Exploring Edinburgh!

Whilst Steph and I had Stephanie’s friend from America, Apshara, over for the week. We thought we should take a trip to the capital to show her a little more of Scotland. Perfect time for another Social Studies blog!

All ready for our trip to the capital with our tartan and irn bru, stereotypical Scots!

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When we arrived in Edinburgh, we decided to go to Princes’ Street Gardens and the Wallace Monument. What I had never realised until we were looking for things to do to show Apshara was that you can go up the Wallace Monument. This is something I had walked past numerous times and never even considered. It is however, now that I know it is an option, is something I would be very interested to do at a later day because we did not have long in Edinburgh.

The Wallace Monument

At the gardens, there was a World War II Remembrance Day memorial surrounding the Wallace Monument. The memorial was hundreds of poppies on little plaques to represent the fallen who had served our country during World War II. This, in my opinion, felt like a representation of Flanders Field. Although I had never studied the poem Flanders Field in school, the memorial gave a very apparent representation of the image I had in my mind of Flanders Field. It was, personally, a very touching memorial.

The World War II Remembrance Day Memorial in Edinburgh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The memorial did not immediately seem relevant to a blog post or my assignment but as I have sat down to write this post, the relevance to my assignment is indisputable. The critical viewpoint of history’s place in the Curriculum for Excellence in short can be argued in two lights. One by the postmodernist views which state that history and some sources validity must be questions as accounts are in their view simply stories and the relevance of those stories must therefore be questioned. On the other hand, the relevance of understanding our heritage, how society was formed and understanding key world events such as World War II is critical to children’s understanding of the world but must be taught with relevance to the world and their lives today for example through Interdisciplinary Learning topics which also focus on issues in current society. This has all come into my social studies assignment. I felt the memorial did a spectacular job of capturing the importance of World War II in today’s society and it really moved me personally.

Part of the memorial was the ‘Tree of Thanks’. The Tree was to allow for people to thank someone or the fallen for the things they do/have done for them. This, to me, allowed for a personal element to the memorial and there were a lot of beautiful messages to both people’s chosen person and the fallen. This allowed for time to think and reflect on what the fallen have done for our country and what other people do for you every day. My Tartan Heart (Tartan, anything piece of our Scottish heritage I did not immediately think so) was of course dedicated to my mum. My mum (and dad) have done so much for me especially over the last few years I have been at university and I always think it is important to thank them.

The memorial really got me thinking as I had never seen any World War II Remembrance Memorial like this before. Although it has not really helped me understand the significance of teaching World War II as a standalone topic still, it has helped me to acknowledge that this is still an important issue in contemporary society.

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As a newfound big fan of the Scottish Museum, I thought this would be the perfect place to show Apshara a little bit more of Scotland and our heritage as a country. However, as a we got there quite late and they were closing from the top down, we never got to go to the ‘A Changing Nation’ section which I felt from my last trip here was the most relevant section to our lives and had the most information that would be interesting to Apshara.

However, this meant we went to a section of the Museum that Katie and I did not get to explore. Although we were only there for an hour and on top of the last trip, still did not feel like long enough. We went into the technology section on the ground and fifth floor which was purely for enjoyment and it was great fun. Stephanie had said previously ‘I am not sure I am going to enjoy a museum’ as I hyped up the place. This was the three of them after a great hour of fun!

Three clearly amused adults!

Stephanie’s parting words ‘this was great fun, we have to come back when it is fully open!’.

The clear enjoyment.

This comment alone only strengthened my opinion that although the museum is a huge place and there is a lot to do which makes it important, for the trip as a learning experience, to have a set area or task to focus on to keep control of the class and the experience. It is also important to allow children a chance to enjoy other sections that may interest them. These experiences, I feel from personal experience as a child on school trips, are what made me remember the trips and therefore the learning that took place. The fun and enjoyment as crucial parts to learning inside and out with the classroom but of course for risk assessments and health and safety especially outside need to be controlled by the teachers.

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The trip to Edinburgh as a whole was unexpectedly really worthwhile. It was a great stimulus for some serious thought into issues which are relevant to my current learning regarding social studies and an opportunity to broaden my own opinions and knowledge.

“Everyone is different…”

“But that means everyone can fit in” (Paddington The Movie, 2014)

Just from one quote, Paddington the Movie could stem a lot of lessons about inclusion, respecting diversity and expressing feelings. However, this was not the reason behind watching this film. We had been told about Paddington the Movie in our social studies elective as it showed migration in a different way to looking at this from a crisis point of view for example in World War II. This quote just shows the diversity of the movie and how much can be taken from it. The film could be looked at with a class for health and wellbeing purposes or for social studies.

Whilst I was watching it I was thinking more from a social studies perspective as, as I have said, it was why we were prompted to watch it. Right from the beginning of the film there were a multitude of different topics in social studies that the film could act as a stimulus for. Therefore, I am going to go through the ideas I felt could be derived from the film.

