Field Trips Within Social Education

Thinking back to my own primary school experience, school field trips were a rarity and at the time I seen them as a free day, in many ways completely unlinked from learning and school.  At the time 9 year old me thought this was great however, thinking back now with my teacher hat on, I can see the problem with this thinking.  If all children believe that school trips are not linked to the learning taking place within the classroom, are they even learning anything at all?  However, after discussing the benefits of field trips in the teaching of social subjects during lectures and workshops and by even going on one myself to Verdant Works in Dundee, I have began to realise the sheer importance of these practical experiences on the learning of social studies within the primary curriculum.  In addition to this, I feel it is essential to emphasise the importance of the link between the field trip and the learning within the classroom.  If this link is not meaningful and relevant, the field trip may not reach its full learning potential.

Through my own experience of the university field trip to Verdant Works, which is an old jute mill which has been converted into a museum which exhibits information on how the jute mills were ran, the machinery involved, the transportation of jute and even the social history of the time within Dundee, I feel as though I had the opportunity to look at the learning opportunities through the eyes of both a learner and teacher.  Due to the fact I had not visited this attraction for many years, I found much of it had been renovated which meant in addition to the information that I could remember there were also many new learning opportunities for me to expand my own knowledge.  Through gaining this knowledge I was also able to begin thinking about how I can include aspects into my teaching.  The rich environment allowed me to ask questions about what could be used within a classroom and what links could be made in order to make the learning as meaningful and relevant as possible.  A place like this can be used in a multiple of ways and can also be a good starting point for a variety of activities.  While I was walking around the grounds of Verdant Works I began to think about what topics or activities I could devise linking to the available resources.  One idea I explored was the possibility of a scavenger hunt where the children have to search throughout the museum for the answers to the clues they have on a worksheet.  I feel as though this sort of activity can be particularly beneficial because it allows the children to independently investigate and find out information as well as giving them a goal to aim for which could be a form of motivation.

I personally feel that field trips are a great form of learning as getting out of the classroom can be an effective way to getting children motivated and engaged with the learning.  It also provides a real life context in which children can gain and improve on a variety of skills such as analysing, investigating and exploring (Catling and Willy, 2009).  I particularly feel as though Verdant Works is a great resource to take classes to due to its Dundee location and history which makes it local for the children and therefore, makes it more relevant and relateable to them which is suggested by Turner-Bisset (2005) as an important factor in fieldtrips.

In addition to this, the Verdant Works website also provides a large variety of different workshops which can be used within the classroom which link to the Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes which can be found at http://www.verdantworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Verdant-School-Nursery-Guide-copy_Layout-1.pdf  I believe this could be a very beneficial resource for teachers wanting to extend the learning of the field trip.

References

Catling, S. and Willy, T. (2009) Teaching Primary Geography. London: Sage Publications.

Turner-Bissett, R. (2005) Creative Teaching: History in the Primary Classroom. London: Routledge.

My Most Memorable Learning Experience

As a result of today’s first inputs on the ‘Developing Effectiveness in Learning and Teaching’ module, I began reminiscing back to my own primary school experience and asking myself the question, what was most memorable for me?  In all honestly, from this I came up rather short, I cannot really remember any particular lessons or topics where I felt truly encapsulated or 100% engaged.  During the process of wracking my brain and asking my primary school friends about their memories I finally remembered something, one of the only times learning seemed interactive and fun.  It was in Primary 6 and we had been talking about news articles and recent events which lead on to us organising our own new shows within our groups.  Our task was within our groups to each take up a role within a news show such as the anchors, sports reporter, weather person etc.  We then had to work to gather to collect all the news and information we would need ready to present our news shows to the other groups at the end of the week.  I still remember the excitement that it brought purely because it was one of the first time we, as pupils, had been completely in charge of our learning.  We could decide how we were going to structure our news show, we could decide what research we were going to do and what topics we were going to cover as well as what roles we were going to adopt.  Everyone in the class appeared to enjoy the experience and as a result this became a monthly thing.

