Author Archives: Lorna Whillans

Science Input 2 TDT – What Makes a Good Science Lesson?

Science is an integral part of the curriculum and gives children the opportunity to learn valuable and transferable life skills.  Science lessons have the ability to blow minds, but also the ability to go horribly wrong.  It is important that we consider what does make a good a science lesson, in order for us to to ensure that we deliver high quality science which help pupils “develop their interest in, and understanding of, the living, material and physical world.” (Education Scotland, no date, p.1).  We use our knowledge of science daily, to make predictions, analyse and evaluate.  It is important for children to actively recognise when they are applying their science skills in real life situations, in order to build science capital. 

Key features of a good science lesson: 

  • Teachers being well prepared, enthusiastic and having a positive attitude towards science. 
  • Having the pupils actively engaging in the lesson. 
  • Teaching pupils relevant skills, as well as knowledge.  
  • Having them in groups to discuss with their peers what they understand and what they don’t understand, so that they can explain to one another (constant formative assessment). 
  • Learning in different ways: outdoors, trips to science centres etc… by learning in a real-life setting, they’re able to see the relevance of that subject in everyday life. 
  • Developing science literacy to understand the basics, so that they can apply knowledge across a variety of areas. 
  • Carrying out investigations so that there is a practical essence to their work. 
  • Inclusion: providing good examples of science happening locally and of equal gender representation in science.  
  • Building on individual’s science capital so that they develop a passion for science and continue it into the senior phase. 
  • Working in groups to develop co-operation and communication.  
  • Make pupils aware of the Learning Intentions and Success Criteria, so that children know the aim of the lesson and how to achieve it.
  • Use real world examples of science to make it relevant to pupils – how it relates to health and wellbeing, society and the environment.  
  • Make science accessible to everyone, regardless of their gender, background or ability.  
  • Children understand the impact that they can have on the world with the use of science  
  • Demonstrate different aspects of science so children are aware of different careers they could pursue; biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, engineering, etc. 
  • The science lesson should be like a ‘story’ – children should not be taught isolated facts but comprehend how science is all linked together to form a ‘bigger picture’.  

References  

Education Scotland, “curriculum for excellence: sciences principles and practice”, (No date), Available at: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/sciences-pp.pdf, (accessed 01.02.19).

Education Scotland, “The Sciences 3-18″, (2013), Available at: https://education.gov.scot/improvement/documents/sciences/sci14_sciencescurriculumimpact/sciences-3-to-18-2013-update.pdf, (accessed 01.02.19).

With thanks to Lucy Johnston and Julia Savaniu.

Maths Input 1 Reflection

Maths was definitely a subject I had to work hard at during school.  I was often filled with dread at the thought of having to wrap my head around a new mathematical concept, which had not really been explained.  I do still suffer from maths anxiety, but I am determined not to pass this on to my pupils and am motivated to make maths fun.  Haylock states that anxiety surrounding maths “is associated with rigid and inflexible thinking in unfamiliar mathematical tasks and leads to insecurity and caution”.  (Haylock, 2014, p.6.).

I was surprised at how quickly time flew during the input, as I normally would be counting down the minutes until I could leave maths behind me for another day.  Tara created a safe environment for everyone, which made it much easier to pay attention to and understand what she was saying.  This was in sharp contrast to the hostile environment and fear I was subjected to by my previous maths teachers.  Looking back, no wonder I struggled with maths!

Numeracy and maths is an essential part of the curriculum, which everyone needs to be able to understand, in order to succeed in life.  Education Scotland states “Mathematics is important in our everyday life, allowing us to make sense of the world around us and to manage our lives.” (Education Scotland, no date, p.1.). An interesting point was made that illiteracy is not acceptable in society, but innumeracy is much more tolerated.  Many adults say that they “hate maths”, or they were “always bad at maths”.  This negative opinion is definitely picked up on by children and could also create issues which last a life time.  Why have we allowed this to be the case and how can I, as a practitioner, prevent this trend from continuing?

I had never considered the idea that there were different ways to tackle a maths problem, because I had always been encouraged to follow set rules, and work out the problem in one specific way.  This is where I developed the idea that maths was a very rigid subject compared to literacy and other areas of the curriculum.  However, there is definitely an opportunity in maths to solve problems in a way that suits you, if each individual actually understands why there are different steps.