Firstly, in the film the reason behind Paddington moving to London was due to a natural disaster. An earthquake hit “The Darkest Peru” and caused devastated in their jungle. The earthquake also killed Paddington’s uncle. This could be a stimulus for a class discussion of how  Paddington would be feeling at this time, what the class would do in Paddington’s situation: would they stay in a ruined home/dangerous place or would they move away? This can also be used as a stimulus to look into natural disasters, can these happen where the children live? Where is the closest or most recent natural disaster? How did this affect the people of those towns?

Paddington is then left to evacuate to London on his own because his auntie is too old to move away. This can be linked directly to World War II topic where the children are forced to leave their homes to move to the countryside without any of their family or knowing where they would end up but they knew it would be the safety option in the end. The movie does make this direct correlation to the war and therefore could be an interesting discussion point. Another way to make the human connection the Paddington in this situation, the class could be asked if they were to move today and could only take a small bag, what would they put in this bag? Would the class be practical and pack food like Paddington did with his Marmalade or warm clothing or would they choose to pack things that are more modern such as phones, iPads, make up etc. This could create a discussion as to why they would take these items? Where would they charge them if they did not have a home? This takes the lesson right back to the children and can create a sense that children could be materialistic and why in a time of crisis materialistic possession would not always be most helpful.

Another small link to WWII can come through artefacts. In Paddington the Movie, Millicent, who tries to capture and stuff Paddington can be seen wearing a gas mask similar to those that would have been worn in WWII. This can be a stimulus for discussing historic artefacts. The children could guess what she is wearing and why she is wearing it? If they already know what it is, the children could discuss where else they might have found out about this artefact.

Through the film, Paddington’s idea of home and family changes. At first, Paddington does not feel like he belongs in London. He misses the Peruvian Jungle and his auntie dearly. He feels unwanted by Mr Brown but Mrs Brown tries to include Paddington into the family and find him a long term home. This could be related back to terrorist attacks or WWII through looking at how communities pull together in a time of need, how friendly Londoners/Mancunians have been in recent events to strike their city and take people in when necessary. The children could discuss how they can be helpful to their community or how they would feel taking in a stranger or being taken in by a strange family. By the end of the film, Paddington is finally settled into life in London and is now living with the Brown family permanently. Paddington says that although the Brown’s are a strange tribe and life in London is different to the Peruvian Jungle, he feels more at home now. And Mrs Brown tells him in London “Everyone is different, but that means everyone can fit in”. Even a bear.

Overall, I think throughout many points in the film it could be paused and used as a discussion piece. The movie as a whole could also be a great stimulus for many lessons regarding migration, crisis, natural disasters, inclusion, diversity and human connections.

Embracing my Inner Child (and the wind)!

Ok, so all my friends from the Central Belt of Scotland talked of great trips of the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh for class trips. Being a ‘Northern’, I had never been and was a little jealous. So, with the elective as a great excuse, Katie and I set off to Edinburgh for a day trip to the museum.

 

I walked into the museum and was overwhelmed by the size of the place, there isn’t anything up north quite as big. In the museum, there are sections for Scotland, Science and Technology, World Cultures, Art, Design and Fasion and the Natural World as well as the special exhibit section. There is so much in the Museum of Scotland, I as a 21-year-old adult, found it hard to focus at first. There was just so much to play with in the Technology section which we just so happened to walk into first. Another considerable difference, was the amount of children who were in the museum. Whenever I have been on any other of my trips, the children have been scarce. In the museum, there was a plethora of children in the technology section. This showed to me, this maybe a very good trip as the children would choose to come here but on the other hand, it may not be such a good trip if you worked in the local area as the children may have already been and therefore, may not be as interested in the museum.

 

This made me think as a teacher, there would have to a thorough plan in place for a trip to the Museum of Scotland as it would be quite easy to derail from the purpose of the trip. However, I would also not be opposed to timetabling in free time for the children to explore a section such as the technology section as it was highly interesting and I feel a class of primary 6’s or 7’s could be trusted to enjoy the free time sensible and come back to a designated point at a given time. This could be done with a younger class as well but I suppose it goes on how well you know and can trust your own class rather than a set age.

After spending probably a little too much time having fun, we only had two hours in the museum, Katie and I ventured up to the top of the museum for the section “Scotland: A Changing Nation”. This section I found really interesting as well. The majority of the exhibits in this section I could personally relate to. Although the exhibition was dated from 1900 to the present day, I felt like I knew most of the exhibits on show. This section really made me think about how much of Scottish History I have been a part of, from the best parts such as Glasgow 2014 to the worst drop in oil Aberdeen has ever seen, to exciting changes in history such as the voting aged being dropped for the Scottish Referendum to 16 years old.

 

A Changing Nation, I felt did really well at including the whole of Scotland in the exhibit which isn’t always the case in other museums, they tend to be focussed a particularly era or part of Scotland. In this section, Katie learnt I wasn’t lying when I asked Foos your doos? or fit like I’day? And told her these were real words when she watched a video from the people of Scotland. Both of us, were very fond of this video, it really encapsulated Scotland and our heritage. This section took us from more recent history straight through to the modern day. It helped me personally to understand where we had come from in perspective to where we are currently and how we as a nation have evolved over time. I feel to fully understand where we are, we must understand our heritage which in my own opinion is key in the rationale for teaching history.

