From my reading of science lessons, here are some researched key features of a good science lesson.
From my reading of science lessons, here are some researched key features of a good science lesson.
Health and Wellbeing Experience’s and Outcomes-Food and Health
1st level:- I am discovering the different ways that advertising and the media can affect my choices. HWB 1-37a
2nd level:- I can understand how advertising and the media are used to influence consumers. HWB 2-17a
Learning Intention:- I am learning to investigate food and health ingredients and advertisements and how they can influence consumer’s choices.
I can watch a food and health advertisement and identify how it makes me feel and how the characters look like they feel.
I can research a food or health product and detail its ingredients and nutritional value.
I can compare the nutritional/health facts surrounding the product and the message of the advertisement.
Begin the class with various types of advertising videos for different products. Talk about how the advertisements make us feel, how the actors/characters are portrayed to feel/look (e.g. happy, healthy, once depressed and now happy).
Allow children to research one item of food or ‘health’ product shown on advertisement. They can either make a presentation or poster. Think about:
Maths. It’s often the dreaded word that every student hates to hear. Many children , young people and even adults not only ‘hate’ the term and concept of maths but also suffer from maths anxiety. A study carried out in Scotland found that as many as 50% of young learners worry maths will be difficult; this statistic highlights the clear fear many people have of maths but also the strong and prevalent stereotype in our society of maths being ‘difficult’.
Personally for me, maths has never been a huge area of continuous discomfort. Whilst I only have memories of endless SHM textbook work and worksheets in primary school, I feel I will always remember my high school maths teachers well. The stereotype of maths being ‘hard’ within my school was extremely evident however, perhaps because of this, many teachers within the department were some of the most inspiring. Possibly the greatest example of their dedication to their subject and students was their after-school study classes. Unlike other departments, every single night of the week (months prior to exams and prelims) the entire corridor was filled with teachers helping their students-often until around 6/7pm. My peers and I would often be welcomed into small, intimate teaching groups by teachers who had never officially taught me before, with all questions and queries welcome at any time of the day. All teachers were warm and welcoming and often offered me so much advice and support beyond the subject. Looking back now, I wonder if this was a way to relax pupil’s maths anxiety and change the subject’s common perceptions and stereotypes . If so, it definitely worked for me!
As a primary teacher, I hope to have this same affect on children when dealing with maths and numeracy and there are many ways in which I would attempt to do this. Showing interest and passion in the subject is incredibly vital when teaching, in attempt to reduce any pupil’s common stereotypes and apprehension. Making links between mathematics and other areas of the curriculum is also essential as well as building upon so many transferable skills such as risk taking, creativity, problem solving and team working. Highlighting areas of relevancy within mathematics can mean children maintain interest and engagement and understand the importance of being numerically literate. Going back to my own experience, I personally believe that the power of nurturing children in maths lessons is so powerful. By focusing on reducing anxiety and fear regarding maths throughout positive relationships and environments, children can begin to develop healthy associations and memories of maths, leading them to engage and investigate more within the subject; classroom and beyond.
The SPR section 3.4.2 indicates the importance of and ways in which reflection can play a key part in the development of the prospective teacher. Reflect in one of the most important moments for your professional development in semester 1 and write a post about what you think you have learned from this critical incident and what the process of reflection is beginning to mean for you.
For me personally, throughout secondary (and to a certain extent primary school also), reflection has never really been a large focus and driving point in my education. My prime example of this would be exam/test/coursework feedback S1-S6-but the junior years especially. Like most children, we were assessed in the standard ‘high school’ way; we would learn a module or topic, on the last week of term sit a test and get the results back a couple days later. The problem here was that we never went back to the topic to cover what went wrong or what we didn’t understand and so we didn’t get time to reflect upon our weaknesses and work towards correcting them. As a year we simply took our mark as a way of dividing ourselves into those who were ‘smart’ and those who ‘weren’t’ and moved on.
