Monthly Archives: January 2017

Aw god, not maths…


Most individuals who are training to be primary teachers hear the words maths and  they instantly get an overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety. There are often many reasons for this, for example:

  • They have had a negative experience of maths at school, mostly due to the teacher they had.
  • They never understood the subject and it didn’t make sense to them.
  • Simply because they didn’t think they were any good at it.

The truth is, these anxieties are not needed. This is because it is our job as educational professionals to encourage children and allow them to enjoy maths. One key stage in this process for children is that they understand exactly what they are doing and the skills involved.

During our first maths input, we discussed some of the myths people have about maths. Two that caught my eye were firstly, some children will tell you ‘ I don’t have a mathematical brain’ when in fact this is far from the truth. Although people will always be confused and wonder ‘when am I ever going to use this again in life’. The answer is all the time. Most things we do in our daily lives are surrounded my maths and problem solving. Some examples are setting our alarm and planning when we need to set it in order to be ready for school. This requires time telling, estimating, planning and problem solving skills. One more example would be simply paying for the bus to school, in this situation, you have to pick out the correct change or notes in order to pay the fare. This clearly uses skills with money.

The other myth that I am choosing to mention is that there is a right way to teach a maths problem. There is most definitely not. When listening to people in the input’s experiences of maths in school, one factor that made an experience positive was that the teacher was open to new ways of solving problems and the negative experiences were because teachers wanted children to do it the teachers way. Teachers will have a much better chance of being successful in helping children’s development skills and enjoyment in maths if they vary the ways in which they teach each topic and ways in which a problem can be solved.

I believe that it is important to allow children to be fully engaged in their learning 100% of the time and one essential way to achieve this is to use a variety of different teaching methods.

In our input, we learned that children can learn maths in three different ways:

  • “Doing Maths”
  • “Talking Maths”
  • “Seeing Maths”

This clearly shows that you can’t expect children to learn by simply filling out worksheets continuously. You have to get children engaged in order to further their skills, understanding and development. Children will respond to this, thus increasing their enjoyment of what they are learning.

Personally my experiences of maths were on the whole very positive. I achieved an “A” in national 5 maths and a “B” in higher maths after about 12 years of studying the subject. In primary school, maths was always very enjoyable, due to the enthusiasm of the teachers and the variety of different resources and methods of teaching which inspired and engaged the whole class. The difference for me, when going into secondary school, was that sometimes I struggled due to the different pace and teaching methods used by secondary teachers. If some children didn’t understand what was being taught, then the teacher would just usually move on. Fortunately for me this was never the case, due to the fact that I would ask if I was stuck as I felt comfortable talking to the teachers. They would always be there and willing to help however they could.


After reading ‘Mathematics Explained for Primary teachers’. 5th Edition by Derek Haylock with Ralph Manning. Published in London by SAGE publications 2014, p.3-33, I was able to broaden my understanding and knowledge of how children can learn strategies in order to carry out addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Of course every child learns differently, however teachers have to realise that children can’t all learn things simply by memorising things taught to them. This all links back to how essential it is to vary teaching techniques and methods of learning. I read about many examples within this chapter of how children make additions and subtractions easier, for example ‘friendly numbers’; e.g. if a child is faced with the sum of 742 – 146 they may find this difficult to get their head around but by using numbers that have a friendlier relationship to each other, the sum can be made easier to understand. Looking at the above sum this would be done by adding four to the first number to make it 746 – 146 which is a much friendlier looking sum with an answer of 600. All the child would have to do now to find the answer to the original question is takeaway four to get 596.     

Everything I am talking about links back to the type of teacher I would like to become and what one of the most important roles is going to be for me as an educational professional. I would like to be the teacher who is going to inspire and engage pupils and to encourage them to enjoy and understand maths as a subject. I believe that it is of vital importance for teachers to realise that every child will learn differently and that some children will need more support. Whilst teaching maths, it is vital to ensure everyone understands what they are learning before moving on and that if someone is struggling then you help them in anyway possible. Being a supportive teacher will really make a big difference and will allow you to consider everyone’s needs in the class.

