Category Archives: Recommened reading

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!


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!

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.



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.


  • Education Scotland, (2016). Principles – How is the curriculum organised? – Learning and teaching. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Jan. 2016].
  • NHS Choices, Ruling on doctor in MMR scare, 2010. Available at:
  • 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] Available at: [Accessed 28 Jan. 2016].
  • Prain, V. (2007) How to interpret multi-modal science texts. Available at: (Accessed: 27 January 2016).
  • The story behind the MMR scare, Rory Greenslade, 2013. Available at:
  • Utmb Health, Wakefield Autism Scandal, David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, 2012. Available at

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.







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” 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!


The Interpretation of Dreams

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 19.04.49Sigmund Freud, an Austrian psychologist, was keen on neurological psychology. His study into the Interpretation of Dreams brought him to the conclusion that our dreams are essentially wishes we want to fulfil. Freud believed that what we dream is what is subconsciously of particular importance to us. I chose to read further into his findings, as from a young age I have always been fascinated with dreams.

Freud believed that in our early years, our dreams expressed our infantile wishes. One example of this is our dreams about the death of a same-sex parent. As shocking as this sounds, this is normal for babies; as they see their same-sex parent as a threat. Freud believed that dreams allow us to express other wishes and desires, such as:

  • imagesThe desire for a loved one’s presence, even though they are deceased
  • The desire to return to childhood
  • The desire for impossible revenge
  • The desire for sleep as an escape

Freud did, however, argue that symbols within dreams had the same significance for everyone. Which surely, cannot be right? Everyone is different, and we all have different experiences and ways of expressing things. So the same symbol within two completely different contexts must have different meanings. There are also arguments that his work is too generalised, there are no specific findings.

He does say that these symbols that appear a lot, may hold the same meanings, but depending on the context of the dream and the person interpreting it the conclusions may be different. The main symbol Freud analysed is the sexual symbol. These symbols are what is keeping the technique of interpreting dreams going. It is useful in many psychiatric situations to analyse dreams as the patients “dream-thought” are, a lot of the time, thoughts they have pushed to the back of their minds.

Itfitnat_dd_3 is interesting to know that many of the dreams Freud analysed were actually his own. In order to make it as accurate as possible, Freud wrote down these dreams as soon as he woke up. On one occasion, he could even see links from the events in the day before within his dream. It became apparent that people in Freud’s everyday life were also those appearing in his dreams. As a doctor, a lot of his dreams turned out to be linked with medical mistakes he had made, bringing him to the conclusion that he was subconsciously trying to get rid of his guilt about these incidents, through his dreams.

His overall conclusion was that our dreams are essentially wishes we want to fulfil, as previously mentioned. His theory was that every dream had latent content (including wishes), and manifest (simply the opposite of a wish fulfilment). The latent content of dreams could then only be remembered through free-association (consciously thinking about something at your own free-will).

As a teacher, we should be aware that our dreams may indicate things we may perhaps not have noticed in our everyday life’s. They can also be an indicator of stress or nerves, which we would then obviously have to address. Our dreams will be very different from our pupils. If we ever hear a pupil describing a dream, especially one in which triggers any worries – we should perhaps not look over the fact it was “only a dream”. Something caused that child to dream that dream!

Here’s a video summarising his complete theory:


Our self-esteem is the confidence we have in our personal worth and different abilities. Self 1deserveoneCOLCPesteem is something we all have, but different people have different levels of it; some people may be lacking in it, and others may have a healthy amount of it.

Having a good positive balance of self esteem is essential as a teacher. We need to have it in order for it to rub off on those around us, especially our pupils. It is also important to us as individuals – we need to be confident in ourselves as well as our teaching.

A person with a healthy self esteem is likely to excel in more things, as they will not have any negative feelings towards their ability. These people are also more likely to pull through difficult times in life easier, or even something as small as trying and conquering something they are not yet competent at.

Someone with a low self esteem will typically, whether they realise it or not, be a very negative person. This may, however, only be towards themselves, as esteem does predominantly affect a person’s own self worth.

Susan Harter measured self esteem in children through asking two different questions:

  • What do you think you should be like? 630px-Be-a-Good-Child-Step-6
  • What do you actually see yourself to be?

By asking these two questions, she could tell whether or not the children believed they were living up to their own expectations. She came to the conclusion that if they saw themselves as what they thought they should be like – they had a high self esteem. If they did not, there is a need for a support system around them in the form of peers, parents, and us, their teachers.