I vividly remember in Higher Biology studying for a class test and the night before the test really not understanding a concept at all. I didn’t want to ask for help because I was worried I would get into trouble for not asking for help earlier and so I decided to do what so many of us are guilty for: I just left it. Luckily (or maybe not so) for me, that particular topic didn’t come up in the test and generally I did well and so I completely forgot the issue existed… until the actual exam! My nemesis of a topic reappeared and I was clueless and mentally kicking myself in the exam hall for not going over my mistake and lack of understanding. Yet again however, after sleepless nights of worry I managed to pass the exam and so the whole process of forgetting about the topic occurred once more- the Higher ship had sailed, right? Wrong. Instead, I found myself in the exact same boat when sitting my Advanced Higher Biology exam! Because it wasn’t ‘technically’ in the course notes and textbook I didn’t realise it could crop up again and so, flash forward to this day, 2 years later, I still don’t know how to use a genetic cross to predict the genotype and phenotype of an organism.
Whilst this may be a trivial-yet lengthy!- memory, it is one that now at University I can use to remind myself just how essential it is to reflect and from there improve upon my work. This is because the skills and knowledge I am currently learning will one day appear or be required in my own classroom. A classroom where young minds and their families rely on me every day to impart the best learning and teaching as possible. As practitioners, we must bridge any gaps in our knowledge or understanding to ensure our children also do not have gaps in their knowledge or miss out on vital teaching.
In terms of my own reflection of semester 1, I was a little disappointed with my peer learning group’s presentation result for the Working Together Module as I felt that our effort did not represent our final grade. After initially being upset, I decided to read the feedback sheet again once more and started to see clear areas of improvement I could work on next time and in all of my academic work. I am starting to see reflection as an essential stage in moving through my degree and also entire career- unlike the ‘reflection’ page we hurriedly and halfheartedly filled out at the end of the year at school. Being able to effectively reflect routinely is a skill that I am starting to develop and hope to continue to develop in the years to come. Without this reflection, I understand I will not be able to teach to the best of my capability throughout the years. Recently I have learnt that sometimes lessons just won’t work, even with the most organised and tried and tested lesson plans and that’s okay, providing I reflect and work towards improving upon it.
Drama is a subject area in which I originally felt very worried about teaching and so the video detailing a way of structure for a drama lesson was especially helpful and focused on six key areas of the lesson.
The lesson began with a class and teacher agreement of the expectations and ‘rules’ of the class which will guide their learning and behaviour. A short physical/vocal/team-working warm-up was then followed by the issuing and analysis of images to establish focus upon the topic. The fourth area of the lesson was developing ideas through visualisation, soundscape and bodyscape to think about the image and accompanying sounds the children want to create. The creative piece was then performed and the lesson finished with an evaluation to ensure learning intentions for the next lesson were established and the class were calm before returning to other lessons.
Structuring the lesson in this way means that there is differentiation within the lesson between an additional playtime for the children and time for learning and building of skills and cross-curricular knowledge. Children are very clear in what they are learning and expectations regarding behaviour as well as channeling focus and engagement. The structure of the lesson also ensures that appropriate timings for each stage can be planned effectively, thus, ensuring adequate time to complete the entire activity (without rushing/skipping the performance and evaluation).
Drama conventions used include still imaging, spoken thought and dialogue.
The following Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes were addressed within this lesson:
Some teachers mentioned in the video that they could use drama to enhance learning in other subjects with examples including the use of the Snow White story in drama when studying fairy-tales in literacy. Additionally, the children could use a picture or creation made in art previously to establish potential questions and ideas of a story line behind the art.
Following on from the Health and Wellbeing input earlier in the week, I watched and reflected upon the suggested videos featuring Dr Suzanne Zeedyk and John Carnochan. Their videos placed great emphasis upon the importance of the early years and it’s significance on a child’s general wellbeing following on from babyhood and even into adulthood.
