How The Cat Stole The Fish

ICT and Animation

I believe that implementing animation within the classroom is a relatively easy task and should be something that teachers aren’t afraid to do. I will admit that without the input that we had in relation to ICT, I would have been worried to give access to this within a classroom but the lecture made me realise that you shouldn’t hold back because you are unsure.

The movie above demonstrates something that we came up with as a group after following steps previously. I think it is quite simple to have children get to this point. Starting with a software such as the ‘Pivot Animator’ you can build up the skills that the children will need. For me personally, I would have it set into steps, starting with Pivot and then building up to the finished product.

Pivot Animator is a great way to introduce the kids to animation using technology. It allows them to explore different ways to move an object and how it takes time to make it look as realistic as possible when you play the animation. This means introducing the children to the importance of only slight movements in each frame.

Once you have let them explore how animation works, you could have them create a story individually or within a group. Using Pivot again, you will be able to allow the children to create their stories using a software before you move on to introducing 3D objects.

Zu3D is also a simple and effective software which we used to create our movie above. It shows the children how you can take the same things learned through Pivot and implement them in real life using objects made out of Plasticine for example.

However, there may be barriers to doing this with your class. You might not have the software available to introduce you pupils to ways which could enhance their creativity or you may not be able to book the IT suite or you may even not have the time to give to go back and forward to complete the task.

I think that these are barriers that are easily overcome. Pivot is a software which even can download at home. Even if you can’t download it yourself, you could ask a technician to look into it and make it available on the computers in the IT suite. If you can’t get access to the IT suite but have use of a computer within the classroom then it may be an idea to change it to a whole class effort. Assigning different groups to think of different parts of the story is a good way to start it off. If they create their ideas on paper first you can then get them to upload each group part to the computer which will finally lead to one big story created by the story.

There are always ways of getting round things but sometimes you just have to be a little more creative. After this input, I do feel a little more confident that I could introduce this into the classroom and not avoid it. I think it is a great way to encourage the children’s creative skills and I believe that it something that could be linked to literacy and imaginative writing.

Professionalism

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Effective or Ineffective?

What is effective feedback? What are the processes I need to follow? How can this benefit the person receiving the feedback? How can this benefit me?

These, I feel, are questions that you should consider when thinking of peer review. Not only are they questions that you should personally try and connect with, but I believe that they should be questions that continue on with me throughout my career as a teacher.

What is effective feedback?

Well, lets think about what ineffective feedback is. During an input at university, we watched an interesting video that I felt really helped to show us what ineffective feedback is:

Negative feedback can have a significant impact on a person and can really knock their confidence. It can discourage someone from continuing to do something that they may love if they have been given feedback that has not been of any use or has been offensive to them.

Effective feedback is being able to provide critical points that are positive and give support as to what that person could develop and become better at. Effective feedback needs to have a direction and it is also important to try and look at the strengths as well as the points that could be developed.

What are the processes I need to follow?

It is always important to keep feedback relevant to the success criteria. For example, if someone has given a presentation on the history of the Second World War, then it would only make sense to provide most of your feedback on what they have worked on.

You should ensure that you understand exactly what the person is talking about because any information that is missing can make it difficult to form an understanding of what they have worked on.

Be sure to try and give strengths as well as points that could be worked on. I think that is one of my weaknesses when giving feedback. I tend to keep what I believe was good within their work but make them aware of what they need to work on in order to get better. Sometimes it is just enough to say that their work is great and that they should just keep doing what they are doing.

How can this benefit the person giving feedback?

I find that if you are giving feedback on something that you have also been tasked on, then it can really help to develop your understanding of the work further. For example, our TDT was to write a post about practitioner enquiry and then to give feedback on each others posts. This really helped me to see other viewpoints about practitioner enquiry and allowed me to retain more information that I may not have been able to do before hand.

How can this benefit the person receiving the feedback?

Effective feedback can benefit people as it allows them to realize that there are strengths within what they have presented. It allows you to openly listen to what the person giving feedback is telling you and you can decide whether you agree or disagree within your own thoughts. This then allows you to react to the points and improve or you can decide to leave it if you feel that your work is alright.

My thoughts…

I think that it is important to know the difference between effective and ineffective feedback. Although I believe that both giving and receiving feedback is a daunting process, it can really help you to develop you as a person and can make you aware of what you should be confident with and what you should maybe improve.

A classroom environment…

Peer review is something that many pupils will be aware of or become aware of throughout their time in education. It is a process that needs to be taught and practiced correctly within the classroom. It’s important to make children aware that feedback is not just about the negatives and what they should work on. However, it is equally important that as the teacher, you ensure that you are providing effective feedback to help your pupils.

In the words of Education Scotland: “Assessment is for learning.” The only way that pupils can enhance their learning experiences is through engaging with peer review and through being given constructive praise from you as their educator.

The Online World

Being a Professional in Society Today

It is clear how much the society we live in is changing and adapting to the new technologies that are providing many benefits for loads around the world. Social media has been on the rise since the 1990s with the introduction of SixDegress.com allowing people to connect with family and friends. This networking service lasted for only four years (1997-2001) but it sparked the development of successful services we know today such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

I believe that social media is a very powerful tool that gives us the opportunity to enhance our creativity, share experiences and exchange information within the virtual community. It has become a major part of life and continues to do so as we move through the generations. Social networking sites dominate the communities we live in today and have become widely accessible to many worldwide.

