in which we should reflect, these being reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action. Reflecting-in-action focuses on considering a current situation and acting immediately, we can do this though analysing and using prior experiences to impact a situation. Secondly, the concept of reflection-on-action, this is reflection after a situation, we can reconsider the situation and realise what could have been done differently to better the outcome incase this situation occurs again. (Schön, n.d)

Another theorist who provides another outlook on reflection is Stephen Brookfield. He categorises four ‘critical lenses’ for deepening our reflection, these being; self, imagined pupils, peers and colleagues and then policy and theory. This way of reflection provides the means to consider how things are affect and are affected by each of the lenses (Brookfield, 2006). Throughout my series of blogs for this module, I have focussed on using this theory for reflecting, I have considered all four of the lenses when reflecting and have found this an effective way to do so.

References

  • Scottish Government, 2018. Renewable energy. [Online] Available: https://www2.gov.scot/renewableenergy [Accessed 15 November 2019].
  • Schön, D. (n.d.). The reflective practitioner. arena.
  • Brookfield, S. (2006). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. 2nd ed. san francisco: Jossey-bass.

Disasters

Disasters

I looked forward to this topic as it has always been a subject that has interested me, especially from seeing the effects of these Natural Disasters in the media, but my knowledge and appreciation of the topic was rather minimal.

Natural disasters are catastrophic events that impact people, animals and the environment. This can result in loss of life, loss of property/destroyed buildings as well as a major negative effect of economy. Some natural disasters may be; Volcanoes, fires, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes. The topic of natural disasters is a sensitive subject to teach so caution and consideration should be taken when knowing what is appropriate for age groups and when finding resources eg. videos or news reports. I think that Disasters is a very important topic to teach as it can give pupils perspective and a sense of global responsibility.

This is an example of a primary age appropriate resource to use:

When a country has been impacted by a natural disaster or is at risk, there are 3 key considerations that can highlight how effective the situation is dealt with before and after the disaster occurs, these being; Preparedness, response and recovery.

The United states are vulnerable to natural disaster due to its location, America is impacted mainly by hurricanes fires and earthquakes. The U.S department of homeland security provides guidance and instruction upon these 3 considerations for the natural disasters they are susceptible to, to ensure their country is well equipped and given guidance if one may occur. This is an example of a developed county that has the means and money to make sure they are prepared but also to support and recover after disasters. (U.S department of Homeland Security, 2018) For example, Hurricane Katrina the hit the U.S in 2005, over $61 billion was provided for aid by the U.S government.

Destruction Hurricane Katrina caused to New Orleans.

Although, in contrast developing countries such as Haiti, that was devastated by an Earthquake in 2010, did not have the same means to support their people. Days after the incident, as there were shortages in food, water and medical supplies, there was an uproar of violence, looting and gang-related gun fire. People were in desperate situations and some were seen pushing children and elderly out of the way to get supplies from food trucks. (The Telegraph, 2010)

This clear contrast between developed and developing countries, provides opportunity within the classroom to tie in other issues such as international community response, politics and global responsibility. Personally, after inquiring further into these two situations, I was astounded by how different these disaster were prepared for, responded to and then recovered from.  This would also allow for using research skills on an academic level as well as being culturally aware in a personal sense. To highlight the importance of  making this comparison I have noted the following experiences and outcomes:

I can compare the social and economic differences between more and less economically-developed countries and can discuss the possibilities for reducing these differences.

SOC 3-11a

(Education Scotland, 2019)

As a tool for reflection and producing possible solutions to problems we were introduced to Issue trees. These are when a tree outline is drawn and then with the representation of roots being causes, the trunk being the issue, the branches being the effects and the fruit being the solutions. I think this tool could be utilised in many ways within a school, even to concern issues such as littering. In terms of Disasters, it provides a visual aid that identifies Issues that are connected to Disasters and the effects that these can have.

Personally, I found this task very helpful as it presented information in a way that made me consider what I was writing in more depth and engaged me more. I think that pupils would respond similar to myself, and find this a great tool to break down information into certain categories and deepen understanding.

To be able to bring the topic of Disasters into the classroom, especially as in Scotland the likeliness of our country being impacted by a natural disaster is rather slim, is key to allowing learners to fully understand and see how these disasters occur and what they may look like. Through science lessons, we can conducted small scale experiments that imitate how certain disasters look.

