A Summer of Scottish Studies!

After my first Scottish/Social Studies input with Anna, she had suggested we take a road trip as part of the elective module. Amongst the suggestions Anna made was the Forth Rail Bridge, beaches and the Falkirk Wheel. Without even noticing it previously, I realised during the input that my summer was filled with a lot of Scottish Studies adventure.

There was numerous Scottish landmarks I managed to tick off but the two I really enjoyed was the new Queensferry Crossing and the Falkirk Wheel.

 

Fortunately, my friend Zoe and I were two of the 50,000 that secured a place in the ballot of a lifetime to walk across the new bridge. This was a fantastic opportunity and something that I know at some point in my career will definitely come up, whether it be history, geography, modern studies, at some point there will be a relevant link to the bridge or the opportunity.

 

The Kelpies have been something that have intrigued me for a long time as a child and they were definitely one of the Scottish Landmarks on my Bucket List. When I came to university and met one of my best friends from Falkirk, she promised to take me to see them one day. Finally, three years later (typical Katy style) we made it there this summer. We also went up the Falkirk Wheel, the Falkirk Wheel is the first and only rotating boat life (Scottish Canals, No Date). In the tour, the guide told us about the history of the wheel, the engineering design behind it and some tourist information about Falkirk.

However, for my job, I was also in and around numerous cities but I never got the chance to visit some of the fantastic things I was driving/walking past every day. My job sent me to Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and Stuart Melville College in Edinburgh for coaching. I drove past River Dee and The Old Deeside Line walk which always look beautiful but I have never actually done. In Edinburgh, I walked through the grounds of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The grounds were gorgeous but due to being committed to work, it meant that I could not go into the museum as I was working in the opening hours. Therefore, it shows me in Scotland, from my home time (Aberdeen) to further afield, such as the capital, there is still so much I can discover in a small or longer road trip and make it ‘productive university work’, I will take that as a win! I am sure my friends and I will have no hesitation to go on a road trip. We do love a beach!

 

Reference

Scottish Canals (No Date) Falkirk Wheel: About the Wheel Available at: https://www.scottishcanals.co.uk/falkirk-wheel/about-the-wheel/ (Accessed on: 30/9/17)

Take Me To Neverland!

Quite literally.

Today, I decided to go on a bit of an exploration around Kirriemuir. Why not have a road trip which can also be deemed educational, right? The road trip lead me to Camera Obsura which is located in Kirriehill.

Kirriehill is a centre with a play park (Neverland), Millennium Woodlands, JM Barrie’s (the author of Peter Pan) grave, Wilkie’s Shelter and Camera Obsura. A small walk around Kirriehill and the Millennium Woodland gave me a bit of information and history about Kirriemuir.

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The walk taught me a bit about JM Barrie who was a famous playwright born in Kirriemuir and his life is very celebrated in the local community. The Camera Obsura, which was unfortunately shut in the winter months, is dedicated to Barrie and is one of only three remaining in Scotland. Barrie and his family are also buried in the graveyard at Kirriehill.

The playground “Neverland” named from the story Peter Pan, was incredible. We may have had a little play until we realised it was supposed to only be for children aged between 3 and 12 years old sadly. I could have imagined taken my primary 1’s here for outdoor learning and play.

Once I returned home, I continued on the educational and productive Saturday and started my placement file. Whilst looking at my school’s website, I read that Kirriehill is where the school take the children for outdoor learning. Therefore, I felt that that a post about Kirriehill should be included in my file to show I have been here before and in the instance that my class were to go here for outdoor learning and play then I have evidence that I am aware of the location and some of the facilities it offers.

Pictured below: the play park entrance and important health and safety (no adults, sadly).

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The Start of Another Placement

We have finally been given our third year placement schools. After having a fantastic last day at Claypotts Castle nursery, getting my third year school and nursery was a great excitement to be able to know I am going back into school so soon.

