Category Archives: Professional Studies

Experiences of Placement

My first year placement was rather enjoyable. I had an excellent Primary 5 class with a teacher who was more than willing to help whenever I needed it. The school itself was incredibly supportive of everything that I had to complete.

What did I learn?

This placement was definitely a huge learning curve for me. I had 3 goals for this placement which were:

  1. Be confident.
  2. Be a reflective practitioner.
  3. Have effective classroom management.

I believe that my confidence has definitely grown throughout my time on placement. I often find that I doubt my ability and can be extremely critical of the work that I complete. I did start off feeling like what I was completing wasn’t good enough, but through discussions with the class teacher I was able to improve and provide well thought out lesson plans which improved the lesson as a whole.

Reflecting throughout my placement really helped me to concentrate on what I needed to improve upon every day and week. I will admit that I did fall behind with my weekly reflections and some of my lesson evaluations so for the next placement I need to ensure that I am more organised and that I set aside time specifically for evaluation.

Effective classroom management was definitely something that was big for me and was something that I learned so much about during my placement this year. I feel that I was able to create a positive presence and ethos within the classroom but I believe that I should implement behaviour management strategies within my lesson plans as this will help me to stay on top of that throughout the lesson.

However, the biggest realisation for me this placement was the fact that I feel quite confident working with children who have additional support needs, in particular Autistic children. I feel that working with autistic children is something that I’d like to consider for the future.

My placement this year has also helped me to make a choice for my Learning from Life placement in year 2. I thoroughly enjoyed my placement this year and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of my tutor and also the school. The staff were a great support and the pupils are definitely a credit to the school.

Transforming Learning

“Digital technology can enhance learning and teaching across the curriculum and equip all of our learners with the essential digital skills they need to succeed in life, learning and work.” – Angela Constance, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.

The world we live in is surrounded by digital tools and spaces that everyone is consuming and using within everyday life. It is important that, within primary schools, we are improving the access children have to digital technology and enhancing the use of it in our classrooms. From my point of view, I think it is clear that we have a rapidly growing set of digital tools that can be used but the question is, how are we going to use these as educators to enhance the learning spaces we have?

“We define digital literacies as the capabilities which fit someone for living, learning and working in a digital society.” – Jisc

I think it is fair to say we are most definitely seeing children grow up in a digital society: social media has exploded over the years and the resources available to use online has become unlimited. Therefore, it would be wise to think about how to utilise some of these iterms within the modern classroom.

The Scottish Government have taken a major step forward with the development and recognition of the ever advancing digital tools and spaces we have. September of 2015 marked the consultation on the development of the Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. When it ended in December, Angela Constrance stated: “The Scottish Government will now work with key partners across education and IT to develop a Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland to be published in summer 2016.” 

This is a sign that the government recognise he potentials of digital tools and spaces and realise how important it is to get it embedded within Curriculum for Excellence.

Let’s think about Mozilla. They have a mission statement which is all about allowing everyone to own the Internet. They have a strong belief in web literacy which is the basis of how we are able to “read, write and contribute effectively on the web.”

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Mozilla are a company that believe web literacy is about exploring, building and connecting. Under each heading are a set of skills that were discussed during a consultation and these are the skills that Mozilla believe are the most important ones to be developed.

But, how can we ensure that digital tools and spaces are understood and used effectively to ensure that a COLLEGIATE, COLLABORATIVE and SHARED learning culture is established?

Mozilla Webmaker provides many resources that have the potential to be used within the classroom. However, there are three main tools offered by the company: X-Ray Goggles, Thimble and Webmaker. During our input yesterday we looked at X-Ray Goggles and I believe this a tool that you could easily bring into your teaching and learning.

Teaching: X-Ray Goggles is an excellent resource to use at the beginning of a topic. As a teacher you can remix some web pages to captivate your learners from the start.

Learning:
“There’s no better way to learn the mechanics and culture of the web than by playing around and hacking it in a safe, fun environment.” – Unknown

I completely agree with the quote above. Using X-Ray Goggles is a great way to bring in the learning experience of getting to know how the web really works. Mozilla have brought out a tool that can teach children the mechanics of the web just as they would need taught the mechanics of a car.
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Keep It Short

Language is a key element of our surrounding culture and it is vital that we get this message across to our pupils. Literacy is one of, if not, the most important subject of Curriculum for Excellence.