As we ventured down the stairs into Industry and Empire, the 19th century section, we began to quickly get bored.

 

Whilst in the Industry and Empire section and even further down the Scottish history timeline and sections, although we did still feel there was a lot of information to take in and we did not see the significance to our lives as learners and questioned the relevance to children in our potential classes. We felt if we ourselves as learners were bored, we would struggle to engage children in a lesson in this section. Therefore, personally, if I were to take a class, unless it was specific to the topic they were learning about at the time, I would perhaps limit the Scotland section to only Scotland: A Changing Nation and the more modern history which children could relate to.

As I stated at the beginning, there were a variety of different sections and we unfortunately did not get to visit them all. However, we did have a quick look at the Art, Design and Fashion section. Katie had a class who were designing hats as part of a project with the V&A Dundee in her placement school last year and she felt they would have thoroughly enjoyed looking at the exhibits in this section. Katie felt this would have inspired their designs and inspired the children to be as creative as they liked with their hats. On the other hand, to myself, I wouldn’t have thought to take a class to this section as a teacher as although I thought the dresses and hats were pretty to look at, I did not feel myself gaining anything as a learner. Therefore, it shows, given the right topic this could be a great stimulus for learning and thus we must remain open minded to different sections of the museums for different topics and not just continue to use the same section or exhibits.

We also had brief look at the Age of Oil special exhibit. The Age of Oil exhibit was looking at the Oil industry mainly with the focus on Aberdeen. The Oil industry is a significant part of my life. I grew up spending my weekends playing at the Harbour with my grandparents. Both my dad, sister and at least one of my best friends, Findlay, currently work in the oil industry. It is hugely significant in Aberdeen. It is a big employer and has many jobs, to the point my dad, sister and Findlay all work in oil but neither work in the same company and neither of them even have similar jobs. However, neither of them work off shore either. Baring this in mind, here are my thoughts of the exhibit.

So far, I feel I enjoyed this trip the most out of all of the previous trips. There is so much that can be done in the museum and we couldn’t have possibly looked in depth at everything in the short amount of time we went so we did focus on Technology and Science and Scotland: A Changing Nation. We chose to do that as we felt those sections were most relevant to ourselves as learners and felt they would be most relevant to the children in our future classes.

 

Overall, here are our thoughts from the trip:

 

It was a very educational but fun day out! I had a great time embracing my inner child. Definitely recommend a visit!

Discovering a Preserved City.

Although I said in a previous post, Aberdeen and the Shire is a quickly changing city, so much so that I sometimes barely know my own local surroundings. However, ‘up North’ we do have some national treasures that are preserved in the town and surrounding areas history. As I had said previously, I was adamant to discover something different about my local area when I came to visit this weekend after failing to notice the beauty of everything surrounding me last weekend. Therefore, this morning I headed off on a little trip further North onto the Visit Scotland (2016) Castle Trail. I headed towards Dunecht to Castle Fraser.

Last weekend on my drive home from Inverurie, I had spotted the Castle Trail tourist information sign. After researching this trail when I got home, it turns out the castle it could have been directing me towards was Castle Fraser, therefore that was the one from the trail I choose to visit today.

Before leaving, I had chosen to do no research into Castle Fraser apart from the little snippet of information that was on the Castle Trail booklet. This was so when I arrived at the Castle I would have the same experience children would most likely have if I was to use this as a class trip.

(The little snippet of information I had before the trip (left) and part of the Castle Trail (right) (Visit Scotland, 2016) in Aberdeenshire.)

Much to my surprise, when I arrived there, the car park was quite full. Normally whenever I head to Dunnottar Castle, excluding once in the peak of summer, the car park is always empty. The castle was very busy with at least two other visitors in every room I went in. There were castle guides in 3 of the rooms as well who were very knowledgeable not only about the castle and the artefacts in the castle but also about the Victorian period in general. The majority of the visitors in the castle were older ladies and there was only one family with children. There were other families on the castle grounds doing the walking trails and in the play park.

When I first got to the castle, I took a wonder around the grounds. Castle Fraser is surrounded by copious green space: there are trails to walk around the grounds, the walled garden, play park, cafe and a visitor shop. At the shop, prior to going into the castle, I bought a Castle Fraser booklet. The information booklet would be fantastic for a teacher before going on the trip as it gives a wealth of information about the castle in general, each room in the castle, the Fraser families who occupied the castle and general Scottish history surrounding the castle. The castle dates back to first being built in 1454, around the time of the Scottish reformation, when the Fraser family was granted the land in exchange for Thomas Fraser’s land at Cornton (National Trust for Scotland, 2016, Pp. 3-6). The castle has since been renovated several times and is preserved, in the second to last renovation, in the early eighteenth century layout and decoration (National Trust for Scotland, 2016, p.8). The last renovation was in the nineteenth century but no inventory for how the castle looked then has been discovered (National Trust for Scotland, 2016, p.8).

(The Walled Garden in the grounds surrounding the castle (above).)