This excitement may have taken over a little bit as my desire to go and see the school quickly overcame my lack of motivation to proof read my assignment for the hundredth time. Before I knew it, I was in my car and off on a road trip to go and have a look at the area. I have driven past the signs on the dual carriage way for Kirriemuir countless times however I have never went in past and I knew nothing about the area. I knew that this was an area I need to develop my knowledge on for my placement folder. Therefore, I thought having a drive could do no harm.

I had a bit of a look around Kirriemuir itself. The setting is surrounded by the Angus Glen’s and one of the Cairngorm Mountain ranges. Kirriemuir is an absolutely gorgeous place and I can only hope that my school takes full potential of the setting they are in to develop their outdoor learning.

Just by chance on the way back to Dundee we drove through Kirriemuir town centre and there was a little Tourist Information centre which I thought may have some leaflets or information for me to further develop my knowledge of the town. The two ladies who worked in their could not have been more helpful, they allowed me to look around, take a selection of leaflets about Kirriemuir and Angus in general (as although I drive through it a lot, I did not know a lot about Angus either), and the ladies let me know that the are very accommodating to have classes come to the Tourist Information as they have a lot of resources to help. They were very excited that I had a primary 1 class as they do not often get ‘the little ones’ in to visit and it is normally just primary fours or primary sevens. This is something that I will be well aware of when I am on placement and if the children are learning about something relevant to the town that could spark a trip to the tourist centre then it would definitely be something I would suggest to the class teacher.

Overall, as my previous blog and this one has clearly shown I am so excited to get back into school. The transition project has greatly influenced my confidence and my (lack of) nerves going into this placement. It is one of the reasons I am ready to get back into school. If February could just hurry along, then that would be great!

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)

The Panda Room

Today was the day when it was time for the twos.

My nursery experience today took me into “The Panda Room” and an afternoon painting and getting messy with the two year olds. There were a lot of difference between being with the two year olds and being in with the three to five year olds so I thought I would reflect on today with a blog.

The first thing I noticed before the children even arrived as how friendly with main practitioner with the two year olds was. This came with two lessons. Firstly, I noticed in myself how at ease I was immediately, Mrs Q*, was easily one of the friendly practitioners I have ever had the experience of working alongside so far. Mrs Q was very welcoming, talkative and wanted to know all about my experience of teaching and being at nursery. This made me realise how much easier having/being someone like Mrs Q can make these experience of coming into a unfamiliar environment, both a new place and a new teaching experience, for a student teacher. When the children came in, Mrs Q was exactly the type of practitioner the two year olds needed. She was calm, relaxed and spoke so slowly and well pronounced that it was an easy transition for the children coming away from their parents into the nursery.

The Panda room can have up to ten children in it but there were only three girls and one boy in today which meant there were three practitioners as well as myself in with the children which meant we had a one to one basis with the children. This meant that the atmosphere in the Panda Room compared to the 3-5’s room was automatically more relaxed. There were a few differences in the Panda Room, mainly the children did not come straight into group time for registration. This could be because there are less children and therefore there isn’t a need for the register but it allowed the children to come in and just get straight into playing with no formalities such as a set group activity like in the 3-5’s room and in a primary class room. This made me realise that the two year olds are just too young to be coming into nursery to partake in formalities such as these and they are at nursery purely for the play and social interaction with other children.

One of the critical things I noticed whilst in the Panda Room was that there were huge developmental differences in the two year olds to the 3-5 year olds that I have been working with normally at nursery. Normally with the 3-5 year olds – they are able to verbally communicate and many are using their words in full sentences. However, in the Panda Room, the two year olds have very limited words. The children have observation books where any progress in their language and communication is written down, for example one of the children was able to repeat ‘bananas’ and ‘apples’ whilst playing and this was noted in her observation book. This was one of the biggest difference in the two rooms and one of the hardest for myself to get my own head around. I noticed that I had totally changed when I was working with the two year olds for the first half an hour or so. I had realised that because the children weren’t communication through words then I also went a lot more quiet. As soon as I realised this in myself, I told myself to snap out of it. Just because the two year olds have limited words does not mean that I then as a twenty year old also go quiet. I knew that I should be doing the opposite and modelling words and expressions for the children to copy and learn, therefore this is what I tried to do for the rest of the afternoon.

