How do I blog again?!

It’s fair to say I am not going to win any awards for my commitment to writing blogs but as I’ve began my third year (eekk! HELP!) it’s time I got back to the keyboard!

We’ve been asked to think about a memorable experience from our own time at school. This is a tricky question. I have many fond memories so trying to pick a stand out one is tough! However there is one that springs to mind…

I lived in Germany for a few years when I was younger so went to Kindergarten and then Primary School out there. Next to my P1 classroom was a large open plan room and every 6 weeks – alongside the other younger years classes we would turn this space into a different kind of ‘shop.’ For the last 3 weeks, on a set day of each week, parents would be allowed in for an afternoon and we would take it in turns to serve them.

The shop I remember the clearest was the florists. During art lessons we made roses out of crepe paper and attached them to pipe cleaner stems. Parents were given some plastic money as they came in so they could then come to our ’til’ and buy our handcrafted flowers. The coins given to the parents were only £1 and 1€ and each flower would be to this value, thereby making it quite manageable for us.

To display the flowers, we painted and decorated little cardboard boxes – letting us loose with the glitter was a brave move by our teacher but we absolutely loved it! In the shop, little tables and chairs were laid out so that once you had worked your ‘shift’ you could go and spend some time with your customers and tell them all about what you had done.

This time was valuable. My Dad was in the RAF so it was a military school I was at and many of us would not be seeing our military parent much during the week. Despite this, the school was very much part of the camp so there was a strong connection between the two. A  real emphasis was put on trying to ensure that children could see their parents as much as possible. Therefore, the afternoon visits into the school were factored into the camps timetable where possible to maintain a strong family environment for the children.

I realise now how lucky I was to have attended a school like this and it was due to the unique environment of the camp we lived in that allowed it to work so well.  It was ambitious for the teachers to take on quite a large project that was near enough continuous but it worked so extremely well for that particular school.

It’s not like anything I have ever done since at any one of the schools I have been to so am thankful I had the opportunity to have had such a unique experience at my first! And who knows…maybe I’ll be brave enough to try it with a class of my own one day!

 

 

Science Literacy

After a recent input on the ‘Science Literacy’ we were asked, in groups, to produce an informative short piece related to the input. Not only was this to consolidate what we had learned but also to develop our understanding, awareness and appreciation of what ‘Science Literacy’ really is and how fundamental it is within the classroom.

‘Scientific literacy’ is increasingly seen as the primary goal of school science.”(Miller, 2007) This wasn’t always the case due to many teachers in primary and secondary schools having a slight fear towards science as a subject. Therefore as a result, this derogatory attitude was understandably passed on to their students. Negative attitudes could be a result of the teachers not being able to understand concepts or formulas concerning certain scientific processes due to being uneducated themselves from a young age. Thus meaning that for them to then teach their own pupils in depth could be daunting. However, there is now an ever increasing consideration- and quite rightly so- that Science should be up there with the standard core subjects such as math and English.

Science has been evident in some shape or form since the beginning of time, for example, cavemen lighting fires to gain heat, to cook or to use as a source of light. The misconception of whether something has a scientific purpose behind it or why something happens is the problem which still occurs in today’s society. For this reason solely it is essential for schools to start making children literate concerning Science. For example, when carrying out experiments one main process children work by is also known as POE (Predict, Observe and Explain). In order to do this they have to have a firm knowledge of simple concepts that they can then apply in future experiments or day to day on goings. Thereby giving them the ability to comprehend and then explain what may or may not happen and most importantly why.

The MMR vaccine controversy of 1998 is one of the most commonly known examples of where a lack of scientific literacy has led to inaccurate media reporting.

This controversy was created by Dr Andrew Wakefield, who carried out an investigation into the three in one vaccine for the prevention of measles, mumps and rubella. Wakefield’s research paper, which was published in the medical journal The Lancet, claimed that there was a link between the vaccine and a child’s likelihood of developing autism. This caused great concern for parents and resulted in the widespread decline of children receiving the vaccine in the UK and Ireland.

