Tag Archives: social subjects

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

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.

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).