Category Archives: 3. Prof. Skills & Abilities

IDL in Primary School

Teaching Across the Subject Boundaries – TDT

When asked to reflect upon an IDL topic which I had done in either primary or secondary school I realised that everything that I remembered had some sort of emotional connection to it. One emotional and memorable IDL topic was World War Two.

Thinking back, I and my other classmates were so engrossed in the topic that we did not realise that there were connections to other subjects being made in order to enhance our learning. That, I believe, is something to take forward into my own teaching. Being able to grasp a whole class, which was from primary 4 to 7, to emotionally connect to a topic is very influential. Thinking back, I think this was achieved by telling us stories and teaching us through films and documentaries set around World War Two, for example, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo (which is still a favourite book of mine, just showing the impact is had one me), Goodnight Mr Tom (I was so emotionally connected to this film that I was eager to read the book shortly afterwards) and a documentary, that was luckily on BBC2 at the time, about a modern day family going back in time to World War Two and how their lives differed. But, as some teachers may just let us watch and listen to the stories, films and documentaries, we were encouraged to have a discussion about what we have just learned which allowed us to share our understanding, especially as this was a class of mixed age and ability. By having this discussion, we were so emotionally connected that our class teacher asked us to write a short diary entry about a day in the life of someone during WW2, these ranged from soldiers out on the front line, to wives and families back home. By doing this it made me truly realise how everyone was affected by the war, and thus a link to literacy that we were unaware of.

By using visuals, we were able to connect and understand our learning a lot better, and it also made it more relevant. To this day, in my own teaching, I prefer using a book to grasp the children from the start of any new topic.

When we were also asked to reflect, however, we were asked if maths was involved in our IDL learning, and from what I can remember, maths was never included in IDL. Perhaps this was because I went through the prescriptive 5-14 curriculum. Nevertheless, I truly believe if maths was included within a context, such as IDL, then my own maths anxiety would be non-existent. Maths could have been included, for example within the WW2 topic, by having to weigh and measure the right rations for the class, which would not only help us with our measuring and weight skills, it would also help us realise the shocking lack of food families during WW2 were receiving, creating more of an emotional connection that I believe can be important in IDL learning, as mentioned above.

Creating these connections within a topic without the children truly realising that they are using literacy or numeracy, for example, I believe means children are using the skills they would be using outside of school. Today, we all use skills we learned in primary school, perhaps through IDL, in our own lives without truly realising it. Some of these skills can be taught through IDL to prepare children for their future.

Scientific Literacy

Scientific Literacy and Education

Scientific literacy is becoming a prominent feature within education. In the Science Principles and Practice section of the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) (2010) there is an emphasis on this area and that we, as teachers, should be developing scientific literacy within our pupils.

When first being introduced to scientific literacy our thought was that it was based upon knowing a range of scientific language and being able to use them appropriately, but that is the complete opposite of the true definition of scientific literacy. After doing some reading (W. Harlen and A. Qualter, 2009), it was clear that scientific literacy is more than simply understanding scientific language. The definition of scientific literacy is connecting the knowledge children have in science to real life events, so they can analyse and evaluate science based articles to ensure what they are reading is scientifically accurate. Therefore, they will be able to understand that they should not always believe what they read about science in the media. This is a very important aspect we should be teaching children as previous media reports have shown how the public can be easily led by “scientific based” news stories.

The knowledge of scientific literacy is extremely important, especially when you look at examples of when the lack of knowledge has been proven to be dangerous in society. In 1998, a doctor named Andrew Wakefield released a paper on the research he had been doing about the link between the MMR vaccine and autism. As this research was released by an extremely respected medical journal, Lancet, editors and members of the public started to panic. Suddenly anti-MMR stories started to be printed by many other newspapers as people were coming forward with their stories. The country began to think they had been lied to by the medical authorities and turned to the government for reassurance. The press asked the Prime Minister at the time, Tony Blair, what his thoughts on the vaccine were and if he would give it to his son, Leo. He refused to answer and this lead to many stories on the MMR scare being about his son in 2002. Thankfully, an investigation in 2004 led to Lancet coming forward and admitting that the research by Andrew Wakefield was improper and inaccurate. Unfortunately, even after all of this, people still doubted the vaccine and this is all down to the lack in knowledge of scientific literacy. If the public had been scientifically literate, they would have been able to analyse the article and realise for themselves that it was based on inaccurate research and was an unfair experiment. Therefore, it is important to teach scientific literacy within school, through teaching things like fair testing.

Fair testing in science is the process of carrying out a controlled investigation in order to answer a scientific question. Children need to understand that a test is only fair if only one variable is changed during the experiment. Pupils will experiment in science the whole way through school. Therefore, they will develop their skills and knowledge of fair testing and why it is important. It is essential that teachers understand fair testing themselves so as to explain the terminology and concepts of a scientific experiment to pupils. (The School Run, 2018). Scientific literacy is not knowing lots of scientific facts. It is instead an understanding of how science actually works. It is important for children to have good scientific literacy as they progress through school and into further life. Practicing fair testing during school will help them explore science rather than simply learn and retain facts. It is therefore essential as pupils will learn the proper ways to test in science and will be encouraged to answer questions and discover for themselves. Using fair testing through experimentation could create a more positive attitude towards science and improve pupils’ scientific literacy through enjoyment (Durant, J. 1994).