However, her method is not completely beneficial as there are things she has not accounted for. Just because a child has a loving supportive family surrounding them does not automatically mean they will have a high self esteem. We have no idea, initially, of the pressures said family may be putting on their child to do well. There is also the fact that she states a child with no peer support will have a low self esteem. This is completely not true. Some children thrive being on their own and may just have different ideas of socialising from their peers. Obviously as teachers we need to ensure these children join in, but if a child wants to sit and draw during their free time, I do not feel there is a need to force them into things such as football.

As teachers, we need to ensure the way we communicate with our classes affects our pupil’s self esteem. By simply giving everyone the same feedback to their answer in front of everyone we are not identifying who is excelling and who is necessarily wrong. It is important as children pick up on the language we use. Wall (2004) interviewed some children on how they felt within their class setting. One child responded, “Well if everybody’s got their hand up, he normally first chooses the top two tables… I think it’s because he knows that they will probably get the answer right first time…” It is so important from this didacHtic way of teaching, the way it is mainly teacher focused and is based on the telling of right or wrong answers, that these pupils are getting a good sense of their worth within the classroom. These children who are never getting asked questions, or who are getting them wrong are having their self-esteem knocked down tremendously. It is important that we, as student teachers should learn from things like this, and ensure we give consideration to the self esteem of those within our classroom. We need to identify who needs a little confidence boost, and perhaps a bit more support.

But how do we do this? How do we identify the child’s level of self esteem? 

cartoon-confidence-confident-crying-insecure-favim_com-238761Many people mask their self esteem through an air of false confidence. Children are however not as good at this. A child will generally show signs of defeat much sooner. Through a child’s early childhood, they have a high self esteem; as they have not begun comparing themselves to others and have not had anything to knock them back. When growing throughout their development, they begin to gain a greater sense of self-awareness; and when they are around the age of 7/8 their self-esteem becomes more defined.

As a teacher, we should ensure each child’s goals are specific to them; and most importantly – reasonable. However, they should not be allowed to succeed at everything, they need to experience failure in some way shape or form. If they don’t, it will hit them harder in later life. We should match their work to their ability, give them positive praise, and most importantly, be a role model. As this model, we should ensure we model failure to them. If they see it is ok for us to fail at things we are working towards (and still continue trying) – they too will adopt this attitude.

So yes, we can identify a child’s self esteem. We will be with them for hours on end five days a week, they will not be able to hide all that time. Their true characteristics will be visible to us. We should ensure we give them the chance to have a voice, and also ensure they are involved in their own learning journey; in order to keep up their self-worth and most importantly become confident learners.

What is personality?

In today’s input by Patricia, I found the aspect of personality very intriguing.

Personality, as quoted in Bee and Boyd (2012, p 218) is “The individual’s enduring patterns of responses to and interaction with others and the environment.” 

Personality is a very difficult area to study, as everyone is different.

There are five different dimensions of personality traits:

  • Extraversion (opposite to introversion)
  • Agreeableness (warm/compassionate or cold/distant)
  • Openness (Ability to imagine, be insightful and question things)
  • Conscientiousness (our impulse control)
  • Neuroticism (stability/instability of emotions)

An ambivert is someone who is both an introvert and an extrovert. One test of this was by Grant. He assumed that sales persons would be better if hey were extroverts. However, he found that it was actually the ambiverts that were, as extroverts can be too loud, overconfident and come across as cocky.The ambiverts were better as whilst they were confident in themselves and their role, they were also able to be quiet and listen to the needs of customers.Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 14.17.58

I took an online test to figure out whether I am an introvert, extrovert or an ambivert.

The result (pictured right) is that I am not either introvert or extrovert, I am in fact an ambivert; in-between the two. I totally agree with this, as I am an outgoing person, but at the same time I do like to have some “me-time!”

There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.’  – Carl G Jung

This is easy to agree with. Someone who lacks in social skills will not be able to function properly in society. Likewise, someone who is overconfident and overly-clingy will have the opposite problem. I would however not use the term “lunatic asylum”.

The five big personality traits:

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 18.51.11





If I was to rate myself on these I would say:

  • Extraversion – 6
  • Agreeableness – 9
  • Openness/intellect – 8
  • Conscientiousness –7.5
  • Neuroticism – 7

Since I was a child, I do not feel my personality has changed much. I am still the same outgoing bubbly independent person, who still likes to have time to myself. What I would say is I’ve become more confident in myself and really began to understand my own personality more over the past few years.

