Early years and Language

I haven’t wrote a blog in a while, so I thought I would get back into writing regularly by starting with something small.
Currently, we have been studying talk with children, and how it is so important when we are teaching. I had never thought about talk in any great depth before, and even from the handful of inputs we have had already, I feel like I have learned so much!

In the early stages, we know that children start to read and write. I always thought this started in Primary 1, and as teachers we were responsible for exposing them to books and to letters/words/etc. However, what I have found out is that this can start right from pre-birth. Children can hear what is going on around them in the womb, and they actually develop an accent AND a familiarity with those around them before they are even born. Children can hear Mummy, Daddy, brothers and sisters talking and from this the child hears these voices all the time. From birth, they are exposed to language constantly, and this can be in many different variations: signs, books, drains, art, videos and television are just to name a few (out of 35, 36 if you include art), and not only are they seeing this, they are engaging with it. Children are constantly learning, and they are discovering the beautiful world of language.

Which witch is which?
Language with early years is not learned through a workbook or being forced to read. Language is learned best through play. Children, if they are exposed to rich, supportive literacy play will be swimming in vocabulary and they will become immersed in language. One of the things I have learned from these lectures is that children are keen to learn, and that we shouldn’t discourage or dishearten them when they read a word wrong, we should praise them and support them for making the attempt in the first place. The English language, after all, is the hardest language on the planet. We have their, there and they’re, which and witch, dear and dear, and the list goes on. If that wasn’t complicated enough we also have words which are spelled the same, but depending on the sentence are read completely differently. For example, “I need to read this book” and “I have just read a book”. For children, it is understandable that this can make no sense, and when we knock them for attempting to read, we chip away at their confidence with language. There are plenty more complications with the English language, and the Wug Test is the perfect example.

The Wug Test is a perfect example. If we have one sheep, we call it a sheep, if we have two, we say we have two sheep. If we have one cow, we call it a cow, if we have two, we say we have two cows. If we have one fish, we call it a fish, if we have two, we say we have two fish (which, according to google can vary as well!) The Wug test shows the complications in the English language, and how this can be many different answers; Wug, Wugs, Wuges, or Wugilions (I know it’s silly, but so is the English language). So when we tell children they have it wrong, it discourages them. Instead, praise the attempt and tell them that it should be that answer, but in this case it’s not.  A supportive adult shares the child’s wonder and reassures the child that they are ‘nearly’ right so as to develop a positive risk taking attitude towards reading. All attempts need that support and positive feedback.

Teaching and me
We know that children learn from play, they learn from any environmental prints, books, hearing stories, and being challenged. When I am on my next placement, I hope to make sure that the children I teach have a rich, stimulating and fun environment to learn in, and that the remain curious and engage in their learning.



I am an atheist

img_1226I am a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods. I never got brought up this way, I have always been told to have an open mind and that I should never say never. I have many reasons for disbelieving in a God or gods, and until I started University I thought religion was pointless and a waste of time. A few of my reasons very briefly would be something along the lines of:

  1. Where is the evidence for God
  2. I don’t like the argument of design (the argument that says the world is so beautiful ONLY God could have created it)
  3. Since the entire universe and all of creating can be explained by evolution and scientific cosmology, we don’t need the existence of another entity titled God.

However, this post wasn’t about why I don’t believe in God or about how stubborn I was when it came to the argument about God. This post was to say that just having a better RME (religious and moral education) knowledge has let me open my eyes and become obsessed wbhnf52251ith now trying to learn about as many different religions as possible.

My RME knowledge before University was that I watched Avatar in RME in High School, I learned something about the 5 Ks in Sikhism and that Jesus was the reason for Christmas and Easter. Now, since beginning my University journey I have learned that all of these religions are so beautiful and interesting.  They have stories to tell, they are the reason people push forward in life and even if something bad is happening – their religion gives them hope. Now, for me, that is extremely important. Hope is what the world needs in a world filled with hate and abuse and Trump. Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen, it is a feeling of trust and can make people in the darkest of places feel better because they have something to believe in.


