Category Archives: 3.1 Teaching & Learning

Google it!

In our second technology workshop we discussed accessing, retrieving and presenting information from the internet and how we can teach children about internet safety. We looked at different websites, including fake websites, which give false information on certain topics.This could be an issue if pupils are asked to do a research task, therefore it is important to explain to children that they cannot trust everything they read.

An ICT skill that can be taught when thinking about internet safety is Boolean Searching. This is a way of being more selective, when looking for information, through the use of quotation marks and by putting the word ‘and’ between search words. This narrows down the huge number of searches that appear when you ‘Google’ something.

We often use the phrase, “I’ll just Google it!” when we are actually referring to looking up a piece of information. There are many other search engines that can be shown to children such as:

When looking at presenting information we were shown three different resources; Fakebook, Prezi and Animoto- which I used to make the video at the top of this blog post. These are great classroom resources as children can present their research findings in an interactive and engaging way, rather than simply making a poster or filling out a worksheet.

Exciting Animations!

In our first technology workshop we looked at how to make different types of animation and good ways of using and teaching these techniques in the classroom.

The first activity was making a flip book animation with a folded over piece of paper. The instruction was to start by drawing something on the inside of the paper. When the paper is folded over you should be able to see the image shining through, providing an ‘onion skin’ so that the next drawing can be drawn with only a slight alteration. This then allows the image to move when the paper is opened and shut at regular intervals. When doing this task with a class it is important to be prepared with folded pieces of paper for the pupils in the class, as they may not fold them exactly in half and the activity may not work as well. A clear demonstration will also be necessary to ensure that the pupils fully understand the task.

We then tried making another type of flip animation using the corner of our notepads; however post-it notes would be the best resource to use for this activity. The video below describes how this type of animation works.

Our third animation activity involved recreating a scene from the film ‘Frozen’ using the programme ‘Pivot Animator’. Like the previous activity this programme is designed so that you can make a scene using stick men and then make subtle changes to the picture using the ‘onion skin’ as a guide. This sequence of pictures makes the animation come to life. In the classroom you may choose to pick a story line or ask the children to recreate a specific scene from a film, as we did with the film ‘Frozen’. We learnt how to add different characters, how to change the colour of the characters and how to make our own characters. It may take a whole lesson to explain one of these skills to your class depending on their stage. It is also important to avoid teaching more than 3 new ICT skills in one lesson as it can be overwhelming for some pupils.

The above video is an example of an animation created using ‘Pivot Animator’. This is one of the very few videos on youtube, made using this programme, that does not involve any violence or inappropriate images. This is why it is important to be clear with your pupils that although others are using the programme in this way, it is a great classroom tool and similar inappropriate use will not be tolerated in the classroom setting.

For our third and final activity we worked in pairs and were shown how to use plasticine models to create an animation using the programme ‘Zu3D’. We learnt how to use cameras which plugged into the computer and that it was important to take five shots for each frame as it took an average of 25 scenes before the video was only a second long. We were also shown how to add in text at the start and end of the video and sound, if we wanted to include these aspects in our animations. Finally, we were shown how to save our animation in video format. A copy of our animation is available to download and view below.

 

Using animation in the classroom is not only a great way of teaching ICT skills but an opportunity to draw on other areas of the curriculum such as literacy, music and art. For example, the animation could be used as a stimulus for a story writing exercise. The children could also consider the use and impacts of the music used for animations and could even choose a piece of music as a stimulus for their animation. The plasticine models allow a link with art and the making of the actual animations requires team work and co-operation. It allows the pupils to be creative and to explore new ways of creating and developing ideas through the use of technology.

The Mystery that is Mathematics

What is the first thing that you think of when someone says maths? Do you feel full of confidence and excitement or rather dread and fear?

During our first maths input this afternoon, I realised just how many people experience the latter mentioned feelings of fear and anxiety. There were even people who talked about feeling physically sick just at the thought of it. Why is this? As teachers it will be important to think about why maths is such a huge cause for concern, for so many, and what methods can be used to change peoples’ attitudes toMaths Jokes.009wards such an important part of the curriculum.

A main point that came out of the discussions during the workshop was that if people did not feel like they were good at maths they kept that mentality throughout their time at school, and still find it difficult to see the opportunities to become more confident in this subject. When we are challenged by something, especially as children, a natural reaction is often to switch off, shut things out or give up. I think this has something to do with feeling vulnerable and embarrassed, especially when we start comparing ourselves with others who seem to know it all.

