Category Archives: 1 Prof. Values & Personal Commitment

Dancing – A Cultural Take

So this post hasn’t worked out exactly as planned – as Glow is insisting to view the video from the post you have to download it – but don’t worry, I promise it’s worth it!

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I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share a bit of Scottish Culture – Highland  Dancing!

Albeit one of the oldest styles out there, it was traditionally only danced by men. (Which is very different nowadays, as the sport is now around 95% female!) In the past, the style was used as a way of selecting the strongest men for battle, as the dances test strength, stamina, accuracy and agility.

This particular dance that I have filmed (myself!) doing, is the highland fling. Historically, it was danced on a small round shield by soldiers heading into battle. Nowadays, as a solo dance, dancers are only encouraged to dance on the spot, no shield needed! it is the first dance in the programme at competitions where it can either be 4 or 6 steps long. This dance was inspired by the Stag – the arm movements used represent the animal’s antlers. There is a legend that states an old shepherd was giving his grandson a lesson on the chanter when he spotted a stag in the distance. The Grandson got up and imitated the stag, whilst moving to the music of the chanter – alas, the Highland Fling was born!

There are some lovely stories behind other highland dances. One of which is the sword dance (OR “Gillie Callum”). This would be performed by a soldier over two crossed swords, prior to battle. He would dance around them and then over them, getting faster towards the end. If he was to touch the swords at any point, it would be a bad omen for the battle ahead. Nowadays, this is obviously not the case, but a clattering of the swords will have you disqualified and you won’t place in the dance! Luckily for younger dancers, there is some leeway, if they gently touch the swords, it only means some points are deducted…

The Seann Truibhas (“shin trews”) is another great story. The name comes from the Gaelic word for “old trousers”, and there is very good reason for this. In 1745, the kilt was banned, and this meant it could not be worn for dancing purposes, therefore, the dancers were forced to find an alternative. Thus, being the tartan trews! The dance starts off very graceful and has a lot of shaking momevents of the legs, this symbolises the hatred to the garments they were wearing and is supposed to look like they are being kicked off! The final step of the dance is faster, and ends with a leap (front-split like movement in the air!), demonstrating the satisfaction of finally being allowed to wear a kilt again in 1782.

Highland Dancing has grown in popularity over the years and there are now major championships in almost every corner of the Globe. Derivations of the movements have been created and some amazing choreographies have been thought up and performed in front of crowds of thousands!

Day 1 at Somerset

Okay. So. Somerset is AMAZING!

Arriving at the school this morning was incredible. The campus is so big there are separate gates for pre-prep, junior and high school. I am still overwhelmed at the size of this school and the amount of staff they have for everything. They even have a snake catcher!

The beginning of my day was spent getting photos taken, completing inductions and collecting my “blue card” which permits me to work with children in Australia. I was also shown around the school a bit more getting a glimpse of their library, staff rooms and all of the fire evacuation points. Fire procedures etc are similar to those in Scotland, but it was so interesting to hear abut their “lock down” procedure they have in place “just in case”. When this happens the song “the man from snowy river” plays over the loudspeakers, which prompts all doors to be locked and the children to hide away out of sight.

The classroom routine is also noticeable different. Between the beginning of school and recess, children stop to have a “brain snack”. It was so lovely to see a study break being encouraged and the children learning about the importance of relaxing their mind. It was also a shock to see how much the sun influences the day. All classrooms have approved sun tan lotion for children to apply, and “no hat no play” is enforced school-wide to provide extra protection to the children’s heads and necks. Additionally, the majority of the school is actually underneath shade to ensure the safety of the children.

I particularly loved the work ethics in the classroom. In the afternoon the children were working on their “rainforest cafe” as part of their assessment for the end of their first line of inquiry. The children all went off to more “comfortable” working areas. I was astonished at how to motivate the children were not only to get a substantial amount of work done but also to do so at a high standard. All without prompting from the teacher! No one was off task, no one was chatting off topic – it was incredible!

At the end of the day, we went along to the week 8 assembly. I definitely had not anticipated how formal this would be. The school head, as well as the head of the junior school, were sat on the stage as well as a selected few pupils who ran the assembly. I was even asked to stand up and wished a happy birthday in front of the whole school (which was a very nice touch!) Then, they only went and announced the national anthem. I wanted the ground to swallow me whole as I didn’t have a clue what the words were. I definitely have some homework to do!

