Drinking Beer in the Name of Science!

Moving onto my second vlog for the MA3 Science Module, I began to explore hidden science in everyday life. I decided to look into the brewing titan that is Brewdog; a Scottish company that has spread all around the world with their vast array of craft beers to satisfy the tastebuds of all beer drinkers. Brewdog was founded by two friends from Aberdeenshire in 2007 with a passion for creating good beer. This video was recorded at the Brewdog bar in Dundee and aims to explore the brewing process and the science behind how Brewdog create their amazing beers.

With this video I decided to try a different recording approach and filmed it as a ‘talking head’ video diary. I felt that this style of video would continue to challenge me in speaking when being filmed. Although there are a couple of hiccups and stutters, I feel that this is an improvement when compared to my first vlog. I also chose the ‘talking head’ style as I feel that it is more engaging for viewers…it was also an excuse to go for a pint! The production has also improved as I have gotten to grips with video editing and used a variety of multimedia within this video.

Please find the video below from my YouTube channel. Enjoy!

 

Science Vlogging

This is my first ever attempt at vlogging for the MA3 Science Module. This short video explores a variety of substances and the impact on them when they are added to water. Although the production may not be of the highest quality, the most important thing to me when I was creating this video was how to present the actual science clearly and understandably.

I often find talking in videos or recordings daunting and difficult as I seem to get rather tongue-tied. However, over the course of the module as I produce a few more videos, I hope that my ability as a science communicator improves and the experience becomes less difficult.

Please follow the link to find the video on my YouTube channel.

Wallace and Bruce…with a twist!

Although it has been a while since I last engaged with my ePortfolio, I have come back to it to write a new post that focuses on my own learning experiences at school. I believe that in order for successful learning to take place, the teaching must be fun and engaging. If this is achieved then knowledge is much more likely to be retained and these experiences will be memorable for children, even years after.

One of my most memorable experiences from school comes from Primary 5. The topic of Wallace and Bruce is one that is taught across Scotland and has been done for many years, therefore it is very easy for this to become rather boring by simply recycling teaching resources and materials. However, when the time came for my class to tackle this project, my teacher ensured that things were going to be done differently. It is hard to make a topic relevant to children when it happened roughly 700 years ago but my teacher made sure that we could relate to it. The plan was to work through the project, attaining the knowledge of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce and pulling in a variety of curricular areas to help us do so as we went, and towards the end we would put on a play for the whole school that would showcase our knowledge and give them an insight into the events of Scotland in those days. Putting on a show was a great way of making this project memorable as well as helping us to summarise what we had learnt over the course of the topic. However, the big hook came in the context of the play. This was not simply going to be a standard Wallace and Bruce play that told the story of these two Scots. The play was to be set in the context of ‘Doctor Who’, whereby the Doctor and his sidekick would travel back in time and meet with William Wallace and Robert the Bruce at famous points of Scottish history, for example The Battle of Stirling Bridge. Given that ‘Doctor Who’ was very popular at this time, this context acted as a great vehicle for ensuring that Wallace and Bruce were more relevant than ever to a class at that time.

Due to the fact that we were tying in a TV show that I loved into our learning, this experience has always stood out for me and is one that I will always remember. The class teacher successfully  ensured that a historical topic was culturally relevant to a group of young children and did so in a way that allowed them to use their imagination, creativity and enthusiasm. We received excellent feedback from other classes, teachers and parents which showed that our hard work throughout the course of the topic paid off  and filled everyone in the class with pride. It is because of all of this that I still remember this learning experience from school…also because my mum has the whole thing on tape and insists on watching it regularly!

Mr McAughey’s Ideal Classroom

As part of Sharon’s input on classroom management and organisation we were asked to design our classroom and provide a rough layout of it. From the moment that we were asked to do this my head was filled with ideas for what I could have in my classroom and the way that it would look. Below is a diagram of what I would like my future classroom to look like:

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 20.59.13

In this particularly instance I have designed the classroom to hold 30 children at maximum whereby there would be 10 children at each of the three tables in the centre of the room. These tables would be organised to ensure a mix of abilities at each so that ideas could be expressed and peer learning can take place effectively. The tables would also be organised to incorporate a mixed gender seating arrangement. This would provide all pupils with the opportunity to interact with members of both the same and opposite sex as well as allowing them to develop socially. However, this seating arrangement would not remain the same for every lesson. For maths and language lessons, the organisation of tables would be altered so that children are working with peers of the same level as them. The layout of the tables also means that it is possible for whole class lessons to take place whilst every child is seated at their table. This also makes way for working in pairs or groups during these whole class lessons and allows children to share their ideas and knowledge amongst their peers at that particular table.

