Category Archives: 3. Prof. Skills & Abilities

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.

“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).

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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.

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“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).

Scientific “literacy” ……

So what actually does, “scientific literacy”, mean?

Being literate is ‘the ability to read and write’ (Oxford University Press, 2016). Being able to read and write helps us understand daily processes we wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Without being able to read and write, we wouldn’t understand travel timetables, signs, how to tell the time, how to shop or even be able to sustain a job! To me, this would suggest that the idea of Scientific Literacy means simply to be able to understand the ideas behind science and how to use these ideas to conduct experiments, alike how we use reading and writing to understand variables of the outside world.

Not only does Scientific Literacy mean having an understanding of science, bscienceut also being able to form questions and conclusions from the evidence found through experiments (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2003). Over all, Scientific Literacy means that children understand the words used in science, the process of experiments, why the experiments are being carried out, can come up with their thoughts about the outcomes, and also why it is important that they know this for everyday life. This directly links to some key principles in the Curriculum for Excellence (Education Scotland, 2016). Teachers must ensure that when they are teaching science their pupils are not simply just learning the terms like they may learn a times-table. In order to be Science Literate, the children must understand the depth of what they are learning.

A lack of scientific literacy could mean the development of false scientific conclusions. One of the main examples of this was the MMR vaccine scare. In 1998 an investigation into the three in one vaccine for measles was conducted by, the now discredited, Andrew Wakefield. He came to the conclusion that that vaccine could actually increase a child’s chance of developing autism. This research was released and caused fear in parents who then became hesitant to allow their children to receive the vaccine. It wasn’t until 2004 that an investigation intommr Wakefield’s research took place and it was found to be flawed. The medical records of the children he investigated did not match his research and the paper he published was taken  down.

This is a clear example of how important science literacy is. This spread of false information caused the vaccine rates to drop dramatically and a significant increases in measles, causing many children to suffer unnecessarily. New research found that there was no connection between and vaccine and autism and there are no side effects to the vaccine. However, some parents are still wary of the vaccine and refuse to allow their children to receive it.

The process of fair testing is ensuring there are no deliberate advantages or disadvantages to any variables in an experiment (or, to any pupils in a school!). This ensures that the information gathered is reliable. To guarantee reliability any obvious advantages to any factors are controlled.

An example of this is how high a ball bounces (Prain, 2007). The height of the bounce the ball executes is measured, however the following things are considered:Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 20.29.04

  • “Will the type of ball affect its bounce?”
  • “Will the surface on which it bounces affect the bounce?”
  • “Will the height from which you drop the ball affect its bounce?” (Prain, 2007)

These three variables are changed and the experiment is carried out more than once. This, therefore, ensures the test is “fair” which all tests should be, and especially in schools. By taking into account all these factors and questioning how they will affect the experiment a person is, therefore, “science literate” as they are understanding the questioning and issues with the experiment.

This TDT was written by – 

AC1 – Rachel Allan – Explanation of the concept of scientific literacy.

AC2 – Catriona Mcphaden –  Analysis of an example where a lack of scientific literacy has led to inaccurate media reporting.

AC3 –  Myself – Discussion of how teaching fair testing in school science links to scientific literacy.

AC4 – Amy Lorimer – A carefully researched and referenced paper on scientific literacy.

References

  • Education Scotland, (2016). Principles – How is the curriculum organised? – Learning and teaching. [online] Educationscotland.gov.uk. Available at: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/learningandteaching/thecurriculum/howisthecurriculumorganised/principles/index.asp [Accessed 28 Jan. 2016].
  • NHS Choices, Ruling on doctor in MMR scare, 2010. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/01January/Pages/MMR-vaccine-autism-scare-doctor.aspx
  • OECD, (2003). The PISA 2003 Assessment Framework – Mathematics, Reading, Science and Problem Solving Knowledge and Skills. Paris: OECD
  • Oxford University Press, (2016). literate – definition of literate in English from the Oxford dictionary. [online] Oxforddictionaries.com. Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/literate [Accessed 28 Jan. 2016].
  • Prain, V. (2007) How to interpret multi-modal science texts. Available at: http://www.education.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/5303/linking_science_literacy_strat.pdf (Accessed: 27 January 2016).
  • The story behind the MMR scare, Rory Greenslade, 2013. Available at:http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/apr/25/mmr-scare-analysis
  • Utmb Health, Wakefield Autism Scandal, David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, 2012. Available athttp://www.medicaldiscoverynews.com/shows/237_wakefieldAutism.html

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!**