Now for day 2! I am so excited to see more inquiry in action, specialist teachers and lots of sports!

Placement Jitters

Current mode: panic!

No, not really. However, I am feeling very nervous about placement which begins TOMORROW. I say placement but is, in fact, a “prac”. I arrived in Australia Friday just passed and about to undertake a placement in Somerset College, an International Baccalaureate world school in Queensland!

As well as all of the nerves I felt before my last placement, I’ve accumulated about ten zillion more. Well. Ish. This is a totally different curriculum to Scotland and I am so incredibly excited to learn more about it.  An (unexpected) tour around the school when I was

An (unexpected) tour around the school when I was fresh off the plane has really given me a feel for the place. It is nothing like any of the schools I’ve been in before. It has an Olympic-sized swimming pool (which actual Olympic teams come over to train in!), a massive gym complex, sports fields, running tracks, multiple buildings, hugely facilitated classrooms all on a campus about four times the size of the campus at Dundee Uni! A short introduction to my class and a quick chat with the teacher has given me a little insight into the class dynamics. Lots of excitable little faces that I can’t wait to teach and learn from!

Australia as a place is EXTREMELY HOT. I am boiling, but it is way better than chilly Scotland. I
am very intrigued to learn about how the sun affects the daily routines of the school. I am so excited to learn more about Somerset and Australia, which just happens to have the cutest koalas EVER.

 

 

Common Purpose Study Abroad Opportunity – Malaysia!

screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-19-50-37Recently I’ve just returned home from a fantastic opportunity offered by the university to visit Kuala Lumpur on a leadership programme offered by Common Purpose. I’m still a little stunned, as I didn’t even think I’d be selected to go, however, I did and I had such an amazing time.

The programme involved exploring what a smart city is, leadership, exploring cultural leadership and undertaking the “challenge”.

When we first arrived in Malaysia we had time to explore the city. It was absolutely amazing and a bit of a culture shock compared to Scotland! We delved right in experiencing everything from the public transport to the food, navigating ourselves around the city (and getting lost in taxis!) We were introduced to our peers we’d be working with from both Heriot Watt Edinburgh and Heriot Watt Malaysia and got our bearings. We were introduced to all of the tourist spots including the KL tower, Twin Towers, and Batu caves!

Statue and stairs leading to Batu Caves

Statue and stairs leading to Batu Caves

The first thing we explored within the programme was “cultural intelligence” (CQ). We found it was an essential element to understanding the world and people around us. The programme taught us that this involved the cross between different cultures, but also different generations and even organisations. Personally, I felt this was how well we understand and respect others from different backgrounds.

We also took part in a number of group work activities. We were

Our winning tower!

Our winning tower!

grouped in a mixed group from Dundee and the two Heriot Watt campuses so we had a lot of diversity in our little team. We done little group work activities such as building the tallest tower (which we won!) as well are more thought-provoking activities. The one which got me the most was a group activity with cards. Each member of our team was given around 6 cards with very controversial statements regarding things such as religious clothing and if it should be worn at work, euthanasia and global warming. These were to be grouped into agree, disagree and can’t decide. after everyone had placed them down, we had the opportunity to read them all and turn over any we felt had screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-19-55-23been placed in the wrong area. These cards were then discussed and provoked some very interesting discussions. It was so interesting to hear other points of views on subjects that are not normally spoken about. This also provoked discussions on the difference between Scotland and Malaysia in regards to LGBT rights, legal systems, religion, and climate. These were very interesting to hear. I don’t think I was quite aware of the significant differences.

The programme was mainly aimed at the “challenge”. On two days there were opportunities to visit one of four businesses, so there was someone from your team represented at each. I visited ThinkCity and Women’s Aid.

Our group after visiting ThinkCity!

Our group after visiting ThinkCity!

ThinkCity is an organisation that uses small government grants to support communities to improve them. They ensure they involve the community and make sure what they are doing is really what the community needs. We heard some lovely stories of their past projects and it was great to hear how much of an impact they have on the local people.