An example of a disaster that can be easily mimicked in small experiments is volcanoes. Firstly, we can use baking soda and vinegar to produce a reaction that resembles a volvano eruption, here is a video example of this experiment:

IMG_4461

Secondly, a beaker layered with wax, sand then water and heated by a bunsen burner, can also illustate how a volcano erupts, this experiment would be conducted by the teacher and if the school does not have the facilities to do this experiment a possible visit to the local high school could be suggested.

I was initially hesitant before conducting these experiments as I don’t think of myself as ‘science minded’ and have never always engaged with or had a lot of interest in science. However, after conducting these experiments, and others in the session, I feel more confident to do them in a class setting and I now realise the importance of doing them and providing that visual and interactive example.

To enhance our knowledge, we were asked to conduct a micro-teaching lesson in groups about specific disasters, my groups topic was Tsunami’s. We explored how the teaching of this topic would be approached, what specifics may be best to focus on when teaching it and gave examples of tasks and experiments that can be carried out to aid the teaching. As a group, I felt like we worked well when preparing for micro-teaching, through this process I feel like I developed my collaborative, communication and teamwork skills. As well as gaining more knowledge on the topic and was able to effectively analyse information to produce an informative and suitable micro-teaching presentation.

Link to Google docs (presentation for micro-teaching) : https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1-Fdiy-iCcsz33hZEYH_0Q6QzerJLJafRAW16P6BxI3w/edit?usp=sharing

References

  • U.S department of homeland security, 2018. Natural Disasters. [Online] Available: https://www.dhs.gov/natural-disasters [Accessed 5th November 2019]
  • The Telegraph 2010. Haiti Earthquake: looting and gun-fights breakout.[Online] Available : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/haiti/7005554/Haiti-earthquake-looting-and-gun-fights-break-out.html [Accessed 5th November 2019]
  • Education Scotland. (2019) . Curriculum for excellence: Social studies : experiences and outcomes. [Online] Available: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/social-studies-eo.pdf [Accessed 5th November 2019]

 

Interdependence

Interdependence

We live in a wonderful word that naturally produces an abundance of consumable things, as well as our animals and their produce. As humans we depend on each other to produce and provide these items.

In Scotland we are fortunate enough to have grounds and living conditions good enough for farming to thrive. All over Scotland, we have varying types of farms to ensure all needs are met and that farmers are ensuring they make a profit.

This week we had the opportunity to visit two contrasting dairy farms in Ayrshire. The first of which Strandhead farm, being more technologically focussed and then Mossgiel Farm, which is an organic farm. Personally I didn’t have any expectations of both farms, as I don’t live in the countryside and have never really experienced farming in action.

Technologically advanced farm (Strandhead)

 This whole set up wasn’t the best looking from the outside, in fact for someone who doesn’t understand, even myself when I first walked in, it may look unethical or uncomfortable for the Cows.

At Strandhead:

  • They had a couple hundred cows.
  • The cows stay inside all year round.
  • The cows are fed hay by a robot.
  • The cows a trained to know when they are ready to be milked and walk into a machine that does so.
  • Business method is to produce high yield and sell to producer for low price.

I originally found the set up of the farm concerning, but after having a conversation with the farmer he explained that the cows prefer being inside and are provided with the best conditions possible. He noted that, for him to make money his cows need to be comfortable, happy and healthy, so he will always ensure the best for them.

Collars on Cows can track health.
Robot that feeds cows by collecting food from store room then dispensing hay in front of the Cows.

Organic Farm (Mossgiel)

At Mossgiel:

  • Small herd of cows.
  • Cows live between shed and outside (depending on weather)
  • Cows are only fed grass or mothers milk – no chemical or technological interference.
  • Cows produce very high quality milk.
  • Business method is to produce high quality milk and sell straight to customers at high price.

My first impressions of this farm was that it was small and was surprised at how little cattle they had. After listening to the farmer, I then understood that he requires less staff, he doesn’t need to pay for expensive equipment like a technologically advanced farm would and they can sell their produce at a higher price. I found it interesting how this method of selling produce could possibly begin to reshape our way of obtaining our dairy products and alter the economic situation for farming.

Calves kept altogether in large pen.
Small herd of cows.

This experience has opened my eyes to farming in Scotland and made me realise and appreciate the direction it is going in.  On these visits we were introduced to RHET (Rural highland education trust), this is a non-profit organisation that has the motive to educate people about farming and agriculture.