I found today’s workshop on writing very interesting and loved this idea of writing a micro story on our Twitter pages. I think this is can be used as an idea for the classroom especially with the upper schools. A lot of children these days are on social media and will have an understanding of how Twitter works.

When we were set the task of writing a “#microstory” on or Twitter, it was clear by the screwed up faces we made at each other that 140 characters was definitely not going to be enough to write anything of interest.

I pondered on this task for quite a while and even did some research into it through Google. I found some very interesting information and also found that some well known authors had tried this out themselves. I quickly realised that it wasn’t going to be as difficult as we all first thought.

So, if you do consider using this as a task within the classroom, I believe it will set a good challenge for the children but I also think it’s good to use for a lesson where you may perhaps be looking at opening sentences. It will provide great practice to your pupils on how to instantly captivate the readers.

It’s always good to try something new and I believe that this could really be something that not only appeals to children through the sense of social media but can enhance the way in which your lessons are delivered and also how the children actively participate in their learning.

My #microstory:

#microstory “Smile!” he shouted, just as the flash exploded hitting our delicate milky skin and making us look rather unflattering. #uodedu

Article from The Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/oct/12/twitter-fiction-140-character-novels

 

Creating Motivation

What is Motivation?

There are so many ways we could define motivation. The Oxford English Dictionary states that motivation is a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a certain way. It also states that it can be a desire or willingness to do something. In other words, motivation is enthusiasm to do something.

Personally, I believe that motivation is having a drive to do something and to achieve the best possible outcome, and I think that this is something that should be encouraged within the classroom.

Types of Motivation

There are various types of motivation but the most commonly talked about are probably extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic:

I really liked this example of extrinsic motivation during our lecture today and for me it definitely sums up what it means. Extrinsic motivation is when you are driven by external factors. It is the type of motivation that will make you work for tangible rewards rather than obtaining the reward from the work itself.

Intrinsic:

People are more likely to feel rewarded as a result of the activity that they have completed. The motivation here is not caused by a goal or product and it has a much bigger impact on the person than extrinsic motivation does.

Why Motivate?

Motivation is the key to capturing the attention and curiosity of your pupils. It is a way of encouraging that challenging energy towards their learning and can ultimately provide a much better piece of work than you think.

If you take the approach of deciding to not motivate your pupils and to not be motivated yourself then you are far more likely to witness a more rebellious situation from the class. Work won’t be completed to standards that you set and children will definitely not want to enter the classroom to learn.

Motivation and Your Classroom

I think that it is vital to put across at this point that many will see motivation as something that isn’t all about money, exams and getting results. For some children in your classroom, they may believe that motivation is being able to do something for someone for the better rather than achieving to please yourself.

All teacher’s should enter this profession with the belief that they can change someone’s life for the better. It is something that should give you a warm feeling inside.

“Creativity is as important as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”

Failure plays a big part within motivation too. If you don’t let the children face the experiences of being wrong then they will stop being creative and motivation will disappear. It’s a good idea to let the children know when you get something wrong too. This only shows that it’s OK to make mistakes and that everyone makes them. “Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong.” (Sir Ken Robinson – Do Schools Kill Creativity). I believe that this is a very valid point and it something that we should always remember as teachers. We shouldn’t let children fear being wrong.

 

Reporting Science

Scientific Literacy

Group TDT John Muir, Shaun Finnigan, Danielle Mackay, Rachel Billes

 
The term ‘Scientific Literacy’ is one that can often be heard in academic conversation but what does it actually mean? To be literate is having the “ability to read and write” (Oxford Dictionary, no date), therefore it would be assumed that being ‘scientifically literate’ is about having the knowledge to be able to understand different scientific concepts. However, scientific literacy is not just about knowing how to carry out a range of different experiments. It refers to having a knowledge of scientific concepts and being able to apply what we know to decisions that we make throughout our daily lives, regarding “personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs and economic productivity” (Literacy.net, no date). This entails that being scientifically literate gives you the proficiency to be able to “ask (about), find and determine” (NSES, no date) scientific experiments, and establish whether information that has been shared is of a reliable background. From this we can use individual methods to judge and evaluate the experiments, resulting in conclusions which have come from personal knowledge and research.

