Category Archives: 2 Prof. Knowledge & Understanding

A Historical Field Trip to the Verdant Works…

Throughout this blog post I will be looking at how a trip to Dundee’s Verdant Works could enhance pupils learning. I will be exploring whether the Verdant Works would be a suitable trip destination for creating an enjoyable learning experience for pupils, and how taking a class trip here would be beneficial from a teachers point of view. 

It is suggested by Arthur and Cremin (2014) that before taking pupils outside of the classroom, teachers must have justified reasons as to why going somewhere else would enhance learning and teaching. The Verdant Works makes this achievable as their website has examples of lesson plans and highlights different exhibitions which are on at certain times. This would allow teachers to predetermine how useful a visit would be, pre-plan activities for the trip and think about the best time to take their pupils to the museum (Dundee Heritage Trust, 2018).

I came to the conclusion that the Verdant Works would be a suitable history trip for a class learning about life in the Victorian times, as I was impressed by the large amount of information provided on this topic and the different ways in which it was presented. Personally, most of the lessons I remember from primary school are the ones which involved leaving the classroom and getting to interact and engage with different materials. I feel this museum can offer that to children.

The Verdant works also provides opportunities for interdisciplinary learning to take place. It would not only cover a historical learning experience for pupils visiting, but also would reinforce a range of Geographical skills and skills from other curricular areas, highlighted in the curriculum outcomes. For example, pupils could be encouraged to use maps in order to locate and navigate their way around the museum (Education Scotland, u.d.).

The section of the Verdant Works which I enjoyed the most was a replica of a Victorian classroom. This included artefacts such as old fashioned desks, chairs, blackboards and a belt on show for children to hold. As a learner this would provide the chance to compare class life now to the Victorian times, and experience what it would have been like in a realistic setting. This would spark curiosity within the children (Wilson, 2015). Within this part of the museum children are also offered the chance to try on Victorian children’s school uniform which gives them even more of an insight towards Victorian life.

I was impressed by the fact the Verdant Works had chosen to use a classroom replica from Victorian times to display as it makes the learning experience for school trips relatable and interesting. This activity also fits perfectly with the outcome ‘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’ (Education Scotland, u.d., p3).

The Verdant Works also had a large amount of information about life in the past which was displayed though audio, pictures, hands on interactions and computer displays, making learning fun. While visiting the museum, I noticed a range of age groups interacting with the information. I therefore think that this trip would be appropriate for children at first, second or third level.

There was an impressive section of the museum about life as a Victorian child. This was also fairly small and self-explanatory which, from a teachers point of view, would mean children could explore the museum themselves and lead their own learning experience (Hoodless, 2013).

The Verdant Works had a classroom space which included a board and materials available for pupils and teachers to use on school trips. This would allow pupils to discuss and take notes straight after exploring the museum in a safe, learning environment. However, I feel from a teachers point of view, encouraging children to take photos on class cameras and taking notes throughout their visit would be beneficial. This could allow the children to remember parts they were most interested in and parts they may wish to investigate further. This would also create opportunities for further learning activities such as writing reflective pieces. Within the classroom space there were also books relating to Victorian children which would be interesting for learners to look at and gain a deeper knowledge from sources they may not have in the classroom.

From my visit it was evident that staff members were happy to provide information and demonstrate how different things work, which would be useful to ensure teachers are supported when visiting with their class.

Overall I feel the Verdant Works would be a suitable trip to provide pupils with an exciting, informative learning experience and build upon knowledge teachers have already provided.


Arthur, J and Cremin T. (2014). Learning to Teach in the Primary School.3rd ed. Oxon:Routledge, pp.218

Dundee Heritage Trust (2018)  Nursery and Primary Schools-Verdant Works. Available at: 5/11/18)

Education Scotland (Undated) Curriculum for Excellence: Experiences and Outcomes. Available at:, p.2-4.

Hoodless, P. (2008) Teaching History in Primary Schools. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Wilson, A. (2015) Creativity in Primary Education. 3RD ed. London:SAGE publications.