Women’s Aid is an organisation that provides short term aid to Women who are victims of domestic abuse. Women are not particularly represented well and there is still a strong male dominance within the political system. This organisation comprising of social workers and volunteers work extremely hard, even more so considering there are two separate legal systems, one for everyone and one for muslims to follow.

After everyone had visited their organisations, we came together with our local mentor to come up with an idea. We felt that there were significant issues regarding the representation of the disabled and elderly. The first day I was in the city I was shocked at the fact the buses were so high up and didn’t even come over to the pavements as well as the lack of lifts or accessible footpaths. We later found out that due to this people who would benefit from these facilities cannot venture out without help. We decided that the disabled and elderly would be the focus of our idea, and we would implement these features into the community. After speaking to our mentor we also included the facilities at local community centres, to give these people an opportunity to leave

Our poster to go alongside our elevator pitch video and presentation!

Our poster to go alongside our elevator pitch video and presentation!

the house on outings and to join social groups. On the final day, we produced an action plan and presented our idea to s senior/expert panel. We were supported before doing so in a pitching workshop where we worked on the skills necessary to do so successfully. They were touched that we’d recognised the need for support for these people, as is not the first thing people consider when they think about “smart cities”

This opportunity was incredible and one I never even knew existed until I happened to open the email sitting in the library only a few weeks back. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity given to me and the experiences I gained along the way. Malaysia is incredible and I hope to visit again soon!

The Heriot Watt Malaysia campus was incredible!

Heriot-Watt Malaysia Campus was incredible!

 

Health and Wellbeing, the Physical Education/Activity side.

Today’s health and wellbeing input on Fitness brought quite a few things I’ve learned throughout school into practice.

physcWhy is oxygen important when exercising, and what methods of training are linked. There are also the individual fitness factors; Cardiorespiratory Endurance (CRE), muscular endurance, strength, speed, power, and flexibility; which are all tested by different means and trained in different ways.

SO… What is “aerobic” exercise?

The word aerobic means the use of oxygen. The body’s ability to work aerobically means the heart and lungs are able to work for a long period of time without tiring. Therefore “anaerobic” is where there is a lack of oxygen and the heart cannot physically supply enough to the body in order to perform.

As torturous as it sounds, anaerobic exercise actually has its benefits. Short sharp bursts of exercise done so quickly the heart cannot supply enough oxygen causes a build up of lactic acid. By training to improve your ability to work anaerobically, the muscles can then be trained to work without oxygen and with a build up of lactic acid. 

The different types of fitness training … 

Fartlek Training

  • Fartlek, which means”Speed play” in Swedish, is a method of training where continuous and interval training is combined. It is
    fartlek
    basically a long distance run where the pace is varied – so there will be periods of fast running and periods of slower running. This method of training is best used to improve CRE/aerobic endurance and improvement can be tested by using a bleep test or 12-minute cooper.

Weight Training

  • Weight training is simply when weights are used to provide resistance to the muscles. It can weightTrainingbe used to improve both muscular endurance (the ability to work a muscle/group of muscles for a long period of time without tiring) as well as power (a combination of strength and speed). Weight training can be tested by using a bent arm hang test, grip dynamometer, a number of sit ups in a minute or the maximum weight that can be lifted.

Sprint training

  • By sprinting, you should run a short distance at your maximum speed (e.g. 50m, 100m). Ansprint example of sprint training would be sprinting to the finish line, and then walking slowly back to the start before repeating. This will, in turn, improve speed. To test speed, you can time a person sprint and see how it improves.

Static stretching

  • Static stretching is a safer way to stretch the body whilst it is resting. Other forms such aswebquads_hip-flexors ballistic stretching are considered dangerous for the body. The body is lengthened into a position where a stretch is felt and held for around 20 seconds. This form of stretching will improve flexibility. Flexibility can be tested by using the sit and reach test.

I feel it is important to work on these areas from early on. I went on to high school with a limited P.E knowledge but was lucky enough to learn to love Physical Education to continue it to Higher. However, I feel a greater emphasis on it in primary would have prevented a lot of people shying away from the subject.

A lot of these things can be very complicated, and of course, you would never do weight trainingi-love-pe_design with primary children – their bodies are still growing and would never cope with this. As teachers, we, therefore, have to observe what their current capabilities are and consider their age and developmental stage to plan lessons appropriate for them, whilst still introducing them into physical activity.