Dr Suzanne highlighted how all babies are born with an adaptable brain which is ‘shaped’ and ‘moulded’ by their early experiences and relationships. Babies are also born hardwired to be sociable beings and respond to facial expressions naturally. The adaptability of babies’ brains however, means that their brain is naturally ‘moulded’ to be able to cope and survive in their own environment (this could be a negative environment with aggression, volume or neglect or a positive environment where all wellbeing needs are met). By the time a child is three years old, their brain’s plasticity and adaptability starts to decrease and the ‘mould’ of their brain becomes set. It is then very difficult to change this ‘mould’.
This video revealed scientifically just how significant the experiences of babyhood and pre-birth are in a child’s development-and how they go on to deal with their world and society. Hand in hand, the video featuring John Carnochan OBE emphasises the importance of positive relationships with children.
John Carnochan makes clear that violence is an ongoing issue within many age groups in Scotland and he believes that investment into early years is vital in order to decrease these cases. He also states that children require consistency and safety and nursery and primary teachers are key figures in a child’s life who can facilitate this need. As practitioners, we must always be mindful and aware of the fact that some children in the classroom may deal with stressful or challenging events at home and resultingly may miss out on having a vital safe circle and consistency. We must always be striving towards aiding and supporting these children through their struggles and also generating resilience in the hope that these stressful experiences do not negatively impact their lives beyond the classroom.
In terms of the impact this will have on my own professional practice, I believe the knowledge and understanding of the importance of relationships will enable me to comprehend to a greater extent why some children may face multiple different challenges and obstacles in regards to their behaviour and life choices. I also believe the knowledge will prompt me to never give up on a child, no matter how many times they cross and push boundaries. All children deserve and require stability, safety, consistency and love in order for them to develop their own healthy relationships and life choices and with time, effort and passion a teacher may be someone who can provide this.
As teachers, not only is it vital to be alert of any signals of danger or upset within the children; it is also important to develop positive and strong relationships in order for the children to be able to trust us with sharing any issues or problems in their lives. Teachers and schools should be supportive for all members of a child’s family (as well as the child), nurturing and protective so as we can set children up to be happy, healthy and responsible individuals with their own healthy and positive relationships.
“Dance??!!?” I exclaimed with great surprise once my fellow course mates revealed our next workshop. Unlike drama, PE and music, this was a subject area I had never delved into too much (in an educational and purposeful manner) before attending university. Like many others similar to myself who have just left secondary school, with the exception of Scottish dancing at Christmas time, dance was not explored widely at school and certainly didn’t seem to be a core aspect of the curriculum so I did feel slightly uncomfortable at the thought of the workshop. This level of discomfort, however, actually encouraged me to reflect on why everyone (including myself to a certain degree) seemed so horrified about the idea of having to teach dance.
For me when I think of dance, vivid memories of the ballet class I attended for a few years in primary school spring to mind. Whilst I started off having lots of fun with my friends and performing, my later years as a ballet dancer were filled with pressurising assessments and constant reminders to keep pointing my toes out even further and work harder on my flexibility. As young people (especially in high school) we are constantly assessed, examined and given worth in the form of a letter and for myself, it’s sometimes hard to break out of the mentality of not every class is necessarily simply for a grade or result. I realised I was worried about the dance class because I’m not the best dancer and whilst very much enjoying the activity in a social setting, my dancing ‘technique’ is non-existent. I was worried about being judged for this or feeling embarrassed in front of my peers with plenty of experience but, as I braved the workshop I quickly understood how wrong I was and most importantly, how different the purpose was to Higher Chemistry (to get a good grade).
Upon reading the Get Scotland Dancing Literature Review, I was interested to find that a much lower percentage of Scots (3%) were likely to take part in dance because they had no qualification compared to those who do have a qualification (16%). This relates back to my previous comments about being apprehensive about dance simply because we don’t have confirmation of talent in the formal form of a grade or qualification. As teachers, we have the power to a certain extent to eradicate this feeling in our future young people so they have the confidence and self-esteem to try new things and lead healthier lifestyles-without worrying about how ‘good’ they are.
Prior to the workshop I was aware of the advantages to health and confidence that dance brings to children and adults alike,however, I soon began to acknowledge the many other fantastic qualities the teaching of dance in primary schools bring. I soon began to realise that dance isn’t just about body movement and technicalities but also about creativity, critical thinking and team work.
