Tag Archives: MA3

Makey Makey🕹

On the 26th of September we had a lecture with Derek. No one knew this lecture would lead to us being Derek’s most successful ‘Makey Makey’ class throughout his time teaching this module.

Derek firstly spoke to us about using technology in the classroom, its benefits and purposes for real learning. He then introduced the material called ‘Makey Makey’. This is an invention kit which turns everyday objects into touch pads and combines them with the internet. It is a lot where creativity and invention combines and a person of any ability can use it.

Derek got our class to gather around a set up example he had prepared. His example was called ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly’. He used the science of water and conductivity to create a sound game where by when you touched jelly in a pot it would create a sound/lyric. He had several jelly pots hooked up to the ‘Makey Makey’ and each one played a different part of Destiny’s Child’s song “Bootylicious”. The lyric sounds were coming from a programme called ‘Scratch’ on his laptop. He had imported the sounds into ‘Scratch’ and then his laptop was connected to the ‘Makey Makey’ where by the sound clips were synced with individual cables which went into the jelly pots. It was really quite entertaining but I could appreciate at the same time all the learning a student could take form this example. Derek also showed us various examples off the ‘Makey Makey’ website to get us inspired.

He then set us a task which was to be completed in the forthcoming week. We had to create our own ‘Makey Makey’ activity for a classroom. The activity’s purpose would be to aid a child’s learning and link to another curricular area of learning. We got into groups and started to brainstorm ideas. My group consisted of myself, Jen, Beth, Anna and Aine. We thought of a number of ideas before reaching our final one, one idea we came up with involved using conductivity in fruit to create music. But our final idea was to create a life size game of ‘Operation’.

It took us 3 sessions to collaboratively create our invention as a group. Firstly we drew around Jen to get an outline of a body onto cardboard. We then decided which body part (muscles and bones) we would use for the operation. Once we had decided we marked out rectangular shapes on the cardboard where we would later cut out to create the resting place for the body parts. We chose to operate with a brain, heart, humerus, small intestines and tibia. We cut out the rectangles and stuck recycled plastic boxes underneath to hold to body parts.

We now had out base done and we could now start to neaten it up and make it look more like the real operation game. We drew a new body outline on white paper and made the background purple and re-cut out the rectangles. The holes for the body parts were then lined with tin foil, this was so that when the outsides of the holes were touched when playing the game it would react and conduct electricity through the wires with the ‘Makey Makey’ and could create the buzzing noise. We wrote the title of the game on the side and poped all the handmade body parts in their correct holes.

The technical part was the next step. We had the hook up each hole, clipping the wires to the tin foil of each hole. These wires were then connected to the ‘Makey Makey’ kit and then one extra cable connected the ‘Makey Makey’ to our laptop. We then used scratch to create the buzzing sound and attached the sound to each of the 5 body parts. We then had to “Earth” ourselves to the ‘Makey Makey’, to do this we had to create a tin foil bracelet to wear when playing the game and hook that up to the ‘Makey Makey’ as well so that a current could run through us to the other hand that would be picking up the body parts.

It was very rewarding testing it out for the first time and hearing the buzzing sound when we touched the sides.

Our invention could link to a few different curricular areas. The main curricular area was technology and this linked to health and well-being, expressive arts, science and mathematics.

We then got to present our invention to Derek and the class and test out everyone else’s inventions.


This project has inspired me to use this kit in the classroom and get children to use their imagination through invention and creativity.


Storytelling in Music🎼

Today we had a music workshop with Sharon. The workshop started with Sharon showing us how to introduce music to children through using your body and vocals for making sound. The advantage of this is that there is less mess and disruption than if you were to get musical instruments out in the classroom. This way every child is equal with their resources and are more engaged with the teacher than their ‘instrument’.

We sat in a circle, cross legged, and Sharon got one person to keep a 4 beat rhythm. Everyone else copied. Sharon then pointed at people individually and ask them to create a new rhythm to follow. We carried this on for a few different people to take charge in.

Sharon then added cups to our lesson. This was a step up from just using our bodies and would be a bit more exciting for children – keeping them engaged. We then did the same activity but using cups as part of our rhythms this time.

Sharon then discussed with us the use of story books in music. By adding sound effects to a story it enhances the words and how the children imagine the story in their head. She gave examples of movements described in books such as tip toeing and how that would be represented on a piano – the higher pitched end, compared to a stomping movement which would be on the lower pitch of the piano.

We then split into groups and were given a task. Aine, Taylor and I’s task was to create our own recording of a narrated story paired with sound effects. Sharon gave my group the story ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ which I thought was a great book for the task as in the book where are a lot of sound effects described. We scanned through the book and then picked instruments we thought would suit the different movements and words in the book. We then practiced narrating the book and adding the sounds to the correct parts and then recorded the whole thing. Here is the results:


I really enjoyed this workshop and it really made me think how language can be linked to music. It had inspired me to try this in my class in the future. 