 

References

Education Scotland, ‘curriculum for excellence: mathematics principles and practice’, (no date), Available at: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/mathematics-pp.pdf, (accessed 24.01.19).

Haylock. D, ‘Mathematics Explained for Primary Teachers’, (2014), (London, Sage Publications Inc).

Semester 1 Reflection

During my brief time at university, I feel that I have already grown immensely as a person and as a practitioner.  I have developed new skills and started to build essential professional relationships with my peers.  I thoroughly enjoyed the content of semester 1, and adapting to my new learning environment. While definitely a challenge at times, I feel that university is effectively preparing me for my career as a primary teacher.

Many areas of the semester were interesting but, I found the values module key to my professional development.  The values module definitely had a strong impact on my way of thinking and personal values.  While it was often difficult to talk about subjects such as racism, patriarchy and poverty, I was able to gain perspective and knowledge about these topics, and question why society has created these issues.  This module was highly relevant because it educated me about societal issues and how these could influence my practice.  I think that giving all the teacher education students the opportunity to build a solid professional foundation was very sensible, because it is much more difficult to learn the content of the curriculum without having an understanding of the values which hold the profession together.  For example, as a practitioner I must commit “to the principles of democracy and social justice through fair, transparent, inclusive and sustainable policies and practices in relation to: age, disability, gender and gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion and belief and sexual orientation.” (General Teaching Council for Scotland, 2012, p.5.). Without having learned what social justice actually is, it would have been difficult to understand this responsibility.  I have found the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) ‘Standards for Professional Registration’, document to be a good start point to understand the expectations and responsibilities of primary teachers.

I have also started to develop my critical thinking skills, learning to unpick literature and find the most relevant information.  I have also started to create my professional identity, however I believe I will establish this further while on my first placement, and as I progress throughout the course.

I will continue to get the most I can out of lectures, workshops and tutorials, in order to further enhance my knowledge, along with engaging with literature and policy documents to ensure I am ready to teach.

 

References

The General Teaching Council for Scotland, (2012), ‘The Standards for Registration: mandatory requirements for Registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland’,Available at:http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/the-standards/standards-for-registration-1212.pdf, (Accessed 22.01.19).

Drama Input 1 Reflection

Drama is a subject I rarely experienced at primary school.  This presumably was because my teachers were not particularly confident or interested in drama.  I believe it is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure that children are given the opportunity to explore all areas of the curriculum, even if it is not a teacher’s strength.

Nikki’s input today was great fun and really got me thinking about how drama can be used as a tool to express emotions, and is applicable to many different areas of the curriculum.  I now feel equipped with a range of ideas that I could use on placement.

The ‘Structure of a Drama Lesson’ (KS 1/2 Drama – Teaching Drama: A Structured Approach, 2006) video was very useful, because it clearly showed the steps you could take to create a successful drama lesson for pupils.  I like the idea of starting a lesson with an agreement of expectations between the teacher and pupils, because the teacher is then more easily able to guide the work and behaviour of the pupils.  Ending the lesson with an evaluation is also important because it would allow pupils to reflect on what they learned and what they would like to achieve next time.  An evaluation would also calm pupils down before returning to the classroom and give the pupils a chance to feed back to the teacher to adapt future lessons to suit the class.  In addition, the children are more likely to engage with the lesson if they know the structure, and can see what they will be able to achieve at the end.  From a behaviour management angle, having a structure also helps keep the children engaged and so less likely to misbehave.  Drama is a practical, hands on subject and so could be difficult to manage without a well-thought-out structure.  A consistent drama structure would also give safety to anxious children who would know what to expect and be more able to focus on the content of the lesson, rather than worrying about the unknown.  The lesson structure would also be effective because it has clear, natural developments which allow everyone to get involved, even if they lack confidence in performing.

The work created during a drama lesson can be built on and developed further by using a variety of drama conventions.  These include simpler techniques, such as freeze-frame, and more complicated conventions, such as thought tracking, which allow pupils to explore their characters in more depth.  Drama conventions relate to the Drama Experience and Outcome EXA 2-12a “I can create, adapt and sustain different roles, experimenting with movement, expression and voice and using theatre arts technology.” (Education Scotland, No date, p.7.)