During placement, I hope to allow the children to create their own routines or movements in coordination with another topic or theme they have been learning about in a different curriculum area. This may be a specific culture which they have been learning about’s style of dance or even a dance routine to accompany a piece of music they have composed prior to the lesson. Not only does this allow for the children to be as creative as they please but it also allows links between the curriculum to be made and a deeper understanding of different dance styles and their origins. This would be in line with the Curriculum for Excellence’s Experiences and Outcomes for Second Level (I can explore and choose movements to create and present dance, developing my skills and techniques-EXA 2-08a and I have taken part in dance from a range of styles and cultures, demonstrating my awareness of the dance features. EXA 2-10a).
The Curriculum for Excellence for the expressive arts (dance specifically) also highlights the idea mentioned above of critical thinking. Being able to watch other’s performances and identify areas of strength and improvement and comment constructively is a skill required for many aspects of life and education. On placement I would like to facilitate this by creating an ‘I can help you with this’ sheet. I would ask a group of children to perform whilst the other groups watch and describe both areas of strength and improvement on the sheet. Once everyone has performed and filled out both areas of feedback, I would allow the children to go around the room and find someone whose area of improvement matches with another’s area of strength. Once this has been organised and settled I would allocate some time for the children with the area of strength to teach and explain to the other pupil how to improve their skill. If time allows, the children could perform again (but together) to demonstrate their newly improved skill. I hope to also use this idea throughout many different areas of the curriculum. This would facilitate the Curriculum for Excellence’s Experiences and Outcomes for Second Level for Dance (I can respond to the experience of dance by discussing my thoughts and feelings. I can give and accept constructive comment on my own and others’ work-/ EXA 2-11a).
The dance workshop not only gave me new and exciting ideas for my own class one day but also really encouraged me to see the wider picture of dance and how we can use it to improve and build upon many different skills in a creative and fun manner. It also inspired me to attempt to rid the stigma or fear in young people (alike myself originally!) to try dance by ensuring the key message that you don’t have to be the best dancer to enjoy or benefit from the experience very clear.
Following on from Tuesday’s workshop, I have since been reflecting upon structural inequalities not only in the classroom but also beyond within our own society.
As part of the workshop we were split into four groups with two groups given very basic and minimal supply packs and the remaining groups given many varied and advanced supply packs. All groups were asked to make and present something in which would be useful for a new fresher student at the University of Dundee. I was in a group with very basic materials which included a sheet of A4 white paper, a pen, some paperclips and rubber bands. Other groups were given many different coloured pens and paper, scissors, glue, tape and other materials. Our group decided to make a freshers week planner which contained information about where to pick up halls keys, when and where matriculation was and other essential events. The planner was personalised to the specific student.
Throughout the task and presentation of our ideas, our group had noticed that we were given very little attention and encouragement by the leader of the workshop whereas other groups were fortunate in this field. It was a shock to our group when we were given a final grade of 2/10 for our ideas and presentation with the other groups scoring 3/10, 8/10 and 9/10. After the initial upset it was soon revealed to us that our low score and minimal supplies was deliberate and not representative of our own performance-phew!
The task left me with thoughts of how this is an example and reality of different aspects and areas of our own society today. Personally, I saw the task as an example of how with little encouragement, help and attention it is very easy to under perform and be disappointed. It can also cause resentment, annoyance and a lack of full respect (which as a group we experienced to an extremely minor extent) towards the assessor. This is an area in which I feel is especially important and relevant to teaching. The difference in terms of quality and quantity of supplies between groups also highlights the still very much prevalent gap between rich and poor within our classrooms and society beyond. Generally speaking, those from richer backgrounds with wide access to quality resources are more likely to achieve high whereas, those from more disadvantaged backgrounds don’t have equal resources hence, putting them at high risk of under achieving. This is an issue in which I firmly believe professionals from all areas of social care should be challenging and aiming to address.
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