However, is personality predetermined by nature?

NatureNurtureThere are some genetically determined characteristics that we are born with, and differences in personality are termed physiological. There have been some tests with identical twins, which has found they have the same personality traits. This is also the case with normal siblings – even though most of us assume we are completely different to our siblings. There is a dip in the personality expression in terms of physiological processes. Everyone has a stable temperament and disposition from childhood right through to when they become an adult, and the environment plays a part in influencing or modifying how our temperament changes.

What about the other side of the argument, nurture?nurture

Yes, how we are brought up plays a big role in the way we learn how to act. Often our traits are
gained through observations and are termed “learned behaviours”. I believe nurture plays a large role in developing our personalities. If your mother is outgoing, you will subconsciously grow to act the same as her. Another example of this, is you are unlikely to have shy parents who do not communicate well raising a very outgoing child. A shy child in a new situation will show signs of muscle tension, an increased heart rate and dilated pupils. They are born with this disposition towards physiological processes. The cerebral cortex of these shy/anxious children is thicker. Out temperament and disposition become stable, and our experiences shape this.

The behaviourist principles of personality development is a very interesting learning theory. The principles include:

  • Strengthening behaviour through reinforcement
  • Reinforcing said behaviour intermittently to result in better learning
  • If reinforced too often, it will not be effective.

It is important not to reinforce negative behaviours. If they know they will continue to get attention from behaving in a certain way (E.g. badly) they will continue to do it, reinforcing this behaviour.It is also better to reinforce intermittently. Doing it every time will cause them to lack motivation as they will know they don’t need to work to get praise. By praising occasionally, they will be motivated to work harder. This is an interesting lesson for teachers. It takes a while to influence a child’s behaviour so it is important that in the process we are enforcing the correct behaviours.

Bandura’s Social learning theory

Bandura’s Social learning theory is built upon the idea of modelling. Modelling is when we observe someone, and copy their behaviours.

( e.g. If a child grows up in an area where everyone acts the same; such as where people shoplift and vandalise; the child will learn this behaviour through the process of modelling, can be a motivation to learn behaviour.

This “modelling” is when we strengthen our behaviours through constant reinforcement. These reinforcers cause personality to develop through both cognitive and physical factors.

The self-efficiency aspect is when we consider how we feel about ourselves and our own standards. People who are self-efficient are those likely to go right away from a lecture and complete the associated TDT. Those who don’t go away and do this may not do so for reasons such as they are not confident enough, or that “no one else is” – these people have low self-efficiency.

These behaviours are reinforced by parents, who model a child’s “internalised standards”. E.g. a tidy house is a standard of learning.

Bandura’s model is based on a process of observation, imitation and internalisation; along with cognitive, physical and motivational factors.Learning-by-Watching-Social-Cognitive-Theory-and-Vicarious-Learning

The four conditions that need to be met are:

  • Paying attention
  • Remembering
  • What can be physically copied
  • Motivation to imitate

This theory can be analysed whilst considering learning a new sport. You need to be able to pay attention to what you are doing, if you cannot do this you will not know what they are doing in order to move on and develop the next condition. You need the ability to remember a breakdown of the sport and all the different parts of it, in order to piece together what your role in it requires you to do. If you cannot do this, you will be physically poor at the sport- which is the next step. Different things can be copied, the most important being the movements. However by observing a professional it is hoped that we will subconsciously learn their confidence and good techniques. Our motivation to imitate is our initial desire to attempt the sport. If we are not motivated o try, we will have no desire to learn and, therefore, take nothing away from the observation. By only observing, we won’t remember or be able to physically copy what the person is doing.

Freud’s Theory of Personality is initially based on the idea of sexual needs.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 18.53.01 I do not agree with the age stages within Freud’s stages of development, as I feel his view that we stop developing at the age of 18 is, well, crazy. I’m only 18 at the moment and I feel, especially in terms of my personality that I have a lot more developing to do. Also, none of his stages are backed up with scientific evidence. In fact, most of his clients were actually middle aged Vietnamese women. Many elements are right, but are difficult to test making this theory very hard to prove or disprove.

 Erickson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 18.59.53

Erickson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development is based on the concept of ego-identity. Erickson states that the successful completion of each stage, leads to a healthy progression into the next one. It also helps create a good personality and very successful social skills. The theory does state that failure of a stage hinders development, which is questionable.