When doing this lesson with a class it is best to pick story’s that the children already know so it is more motivating and meaningful for the children. Also try and pick a story that something exciting happens in it.

RRS Discovery⚓️

Today we had a day off from university, so Jennifer, Beth and I decided to use the time to do an education trip to the RRS Discovery ship in Dundee. Our aim was to learn about the history, geography and science of the exhibition and reflect on the suitability of the exhibition for children and school trips and justify learning that would take place on a school visit.

The Discovery Expedition to the Antarctic is the reason Dundee has it’s fond relationship to penguins and they are seen throughout the city.


The RSS Discovery was built in Dundee by the Dundee Shipbuilders Company and its purpose was Antarctic research. RRS stands for Royal Research Ship and it was first launched on its adventure to the ‘unknown land’ on the 21st of March 1901.

Only 6 years previous, the first person landed on the continent and no one had ever travelled more than 50 km from its coast. The expedition to the coldest place on earth was in the pursuit of new lands, scientific advancement and adventure. Their first expedition was successful and named the ‘Discovery Expedition’.

The ship sighted the Antarctic coastline on the 8th of January 1902 after it’s long journey from Dundee. The journey consisted of many stops along the way, these included; London, Madeira, Brazil, Cape Town, Macquarie Islands and New Zealand.

The expedition was an exciting experience as the land was so unknown to any person at this time.

The ship was caught in ice at the end of the expedition. They had to use explosives to set it free. This happened on the 16th of February 1904 and they sailed back home to Dundee.

The successfulness is the reason it floats in Dundee today.



The city of Dundee is positioned on the east coast and because of this it gets a great deal of shelter from bad weather and this meant for an ideal location for a harbour.

The River Tay also serves great importance. It is a passageway for imports and exports which supported the city and it’s development over time.

Whilst in Antarctica drinking water was a lengthy and hard process. Ice blocks had to be cut out of the ground using picks and shovels, placed on a sledge and then pulled back to the Discovery ship where they would be melted into drinking water.

Fresh food would not survive long over the lengthy time at sea so they had to take a lot of preserved food with them. The continent of Antartica does not produce any fresh produce as the conditions are so harsh and cold, no plant would be able to survive and grow. The only fresh food it provided was seals and penguins which the men hunted and used for food.

Hartley T. Ferrar was the first person to do any major geological research in Antartica. On the expedition he discovered and plotted the distribution of the different types of rocks found in the mountains. He recorded his findings in details scale drawings. He found the evidence that Antartica was indeed a continent by finding granite – the main rock from which continents are formed. He also discovered the some of the first concerns of global warming. He found evidence that the ice and glaciers in Antartica has receded up to 2 or 3 miles in places. Today global warming is a major concern for us. The conclusions from Ferrar’s research was that the climate conditions in Antartica was once very different. Be found evidence of once existing rivers. His work helped scientists construct theories of continental drift and plate tectonics proving that Antarctica has moved to its present position from a part of the world’s surface where the climate was very different.



Edward Wilson was the zoologist on board the Discovery. His role was to identify and describe the variety of penguins, whales, seals and birds that he would find. The Discovery expedition was the first to sight an Emperor Penguin and to collect the first egg of the species ever seen.



Thomas Hodgson was involved with the marine biology research on board. During the expedition he collected; fish, sponges, corals, jellyfish, sea-urchins, sea-lilies, starfish, sea spiders, parasitic worms, spider-crabs, amphipods and sea-squirts. He caught the species by cutting holes int he ice and putting nets through the holes. The species collected were collected within a slushy ice which meant they had to be thawed before they could be inspected.


Justification for a class visit

The RRS Discovery is a great resource for a school trip. It offers an active approach to learning about social subjects. The RRS Discovery could even be made into your class’s term/year topic as it offers IDL opportunities.

After our visit to the expedition I am able to reflect on its suitability to a class. I think that a visit to the exhibition would suit the upper stages in school best as there is a lot of information to read on your way round which younger years would struggle to read and engage with. But saying this it isn’t all text information there are also movies to watch and audio recordings to listen to which means a not so confident reader could use these instead. Things also to consider are the heights of the exhibits as they many not be suitable to certain age groups.

I think the class visit should take place during their topic but closer to the start since i feel if you took a class pre-topic they might be confused as to what the exhibition is about or not have to motivation to engage in the exhibition as to if you did it during the topic you would be able to brief the class prior to the visit so they would have an understanding of what to expect and the basic story which they can then deepen during their visit.