It was not until 2004, and later again in 2010, that this claim was discredited by leading specialists who carried out further studies. They discovered that Wakefield had manipulated his findings, but more to the point, that there was in fact no link between autism and the MMR vaccine.

This public consumption of false, misleading information caused a significant increase in the number of children who contracted measles, mumps and rubella. This is a prime example of how easy it is to be wrongly influenced and why scientific literacy is so important.

As teachers, we must foster an environment that allows pupils to develop their scientific literacy and understanding of concepts and ideas. Ensuring the classroom environment promotes thinking, listening, questioning, talking, play, exploration and experiment is pivotal to the broadening of scientific vocabulary for children. Looking at the idea of ‘fair testing’ at primary school level links closely to the development of strong scientific literacy. Through consideration of what it means to conduct an experiment under fair test conditions, pupils can begin to understand the need for all variables to be kept the same, apart from those which are being tested for. This developing of understanding will help pupils to ensure that once they have measured what they already know, all future experiments and investigations will produce accurate results which correctly inform the progression of their knowledge.

Encouraging pupils to investigate good and bad examples of ‘fair testing’ will allow them to explore and engage with science. Where everyday objects are used for such exploration – such as a motorbike race – science becomes much more accessible for children and a developing interest is likely to be reflected in their developing vocabulary in relation to science and experimentation.

We hope that by reading this, if you were unsure of what the term ‘Science Literacy’ meant and how it relates to everyday life, that now you do!

 

 

References

http://www.nhs.uk/news/2007/January08/Pages/MMRvaccinedoesnotcauseautism.aspx

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/mmr_prog_summary.shtml

http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452

Hello! Bonjour! Hola! Guten tag!

Languages. We all have one but should we just stop at that?

I believe that as teachers, we would be depriving our pupils if we did not incorporate other languages of the world into our classroom. It is ever more apparent that these days huge numbers of people do not just live in the country of their birth for their entire life. So are we really equipping the children with the basic fundamentals for life if we do not grant foreign languages with a high level of importance within the classroom?

I was fortunate enough to spend time and live with Spanish students for three weeks in Edinburgh whilst they visited Scotland. I was there to teach and improve their English. In the morning they went to language school and then spent the afternoons and evenings with us- sight seeing, playing games in the park and going shopping. Whilst all the time speaking in English.  Many a time we faced difficulties where nor one or the other could understand what the other was trying to say. Which as you could imagine could be extremely frustrating! However we always got there in the end!

The thing that made this extremely difficult was the fact that I cannot speak Spanish. I could sing you the odd Spanish song from past experiences of strutting my stuff on the dance floor to them, but no where near what was needed to have a conversation! If I had been able to speak their language fluently it would have been all to easy for us to just start communicating in Spanish when they got tired of English, completely defeating the main purpose of their visit!

Speaking a second language for a long period of time can be exhausting and witnessing that first hand of the students I was with made me truly respect and appreciate what they were doing.  Many of these young people spoke more than just the two languages. When I asked why,  they explained that by having a knowledge of other languages it opens up job opportunities all round the world for them. It would enable them to travel the world to see and experience all the different cultures we have. They believe that it’s only fair that if you travel to somewhere new, you as the guest, should make the effort to know at least some of the native language.

I love to travel. Especially as I lived in Germany when I was younger I love exploring new places!  Personally, I believe it’s really important for children to have a passion and desire to want to know about the world they live in and the people living in it. Many families cannot afford to take their children abroad so as a teacher it would be my wish to bring those countries into the classroom. We don’t necessarily need an aeroplane or boat to raise awareness of the outside world to children. We just need creativeness, imagination and passion. I want to ensure that any future pupil of mine leaves my classroom having a good idea of what living in another culture would be like and for them to have the desire to maybe visit that country in the future. I want them to know phrases of languages which could then be built on as they get older and used all around the world!

This country is a great place to live but when there is so much more greatness to see, let’s not shy our children away from that. Encourage exploring. It’s a bit like trial and error- you have to try things to see if you like them. You have to try new things to learn and as teachers we are there to facilitate that learning.

Get your backpacks on, we’re going on a round the world trip..classroom style!

