Category Archives: 2.1 Curriculum

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.

 

 

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.

Just Breathe…

When previously considering the role of the teacher, I was guilty of envisioning WHAT they were teaching their class…

Who is really in control of your classroom?

Who is really in control of your classroom?

However, since the very first lecture, it has become very apparent that, yes, the content of a lesson is important, but so is HOW the lesson is delivered.

The presence of the class teacher is important in order to keep control of the class. A strong broad presence projects a great deal of confidence. Whereas a lack of confidence will be apparent to pupils, and they will very quickly learn how to get around your authority.

A great way of establishing your authority is to greet your pupils as they enter your classroom for the day. Simple things such as asking them about something they mentioned they were participating in, or to compliment them coming in will give them a great boost. Even just a smile or a handshake whilst maintaining eye-contact will ensure authority is established before the day begins. It is also extremely useful as it allows you, as a teacher, to spot any child apparently disengaged and obviously not ready to participate in a class lesson. I will definitely be keeping this in mind more placement; especially in terms of my behaviour management goal (detailed here).

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 01.17.08Our voice is our most important tool as a teacher, and as an authoritative figure, it can be damaged fairly easily if we do not take adequate care of it. Many teachers think by talking louder, the children’s attention will be gained quicker, but this is not always the case. It is a natural reaction to shout in reply to bad behaviour but there are other ways of getting the desired attention and behaviour. These include things such as patiently waiting for silence, using  hand gestures or praising the pupils who do comply. By adapting tone and using expression, we can gain our pupils attention just as effectively. Other ways of doing so are by varying our volume, pace and pitch. I feel this will affect my goal of time management in regards to my planning. I will do my best to improvise around disruptions to resolve them and minimise the chance of them happening again.

So yes, our voice is a very important tool in the classroom. Because of this, we need to take care of it! Voice problems are very common such as hoarseness, sore throats and a need for constant throat clearing.

To prevent any problems, teachers should ensure they warm up their voice before the teaching day begins. Interestingly, one of the easiest ways to do so is simply to yawn! But obviously, not in front of your pupils! Vocal exercises are also very effective! Here is a very easy to follow video with some vocal warm-ups: Click Here

If any problems do arise, throat pastilles and breathing steam are life-savers!

I found a few breathing exercises brought up in Nikki Doig’s lecture very interesting. By placing Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 01.13.03your hands above your hips (with your fingers pressed in under your ribs) breathe in through the nose for 3 seconds, hold it for three seconds and then slowly breathe out for three seconds. This is a great relaxation technique! It also alerted to me that I was not breathing correctly! I am very guilty of allowing myself to breathe out of my chest more than my stomach, which can cause a lot of strain! Definitely something I need to re-think before entering the classroom to ensure I am not straining myself.

 

edit **I just taught my dance class with basically no voice. It was a nightmare but definitely goes to show how important voice care is. It was also VERY interesting to see how using a quiet tone of voice can actually be more effective!**

 

Talking and Listening

Talking and Listening in the classroom provides a great opportunity for class discussion. However, this can also cause problems – as in who’s turn it is to speak, and who should be listening.

There are a number of ways to combat this. The simplest being, a set of rules. In my classroom, I would set clear rules from the beginning, so there is no confusion with expectations. My rules would be:talk

  • We talk one at a time
  • We do not interrupt
  • We make eye contact with the speaker
  • We respect everyone’s ideas

I do feel it would be beneficial for the children to make up their own set of rules as a class. Obviously, with a little direction from the teacher to make them sensible. This gives them a sense of feeling included, and may make them more conscious of them – hopefully!

 

If I was to create a lesson plan around the following outcome *see below*, I would base it on the book Katie Morag Delivers the Mail.katie

“I can show my understanding of what I listen to or watch by responding to literal, inferential, evaluative and other types of questions, and by asking different kinds of questions of my own.”LIT 2-07a. 

Learning Intention: To listen to a story and discuss and evaluate the storyline as a class. Also, I will come up with my own questions about the story, as well as discuss my peers’.