The intended learning of the visit would be; to learn about the history of the RRS Discovery and it’s heritage relating to Dundee, to learn about the how the achievements the research gained effects the present day, to develop an understanding of different cultures and geological climates, to explore different times and places, to build on any previous knowledge and to develop a knowledge of past artefacts. This learning can be then explored and discussed back in the classroom through a series of lessons.

Experiences and outcomes that would guide these learning intentions would include:

  • I can use primary and secondary sources selectively to research events in the past. SOC 2-01a.
  • I can interpret historical evidence from a range of periods to help to build a picture of Scotland’s heritage and my sense of chronology. SOC 2-02a.
  • I can investigate a Scottish historical theme to discover how past events or the actions of individuals or groups have shaped Scottish society. SOC 2-03a.
  • I can compare and contrast a society in the past with my own and contribute to a discussion of the similarities and differences. SOC 2-04a.
  • I can discuss the environmental impact of human activity and suggest ways in which we can live in a more environmentally- responsible way. SOC 2-08a.
  • By comparing my local area with a contrasting area outwith Britain, I can investigate the main features of weather and climate, discussing the impact on living things. SOC 2-12a.
  • I can explain how the physical environment influences the ways in which people use land by comparing my local area with a contrasting area. SOC 2-13a. 
  • To extend my mental map and sense of place, I can interpret information from different types of maps and am beginning to locate key features within Scotland, UK, Europe or the wider world. SOC 2-14a.

There are many interdisciplinary links that could be relevant to this topic. This topic would use the second approach of IDL which is uses curricular areas “to explore a theme or an issue, meet a challenge, solve a problem or complete a final project”.

Technology –

A link to technology and design could be made. This could involve learning about the design of the ship, how it was made and what materials were used. A lesson could be conducted whereby a class get to design and create their own ship with the influence of the RRS Discovery design.

I can extend and enhance my design skills to solve problems and can construct models. TCH 2-09a.

Health and Well-being –

A link to health and well-being could be made by learning about the harsh weather conditions that the people aboard RRS Discovery had to endure and learn what they did/used to survive.

I am learning to assess and manage risk, to protect myself and others, and to reduce the potential for harm when possible. HWB 2-16a.

Expressive Arts –

A link to expressive arts could be made. During the RRS Discovery expedition the zoologist pained pictures of the animals found in Antartica, this could be made into a lesson whereby the children practice painting pictures of the different animals you get in Antartica.

I have the opportunity to choose and explore an extended range of media and technologies to create images and objects, comparing and combining them for specific tasks. EXA 2-02a.

Another link in this curricular area can be under the Drama heading. Children could create a drama piece of the RRS Discovery’s journey based on what they learnt on their visit.

I have created and presented scripted or improvised drama, beginning to take account of audience and atmosphere. EXA 2-14a

Science –

A link to science could be made. Children could investigate and learn about the different animals that were found on the expedition and learn how they survived in the Antarctic conditions.

I can identify and classify examples of living things, past and present, to help me appreciate their diversity. I can relate physical and behavioural characteristics to their survival or extinction. SCN 2-01a.

Another link to science could be made by learning about buoyancy, relating this to how the ship stayed afloat and what makes this happen. An activity in the classroom could involve a tub of water and the children would test different materials and record their buoyancy levels.

By investigating floating and sinking of objects in water, I can apply my understanding of buoyancy to solve a practical challenge. SCN 2-08b.

 Another link to science could be made by looking at the substances that make but the continent of Antarctica and compare these to the substances that make up other continents in the world.

Having explored the substances that make up Earth’s surface, I can compare some of their characteristics and uses. SCN 2-17a.

Another link to science could be made by looking into the what research was found and discovered during the RRS Discovery expedition and identifying how this has impacted society today.

Through research and discussion I have an appreciation of the contribution that individuals are making to scientific discovery and invention and the impact this has made on society. SCN 2-20a.


During the class visit to the RSS Discovery they will get to engage in the number of activities. These activities can provide an evidence-based approach for children. These include; watching short movie clips, dressing up, creating crayon rubbings, using a toy crane (involves problem solving skills), drawing animal pictures, paying with child friendly builder tools, using their senses to feel, smell, hear and see what the expedition was like and walking around the desks of the RRS Discovery.

The exhibition also offer pre-booked school group visits. These visits are 4 hours long and have a structured timetable to its contents.

10:00 Arrive and introduction – group taken to dedicated “Polarama” education suite.– Snack and comfort break – bag drop in our secure lockers.
10:15 Full guided tour of RRS Discovery – focusing on elements of the ships design, her voyages and the stories of the crew.
11:15 Workshop (in Polarama)
12:15 Packed lunch (in Polarama or on quayside if good weather)
12:45 Exhibition area with free treasure hunt sheets and chance to explore all exhibits and interactives as you saw on your visit.
13:45 Comfort break and bag collect
14:00 Depart

The visits can be tailored to different age groups including the activities and workshops within them. But the above structure is the most common one they would use with a group.

