Lewis McKenzie ePDP

BA (Hons) Education

December 3, 2018
by Lewis McKenzie

Disasters Learning Log

By definition, ‘a natural disaster is an act of nature of such magnitude as to create a catastrophic situation in which the day-to-day patterns of life are suddenly disrupted and people are plunged into helplessness and suffering, and, as a result, need food, clothing, shelter, medical and nursing care and other necessities of life, and protection against unfavourable environmental factors and conditions (World Health Organisation, 1971). This in-depth definition covers all bases of a natural disaster and the events that occur as a result. Every year, natural disasters occur throughout the world whether this be extreme flooding in the Philippines, a tsunami on the coasts of Hawaii or a tornado tearing apart the United States. The WHO (2018) estimate that around 90,000 people are killed each year by natural disasters around the world. This is a frightening figure which really hit home with me as I reflected on how lucky myself and the habitants of the United Kingdom really are. The World Health Organisations definition really does cover all bases but other examples of a disaster could be heat waves, droughts, wildfires, landslides or earthquakes. Unfortunately, the list does go on and there are many more adverse disasters that occur through no fault of the world population. As an adult training to be a primary teacher I can see the effect these disasters are having on the world however putting myself into the position of a much younger primary pupil, I struggle to see the bigger picture. Of course, primary pupils understand a natural disaster and what it has done to a specific location however I don’t think they realise the magnitude of the damage left behind and the fact that those in need won’t simply be able to pick up their latest gaming tablet and forget about the world, as their world has quite literally just been turned upside down. Natural disasters are often described as a ‘act of God’ and they are completely out with the control of anyone on this planet. To me, that is the narrowing harsh reality of this theme, there is not much we can do to prevent them as this is the way the world was created, however we can build and develop strategies to try and combat them and reduce the destruction.


I think the key skill that everyone should be aware of in relation to natural disasters is being able to be culturally aware of what is happening around the world. Personally, I take for granted that throughout my life I will never truly experience a natural disaster due to where I live and the environment that is around me. However, across the world there are children experiencing and living through these disasters’ year in, year out of their childhood. I cannot begin to express the hurt that I feel for them and generally this topic and the harsh reality that there isn’t much that I, a young aspiring teacher, can do to help them. After researching not only natural disasters but all of the themes covered, cultural awareness is crucial as we must continually be supporting and praying for our human race around the world and their cultures that are being ripped apart every year. A professional universal skill which I think is crucial to this theme is being research minded. Research and science actively save lives every day. Research into natural disasters and the roots of these would allow governments and communities to plan coherently and effectively to try and minimise the destruction. Of course, disasters often happen overnight with sometimes very little or no warning whatsoever however if we could research and develop strategies that are on standby then we could try and combat the force of natural disasters.


While studying this theme, our cohort was split into groups in which we had to research and present a different natural disaster to the rest of the year. This was such a successful task as it allowed for differing individuals to come together and work as a team but also provide a different viewpoint to the many natural disasters. Forward thinking to my own classroom in the future, I would implement this task in the exact same way. I would allow children to choose and research a natural disaster and then present it to the class in whatever medium suited them. This allows children to be creative and innovative for the benefit of the rest of the children’s learning. This links to the GTCS Standard for Registration 2.1.3 whereby it defines that teachers much be able to ‘demonstrate that they can select creative and imaginative strategies for teaching and learning appropriate to the subject, topic and pupil’s needs.’ It is of course the children choosing their creative method in which they want to present however the class teacher is giving them the autonomy and resources to do so. From a pupil’s perspective I feel they would enjoy this task as children enjoy using their own initiative and creativity to create a project by themselves. If the class teacher then chooses to display this in some form then a sense of pride resonates with the pupils as their hard work and learning is on display for other teachers and children to see. Through the micro-teaching task, I developed my communication and teamworking skills as we had to split our team into different roles and responsibilities. We were all able to use our own initiative while at the same time working towards the common goal and as a team.


Another practical resource that I came across while looking into the theme of natural disasters was experimenting with volcanoes. Volcanoes can quite easily be replicated within a classroom using just baking soda and vinegar. When combined, they form carbonic acid which is very unstable therefore breaks down to create a fizzing or foaming effect which escapes through the eye of the volcano. I think this is a good practical lesson for people to engage with to try and understand the destruction left behind as the ‘foam’ or in real life, the lava, travels down the volcano and through the surrounding communities. This lesson links into the experiences and outcomes within Curriculum for Excellence as it defines that ‘through experimentation, I can identify indicators of chemical reactions having occurred. I can describe ways of controlling the rate of reactions and can relate my findings to the world around me’ (SCN 3-19a, Science Experiences and Outcomes).  This lesson could also be transferable to other curricular areas such as art and design whereby the children could create and design their own volcano in which they will then use for the science experiment.


Reflecting on this theme, it has been the most severe in my opinion due to the human element involved. 90,000 people losing their lives every year is a tragedy and it allows for those not affected to reflect and not take anything for granted. Teaching this within a school could be distressing to some pupils therefore I think I should be treated with caution and if a child is uncomfortable then the teacher must stop the teacher and think of an alternative lesson. It can become quite difficult for a teacher to make such a harrowing topic, like natural disasters, fun and enjoyable for the pupils however with the correct research and planning then it will be effective for all learners.