The best and most well-known example of scientific literacy, or a lack of scientific literacy- leading to inaccurate reporting- is the MMR vaccine scare. This started when a paper was published in 1998 and reported that twelve children had been found to have bowel syndrome and signs of autism after receiving the vaccine. However, the report provided no hard evidence to support the argument that there was any link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The main author of the report, Dr Andrew Wakefield, initially stated at a press conference that parents should avoid the MMR vaccine. It was later found that the author of the report did not have the medical qualifications to assess the risk of the MMR vaccine, and he was found guilty of four counts of dishonesty. These events had a major effect on public confidence in the MMR vaccine. Vaccination rates continued to fall, even after there were many reports showing that there was no link between the vaccine and autism. When it was found that Wakefield had actually been funded by a lawyer firm that wanted litigation against MMR, confidence eventually returned but a combination of poor scientific practice and lack of scientific literacy led to inaccurate reporting in the media for several years.
In terms of scientific literacy in the classroom, the process of fair testing is an important part to any science-based activity that you may be conducting with your pupils. Therefore, it is vital that you teach them just how important this element is. Fair testing means that only one factor is changed at any one time ensuring that all the other conditions are left the same throughout. In scientific terms, changing a factor is known as changing a variable. It is essential that children understand the effects that changing one or more variables has in order to fully understand the experiments you teach them. But how does teaching fair testing link to scientific literacy? By making your children aware of fair testing, you are stating that an experiment will have no deliberate advantages or disadvantages as they follow a procedure that will provide a legitimate outcome. Through this, students will then be able to “identify questions and draw evidence-based conclusions”. Fair testing ensures that there is less of a bias within the experiment. Scientific literacy is linked to fair testing through the fact that it is “evidence-based” and not simply an answer that people are to believe. Fair testing helps to reduce this idea of “bad science” in schools. It will help your pupils to progress within their scientific literacy and encourage them to become more questioning, providing results that have evidence to back up the findings.
References:
Literacy.net (no date): Scientific Literacy: [online] Available from: <http://www.literacynet.org/science/scientificliteracy.html> [10/02/16]
National Science Education Standards (no date): Chapter 2 – Principles and Definitions: [online] Available from: <http://www.nap.edu/read/4962/chapter/4> [10/02/16]
OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] (2003) The PISA 2003 Assessment Framework – Mathematics, Reading, Science and Problem Solving Knowledge and Skills. Paris: OECD.
Oxford Dictionary (no date): Literate: [online] Available from: <http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/literate> [10/02/16]

Radio 4, Science Betrayed, Thursday 24 March 2011 at 20:59 (available online at http://bobnational.net/record/55921)

Finding My Inner Scientist

I have wanted to be a primary school teacher from a very young age but there has always been apprehensions about having to include certain subjects within a child’s education. One of these apprehensions is indeed Science.

From what I remember of my primary school years, looking at the Solar System was one of the major topics that we focused on but I believe there wasn’t much else to do with science involved. There would have been various little parts but I agree The Royal Society of Chemistry that there is a lack of science taught within primary schools.

During our input with Richard I realized that I would have to become serious with teaching science in order to help improve how it is implemented within Scottish education. It is a vital part of education and it will encourage a lifelong interest in children. Science is more common when you reach secondary school and I definitely had a liking towards Physics in high school.

In my final year of primary school our school trip took us to Edinburgh where we visited Dynamic Earth. I thought this was extremely fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was so much to learn about including earning about volcanoes and natural disasters like earthquakes. I think this is a great experience for children and I would love to organize a trip like this for my own class in the future.

SMART Target

SMART-goalsI believe that for someone like me setting a SMART target for a curricular area such as Science is a good idea. It think it will help to clear my apprehension about teaching it and providing a balanced education for my pupils. SMART targets are a great way of helping development and giving people something to work towards.

Specific: I will plan a lesson for a Primary 5 class which will look at Planet Earth, in particular Space, and meet the criteria SCN 2-06a.

Measurable: I will plan a science visit to Dynamic Earth and have a lesson plan (2 A4 pages) sorted for before/after the visit.

Attainable: I will ensure I include discussions with peers within my year and ensure that I do adequate research to help plan for my lesson and develop my knowledge in order to teach the children effectively. I should consider visiting Dynamic Earth myself in order to get a feel of what the place is like and what could be planned throughout the day for the children.

Relevant: Many children like to know about space and the different planets. It will help to gain more knowledge of what they need to know and also what they wish to know. Some may have watched documentaries before or may have some previous knowledge about Space which will help them.

Time Based: I will have completed my research by the end of my observation week on placement.

Science is something that should not be feared and yet I do have fears. I believe that my target above will help me and will provide me with ways to research science in order to better my knowledge to provide the best possible education to my pupils.

 

Professionalism

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