Category Archives: Professional Studies

To blog or not to blog…

In Friday’s workshop, we were encouraged to read through some of our peers blog posts. Thereto-blog-or-not-to-blog are some excellent examples of commitment, as well as an active interest in sharing thoughts, reflections and classroom ideas. I know many people have fears about sharing their thoughts and learning online, but it is such an easy and effective way, especially for us as student teachers, to develop. 

I really support the ePortfolio, as it has positively encouraged us to comment on our peer
learning groups posts. This has encouraged us to support our peers and comment their blogs; allowing us to practice giving both positive and constructive feedback. It is so rewarding when people take time out of their day to read your work and then leave lovely comments.

We were linked to good examples of our peers posts. I have read some thoroughly enjoyable and interesting posts making use of visual tools. My favourite has to be the use of images. When they relate to the blog entry it makes it so much easier to follow. Michelle Mackie uses a fantastic example of this in her post “problematic problems”. Not only do the pictures she uses relate, but she has wrapped them into her post setting it out in such a clear easy to read manner. I really like how she has included links to further reading. This shows she has read around the subject of mathematics and is willing to share her findings with others. I will definitely consider doing this in future in my posts.

I also find the use of video links to be very eye-catching. In Rachel Billes’ post  “Children are the
real teachers” she has embedded a youtube video into her post. Not only does this draw attention to her post, it is also a very effective visual aid. Beginning something with a video is a great way to grab and keep someones full attention, and she has discussed it so well in her post. 

visFrom reading these and other posts by my peers, I have gained a better understanding on how they are gathering their professional thoughts. It has enabled me to develop a better understanding of things they have discussed, as well as things to go away and research further. I have learnt that not only is it beneficial to share our professional thoughts, but it is necessary for our professional development. I will definitely consider making links to my reading in future posts, as well as continuing to include photographs and videos as I have constantly found them to be effective visual aids. The fact our e-portfolios are allowing us to begin reflecting on our practice at such an early stage is amazing, and will be so beneficial to us. So yes, I think the answer is always to blog.

5 6 7…… DANCE!

I can’t think of anything in this world I am more passionate about than dance. It is literally everything. Understandably so, when I seen dance on the timetable I was ecstatic.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 02.58.42I’ve danced since the age of 3. I’ve been through phases of loving it and hating it – but I honestly don’t know where I would be without it. The places I’ve been and the experiences I’ve had through dancing are incredible, and I’d encourage anyone and everyone to give it a go.

I’ve seen all the sides of it, from different genres to the competition world, championships, shows, international performances, tattoos – you name it. Dance gave me the confidence to keep trying. If I was asked five years ago if I thought I’d be performing in the Royal Edinburgh Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 02.56.28Military Tattoo, or travelling to amazing places such as Oman, Sweden and Germany to perform – of course, my response would be “NO WAY I COULD NEVER DO THAT.” But yes, I did, and I now know that amazing things can be achieved with the right mindset and support.  How did I come to this, though? THROUGH DANCE!

Dance has more benefits than just learning correct technique. The social skills learnt are equally as important, especially to young children. They learn how to respect other dancers as well as their teacher/choreographer, and officials Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 03.00.30when in a competition setting. As a teacher with my own dance school, I thoroughly enjoy watching my students form relationships with each other and seeing their social skills strengthen along with their dancing. Not only that, but they learn to deal with success as well as failure (and how to deal with it), time management, and how to take on board corrections to practice in their own time. Nothing is more encouraging than seeing one of your pupils succeed, but at the same time just seeing them enjoying the process is amazing.

With my understanding of the Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes for Dance, I would put into place an exciting lesson for a primary 5 class, such as:

CfE Outcome: “I can explore and choose movements to create and present dance, developing my skills and techniques.” – EXA 2-08a

Learning Intentions: By the end of the lesson, I will be able to perform a short sequence I have choreographed myself using different actions, different levels and using different rhythms.

Success Criteria: To create a short sequence to music incorporating different levels, ways of travelling and different rhythms. (To develop this in the next two years, the introduction of motifs and choreographic devices such as canons, interpretation and repetition will build on the intentions of this lesson.)

Assessment: To assess if the pupils have achieved the success criteria I would have small groups present their work to their peers and make use of peer evaluation.

How will I achieve this: I will incorporate short activities aimed at introducing the three criterion for success, One activity will involve learning different ways to travel making good use of space across a room. Another will introduce how to incorporate different levels, and what can be done to make them effective. To develop an understanding of rhythm, I would use a clapping activity; simply clapping different rhythms, be it perfect rhythms, imperfect half beat rhythms – to music.

A positive experience of dance is key to enjoying it and I am extremely excited to bring it into my lessons in the primary.

Dancing is moving to the music without stepping on anyone’s toes, pretty much the same as life. ~Robert Brault

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Fakebook

google-logoAn interesting input with Sharon led to me discovering a whole host of new search engines. Who knew there was more to the internet than google?!? I think these child-friendly search engines such as Kidsclick and Askkids will be absolute lifesavers for me in the ICT suite.