I do not fully agree with this, as things that go wrong can be resolved, and this theory is very hard to prove or disprove due to a lack of scientific testing. The quote “life begins at 40” comes into mind. This makes sense in accordance with this theory, as by 40, we have developed all our personality traits.

I agree with the fact that Erickson’s theory goes right up to the ages of 40+. This is interesting, especially when thinking about the phrase “life begins at 40”. As according to Erickson that we have developed almost all our personality traits by then, maybe this is true?

This Is very relatable and makes a lot of sense in a lot of ways. It is very understandable that trust is built up in the first year of life. Also, that tivities become goal orientated around age 4-5, which I can personally relate to as I see my little sister going through this phase at the moment.

I do however disagree on providing an approximate age scale. Yes, it is good to know where children should be at what age, but even a slightly different wording to “suggested age scale” would make it less stressful for parents who’s children are not quite at the right development for their age (within reason, obviously).

I believe it is important we learn about personality so we can take this knowledge into the mpd
classroom and be able to identify the different personality traits of our pupils. This will allow us to spot signs of slower development and identify poor behaviour styles.

This will have a positive aspect of the child’s development in the classroom as they will get more direction from a teacher who understands their personality. It may even help forming that relationship a little easier.

What standards we should be attaining as student teachers?

smartboardThe General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) has their own standards for registration. These are split into two parts, The Standards for Provisional Registration (SPR), and The Standard for Full Registration (SFR). These are a series of standards put in place to make clear how teachers should act, and the values they should possess as a professional. For those of us looking forward to when we apply for Provisional Registration, it is good to use as guidance and support.

The SPR lays down what is expected of us as student teachers, and we should use it to shape ourselves into the teachers of the future. It is stated that once you have gained the SPR, and then the SFR, you should continue to develop yourself as a person. These standards are set down to set us up for a “Career of lifelong learning”.

The professional standards we are seeking to attain are vital in shaping us into the best teachers we can be.

It is interesting that the code is essentially the criteria we need to meet to ensure we are fit to A GOOD TEACHERteach. I find it very beneficial that the document States the Professional Values and Personal Commitment that I should have as a teacher. These include:

  • Social Justice
  • Integrity
  • Trust and Respect
  • Professional Commitment

I like how it goes into great depth about which areas we should be knowledgeable about, such as the curriculum, teaching programmes and assessments. It is very helpful that it has a breakdown of the things within education policy (such as laws and legislations), as well as the education system we should be aware of as students.

The standards do however state that we should have high expectations of all learners (3.1.4). Whereas I do feel our expectations should be relatively high, is it not unrealistic to have high expectations of everyone? Not everyone has the same abilities, and expectations should be specific to each individual learner.

Within a separate document, The Student Teacher Code, there are different rules laid down. I didn’t realise that after we gain the SFR, as well as having our PVG’s and by that time tonnes of experience in the classroom, the GTC STILL assess our fitness to teach. I do however understand the seriousness of a criminal conviction, and agree with GTC’s need to investigate any allegations.

downloadI found the “Key Principles of the Student Teacher Code” Very helpful. They state that as a student we should be good role models, make our pupils our main focus, and be respectful of others along with a few others.

When we are working with pupils we should show good moral values. Part 1 of the code is about how we work with pupils. It contains points about us having to keep sensitive information confidential, and that we should be a role model in EVERYTHING we do and say. I like the way they have written this into an easy to read document.

Part 2 is about how us as a student teacher works with others. As I took the Working Together module for my elective, it is nice to see the=is document including the importance of working cooperatively with those in other professions. I also think it is fair that it states you should not comment on other teachers or professionals within the educational community. I can only imagine the damage this could cause and I would not wish it on anyone.integrity_definition

Part 3 is mainly about how we should be honest and show integrity as a student teacher. Whilst
reading this part of the comment, it is very evident that a lot of these points. No matter what profession I could have chosen to go into I would never engage in criminal behaviour. I also find it very upsetting that some serious offences must have taken place in the past for some of these points to be added to this document. The point on social networking stands out a lot. I agree as professionals we should definitely be careful of how we portray ourselves on social media. We do not want our reputation ruined. 

Overall, the whole Student-Teacher Code is beneficial in highlighting how we should and should not act as professionals. The importance of equality and diversity are extremely important, especially when considering the Equality Act (2010). I can see how this code coincides with the standards for provisional education, which are both very useful documents.