The booklet gives an in depth information of the tour around the castle. There are also information cards in each room going into more depth about the room and all the artefacts you can see in the room including the paintings and wallpaper. These go alongside, as previously mentioned, the fantastic castle guides. With the artefacts being the Fraser families’s belongings, it is a great way to show people, especially children who may never have had the chance to see these artefacts, primary sources from this time period. The artefacts have been incredibly well maintained over the years, which gives a more realistic understanding of these possessions than looking at photographs in my opinion.

 

(The Great Hall (above) and some artefacts, of the Fraser families’ belongings, from inside the castle (above and below))

I feel Castle Fraser would lend itself nicely to topics of Victorians or the Jacobites as it is maintained in the 18th and 19th century renovations with artefacts from the Fraser family dating back to those periods (National Trust for Scotland, 2016). The Dining Room in the castle, for example, has a Victorian table with the Fraser family silverware, glass and china on the table (National Trust for Scotland, 2016, p.14). Due to the wealth of information, the fantastic green space and the surrounding grounds, I feel this would be a suitable place for a school trip for those topics.

(The information cards that can be found in each room).

Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the castle, I feel it helped me discover something about Aberdeenshire in my bid to develop my local knowledge. The visit has made me more interested in local history and where possible, I want to carry on the Castle Trail (Visit Scotland, 2016) as there are still many more castles in Aberdeenshire to discover. When I was in the castle, I spoke to a lady, who was also visiting the castle, she was so enthusiastic and passionate about the fantastic history and castles we have in Aberdeenshire that it inspired me to visit more soon!

(The view of the castle grounds from the castle tower.)

References:

National Trust for Scotland (2016) Castle Fraser, Garden and Estate Scotland: GPS

Visit Scotland (2016) Scotland’s Castle Trail: Explore Aberdeenshire Available at: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/media/10248/scotlandscastletrail.pdf (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Tales Twisted in Time

On Thursday evening, myself and my two friends (Katie and Katy, just to confuse things) ventured on a Dark Dundee walking tour.

We had chosen to go on their least dark tour Twisted in Time as we wanted to know more information about Dundee’s history that we could use in our classes (and social studies assignment) and if this would be a suitable thing to use as a class trip. The Dark Dundee tour guides said whilst we were walking they had only worked with secondary school pupils before, giving them not only the tales and facts they know about Dundee’s history but also knowledge about travel and tourism and running a business. They showed great interdisciplinary learning ideas but sadly they had never worked with primary schools. However, before we were even half way round the tour, the three of us had decided this would be a fantastic trip to do with children, if the tour guides would have a younger class and miss some parts of the stories out to keep it PG. We felt as a group, children would be much more engaged in this than going round a museum. Katie and I had previously already said, that although there would be a lot you could do, we would find a trip to the McManus Galleries (Rennie, 2017) hard to plan for and managed therefore at our stage of development we would not take a class there. On the other hand, we definitely felt we could take a class easily on a Dark Dundee walking tour.

Why did we decide this? To the tour, we go.

The Twisted in Time tour took us on a walking tour around things: statues, plaques, streets, in Dundee which I knew nothing about, things that I have never even

noticed in Dundee before but are all critical in the history of Dundee. As we walked around these different spots, the Dark Dundee tour guides, told us the famous tales that had been slightly twisted over time but took those tales back to what they could prove to be true.

We started at the tour at the Dragon statue in the city centre. The tour began here as this statue is actually Twisted in Time itself. The Dragon came to be here after the tale of the nine daughters of a Dundonian farmer. The farmer had sent one of his daughters to the well to get water one evening, after a while when the daughter never came back, he sent another of his daughters to find out what was going on, this continued until all nine daughters never came back. The farmer then went down to the well to see a serpent at the well and all nine of his daughter dead. The farmer, alongside one of his daughter’s lover, Martin and the rest of the town, went to find and kill the serpent. The town tried to drown the serpent but this did not harm the serpent eventually the crowd yelled for Martin to slay the serpent with the club he had. This apparently took place on Strathmartine Road in Dundee and it has been named after Martin striking the ‘dragon’ which killed his lover and her sisters.

The tour continued down to Castlehill. Yes there is no Castle or Hill in Dundee city centre, you are right. However, well before the city centre was what it is today, there was apparently a castle situated on a very high hill which was incredibly difficult to attack. The castle was eventually ordered to be torn down by the old town mayor. The rubble and remnants created Castle Street. Along Castle street, the site of the first known pub in Dundee, The Lion Tavren, was situated along one Dundee’s old, narrow, windy streets – the layout of old Dundee was vaguely shown on a very old plaque on the side.

 

 

 

The plaque showing the old and current streets of Dundee on the old Castlehill, now known as Castle Street.

 

 

Listening intently at the site of Dundee’s first known Pub.

 

 

 

 

Further down Shore Terrace, which was where the River Tay used to flow to, we learnt about Greasy Johnny and the Whale. A humpback whale once was spotted in Scotland, many people tried to kill and claim the whale but eventually the whale was auctioned off. Greasy Johnny outbid an Aberdeen University Professor, John Wood who wanted to dissect the whale, to have the whale. Johnny, made a business out of the Whale by keeping it in a warehouse, selling tickets to people, at least 10,000 on the first day alone, to view the whale. After the whale was clearly dead, Johnny invited Professor John Wood to Dundee to dissect the whale as he could sell more tickets for people to view the dissection of the whale. After the whale was dissected and all that was left was the whale skin, Greasy Johnny took the skin on a trailer around the country, getting yet more money for people to see the skin of the humpback whale. 