At the time this whole experience purely seemed like a bit of fun and a way of getting away from the textbooks.  I never thought I was actually learning.  However, looking back now I can see the amount of skills and knowledge I gained from this experience.  We were learning co-operation skills from working in our groups as well as the organisation and delegation skills which go along side this.  We were learning how to independently research our specific news stories which in turn gave us the knowledge to know what was going on in the world and the real life issues that were being faced in different areas of the world as well as our own country.

Overall, I believe that this experience within the classroom is so memorable purely because it was something completely different to what we usually done within the classroom and something which helped me gain an array of skills.  Also I feel that because this task was very much pupil led it added to the memorability because as a pupil I felt as though I had an important role to play and it allowed me to take ownership of my own learning.

Scientific literacy

Recently we were set a TDT for science which involved becoming part of a group and creating a shorter essay on scientific literacy.   I feel like this was a great opportunity to work with others who I may not have necessary gotten the opportunity to work with otherwise.  I felt like my whole group really done a fair share and therefore, thought putting our work up was necessary.

Scientific Literacy TDT

Adele Herron, Chloe Connor, Erin Mcglynn and Megan Shearer

Although the term ‘scientific literacy’ may seem quite simple, it has become evident through research and discussion that it much more than just having knowledge of a lot of science. Scientific literacy is the capacity to use scientific knowledge to identify questions and to draw evidence based conclusions.

John Durant believes there are three separate definitions for scientific literacy, however they each have the similar opinion that all non-scientists surrounded by some form of science or technology, which we all are today, should know something about science. Each of the three definitions emphasise important aspects of science – the first includes your scientific knowledge; the second highlights the importance of the scientific method or procedures, whether it be mental or physical procedures; and his final definition focusses on scientific culture. According to Miller (1996), we as people of a majority modern society live in this technological and scientific culture that was also mentioned by Durant and are therefore science significantly impacts us daily.

Hurd (1998) however bases his definition on seven different dimensions.

(1) Understand the nature of scientific knowledge

(2) Apply appropriate science concepts, principles, laws, and theories in interacting with his universe;

(3) Use the process of science in solving problems, making decisions, and furthering his own understanding of the universe;

(4) Interact with values that underlie science;

(5) Understand and appreciate the joint enterprises of science and technology and the interrelationship of these with each and with other aspects of society;

(6) Extend science education throughout his or her life;

(7) Develop numerous manipulative skills associated with science and technology.”

As demonstrated, there is no clear definition of the term scientific literacy, and has been and will continue to be interpreted in different ways.  However, what happens when there is a lack of scientific literacy? Take, for example, the controversy surrounding the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination in 1998. Dr Andrew Wakefield – a renowned gastroenterologist – released findings from his research that suggested a link between the MMR vaccine and autism and problems with the bowels (Smith, 2010). Despite the fact his research involved only 12 children, his findings made front page news. This resulted in a decline in the uptake of the vaccine – dropping to under 80% nationally and in some areas dropping to 60% uptake (BBC, no date; Smith, 2010). Due to this, cases of Measles increased – Britain having its first death from measles in 14 years – and Mumps grew to epidemic level in 2005 (Smith, 2010). In June 2006, it was announced that Wakefield was under investigation from the General Medical Council for alleged misconduct (Smith, 2010). The Sunday Times, in 2009, revealed that Wakefield had been paid by lawyers to create findings which would go against the 3 in 1 vaccination and had changed some of the results of his tests (Deer, 2009; Deer, 2011). Wakefield had used his knowledge and scientific literacy in an unethical way and had caused many children in our population to become seriously unwell, because of his incorrect findings. In 2015, it had been reported that there was no link between the vaccination and autism in children, after a study on 95,000 children which discredited Wakefield’s research (Boseley, 2015).