10364147_851108428342879_2216468172442366149_n

After a lovely day at Portobello beach in Edinburgh with my lovely Spanish and English speaking friends!

 

 

Performing at the Royal Albert Hall!

For those of you who are not big music fans, don’t worry I’m not away to turn into some sort of super geeky band nerd! I just wanted to share this story to make those who are feeling a bit apprehensive about teaching music in their class not alone!

“You’re going to the Albert Hall!!” was the only thing I remembered from that band practice three years ago. The BBC Youth Proms wanted us to play in their concert? Surely not? But yes! Yes they did..

I’ve been playing brass since primary 5 and I was by no means a musical god that’s for sure! I didn’t let that stop me however! In my second year at high school my brass teacher asked me if I wanted to join the Carnoustie and District Youth Brass Band. I live in Carnoustie, which is a rather small place but every member, bar a few, come from the town- something quite unusual in the world of brass bands. We were also all taught by the same instructor- again something very unique. I knew the band was for competition purposes so thought that I’d give it a try and see what it would be like. If only I knew where that would lead..

Most bands are around for years and years before they enjoy competition success. We were exceptionally fortunate and only took four. Before I knew it we had won British and Scottish championship titles more than once and were winning awards from the likes of the BBC. It was a complete whirlwind experience! Unknown to us, something even better was waiting around the corner!

Playing live on stage to 5,000 people in the Royal Albert Hall is something I cant quite explain. Being washed with the overwhelming sound of applause vibrating the stage under your feet is something you just don’t forget. None of us could believe that we had somehow made it here. Yes, we had put in hours upon hours of rehearsing, blood, sweat and tears. When I say tears, I mean serious tears!

You would think that this would mean I’m probably quite confident about standing in front of a class and delivering a music lesson, but not quite.  After all these years I have developed my own way of interpreting music and my own way of learning it. So now I need to develop all of that into a way that a child will understand and can use later in life.  In some respect I need to go back and relearn music! Which is actually a rather daunting thought! I can’t be selfish and demand that it is my way of learning music and that’s it! No, I have to consider what will be best for the children I will be teaching. I have to think of ways to keep those who enjoy music interested and those who don’t, enthusiastic about it! I have had my opportunity to get specialised help but now it’s time for me to pass some of that knowledge on so that future children can benefit from music like I did.  Music is a brilliant way to let children express themselves and liven up their learning! No child should be deprived of the chance to experience what music can mean and do for them.

Music gave me friends, a sense of teamwork, discipline and an understanding of what it feels like to be rewarded for hard work. Without it I don’t think I would be at University today. This is why I feel music is such an important part of the curriculum and can be done so in a variety of different ways.

Let’s get music into those classrooms!

If you fancy a listen, below was part of our performance in the 2012 British Youth Championships, which we were lucky enough to come 1st, giving us the title of Best Youth band in Britain.  All the players are aged 12-21! I’m experiencing a rather bad hair day in the video..I’ll blame the nerves!

The last minute or so is my favourite!

“A primary teacher? Seriously Emily? You could do so much more than that..”

Today I was asked by an old friend what it was I was studying. After I replied, explaining I was studying to become a primary teacher the response I got was, for me, an extremely sad one.

“A primary teacher? Seriously Emily? That’s not exactly difficult is it? Baby sitting kids all day and teaching them the alphabet isn’t a proper job! You could do much more than that! Teacher training is harder than the actual job itself!”

I can’t quite put into words how shocked and upset this made me. I couldn’t think of anything to say in return. Is this really what people think of primary teachers? I have dedicated so much time in order for me to be able to obtain the training needed to become a teacher- it’s all I have ever wanted to do. So for somebody to think that I was wasting my time on a career they didn’t deem worthy of being given the time of day hurt a lot. I don’t know about you but I would never talk down to someone like this or discard their chosen career. Especially one that would be affecting the future generations of children.