Overall, we have to show them that maths can be fun and creative and hopefully through placements, people training to be teachers will be able to get over their anxieties and get rid of any negative experiences they had at school, by making their very own positive experiences for children.



SMART Targets for Science.

As part of our Science input, we were asked to consider the future and our SMART targets for our development:


  1. I have to be willing to commit to constantly improve my subject knowledge of science. I plan to do this by researching all the main documents for science and through relevant subject reading.
  2. I want to be constantly collecting resources and experiments that can be used in my classroom.
  3. By the end of 1st year, I want to have gained a broad knowledge of the science subject.
  4. As I have only ever done biology in school, I will have to study the areas of chemistry and physics to fully understand how to teach science as a whole to my class in primary school.
  5. I will be looking out for current scientific issues and how science is portrayed in the media.

These targets will be worked on continuously. I can start to collect reading, not only from the reading list, but from a wider range of sources. I can be researching in my spare time and be looking for scientific issues on the news or in newspapers.

This will help me when trying to create engaging lessons on lots of different topics and will broaden my knowledge of the subject.


Structuring a Primary Drama Lesson….

After our recent Drama input, we were asked to watch a video which details a structured approach to a drama lesson and how to set a lesson up.

During this video – the structure was

Contract setting out allows children to be aware of how they are expected to behave in the class. Warm up will be used to get the mind and body ready . It will differentiate between play and a learning experience.  Although it is fun, it allows people to build skills such as concentration and communication and to get everything warmed up and ready to go. Pictures can be used as a stimuli to establish focus and develop ideas on a certain situation. A visualisation will begin to get the children thinking creatively about the topic and story and talking about what they think, hear and see while closing their eyes and imagining the situation.  Soundscape would again be thinking about things they would hear in the situation and would allow children to create the sounds with the floor, their voice and  different actions such as clapping and stamping. Images can be formed to create a mood, scene and atmosphere.  This can be done individually, as a small group or in a whole class, by putting actions, sound and movements together to completely create a story of the situation the children have learned about. Still images are very effective. In groups, the children can create a beginning, middle and end. This depicts key elements of the story. During this, thought tracking can be used to find out what characters may be thinking or saying during this still image and can really get children thinking. It is always good to perform a little section of what the children have been working on, this allows them to further develop their creative skills and confidence of performing in front of an audience. Evaluation is one of the key elements always in school. Both the children and teacher must evaluate to find out what they want to learn and improve on next time. The teacher can allow the children to discuss and just ask questions every so often to encourage more discussion.

Working in this way, in a structured manner will allow children to constantly be developing their creative and collaborative skills throughout a process, from warm up to performance.

The Drama class in the video was set out to go through a process. This included everything essential to a child’s development, from warming up, building a knowledge of a story, improving creative skills, then starting to build the story using actions and their own thoughts and feelings, before finally performing and then evaluating what they had been learning. It allows children to critically think and create a atmosphere in the classroom and can bring children a lot of enjoyment if done correctly by the teacher.


In terms of the Drama Experiences and outcomes, which can be found -> file:///C:/Users/redga/OneDrive/Documents/Documents%20for%20Course/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf

I believe that the following outcomes were met:

  • Inspired by a range of stimuli, I can express and communicate my ideas, thoughts and feelings through drama. EXA 0-13a / EXA 1-13a / EXA 2-13a
  • I can respond to the experience of drama by discussing my thoughts and feelings. I can give and accept constructive comment on my own and others’ work. EXA 0-15a / EXA 1-15a / EXA 2-15a / EXA 3-15a
  • I have developed confidence and skills in creating and presenting drama which explores real and imaginary situations, using improvisation and script. EXA 1-14a