How is teaching fair testing in school science linked to scientific literacy?

When carrying out an experiment in a science lesson it is important that it is a fair test. This has to be done to ensure that the experiment is reliable and therefore, has the ability to have conclusions drawn from it. In order to conduct a fair test it is important that only one factor (variable) is changed and that all other factors and conditions are kept the same and as identical as possible. An example of a test could be measuring the speed of toy cars when moving down a hill. In order for this to be considered a fair test all variables including the gradient of the hill, the time they cars are let go and the way in which they are let go should all remain the same, the only factor which should change should be the car itself. This ensures that your test is fair and reliable.

The topic of fair testing when teaching science is very important as, children must ensure that each experiment they carry out is fair. Fair testing is a basic area of knowledge within science that children must know about in order to continue and progress onto more challenging things within the curricular subject.

Scientific literacy is all about using scientific knowledge to draw evidence-based conclusions. Therefore, fair testing is very much a part of this process as it is a necessary procedure used when gathering information and evidence from experiments. Also the ability to carry out a fair test is very much a scientific skill in its self which is fundamental, in order to progress in the subject of science.

 

References

BBC. (No date) Does the MMR Jab Cause Autism? Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/mmr_prog_summary.shtml (Accessed: 10 February 2016)

Boseley, S. (2015) No link between MMR and autism, major study concludes. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/21/no-link-between-mmr-and-autism-major-study-concludes (Accessed: 10 February 2016)

Deer, B. (2009) MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism. Available at: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/public/news/article148992.ece (Accessed: 10 February 2016)

Deer, B. (2011) The medical establishment shielded Andrew Wakefield from fraud claims. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2011/jan/12/andrew-wakefield-fraud-mmr-autism (Accessed: 10 February 2016)

Durant, J (1994). What is scientificc literacy?. European Review, 2, pp 83-89 doi:10.1017/S1062798700000922

IJESE, 2009 Scientific Literacy and Thailand Science Education http://www.acarindex.com/dosyalar/makale/acarindex-1423903863.pdf (Accessed 13th February 2016)

Smith, R. (2010) Andrew Wakefield – the man behind the MMR controversy. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/7091767/Andrew-Wakefield-the-man-behind-the-MMR-controversy.html (Accessed: 10 February 2016)

 

 

Placement Jitters

The idea of going on placement and getting fully involved with the primary setting is something which always excited me even before my start at university.  It was always something which I looked forward to.  I would not say that my excitement has dulled in anyway however, I would say that the nerves have began to creep in along side my excitement as the placement date becomes ever closer.  However, I feel that my observation day, last Tuesday has definitely put my nerves at ease.  I feel that getting to meet the class teacher, the class and other staff within the school has made me feel a lot more comfortable.  My teacher is very helpful and very open to me contributing as much as I can to the class, which I am very thankful for as I believe that with this support in place I can really achieve something and grow in my profession on my placement.  I really enjoyed the opportunity of getting to know the pupils in my class and finding out their personalities and interests, something which I wish to develop on when I start my placement.  At first when I found out I had a primary 7 class, I was quite apprehensive but since visiting the class I think I have began to embrace this.  I feel that some of the topics that are covered and the discussions which are held can be exceptionally interesting and detailed to a level that you could only get with a primary 7 class.  For example the class’s current theme is renewable energy something which I have limited knowledge on, therefore I had the chance of learning from the children.  This was an experience I very much enjoyed as I felt I had the opportunity to interact  while teaching the children and learning information for myself.  The width of knowledge in the classroom was astounding.  I can safely say that my observation day and helped to extinguish many of my pre-conceived nerves of placement and made me extremely excited to get involved and get started.

Photo from morguefile.com

Photo from morguefile.com

Dance?

Myself and dancing! I don’t even know where to start on this topic.