The End of Discovering Maths

Before this module I saw maths as a boring subject which I wasn’t very good at and had no interest in. However now that the module has finished I see maths as a fascinating subject, which I use on a daily basis without even realising.

Three months ago I wrote my first blog post saying how I never had a good experience with maths over secondary school and how the thought of doing this module scared me. I can now happily sit here today, and say how I think this module has taken away my fears and anxieties I had relating to maths. Throughout my life I always heard people say ‘im bad at maths’ or ‘I’m not a maths person’, which I think made me believe I wasn’t either. Throughout this module I have learned that this isn’t the case as maths is involved in nearly all aspects of my life from baking, participating in sports and even planning what train I’m going to get, and considering I make my dinner and make uni on time (most times) I must not be too bad.

I have thoroughly enjoyed learning the four principles Liping Ma speaks of, ‘to fully promote mathematical learning’ (Ma, 2010, pp.210).  Having a knowledge of the four principles connectedness, multiple perspective, basic ideas and longitudinal coherence will help me to ensure I teach my pupils about the links between mathematical topics and how each mathematical topic depends on one another. It will also remind me to promote the many different ways there are in order to reach an answer to a maths problem (Ma, 20100.

I am no longer scared at the thought of teaching my future class maths, as iv learned it doesn’t have to be all fractions and percentages from a textbook, instead I am exciting to make maths creative and show pupils the relevance of maths in their daily lives. One of my new aims I want to have as a teacher is to avoid maths anxiety in my classroom by incorporating the 6 ways I have learned maths anxiety can be avoided. These six things include: playing maths games, being aware of my own attitude towards maths, practising the subject with my class, getting rid of the idea that someone ‘cant be good at maths’, giving help from an early stage and getting children to shake off mistakes (Lee, 2016).


Lee, K. (2017) How You Can Help a Child Who Has Math Anxiety. Available at: (Accessed: December 2017)

Ma, L. (2010). Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics: Teachers’ Understanding of Fundamental Mathematics in China and the United States. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge.

The creativity of Maths

Before this module I saw maths as a boring subject which involved sitting with a text book doing fractions and percentages but throughout this module I have realised there is more to maths than a boring subject which  I needed to get into uni.

The first workshop which changed my opinion of maths and I particularly enjoyed was with Eddie. That was the input when I discovered maths can be used in many creative ways.

We began the workshop exploring tessellations, which is “a repeating pattern that fills a space without overlapping”. There are different types of tessellations including regular, which involves one regular shape being repeated and semi regular tessellations which involves more than one regular shape being repeated, both creating a pattern (Lee, 2011).

A ‘regular’ shape is one which has all its sides the same length and all its internal angles the same size. The regular shapes that tessellate are: squares, hexagons and equilateral triangles. ALL triangles and quadrilaterals also tile but they are not ‘regular’ shapes and you often have to rotate them to make them fit together.

The reason regular shapes tessellate is due to the angle they make where the vertices touch – 360⁰ (Harris, 2000).

Tessellations are common in Islamic art, with three fundamental shapes playing a large role in the design of the patterns, found in many Islamic buildings. The three shapes are:

  • Equilateral triangles- these represent harmony and human consciousness.
  • Squares – these represent the four corners of the earth.
  • Hexagons- these represent heaven (lee,2011).

Having a go at creating our own Tessellations

The second half of the input was used to let us create our own tessellations. We had the choice of shapes and colours we wanted to use, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable activity. This activity made me think of how other aspects of learning can be incorporated in this to further learning. For example if doing this with an early years class shapes and colour can be explored and with an upper years class angles, symmetry and size could be looked at.

As well as other principles of maths being incorporated, simple life skills could be taught too, along side this lesson. For example how to use scissors, how to manage time (if given a time limit) and how to work in groups (if made a group task).

Exploring maths and art together in the one input allowed me to see an example of how Lipings Ma’s “connectedness” can be brought into the classroom (Ma, 2010). I can now vision teaching my future pupils about tessellations in maths and then having a go at creating our own patterns in art, to highlight how some subjects across the curriculum have links with one another and also that maths can be creative !!!