One of the most popular workshops the exhibition can offer is one called the ‘Polar Explorer’ workshop. It is run by the education team at the exhibition. The workshop begins with a discussion with the children on what the climate and conditions were like that the explorers had to endure while in Antartica, including details on frostbite, scurvy and hypothermia. A debate can also be brought up for children to give their own opinions on about women in society, as there were no women in Antartica during this “heroic age”. The workshop then moves onto a demonstration and re-anactment. Children will get to be models and try on the different clothing that they would have worn on the expedition to Antartica. Children will get the opportunity to examine them and consider the materials use in them. The workshop then ends with a question and answer session.

To reflect on what the children have learnt during the trip I would create a series of lessons touching on different curricular areas to include IDL and each lesson would touch on a certain aspect of the exhibition to test, renew and deepen their learning and knowledge on the topic.

To assess that the children have achieved the intended learning I would devise a suitable plenary for each lesson to check for understanding of the learning intentions ad success criteria.



The Discovery expedition made a great contribution to human knowledge. While answering some questions about the nature of Antartica and the creatures that live there, it also posed many more questions, setting the stage for future explores and scientists.

For children, the Discovery is a great local exhibition where children can expand and build on their knowledge of the world they live in. It gives them the opportunity to use fieldwork, specifically the look and see type, along with sensory activities which really brings the experience alive, active and create a context for understanding. Also by making a topic out of the RSS Discovery it would motivate and influence children to want to explore and discover their world.



Turn your pupils into Polar Explorers!

Historical Storytelling📖

In my latest history input we spoke a bit about storytelling in a historical context. A video clip of this being done in a primary class was shown to us, it was quite inspiring.

In the clip the teacher would put on a ‘special’ jacket when we was about to tell this history story. This transformed him into this character and it helped to engage the children in this characters experience.

I think this approach is a great way of teaching history as you are not reading to the children but rather telling the children the knowledge in a more interactive and engaging way.

The use of storytelling means we can; speak straight from the past, use powerful eye contact, use movement and gestures in relation to the speech and use different voice for characters. Through storytelling we can transport children’s imaginations through time into different worlds and places in time.

The purpose to storytelling is to:

  • Convey information, ideas, and technical language through engaging children’s imagination.
  • Create a context, providing a mental map and a visualisation of a past situation.
  • Serve the need for wonder.
  • Help children to understand human situations and the human condition, and thus connect the past to the present.
  • Empowering lessons making them exciting and motivating to learners.

(The Historical Association, 2018).

How do you create stories?

  1. Choose a topic, and find out as much detail as you can – you will be conveying information through painting word pictures.
  2. Identify a problem and its solution – this gives the story its shape.
  3. Build your descriptions, flesh out your characters and the context they lived in. How did they think, look, feel and act? What motivated them?
  4. Rehearse the story to yourself – run a mental video of the story unfolding.
  5. Tell the story to the children, living and acting it by using appropriate voices and gestures and moving round the room.

(The Historical Association, 2018).



n.b. (2018). The Historical Association. Website. Available at: https://www.history.org.uk/primary/categories/793/module/3657/primary-teaching-methods/3667/story-telling. [Accessed 22/09/18].

Click to access ecaw_storytelling.pdf

Reflection on IDL

The past few inputs we have had within this module have been about interdisciplinary learning, what it involves and how it is used in the classroom.

“The curriculum should include space for learning beyond subject boundaries, so that children and young people can make connections between different areas of learning. Interdisciplinary studies, based upon groupings of experiences and outcomes from within and across curriculum areas, can provide relevant, challenging and enjoyable learning experiences and stimulating contexts to meet the varied needs of children and young people”

(Education Scotland, 2012).


What is interdisciplinary learning?

Interdisciplinary learning is an approach to learning that aims to use links across the curricular subjects (expressive arts, health and wellbeing, languages, mathematics, religious and moral education, sciences, social studies and technologies) to enhance a child’s learning. Encouraging the integration of skills, understanding and knowledge across the curricular subjects. It gives the opportunity to develop what has already been taught and learned in new and dissimilar ways. IDL also helps to deepen learning, this can be done through problem solving, creating and finishing final projects and looking further into issues (Education Scotland, 2012).

“Cross-curricular learning occurs when the skills, knowledge and attitudes of a number of different disciplines are applied to a single theme, problem, idea or experience” (Barnes, 2015).

Characteristics that help shape IDL include;

  • Projects which are longer than a normal course of study.
  • Planned with a clear purpose.
  • Based upon E’s and O’s and taken from different curricular area within them.
  • It ensures progression in skills, knowledge and understanding.
  • The opportunity for mixed stage learning is given, which is interest based.