I think drama is a very useful tool which can be used to effectively unlock different curricular areas and bring subjects to life.  For example, Brian Woolland states that “Drama deals with fundamental questions of language, interpretation and meaning.”( 1993, p.6.).  This shows how drama can be used to enrich all learning and deal with all kinds of topics.  Drama is something I definitely look forward to teaching on placement.

 

References

Education Scotland, (no date), ‘curriculum for excellence: expressive arts experiences and outcomes’, Available at: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/expressive-arts-eo.pdf, (Accessed 19.01.19).

KS 1/2 Drama – Teaching Drama: A Structured Approach, (2006), Available at: http://archive.teachfind.com/ttv/www.teachers.tv/videos/ks1-ks2-drama-teaching-drama-a-structured-approach.html  , (Accessed 19.01.19).

Woolland, B. (1993), ‘The Teaching of Drama in the Primary School’, Essex, Pearson Education Limited.

Health and Wellbeing – The Importance of Relationships

Relationships are a huge part of everyone’s lives, shaping our thinking and the people we are today.  Each relationship has a different set of expectations, however, the key to all relationships is support and consistency.

After watching Dr Suzanne Zeedyk’s Education Scotland video on ‘Brain Development’ and John Canarchan’s video about the ‘Importance of Early Years’, I was fascinated by the impact relationships have on the development of babies and children’s brains.  I had not previously considered the correlation between initial relationships and future learning.

However, it is clear that the development of healthy, consistent relationships are vital to the success of children’s lives.  Teachers have a role to play in supporting this development.  It is crucial that children have consistency in school and feel safe in their learning environment.  This is because children may not have a stable home life in which they are able to just be children, and may be spending a lot of time “monitoring for threat” (Education Scotland, 2016), trying to survive in less than ideal circumstances.  Teachers have to develop strong relationships with their pupils in order for children to trust them, and model good relationships so that children experience healthy relationships.  Doing even the simplest things as a teacher can have the biggest positive impact on children, such as taking time with pupils, caring about their welfare, showing appropriate emotions, and being consistent.

John Carnochan suggests that poor quality relationships in early life may lead to criminal behaviour in adulthood.  It is easier to simply blame people for their actions, rather than consider why there are issues.  Carnochan argues that young people’s biggest “sin is ignorance”, (Education Scotland, 2016) as they do not have the knowledge to know any better.  This is a very powerful statement which suggests that ignorance is due to a lack of education and understanding about healthy relationships.  It is the responsibility of practitioners to teach children essential life skills, such as resilience, as early as possible, so that children are able to judge risks and make informed decisions about a range of situations.  These skills have the potential to stop children getting involved in violence later in life, because of an understanding of the consequences.

 

References

Education Scotland, ‘Pre-Birth to Three: Doctor Suzanne Zeedyk – Brain Development’, (2016), Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lyjNIIJ0LM&amp=&index=6&amp=&list=PLcD2TdZ4bXSlQQO-QUF52X-SkQ9kI7Rlo, (Accessed 18.01.19).

Education Scotland, ‘Pre-Birth to Three: Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan – Importance of the early years’, (2016), Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl4p6EUW1h8, (Accessed 18.01.19).

Dance Workshop Reflection

Before today’s workshop I was nervous at the thought of having to teach dance to a class, as I was unsure where to begin or how to work in a manageable way.  I was also apprehensive about the dance input, and concerned I might be asked to create some complicated choreography and perform in front of everyone.  However, I had a great time working in my  group to come up with different ways to travel and spin around the room, eventually creating our own mini routine.  I thoroughly enjoyed the input and now feel much more confident about dance.  We were given lots of helpful ideas and tips for class dance lessons which would allow all pupils to get involved, regardless of their ability or confidence.

Dance is a very important part of the curriculum as it allows pupils to be active, show their creativity and develop self-confidence.  Therefore, it is essential that I can deliver lessons which engage and encourage pupils to get involved.  The ‘Expressive Arts Principles and Practice’ document, states that the expressive arts allow children to be “creative and imaginative, to experience inspiration and enjoyment”.  (Education Scotland, no date, p.2.)  I believe children should be exposed to different cultures and experiences and dance is a perfect way to achieve this.