Taking away the fear of just teaching in general, I felt reasonably confident in all other areas of the curriculum in terms of how I felt about the subject. However, only a few subjects (P.E and the expressive arts being the others) made me worry about becoming a teacher and being able to teach without hating what I was teaching. I didn’t want to learn about other religions and I had no interest in learning. However, since I have researched on my own about certain religions (Hindu being my ‘religion of the moment’) I have learned a great deal – and not just about what others believe in but about other important areas. Such as our values, our family, our home, how we feel, how we are to others, kindness and again, hope. When I thought of RME before I though about boring lessons, now I look with new eyes and I am excited to go on placement and teach about the Holi festival, about why Hindus celebrate this and how it is important. I’m excited to incorporate art into this, I am actually looking forward to being out of my comfort zone teaching children about Religion, and with this I have opened my eyes to the Expressive Arts (however, I am still working on how positive I actually feel about this) and to other religions also.

To the people who know me really well. They know how I feel about religion. They know that my views are so strong against the belief in a God etc. However, since looking into not even a handful of religions my mind has been opened. It turns out RME is completely me. It is about kindness(which, by the way – Random Acts of Kindness Day is on Friday 17th Feb), it is about love, trust, respect, believing and hope.

The Drama Contract

Task 1. Prepare a draft ‘drama contract’ to discuss with your pupils on placement

Task 2. Reflect on the video about structuring a drama lesson, how is it structured, what are benefits of doing it this way and what conventions are used? What CfE Es & Os are being addressed here?

Task 1

For the Drama Contract, I thought about discussing before hand rules we have in the classroom and rules we have in the P.E hall and merging the two. For example in the classroom when in discussion only one person speaks at a time and everyone listens, and in the P.E hall, we all stop when a certain action has happened (e.g. a whistle blown, hand in air, clap of hands, countdown).

The Drama Contract would be something along these lines:


We all agree as a class to follow the drama contract. We must follow these rules at all times for everyone to enjoy drama and have a productive lesson.

  1. I agree to stop and listen when the whistle is blown
  2. I will listen to ‘Miss Klos’ when the she blows the whistle
  3. When in Drama, I must understand that it is a safe space where everyone’s ideas are important

If everyone agrees, then we can all participate in Drama.


Task 2

The video we were to watch about Drama and how a Drama lesson is structured was very interesting! It was very similar to the lesson we had had with Nikki, especially with the structure. First of all, the lesson in the video begins with an agreement between the ‘pupils’ and the teacher. The Drama teacher involved said that there were the 3 main C’s, which were:

  1. Communication
  2. Cooperation
  3. Concentration

From these 3 C’s, we can identify that if there are any issues within the classroom, the reason is probably caused by one of these.

Secondly, the drama lesson had a warm up. The warm up was so that the students could differentiate between a play and a warm up. This was good because even though it may take up a bit of time at first, it will be worth it in the upcoming drama lessons.

The lesson structure then moved onto the main task. This was to find a focus within the lesson, in the video the task was to specifically to look at photos and build upon the ideas from the photos.

Development followed and this was done by developing upon the main ideas that the ‘focus’ part of the task had gathered. In this part, they spoke through the imaginative journey to build upon the final ‘performance’.

Visualisation was an important part of the structure here as this could relate to anything. The drama teacher asked everyone to close their eyes, and imagine the surrounding areas – what they could see. Examples including the sun rising. Soundscape was important during this as this developed futher upon what everyone could see. Create any sounds that can be heard. Everyone has their eyes closed at this stage and when they are tapped on the shoulder they are to share what they can see and hear.

Bodyscape is building up further and developing on what they have learned further. By using a little sheet, they are to act out what they see on the sheet using still image. This is important as it builds on the sounds, sights and ideas they already have about this place. They can try and be a gate, chimney smoke, house, table etc.