 

We were lead up to St Paul’s Cathedral in the city centre were the tour unpicked the plaque that states William Wallace started the battle for Independence here. The guides said it was an over exaggerated claim. What is supposed to have happened is Wallace stabbed and murdered a governor’s son, Selby, after an argument at school. Wallace left Dundee and hid out in Perth before he was returned to Siege of Dundee, hailed a hero as he got rid of King Edward and his troops from Scotland. 

A final memorable tale, was about the witch, Grissell Jaffery, who was supposedly burnt alive at the Seagate on this cross. There are two mosaics down one of the closes where the memorial plaque is, one of fire and one of water to symbolise that they tried to drown Grissell which did not work and then burnt her as the last known witch in Dundee.

The plaque and fire mosaic at the close remember Grissell Jaffery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tour ended with Grissell’s death. Both the tour guides gave fantastic accounts of historic Dundonian tales. This was a highly engaging way to learn about different stories of Dundee. I think older primary classes, perhaps primary 6 or 7, would thoroughly enjoy this experience compared to a museum or learning from textbooks. This can meet a lot of the experiences and outcomes in People, Past Events and Society, particularly SOC 2-03a and SOC 2-10a in People, Place and Environment (Scottish Government, 2009). Being able to walk around and physically be at the sites, see the plaques, mosaics and statues made the tales far more interesting in my opinion than seeing photographs or reading the stories. The three of us felt that children would take a lot more in from being on a Dark Dundee tour than being in a museum or the guides coming into the class to do a talk about the history of Dundee. This allows them, through active learning, to see different kinds of sources regarding Dundee’s history to build a picture and story of Dundee from the earliest years (the guides suggested the earliest story they knew they could place between the year 0 and 1000) to bring this back to the what they know as the present, for example from Castlehill to Castle Street. Again, this can help them meet different social studies outcomes such as SOC 2-01a.

After the Twisted in Time tour, the three of us decided we would definitely go on another and recommend the Dark Dundee tours. The guides were fantastics, the stories were entertaining and the whole evening was engaging and interesting to learn about the history in different way. This post has merely been a brief overview of the tour and if you wanted to hear the full stories, more tales and learn about Dundee’s history I would recommend going on one of their tours. We are considering their special event in Claypotts Castle next!

A video of my experience of the walking tour!

References: 

Scottish Government (2009) Curriculum for Excellence: Social Studies Experiences and Outcomes Available at: https://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/social-studies-eo.pdf (Accessed on: 06/10/17)

The End of One Placement

Sadly, my time at Claypotts Castle Nursery is already over. However, it has been a truly fantastic learning experience. I have been able to have a hands on experience of working with early years children which I have not yet been able to do for more than a day. This has definitely made me feel a lot more confident now that I have my two schools for my third year placement. A few of my friends who have not been on the transition programme are slightly worried at what they are to do in the nursery and now having been into one for 8 afternoons, I feel a lot more confident and at ease at what I am expected to do in the nursery when the time comes.

Over the last two weeks, I have began to see the planning in the nursery and how lessons are taught in a play environment. After seeing the plans, the group lessons that the children have at the start and end of the afternoon all link back to the experiences and outcomes. This outcome is chosen by the group leader and they meet this in the same way a teacher would in the classroom – developing an idea that they feel would allow the children to develop to meet the criteria. There are also opportunities for the children to choose to engage in an informal lesson with one of the group leaders. This was so informal as it was through the children’s choice if they engaged in the activity that I was unaware of this happening until the second last and the last week.  On the second last week, one of the practitioners had taken children to make pictures simply using felt which was to meet the experience and outcome EXA 0-02a (Scottish Government, 2009, p.3). The children created their pictures on their felt square with pieces of felt before covering them in water and fairy liquid and rubbing this in to make the pieces stick together. I assisted the practitioner to make notes and take pictures for the children’s observation for the learning journey folders. This was a very interesting opportunity as I was able to see the different abilities that were already prevalent in the children with the language development and ability to take turns and think about others. There was huge difference in the abilities and this is something I am definitely going to keep in the back of my mind for my third year placement.

On my final week, I was asked by a practitioner to work with a group of children to create an experiment. The practitioner had read that if you inflate a balloon indoors then put the balloon outdoors due to the cold weather, it should deflate overnight and if you then take it back inside to the warmth, then the balloon should inflate again. The children and myself worked on blowing up the balloons, only one of about seven children could blow up a balloon, which i thought was pretty impressive for a 4 year old. Before taking them outside and tying them to a tree. The children all had their names on their balloons and were excited to come back tomorrow to see if the experiment had worked. Although, there is not significant learning in this I believe, developing language skills in the children such as using the word experiment and asking them what they thought would happen through closed question ‘do you think the balloon will go down outdoors or do you think the balloon will stay the same?’ is developing their hypothesising skills for science which they will return to develop further in primary school.