I would like to spend some time sharing and reflecting on my own experience of maths in primary and secondary school. From when I first started school in primary 1 right up to primary 7, I found myself in all of the ‘top groups’ including maths. I always felt happy and confident during maths lessons and very able to explain to others how to get to an answer without much worry or concern. Of course there were areas which I found difficult but they didn’t make me scared or less confident in my abilities.

7caoz5RziMy high confidence in maths continued into the first couple of years of high school but I no longer enjoyed the lessons as much, as most of the work we did came straight from the textbook. I can’t quite pin-point the moment that I started to feel less confident in my abilities in maths but I know that it started to creep in during my exam years.

Our standard grade teacher encouraged us all to sit higher maths as she believed that we were all capable of continuing at that level. It was this confidence in our class that made me choose maths as a subject in fifth year. This was probably the year that knocked my confidence the most because I had always felt good at maths until this point. My parents arranged for me to be tutored in maths as I was able to do the work but perhaps required more time to go over areas of difficulty. That being said, I have forgotten a lot of what I learnt that year and have found myself telling others that maths is something I am not very good at, despite the fact that I managed to get a B in my Higher exam.

Looking back on my own experiences it is clear to me that a lot of our self esteem and self concept, especially in more difficult areas such as maths, comes from the teacher and their teaching style. My favourite maths lessons were the ones where we were able to do group tasks or challenges in order to find the solution to a problem.

Learning from peers can be very beneficial as one of your class mates may explain something to you, in a way that is easier for you to understand than what the teacher originally demonstrated. Explaining something to others, that you understand well, is also a great way of consolidating what you already know. During one higher maths lesson the teacher came over and heard me explaining how I worked through one of the questions to a class mate who was feeling confused. He told me that I should be a maths teacher to which I responded, “No way! I can only explain it well because I understand this bit.”

My main reflections on this topic are that you don’t have to have the highest qualification in maths to teach it well. As long as you find a way of understanding the maths that you need to teach your pupils and can help them to understand your methods in an enthusiastic, fun and interactive way then there is no need to feel anxious or scared.

hilbert-math-quote

Practitioner Enquiry- A Brief Insight

What is practitioner enquiry?Jack in the box

This image from the GTC Scotland website clearly shows that it is about practitioners engaging with teaching in a different way. It is very much about a continual learning process, where the teacher is responsible for furthering their own learning through continual research. This is a fairly new idea for teachers in Scottish schools; so why is it important?

Although it focuses on Australia, the video below is just as relevant to practitioners here in Scotland, as it highlights the importance of teachers and the role they play in schools.

As the video highlights, the best teachers are those who are the best learners. People who engage in current issues relating to education, and the world in general, are in a much better position to teach children about the world they are living in today. This gives the pupils a very relevant and diverse education, which enhances their learning in areas that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. It is clear that the best kinds of teachers are ones who take action.

All of the efforts that teachers put towards becoming a better enquiring practitioner should be relevant to providing their pupils with the best education they can. One of the biggest benefits of practitioner enquiry is that teachers can look further into particular topics and discover new ideas and theories behind these subjects. This will then enable them to make more elaborate, fun and engaging lesson plans and will allow them to continue on their learning journey beyond university.

A further bonus of practitioner enquiry is being able to talk about what you have learnt with a colleague and share new ideas and findings with one another. As one of the main challenges of this type of practice is feeling lonely or isolated, it is a great way of avoiding this situation. Another challenge might be if, during your research, your morals and beliefs are questioned or challenged. It may be that an idea you have never considered before causes you to take a completely new stance on a topic but this is not an easy shift to make.

As a professional, it is important to remember to use a variety of sources and not believe everything that one particular author has to say. A big part of practitioner enquiry is about asking questions. Why has the author taken this stance? What does this mean in relation to what I already know? How can I use this new knowledge to ensure that my pupils are getting the most out of my lessons?

As a student I think it will be important for me to remember to keep questioning my practice. It will be vital to do continual research to keep up with the fast pace world that we live in today. With massive advances in technology and the ever changing education system, I know just how important it will be to engage as an enquiring practitioner.