The first outcome was met by allowing children to get a stimuli which in this case was a photograph, and think about what this could mean and what the situation could be. They were then allowed to further develop these ideas into actions and images.  The second outcome was met due to the fact that nearer the end of the class, the children were given the opportunity to discuss and evaluate what they had learned. They also discussed what they thought they had done well and what they would like to develop and learn more about in the next session. This allowed the children to think critically about themselves and build on that.  Finally, the third outcome was met, as the children, due to the structure of the lesson, were able to be constantly developing their skills or being creative and were able to improve confidence by performing what they had been working on and learning in front of their class.

audience drama

I believe this method of structuring a drama lesson was very effective and allowed children’s development to be constant and their creativity to flow. It builds on children’s own ideas and allows them to create work through their own thoughts and feelings towards a situation. It meets quite a few different outcomes of CFE for drama and I feel is an effective method which can really give positive benefits to children and their development.

I would certainly find this a valuable tool to use when embarking on my career in teaching.









An important moment for me in Semester 1

As part of my continual development and professional reflection, I have been asked to choose one particular moment of semester 1 that was important to me as a professional and what I learned from the experience.

I have chosen the experience of visiting a school in Dundee for the working together module. The module visits didn’t just involve schools, but I found the visit to an actual school very beneficial for my own personal development and it proved to be a very positive experience.

I learned all about the ways in which the school worked together in general,  and specifically ‘the toast room’ which was for children to come during lunch to relax and talk to the support workers if they had any issues to discuss, or if they just wanted company and a chat. I also began to experience how the school worked collaboratively with outside agencies as well as how they cooperate with social workers and CLD workers to provide children with the best help and support. This links perfectly with the ‘Getting it Right for Every Child’ or ‘GIRFEC’ approach which is at the centre of everything schools and teachers do and is vital in the development of children.

It was clear by the enjoyment and development of the children that the impact of the work being done was huge and, although it sounds cliché, it made me want to be a teacher even more.

I felt this experience has helped me broaden my understanding of the working together and cooperative aspect of the profession and it has improved my knowledge and developing my thinking further of just how important it is.


I have started to gauge how important and essential being an reflective practitioner is and how it can improve your chances of being a successful teacher.

It is crucial for teachers to be constantly reflecting on their practice to always be able to improve. There is always something to improve and if you can’t find anything to improve on then you’re probably in the wrong profession. It will not only improve your practice but it supports the development of the children in your class and the education profession in general. If every teacher shows professional commitment in order to reflect on the profession and their individual practice, it can only bring positive outcomes.

When I was at Baldragon Academy on my visit, we learned the importance of reflection as they looked at the ways they attempted to support children and realised some problems that may be affecting the support that they were offering. One area which was highlighted was that during ‘team around the child meetings’ there was too many adults associated with one child, which created fear and intimidation for the child so they reflected on this and now there is only a small group or even 1 or 2 adults who talk to children about issues they may have. This has improved the support available for children and is a positive example of reflection.

I believe that during my placements and thereafter in my career as a primary school teacher, being reflective constantly will aid my professional development and will help me grow as a person and a professional. I will be able to improve all the time, and will always be learning, in order to give myself and my children a better chance of being successful in school and during adulthood in the future.

We have to reflect on every experience, good or bad, to see what went well and why, and what needs improved upon and how we can do that.


Importance of the first 3 years of child’s life.

After watching videos from John Carnochan and Suzanne Zeedyk explaining the importance of children’s development and more specifically the importance of the first 3-4 years of a child’s life.


One of the main reasons for this is due to the fact, children are born earlier than most other species and animals. This is because if the child is left in the womb any longer they will become too big, more specifically the brain (as they are still developing), to be born healthy. This can cause deaths if the baby got too big, both to the baby and mother. Due to the early birth, they need to develop, so the first few years are vital in ensuring the baby grows to be an adult and have a good life and positive relationships. Interactions with the baby can be vital.

As professionals, we have a duty to help children develop and give them the best chance of a good start in life. Our role is vital.

We can do this in many ways, one of these ways can be simply to form a warm caring relationship with the child, ensuring that they feel nurtured, which is one of the key wellbeing factors. It is also vastly important to be there for the child and be responsive to their individual needs to matter who they are, as every child is different.