The performance can be seen as very essential. They have done the main bulk of the work and they need to show there classmates what they have achieved as a group. This helps thought tracking and the teacher at this stage can also assess what they have learned and gathered from this.

Evaluating on this with the class brings the lesson to light, they can decide on what they would like to achieve for next time and they can see the purpose of the lesson.


This lesson structure can be used with anything related to classroom studies, for example if studying fairytales – they can act out the certain tales they know about or the ones that are their favourite. If they are studying Scotland they can try and be famous Scottish bridges, Scottish people etc.


I think the Experiences and Outcomes that are being addressed here are:

  • EXA 0-01a / EXA 1-01a / EXA 2-01a
    • I have experienced the energy and excitement of presenting/performing for audiences and being part of an audience for other people’s presentations/performances.
  • EXA 0-13a / EXA 1-13a / EXA 2-13a
    • Inspired by a range of stimuli, I can express and communicate my ideas, thoughts and feelings through drama.


Watt about Alexander²?

img_1072Attempting to make a catchy title, which includes 3 famous Scottish scientists (James Watt, Alexander Graham Bell and Alexander Flemming). 

Chemistry and Physics are for boys, Biology is for girls. That’s how I felt about science in high school and therefore I just never went for the science subjects when I was picking my choices for 5th year. I didn’t understand any of my science lessons in high school, despite having amazing science classes in primary or secondary school. So when I saw that I had science AND maths in the same day I thought I was going to have a really horrible day. However, it actually turned out to be exciting and engaging (in maths and science) and even from today’s workshops it makes me want to read more and engage more with my ‘inner geek’. Before my lecture today with Richard, we were to design a ‘mini-teach’ lesson and present it to our groups and our friends around the class. I went for the lava lamp idea (which I thought was really original, then went on Richards email to the class and discovered it was in a video link he had sent).

When looking up on how to do the lava lamp, I thought this would be great for any age of the primary school, from P1-P7, as you can change the lesson plan and success criteria to suit the needs of the children.

First of all, I decided this would be a good opportunity to write up a ‘practice’ lesson plan and see how I would get on. I wrote down what I would need, which is:

  • Water (probably quite a bit if my whole class were to do this)
  • Oil (I have read you can pretty much use any oil, I used baby oil)
  • Asprin (I also read that Alka-Seltzer works best)
  • A bottle/clear glass
  • A funnel (with children it’s probably recommended, I didn’t however)
  • Food colouring (I suppose it can be optional, but I liked the colour)

How was I going to do this? I wrote down my steps:

  • Fill a glass/bottle quarter of the way up with (coloured) water
  • Add oil until the bottle/glass is full
  • Add the asprin
  • You have a lava lamp

Or so I thought.

img_1075You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I tried this to make sure it was perfect. I wanted a great experiment with lots of research behind it and something that would also be entertaining. As you can see to the left however, it didn’t work at all. Which, in a way, I’m glad it didn’t.

When I was putting the oil in, it came out the bottle at quite a speed (one of those squeezy bottles) and when I was doing this, it mixed with the food colouring from the water, therefore turning the oil red and you couldn’t see any reaction at all. Next time, I will know to use a different oil and not be so violent!

**(I am not sure if I am doing this right).**

Learning Intentions

SCN 2-19a

SCN 1-16a


We are learning why certain liquids don’t mix and why they don’t mix.

We are learning how to be safe with experiments and what happens when reactions happen.

We are learning how to dispose of water and oils in a safe and eco-friendly way

Success Criteria

I am able to identify how to reuse materials in a safe way

I am able to tell the difference between oil and water and why they don’t mix

I am able to learn in a safe way?


Assessment Methods

If this was done in groups or pairs, then I would have a group discussion in the end and ask the pairs together. The pair may feel they can say if they don’t understand as it is not just one child not understanding and may have more confidence in saying this. Another way I would maybe do this is by having maybe 2/3 questions at the end about if they understood why the asprin reacted the way it did etc and ask everyone to do a ‘thumbs up/down’ approach.