As a teacher, I think that RHET would be a great tool for educating pupils on our own Scottish agriculture and allow children to appreciate where their produce comes from.  I think that visits similar to this could enhance and deepen a child’s understanding of farming, and I think this has importance in Scotland especially because we have such a large farming community.

https://www.rhet.org.uk

Relevant experiences and outcomes for the GTCS:

  • ‘Having evaluated the role of agriculture in the production of food and raw material, I can draw reasoned conclusions about the environmental impacts and sustainability.’ SOC 4-09a
  • ‘Having explored the variety of foods produced in Scotland, I can discuss the importance of different types of agriculture in the production of these foods.’ SOC 1-09a

Educating children about our own agriculture and how we obtain our produce can widen their appreciation of the world around them. This can lead them on the path to becoming effective contributors by educating them on a relevant topic that effects us all as well as making the aware of the journey produce they consume goes on.


Interdependence Group task

To further elaborate on the topic of interdependence, within small groups we were given the task of producing a ‘Piktograph’ focussing on the topic its self. As a group we discovered that the most effective way to complete our task was to divide up the work and assign roles. My role was to gather the information that rest of the group has researched and then produce a ‘Piktograph’ that was interesting, appealing and concise.

Through this task I believe that I developed the skill of being collaborative, as a group we took into consideration each others ideas and input to ensure we worked effectively and fairly. I also think that from making the ‘Piktograph’ I had the chance to be creative and imaginative, these are skills I wouldn’t have thought I would use when covering a topic like interdependence. This just goes to show that all tasks we can incorporate the use of many differing skills.

I enjoyed using a different mode of expressing our knowledge and research. I think that this application would be a useful tool in a classroom to provide a different way of presenting work and giving the opportunity for creativeness and imagination and making lessons multi-modal which could enhance engagement and make a lesson more interesting.

This is the link to the Piktograph we created as a group : https://create.piktochart.com/output/41754797-untitled-infographic

 

References

  • https://create.piktochart.com/output/41754797-untitled-infographic
  • https://education.gov.scot/Documents/social-studies-eo.pdf
  • https://www.rhet.org.uk/teachers/

Climate Change (Global warming)

Global warming; a phrase that could divide a room.

Global warming is something that a lot of people know about but some not to a deep understanding. I would say I was one of these people until exploring this topic. Global warming can open up a multitude of controversial conversations and debates as it encompasses many factors. A large factor that has contributed to earth’s temperature warming is the damage we are doing as humans, this allegation is one that some people do not believe.

Global warming and Climate change facts:

  • Climate is the term given to the average weather at a given point and time of year.
  • We expect weather to change each day, but expect the climate to remain relatively constant.
  • If our climate does not hold consistency, we then call this climate change.
  • Earth’s temperature has risen by 1 degree in the past century.
  • Burning fossil fuels, deforestation and farming are huge contributors to climate change.
  • Evidence of climate change can be collected by: weather recordings, ice cores, rocks and fossils and Analysis of pollen and trees.

Effects of Climate change

Agriculture

Farming communities, more so in developing countries, are being faced with extreme weather conditions that make farming more difficult. (e.g increased rainfall, drought or higher temperatures.)

Desertification is causing agricultural land close to deserts to become unsuitable for farming.

Flooding is causing crops to be wiped out that are growing in low-lying areas.

Sea level changes

Due to the ice cap melting, we can now see the sea levels increasing. Coastal land is at risk of flooding, more so land on deltas. Also we can see that sea defences are under increased stress. Global sea level is expected to rise between 3.5 and 34.6 inches in the next 100 years.

From this image, it is clear that the ice cap has decreased in size dramatically in the space of 32 years. After seeing this photo and similar ones, I felt shocked and almost guilty that we have allowed it to get this far, knowing that our actions as  humans are having this impact. This decrease in the ice cap is pushing animals like polar bears that live there to take other means to survive or live in different conditions, or even for some not to survive.

Sceptics / Counter argument

  • Most climate change sceptics dispute the research finding of the intergovernmental panel on climate change.
  • Many sceptics believe that as the earth has went through many climate changes before (eg ice age), then this is the climate changing again and it’s not our fault.
  • They say that the CO2 that we believe is causing global warming would be reabsorbed by trees and the sea.
  • However, scientists who have researched climate change have gathered lots of evidence to support global warming and it is only a small amount of scientists who disagree with these findings.

