Category Archives: 3.1 Teaching & Learning

My Initial Thoughts about Early Years!

Third year marks the start of my journey into early Years, concluding with an early years placement. My feelings are a mix of nerves and excitement. During my experience at my local school during high school and my 1st year placement at University, I have always worked with primary 4/5. This is a whole new experience for me, but one I am looking forward to and aim to make the most of. My experience with younger children is very limited, so my only apprehensions towards this area is the fear of the unknown. Working with early years children will be a vital experience for me and I understand that I will make mistakes, but it is imperative that I use these and learn from them in order to improve.

Early years is such an interesting and exciting area of teaching and it requires so many different skills. Children are at the very start of their school journey and going from a primary 4/5 class who could all read and write to a good enough standard, to children who may not be able to read or write at all will be a definite challenge that I will have to overcome. However, overcoming new challenges and experiences is all part and parcel of teaching. This is where reflection and professional reading will help aid my practice and overall development as a teacher. Teachers also need to adapt to different needs of every child and no day seems to be the same from what I have learned so far.  I understand that the level of interaction will be completely different and the type of learning that the children will take part in will be unique and it is something I know I will need to get use to and adapt to in order to give children the best possible learning experiences.

I have always been a firm believer in active learning, where children are engaged and learn through ‘doing’ as well as outdoor learning and believe they are both vital for children’s development. Using exploration and investigation leads to fantastic opportunities for the children to be massively involved in their own learning as well as more importantly, allowing children to be children. I hope to implement all the knowledge and experience I have gained over the last 3 years, as well as my outdoor education placement to make learning as active, interesting and effective as possible.

I hope my understanding of this area will expand over this semester and I plan to do some reading on different aspects of early years to improve and develop my own practice and deepen my understanding in order to become the best teacher I possibly can. I expect this semester to provide fantastic opportunities and I hope to apply all knowledge gained to my placement in a few months.

Overall, this is a huge new experience for me and definitely out of my comfort zone, but I am thoroughly looking forward to learn all about early years and develop my own ideas, thoughts and overall practice.

ICT programming in the Primary Classroom.

This is a short blog about ICT and programming in primary schools.

On Thursday 11th January, our workshop was on ICT and more specifically on programming. We were introduced to a variety of different programming applications that can be used in the primary classroom.

The one I will focus on is Textease Turtle. Textease Turtle is a Control Technology program where you can command a turtle to draw shapes on the screen. The turtle can be directed by a controller or by writing instructions. The reason I have chosen this is due to my previous experience of seeing this in my 1st year placement. It is a terrific way to teach the basic skills of programming to children and can be used for early and mid-primary school level.

Initially to get the children really engaged and motivated by the program, there can be a session introducing programming and how it is used in real life e.g. phone apps and games that the children may use. This will keep the lesson and topic stimulating.

The first steps would be to introduce the program to the children and discuss its purpose and how it works. The controls would be introduced and discussed, with the children copying the teacher to get a feel for the program. The class could then move on to follow instructions set out by the teacher to complete tasks and draw objects and shapes.

Once the children felt confident with the software the children could then get into groups of three. One person would be coming up with instructions for the turtle movements in order to make any sort of shape or picture and the other children in the group would listen and follow the instructions. The aim of this would be for all three children in the group to have the same shape/picture on the screen if steps have been followed correctly.

Now that the pupils have built up knowledge of the basics of programming, they can begin to be more creative and make their own instructions to create a picture to complete and for a partner to try and follow.

The task I witnessed in my placement class was that children were given a maze on their screens with the turtle at the beginning. The children then had to use the program to move the turtle through the maze and out of the other side. Differentiation was used in terms of support for certain children. The pupils were engaged and really enjoyed the task. Extra tasks could then be completed such as the children making their own maze and programming the turtle to navigate through that.

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.










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 –

How important is learning languages in school? Sehr Wichtig!

For my latest blog post, I thought I would choose to write about something that I feel very passionate about. The importance of children learning languages in primary school from a very young age. It was actually the topic did a presentation on for my Dundee University Interview, more specifically the 1+2 approach which I believe is vital in young people’s learning. I myself have had a great experience learning languages throughout school. I achieved A grades at both National 5 and Higher level German and am currently studying Spanish as a year 1 elective on my Education course. The reason for my enjoyment for learning languages was that the teacher made it interesting and fun and allowed us to learn in many different ways.  I believe that positive environments and fun teaching methods are essential for our future generations and I would love to play a part in that. Learning languages has the power to change children’s lives and will give them skills that can help them be successful throughout school and in their futures. For example, my experience in languages was very effective to use while abroad in other countries.


I feel the most important thing is to aim to instil a love of learning into children. The world nowadays is hugely multilingual and in order for the children of today to fully prosper as citizens, they must learn the skills that learning languages offers them which will also lead to them having effective communication skills.

“In today’s global, multi-cultural world, it is more important than ever that young people have the opportunity to learn languages from an early age. The ability to speak different languages will equip Scotland’s young people with the skills and competencies needed in a 21st century global marketplace.” – Dr Alistair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages. (2015)

The delivery of an earlier start to language learning in primary school will be challenging for schools and teachers.  Although all pupils at the moment are entitled to learn a language from P6, there are concerns that some primary children do not have access to an additional language due to staffing, training or funding issues, or other perceived curricular priorities. There are also particular issues in very small primary schools, especially in rural areas, where there will only be a small number of teachers with responsibility for delivery of the whole curriculum. Without ongoing training, many primary teachers do not feel confident in teaching a modern language and some do not volunteer despite training. Nevertheless, there is evidence of staff in some primary schools working successfully with children on language learning from the beginning of primary or earlier. Other questions that will have to be answered are

  • Do existing teachers have the skills and teaching resources required for language tuition?
  • Are teachers equipped enough to help young people’s development? If not, how will the training occur?
  • The choice of which languages children learn. For example, which languages should kids be learning to benefit them in later life, their careers and help Scotland flourish economically.

However, there is no doubt about the many benefits that will come from language learning from an earlier age. It will undoubtedly help Scotland become a confident, multilingual country.  Some ways in which language learning can further benefit Scotland would be more effective use of technology and regular use of native/fluent speakers to engage the children and stimulate their interest in learning new languages and other cultures.

Practical uses of foreign languages in school that I have seen first hand are:

  • register taking
  • date and weather
  • lunch routines
  • staff greeting each other
  • PE ‘warm ups
  • distributing resources
  • classroom commands
  • praise
  • use in assemblies

Overall, All language learning is valuable, it stretches us intellectually, giving us insights into other cultures and customs, broadening our view of the world, opening up new trade and business opportunities and enabling us to communicate with others. It is my firm belief that language learning is vital in helping children achieve their potential and broaden their horizons no matter who they are.

Die Sprache kann die Welt verändern!