Another key difference I picked up on in the two year olds were just how egocentric they were. Everything was about themselves; they were reluctant to share and play together. They also took a lot longer to process things. The children took a lot longer to come to terms with me being in the nursery. However, one of the children who initially would not even let me touch them or help her put on her coat and do up her shirt sleeve. By the end of day when her mum came to collect her, she ran up to me and gave me a cuddle goodbye which was an amazing feeling that the child had accepted me and her presence in the nursery.

*I have decided not to name anyone in these blogs as I have not asked for permission from the individuals to be included in my blog.

Take a Wonder into the Woods

As the old favourite goes – if you go down to the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise.

After missing my placement lifestyle of being so relaxed and enjoying nature, that and after reading ‘Nearby Nature: A Buffer of Life Stress Among Rural Children’ (Wells and Evans, 2003) – I decided to drag my flat mate, Steph, on a stroll around the country park nearest our flat. What I anticipated to just be a wonder around a picturesque park was quite different. I did not realise all of the different activities the country parks had to offer for families/children.

The first weekend, we visited Crombie Country Park. Crombie Country Park had multiple different walking routes the longest walk being around the loch and only at a distance of 2 and 3/4 miles with another 3 slightly shorter routes as well. Before we went off on our walk, I was not aware of what Crombie had to offer, especially for children, even the spectacular scenic views surprised me. Amongst the beautiful scenery however there were a host of surprises to keep the children entertained. There were activities such as find the giants, an orienteering course with different levels and little woodland “animals” hidden around our walk.

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Find the Giants in the trees

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Part of the orienteering course for the children

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The hidden animals

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No excuse to not take the children here!

Crombie Country Park also had the facilities for tree top trails, a play park, a young naturalist programme on a Saturday and a picnic/bbq area. Amongst this, there ranger team are on hand for activities such as arts and crafts or guided walks as well as school trips from nursery through to secondary to assist teachers and lead outdoor activities in the park.

A week later, after still being in awe at Crombie, Steph and I headed out to Monikie Country Park just across from Crombie. Whilst Monikie has less trails to offer that we could find, they were currently hosting the Dragon Matrix, which I am devastated I never managed to go to, which took up a lot of the park forrest areas. However, Monikie had a beautiful walk around the lake, a play park for children, a huge green space and lots of picnic tables where a few families were enjoying a picnic. Even with all of these facilities and resources, there were only two or three families at Monikie as well.

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The Dragon Matrix – cross curricular learning – outdoor education, art and technology!

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Perfect for the family – a beautiful walk and a great play park.

However, even with all of these different activities and play parks for the children, both Monikie and Crombie Country Parks were surprisingly quiet. There were only one or maybe two families that Steph and I noticed in either of the two parks. Considering the fact we went on a weekend, during the afternoon, once I realised all of the activities and the park, I did expect there to be more families at the parks. As after Steph and I had discussed, this is what my of our parents would have taken us to do on a weekend when we were younger. This made me really reflect on my recent reading about outdoor education particularly this quote below from Adam (2013, p.524).

“Accompanying the obesity concerns are fears for children’s safety which are leading to increased indoor activities (Jenkinson 2001; Palmer 2006; Coster 2007; Waller 2007; Alexander 2008). This trend towards children being ushered indoors has occurred despite the fact that statistics about risk outside the home are relatively small compared to parental fears (Coster 2007; Waller 2007; Alexander 2008; Layard and Dunn 2009).”

This shows thimg_2558at due to parents fears in this contemporary society and the desire to keep their children safe, they’re wrapping their children up in cotton wool and not allowing/taking them outside to experience these amazing resources and opportunities that the Country Parks offer.

