Category Archives: Curriculum resources

The Great Tug of War

Copyright of Beverely Naido with illustrations by Piet Grobler

Copyright of Beverely Naido with illustrations by Piet Grobler

*This is an old post that I created in my old blog last year*

While at uni this year I have joined a book club within the School of Education. This is a club where we discuss possible books that we would use in our classes. The first meeting we talked about “Diary of a Wimpy Kid’. We thought it was relevant and engaging to children today but it would be used as more of a lesson about bullying than a personal read for children.

Coming up to Christmas we discussed the differing representations of Santa. As a club we watched the film ‘Father Christmas’ and looked at the book alongside this. Unfortunately, due to the language, we did not feel this book would be appropriate in the classroom. However our discussion soon moved onto modern day representations and why we thought these were so appealing to children. One popular discussion point for us was ‘Arthur Christmas’ as it was a modern take on the theme and that this would appeal to children and their various ideas about Santa. The most fascinating point to me was how meeting Santa in a ‘Grotto’ has changed to being able to Skype him!

We recently met, just after our Christmas holiday, to swap books that we felt we would use in a classroom. I chose “First Term at Mallory Towers” by Enid Blytton as I personally enjoyed it as a child, and as an adult I feel that it has a lot of important lessons for children.

In this book swap I was able to read “The Great Tug of War” by Beverly Naidoo. This was a great book even if, in my opinion, some of the morals towards the end were a little questionable for a classroom. I feel that this book would appeal to children due to the characters and pictures featured in the book. In particular, Mmutla the hare as the children could relate to his cheeky personality.

I felt this book was great because of all the cross-curricular activities you could do with it. The obvious one is literacy, where the children could create their own story using the characters from the book and create their own moral, this would also link into RME. I feel that you could extend this lesson to drama or PE as you could do a creative piece to music reenacting their stories to the rest of the class. This could then incorporate peer assessment as the children could feedback on the different aspects of the piece. You would also be able to include social studies through this book as the author is South African and uses traditional words to name her characters, therefore you would be able to teach about a different culture and the significance of the language chosen.

Overall a great read for teachers and pupils!

Stuck on the fruit machine…

Copyright of Code Club UK

Copyright of Code Club UK

*This was a post I created in my old blog last year*

Last week we went back to Code Club at Glebelands Primary School. We unfortunately did not manage to go the week before, so when we arrived we learned that many of the pupils had progressed to the next stage of coding. Previously they had made games about the main characters of Code club and produced their own fireworks displays, this time they were attempting to create their own fruit machine game. Each of these areas are a different level in Code Club thus teaching the children the basics while steadily increasing the challenge level and this time it was certainly challenging. This increasing aspect of the activity continuously engages the pupils as they want to solve the challenge. Over the last few weeks we have been learning about self-esteem in children, we looked at the different aspects of high and low self-esteem and the effects it has on pupils. Within this class I feel that the pupils have a healthy level of self-esteem this is because they are focused on their growth and improvement of coding and happy enough to make a mistake, I feel this is because of the way Code Club is set out and how it teaches children to know that mistakes are ok and how to rectify them.

The children were quite happy getting on with this activity at the beginning until they came to stage 3!! This stage wanted them to stop and start the ‘sprites’ (a technical word for characters) when you clicked on them. Code club has a set of instruction that the children follow therefore, normally when they are stuck, the pupil or you just go back through the instruction in case they have missed anything. Thus teaching children to problem solve and improving their literacy skills by following the instructions carefully. However this time this method did not work. I sat with one pupil for whole the hour trying to figure out what was wrong and as the rest of the class arrived at the same stage we were all stuck by the end of the activity. We stayed behind after the kids had left to try and figure out this problem. This helped develop my teaching experience for when a lesson plan or activity does not go the way I had planned and so have a back up option available. Unluckily we were unable to fix this problem on this particular day, however when my fellow students returned the next week they managed to fix this by locating the action code required which we could not find before. Such a simple fix for a very big problem! However we have now hit another wall – challenge 7!

Unfortunately we will have to tackle this one after the Christmas holidays.

Code Clubbing is the new thing in schools!

*This is a post I created in my old blog last year*

Through out my first term at Dundee University, there have been many new things to get to terms with. The first and most importantly the course. This has been something that has made me feel like I have 100% chosen the right degree for me. There are aspects that we have looked at that I hadn’t realised how important it was to becoming a teacher, for example the importance of child development in their first 18 months!

Alongside the academic side, I have had many opportunities to engage with other aspects of teaching, for example getting involved with Code Club. A few of my friends and I went along to this seminar being held in the University about the Code Club. This is an organisation run throughout the UK teaching children how to Code. This showed me the importance of engaging children in current affairs, as this is a skill they may need more of in the future. It is a great learning tool as it teaches the complexities of coding through small manageable chunks. This allows the children to engage with the task at hand while using their imagination to create their games.

Last Wednesday, one of my friends that went to this seminar and myself went to Glebelands Primary school in Dundee to help their code club. This was a great experience to see the club in action. When we arrived we spoke to the teacher, Harriet Brownlee, who organises this after school activity for her Y7 class. She showed us what a great tool Code Club is for incorporating various aspects of the curriculum into a simple 1 hour activity. This is because Code Club incorporates ICT through the coding, literacy through reading the instruction manual, maths and expressive arts through creating their game. Harriet also expressed how Code Club does not necessarily have to be used as an after school club only and that it can be very easily transmitted to a classroom. This is due to the setup of Code Club as the children follow the instructions which need very little help from the teacher to understand. This is shown in the picture below, as it displays the easy colour coded instructions the children are given.


It also promotes social aspects as the activities are aimed at children and, as I saw at Glebelands, the children work together to help solve other’s problems. This was one key aspect that Harriet expressed as it was child led, the teacher is really only there as a support not necessarily help. This links into my course as this term we have been learning about the different developmental theories about education. In particular this links into Vygotsky’s theory of Zone of proximal development as he believed children learn better from a more knowledgable peer. This was what I saw in the children at Glebelands as there was one child who was slightly behind the others, however her friend was helping her to understand where she was going wrong, and by the activity she was able to do it herself.

I look forward to going back this week!