 

To the right-hand side of the entrance to the classroom, there are two displays on the wall. The first is an information board that has various informative resources for the class, for example the timetable for that day as well as a board that tells the date and weather in the foreign language that the class are learning. The second display is a points ladder system whereby there are three ladders – bronze, silver and gold – that every pupil can climb when they are awarded points. This display allows children to track their progress in the classroom and also rewards for their good work and behaviour accordingly. Both of these resources have purpose and bring something to the classroom.

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Taken from Sharon Tonner’s ‘Organisation and Classroom Management’ presentation

As for the display at the back of the classroom, next to the reading corner, this will be used to portray the class project at one particular time. Children’s work on that project will be displayed here from any of the curricular areas, in particular art as this may be informative to the class as well as boosting that pupil’s self-esteem as their piece of work is displayed. At this display, there will also be a table whereby various books and sources to do with the project will be displayed. Children will be able to access these sources and interact with the display in order to develop their knowledge. The display at the far end of the classroom, which is next to the computers, is a space that allows children to choose a piece of work that they feel was done well and display it to the rest of the class. This concept is based on a display that I previously seen a couple of times and works effectively as a way for children to take pride in their work and engage in their own learning process. It is also an effective method in encouraging children to discuss their learning and their ways of working with peers. On top of all this, it also makes for a bright and dynamic decoration in the classroom and gives off the impression that this is a class of active learners who engage in their own learning.

As you can see, there is also an incorporation of ICT and technology within my classroom. I feel that this an important concept to bring into the modern classroom and it is vital that children are competent in using this technology – for some children, the classroom may be their only opportunity to engage with such technology. The IWB is a hugely effective tool for both teachers and pupils and is beginning a much more common feature in teaching and learning. Therefore, it is important that this be a focus in my classroom. It also provides a huge variety of different learning experiences for children and could be used to some extent in every area of the curriculum. The IWB is also an easy way of incorporating various forms of multimedia into lessons in order to make them more captivating as well as more memorable to the children. As for the computers, they also have a number of uses within the classroom. For children who struggling with writing, the computers provide an easy alternative that allows them to get the job done. They also provide children with a new way of working and can be used by groups to research particular topics for a class project, thus giving way to interactive as well as peer learning. The computers can also act as a way develosmartboard6ping pupil responsibility and strong teacher-student relationships. In order to use these resources, they require pupils to be sensible and respectful otherwise the privilege of being allowed to use them will simply be taken away.

In the corner of the classroom there is a reading area/library. I have chosen to incorporate this feature as I believe that it is important to emphasise the importance and relevance of language and literacy. This facility would offer a variety of books to pupils so that there is something for everyone in the hope that they will grow to enjoy reading and develop their abilities in this area. An additional feature in the reading corner is also a display od books recommended by me – the teacher – and pupils. Pupils are able to display what they have been reading and recommend it to their peers based on their own experiences when reading the book. I also feel that a reading area provides a quiet space for children to escape to if needs be. It provides them with a place where they are able to take a step back from work if they are not in the right state of mind to learn at that time. Whilst emphasising the importance of language, the reading corner also considers the feelings of the child and is effective in building a comfortable learning environment for them.

As for the organisation of resources in the classroom, I have provided storage facilities where jotters, pencils, rulers and other classroom essentials can be stored. If this space is maintained and kept neat then this can maximise teaching and learning time as every one in the class knows where to find the necessary utensils. This also makes for a more orderly and smooth running of the classroom and benefits the children in the long run. I have also provided trays at the front of classroom. Each will be assigned their own tray and this acts as their own personal storage space for various things such as a break-time snack, the book that they are reading or unfinished worksheets that they wish to complete at a later time. Trays also combat clutter on tables, therefore maintaining a neat and organised classroom that allows for maximum learning time in the classroom.