Here is a link to a video by an English school pupil, Amy Shaw, about other training methods:

Drama conventions …

… So, What is a convention?

Well…. Normally a convention is a way in which something is carried out. There are agreed rules and criteria which make up the convention. A drama convention is where the actions of an actor/actress are decided by the writer or director and are done so to have dramatic, or desired effects.

dram

I want to focus in on three conventions, improvisation, mime, and soliloquy.

Improvisation is normally done with no preparation. No script or dialogue is given before the performance either.

http://quotesgram.com/improvisation-quotes/

http://quotesgram.com/improvisation-quotes/

This means everything down to who is in the scene, where the characters are, they way they react and the way they move. Everything done is made up on the spot.

Improvisation can be used to get pupils used to speaking without firstly preparing. This will fill them with the confidence when communicating outwith the classroom.

If I was to use this within a lesson, I would do the following:

Provide small groups of pupils either a –

  • First line
  • Prop
  • Setting
  • Theme
  • Time in history

(and so on…)

By working in small groups, they get the opportunity to practice and build up their confidence, before moving on and possibly trying a different prop with different or more people in their group/audience.

Mime is a creative form of drama where self-expression and gestures are normally used din place of words. It can be used in a number of ways but is best used to portray a specific movement or task – such as painting or closing a door.

http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/File:Mime.JPG

http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/File:Mime.JPG

I would use this within drama in the primary to develop my pupils nonverbal drama. Their body awareness expression and communication will all be improved by learning about and engaging with mime.

A simple warm up activity that could be done is an expression activity. The pupils should all say only their name, and then without speaking – show on their face through expression how they are feeling. To aid them I would give them a number of emotions to consider such as happiness, sadness, boredom and so on. I would use different expressions as discussion points to develop my lesson. If this was to be repeated over a number of drama lessons – the task can be differentiated as they improve. The pupils can then mime different actions, or even go on to acting as inanimate/animate objects.

A soliloquy is a dramatic speech made by an actor in order to reflect on their feelings. In drama performances, it is directed to the audience to give them an insight into a character’s thoughts – but it is intended that the character is actually making the speech to their self. It is great for the inner thoughts of an actor to be portrayed.

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/examples-of-soliloquy-in-literature.html

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/examples-of-soliloquy-in-literature.html

I would use this within drama to introduce different characters. It is a great resource to understand a character better by using examples of soliloquies and will help in developing dramas with a class.

I’d introduce the convention with a practical workshop, where the pupils are given a card with a “speech” (characters “soliloquy”) on it, and allow them to practice performing it to a fake audience (or a partner!). They can then swap and perhaps watch a few of their friend’s interpretations. I would then take the lesson back into the classroom and pull it apart – so they gain a solid understanding of soliloquy’s, but also on the drama we are focussing on.

“Design your own classroom…” YES!!!

As part of our Tutor Directed task for classroom organisation and management, we were asked to design our own classroom.  I was thrilled at the prospect of this. As a young child, and even way into high school, I’d always be excited when walking into a classroom and seeing the tables had been moved around. It just changed the whole environment of the classroom, and even better – you normally got to work with new people!

Here is a floorplan of how I would plan my own classroom – as a teacher.Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 14.44.33

This classroom would suit a class size of 28 pupils. For this specific TDT, the class includes 22 boys and 6 girls. There would be 2 girls at each outside table in the row of 4, and one girl at each outside table in the row of 3. This will allow the girls the opportunity to learn to work with the opposite sex, enhancing both their personal and social development. I would not keep them in these seats for every lesson; I would occasionally change the seating plan in maths and language lessons based on ability.

I decided to plan my classroom in this way as it is tidy, organised and safe. There is adequate room to move around between desks and a clear route to the door in case of an emergency. –  3.2.1 Create a safe, caring and purposeful learning environment (GTCS, 2012).