Steph and I are determined to make these walks a weekly event with Forfar Loch Country Park next on our list. I would definitely recommend taking a break from all of the assignment or work and getting yourself to one of the country park to see all of the fantastic natural resources and activities they can offer for yourself or for your class. Why be stressed when you can go play outside and call it educational?

 

References 

Adam, K. (2013) ‘Childhood in Crisis? Perceptions of 7-11 year olds on being a child and the implications for education’s well-being agenda’ in Education 3-13 International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education, 41(3) pp.523-537 London: Routledge

Outdoor play in Early Years

For my second week back at nursery, I was asked to spend my afternoon outdoors. This request was met by my delight at the chance to have a look into some more learning in the outdoor particularly as this is an age that I have had no experience working outdoors with.

In the nursery there are no set lessons or plans for the children and they are free to play how they want, it was a chance to see what the children would do with their outdoor free play opportunities. Due to the fact that parents in this contemporary society are trying to protect their children as best as possible, this unfortunately means that children are not getting the opportunities to “exercise their bodies or to encounter the excitement and challenges of the outdoors. As a consequence an increasing number of children have weight problems. Current figures suggest that 22.9 per cent of four- and five-year-olds are either overweight or obese” (Dowling, 2010, p.172-3).

Whilst I was outside with the other practitioner, Mrs H, we got chatting about the limitations of outdoor play in the primary setting. Mrs H and myself discussed the fact that the children whilst in nursery had the choice to play outdoors in all weather conditions and the nursery practitioners had no choice but to be outdoors as well in all conditions. The only thing the children were told on this particular day was that they had to have a jacket on to play outside. However, on the other side of a fence, life for the children in the primary school was much different. Children were running round in the cold without jackets on but the minute the slightest bit of rain came on, the children were ushered indoors for the last ten minutes of lunch break. This is very common primary schools. It is almost as if teachers are worried of children getting cold whereas from what I can remember as a child as well as from the experience I had today, children tend to want to be outside regardless of the weather conditions. It was really important for me to see the difference between the nurseries practice and the primary stage practice.

This made me reflect on the idea of learning in the outdoors and the fact that the majority of teachers, regardless of this being a vital part of the CfE, only viewing outdoor education as a one of lesson when the weather is nice.  However, as the nursery children proved to me – they do not care what the weather is like, as long as they are having fun, enjoying themselves and getting to play, they are more than happy to be outdoors in the rain. Robertson (2014) stated weather as one of the common reasons that teachers worry about before they start outdoor learning. This should not be a worry for teachers as on my Learning from Life placement with Adventure Aberdeen there was not a single session we considered cancelling due to the weather – the students were just equipped by the centre with appropriate clothing for the activity and weather. Therefore, when teachers are planning for an outdoor education lesson, they should advise parents in advance that the class will be going outdoors and that children will need the appropriate clothing for this and remind them we are in Scotland. Teachers also need a degree of flexibility when planning for learning outdoors as Robertson (2014) suggests as the weather may not allow for one activity but this does not mean the lesson should be cancelled but simply adapted to fit with the weather

With weather, I have experienced both extremes whilst at camp and whilst on placement. As already stated on placement, the children were out in all weather conditions from sunny days in the sea to snow sand sledging. However, at camp, the as soon as it rained – in a little bit – the children’s activities were changed from normal schedule to rainy day schedule. This meant that the children were kept indoors even when it was just drizzling. You could tell from the children that this was frustrating for them as they looked forward to the activities they had selected and these were often cancelled, normally these days were back to back. In my views, if Scandinavians countries can have children out in all weathers and this clearly has an impact on their children’s wellbeing and education then we should follow the lead of Adventure Aberdeen and the Scandinavian countries and try to get our children out in all weather conditions.  In contrast to the nursery and the primary setting this is two extremes on the scale although it rather remarkably shows the same point – a little bit of rain can totally hinder the joy the children are having outdoors.