How do we even teach a child how to read and write?!

learn-to-write-crawlerIn my previous blog posts, I spoke of language acquisition and the importance of things such as grammar. What is important when teaching a child how to read and write? Well, the most influential factor is their phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is the ability to understand the different rules around the sounds of a language. It also involves having knowledge of the way in which sounds are connected, and how this is represented when put down in writing.

phonics-abc-jumpIt has been stated that children who are more phonologically aware between the ages of 3 and 5 will be better at reading and writing later in life(Adams, Trieman, & Pressley, 1998). By teaching small children phonological awareness before they start school, their reading skills will be at a higher level that that of their peers who have no phonological awareness.

Children do not have to learn about phonological awareness in early childhood, they can learn in the nursery and the early years. Children will also be more confident if phonologically aware, and may often use invented spelling when attempting to write and spell new words. Although this spelling will be wrong, it is found that they will become better at spelling, reading and writing than their peers later in life. The best way to encourage them to engage in phonics is through fun activities involving “play” styled learning.skitched-14-6-1-1

Once children begin the basic reading process they begin to learn about the different parts of words (e.g. prefixes and suffixes). This will help them become more efficient in their reading.

The strategies used to teach reading can also be incorporated into helping children learn how to write. For example, when writing there are sound-symbol connections which are also important when learning to spell, but also how to read. 

Phonics-lesson-008No matter what teachers do, there is always some children that fall behind their peers in literacy. There are connections between poor readers and sound-letter combinations (Agnew, Dorn, & Eden, 2004; Gonzalez & Valle, 2000; Mayringer & Wimmer, 2000). It is also found that children with reading difficulties benefit largely from specific phonic lessons. Teachers need to reflect on the effectiveness of their approach and change it if necessary to fit the individual needs of the students.

Theories of Language Development

The earliest theories of language were initially based on the “nonsense” idea that imitation is
how children learn a language. It does play a part, but only a small one. Toddlers who copy the way adults speak are the ones who show the most rapid vocabulary development, but only in Girl-Imitating-Adultthe first 1/2 years of the language explosion. It doesn’t account for all language acquisition, therefore we cannot say that this is the way children learn. It also doesn’t add up, as it cannot possibly account for a child’s ability to create new words and expressions which they have never heard before.

Skinner’s (1957) reinforcement there argues that parents play a bigger role than just imitation. They are vital in the process of shaping language, gradually improving a child’s speech. However, researchers have found that when parents speak to children, there is no evidence of this shaping, making this a very controversial theory. In contrast to this, (Brown & Hanlon, 1970; Hirsh-Pasek, Trieman, & Schneiderman, 1984), found that parents actually construct children vocabulary in a range of different ways. The most common, when they correct them on the basis of whether they are correct or not.

Developmentalists can tell which children have parents who talk and read to them often, as they use a wider range of vocabulary in their speech. They also tend to begin talking sooner, and developing larger vocabularies quicker. This makes it evident that a child who hears a larger quantity of language is more likely to benefit in this way. Children who don’t hear such a large quantity of language in their early years don’t even appear to catch up in their later years.It has also been found by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, that poor mothers talk and read to their children less and also use much poorer vocabulary and complex sentences. Catherine Snow (1997) found that children at four years of age brought up in poverty, use shorter/less complex sentences than their better-off peers. Obviously there are other contributing factors, but the variety of language a child hears is fundamental in their language development.

Newborn_talk-600x420Motherese, is the simple language adults use to talk to children. It is now referred to as infant-directed speech. This is done so in a higher-pitched voice and also at a much slower pace. It is believed that babies can tell the difference between people speaking in infant-directed speech and normal speech as early as a few days old. Developmentalists have also found that they prefer to be spoken to in motherese. They like the higher pitch as it catches their attention. 

There are a few issues with the theory of language acquisition. Children who hear their own sentence repeated back to them grammatically correct will learn correct grammar sooner, but recastings are actually really rare (and children still acquire complex grammar eventually. Also, mothers do appear in a range of countries and cultures, it is not evident in all. (Better, 1988) also found that motherese is not used very much by mothers suffering from depression. These children still learn the language and grammar, proving that whilst infant-directed speech does play an important role, it is not always necessary.

Nativist Theorists argue that all a child needs to learn language is already within them. Early theorists such as Noam Chomsky were interested in the size of the task of acquiring language, and the similarities in the stages of language development across every language. Another influential nativist is Dan Slobin. He stated that every child is born already having a basic language-making capacity. 