Overall, the whole project has been so insightful. I have learnt a lot about how the nursery works. I have been able to see what children are like from a young age and how they can learn through play. I am truly thankful to Claypotts Castle Nursery for having me every Wednesday and my three lectures running the project for this opportunity. This has given me a big boost of confidence and taking away a lot of questions and nerves for returning to a school in February for my third year placement. I would definitely recommend if the opportunity is available to the upcoming years to take it!

 

Reference:

Scottish Government (2009) Expressive Arts: Experiences and Outcomes Available at: https://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/expressive_arts_experiences_outcomes_tcm4-539863.pdf (Accessed: 09/12/16)

First day at Nursery!

On Wednesday, as my previous blog post stated, I was off for my first day of nursery for part of my Transition Project at university. The nerves this morning were there a little bit but not as much as the night before.

The minute I walked into the school, I was greeted by a lovely receptionist at the front desk for the school which automatically made me feel more relaxed.  When I arrived at the nursery, they weren’t exactly expecting me. Which seems to be the issue whenever I arrive at a school so thankfully that never made me nervous at school. I was introduced to the staff at the nursery which was a team of 16 ladies for a nursery which can have 60 3-5 year olds and 10 2 year olds in their panda room. Although, they currently aren’t working at full capacity.

Immediately, this amount of children and the size of the nursery was a big change from the nursery I went to which was about half the size in both respects. I had not yet seen the size of the nursery but I was imagining it to be quite big. Much to my surprise, it was about half the size I expected however it did have a big outdoor space to play. Outdoor play is something I am hugely passionate about due to the positive impacts it makes on childhood; the statistics on how well the Scandinavian countries, from whom outdoor play holds a substantial part of their pedagogy for early years’ education; and because many of the fond memories I have of my childhood are from playing outdoors with my parents.

The afternoon in a nursery was very similar to an episode of “The Secret Life of Four Year Olds” from channel 4. There was a lot going on for the children to choose from but apart from at the beginning and the end of the session there was no structure to the day; it was all free play. When the children first come in, they are spilt into six groups of ten (when the nursery is a full capacity) to have a chance to speak with one of the nursery teachers* and to do the register amongst other things.

The group I was placed with for the beginning was consolidating what they had learnt yesterday from their visit from “Farmer Jill”. Firstly, I thought the fact that they had left this consolidating until today instead of the group time at the end of yesterdays session was a fantastic idea. This meant that the children could go away yesterday and think about what they had learnt , giving them time to process all of the information they had learnt before they had to summarise their knowledge. This was very similar to what I can imagine a structured lesson with a small group of Primary 1 pupils could consist of. When we began the questions on consolidating their knowledge were very closed questions such as “can you remember who came to visit yesterday?” but this meant that all of the children knew the answer but the same children were always the ones who wanted to speak which quickly became chaotic was three or four children were shouting out different things. The children’s group leader* improvised and had the children pass round one of the spaces which meant that the children all had a chance to share what they could remember from yesterday and what they enjoyed most. This first half an hour of the afternoon session was very structure and the children were sitting for a long time before they got to play. However, I can see this as beneficial for the children for when they are moving into primary school and are expected to have structured lessons all day very soon.

The rest of the afternoon was free play for the children. One of the big things I noticed was the lack of interaction with technology. There were two computers and one smartboard that the children, as far as I am aware, can use. However, the children were much more interested in doing activities such as baking, making puzzles, arts and crafts but mainly they were interested in playing games outside including tig and tag and hide and seek. To see children enjoying playing outdoors in the current age when technology is an ever growing medium and outdoor play is steadily decreasing was very encouraging to see.

One of the big things I have observed with the teachers in the nursery today, is their range of tone of voice and their excitement when talking with the children. I was always aware that this would be something I would need to work on when going into an early years setting as my ability to change of my tone of voice with ease can be rather limited. To be able to observe how the nursery teachers do it and how the convey excitement when the children are excited about something is definitely something I am paying close attention to. It was also when the children were speaking over one another in group time, the teacher was never cross or shouted at them but the way she spoke when she asked them to allow someone else to have a turn meant the children understood what they were doing was not kind to the person whose turn it was to speak. I am hoping that through observing this practice over the next 8 weeks that to be able to pick up and replicate some of their skills to be able to improve my practice for my third year placement.

Overall, I had a fantastic first day at nursery: there were many great opportunities to observe, learn, build bonds with the children and most importantly, play. I am thoroughly looking forward to going back after the October break.

 

*As I have not yet had the chance to ask permission to name the teachers in my reflections, they will currently stay anonymous.

Finale of Discovering Mathematics

My essay is submitted. The last workshop is over and it’s the end of the discovering mathematics module.  To round off the module, I thought I would post an end of module blog post.

Was the module what I expected?

Discovering mathematics wasn’t exactly what I expected if I am being honest. I expected it to be a lot more directed at our future in the education profession (even with it being an elective module – I still thought this because it was an education elective) and I sort of thought it would be like our maths inputs from Teaching Across the Curriculum module in second semester of first year.

Did the module disappoint me?