References and Resources

General Teaching Council for Scotland (2006) Standard for Initial Teacher Education. [Online] Available: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/the-standards/the-standard-for-initial-teacher-education.pdf [Accessed 20 November 2018].


Science Kids (2016) Baking Soda and Vinegar Volcano.[Online] Available: http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/experiments/vinegarvolcano.html [Accessed 20 November 2018].


Scottish Executive (2006) A Curriculum for Excellence: Science Experiences and Outcomes.Edinburgh: Scottish Executive. [Accessed 20 November 2018].


World Health Organisation (1971) Guide to Sanitation in Natural Disasters.(Minister of Health M.Assar). [Online] Available: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/41031/10678_eng.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y [Accessed 19 November 2018].


World Health Organisation (2018) Natural Events.[Online] Available:https://www.who.int/environmental_health+emergencies/natural_events/en [Accessed 19 November 2018].

December 3, 2018
by Lewis McKenzie

Energy Learning Log

In a nutshell, energy powers the world. Everything that we do throughout our daily lives from sending a text message to cooking a pizza is powered by a form of energy, whether this be through traditional fossil fuels or new alternative energy sources. My generation of society have been brought up dependent on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas and due to this these scarce resources are running out. Natural historian, David Attenborough, as recent as today claimed that “if we do not take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” I never thought twice about energy and the impending thought of running out of fossil fuels as growing up these things have always just been available whenever I wanted them. This is of course the view of an individual with a good upbringing from a developed country however people around the world do not get the luxury of heating and electricity every day of their lives. While looking at energy within this module, I have gained a vast amount of knowledge in relation to up and coming renewable and alternative energy which is making an increase in recent years. The UK Government conducted research into the use of renewable energy and the general populations thoughts on replacing the average fossil fuel power plants with new technologies. The conclusion to the research was that more than 82% of the UK population back the use of renewable energy in order to provide electricity, fuel and heat. Reflecting on my own use of energy, I have identified ways in which I can combat my own energy use and how to reduce this for the benefit of the world and future generations. Most people think that by one person changing one habit then no difference will be made however if everyone is in the same mindset and every human changes one bad habit for example turning the heating off when you are not at home, there will be a huge positive impact on the world and reserves of these scarce fuels. Looking at the topic of energy and renewable sources from a child’s perspective, it becomes more difficult as like I mentioned previously, these children are brought up to expect power and electricity to charge their gaming tablet or heating to keep them warm at night. However, if we impart wisdom through teaching they can be made more aware of the damage this constant supply is doing to the world but also what it could mean for them growing up and raising their own families.


The most important skill that I have learned throughout this topic would be that I am now more ethically aware and socially responsible as to what my everyday actions are doing to the world. This is a skill that is not just transferrable to teaching however something to be aware of at all times. Everything every human on this planet does, affects the world in some way or another and it is imperative that we are aware of these consequences. Topics such as global warming and fossil fuels are not caused by one individual or one generation or country. Individually, we are contributing to these catastrophes whether we are willing to accept it or not. Being socially aware of how we affect the world and coming to that realisation is the first step to reducing the amount of energy we use and which in turn allows us to be open to newer ideas such as renewable energy.


One of the key roles of primary teachers is to educate and encourage all pupils to be active, critical and responsible citizens within a local, national, international and global context (GTCS, Standard for Initial Teacher Education, 2006). These skills are transferable as if I, the teacher, is socially and ethically aware of my decisions, these will then in turn pass on to my pupils who will begin to develop a sense of ownership as to how they are changing the world. These skills are progressed the entire way through education and can be supported by the ‘.Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes’. Introducing the topic of energy and developments within society through early level, pupils should ‘enjoy playing with and exploring technologies to discover what they can do and how they can help us.’ (TCH 0-01a, Curriculum for Excellence). Progressing this through to second level whereby children should be able to analyse how lifestyles can impact on the environment and Earth’s resources can be able to make suggestions about how to live in a more sustainable way (TCH 2-02a, Curriculum for Excellence). This second level experience and outcome links directly to the generic skill of being socially and ethically aware. At an early age and the entire way through education, children should be encouraged to investigate what they can do live a more sustainable life. Reflecting on my own childhood, as a generation we never got taught about energy and what we could do individually but also we never had such a robust system like Curriculum for Excellence which ensures that all children are reaching these academic milestones. Curriculum for Excellence changes as the country grows and develops and is constantly introducing new topics and experiences and outcomes to ensure that children are engaged with the world and society that they live in. Within a classroom setting a topic such as energy allows for a cross-curricular approach to take place as areas such as science, health and wellbeing, and social studies can be interlinked and students can begin to see how not only the curriculum but also society is interlinked.


Throughout the lectures and workshops for this theme, we were introduced to many resources that enabled us to engage more with the topic such as circuit boards, debating through the topic of wind turbines and solar power energy. These resources could be used within a classroom setting however some may have to be augmented in order for it to suit the age range in question. However, some resources I could see myself using within my own classroom in the future such as building a kite. This straightforward task actually has a lot of learning involved in it as it allows pupils to begin to understand the force of the wine and the mechanics of flight which is a renewable energy source. With guidance and support, I would aim this lesson for first level pupils are the intricate building of the kite may be too difficult for early level pupils.