(Education Scotland, 2012)

2 approaches to effective IDL:

1. Not only is it good for the teachers learning but it’s helpful to show the children and give them awareness and understanding of how the curricular areas integrate. This can be developed in a number of different ways, this could be through; knowledge developed, or the ways of working, or the attributes, capabilities and skills (including higher-order thinking skills) being combined, or through a particular perspective given by different subjects (Education Scotland, 2012). 

Revisiting a concept or skill from different view deepens understanding. This can make the curriculum more meaningful from the learners’ perspective (Education Scotland, 2012).

A good way to do this is to find a common ground in 2 or more curricular subjects which means they can explore an idea in more depth. More over when an idea relates to the real world a child can better understand since the learning is more relevant. An example of this could be when learning about probability in mathematics is connected to the learning of genetics in science (Education Scotland, 2012).

2. Effective practice of IDL can also be seen when curricular subjects are used to; investigate a theme or an issue, encounter a challenge, problem solve or to finish a final project. This can be done by making a context that is real and relevant to learners, the school and local community  (Education Scotland, 2012).


How is interdisciplinary learning planned?

IDL is most effective when it is suited to and meets learners’ needs. To do this teachers could merge curricular subjects under a theme or context, ensuring that the learning has clearly identified next steps. This requires looking at progression over time in knowledge, attributes and capabilities, and skills (including higher-order thinking skills). Children can also take part in this and identify what they think should be their next steps, along with choosing the theme or topic to set the learning in. Involving learners with decisions is key (Education Scotland, 2012).

Other ways to ensure effective IDL planning include;

  • Firstly selecting E’s and O’s with care.
  • Having a purpose for using one of the two approaches to IDL.
  • Involving learners in planning.
  • Ensuring progression.
  • Making sure learners and staff know what knowledge and skills are being developed through IDL, and that this is not lost within the context. Reflection sessions at the end of lessons are a great way of discussing which curricular areas were linked and what knowledge and skills from these areas were used and deepened through the learning.
  • Identifying clear learning intentions and success criteria within short- term planning.

When thinking about long-term planning, many schools use a ‘framework for interdisciplinary learning’. This framework ensures that children get a fair experience of broad general education. It was ensures that IDL; is planned around children’s needs, takes hold of different curricular areas, adds to children previous knowledge and reduces the risk of repetition in learning (Education Scotland, 2012).

“In best practice, interdisciplinary learning provides astimulating and self-motivating context for learning and is bothenjoyable and relevant. It leads to a better, more rounded understanding of important ideas and to an increased competence in using knowledge and skills in transferable ways. Staff will be clear about the connections across learning that they want children and young people to explore and understand. They will also know what children and young people have learned previouslyand how they will apply and develop this learning in new and different ways. Everyone involved will know which skills and ideas from different subjects or disciplines they are bringing together, and why.” (Education Scotland, 2012).


Types of Cross-Curricular Learning/Teaching

Cross-curricular learning and teaching can be organised in 8 ways:

  • Tokenistic
  • Hierarchical
  • Single transferable subject
  • Theme-vased
  • Multi-disciplinary
  • Inter-disciplinary
  • Opportunistic
  • Double-focus

These can be overlapped in projects and more than one can be used at a time. Each approach has different aims and strengths within them (Barnes, 2015).


A little bit of history

  • Cross-curricular links were first seen between English, Mathematics and Science in the mid 1990s. But these were seen in small print, pushed to the outside margins.
  • Cross-curricular teaching almost disappeared between 1997 and 2003, this happened in an aim to help teacher manage their packed schedules of learning.
  • The term ‘enjoyment’ made its way into the curriculum vocabulary in 2003. This was an attempt to give flexibility to the tightening curriculum and knock down subject boundaries so show that the curriculum could be arranged so that links could be made between areas.
  • Jim Rose proposed that something had to be done about the “overcrowded yet narrowed” curriculum in 2009/10. Cross-curricular studies was a common strand to his views of change.
  • In 2010 Robin Alexander chaired a review which included aims of education and domains of learning. The domains of learning were close to ideas from Rose and curricular areas seen in Curriculum for Excellence.
  • Alexander’s domains included opportunities for cross-curricular approaches.
  • Also in 2010 the Tickle review was concerned with cross-curricular and creative approaches in the early years.

(Barnes, 2015).



Barnes, J. (2015). Cross-Curricular Learning 3-14. 3rd Ed. London: Sage Publication Ltd. pp. 49 – 82.

Education Scotland. (2012). CFE Briefings, 4 Interdisciplinary Learning. Availible at: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/CfE%20Briefings. Accessed 18/08/18.

Lesson Planning

Today in our Social Subjects input we spoke about lesson planning around current/recent news events which relate to social subjects. This way the children are learning about current issues.