During the workshop we were shown ways to make dance relevant to pupils.  I thought that using videos of different dance styles as a stimulus was a good idea because it would give pupils a starting point, which they could then adapt and make their own.  The video clips could also be linked to another subject area the class had been working on, for example a Buddhist dance to accompany RME work.  Also, working in pairs would allow less confident or less creative pupils to get involved and benefit from developing skills, as they would have someone to help them.  We were reminded that when pupils present their work to a class audience, it is important to discuss expectations of the audience first, for example not talking during the performances and clapping at the end.  I found it useful to be given practical solutions.  Overall, I have definitely been inspired by the dance workshop and hope to similarly inspire pupils in the future.  I may not be able to teach complicated, technical dancing, but I would love to make dance accessible and exciting.

 

References

Education Scotland, (no date), ‘curriculum for excellence: expressive arts principles and practice’, Available at: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/expressive-arts-pp.pdf, (accessed 12.01.19).

Values Module Input

I found this week’s Values module input an important and interesting insight into racism and patriarchy. The lecture tackled these difficult topics in a respectful manner, which I found engaging.  Although difficult, it is important not to shy away from these topics. Many lecture attendees got involved in discussion and contributed points I had not previously considered.

As a Primary teacher I believe that it is my job to raise my awareness of racism and sexism in order to educate my pupils and prevent these issues in the classroom.  I feel it is important to highlight to young people that everyone is equal and deserves the same respect and opportunities, regardless of their background.  As a Primary teacher must also ensure that no genders are subconsciously favoured.

Values Workshop Reflection

The Values workshop on Tuesday was an interesting and thought provoking experience which shed a great deal of light on structural inequalities in society and how easy it is for us to not even notice them. The group I was part of had the most resources and encouragement from the tutor, making me totally oblivious to the lack of resources and help the other teams were given. I was horrified that I did not notice these basic inequalities in the classroom, nor did I notice how downhearted the other teams were. However the exercise definitely opened my eyes to issues people deal with on a daily basis. I hope not to make this oversight again during my professional career or in life in general.

As a teacher I believe it will be my duty to identify and work past inequalities and deliver lessons accessible and inclusive to all, regardless of the different barriers students may face. This correlates to The General Teaching Council for Scotland’s ‘Standards for Professional Registration’, which states it is essential to show trust and respect for all by “Demonstrating a commitment to motivating and inspiring learners, acknowledging their social and economic context, individuality and specific learning needs and taking into consideration barriers to learning.”

It is also important that young people feel their voices are heard and valued by their teacher, who must accept everyone for who they are. Social justice should be at the forefront of education and a core value for all teachers. The GTCS states that teachers must be “Committing to the principles of democracy and social justice through fair, transparent, inclusive and sustainable policies and practices in relation to: age, disability, gender and gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion and belief and sexual orientation.” I believe children need to be given all the facts about a subject in order to allow them to come to their own conclusions, without pressure or bias from outside sources. As a professional I know it is vital that I never let my personal opinions come through.

My Teaching Target

I have always wanted to be a Primary teacher because I believe every child deserves a fair start in life and has the potential to succeed.  I want to help each child build their confidence and find their own voice, as I have.  I want to give pupils the keys to unlock their learning, the opportunity to pursue their passions, and the chance to thrive in a positive environment regardless of their background.  I hope to be a supportive and inspiring teacher. I believe it is crucial that learning is made fun and accessible to all.

I have wanted to be a Primary teacher for all of my life, apart from when I wanted to be a lollipop lady in nursery!  I even remember writing a poem in Primary 4 called ‘Teacher Tastic’ about all the tasks I would love to do as a teacher, such as preparing the paint for art lessons and making the class rules.  I love teaching and helping people to do new things and feel an enormous sense of fulfilment when someone achieves something they have previously struggled with.  I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to inspire and shape the lives of future generations.

Volunteering twice weekly at my local Primary school, during my final years at high school, gave me a huge insight into the role and responsibilities of a teacher.  I observed that being a Primary teacher is challenging but highly rewarding.  There was never a dull moment!