One other way that teachers can do to help children develop is encouraging as much exploration as possible, as by doing this, the children will be able to open their eyes to new experiences and in turn develop themselves as people.

As teachers, we should be promoting health and wellbeing and encouraging children to be as healthy as possible and to look after their bodies. This will obviously aid development, but not just physically, but mentally and socially too, making them more confident as a person.


To add to my earlier point about different experiences, teachers should be constantly surrounding children with stimulating experiences such as singing songs or playing music or performing. This will allow children to experience new experiences and learn new skills that will help them develop and will affect their lives positively in the future.

Establishing routines can be essential in allowing children to develop as constantly changing routines can have a significantly negative impact on the development of a child and can lead to potential bad behaviour.

Finally, educational practitioners must be able to work effectively in partnership with parents and families of children and must be willing to get to know every child and their personal situations. This partnership with families can give the child the best chance of being successful and positively developing. This is part of the getting it right for every child approach which is at the centre of everything teachers do. By getting it right for every child and committing to getting to know each child individually, you will be able to strive to meet their individual needs which will help them learn more effectively and develop.

So, in conclusion, by watching the videos, I have realised that the first few years of a child’s life are vastly important and can in a way decide what kind of life they are going to have. That is why teachers must focus on allowing children to develop in a positive way and must aim to transform children’s life chances.



This week, we had our first hands on tutorial on ICT and how it fits into the curriculum. It was very exciting to get our first taste of how to teach something in the classroom.

It was a very thought out and enthusiastic tutorial that kept us all interested. It allowed us to be creative and use many different types of animations, starting off simple and getting progressively more challenging. We started off with flip art paper, by drawing and making snowmen and people come to life by the simple flip of a paper. After these were completed we moved on to the computers and recreated our own version of frozen on a program called PIVOT. It allows us to use stickmen and other characters to make stories by taking frames of the movements of the characters one at a time. These tasks were shown to us as they can be used when we are on placement or indeed when we have our own class when we are teachers which I thought was very useful.

The lecturer showed us how to teach our children in schools, going through the task and explaining what to do. We would obviously have to give children more time to think and look over their work, but we only had an hour.  She explained what she was doing and why, which I feel really helped our learning and development and embedded the importance of using this when we teach our children.

One personal favourite moment was when one student touched the mouse when the lecturer was explaining something to the class, she would implement a behavioural technique such as everyone had to switch their monitors off. This is a well-known, common technique used widely in schools to keep children’s attention.

Finally, we used plasticine model characters and cameras to make an animation short film in pairs and groups. We made it professional by adding titles and credits. Our story was about a lonely fish who was searching for love, and couldn’t find it until one day he met the love of his life. I know, I know, we are expecting the Oscar nominations any day now. In all seriousness though, this was a very creative class which I believe would no doubt help children develop new skills and have a lot of fun doing it. ICT, and this activity links to other areas of the curriculum. Most predominantly to literacy and languages, involved in creating a story.

This tutorial allowed us to work independently and as a group, which are both beneficial to children. Working independently ensures children develop the skills that will no doubt help them in later life and allows them to be self-initiative and really lets their imagination bloom. On the other hand, working as a group, allowed team work skills to be developed and everyone’s different skills would prove to be very effective and allow more ideas to be thought of.

When reflecting on the tutorial, it was clear to see we weren’t placed in a very good area as we were unable to put a background up so we can see computers in the back of our film and background noise could be heard. Potentially, smaller groups could have been more beneficial when this lesson is taking place.

ICT and animation can be used very effectively in the classroom and will help children show their creative side as well as keeping them enthused and excited about learning. By looking through the experiences and outcomes of technologies in the curriculum, it was clear to see that animation can easily be a big part in this. With new technologies coming into play, it is vitally important to keep up to date and to continue to enhance children’s learning.

Dance in Primary Schools…

Today, we had our first dance input in our Primary Education course…

Now, this is something I had never been interested in or had tried before. I must say though, it was a lot of fun, possibly due to the enthusiasm of the teacher. Obviously due to my huge lack of experience of dance, I was apprehensive about teaching it to my future classes as a teacher.