I would say this theme has had the most impact on me so far as it has allowed me to see how much energy I am using but more importantly how much I am using without realising or actually needing the power. Being a student teacher, I can see the impact that my life choices could have upon my future class and how much I could educate them to change the world. New government initiatives that are coming out now and proposed plans for the future will focus solely on renewable and alternative sources of energy so hopefully the country will take shape as the policies and legislation evolve. I think renewable energy is such an important topic as it allows the human race to live a longer, healthier lifestyle.


Resources & References

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (2017) Energy and Climate Change Public Attitude Tracker.[Online] Available: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/678077/BEIS_Public_Attitudes_Tracker_-_Wave_24_Summary_Report.pdf [Accessed 24 November 2018].


General Teaching Council for Scotland (2006) Standard for Initial Teacher Education. [Online] Available: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/the-standards/the-standard-for-initial-teacher-education.pdf [Accessed 25 November 2018].


McGrath, M. (2018) Sir David Attenborough: Climate change ‘our greatest threat’. BBC News.[Online] 3 December. Available: BBC News. [Accessed 3 December 2018].


Scottish Executive (2006) A Curriculum for Excellence: Technologies Experiences and Outcomes.Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.


Sustainable Development (2017) Technologies in Alternative Energy. [Module Resource] Available: Sustainable Development module on Moodle. [Accessed 29 November 2018].


December 2, 2018
by Lewis McKenzie

Community Project & Reflections on Placement

Community Project Learning Log

For my community project, I volunteered to tidy the ‘community garden’ situated on campus at the university. This was a project set up by a previous year to provide a space that people could use to relax and reflect. The community garden is open for all students and staff of the university and over the years has been a place of reflection to friends who are no longer with us. These friends are remembered through personal plaques which are engraved onto the three benches. Over the years and throughout the harshest winters and climate change, the garden began to turn into a state of disarray. Due to it currently being winter also, it was no longer the peaceful and relaxing area of the university that it once was. I was part of a group of four students who were tasked to try and bring some life back to the much-loved community garden. In summary we cleared vast amount of floor space of leaves that had fallen throughout autumn and cleared the flower beds of weeds making them ready for the year ahead. It was difficult to try and bring the garden back to what it was due to the factors affecting us such as the weather and resources available. It was a cold, windy morning when we started working on the garden and this made it a little challenging in terms of what we could do. The teams original plan was to paint the welcome entrance to the garden as well as the three memory benches however due to the weather this was not possible. Working on the garden became a challenge when we were restricted as to what we could actually do in terms of making it more scenic and welcoming.


What surprised me was my motivation and enjoyment that I actually got out of working in the cold for a few hours. Gardening is something that I’ve never really experimented with growing up therefore this was my first real hands on experience. Working alongside my closest friends within university was also a huge factor as to what kept us working in the awful weather conditions. We work well as a team which has been proven in previous projects as well as this one and we encourage each other to be the best form of ourselves. Team work is a huge part of teaching and education as there are so many other professionals and individuals involved throughout your day to day routine. Personally, I think a teacher cannot make it through a school day without the support and guidance from another individual whether this be a quick conversation in the staff room or the support of a specialist within the classroom. Working on the community garden, it was also clear that communication was key as it allowed for the team work to take place. Before we began the project, we discussed different roles and tasks that we would each individually be doing throughout the day. This quick briefing is crucial as it allows everyone to work towards the common goal and ensures that roles are not being duplicated by multiple individuals. Communication does allow for teamwork to occur and this is the same within any education setting. Communication is key as it allows for different personalities or viewpoints to mix and collaborate together which may not have happened previously. This project allowed for us to bond more as a team and to improve our communication and teamworking skills which we will progress with us throughout university and then later throughout our teaching careers.


I can see that at one time, the university community garden meant a lot to some people as it was a free and open thinking space with only the sounds of nature and the river to distract you. It was clear the effort that went into the project initially as we could see the ruins of their work which was distressing as it almost felt as if it had been forgotten about over the years as students moved on and progressed their careers away from university. I would like for it to regain its rightful status within our university’s campus however that would require more resources and manpower than a group of four students working on a cold morning for a few hours.


I can see how this community project fits well into the theme of sustainable development and how I can integrate this into my teaching career. Most schools have some form of community or peace garden that the students, usually the eco committee, work on throughout the year. If schools do not then I can see this being a useful project for a class as it allows them to learn outdoors and try something new. Some pupils may not have a garden at home therefore will never get to experience gardening similar to my childhood. By allowing them to work on a topic like sustainable development and community gardens then you are allowing children to flourish in an aspect of the curriculum that they might have never before.