Children, in my view, should, like in the nursery, have the opportunity to have their voice heard and make decisions for themselves as to whether or not during their free play time they would like to stay outdoors in any weather, as long as they have appropriate clothing for the weather on, or if they would prefer to go inside. I understand that this is not always possible as the children need to be supervised and this would be stretching the playground assistance, there could possibly be solutions, for example the children who want to play indoors go to the games hall instead of their classrooms.

Reference

Dowling, M (2010) Young Children’s Personal, Social and Emotional Development 3rd Edn. London: Sage Publications

Robertson, J. (2014) Dirty Teaching: A Beginner’s Guide to Learning Outdoors Wales: Independent Thinking Press

To trip or not to trip: The McManus Gallery

As part of our TDT from Nikki following our social studies workshop: Katie and I decided to take a trip to the McManus Gallery – a place we have been curious about since moving to Dundee 2 years ago.
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As we had never been before, we had a look at a few experiences and outcomes from the social studies document that we thought might possible fit with what we imagined being in the gallery. Those experiences and outcomes were:

“I am aware that different types of evidence can help me to find out about the past. SOC 0-01a”;

“I can use evidence to recreate the story of a place or individual of local historical interest. SOC 1-03a”;

“I can compare aspects of people’s daily lives in the past with my own by using historical evidence or the experience of recreating an historical setting. SOC 1-0”;

And finally, “I can investigate a Scottish historical theme to discover how past events or the actions of individuals or groups have shaped Scottish society. SOC 2-03a”.

When we went into the McManus, we realised that there was a very wide variety of resources, information and materials. This made it difficult for us to pin point one topic that you could be focussing on if you were going to be taking a class on a trip. There was multiple suggestions that Katie and myself went back and forth contemplating such as a topic on: the 3 J’s of Dundee: Jute, Jam and Journalism; the Tay Bridge Disaster; Dundee city centre through time, travel throughout time. Although there were resources on all of these topics; there was only one small section on each of these which meant that if you were to take a class based on any of these topics then it would be difficult to fill a morning or afternoon using the gallery alone as a lesson.

However, if the class were doing a topic just on Dundee: Past, Present and Future. I thought that maybe having the class spilt into different groups for working in the gallery and outside the gallery.

If I were to take a class on a trip, I would have one group looking at city square; group two looking at the 3 J’s, the third group looking at the Tay Bridge and the final group looking at the waterfront.

For the city square group: I would begin with them standing oimg_1848n city square reflecting on what they can see, hear, feel around them. I would then take them into the section of the McManus Gallery titled “What is a Museum?” and have them discuss in their group what they believed they would be able to find in the McManus on their topic. I would then take them into the Modern Making of Dundee section of the gallery; allowing them some time to look around before directing them to the model of the city centre from the past before getting them to imagine and discuss what they think they would hear, feel and see around them if they were to stand in the city square at this time. I would take this group into the study section to discuss what they think the future of the city centre of Dundee will be like, looking at the development of the waterfront and the Wellgate shopping centre. I feel like this is relevant to their lives as it is looking at Dundee as a progressive img_2408city and it is looking into what their future will look like in Dundee. I would also have the group discussing what they would want for the future city, if they would like to stay in the city in the future.

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For group two who would be looking at the 3 J’s, I would start with them in the section What is a
img_1853Museum? and have them discuss what they think they should be looking for in the gallery. I would allow them time in the Modern Making of Dundee section to explore before directing them towards the 3 J’s exhibit and the Beano exhibit as this was a crucial part of journalism in Dundee. I would allow the group some time in the study section on the gallery to look into the Beano magazines and discuss what they have learnt from the exhibits on the 3J’s. I would get the group to discuss what they think will happen to journalism in the future thinking about technologies role in journalism. I would then get this group to finally go out and look at Bash Street just along from the museum, discussing its role in journalism in Dundee and look at the Beano statues in the city centre to bring the trip to an end – if there was time: I would get the group to sketch the statue or the Bash Street sign.