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 19.50.17

Area on floor for discussion

This set up makes good use of space. There is an opportunity for whole class lessons to be taught with every child seated at their table, but also space on the floor in front of the Smartboard and whiteboard for more informal  group discussion. The smartboard perhaps for small groups and the Whiteboard for larger groups due Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 19.57.08to the arrangement of furniture. The table in the corner could be used to consolidate with groups of students who need further support before doing a task, or to send pupils off to work together.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.06.28I have included an interactive maths area in my floor plan. I saw this when out on placement and thought it was a great idea. Not only does it promote independent learning, it is a fun and engaging way to get children to go off on their own or with a partner to work on their mental maths. It is also a useful area to send pupils to when they finish their work quicker than expected/their peers.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.11.38

“L” Shaped desk – facing the class.

I have placed the teachers desk in the corner facing the class. It is an “L” shape, so she can work effectively whilst still keeping an eye on her class. There is no point working away with your back to a class of pupils – as you will not be effectively observing them working. I feel a desk at the front and centre of the classroom brings in the temptation for a teacher to sit down and teach. Which yes, may be ok on some occasions – but not all of the time.

My classroom would be very bright and open, with a large window behind the teacher’s desk on the West facing wall. This will bring in opportunities for linking to Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.21.21the pupils outdoor learning experiences when they perhaps cannot venture outside.

My classroom resources will be well organised. Down the left-hand side of my classroom, I have plotted where I would have storage facilities for jotters, pencils, paper and miscellaneous resources. This area will be labelled and kept as organised as possible, so pupils and their teacher know where to find the resources they need.

I have included a “reading corner”/library into my classroom plan. I believe by including a libraryScreen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.28.20 into the classroom, you are highlighting the importance of literacy and reading in their everyday lives. I really like the idea of themed libraries in classrooms. Especially when linked to entertainment. I feel young children should learn to read as a form of entertainment. There are some good examples on Pinterest – click here for my favourite.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.42.49I have incorporated digital technologies to support teaching and learning by including an interactive smartboard, and computers in the corner of the room. They are very useful in bringing all of the pupils learning needs together. Visual learners are benefitted, but so are tactful learners as they can physically interact with the smartboard to learn. They are perfect when incorporating video’s, music and powerpoints in the classroom and do not create any mess! They also have the added bonus of facilitating games, which can always be used as a Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 20.43.23class reward for good work or behaviour! The computers in the classroom can be used for those faster workers to type up their finished work. But they are also great for those pupils who struggle to put a pencil to paper.  In my classroom the screens are facing the rest of the class – so pupils cannot procrastinate on fun games websites – they have to do what they are supposed to do!

chairsIn regards to health and safety regulations in the classroom, I would ensure the floor is carpeted and in good condition with no corners upturned to prevent trips. All shelves and tray cabinets will be on wheels to prevent injuries linked to manual handling. I would also have non-swinging chairs as kids swinging on chairs is possibly one of the most dangerous things in a classroom!!

The standards also state that an effective use of display should be present. I will have displays of children’s work as well as informative signs. However, I do not want the displays on the wall to be up just for the sake of it; I want them to be interactive to benefit the pupils learning. This could mean incorporating books children can engage with, or add a whiteboard section to reflect on what Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 21.02.34they’ve learnt.

Finally, I will put reward systems on the door. Similarly to my class on placement, I will add a helping-hands-bg“house points” chart on the back of the door. Each child will belong to a “house” and when they get a point, it goes against their name but added to their house total. This way children can regularly keep track on how many points they’ve learnt, and see how they are helping support their house, as you would with a team. There will also be a “helping hands” display – where each hand is a different job (such as a milk monitor or door holder) which children will be matched to with jobs changing weekly.

I feel comfortable now after completing this task that I know reasons behind certain areas in the classroom. I’m more informed now of common classroom set-ups, along with their pro’s and con’s. As a student, the prospect of changing up a classroom really excites me, but I do realise it is important not to change it too often, and that certain pupils may be sat in specific seats for various reasons. This classroom is similar to the one I will be working in on placement in the respects that it has a whiteboard, library and interactive maths area. However, due to the class size on placement being considerably larger, there are no separate tables for group discussions due to an unfortunate lack of space. I am looking forward to developing an understanding of exactly why the classroom is set out in the way that it is during my professional practice.

Here is a link to some really interesting classrooms I found on Pinterest: CLICK HERE.

 

– The General Teaching Council for Scotland (2012) The standards for registration: Mandatory requirements for registration with the general teaching council for Scotland. Available at: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/the-standards/standards-for-registration-1212.pdf (Accessed: 9 February 2016).