Reflection on Sustainable Development throughout Placement

At my placement primary school, there is a vast amount of outdoor play space for the children to play in during interval and lunch time. This ranges from traditional concrete ground, a raised grass football pitch and barked woodland area. From my experience in primary schools, this is probably the most effective use of outdoor space and allows the children to explore in ways they wouldn’t normally. The barked woodland area has a wooden assault course or the ‘trim trail’ spanning the length of it therefore allows the children to challenge themselves outside of the classroom. I think having both concrete ground and grass areas are very beneficial to a school as it allows for different learning and games to take place. The grass pitch could also be used for PE during warmer periods of the year. Even on wet days, children could still partake in outdoor games such as football as a football pitch has been painted onto the concrete area of the playground. Other traditional games have also been painted onto the concrete for example ‘hopscotch’ and ‘snakes and ladders’. I think the space is suitable and used well at my placement school as there is still vast areas of open space for children to explore themselves and be creative and play using their vivid imaginations.


The nature garden area is closed off to pupils during break and lunch times due to it extending to the rear of the school therefore out of an adult’s supervision. However, this is an area that has been used effectively by all classes throughout their own individual projects. Each classroom is designated a ‘bed’ in which it is up to them to choose what they want to plant or grow depending on what they are learning within their classroom. Due to the time of year that it is, most beds are empty or have overgrown due to our everchanging climate, but you can see evidence of the work that has been carried out by the classes for example the sunflowers shown below. My placement school have a keen interest in the environment and being eco-friendly as they have successfully obtained their third eco flag. It is built into the ethos of the school and an ongoing topic throughout the year for all classes. The recycling bins that are situated around the school were all designed by pupils through an eco-friendly competition. The picture below shows one of the many designs which is ‘bee clean’. The school also has an eco-committee, with representatives from each class, that meet monthly to discuss sustainable education within the school and how they could improve and raise awareness of the environment.

After discussing with my P4 class, we came to a conclusion that they are happy with their playground and outdoor spaces however would change a few things if possible. On days when there are light showers or had been previously, children are advised not to play on the grass areas due to health and safety concerns. On severe wet days, children are kept indoors and allowed to play within their own classroom. The children I spoke with were happy with the playground and enjoy break times however highlighted a few things they would change, if they could. Firstly, the trim trail is made up of three obstacles however the children wondered if they could make this longer allowing them to have more fun and challenge themselves further during break times. A common playtime game for children is ‘tig’ or ‘hide and seek’ and the children commented that there is adequate space for this as there is lots of free space to run about. The girls commented that sometimes during lunch, they are accidently hit with the football from the concrete pitch which is on ground level. Their solution to this was to build a fence around the concrete pitch which is of course a suitable suggestion but for this playground it wouldn’t be suitable. My placement primary school also benefits from picnic benches however these have traditional board games permanently on top. The children told me that these don’t get used often due to them not having an interest in the games but also because the seats are uncomfortable and need renewed. As a whole, the focus group of children that I spoke with were satisfied with the playground and deemed it as suitable as well as the school’s aspects of sustainable education.

October 24, 2018
by Lewis McKenzie

Interdependence Learning Log

Interdependence, vaguely, is how different elements of the world rely on one another in order to function and grow. Historically, the human race has understood the environment that they live in and respected that and this is shown through the history of Native Americans and Aboriginals, only two examples of many. As the world and the people within it have developed and grown, we have in a sense lost this caring element within us about the environment. Globally, the world and its resources within are overused and overworked by the human population. Interdependence is based around the concept of several components working in harmony however this won’t be possible if the world continues at the rate it is just now.


Throughout this topic we looked at two very different aspects of the world, farming and agriculture and then the sea and aquaculture. Within agriculture, we visited two very different farms to try and understand what life is like on a farm first and foremost and the challenges millions of farmers face every day within a changing climate. Another reason we why visited two varied farms was to see the difference between organic farming and digital farming which was incredible to see first-hand. The farming trips is something that I can definitely see me implementing within my own classroom in the future as academically, they were very beneficial, but allowing children to be in a completely new environment where they are still learning brings out a different side to them that a class teacher may not have witnessed yet within the classroom setting. Growing up and now a student teacher in his twenties, I still have such a passion for the outdoors. I enjoy the freedom and really that ‘wanderlust’ feeling of not having any boundaries as to where you can go. The reason I say this is because the first, very family orientated organic farm, was such a pleasure to visit. West Mossgiel Farm, passed through a family’s generations was everything that a farm should be, in my opinion. Cattle, of both sexes, were free to roam the flourishing fields of grass and in a sense, experience their own version of ‘wanderlust’ or freedom which can be seen in the supporting evidence below. The West Mossgiel family were very labour intensive and not a lot of machinery was used throughout the day as it was mostly done by human labour; a small labour force of nine employees. In comparison to the digitally advanced farm, where a single worker worked most days himself with the help of robotics and technology. Another key factor in comparing the two farms is that the second farm, Strandhead Farm, the female cows were kept inside every day of the year. They also only bred female cows for the milk produce business and this was guaranteed through artificial insemination. I understand that at the end of the day it is a business however there is something ethically wrong about that in my opinion. However, it was incredible to witness the vast range of technology Strandhead Farm used on a daily basis as I had never actually seen a ‘robot’ or technology that takes over the human labour force. As I was watching it carry out tasks, that the organic family would do by hand, I could imagine and picture the faces of my classroom children. These two visits are exactly how I would implement it within a primary school setting. Let children see both sides of the spectrum, the traditional labour-intensive farming and the future technologically advanced farm. For the second farm, our tour was conducted by the solo worker but also a lady from the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET). RHET are an organisation that I would definitely consider using in the future as it allows an expert in the field to share their knowledge and skills to the pupils and allows the children to really just hear a different voice for once.