The Nativist Theory is discussed very well in this YouTube video:

Constructivist Theorists state that built-in perceptual skills are very important in acquiring language. These build skills guide her attention to specific features of language which she then processes and modifies as and when she receives new information. By doing this, the child develops their own set of rules for both understanding and creating language.

The Eclectic Approach is where theorists draw on all the views of language acquisition, to gain a greater understanding on the environments influences. It is especially important to use both the nativist and cognitive theories. This is as the nativists claim that the ability to process to language is already processed in a child’s brain. This claim is best understood when looked at from a constructivist view of language development. 

All these theories are interesting and many have similar ideas, but it is interesting to see the different ideas from different psychologists.

Word Learning

What are the trends in word learning over the first two years?

Children initially learn words in stages, the first being the pre-linguistic stage. Each singular language, such as English or Italian, has various different dimensions. These are things such as the different uses of language, such as to communicate, the sound patterns each individual language uses and the rules that govern these patterns. These are all known as phonology. Semantics are they ways in which language represents meaning. The rules used to combine words in a language, is the syntax. These terms are all commonly used when describing the development from the early preverbal stage to the stage of linguistic fluency.

This is apparent through observing chimpanzees (Savage-Rumbaugh et al., 1993). They learn to nim-sign_1964009c (1)
communicate through sign language and the process of pointing to sequences of symbols. they can do this, and are good at it, but it takes a great deal of effort to teach them to use other expressive forms of language such as symbols signs and sounds that communicate meaning. Any parent will tell you that once you teach a child how to speak, you will never be able to get them to be quiet ever again! This is due to the fact that the process of language development begins months before a baby even utters her/his first word. This period of time within these few months is the prelinguistic phase.

By the time a child reaches around 12 months, they will typically have started using their first word (Fenson et al,. 1994). Within the next six months, children will increase their vocabulary to around 30 words. Early word learning is very slow and requires a lot of repetitions. Ronald Schollon (1976) studied a little girl named Brenda, and found she used a singular specific word for more than one thing. One example of this being the word “nene” for milk, juice AND her bottle.

The Naming Explosion is another trend that happens between 16-24 months of age which children begin to add new words rapidly. Elizabeth Bates and her colleagues found that a rapid vocabulary growth is not restricted to the language of English, it is the same in other languages. After repeating words a few times, it is easier for children to connect them to different situations. However, other cross-linguist researchers suggest that English speaking parents emphasise nouns more than verbs when reading and speaking to children, compared to Korean-speaking parents who do not. This suggests the noun-before-verb  learning pattern may be influenced by different language characteristics as well as the behaviour of the speaker.

Later word learning happens during the pre-school years when children begin adding words at much higher speeds, with a rise of up to 10 words a day (Pinker, 1994). Researchers believe this “speeding up” of the vocabulary learning process is due to a shift in the way children approach words that are new to them. 

Once a wide vocabulary is developed, children begin to categorise words. Psychologists use the term fast-mapping to refer to this ability. Children begin to categorise after paying attention to words in whole groups.This can be things such as names of different fruit. By identifying what category a word belong to, the child can envisage “mental slots” for these words.Children initially categories things such as animals. However, they can become confused. An example of this may be a child seeing a cat and saying “see kitty”. We are initially unsure on what the child actually means. Is this kitty a kitty, or does she see it as any other furry animal like a dog? She may even use the word to only describe her OWN cat.

This is when under-extension and over-extension become apparent in speech. Under-extension is when a word is used for one specific object in a singular context. This suggests children believe words can only belong to one thing and is mostly common in the early stages of vocabulary development (before naming explosion). Over-extension is when children grasp the idea of categorising words. However, in this case, they do it inappropriately, such as using the word kitty in relation to all animals. (e.g. using a single word for multiple, unrelated categories).

magnetic-wordsThe development of grammar and pragmatics is important when stringing together words into sentences. In the fist instance, putting two words together, then three – and so on. Children firstly begin stringing together two words around the age of 18-24 months. This is not random, it happens when they develop a vocabulary of around 100-200 words (Fenson et al., 1994). 

The holophrase stage is when a toddler begins to combine a single word with a gesture, with a result of creating a “two-word meaning”. This happens before they even use two spoken words together in speech. An example of this is when a child says “cookie” and holds out their hand – indicating they would like one given to them. 