Jennifer and I paired up to create a lesson plan, for a primary 7 class, based on a new article we found online about the effect rubbish pollution has on sea turtles. We used this as a stimulus and hence based our lesson around recycling. The lesson we created could be anywhere in the series of lessons, so we chose to create a lesson which in 2 or 3 lessons into the series.

The lesson plan we created is shown below:

Once we had finished our plans we then presented them to another pair in the class. The activity was very useful for giving us as student teachers ideas on how to come up with lessons that relate to what is happening in the world around the children at the current time, making it meaningful and gives context to learning.

Our tutor also gave Jennifer and I some tips to edit our lesson plan which i found very helpful. One tip she gave us was that instead of telling children information about a topic, get the children to research and find answers/knowledge out for themselves, this way to are using active learning and engaging the children to use researching skills. Allowing children to research topics also develops children’s teamwork and note taking skills along with children learning to decipher if information is useful, reliable and appropriate. This idea is also a bonus for teachers as it reduces their workload and they can use this extra time for other things.

I feel like after this input I will be more critical when writing lesson plans and be more inclined to look back over drafts to see what could be changed for the better, whether its to benefit the children or teacher.




Geographical Mapping🗺

In our lecture today we learnt about using maps with children and how it develops new skills and knowledge of their local and global surroundings.

You should use maps with children as maps are a way of communicating information about a specific place, they give children the support to interact with an environment they can not physically access, they show the spatial layout, distribution and pattern of geographical features and we can use maps to navigate around our landscapes.

Having a knowledge about location is essential for children in setting themselves and their geographical studies in local and global contexts. It is important that children know where features, places and events occur and how they connect spatially to one another when learning about geography (Catling, 2017).

Mapping skills that a child will learn include:

  • Perspective
  • Representation
  • Scale
  • Direction
  • Location

Mapping skills are learned best when put in a meaningful context.

Map keys are an aspect of mapping that children will need to understand. These keys can give, for example, symbol representations, colour codes and line meanings. Getting children to investigate and make their own keys for their own maps is a good way of practicing and learning this aspect.

Scales are another aspect of mapping. Maps are not always draw to scale but they should have a scale at the side to tell you otherwise. Most maps are small scaled to fit the earths landscape on them.

Developing a perspective form above is key as most maps are formatted so that you are looking down from space on the landscape. Children are used to seeing 3D landscapes from their POV.

  • Google Earth is a great resource for demonstrating this.

There are so many more sources of maps, these include:

  • Picture maps
  • Street maps
  • Road atlases
  • Ordnance Survey maps
  • Architect’s plans
  • Sketch maps
  • Shopping centre plans
  • Atlas maps
  • National and continental wall maps
  • Thematic maps
  • Globes
  • Historical maps
  • Postcard maps
  • Tourist fold-out and brochure maps
  • Bus and railway maps
  • Shipping charts
  • Maps in newspapers and on websites
  • Maps in board and virtual games

Interaction with maps

Creating maps.

  • Fictional books
  • Develops understanding of place in a story

Representing landscapes through maps.

  • Relating to real situations and needs
  • Make connections to journeys
  • Focus on land use, pattern and texture in the landscape and then how this is represented on a map
  • Work in this area supports children to access OS maps

Representing landscapes through models (3D)

Activities for learning

  •  How can I help a visitor find my classroom?
  •  Treasure hunt around school (use school plan with numbered locations)
  •  Use O.S. Maps to describe my local area
  •  Model a plan of the classroom or school
  •  Picture maps of stories (Gruffalo, Little Red Riding Hood, Katie Morag)
  •  How do I get to school – draw a route map
  •  Where does our food come from?
  •  Create symbols for a school plan
  •  Landmark spotting
  •  How far is it? – fetch an object from the furthest away point in the room, put a pencil in the middle of the room
  • Journeys in the school building – the shortest ways, the longest ways – draw the routes on a school plan
  • Scale drawing of the classroom
  • Compare different maps of the same area
  • Record routes, use directional language, Beebotgrids of familiar areas
  • World map – where in the world have the class been, mark countries with a pin/spot/sticky note
  • Plan walks around the school grounds, colour code them

(Bridge, 2010).



Catling, S. (2017)  ‘Mental Maps Learning about places around the world’, in Scoffham, S (ed.) Teaching Geography Creatively. 2nded. Oxon: Routledge, pp. 58-75.
Bridge, C. (2010) ‘Mapwork Skills’, in Scoffham, S (ed.) Primary Geography Handbook.Rev,edn. Sheffield: Geographical Association.

Interdisciplinary Learning: A Reflection from my Childhood

Today we got an introductory lecture to our ‘Developing Effective Teaching and Learning‘ module. The module aims to explore and show us how subjects can take learning beyond it’s barriers and involve Interdisciplinary Learning (IDL) – making connections between different areas of the curriculum. It’s all about making appropriate links and showing these to the children so they gain an understanding and learning experience.