Harris, A. (2000) The Mathematics of Tessellation. [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 1 December 2017).

Lee, A. (2011). [online] Tessellations in Islamic Art. Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2017].

Ma, L. (2010) Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics – Teachers’ Understanding of Fundamental Mathematics in China and The United States. London: Routledge

The Importance Of Maths…

Before this module I never realised the extent to which maths is involved in every day life and how beneficial having a mathematical knowledge can really be.

In a recent module we had Dr Ellie (from the university medical school) come to talk to us about maths and statistics. She told us how important it was for professions such as doctors and nurses to have a profound understanding of fundamental maths. For example a nurse has to be able to measure correct amounts of medication in order to treat patients correctly (Education Scotland, 2008). This involves having an understanding of measurments and graphs.

Measurements are used by nurses in order to measure out the correct medicine dosage in relation to children’s weight. Nurses also have to have a knowledge of graphs and charts, in order to monitor progress and keep track of how much medication a patient has consumed (Hothersall, 2016), Thus showing how important a knowledge of fundamental maths can be in order to save lives.

Learning about graphs and data analysis is not only beneficial for employees to know but also children of a younger age. Teaching graphs from primary school will build on a child’s life skills by encouraging them to become confident individuals and function independently in society as they will have the ability to process information (Education Scotland, 2008). This may help with aspects of their future, from simple tasks like reading train times to understanding and adapting to the way in which the world is changing and be able to work out problems.

Yes, maths is essential in the workplace, but also during a persons regular day. From setting your alarm, planning how long a task will take, calculating money in a shop and even cooking dinner, many aspects of fundamental maths are involved. Such as simple estimating, problem solving and addition and subtraction. From now on instead of saying ‘im not a maths person’ I want to remind myself of the many aspects of maths I participate in pretty much every day.



Education Scotland (2008). What Is Curriculum For Excellence? Available at: 1 November 2017).

Hothersall, E. (2016) ‘Numeracy: Every contact counts (or something)’ [PowerPoint]. ED21006: Discovering Mathematics (17/18) Available at:  (Acessed: 1 November 2017).

Can Animals Count ?

In a recent maths input I was asked the question, ‘Can animals count?’. Straight away I laughed and responded with not a chance, but after the input and doing some of my own research, I am now unsure of my answer.

The first piece of information which made me doubt myself was down to a horse called ‘Clever Hans’. In the 1900’s it was believed that Hans could count. Apparently when the horse was asked maths questions involving addition and division, it would answer by tapping out the answer using its hoof. It turned out that infact Hans couldn’t count and instead of understanding maths problems was understanding commands from his master ‘Van Osten’. Through experiments and observations it was discovered that instead of the animal quickly doing the sum in his head, he was responding to his owner’s movements to know how many times to tap his hoof (Jackson, 2005).

At this point in my research I was feeling pretty confident with my response of animals cannot count, however further into the input we looked at chimpanzees and ants understanding of maths which were the most convincing examples of all.

Over 30 years ago a professor created a study to demonstrate how Amuyu the chimp was a very intelligent animal and could respond to mathematical problems. The study showed Amuyu getting shown 9 numbers randomly placed across a screen for 60 milliseconds before they disappeared. He then was able to click the numbers in the correct order of what he had previously seen. After I had a shot and failing at this exact test I was amazed to see (in the video we were shown), the speed of which the chimp completed the task and also how when numbers were missing he was still able to remember the order they were in. This ultimately suggests that chimps can engage with mathematical skills, however I am still unsure if I’m convinced or believe this was down to Amuyu having remarkably good memory skills (BBC, 2017).

Something I didn’t know before this module was how clever ants were. When ants leave their nest to go and get food they remember the distance they have travelled by apparently counting the number of steps they have taken in order to get back to the right place. This should then mean that ants have an understanding of numbers and counting…….