I must admit, after today, I am far more confident in myself as I now realise you don’t need the experience in dance to teach children. One of the biggest aspects that will motivate children to learn and develop their skills is the enthusiasm of the teacher. If they see you having fun with the lesson, the children will be more inclined to. I believe the inputs we are learning in University will firmly put us in good stead to be successful when teaching dance in primary schools and that my lack of experience in this expressive art will not hinder my progress.



I haven’t always been the biggest believer in dance as a curricular subject but I do see the benefits it can bring to the children such as:

  •   Can really bring out their creativity!
  •    Helps children develop new skills!
  •   Enables them to work collaboratively and individually!
  •  Improves children’s health (social, physical and mental)


I do agree we should incorporate more dance into schools as after reading the ‘Get Scotland Dancing’ review from 2014, it was clear that other activities were participated in a lot more than dance. Some reasons for the lack of participation in dance are age, gender and simply because people ‘like’ dance and some people don’t.

Another factor to consider is that it was found that young people who are encouraged to take part in certain activities at a young age are more likely to participate in later life and indeed adulthood.

I believe that there may be some challenges incorporating dance into the curriculum. For example, my lack of experience, the pupils may just not be interested, the obvious gender issue and ‘I can’t touch boys/girl’s hands, ew!’ situation. Let’s look at them individually.

I believe I can overcome my fear of teaching dance by reading up on the teaching of dance and have fun, be creative and show my personality in lessons which will hopefully inspire children to get involved even, if like me, they had no interest in dance.

Going back to the gender issue, it has been found that boys are less likely to be interested in dance than girls and at the primary age, certain children may not want to participate as they believe ‘dancing is for girls’ and ‘dancing is stupid’ but I believe dance is for everyone and after today’s interesting start to the day, dancing at 9… I can  honestly say it’s a fun experience.

Lastly, the ‘ew boys/girls’ issue, I believe that the only real solution to this is to take part in lessons and try and build everyone’s confidence about dancing with everyone, no matter who they are.


I have gone ahead and set myself some professional development goals which are:

·        To overcome my fear of teaching dance in schools.

·        Improve my knowledge of dance by reading up on the curricular area.

·        To be creative, fun and show my personality in lessons.

·        To overcome my embarrassment of dancing in front of people.

I feel if I achieve these goals , I will be well on my way to being a successful teacher of dance when I am a primary school teacher.

The 2014 Review –

My first real insight to the teachings of Social Subjects…


I am a 1st year Education student at University and I am on my way to becoming a Primary Teacher. I have begun to look at the different areas of the curriculum and what kind of role they have and the links that can be made between each area. Today we had our first insight into social subjects (history geography and modern studies). I found that you must be able to stimulate the children and keep their attention and sometimes this has to be done more creatively by, for example, staying away from activities on paper and assessing them in different ways. It can be as simple as showing them photos from recent news topics to spark their brain into action. This will allow them to be able to ask questions and start to explore their world. You will be surprised by how interested they become and the questions they will be dying to know the answer to. Our role as a teacher is to make the connections for them.

Social subjects have a vast impact on our lives. For example, history has a role of giving us signs of what’s going to happen and it is our job to make changes to our lives based on these signs.  As teachers, we should be willing to commit to continually building our own knowledge of the world.  In history for example this can be by researching the city you are teaching in if you are unfamiliar with its history or by never switching off to your role as a teacher. You must always be willing to find resources  that will help your students develop.

To be truly able to get children engaged and involved with what you are teaching, you should have stances on issues in society and in your role be their to help children form their own opinions and help them express them.

But one vastly important thing that must be done by all teachers is to always ask why when children give answers to fully let them critically think about what they’re learning and to help them develop.

Finally, the teacher must live up to the 4 main roles that they should follow:

·        Active participant

·        Active learner

·        Modeller

·        Planner

I believe that today’s lecture truly helped and developed my understanding of this curricular area and the role it plays within the curriculum.