The Grammar Explosion stage is when sentences become longer. The vocabulary development is fundamental to this, as children who have a more complex understanding of grammar will develop complex vocabulary much easier. As they now understand how to construct sentences at this age, they will, therefore be able to understand new words better and be able to integrate them into their language much easier. During this stage, their speech becomes “telegraphic”, which according to linguists and psychologists is when two-word speech becomes evident in speech. Within the following few months, plurals, past tenses and auxiliary verbs are added into a child’s speech.

The Inflection stage is when the form of a word is changed, usually the end of it. Children begin adding inflections into predictable sequences. Roger Brown (1973) found that in the process of children learning English, inflection is most noticeable hone children add “ing” to the end of words. Once they get the hang of this, they begin doing it in order.children-language-development-milestones

Children develop a full understanding of the development of language once they begin to
understand social skills. It is important, from birth, that a child can communicate their feelings through facial expressions and gestures. These are simplistic forms of communication but are important in the sense that the baby has not learnt any words yet. This process of word learning is a coherent process of integrated stages, without which, we would not understand where a child is in their development of word learning.

I found by completing the reading and this associated tutor-directed task from Patricia Thomsons’s lecture to be very beneficial in reinforcing what she spoke about. It has helped me become more knowledgeable on the range of different theorists and the vast amount of other reading out there that is avaible to us as students to enhance our knowledge. It also helped me make the connections between thought and language, and the ways in which language is developed.

The Orphans Hidden in the Iron Curtain era

I’ve always been aware that some children do not have such a fortunate upbringing. However, there is nothing I could have done to prepare myself for the shock of the Romanian Orphans upbringings.

Following Will Berry’s input on the physical child, in particular brain development, I decided to follow up his mention of Romanian orphans and read further into the topic.

To my shock, the first thing I came across was pages and pages of articles, all about the deprivation of these orphans. Many being documented articles on individual cases. It is seriously heartbreaking reading what these children went through. They were placed in state-run orphanages, many receiving only minutes of one to one care each day. Growing up in a small empty room, many being restrained to their beds. Understandably, this caused a lot of problems for these children. Most suffered deformities due to a lack of exercise. With a lack of social stimulation, they did not get the opportunity to develop properly. Some as old as teenagers could be mistaken for eight year olds, due to the fact social and emotional deprivation stunts growth. Many children lacked the ability to even walk properly due to being restrained in a crib staring at a blank ceiling for years. It is so clear to see the lack of development through the blank looks in the poor children eyes in the countless photographs online. Many children suffering from various disorders such as anxiety, depression and reactive attachment disorder, the most common being post-traumatic stress. It really says it all.

This issue within Romanian Orphanages prevailed after Nicolae Ceausescu, a Communist Dictator become President. He was worried about the ageing population, and decided to conquer this by banning contraception and abortions. He even passed a law stating women HAD to have five children, infertility was just not tolerated. Unfortunately, many parents could not afford to bring up all these children and had no choice other than to hand them over to the state. This put pressures on the orphanages which simply could not cope with the amount of orphans. It also caused a serious financial struggle, and due to a lack of equipment needles were shared and many blood supplies were contaminated. Due to this, there are still Romanian children today infected with H.I.V and AIDS, still forced to live without important medicines. It was not until Ceausescu was overthrown in 1989 that this disaster was revealed to the rest of the world.

Luckily due to this publicity, many Romanian orphans were then adopted. Rutter et al (2007) followed the lives of adopted Romanian orphans who were adopted by Western families, assessing their development. it is very interesting to find that even after years of neglect and no sensitive care, these children began to show signs of development, despite having attachment issues, especially with adults but also with peers. The findings also showed that children adopted before 6 months of age developed at the same rate as children adopted in Britain. This showed that once adopted, these children do have the opportunity to catch up, but unfortunately after 6 months of age the negative effects brought upon these children from the orphanages are more permanent. 

The effects of being placed in Romanian orphanages are unbearable to think about, but I feel it is important to be aware of what went on and consider the findings of these reports. A lot of these children have a very low IQ after being left to amuse themselves. This just highlights to me how important it is for a child to experience care and social stimulation, especially in their earliest years. It also brings up the issue that not everyone comes from the same walk of life. Some children come from neglectful backgrounds, and we have to be aware of this as teachers. All children deserve an equal chance in life, and especially in education.

Romanian Orphans

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