Photo from morguefile,com

Photo from morguefile,com

It is safe to say that my experiences in dancing is very limited with my only experience being the compulsory week block of Scottish country dancing in primary school.  I feel that it was my lack of experience which initiated my lack of confidence in teaching dance, I believe this was because I was at a complete loss about what my lack of dancing ability could teach others.

However, after attending my dance input I have realised that it is very much focused on the individual areas which make up dance and not so much your ability to pull off a first class tango performance.  I feel that having the opportunity to take part in the dance input was a very valuable experience from which I believe I have gained a lot of confidence in the curricular area of dance.  I feel that by taking part in the input in the position of the children has given me an insight into how they would learn and what the best methods would be.  The input also allowed me to gain some ideas of warm up games, activities and group tasks which I can do with the children when I’m out on placement.  I found this incredibly helpful as I feel it gave me a starting point and gave me some information on the directions which I can take a dance lesson.

I feel that I am now a little more confident about teaching dance in the primary school and hope that it is a subject area which I can continue to develop my knowledge in.

Reflection on Examples

I put my hands up and admit that over the assignment and Christmas break period I started lagging behind on posting in my ePortfolio.  However, we were encouraged to read and reflect on our fellow students posts.  I feel like this really gave me the push of encouragement I needed to get back into the swing of posting, commenting and reflecting.  After reading my peers’ posts I noticed that each post was written in a way which provided a great amount of depth on the topic of the post.  In many cases the posts were written in such a detailed way that even as a reader you could get a vast amount of knowledge and information out of it.  On the more visual aspect, I noticed that a variety of media such as images, videos and hyperlinks had been used which I feel made the posts even more intriguing and interesting as it provided a visual aspect.  I feel that the hyperlinks were particularly helpful as they gave me the opportunity to read up further on the issues raised within the posts.

Photo from morguefile.com

Photo from morguefile.com

After reading everyone’s posts it as given me a lot of information on how I can improve my own posts and what I can add in to increase the interest of my posts.  I also noticed that a lot of the posts I read were on topics which the writer found interesting and relevant and were not necessarily TDT posts.  This has inspired me to put forward my own opinions on topical issues in my own blogposts.

Maths and Me

I recently attended my first couple of maths inputs and I would be completely lying if I said that the thought of them previously did not make me feel nervous, anxious and quite frankly down right scared.  My relationship with maths for as long as I can remember has never been great.  I just scraped by in maths and done what I had to do.  Without a doubt I was one of many that suffered with the notorious – maths anxiety.

Photo from morguefile.com

Photo from morguefile.com

I can trace my fear of maths all the way back to primary school and from then it has just continued to grow stronger, taking my confidence in maths and numeracy with it.  During my primary school days I can specifically remember never putting my hand up to answer a question, never getting involved in maths tasks and whenever I heard the words “we are playing around the world” I could instantly feel the lump in my throat.  My dislike of maths continued well into high school where I remained completely uninvolved and just done the bare minimum that was required.  As a result my attitude towards maths was always either “I don’t like it!” or “I cant do it!”.  However, looking back on this I now know that that wasn’t the case it wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, it was that I didn’t want to try because I didn’t believe I was capable.

Despite this, throughout the years of trying to overcome my case of maths anxiety, I cannot say I am completely over it.  However, I feel that the introductory maths input has really helped me to change my attitude as well as slightly boosted my confidence in teaching maths.  I think this is because it presented maths in a way in which I had never previously thought about.  A prime example of this is a quote by Ollerton (2003) mentions that “Mathematics is beautiful, intriguing, elegant, logical, amazing and mind-blowing; a language and a set of systems and structures used to make sense of and describe the physical and natural world”.  Originally I was completely shocked by this statement as I would never have personally described mathematics as intriguing, never mind beautiful or elegant.  However, after the input with Tara and after witnessing her enthusiasm for her subject I can quite happily say that my opinion of maths is slowly changing for the better and I can only hope that it will continue to do so until I feel a sense of complete confidence in my own ability and my teaching of mathematics!