Researchers Martin Muller and Rudiger Wehner decided to investigate this theory and find out if that is the case. One of the tests they done was shortened the ants legs and the other was increasing the ants legs by adding match sticks to them, in order to see if the variables would affect the ants ability to calculate the distance they have travelled back to their nests. The researchers concluded that the ants with the longer legs continued to walk past their nests and the ants with shorter legs stopped before their nests. This was put down to the ants having internal pedometers, meaning that the ants do in fact count how many steps they have taken from leaving their nest and then take the exact amount of steps back. So by having longer or shorter legs, the ants still counted their steps back to their nests but just travelled a shorter or longer distance (Carey, 2006).

From the studies I have researched I still cannot pick a side as to whether animals can count or not. I do believe animals can understand the concept of counting (proven by the ant investigation), however I’m not sure if they can count as they cannot talk meaning they don’t have words for numbers.

In the future this would be a topic in which I would be interested in researching some more in order to have an answer. I believe this would be a great topic to look at with my future class to demonstrate how maths can be fun and associated with topics they are interested in (animals).

Can animals count ? The research continues…..



BBC. (2017). Super Smart Animals – Ayumu – BBC One. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 Oct. 2017].

Carey, B. (2006) (accessed: 27 November)

Jackson, J. (2005) (accessed: 27 November)

Muldertn (2008) Chimps counting. Available at: (Accessed: 27 November 2017).

Maths Anxiety

Looking back to seven years ago, I was in primary seven getting ready to start secondary school. Maths was something I loved and a subject I felt confident in.

Six years ago I remember sitting through a maths class in S1 looking at the teacher who was desperately trying to teach me how to do ‘The St. Andrews flag method’. I had no idea what she was talking about and remember feeling like I wanted to cry. How and when did I get so bad at maths?

From S1 to S4 maths was a struggle I remember fearing every lesson and trying to think of any excuse to avoid class whether it was ‘feeling sick’ or having ‘dentist appointments’. This of course made things worse as I began to make myself believe maths was more scary than it actually was.  I began to give up listening in class or paying attention as I believed I would never understand and paying attention was in vain.

This evidently affected me as I sat crying the night before my national 5 maths exam. Frantically looking through every textbook and jotter praying for a miracle that would somehow turn me into a math genius. This of course didn’t happen. I ended up spending my whole night watching ‘Mr maths genius’ on Youtube explaning ‘sin, cos and tan’ which, to me, were just random words. To cut a long story short, I failed the exam.

Despite getting good grades in my other subjects I remember feeling disappointed in myself. Looking through every university’s entry requirements, I began to realise if I was serious about becoming a  primary teacher I was going to have to try again.

Round 2….

Despite hating the walk to maths and dreading every lesson, I made sure I concentrated in class. After a year of sticking it out, I achieved an A at nat 5 maths. Out of all my grades I had achieved at Higher level, I felt most proud of this as it meant my dream of becoming a teacher could happen and maths was no longer holding me back.

A month ago I found myself sitting at a desk looking at a power point which read ‘Discovering Maths’ and thought “what have I done…?” The sheer mention of the word maths made me want be sick.

The first topic we looked at was maths anxiety. Reading through the symptoms and causes, I realised this was something I suffer from.

Maths anxiety is something I had never heard of until recently, and according to Hill, ‘is a debilitating negative emotional reaction towards mathematics’ (Hill, 2016). After researching I have discovered I am not alone in feeling anxious towards maths in fact it is believed that a quarter of the worlds population share this feeing (Brain, 2012).

When I become a teacher, maths anxiety is something I cannot bring into the classroom. I will refuse to pass my fear of maths onto any future generations. It is, therefore, my aim to become more confident in my maths abilities and defeat the monster that maths is.


Brian, F. (2012). Maths Anxiety: The numbers are mounting. The Guardian. (online) Available at: (Accessed 16 October. 2017).

Hill, F. (2016). ‘Maths anxiety in primary and secondary school students’, Learning and Individual Differences, pp. 63-68.