Success Criteria: I will be able to listen to and follow the short story. I will be able to come up with my own questions about the story, and answer my peers’.

Assessment: To assess whether ot not the pupils meet the success criteria, I will evaluate how well they listen to the story and how relevant their questions are to the story and discussion.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 04.18.23How will I achieve this? I will use emotive language to engage the children in the story. I will allow them to complete a short paired task related to the story using sequencing cards, so they can gain a better understanding of the storyline. This gives them the opportunity to listen, interact with each other and then bring their learning to a conclusion with a discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

Did you just say… MATHS???!

Well………… Where to start?

Maths has never been a totally positive experience for me. I’ve gone through school constantly being Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 00.40.37told I perform better at English than Maths; and boy, don’t I know it. From moving primary school and not having a clue in the slightest what I’d done and where I should be at, to being sat in front of the brainiest person ever in Standard Grade at high school. One of the worst moments that has really stuck in my mind would have to be seeing the look on my tutors face when she thought I’d taken maths at Higher; honestly – I thought the woman had just had a heart attack. (Luckily, she was a family friend and she was joking, but I still took it to heart)

In our workshop today, we were asked to write down, on a scale of 1 to 10 how confident we are with the subject. My paper, however, did not have enough space to the left of the scale to answer accurately. Like yes, that’s an obvious exaggeration, but I do know I have a lot of work to do regarding my confidence with the subject. The same worried look was obvious on a lot of other’s faces, as well as an obvious excitement to hopefully get over our fear.

I’m unsure why I get so anxious regarding maths. There is no reassurance, though, as apparently getting an A and a 2 in the subject suddenly means I am good at it……. nope. I can fully support the claim that when a teacher dislikes the subject, so do you. In my early years, I can barely remember maths; never mind having enthusiastic lessons on the subject. This avoided ness has sort-of, rubbed off on me – and I don’t think I will ever forgive myself for letting that happen. Just as Derek Haylock (2008) states, my teachers simply went through the motions of working through set textbooks – there was no fun and engaging activities that I see my sisters enjoying now.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 00.39.38Today, I really enjoyed hearing about how maths can be used across the curriculum. I’d have had a way more positive outlook on maths when I was younger if I’d been told at the end of a P.E lesson that what I was actually doing was maths whilst timing my friends, measuring the tracks distance and counting reps. I would have been way more engaged when it came to the subject If it was highlighted that things such as working out coordinates on a map, measuring liquids in science and making patterns in art, were also MATHS. When I am teaching, I will definitely relate all my learning to practical situations; whether I am in the classroom or outdoors doing an activity. I think it is very important to make connections to consolidate learning.

I took a lot from today’s input. I am excited to learn more about engaging ways to learn. Things such as using interactive whiteboards, practical maths, and especially highlighting when it is being used in other areas of the curriculum. Reflecting on my own experience, I think the most important thing for me is to most definitely NOT teach maths in the way I was taught. I do not want any other child to go through school with a fear of maths like I did. It is up to me as a teacher to remove the maths anxiety in my pupils. To do this, I am going to engage with the OMA, as well as brushing up on my maths in my own time when I get the chance – in the hope of seriously improving my confidence. I feel that my fear of the subject will help me in teaching it as I know what it feels like to struggle with maths. This will, therefore, help me understand the importance of allowing some people working through things slower than others in order to fully understand. I can also see the importance of not only explaining things slowly, logically, clearly and in an interesting way; mathbut also to evaluate – to remember how the answer was reached. I do want to go into the classroom with the best of knowledge, though, not only of the subject but of the different ways to engage pupils to ensure I am teaching it effectively. Tara’s enthusiasm is striking, and it has given me hope that I too can become as enthusiastic as she is about maths. I want to, and I WILL learn to love it as much as she does – whatever it takes.

 

Maths may not teach us how to add love or subtract hate, but it gives us every reason to hope that every problem has a solution. – A very thought provoking quote from today’s input.

 

Haylock, D. W. (2005) Mathematics explained for primary teachers. 3rd edn. London: Sage Publications.