Category Archives: 2.1 Curriculum

Maths: Turning a Negative into a Positive

After my first maths workshop with Tara, I am already feeling much more optimistic about my upcoming experiences of teaching maths in the classroom. My experiences in maths vary between positive and negative. Throughout primary school I greatly enjoyed maths, the challenges it brought and I was always relatively good at it. I found my teachers were always extremely engaging, passionate and positive which ultimately had a massive impact on my performance in the subject. However once I reached mid way through high school, my relationship with maths began to deteriorate. My teachers showed no great deal of enthusiasm, lessons were repetitive and I came face to face with constant negativity when I wasn’t successful in answering a question. My Nat 5 maths teacher told me simply “I would pass” and sent me in for the exam feeling extremely anxious and unprepared; I knew I needed more than just a pass to get to where I am now and after another year and a slightly more engaging teacher I got an A. This put me off doing a Higher as I felt deflated and so worthless as I had convinced myself I couldn’t do it and it was a one off that I had managed to succeed at something I now found so challenging. Without sounding so dramatic, at one point maths convinced me I would never make it into my dream career at uni as we had such a negative relationship.

Moving on to a more positive note, Tara has made me realise that despite these negative experiences I have had, I need to become that teacher that once inspired my love for maths way back in primary school. She made it clear how maths isn’t just about getting to the right answer, but instead how it is important to listen to different ways of working things out. She also taught me that all those Maths Myths such as “You are either good at maths or literacy” are completely irrelevant and these ideas must be abolished from these fresh brains as quickly as possible. This is something that even on my placement I want to achieve as sadly these myths are still relevant in today’s classrooms. Tara’s input has particularly helped me open my mind to maths as I earlier completed the NOMA and scored a much higher score than what I ever expected having not done maths (of that level) in nearly 2 years. It has made me realise that actually I am capable of doing maths and just because I have struggled, doesn’t mean I will continue to struggle. I am feeling very inspired after just a short number of maths inputs and after 5 years of maths “torture” at high school and I am very excited to give maths teaching a proper go on my placement.

After my array of experiences with mathematics, I am determined that I will make a difference to children’s minds and the way they see maths. Unfortunately once they leave primary school, we can no longer control their experiences in subjects but if I can have a significant impact on their view of maths, I will be extremely pleased. Maths for me will no longer be a – but instead a + and that is the main thing I want to pass on. Maths isn’t just about getting to a definite answer.

Structure of a Drama Lesson.

Having taken part in my first drama workshop earlier this week and having watched the recommended video from Nikki, I have been carefully considering the importance of structure in a drama lesson.

Reflecting upon the video, the lesson saw a very distinct structure. It started by setting expectations of the children throughout the lesson to ensure full participation, concentration and effort. I believe this to be beneficial as from the get-go, children know what is expected of them and what needs to be done to get the most out of the lesson. The lesson then goes on to follow a very rigid structure which includes a warm up, sound scape, body scape, performance and evaluation.

One particular section of the lesson, I particularly found interesting was giving children a still image and asking them to think about what was going on, how it made them feel etc in order to develop their analysing skills. This relates to the outcome discussing children being able express  their views and ideas openly on certain areas for discussion. I then thought it would be a good idea to link these images (or stimuli) to other aspects of the curriculum being taught to help widen a child’s understanding of a topic. This idea was later discussed in the video clip. The performance element of the lesson was one in which I found to be extremely beneficial as it allows the children to learn audience skills, evaluate their learning and hear other peoples views on what they have been working on whilst giving them the chance to enhance key skills such as confidence and communication. This relates to the outcome of drama referring to a child being able to stand up in front of an audience whilst performing either a scripted or improvised piece.

Finally, the lesson featured, ended with an evaluation. This is important in order to  allow children to critically analyse their own work, what they have taken part in and what they enjoyed. This allows children to develop their interpersonal skills and improve in certain areas of their drama work in the future.

Following a structure like the one displayed in the video and explored in our drama workshop, in my opinion is very pertinent in allowing the children to get the most out of their drama experience. It is a well thought out structure that I would love to use and adapt in order to deliver drama effectively to my future classes.