In relation to aquaculture, we looked at what covers the majority of the Earth, our oceans. I found it very beneficial to teach two similar topics in terms of interdependence but in two different ways, one being practical and the latter theoretical. As a team we researched about how our oceans got into the state of despair that they are in just now and how we, as a global community, can protect and try and reverse some of these negative changes. “…our interdependence reflects a larger moral bond that compels us to act together, including for the benefit of the most vulnerable communities and creatures among us.” (WWF, 2015). The WWF are globally known as the advocates of protecting our Earth. It was very beneficial to use articles and reports from organisations such as the WWF as they broke it down into manageable, clear, statements. I would use WWF sources within an upper primary classroom as they are extremely visual and user friendly.


The practical farm visits and the theoretical knowledge of the seas around us allowed me to, of course, gain a vast depth of knowledge in this area however it has also let me develop skills that I might not have been able to without the practical visits. One that I mentioned previously and the most important in terms of this topic is becoming ethically minded. Strandhead and West Mossgiel are both very differing farms in terms of their function but also their ethics. One breeds female only cows in order to run a business however the latter breeds all cattle, runs a similar successful business also and is more ethical in relation to the animal. Being ethically minded, as a skill, has allowed me to think more about produce and big brands within our everyday life. The well-established brand in the large superstore might be the most popular around the world and convenient however the more organic, better for you, cheaper and more ethical version is also available, and I think we should strive to find these alternative products. Another generic skill I have learned is about motivation. I like to think of myself as a motivated individual as I challenge things head-on and enjoy a challenge however hearing the story of West Mossgiel Farm truly inspired me and made me admire the young man that is solely rebuilding his family enterprise. The West Mossgiel Farm faced adversity after sudden deaths within the family and it was almost forced to the ground by a failing market and little to none clientele. The youngest of the family picked up the pieces and could quite easily give up however he was determined to carry on. Today, West Mossgiel ship organic milk all around the country and that would not have been possible without motivation and determination.


As an aspiring primary teacher, this topic has allowed to grow and plan for the future ahead within my own classroom setting. Most importantly it’s shown me how essential it is to vary teaching techniques for example practical and theoretical as every learner is different and will gain something from each technique. This relates to the GTCS Standards for Registration Element 2.1.3 whereby teachers must employ a range of strategies in order for the pupils to fully understand the topic at hand. A class trip, as simple as a visit to a farm, allows teachers to work with other professionals in similar fields or different for example agriculture. Standard 2.1.5 addresses how a mix of professionals and parents must work together in order to promote the learning of the children. This could be implemented by the class teacher following up the farm professional’s knowledge with a class task once back at school. This could be further developed by providing homework on their recent trip to allow parents and guardians to get an insight in to what their child is learning at school. This inter-professional working will allow pupils to get the most out of their lessons.


All of the topics so far have allowed me to see how I can grow personally as a responsible citizen on this planet but also as a primary teacher. Reflecting so far I think interdependence has taught me the most about teaching styles and how we should try and stray away from  the traditional teaching from a textbook and get children more outdoors. Let them meet other professionals and not only will this build their academic knowledge but also their crucial social skills. As a responsible citizen I am now more aware of where my produce is coming from and now stock West Mossgiels incredible organic milk in my own household. The story of West Mossgiel inspired and motivated me so much, I am passionate about supporting them in any way I can.


Classroom Resources

Scottish Executive (2015) A Curriculum for Excellence: The World Beneath our Feet.[Online] Available: http://soils.environment.gov.scot/about-us/news/the-world-beneath-our-feet/ [Accessed 21 October 2018]

  • This resource is extremely helpful in terms of teaching interdependence within a classroom setting. It highlights the basic information that pupils will need to know including the key terms. The most beneficial aspect of this resource is the vast array of tasks at the end for all levels of primary school.

Sustainable Development (2017) Interdependence:Food Chains.[Module Resource] Available: Sustainable Development module on Moodle. [Accessed 22 October 2018]

  • This is another useful resource that could be implemented within an upper primary class as it focuses more on food chains and the circle of life which is more aimed at later first/second level pupils. As it is a multi-model resource, it allows the children to be creative and think maybe how they could create something similar.

WWF (2015) Living Blue Planet Report.[Online] Available: http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/living_blue_planet_report_2015.pdf [Accessed 19 October 2018]

  • This is the WWF resource that I used when researching our sustainable seas. I would use this in a classroom, maybe more in upper primary, as it breaks it down into clear concise sections with the help of infographics and pictures to accommodate different types of learners.