I realise many people share that same belief as the individual I bumped into today. Surprisingly I actually feel sorry for them as maybe primary school for them was not an enjoyable or memorable experience. Where would the world be without primary teachers? Children need that education experience in order to be equipped with the tools they need to develop into successful, well-rounded adults. Not every parent would have the time to spend 5/6 hours a day educating their children. Despite feeling rather deflated by those comments I’ve turned that into determination. I am more determined than ever to try and inform as many people as possible as to how much work, dedication and passion teachers put in within and outside the classroom and how much they care about the job and people they are helping. I believe that the lecturers , tutors and fellow students I have surrounding me are so passionate about the profession they are part of that I know a positivity towards primary education is extremely strong. I have chosen to turn this negative into a positive and I encourage anyone who experiences a similar situation to do the same.

I am a student teacher and proud to say it.

Let the blogging bonanza continue!

I have just spent the past half an hour or so reading posts from many of my peers.  These posts were extremely interesting and really demonstrated that they have fully submerged themselves into the life of reflection. Looking back at posts you can see progression throughout and how their authors have developed the way they write about lectures, books they have read and personal experiences.  For me, I especially love the posts where there is some kind of personal link to the post. I feel it is really important and enjoyable to get a sense of what kind of personality the individual has. We might not necessarily know the face to match the name but sometimes reading posts make you feel that by the end of it you really know what kind of person they are.

Writing a blog post enables those who may have reservations about sharing their thoughts and feelings face to face with others to get their opinions and beliefs heard. I feel that through reading one and others ePortfolios that actually as a year group we can become much closer.  Having the engagement with those whom you don’t know very well can help brake down any boundaries you feel may still be there, because after all  we are still getting to know everyone! Not only does it help with our personal communication it opens up a window for us to establish our own place to begin professional dialogue.

We are all still learning. In fact, nobody ever stops learning. This is why I believe that even if you feel insecure about that what you are writing or worry people will make judgments – don’t! We can’t expect to be perfect and everyone is entitiled to make mistakes. That’s how we learn.  Everyone has their own opinions so express them! I know for me I worry what people will think about what I write. However, I want to take the opportunity to thank my peers and other glow users for feedback they have given me online or in person about things I’ve written. It’s really helping to build my confidence in sharing feelings and opinions with the wider online community.

Let the blogging bonanza continue!

You at the back! Point your toes!

Everyone can dance. You might not feel like that’s the case when you realise nobody wants to be seen with you when the music starts, but trust me, you can.

I first started dancing at  the age of eight- excited by the prospect of getting my own little pair of tap shoes that I could make as much noise in as possible! Oh the fun I was going to have on the kitchen floor!! Like everything when you first start it was difficult and took a lot of hard work to pick up the technique. However after MANY dance classes I was starting to turn into a fairly competent little mover. 2007 came my first big show, the excitement I felt to start the show routines was incomparable. So you could imagine my disappointment when I was dressed as one of the three little pigs from ‘Shrek.’ Curly tail included.  Despite my rather ‘pinky’ appearance I tap springed my way across that stage like no other pig had before!

The dance school I attended planned a trip for us to go and see the dance phenomenon, ‘Riverdance.’ That was eight years ago and from that moment since I have been Irish dancing. I enjoyed tap classes but Irish was something so different that had me hooked from the moment I started and has done ever since.  Not only is it a great way to keep fit but is an opportunity for you to forget about any worries or problems you have. You can immerse yourself in the steps you’re doing, the music, the beats coming from your shoes and the story you’re trying to tell.

The freedom you get from dance is something that I believe is rather rare. I feel that dance is an extremely important thing for a school to incorporate into their curriculum. It is a chance for children to express themselves in a safe and creative way. It is  giving them a chance to break free from any negative issues they may be experiencing at home or in the classroom. Instead of fighting, a child that feels angry about certain events can let that energy out through movement for example.

Dance should not be something a child or adult  feels embarrassed by or that they may be judged by others for what they look like doing it. Nobody has the right to make another person feel insecure about themselves. I’ll admit that I’ve often been caught having a little boogie to myself looking in no way in control of my limbs but I was having a great time so I guess that’s all that matters!

So, fellow student teachers let’s not care what we look like, let’s just play that music and alongside our children, DANCE!

You know you want to..