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.