To begin with, the children could predict if the oil and water will mix together and why they think that. What will the food colour do in the water, what will the tablet do in the water. They could predict results and record what actually happened (starting to collect data, group work) etc.

Whilst the experiment is going on, I would explain why the oil and water don’t mix, and this is because substances which don’t dissolve into each other don’t mix (maybe a bit too complicated?) I could explain that the oil floats on the water as it is less dense. That the aspirin tablets react in the water and why they don’t react in the oil, explain the process of the bubbles forming carbon dioxide gas and that because the aspirin doesn’t dissolve in oil, it can’t react in oil.

Afterwards we could discuss how we could get rid of the waste responsibly and pop it in the flowers/plants (assuming I have some imaginary plants).

Before the experiment, we could go on youtube and watch a bigger version of this experiment being done, or how an actual lava lamp works (with a light etc). There could be predictions, what the steps may be on a board or worksheet, assign jobs to students to hand out the materials.

Afterwards, we could talk about what we found out and if it was a surprise or if it’s what we expected. We could draw a picture about what we saw, write about what we found out, maybe some related activity to who created the lava lamp, where they came from, about that country etc.


Finally, to summarise this whole experiment and lesson plan. The photo here is my failed experiment featuring a successful lava lamp in a bottle.


Maths…Before and After

Maths and I have a love-hate relationship. I love maths, but apparently maths hates me as I seem to be quite rubbish at it. Throughout my time at primary school I loved maths, and I think this was down to me having great teachers who taught me well. I was good at maths, I enjoyed maths so there didn’t seem to be an issue. However, when I got to high school things took a turn (I say turn, I actually mean a horrific accident and not only was it a turn but I was driving on the opposite side of the road). I had the same maths teacher throughout my first 4 years at high school. All ‘Ms K’ would do is a morning problem solving question, and then two periods (about 45 mins each?) of just sitting working through a textbook – and if you didn’t finish that chapter, then you went home and finished it. From then on, I hated maths. I hated going to maths, doing maths, thinking about maths, my maths exam in fourth year made me worry even more as I was stressed about something I really disliked.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel however. In my 6th year, I decided to give maths another shot. I spoke to various maths teachers throughout the department and they thought I would be able to cope in Higher Maths. How wrong they were. I walked in and walked straight back out. I was scared, I remember ‘Mr M’ writing on the board and it literally looked like another language. I went into Intermediate 2 Maths, and had ‘Mr C’. Mr C made me love maths again.

What Mr C did made me want to come to class. He spoke to me, he explained what I was doing wrong and even though it was still straight out a textbook work, I was starting to love it again. Loving the idea that there is (near enough) always one correct answer. I could go to the back of the book, check my answers and getting all of them right made me want to keep going home and working for hours on my work. I achieved an Intermediate 2 A and was thrilled.

So, I never achieved the grades for University, took a year gap to work and then went back to college. Remembering how much I loved maths made me pick higher maths, assuming that everything would be like Mr Cs class. Turns out it wasn’t. My college lecturer was like Ms K. She was silent, no help and if I was stuck, I was disrupting the classroom and she ‘didn’t have enough teaching time to help me’. I failed higher maths and again have a bad relationship with mathematics.

After todays workshop, I couldn’t get my head round the idea of talking and doing and recording maths. I have never been in a maths classroom where talking was even acceptable! Honestly, I still can’t get my head around how you can’t be silent in a maths lesson. I was trying to imagine what this would look like and techniques and ideas to teach maths and talk but I honestly have no idea how to go about doing this. In the workshop today I do feel better about my relationship with maths, and I know it will improve. I know I am quite good at maths (despite failing higher). However, it’s the teaching maths that frightens me the most, in case I’m not Mr C and I turn out to be Ms K.