I have now been introduced to a number of internet safety sites which will be an integral part to my teaching. Safety online is absolutely paramount.

Kidsmart (http://www.kidsmart.org.uk/beingsmart/) is an interactive website where children canScreen Shot 2016-01-19 at 03.31.50 learn how to be safe online. It even has sections for teachers and parents – perfect!! Children can use this website to share their drawings and play games online, all centred around being cyber safe! This is a fantastic site that can be engaged with as a teacher, as well as introducing pupils to engage as well as their parents.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 03.33.52We were also introduced to a website called Fakebook. Set out like Facebook but of fake profiles – mostly famous figures. This is a fantastic resource that can be used in the classroom.

I would, for example, use it within a History context. Bringing together both ICT and History!

A figure such as Otto Frank could be used when researching the Second World War. As a teacher, I would create a profile (As if it was actually Otto). By doing so, the children could learn his birthday, where he stays, who his family are and so on.

The classic Facebook themed timeline is perfect for History. As the lessons progress, the teacher could update the class on what Otto Frank and his family are doing – helping them engage in the history of the Franks.

I feel this would be very effective. By using something they are currently being brought around, they will see it as something relatable and want to be involved. It could possibly have its downfalls, however – as adverts do pop up and it is hard to know what they will be before you click on something. These challenges are something we will face regularly, and something asICT-in-School-Wordle-1456uj2 simple as adblockers could prevent.

When I was in a primary 4 class in my sixth year at school, the subject the kids were most passionate about was ICT. As teachers, we need to realise this and ensure we are equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in this digital age.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Animation

I’ve always thought I had quite an extensive knowledge of ICT….. but no.

Today’s input on animation was so new but so interesting! As a student who has come straight from school, I am naturally a little nervous about placement. Nervous, but excited! It was so intriguing, not only to learn how to animate, but also how we can progress our lessons from week to week. Definitely one of those light-bulb moments where a lot of things clicked into place. Even simple things such as how many skills to teach in each lesson or how to keep the pupils attention by turning off their monitors will be a massive help to me.

FROZEN LAD

“Frozen” Pivot creation from today. Click on the image to watch!

I had a lot of fun learning how to use Pivot. Sharon taught it in the format of a lesson she would teach to primary school pupils. By experiencing this, I feel like I’d also be able to adapt the format of her lessons to teach ICT, in particular, animation, confidently.

Previous to this input I’d heard of others using Pivot, but I never attempted to use it. I wish I was shown how to use it at primary, it is definitely a resource I hope to use!

 

Opening Our Arms

 

The plane which landed around 15:40 GMT at Glasgow airport.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34839477

The plane which landed around 15:40 GMT at Glasgow airport.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34839477

As the first plane of Syrian refugee’s touches down in The United Kingdom today, I feel it is important to reflect on how positive it is that our country has opened its arms to these people in their time of need. Britain has agreed to take in around 20,000 refugees over the next five years, which I feel is fantastic. It is amazing when countries step in to help at times like this, and even more amazing that this time it is us.

As most of the refugees coming over are families and are due to resettle in various local authorities across Scotland, I feel it is appropriate to reflect on what this means for us as teachers. These refugees will be in need of specialist medical care and specialist support to help them through any issues derived from the violence and torture they have experienced. There are already places within schools set aside for them.

A lot of these children would have been forced to quit school if they were even lucky enough to be there in the first place. We will have to be aware as teachers, that these pupils are likely to be learning English as their second language. This will face us with certain challenges. We will have the additional factor that their understanding on the English language may not be as developed as the rest of their classmates, as well as the fact that they will be at a disadvantage socially due to the language barriers.

self-esteem-and-mathThese children will also have experienced loss all around of them, and lost connection with a lot of their friends and family. This will have had a very negative effect on their self-esteem and confidence. As teachers, we have the responsibility to recognise this and put into effect support strategies to support these children in this difficult time.

A way in which we can do this is “buddy” systems. This will help them get to know their peers, and ensure they are not lonely at times such as breaks and lunch. Children may feel secluded as their parents may not want to bring them along to after school activities when it is dark – so it is essential they are given a good opportunity to socialise during these breaks within the school day.

In countries such as Syria, schools are often targeted by terrorist activity. We need to make sure these children coming into our UK schools know that they are now in a safe environment.

It’s heart-breaking to think about what they’ve been through, but there is the chance that their past experiences may have an effect on their behaviour. Children may be distant, and refuse or even become frightened around strangers, so a close eye will have to be on them in the early days to ensure they are settling in and coming well. Struggles may also be apparent when they are placed within large groups, they may need one-to-one support before they can build up the confidence to take part in whole class activities.

ok_to_move_forwardWe should never ask children to re-live these traumatic experiences, ever. No matter whether it is a written exercise, homework exercise, or ANYTHING. We should also make sure they are never questioned by any other staff or child as to why they are here. They deserve to be in school getting educated as much as everyone else.

Most importantly of all, we need to provide a school experience for these children that is positive and welcoming. These children have a lot to offer and have been through so, so much to get here.