After completing this task and considering how I’d like my own classroom to look one day, I understand the importance of the classroom layout and how the organisation of this can have a major impact on the way in which my pupils learn. The idea of having my own classroom one day is very exciting and I’m sure as I progress throughout the next few years this image will change as I gain experience in different classrooms of different shape and size. I am looking forward to placement where I can observe how the classroom layout has an effect on the learning experience for children and possibly experiment with some of my own ideas within the classroom.

 

 

Dreaded Numbers

Following on from Tara’s recent maths workshops, I decided to go back and think about my own thoughts and experiences in maths. It made me realise that throughout the entirety of my school career, maths was something that I had always struggled with and always lacked confidence in. In fact, the only enjoyable thing I could actually recall from maths was watching “El Nombre” in P1, whereby the Mexican counting hero was forever ‘writing numbers in the desert sand’. From this you can already begin to imagine my disdain when I discovered that we had to attend a imgres2-hour maths workshop. However, my moans and groans quickly disappeared within the first hour of this workshop as we were shown new and exciting ways to teach maths and transform it from mere numbers on a page to something that was fun as well as captivating.

 

After this first workshop I began to think about my own experiences in Primary School maths. I struggled throughout school with maths, particularly in P6 and P7, and found that it was something I simply thought I could not do and would never be able to do. I would always have to seek the help of one of my friends who was seen as the best at maths in the class, even by the teacher. Looking back upon this now I realise that this probably didn’t help anyone in the class. Having the teacher openly state her confidence in one pupil’s maths abilities whilst everyone else struggled with the work obviously would have a huge impact on everybody’s self-confidence. From this, I have been able to identify the importance of equality and fairness in the classroom and strive, even more now, to ensure that my classroom is a place of equal opportunity. The process in which maths work was carried out in school was also very dull and boring. The majority of lessons began with a rushed 10-question mental maths quiz followed by a list of pages we were to work through. Although some of the pages contained pictures and different puzzles that aimed to brighten up maths work, the majority of lessons were dry and therefore nobody would engage fully and be able to enjoy maths.

 

Then came secondary school and with it, more boring maths at an even harder level. It was at this point that I became even more disengaged with maths and even less confident in it. There were more pages (this time without pictures and puzzles) and more difficult concepts that I simply couldn’t get my head round. From hereon, I think I just gave up with maths.

 

It wasn’t until last week’s workshop that some of my faith was finally restored in maths when I discovered the importance of it and the various ways that I could bring it to life in the primary classroom. Firstly, we began the workshop by trying to position our feelings and confidence in maths on a scale of 0-10; 0 being no confidence and 10 being very confident. I decided to position myself rather far down the line for both feelings and confidence. However, by the end of the lesson I felt as if my position for both areas had changed dramatically, particularly in feelings towards maths. Tara had succeeded in highlighting the importance of maths in everyday life – something I had always questioned in secondary school and never received a realistic answer. The various ways in which children learn maths was also explained and I soon realised that maths was more than merely answering questions lifted from a textbook and listening to the class teacher explain different concepts. Children learn better if they are able to see the maths being carried out and then practise what they have seen by doing it themselves – there are more ways of doing maths than textbook work. If children are given the opportunity to discuss and justify their strategies and ways imagesof thinking then they are able to consolidate their own methods and perhaps learn new ways of working from their peers. Being able to discuss maths also makes for a deeper and better standard of learning than that of passively listening and doing.

 

At the beginning of the lesson, maths was something that I had absolutely no interest in and zero passion for, however, upon leaving the class it hit me. As a teacher, maths is something I must make enjoyable and interesting and something that I should be passionate about. It is my role as a teacher to identify and expose maths in the environment and provide children with the skills they require to be competent and active in solving problems. In order to effectively teach these skills however, maths must be presented in a fun, exciting way and in a manner that should not be feared by neither teacher nor pupil. Perhaps the film “School of Rock” was right after all – maths is a wonderful thing.

“School Of Rock” maths song

Feeding back on Feedback

For me, feedback is a hugely effective tool that can allow you to take control of your own learning whilst allowing your peers to help guide you to success. However, it is important to understand what makes useful feedback and what has little or no use. Below is a video clip that outlines 5 tips for giving useful feedback (in this video, feedback is referred to as ‘recommendations’). If you look at Assessment Futures (2009) Guidelines for giving and receiving feedback, you will see that this document also see that the same 5 tips feature here.