We were asked to think about the topics that we did in Primary school. The normal responses sounded out the topics of WW2, The Victorians, Vikings, Egyptians, etc. We discussed how much interdisciplinary learning went into each topic or were they purely based on, for example, history with little to no mathematics or english studying within them.

One of my most memorable experiences at primary school was a topic I did in my P6 class. Firstly a bit of background. My class was a very close class, we were pretty much all together in the same class all the way through the stages of primary school and our school was also a small village school. We had a strong bond and – if i am biased – favourited by our depute head, Mr Still. In primary 6 we studied the topic of Mary Queen of Scots. Along with our newly qualified, enthusiastic class teacher, Mrs Anderson, we created a professional movie. This same year we also hosted and preformed a knock off Mary Queen of Scots pantomime, “Mary Queen of Chocs”. But I’m going to focus on the movie.

This experience was truly special as no other class had got given this opportunity. As a class we worked with our class and depute teacher and a professional movie crew. Each week we dedicated an afternoon to this project with the additional out of school trips to filming locations in the local area. Our school was lucky enough to be in a great countryside location that we had amazing filming spots, these included; a few castles, lakes, walled gardens and countryside land and views.

The class got casted and put into film crew and acting groups so every pupil had a part in creating the movie. We were also put into separate groups and each group was in-charge of a specific scene. I was in charge of the locations of where the filming took place in my group. Other jobs included; costume, makeup, story boarding, camera directors, sound and music, editing, lighting, etc. This was very exciting for all of us as we got taught how to take the role of each job and how to go about them. This was a great learning opportunity to learn things that are not the learning norm in the classroom, for example, how to storyboard.

This topic involved a lot of IDL. As a class we created the soundtrack for the movie using our music lessons in school. With our music teacher we created and recorded the music using school equipment. We had a talented musical class which helped. We used mathematical subject learning when working with camera angles, timings and when it came to selling DVDs and tickets to our premier night. English subject learning when writing our scripts of each scene. Geography subject learning when choosing the locations for filming. History subject learning, pre-movie when we learnt about the history of Mary Queen of Scots and the timeline of her life events. Expressive arts subject learning when acting the parts of characters and creating costumes.

The aim of this topic was not only to give an unreal primary school experience but to link lots of curricular subjects together and show us, as the pupils, how you can link subjects. It’s not only now that I can see the real benefit of IDL as a student teacher and how good my Mary Queen of Scots topic was in relation to this. It also was a great topic for building relationships with peers in the class and bonding us even more as a unit.



Education Scotland. (2012). CFE Briefings, 4 Interdisciplinary Learning. Availible at: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/CfE%20Briefings. Accessed 18/08/18.


The Empowerment of a Child’s Voice

Our geography lecture today was all about enquiry and planning with children. We did a few activities which involved looking at a first lesson on a topic the children hadn’t studied before in social subjects. We discussed and planned how you would get out this lesson – how would you entice the children into the new topic – and which e’s and o’s/benchmarks you would follow for a first lesson. This was helpful for us to discuss as teachers what to put and what not to put in a first lesson, as well as motivational elements to excite the children with their new topic.

Our TDT involved reading an article concerned with the child’s voice in the classroom.

What are the arguments for encouraging children’s voice in the primary classroom?

  • The engage more with their teachers as co-learners.
  • The can be ‘co-teachers’, working with and for each other. Aids and adds to teachers learning too.
  • Many teachers lack understanding of geographical topics. Therefore a child’s knowledge can help boost a teachers confidence.
  • Giving children a voice will enhance geographical learning, understanding and values for all in any primary classroom.
  • Children can draw on own experiences, very real encounters and what they have witnessed in the world or in the media.
  • Children’s voice can have impacts on future developments.
  • Their voice can educate others, who then can educate more people – which can be in some instances, life saving.
  • ‘Children’s voice’ can life changing to a generation.
  • Increases personal development and confidence.

(Catling, 2014)

How can we do this?

  • Let children lead the development of a topic.
  • Let children be co-teachers.
  • Encourage children’s voices to be heard beyond the classroom.
  • Ask children what they want to learn or get out of a topic.
  • Ask children if they know more about a certain topic.

(Catling, 2014)

Are there arguments against this approach?

  • Some children may lack the competence and experience/knowledge to participate.
  • Giving a child the right to be heard can take away their childhood.
  • It will lead to a lack of respect towards parents.
  • Children may become too confident and not respect the voice of adults.

(Lansdown, 2011)

How does a teacher’s educational philosophy influence the implementation of approaches in the classroom?

If a teacher is for children using their voice to share their experiences and opinions in the classroom then a feel the children will be more confident around their peers and not afraid and participate in class discussions as the teacher will encourage this ‘classroom voice’.