Thus, a focus upon scientific literacy must be emphasised within schools to ensure a new generation of scientifically literate children who do not believe everything they read. This can be done through teaching fair testing and making science relevant to real life.



Durant, J. (1994). What is scientific literacy? European Review, 2(1), 83-89. doi:10.1017/S1062798700000922

The Scottish Government (2010) Curriculum for Excellence: Sciences principles and practice. Available at: on: 8th February 2018)

  1. Harlen and A. Qualter (2009) The Teaching of Science in Primary Schools. 5thedn, London: Routledge

What is a Fair Test? (2018) Available at: (Accessed on: 10/02/18)

RME, it is not just about religion

“What have you learned during the RME inputs?”

When faced with this question I was not 100% certain what I had learnt, until I had todays input. It’s all about the child’s understanding behind religions and their personal journey to find that.

I realised this today after getting to see and touch artefacts related to various areas of RME, including those from the picture at the top. It really made me realise that having objects engages children much more as they can put a visual to what you are saying, additionally gaining more of an understanding.

But you cannot just have the objects alone, there needs to be discussion surrounding them, such as what do you think the object is used for? how do you think we should handle them? These open questions are allowing the children to think deeper leading to a better understanding which is, ultimately, what I would set out to achieve.

Overall, I am much more confident in teaching RME to children and I do not think I will ever know everything to do with all religions! But that’s okay, I think sometimes learning with the children allows them to understand that you are human too and that (as much as I think we find it hard to admit) teachers do not know everything!

Making those mistakes, researching and working with the children will, overall, lead to a more positive ethos within the classroom, helping with other areas of classroom and behaviour management.


Reflecting on this first semester I have realised that I, as a person, have changed professionally and personally.

I used to be quite an anxious person and found the thought of starting University quite daunting. But now, I am relishing in the fact that I am here, and I should be enjoying every moment! Which leads me onto my new lease for life, that I should not take everything as a knock back, treat everything as a new learning curve and a way to improve. A key element, I believe, for being a reflective teacher.

This new lease for life is a great value which I should try and instil in the children I teach and to make them aware that it is okay to make mistakes. I became aware of this new lease for life whilst doing the working together module. It made me understand that, sometimes, you need to make a few mistakes in order to get the best outcome and I was able to reflect upon this using Brookfleild’s lenses….something I will never forget and I will need to be an effective reflective teacher.

Being a reflective person was something that we were always told about from the beginning and was something which I did not truly understand and thought it was just something that we had to do. But, I understand now that to be a reflective teacher will not only benefit myself but also the children whom I teach, as they will not just be getting the same teaching style or resources all the time. I will change for the better therefore the children will too.

However, a key moment of professional reflection is through the values module. I was initially a bit sceptical about this module and did not understand how it would benefit me professionally. However, I now understand our own values need to be in the right place in order to teach children as we will be a role model for them and, hopefully, their own set of values. I was able to explore my own values and how these might relate to myself personally and professionally and what society makes of me. It was interesting and eye opening and made me realise the true extent to which my values go and the example I should be setting for children.

I will continue to reflect throughout my professional practice in order to become an effective reflective teacher.

Pink or Blue?


Recently, I watched a short video based on the toys in which children play with (above). However it is not the children who intentionally pick these toys, it’s the adults surrounding them that subconsciously repeat this throughout society. But why does there need to be a divide between girls and boys toys?

As a society we have invented this notion of “pink for girls” and “blue for boys” and even when you ask children what there favourite colour is girls will normally go for pink and boys will normally go for blue. But is this because we are subjecting them to this from a young age through the toys they receive?

My favourite colour is blue, does that mean I am boy?

Even when you walk into a toy shop you can clearly see already where the “boys toys” are and the “girls toys”. Even certain brands have made specific gendered toys even although they could all play with it regardless of the colour. But there seems to be this perception that only girls can play with dolls and boys can play with cars.

Lets put this into an adult situation where both elements of play are real. The women stay at home all the time and look after the children and the men go out and work in a mechanics for example. We would not be happy with that way of living, we would want change. Which we have……haven’t we?

Subjecting children like this is not helping there development in this modern world. They need to be taught that it is okay to be who you want to be and play with who and what you want to play with.

I have recently seen, in a nursery setting, how all the girls loved to dress up, walking over to the hangers with confidence with the idea of “who am I going to be today?”. They dress up as anything from their favourite Disney princess to a police officer. However the boys tend not to sway with this idea, normally going to the lego or to the house corner to play with the babies. I’m not saying that boys don’t play dressing up, they do, but from what I’ve seen most boys ask if it would be okay first.

If girls can then why can’t boys?

Relating back to the video at the beginning, the adults with the children tried to give them toys relating to their “gender”. Subconsciously they are giving the children these toys as society has brought us all up to believe that is right. However, if you give children a set of random toys they will play with anything, they will not think that this is the toy I have to play with.

They just want to play.

And play is essential to learning, developing and ultimately making our children happy. Which is an equal understanding we all share.

Letting children chose what they want to play with rather than telling them will, I believe, help with this. Even in a classroom setting let the children be who they want to be, if not we are restraining them from being themselves. Let them bring their own toys in which they enjoy playing with as it will make them happy.

Next time you walk into a toy shop just see how many “boys and girls toys” there are.
I think you’ll be surprised!