Not at all – even without it being what I expected it to be. The best thing about the module had to be Richard’s excitement and enthusiasm. There isn’t many people who can take demand planning, turn it into a game and have everyone in the palm of their hands.

What did I gain from the module?

Before the module, I thought I knew a fair bit about mathematics. After the module, I realised I only knew the mathematics I was taught in school and mainly from secondary school which I perceived as pointless during and after standard grade maths – there was no relevance to my life which is exactly why I didn’t finish higher maths.

During the module, I realised just how relevant maths is to our day to day life (for everyone) and society. However, I still stand by the fact I think standard grade and higher mathematics is pointless… Who even uses standard deviation really?

The mathematics we discovered throughout this module was maths and music (who doesn’t listen to music?), the mathematics behind pineapples, the mathematics outside the classroom: it is the type of mathematics that is simply all around us. But it is also the mathematics we are never taught about at school. This module has given me a fresh outlook on why we need mathematics which leads nicely onto the next question I had to ask myself…

Where/when will I use this in the future?

The fresh outlook on mathematics that I have gained throughout this module has made me realise just how little relevance there is in learning mathematics out of a textbook for children. Examples in textbooks go on about little Jimmy buying 30 Watermelons (really?).

This module has given me multiple ideas of how to bring relevance into mathematics when I teach – even without the module being directed at teachers.

A particular lecture that stood out for me, for teaching in the future, was the maths and astronomy lecture by Dr Simon Reynolds. I think the majority, if not all, children learn about space when they are in primary school and I have never thought about the space in space. Yes, teachers tend to leave out learning about the space in space – the irony. Dr Simon Reynolds spoke to us about the size of the planets, pictures normally used to convey the planet sizes compared to one another but never about the distance between each planet. This will definitely affect my teaching when I teach a class about space.

Furthermore, in the future (a little bit closer than getting into my own classroom) I plan to take the information I learnt from Will Berry’s input on outdoor education and maths for my second year Learning from Life placement at Adventure Aberdeen and hopefully use this in relation to my placement as Adventure Aberdeen is an outdoor learning centre.

Where is my maths anxiety now?

We began the module with Tara Harper asking us to fill in an survey on how anxious we were about teaching mathematics and how we felt about mathematics (which I blogged about earlier), so I thought after going through the module it would be quite nice to reflect on this.

At the beginning my maths anxiety wasn’t overly high compared to a few of my friends anyway. I would say if I am being honest, it hasn’t really changed. I am still anxious to get graded on this module. I would however say that I do feel a bit more prepared for teaching maths in school now as I have many more ideas that I can use in the classroom (and I know my friends also have multiple ideas as well that they will hopefully share) and I can now approach maths in a classroom with ideas that will be a lot more relevant to a child’s life.

However, my friend who stated she had “awful maths anxiety” before this module now “definitely feels more confident with understanding more difficult maths such as (the) Golden Ratio and (the) Fibonacci (sequence)” and that this can all be put down to Richard. (Alexander, 2015)

Finally, do I recommend it for next year’s second years? 

If this hasn’t already convinced you – whether you love or hate maths, whether you are great or just feel you can’t do maths – this module is for everyone.

Yes it isn’t directed at teaching but you are bound to take lots away from it whether you think you know a lot about maths or you know nothing.

There is no “difficult” maths. There isn’t really any sums involved. You are looking in depth at the ideas and principles behind maths (and no it is not as boring as that sounds) as well as how maths comes into society (it really isn’t just the traditional STEM subjects like I first thought – who knew there was maths in a pineapple?…).

Richard’s enthusiasm and excitement will see that it is another great module next year again I am sure.

History and Literacy Outdoors!

Outdoor Education – two words that make any lecture automatically more interesting to me.

For Will’s input when he said we were actually going outdoors today I was as excited as any primary school child! As soon as we were allowed outside, off we went skipping away like little primary two’s.

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We literally went off skipping in excitement…

 

 

 

 

As we only had twenty minutes before we had to be back into the input, we cou10ldn’t go particularly far or find particularly much. However, what I did find that we could discuss was road safety, road signs and markings such as yellow lines – discussing with the children what they thought they meant. I also thought of reading things like bus time tables as this is a skill that is probably going to be relevant to their lives and is also something no one ever taught me to do.

 

However, after the input I went off for a wonder by myself down to the riverside. I already knew about the poem stanza down at the riverside and this was originally my first thought when Will told us to find something to do with literacy in the outdoors.

I was thinking of this as an upper years outdoor education lesson for history and literacy which could meet all four of these curriculum areas (Scottish Government, 2009):

Literacy (Reading): I can make notes, organise them under suitable headings and use them to understand information, develop my thinking, explore problems and create new texts, using my own words as appropriate. LIT 2-15a (p.31)

Literacy (Writing): By considering the type of text I am creating, I can select ideas and relevant information, organise these in an appropriate way for my purpose and use suitable vocabulary for my audience. LIT 2-26a (p.36)

Health and Wellbeing: I am experiencing enjoyment and achievement on a daily basis by taking part in different kinds of energetic physical activities of my choosing, including sport and opportunities for outdoor learning, available at my place of learning and in the wider community. HWB 2-25a (p.86)

Social Studies (History): I can investigate a Scottish historical theme to discover how past events or the actions of individuals or groups have shaped Scottish so1ciety. SOC 2-03a (p.283)

My lesson idea was to take the children down to the riverside with a notebook, first allow them to take some time to write down some words to describe what they seen, smelt, felt etc. I would give them some time to have a read of the tourist signs to see what information they would take about the Tay Bridge. I would allow some time for the children to discuss why they think we need the Tay Bridge.