Health and Wellbeing as Primary Practitioners.

Having watched the videos by Dr Suzanne Zeedyk and John Carnochan OBE, I have began to reflect on the importance of the child’s brain development on their education. The way in which a babies brain develops up until the age of 3 is immensely influencing their experiences in later life. As a young child, their brains develop to whatever environment they are being raised in, which as good as this is for a youngster to be durable to their surroundings, it also means they may be not be as good at handling different environments or experiences as their brains haven’t been “wired” that way; in turn this may have an effect on the way a child acts within the classroom.

Brain development is quite clearly fundamental however it will affect our professional practice. As aforementioned, children’s brains develop to their surroundings (ie their home life) meaning that change of environment may not be handled well by them. If a child is coming from a house of violence, their brain will be in tune with how to deal with that environment but coming into a classroom filled with an abundance of nurture and love may mean a child might struggle in terms of adapting to this. It may mean children act out, not meaning to be malicious but purely out of frustration at not being able to get their heads around this fresh feeling. This in turn, may cause disruption to the teaching and learning of others. However as Dr Suzanne Zeedyk stated our brains are flexible and can adapt to new environments meaning that with a little more consistency and support (from the teacher), it will get better. I believe that relationships are at the heart of this transition.

Relationships are fundamental to the way in which a child’s brain develops. Having strong professional relationships with those in your class will allow children to constantly continue to adapt to the classroom setting. Positive connections with children means they are more likely to succeed academically and behave to a high standard. This is due to the child respecting you, trusting you and understanding you slightly more than if barriers to a positive relationship were in place. The relationship between parent and child is crucial in determining how well skills from the classroom can be transferred to their home life, meaning a more positive relationship may mean a child will perform to a higher standard. This relationship relates to the importance of that of the relationship of the teacher and parent/carer. A confident rapport between the two once again will allow children to build connections from class learning and home learning, allowing for academic progress and their brains to develop more effectively. Relationships are at the heart of brain development and are key for a successful learning experience.


More Than Pirouettes and Leaps.

Dance. The word that was mentioned once and the room was filled with moans and groans. However, having danced myself for nearly 15 years, I didn’t quite have that same negative attitude towards the idea of our dance workshop. I like to think I thrive under the performing element of dance and most importantly I am really passionate for it and enjoy it greatly which is something I would like to pass onto my future classes.

This workshop was one I found to be extremely beneficial. Having danced nearly all of my life, I am confident enough performing but would say that being able to teach dance is more of a weakness of mine. This is probably due to me going to so many classes as a student compared to how many I was present at as a teacher. The session gave me a brilliant insight as to how dance can be taught within the primary school environment. I thoroughly enjoyed finding out some of the different activities that can be used in order to develop creative minds and active bodies through dance.

There were many points of the workshop in which I will transfer into my placement with me. The first being the idea of starting the lesson in a circle, allowing the teacher to have full view of everyone and in turn being able to see everyones creativity within their movement whilst we warm up. The second idea that I will carry with me into school is passing over the leadership to the pupils ie. if you see a child really loving it, pass the power to them for 20 seconds and get the class to copy one of their moves. This relates to the second level outcome of dance which states “I can explore and choose movements to create and present dance, developing my skills and techniques.” This exercise allows to children to pick a dance move and present it back to their peers whilst developing vital skills such as confidence and leadership. And finally, the third thing I will definitely take into the classroom is the idea of using videos or clips of professional dancers to act as a stimulus for children to go away and have a go at themselves. This again relates to one of the outcomes of dance which is “Inspired by a range of stimuli, I can express my ideas, thoughts and feelings through creative work in dance.” By using videos of professional dancers, it allows those with less confidence in dance to get an idea of what they could try when they have to give it a go for themselves. 

Reflecting back upon this workshop, I realise that dance has more to it than the technical aspect that I am personally used to. It is much more about building confidence and linking other aspects of the curriculum together. For example if you’re studying Buddhism in RME, you could have a look at dances surrounding the stimulus of the Buddha. Dance will inevitably allow those of a more creative nature to express themselves and encourage those who aren’t so creative to give something new a try.