 

 

http://www.uts.edu.au/sites/default/files/Giving-and-Receiving-Feedback.pdf

When giving feedback to my peers during this task, I consulted both of these sources before and after reading their work. This level of feedback was relatively new to me so I felt it important to pay great attention to the guidelines. I felt that being realistic was important however also felt it crucial to always maintain consideration for the person’s feelings. Therefore, being sensitive is also a key element in being able to provide useful feedback. However, feedback is only useful if it is honest. It is often hard to pick out areas for improvement when the work is of such a high standard and therefore I simply resorted to recommending a point that the writer may not have written about. I soon realised that this was often the case with my work also. Although honesty is important, it is equally important to also mention strong areas in their work, which can be carried into future writing.

 

When it came to receiving feedback, I found it to be a very positive experience and actually got me thinking a lot more about the standard of my own work and how I can try to improve it in certain areas. In most cases, my peers had commented on a point that I had not written about. This forced me to consider the depth of my work and how I should try to consider more outlooks on a particular issue, something that I will attempt to tackle in future. It also gave me a new sense of pride in my work as I realised that other student teachers had taken the time to read and critique my work. This idea of having value within a group may be able to be carried into the classroom and help to develop pupils’ sense of self-worth. Feedback can act as a hugely effective way of involving children in each other’s learning and helping to develop a sense of community within the classroom, which in turn can help children realise their own responsibilities in their learning journey.

 

When offering feedback in the future I will continue to follow the guidelines offered in order to help my peers reach the highest standard of teaching possible. I will also carry these guidelines into the classroom so that the pupils in my class are able to meet their full potential. Useful feedback is hugely effective in boosting self-esteem, which may then drive pupils to succeed and reach aims within the classroom. Feedback is crucial for both students and teachers, however only works fully when both parties cooperate.

The Enquiring Practitioner

In order to understand what it means to be an Enquiring Practitioner, it is important to be aware of what the term actually means. From reading the “Practitioner Enquiry” section on the GTC Scotland website, I understand Practitioner Enquiry to be an investigation carried out by a professional in their own field in order to expand their knowledge in this area. This investigation is hugely effective as it allows us, as teachers, to reach our highest standard and provide the best experience for our pupils. This can be done both in groups and individually, each coming with potential benefits and difficulties.

 

Practitioner Enquiry has many benefits for teachers who are trying to develop their own knowledge of their practice. These include:

  • Empowering teachers and encouraging them to challenge the current status quo of education. Through this, they can transform the way that education works.
  • Providing a method for teachers to monitor their own practice. By monitoring this they are able to critically analyse their teaching methods and develop them, ultimately bettering their performance as a teacher which impacts the learning experience for pupils.
  • Developing their knowledge and understanding of teaching and learning. This new knowledge helps teachers make more professional judgements as well as enhancing their own self-esteem and professional identity. This, in turn, can have a direct impact on the way that teachers deliver their lessons to the class.
  • When working collaboratively with fellow professional, people are able to learn from one another and essentially broaden their horizons of thinking regarding teaching education. Through this, barriers are broken and teaching can become more of a team effort which can better the learning experiences for pupils.
  • Collegiate working with fellow teachers can help develop ideas and strategies until they come up with the best solution. This can then be carried into lessons to provide the best learning experience possible.

 

Below is an image taken from the GTC’s website which highlights the key elements of Practitioner Enquiry:

teachers-engaging-in-pe-570x428

 

Overall, Practitioner Enquiry is hugely beneficial to teachers as it can help to broaden their knowledge and understanding of their own field through being critical and analytical. This new knowledge can then be passed on to pupils and/or colleagues to improve their learning experience within the classroom, or in the case of colleagues, improve their own practice within the classroom. Practitioner Enquiry is also beneficial in helping teachers to develop new teaching strategies through being critical of their own practice and picking out the strengths and weaknesses of past teaching experiences. As a student teacher, I believe that Practitioner Enquiry will play an important part in my development as it is important that I constantly reflect on my own practice to ensure that I am able to provide the best learning experience possible and obtain a wide knowledge of the teaching profession.