Some pictures of the information signs for the Tay Bridge

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My final part of the lesson would be for them to read the poem “The Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay” by William McGonagall (no date) which reads (a small extract from the section of the poem at the riverside):

“Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay!

I hope that God will protect all passengers

By night and by day

And that no accident will befall them while crossing

The Bridge of the Silvery Tay

For that would be most awful to be seen

Near by Dundee and the Magdalen Green”

 

I would allow them to take notes from the poem stanza and give them time to discuss the poem. After going back to the classroom, I would have a copy of the poem for the children to read the full version if they wish.

Some pictures of the poem engraved at the River Tay.

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When we got back to the class I would take some time for a whole class discussion on what they are learnt from the trip: from what they could initially see, smell, feel; to the history of the Tay Bridge; to McGonagall’s poem.

Whilst we were out, I would take pictures of the experiences, videos of the children and what they are thinking. Then when I would get them to reflect on what they have learnt in any way they wish the write it for example in a poem, diary entry, a creative story.

If I was carrying this on for a topic of the history of Dundee, when we were on our outdoor trip, I would perhaps ask the children to take a carrier bag with them and collect things to make a picture of the Tay Bridge for cross-curricular links with art.

As the Magdalen Green is continual mentioned throughout the poem – I would take the children out to the Magdalen Green for them to explore this as it is also a crucial part of Dundonian history. Allow them to go round collecting facts, items etc. for another outdoor lesson on the history of Dundee.

When we were finished the topic on the Tay Road Bridge: I would take the children down with chalk, allow them to add to the information (that they are learnt over the topic) provided at the Riverside on the ground. Documenting this with photographs and videos for the children assessment. I would also allow them to do this down at pavement at Magdalen Green with the facts and information they have learnt about Magdalen and its link to the history of Dundee. They could use the photographs in a portfolio for their assessment.

I feel this overall would be a lot more engage and active learning for the children instead of sitting at a desk with textbooks learning about the history of Dundee. These activities also have a lot more cross-curricular links than sitting reading facts out of a textbook about history.

 

 

References:

McGonagall, W. (No Date) McGonagall Online: The Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay Available at: http://www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk/gems/the-railway-bridge-of-the-silvery-tay (Accessed: 02/12/15)

Scottish Government (2009) Curriculum for Excellence Edinburgh: Scottish Government Available at: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/all_experiences_outcomes_tcm4-539562.pdf (Accessed: 02/12/15)

My French Phobia

As a teacher I probably shouldn’t be as worried about as many subjects as I am. Maths, French, English… However, in French I have always had a big phobia. I remember missing my first few lessons of French in primary six and forever feeling permanently behind since then. I have never really known the French alphabet or the basic numbers confidently. French has always been one of the few subjects whilst studying that I haven’t enjoyed. A subject I have had to force myself to do any work for. At the same time being one of two subjects that I had to study for almost daily to even attempt to pass my standard grade credit exam for.

All of this fear and anxiety was transported back into my body the second I walked through the door of my first French workshop at university. I was immediately greeted by a cheerful Carrie saying “Bonjour!” as I entered the room and there I was fear struck and transported back to second year at academy. I wanted to turn round and run straight back out of that room.

Carrie had set out the room to be in small groups. I had managed to sit in a group with someone confident in French. I began to slouch in my chair and try to avoid eye contact with anyone. I felt although I did not belong. I hadn’t spoke, read, written or even thought about French since passing my standard grade and I was no longer obligated to do it.

However, even though there were a few things I did not know in the lesson, I felt the workshop went quite well. At first I was very reluctant to join in with saying things or doing the actions that Carrie had prepared for the words. I would sit quietly saying the words I knew and avoid saying anything I didn’t until it came to the point Carrie would watch to make sure we were all joining in. I began getting more and more involved in the workshop when we were all one big group.

The minute we were spilt into five and more eyes were on me, I felt uncomfortable and anxious again. I felt people were actually listening to me and probably judging how bad I was. However, listening to people saying they were uncomfortable and also had the same experiences as me again made me relax a tiny bit more. Then once again, Carrie then changed it to focus more and more on the individual – in a group of twenty five. I was panicked. This was the worst. However, once I had over exaggerated this. No one told me I was wrong. No one embarrassed me. Carrie handle the class perfectly.

Even if I was completely rubbish at the French, I came out of the workshop feeling more comfortable, confident and ready to go back next time. Carrie had not only taught me some French, she taught me how to teach French in a fantastic way without even saying it. I compared the workshop to my primary and secondary education: I automatically knew what kind of teacher I wanted and did not want to be when it comes to my turn to teach French which is always a successful outcome in a education degree.