WWF (2015) Together Across Faiths, Taking Action on Climate Change.[Online] Available: https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/together-across-faiths-taking-action-on-climate-change [Accessed 21 October 2018]

Sustainable Development (2017) RHET Flyer.[Module Resource] Available: Sustainable Development module on Moodle. [Accessed 22 October 2018]


Supporting Evidence



October 10, 2018
by Lewis McKenzie

Climate Change Learning Log

“… the world is now completely off track” (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2018). There is something narrowing and daunting about that quote from the IPCC from the recent article published by the BBC. I feel climate change is something that we whole-heartedly take for granted. Civilisation in the 21stCentury just ‘expect’ it to go on as normal. People all over the world, in particular well-developed countries such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom, do not realise that the actions they take every day affect the entire world. Learning about climate change and seeing how much we could do and change was an eye-opener for me as I didn’t realise the impact my own life had on the planet. The IPCC have recently declared a global state of emergency in relation to global warming and it resonated with me that change must start now. In relation to teaching within a primary school in a few years’ time, it will not be good enough to start change then. We must change our lifestyle today and maintain and teach the future generation tomorrow.

I admit to being one of the naive individuals who did not quite understand or appreciate climate change and the world that I live in. I was brought up in a country where we have access to free health care and free education and from a very supportive family that carried me and provided for me throughout my childhood and adolescence. Reflecting on this, I have almost created expectations for life for example it will snow in Winter and the sun will shine in Summer. I expect the world to just always be here and thriving no matter what, however with climate change and rising temperatures around the world this will not be the case. I personally have not realised how taking the car instead of walking or recycling affects the planet and how I, along with many others, are personally responsible for global warming.

I have learned a vast amount of knowledge in this topic and it has probably been the most beneficial due to the very recent state of global emergency. Most importantly I learned what climate change is and how it differs from the weather in a particular area. An example of this would be the United Kingdom having a temperate climate all year round however we could also have gale force winds and thunderstorms. The climate is the average weather over a long period of time, usually over thirty years, and the weather is what changes day to day. I gained knowledge on what governments and agencies around the world do in order to try and control climate change. The political side of climate change is probably the well-known aspect that the general public relate with as it affects how they live their daily lives. This involves the preservation of natural resources or areas for example the Great British Natural Parks and educating the general public about actions they can take at a local or individual level for example recycling different materials. In my opinion, recycling affects us the most as many councils are issuing penalties to individual households if they do not follow the strict recycling rules. The government and agencies around the world are only one component of global warming prevention. Kemp (2004) states that in order to be successful in controlling climate change we must bring together science that aids education which is backed by funding and political will. The knowledge that I have gained throughout the climate change topic has already made me change my own life choices. I now know what recycling takes place within my block of flats therefore I can recycle properly which will not save the world, however, it is a step forward.

I have also gained an immense amount of classroom experiences and skills that I can recreate in the future within my own classroom. Within our science workshop we were discussing weather patterns and potential natural disasters that occur around the world. An activity that I found very beneficial was creating a tornado within a glass jar. I as an adult was completely blown away with how a recycled glass jar was able to create a mini-tornado therefore I can imagine how a child would feel if I, the teacher, presented them with this task. Within the science input, we learned about air temperatures and how hot air rises and cold air drops. This was presented to us visually using food colouring which really allowed for us to graphically see the change and difference between temperatures. Within the resources list, there are pictures and videos of both tasks to support. Teachers must be able to accommodate differing levels of skill and different learners within the one classroom setting. An effective teacher will be able to teach through the use of many mediums for example visual, theoretical and practical. In this topic I have learned how to use these to my own benefit for example beginning with some basic background knowledge of a topic then following that with a visual aid for example a video. For this topic, we watched ‘Antarctica on Edge’ which was a short documentary that highlighted the severity and effect global warming has on the Antarctica. I then developed this knowledge through practical work which was the hot and cold air task previously mentioned. By using different mediums, teachers are complying to the GTCS Standard for Initial Teacher Education. Element of the Standard 2.1.3 states that teachers must “employ a range of teaching strategies and justify their approach” (GTCS, Standard for Initial Teacher Education, 2006). By using different approaches, we are allowing children to get the most out of their education and are moving away from the notion of textbook work every day to a more ranged approach to education. Element of the Standard 1.1.2 states that teachers must “acquire the knowledge and understanding to fulfil their responsibilities in respect of cross-curricular themes including citizenship, creativity…”. Cross-curricular activities are extremely beneficial to children as it allows them to process in their own way how the world is connected, independently and interdependently. Climate change could be taught as an inter-disciplinary topic or IDL within a classroom, but it also links to areas such as health and wellbeing, creativity, citizenship and personal and social education. By pulling knowledge from all these different areas of the curriculum, children are making links as to what they can do to prevent climate change and global warming from the skills and knowledge they already have.

On a more personal level, I have developed skills that have impacted my own life for example being more culturally aware of what is going on around the world. This again highlights how my decisions do not just affect me but the entire world. Global warming results in rising sea levels which heightens the chance of flooding and frequency of tsunamis. These catastrophes, every year, affect communities around the world as they deal with their whole life being literally washed away as well as coping with loss of family and friends. Another skill that I have developed is how I can influence a generation. Primary teachers have so much opportunity to influence their pupils as they are young and naive but also, they look up to them as role models which affects how they will live their lives. These skills are important because it has allowed me to become a better individual but more importantly, a better educator of children.