Depending on how much a teacher knows about a topic depends on how much pupil voice is wanted/needed. A teacher also might be very knowledgeable about a particular subject so therefore will ask for pupils what they want to know about the topic, knowing that they as the teacher can answer these questions.

A teachers patience also influences the approaches used in the classroom. If a teacher is patient  they will encourage pupil questions and opinions to be heard. Whereas alternatively an impatient teacher may just want to voice their knowledge to their pupils and not ask for any input from them.

A teacher may feel greatly about the need for children to develop personally and children voicing their opinions is a great way to do this.

If a teacher also feel in the education philosophy that children need to be active participate in their learning, then they will also encourage children to use their voice.



S, Catling. (2014). Giving younger children voice in primary geography: Empowering pedagogy – A personal perspective. Article. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271753614/download

G, Lansdown. (2011). Every Child’s Right To Be Heard. PDF. Available at: https://www.unicef.org/french/adolescence/files/Every_Childs_Right_to_be_Heard.pdf


Powerful Knowledge

Today’s lecture spoke about the idea of having a ‘sense of place’. We investigated ways in which this could be taught in the primary school. We created a mind map exploring the ideas that we had come up with – linking these to e’s and o’s, which included activities such as; creating maps of the local area, google maps, links to mathematics and expressive arts, family links, building history, school trips, etc. These activities would give students a better awareness of ‘sense of place’ and develop a set of skills for this subject.


For our TDT we were asked to read a couple of articles relating to ‘powerful knowledge‘.

What is ‘powerful knowledge‘?

 powerful knowledge is that it is knowledge that is taught from in the classroom and is fact based. It has the idea of equal opportunities, citizens and entitlement to knowledge; this entitlement is not limited on grounds of assumed ability or motivation, ethnicity, class or gender. The curriculum is seen as a supporter of equality based on the best knowledge we have, or an attempted staged approach towards acquiring it.

According to Young, skills are not a good basis for a curriculum – they are limiting on their own. He believes knowledge is the key part – it take students beyond their experiences.

The authors propose 3 criteria for defining powerful knowledge:

  1. It is distinct from ‘common sense’ knowledge acquired through everyday experience and therefore context-specific and limited.
  2. It is systematic. Its concepts are related to each as part of a discipline with its specific rules and conventions. It can be the basis for generalisations and predictions beyond specific cases or contexts.
  3. It is specialized; developed by specialists within defined fields of expertise and enquiry.

(Playfair, 2015), (Roberts, 2014)

Arguments for ‘powerful knowledge’ in the classroom:

  • Gives stability to teachers and students.
  • It gives a clear indication of that is being taught and under what subject.
  • Knowledge-based curriculums are taught tin a hierarchical way, which is helpful for teachers to plan and see profession in students.
  • A ‘Powerful knowledge’ based curriculum would give a national coherence as every child would be equal as every student would be taught the same thing. Without this children would be taught different things relating to different out of school experiences, which consequently leads in inequality in students meaning some students would gain ‘better knowledge’ than others.

(Young, 2013)

Arguments against ‘powerful knowledge’ in the classroom:

  • It is not possible for a curriculum to reduce all educational inequalities.
  • Knowledge-based curriculums could increase the amount of failures and drop outs.
  • It is not suited to the students interests or preferences.
  • Everyday experiences are a more memorable for of learning in the primary school
  • Relating teaching to the children experiences and interests is motivational for them

(Young, 2013)

Drawing on own experiences, what are your thoughts regarding the role of ‘knowledge’ in the primary classroom?

Since reading about ‘powerful knowledge’ in the classroom i have a better understand of knowledge and its place in the classroom.

I understand that ‘powerful knowledge’ is a core aspect for learning but I do not agree that it should be used solely and separate from other aspects. I believe for a full educational experience children should be able to use aspects such as their out of school experiences and be given the opportunity to develop skills through learning.

The Curriculum for excellence E’s and O’s in the early stage for social studies shows how a child own experiences can be brought together in the classroom and merged with new knowledge.

I explore and discover the interesting features of my local environment to develop an awareness of the world around me (SOC 0-07a)

(Education Scotland, 2016)


Playfair, E. (2015). What is powerful knowledge? Available at: https://eddieplayfair.com/2015/08/19/what-is-powerful-knowledge/. (Accessed 12/09/18).

Roberts, M. (2014). Powerful knowledge and geographical education, The curriculum journal. Issue 25 Vol 2. pp. 187- 209.

Young, M (2013) Overcoming the crisis in curriculum theory: a knowledge-based approach, Journal of Curriculum Studies. Issue 45 Vol 2. pp.101-118.

Education Scotland. (2016).  Experiences and Outcomes, Social Studies. Available at: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/Experiences%20and%20outcomes#soc (Accessed 12/09/18).