What can we do?

https://www.gov.scot/policies/climate-change/

In Scotland, we are fortunate to have a supportive government with a vision of a cleaner Scotland.  Some actions they have taken include: 5p bag charge to decrease plastic use, using renewable energy eg wind and promoting low carbon living. This motivation from the Scottish government has rippled into Scottish schools, meaning healthier and cleaner lifestyles are promoted to children. In doing so, we can create a better living and learning environment for children, as well as providing them with perspective and awareness of how they live by educating them on the impact of climate change.

https://footprint.wwf.org.uk/?_ga=1.176985891.745195644.1442412124#/

After taking the WWF ‘ footprint calculator’ questionnaire, I felt quite guilty for the carbon footprint I am creating. I think that this tool would be useful in a class to give perspective to the children of their own impact on the earth.

If we all make minor changes in our life for the sake of our planet, we could together have a major impact.

References

  • https://footprint.wwf.org.uk/?_ga=1.176985891.745195644.1442412124#/
  • https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/climate-change/
  • https://www.gov.scot/policies/climate-change/

 

Diversity

Through the past couple of sessions, my knowledge and understanding of Diversity has grown. We can see Diversity all around us, whether that be biodiversity, cultural diversity or diversity in science.  We were able to recognise biodiversity by conducting different tasks, we went outside and took tree rubbings, dissected a flower and observed how a snail reacts when given different materials to move on. Through doing tree rubbings we were able to understand how plants can differ in so many ways including shape, size, texture, patterns and many more aspects. This task is something I would definitely use when teaching, as it bring teaching outside and closer to nature, where we can closely see how diverse it is. Dissecting flowers provided a similar outlook on biodiversity, we could clearly see all the components that make up one flower, these can differ between plants, meaning we have many different flowers in nature.

(Picture of us letting the snail move on a leaf)

(Picture of dissected flower illustrated in a diagram)

(picture of a rubbing of a leaf)

In this session we also had the opportunity to interact with snails and trail different texture and materials for them to move on, some materials we noticeably preferred to others as our snail would move faster compared to others. I enjoyed having such an interactive session and I think that carrying out tasks similar to these in a classroom would have a positive response.

In reflection upon our sessions on biodiversity and diversity in science, I feel like I have become more knowledgeable on these topics, I was research-minded and I used creativity when carrying out these tasks. I believe that these skills are key for teaching, and having these skills would enrich the teaching of this topic.

Diversity can have either a positive or negative effect on any given situation in which diversity is present. Diversity can bring many positives to situations, for example having a diverse culture can enrich a country by introducing new ways of doing things and providing understanding of what is going on around the world. However, cultural diversity could negatively have an impact, there could be a chance of possible belief and religious conflict or it could lead to cultural traditions dying out eg Languages.

 

I watched a Ted talk video called ‘Why Cultural diversity matters’ with Michael Gavin as the speaker, he tells a story about a man who passes away in a highly diverse island, and this old man was one of three people who could still speak a certain language. Due to cultural diversity, the need for using this language has faded out. Gavin tells us that this is a global picture and that in 25 years the number of languages spoken in the world will have halved. He goes on to talk about how everyone experiences and sees things differently, cultural diversity means there are “thousands of different ways of seeing the world and our place in it”.

 

“These thousands of world views, they are the foundation of thousands of unique sets of knowledge” Michael Gavin

 

From Gavin’s talk, I came to the realisation that we can use our diverse culture to better ourselves. Having so many views and cultures can be the basis of changing our world for the better and coming together to realise how we can make the world a better place. The UN have come together and formed a plan to do just that, the ‘Global goals’ were set out by the UN in 2015 with the hope of them to be met by 2030. These goals contain human rights eg. Zero hunger and No poverty to better our global living standards with goals like peace, justice and strong institutions. I believe these goals are reachable and are so essential to making sure countries work together to allow for the world to be a better place for all.

Beforehand, I was not aware of the goals but not that I understand their importance I think they should be given great focus in our schools so that children are aware that as United nations, we can work together to ensure these 17 goals are achieved. I feel more socially responsible after learning more about cultural diversity, as teachers we can play our part in promoting the benefits and positive outcomes of having a diverse culture.

Cultural diversity is of great teaching importance, especially with schools becoming more diverse themselves, so there should be an emphasis upon educating how it can impact us. I believe that Cultural diversity provides enrichment to society in many ways and think that we can use our differing cultures and views to work together to better the world we live in together.

References

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48RoRi0ddRU

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/what-are-the-global-goals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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