Reading, Writing and Listening in the Early Years

In my previous post (Early Years and Language), I spoke about how children recognise speech from birth, and how complicated the English language is. In a sort of ‘part 2’ of Early Years and Language, I thought I would speak about how I have struggled with speech myself and the struggles I am having personally in becoming a teacher.

Background of me (according to my Mother).

When I was about 6 weeks old, I had my first ever ear infection. Something that would become a reoccurring nightmare for the rest of my childhood. When speaking to my Mum about this, she said I had ear infections 4-5 times a year, I had perforated ear drums and was on and off antibiotics when I was younger. I started nursery when I was three and a half, and Mrs Adger (my old nursery teacher) spotted fairly quickly that I was struggling to hear. She told Mum she had concerns about my hearing and speech and thought I should see a speech therapist. I went to about 10 sessions of speech therapy, and was told I would ‘grow out’ of my ‘bad’ speech phase.

Between three and a half and five and a half, this was a tough time for me as a little girl, and for my Mum. I had poor vision, my hearing wasn’t great (along with constant ear infections etc), I felt like I always had tonsillitis and I I had several operations in this time. My adenoids came out, my eye was operated on and I had my first grommet (the first of three).

I was meant to leave nursery when I was 4 and a half, but instead was held behind for an extra year. My nursery teacher was concerned I would always be playing ‘catch up’ and I would fall behind. I eventually started school at 5 and a half, and turned 6 less than 4 months later. I was the oldest in my class, and to begin with I was in all the lower groups. My speech, hearing and eyes had taken its toll. Once I was in Primary 2, there were further concerns I still couldn’t hear properly and that my “ths” and “fs” were not being pronounced correctly. This involved more speech therapy, which my Mum was told again would ‘phase out’. Throughout my whole Primary School life, I fell ill constantly with tonsillitis, ear infections and once in a blue moon a perforated ear drum. I don’t ever remember being told I had bad hearing, and I was aware my eyesight wasn’t fantastic as I had glasses! When I was about 15/16, I stopped having tonsillitus as regularly, and my ear infections were basically none existent.

However, I was never aware of my speech. I never knew the difference between ‘f’s and ‘th’s and it wasn’t until a year or two ago, my partner pointed out I didn’t actually say “thank you”, but instead, said “fank you”. I could never hear the difference, and I never had. I didn’t know what he was on about. I still can’t hear it very well, but I am aware that I don’t pronounce my “th”s now and this is one of my biggest concerns in becoming a teacher. I am reading out loud every night, spending 10 minutes a day practising saying words like “thigh” and “thin” and “thick” and “thinking” (and other words). I am studying how to teach this to children, and yet I am still learning myself. This is something I struggle to cope with. This is my biggest fear, that I fail my children in class, or that I fail my placement, and I feel that as a 22 year old woman, I have failed myself.

Glue Ear.
Glue ear is when the middle part of your ear canal fills up with fluid. This can cause temporary hearing loss, and can be hard for teachers/parents to detect as its such a minor loss. Symptoms of glue ear can include earache/ear pain, a fever and buzzing sounds.
Glue ear is what I was diagnosed with, and what it means is that my ear basically filled up with wax very quickly. It blocked my ear drum, I would have an ear infection and inevitably I would have a perforated ear drum at some point. A grommet is the ‘fix’ to this, however, I’ve had three and still struggle to hear sometimes. With glue ear, I really urge people to have a look at the website here as it has very valuable and important information on signs, symptoms and just general information.

Positive?

I could try and put a positive spin on this, and say that as a student teacher I’m glad I realised sooner rather than later, and I am glad I have such supportive people around me.
Another positive spin on this however, is that it puts me not only on the teaching side, but on the learners side. I can actually test out for myself how I learn best to speak better and which methods and techniques work for me.

Language

Hearing impairments however, are just one possible reason that may be stopping a child from speaking, writing or reading. There are hundreds of different reasons why a child may not be able to say “thanks”, read the word “cat” or write the word “mummy”. This is something that I don’t have enough knowledge on now, but I am excited to learn about how to help children identify different sounds, helping children read and write and learning about what can stop children from progressing in their language development. Hopefully, I will have more to write in my next blog post that is about language and will be able to say that I don’t struggle with my “th”s anymore.

Life in General

This blog isn’t an educational blog post, but it’s more of just my life, and how I have found first year and what will be happening for me over summer. 

I currently live in Dundee (which I feel has been a waste of money, as I work at home), but after first year I will be getting a house with my partner of four years. As a 22 year old, I feel I don’t need to go out every night and drink to have fun and my priorities are different from my flatmates. While my flatmates are in classes all the time and drink most nights, I find myself in my room studying, working at home or socialising with my own group of friends. The first year ‘living-in-a-flat-being-drunk-all-the-time’ experience has been overrated for me, and to be honest I feel I just start complaining over tiny things and just wishing I had moved in with Scott this year instead of living in student halls. However, I have met some wonderful people, but for me it’s the new friends in my classes that I get on with more.

University lectures and tutorials have been a brand new experience for me, and this is something I have thoroughly enjoyed! I was at college previous to university, and at Fife College, subjects are taught completely differently. I had never experienced a lecture before, I had never been in a workshop and I have never been so stressed before! I am completely aware it DOES get harder, that I have a long way to go and that I need to take a deep breath, but I think a lot of factors have went into why I have found this first year stressful, which I will talk about later on. My lecturers have been fantastic, and it makes me so excited to have more lectures and workshops with them and I have learned so much in 7 months already, that I can’t wait for the next 3 years! I find my workshops exciting, interesting and it is amazing to have lecturers so passionate about what they do – it makes me want to engage with the lesson and want to try my very best!

Socialising has been so different this year as well. Socialising has been different in positive and negative ways this year and this has added to extra stress too. Back home, I have two best friends, one has moved to Huddersfield to study at the university their, whilst my other friend has a 4 year old and is about to study Sociology at Abertay University (in 3rd year) and for us as friends, we couldn’t be prouder of each other. But having two friends that live so far away from me is difficult, I can’t just drive over like I used to and have a gossip, or study, or watch T.V or play with my friends son. I now have to face time one at a time, and that is even a struggle due to such a bad signal in my flat. However, I have made great friends at university and we get on so well together. We help each other out and we have a good laugh together! The final part of the socialising aspect is the strain it has had on my and my boyfriend. Living away from Scott has been hard because the person I would usually go to with my problems isn’t there to just pop round and talk to. I think it has made us stronger though, and I feel pretty positive about our future (I hate talking about ‘soppy’ stuff openly, so I will stop).

Stressing out is all I seem to do at the moment. I stress about everything and anything, and then stress out more about all the stress. Here is a list, of everything I am stressing about at the moment:

  • MONEY!!!
  • University
  • My jobs back home
  • MONEY!!
  • Because I am currently house hunting, I am stressing about houses
  • Placement
  • Essays that are due back
  • My elective
  • Family
  • Summer
  • Don’t know if I mentioned, but money.

However, I think a lot of these stresses will go after summer. I will be working 6/7 days a week, so therefore will have money, I will hopefully be in a house, I wont be at University therefore no placement or elective and by the time summer finishes hopefully I will be organised.

I just thought that because I hadn’t blogged in a while, that I should do it and try and get into a routine again. But because I didn’t know what to write about, I thought I would write about me and how I am feeling right now. Hopefully will get back into the swing of it.

 

 

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.

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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.

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

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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).
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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.