Climate change is very real, now more than ever. Dr Amjad Abdulla, an IPCC author stated that “it’s about morality – it’s about humanity” (BBC, 2018). If civilisation does not change their habits and think of the wider picture which is the world we live in, then temperatures will continue to rise and global warming will be more severe than it ever was.


Resources & Evidence

This is a picture and slow-motion video of the mini-tornado created within a recycled glass jar. This was a very simply experiment that only required four components (jar, water, food colouring for effect and washing up liquid) therefore can be replicated within a classroom setting.

This is the hot and cold air practical experiment that visually allows children to see the hot or red colour rise and blue cold colour fall to the bottom of the basin. This allows both visual and practical learners to gain the most out of their lessons.



Al Jazeera English. (2017) Antarctica on the Edge – Earthrise.[Online]. 27 June 2017. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTPY8Q0raU4. [Accessed: 5 October 2018].


Kemp, D. (2004) Exploring Environmental Issues: An Integrated Approach. London: Routledge.


McGrath, M. (2018) Final call to save the world from ‘climate catastrophe’. BBC News.[Online] 8 October. Available: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45775309. [Accessed: 9 October 2018].


Sustainable Development (2018) Politics and Global Warming.[Module Resource] Available: Climate Change module on Moodle. [Accessed: 8 October 2018].


Sustainable Development (2018) Climate Change.[Module Resource] Available: Climate Change Introduction module on Moodle. [Accessed: 8 October 2018].

September 26, 2018
by Lewis McKenzie

The Environment Learning Log

“The goal of sustainable development is to enable all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life without compromising the quality of life for future generations” (Scottish Government, 2010).


As a summary, the Scottish Government have summed up sustainable development perfectly. Being able to satisfy basic human needs while at the same time improving, not deteriorating, the world for future generations. Sustainable development is also about making the world last longer, so our human race gets to live healthier and happier lives and enjoy the benefits that this brings. In today’s society pollution and the overuse of natural resources is what is tarnishing the world. By doing this, societies are creating a better life for themselves, which is of course great, however at the same time, deteriorating it for future generations as they are overusing very scarce valuable natural resources for example oil and air.


The environment, very vaguely, is everything. It is the air we breathe in, the grass we walk on, the river we fish in and the land we live in. Personally, I feel very passionate about the environment as I want to live a sustainable life but more importantly, I want my grandchildren to be able to live as good a life that I have, so far. This forward thinking and constantly thinking about the consequences of our actions today and the effect they have on tomorrow, is what sustainable development and the environment is all about. All aspects of the environment are interconnected but also interdependent for example nature relies on good quality air in order to flourish in the Spring and Summer months and living things need the sea to be clean and not polluted in order for them to live and grow. I think a common perception of the environment is that it will just always be there, no matter what. Too many people take it for granted and don’t understand the consequences their daily actions have for example how driving to work when you could walk has on air pollution. This is false though as if everyone takes it for granted then it won’t last in years to come. Global warming is not just a catchphrase, it is very real, and it is becoming more and more imminent each day. The seriousness of the environment is what I have learned the most and I am able now to reflect on my own life and my own practises and see how I could change for the benefit of the environment.


As a class we looked at our local environment around the university and looked to see if we could find certain types of living and non-living things. For non-living we looked at lichen and tree leaves, trying to distinguish between the different types that are out there in the world. For living things, we looked at our local ‘Bug Hotel’, a make shift home for bugs and little creatures that live in our surrounding area. This was a project set up by university students to try and engage more people with the environment and understand that we aren’t the only living thing in the world. This was an incredibly rewarding lesson in terms of me implementing it within my own classroom in the future. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I could see it through the eyes of a child and how much they would get out of it. These transferable skills are what I will take with me throughout my entire career and continually develop on (GTCS, Standard for Initial Teacher Education, 2006). Children naturally love to be outdoors so if we can install in them as much as we can about the environment and the benefits of saving it then they will become passionate and after all it is their future they are shaping. Curriculum for Excellence at all levels want children to explore, describe and appreciate the environment they live in. Adults tend to be more reserved when it comes to nature and don’t quite like to get their hands dirty, but children are the exact opposite and will quite gladly dig through mud to identify and research other living things.


Within the environment topic I looked at a TED Talk called ‘Incredible Edible’ and it was somewhat inspiring. Incredible Edible was a local project that started in 2008 by a small group of volunteers from a little village of Todmorden. They saw areas of their community that were unused and unloved and had a vision of turning them into something practical and environmental. In short, this movement grew from a small group of volunteers to the entire community ranging from farmers to secondary school pupils being involved in putting this small village on the map. Incredible Edible has reenergised the environment in a productive way that allows people to get something back has now been replicated in more than one hundred ways across the country (Incredible Edible, 2008). Incredible Edible was inspiring to me as it showed me that Pam and Mary, the two women leading the motion, literally changed the lives of their entire village by themselves. Todmorden will never be the same again and it’s this commitment and dedication that I find inspiring.