My third group I would start down at the River Tay. I would get them to look at the current bridge, draw a sketch of it and discuss why they thought we needed a new bridge. I would then get them to look at the signs around them and look into the history of the Tay Bridge: including the Tay Bridge Disaster, much like the English Outdoor Lesson (which you can find a post about here) section of the gallery, allowing free time to explore the exhibit before asking them what they have found that links to their topic. If they are struggling, I would direct them to the Tay Bridge disaster exhibit. Finally, I would get the group into the study section of the gallery and get them to share what they have learnt about the disaster and the current Tay Bridge and think what/if any predictions they have for the future of the Tay Bridge – linking in with technological advances in travel which they can also go and look at the past methods of transport and how they can imagine travelling over the Tay in the future.img_1850img_1852img_1851

 

My final group that I will have looking mainly at the future of the Dundee Waterfront. I would have them start iimg_1849n the Modern Making of Dundee section and allow them to explore to see what they can find about the past waterfront of Dundee. I would then allow this group to move outside and down to the current waterfront. I would get them to describe what they can see and make comparisons to what they now know about the history of the waterfront. I would get the group back into the gallery allow them to have some free time to see if there is anything they can find on the modernisation of the waterfront: using this and basing it on prediction I would have the work each/in pairs take a section of the waterfront and sketch what they think it might look like in 5/10 years time.

To conclude this trip: I would have each group create a presentation to feedback their knowledge and what they have learnt with the other children in the class. This presentation could take the form of powerpoint, art work, amongst other ideas. I would then link this into a technology input and have the children use google maps to find the places they have visited and create one whole class map conveying the past, current and future of Dundee: which I intend to blog about in a future post.

Overall, this trip would take a lot of planning and a serious amount of additional help from parents and other teachers. This would make the trip rather difficult to get around. The McManus Galleries although they have a huge range of fantastic exhibits that are very educational. There is not an in depth section on any particular part which would also make this trip rather difficult.

Personally, I at this stage in my development would not choose to take a class here. However, as I get more confident in my teaching and have a class of my own so I know the children – this is something I may consider as the class can learn a lot about Dundee from group work and there is a broad base of exhibit the children can use to expand there knowledge – more than likely more than there could ever be in a class or school.

My Dad is on Facebook!

Strange educational blog post title – yes.

However, after 6 years of protesting how much he dislikes facebook, around a month ago my dad officially joined the digital space and made a facebook account. This shows me just how much we are moving towards a digital age and how much our lives revolve around the internet.

This combined with Derek’s lecture today made me think about how much I really know about the resources available online – which in fact is very little. I spend a good proportion of my day online for a variety of purposes and I am constantly connected with having multiple devices. For someone who spends a fair percentage of my day online, I felt that I should be aware of what children are using the internet for. Turns out, I don’t.

I have recently had a keen interest in outdoor education sparked and am beginning to look at this linked with the decline of playing outdoors in childhood with the link to the rise in technology. This had given me a rather fixed view on technology. Technology had been something I apportioned blame to for lack of play and creativity in young children recently. Turns out, I am wrong.

Although, there is a strong link with the decline in outdoor play due to technology. Technology is not entirely the bad guy. It can stimulate creativity and play. I have never heard of many of the resources Derek enlightened us to in his lecture today nor have I ever played Minecraft (sorry Derek). I have a youtube account but don’t exactly use it. It is clear, I am not a digital native. But, I am willing to learn. With my dad finally accepting that we are moving into a more digital world and joining facebook, I think it is time I look at digital learning space and resources available to children and teachers. It is time that I move into this digital age before I head into a class and become the teacher that does not know how to switch on the latest technology.

I hope by looking more into the resources available online that this will give me a more critical stance on outdoor education and technology. No one subject area works best for every child and I should know about a variety of different ways of learning rather than just the areas I am interested in. It maybe time to download Minecraft. Do you even get a Minecraft app? Well, I am about to find out. Wish me luck. Digital immigrant here I come. Like father like daughter. The 21st century is awaiting.

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.