Author Archives: Liam Hamilton

SMART Targets for Science.

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

SPECIFIC, MEASUREABLE, ACHIEVABLE, RELEVANT, TIME BOUND.

  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.

http://archive.teachfind.com/ttv/www.teachers.tv/videos/ks1-ks2-drama-teaching-drama-a-structured-approach.html

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

ICT AND ANIMATION TUTORIAL REFLECTION

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.

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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.

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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 – http://www.creativescotland.com/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/26149/GSDLitReviewv2.pdf

My first real insight to the teachings of Social Subjects…

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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.

 

Let’s Reflect….on Reflection!

Reflection overall can help us look at experiences we have had and evaluate exactly what happened and we can learn a lot from them through evaluation. We can also consider why events happened, what caused it to happen and how we can make changes to stop it from happening again. Overall it can help us develop and move forward our understanding.

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Reflection is massively important in life, especially in professions such as teaching. You have to be a reflective practitioner if you are to continually improve yourself as a person, a teacher and as a professional. As professionals, we are always reflecting. We will most likely have to reflect every day as teachers about lessons, children’s individual behaviour and collaborative working with colleagues and other agencies. For example, if you have taught your class and you realise your pupils are not understanding what you are teaching them or just not picking it up as fast as you thought they would, you then have to reflect on certain things: what is the reason for them not understanding: was your teaching of the lesson too difficult for your students to understand? Is it just the kids who need extra support that haven’t quite grasped the concept? If it is your teaching, how can you make changes to improve the children’s learning and understanding? The reason that you have to ask yourself these types of questions is because reflection can’t just be from one person’s perspective. It must be from varying opinions and viewpoints from everyone involved as this will ensure that your reflections have the best chance at making a difference.

We have to reflect in order to make children and young people’s school experience as enjoyable as possible. This will give them a better chance of achieving their potential. This can only be done if we reflect in order to make sure the whole class is learning in the correct way for them personally so that they can engage in learning more effectively.

 

 

My Understanding of Academic Skills…

One of the biggest things I have started to understand about academic skills is that they are completely different from skills that were required for essays in school for example. A much higher quality is expected from you and in order to get good grades in University assignments, it is essential to get the basics right. You have to be able to improve certain aspects of academic skills, these are:

Punctuation; spelling and enhancing your vocabulary; punctuation and grammar and shaping your texts: sentences and paragraphs. Each have equal importance and are all vital in making your academic writing as fluent as it can be and to the best quality.

Punctuation can have your reader understand exactly the message you are trying to convey but it can easily mislead them if you use any punctuation incorrectly. Examples of this can be if certain punctuation marks are inserted in the wrong place in sentences, it will completely change the meaning of the sentence and can make it ambiguous.

Spelling is such a simple concept but it is so important. If you completely misspell a word in your assignment then you will be marked down,  irrespective of whether your essay was very good. Also, if you spell a word wrong such as ‘ your’ which has a couple of different spellings, it will change the meaning, which could lead to it not making sense anymore.

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As you are a University student, you are expected to show the maturity of one. One of the ways to do this is to ensure your vocabulary is ever expanding. Thesauruses are always handy when writing an essay, to make sure it is at the required academic level. Never insert bigger words all the way through the essay just to sound better. It will become obvious that none of the words are your own.

Grammar is essential when you are a student and are writing assignments. McMillan and Weyers (2012) state that “it is an integral and expected component of academic writing” and “without it your writing may be nonsensical, illogical or ambiguous”.

Shaping your paragraphs and sentences together is the basis of writing academically for University. They ensure that your whole essay links together and flows smoothly throughout. This will give your marker an easier job and will allow them to easily understand what message you’re trying to convey  through your essay.

Overall, I feel that the academic skills are vitally important in giving you the best chance of success in essays and assignments. Master the basics and you will be well on your way to writing an essay that will achieve a high mark.

 

 

The benefits of collaborative working!

There are many benefits of working co-operatively and can be very varied. For example, lots of different ideas can be generated from different perspectives which can deepen the group’s understanding and knowledge of the area that is being worked on. The task can be made easier and can potentially be completed quicker by sharing resources. In addition to this, a wider set of skills can be used effectively during tasks as different members or professionals will have different expertise. As well as this, the group can share different ways of completing tasks to help and support their fellow group members in future challenges they may face. By working collaboratively, you will be able to hear and listen to other people’s opinions and viewpoints. It is vital you acknowledge these as they can widen and develop your own understanding.

For professionals, collaborative working is vital. On the General Teaching Council for Scotland website (find link below text)  in the ‘Model of professional learning’ section it states that “collaborative practices underpin models of professional learning”. It is also mentioned many times in the 3 standards of teaching on the same website: Standards for Registration, Standards for Career-Long Professional Learning and Standards for Leadership and Management.

http://www.gtcs.org.uk/

For professionals, the most important aspect of collaborative working is that they have the best interests of the child at the centre of their work. Information will be able to be shared which will give professionals a bigger picture of what they are doing. Ideas can be passed on to different agencies if needed, for example to give a child the most effective help and support possible.

For our professions, collaboration is essential between members of our own professions and the different agencies and this all depends on effective communication. This will ensure that we can change the world of so many children to make it possible for them to achieve their potential, no matter who they are.

Sharing the same visions and turning them into reality is what will transform lives for the better.