Throughout this topic I have learned many valuable skills that relate to teaching but also generic skills that I will continually develop throughout my career. Teachers must work effectively in co-operation with other professionals to constantly promote learning (GTCS, Standard for Initial Teacher Education, 2006). In relation to this element of the standard, I had to work collectively as a team with my peers in the most part of this topic. I then had to work myself on my reflective blog posts and Incredible Edible task. Team work is not a skill that I have just learned, however it is a skill that I have developed and refined. A huge part of team work is about being able to listen effectively and respond appropriately. I think this relates to teaching also as the class teacher and the pupils have a special relationship and it is a relationship that works best when both are listened to and understood.  A personal skill that I have previously mentioned was in regard to being influenced and motivated through the Incredible Edible task. A teacher inspires a generation and in doing so much be passionate about what they teach. Seeing a project like Incredible Edible has influenced me to make a change in some way, with or without the help of my classroom children.


Being able to reflect is one of the best traits a teacher or even a person could have. Being able to look at a situation and see what worked and what could be improved on allows you to continually develop no matter how long you have been in the industry. The environment topic has allowed me to become more passionate about something I already am fascinated with. I have reflected on my seminars and my independent tasks and have already began to create a ‘back catalogue’ of teaching tasks and resources that I will utilise when out in school. Personally, I think you gain most when you have an open mind about life in general but within academia also and that is how I plan on finishing my degree but also how I plan on teaching my future classes.


References & Resources

General Teaching Council for Scotland (2006) Standard for Initial Teacher Education. [Online] Available: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/the-standards/the-standard-for-initial-teacher-education.pdf [Accessed 24 September 2018]


Incredible Edible.(2008) [Online] Available: http://www.incredibleedible.org.uk [Accessed 25 September 2018]


Smart Learning for All (2015) Living and Non-Living Things. [Module Resource] Available: Plants and Living Things module on Moodle. [Accessed 26 September 2018]


Scottish Government (2010) Learning for Change Report. Edinburgh: Scottish Government


Woodland Trust. Nature Detectives. [Online]

Available: http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/naturedetectives/ [Accessed 25 September 2018]

November 14, 2017
by Lewis McKenzie

Reflections on Placement

I have just completed my first school experience placement and I cant believe that it is over already. Two weeks within my local hometown primary school absolutely flew in. Me and my placement partner were placed within the Primary 5 class for the duration of our two weeks with the exception of one morning where we were in a Primary 1 class in order for us to complete one of our placement tasks. I was pleased about this as it let us build connections with our class teacher and pupils and really understand where they are with their learning and allow us to see that progress. However it would have been good to get a scope of the whole school by visiting other teachers/classes however this year it was not meant to be. Overall I was really pleased with how my placement went. Each day seemed to fly in and it was 3 o’clock all of a sudden. Through observation, which this placement was based heavily upon, I have been able to define my strengths and areas for development in terms of communication and implementing this within the school setting.

An area of communication that I feel I excelled at and was highlighted to me through my peer observation was my verbal communication in particular my pitch and tone. I was able to change my pitch and tone as I needed dependant who I was interacting with. Within our Primary 1 class I was obviously interacting with small infants aged just four or five. This was a complete difference from working with my Primary 5’s who were mainly 8 however there was one child who was 11. And then again when talking and interacting with staff and assistants around the school, I didn’t talk to them like I would the Primary 1’s. Changing my tone and pitch was also crucial within group work and helping individuals. My peer feedback form highlights that when talking to the group I was more louder and open so that all members could clearly hear and understand me however when helping an individual child I went down to their level and spoke to them one-to-one so they could hear me but I also wasn’t disrupting the rest of the group or class. I feel this is a major strength within teaching and different ages and abilities need to be communicated to differently. It is by doing this that they will understand and eventually develop and grow.

An area that I feel requires progress in relation to my communication is my public speaking. When talking to an individual or small group, I feel confident in what I am doing however if I was to stand up in front of my peers or a whole class, I become nervous and anxious. This has always been a fear of mine from a young age and I have tried many times to overcome it, but to no prevail. I think because it was school children I was dealing with and I only ever had a maximum of six children, I felt fine as I was the “superior” in this situation so my nerves were calm. However I am extremely anxious about my upcoming university presentation as I need to stand in front of adults and talk about this exact fear. I think if I was to overcome this it would probably be one of my biggest achievement to date and it would make me such a better person and in the long run a more effective teacher within the classroom.

In order to overcome my fear of public speaking, I just need to do it. That is the worst thing about it that to overcome it I just need to keep doing it over and over again. Practise makes perfect in this case. By doing this confidence will grow and I will be a better and more effective communicator. Another strategy to overcome this is to basically know what I am talking about. If I know the material, then saying it should come natural and will make me a better presenter for example not reading off the screen or cue cards. Knowing the material off by heart then practising in front of a few people that I am comfortable around will help build confidence also.

My whole school experience was a joy. My class were just full of energy at all points throughout the day and were genuinely sad to see me and my partner leave. I have learned a lot about myself, my future career and the people I will be dealing with throughout this first year placement. I aim to continue to develop my strengths at the same time build upon my areas of development. It is by doing this that I will really become an effective and efficient communicator, not just within the classroom but in life.

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