Personal Versus Professional Presence on Social Media

Opportunities:

It is clear that social networking is not for everyone, however, I believe it shouldn’t be seen in a negative way as it is mostly portrayed these days.

Marrying your personal life to the professional side via social media allows people to gather a better understanding about who you are as a person and yet still express and show interesting articles that can relate to your profession. It also gives you the opportunity to form friendships and links that can be used to connect with not only the local but the global teaching community. I believe that is a fundamental part of the teaching profession: creating links.

It wasn’t that long ago that it was difficult to connect with people like we do now. When mobile phones were introduced it did help change the challenge and allowed you to connect with your friends more efficiently. The rise of social media, I believe, has changed the way we see friendship and the way in which we connect with people. It isn’t just about the “inner circle” as people would say, but it is about connecting globally with people that have similar interests as you and being able to form such friendships that can last a lifetime in really help with your professional development.

Challenges:

For me, it can be difficult to trust the information that appears and can make you more skeptical about what you are viewing. I also feel that some content is inappropriate but it seems easily accessible to the younger generations which is quite a worry.

A huge challenge of social media that many argue is privacy. Although there are ways that can change your settings on social networking sites, it is not always guaranteed that they will stay that way. Whether we like it or not, there are people out there who can find methods of obtaining information that we don’t want others to know about.

How will I frame social media within an educational setting?

I believe that social media is a very powerful tool and is something that will only continue to grow within our society. Therefore, I believe that social media is something that should be spoken about with a positive viewpoint but you should always keep make sure they are aware of the risks involved.

The advancement of new technologies and social networking services is contributing to the transformation of education and the way in which people perceive it. However, it is important that we are informed and aware of how such things are used in regards to our professional decisions.

Sometimes it can seem easier to separate your personal life from your professional life, creating new usernames that prevent children from being able to find you because lets face it, they know how to do that. Although I think it’s great to encourage children of the use of new technologies and social networking to a certain extent, thinking about your own perspectives is crucial. For me, keeping the two accounts separate seems easier and safer.

Reflection

What is reflection?

Reflection allows us to think critically about an event or experience that we were part of. It involves looking at not just what happened but also at our thoughts and feelings when we are evaluating.

For me, reflection is very important within a profession such as teaching because it allows us to improve upon the education that we provide for the children. If we do not reflect and evaluate our ways of teaching then the matter of improving the system for children becomes irrelevant.

Going into such a profession without having a knowledge and understanding of reflection, I believe, is a bizarre thing to do because you will not be able to get better at what you want to provide. Reflection is an integral part of your professional practice not just as a student but as a qualified teacher too.

Reflection is about being able to look at your lesson and consider what went well and what could have been better and acting upon those thoughts. There is no use in reflecting on what you have delivered to your pupils but not improving it in order to provide the best possible learning experiences for children.

 

Practitioner Enquiry: Benefits and Challenges

Being an enquiring practitioner, I realise, is becoming a widely accepted form of being a teacher throughout Scotland and I believe that it is important to be continuously engaging with this. Following our input on Tuesday about being an enquiring practitioner and further reading from the GTCS website, I’d like to share some of my reasons as to why I believe that practitioner enquiry is an excellent thing to adopt within our Scottish schools.

What does it mean to be an enquiring practitioner?

Being an enquiring practitioner means that you are able to continue to use the research skills you have developed to go beyond being reflective of your practise. It means being able to take a stance in which you can think critically about your professional development and the way in which your pupils are learning.

Benefits of practitioner enquiry:

As I read through the Practitioner Enquiry on the GTCS website, I noticed that there were several benefits to taking such a stance.

  1. Enables the chance to make a change to the way in which you continue to develop and make positive changes to the way in which your pupils learn. I believe this is an important benefit of being an enquiring practitioner as it highlights the fact that practitioner enquiry does not only effect you but it will also have an impact on the quality of the pupils’ learning experiences within the school environment. I am a huge believer in providing the best possible education to children and being an enquiring practitioner sets you up to provide just that.
  2. There will be a significant impact on the long-term professional development of a teacher after the research/project has been discontinued. Much of what you will find through your investigations will develop the knowledge, understanding and skills that you have already obtained. Although some research may only be specific to a certain school or environment, the further knowledge you gain can be implemented into another setting. This proves that being an enquiring practitioner is not just a one off thing, it is something that you should continually engage with to become a better professional.
  3. Although there are positive impacts on your own individual development, practitioner enquiry can be included within the development of the school itself. Overall, the benefits highlighted on the GTCS website have an important value upon the wider school improvement agenda. The opportunity to work individually or collaboratively allows you to investigate, question, consider and plan for change and further development of not just yourself but the school.

Challenges of being an enquiring practitioner:

It became evident that although the benefits were greater than the challenges, they were still part of practitioner enquiry.

  1. It can be quite difficult for existing teachers to adjust to the fact that practitioner enquiry is becoming part of the day-to-day practise that they engage in. For myself, it will be easy to enter my professional practise as being an enquiring practitioner has been integrated into the MA (Hons) Education course here at the University of Dundee. But for previous students this may not have been put across as significantly as it does now. Reflection is a key part of being a professional but in order to better your professional development it is essential that you move away from just reflecting. Existing teachers may need to re-visit and develop their research skills again in order to take part in practitioner enquiry.
  2. Many believe that such a process can be “uncomfortable” and may find it daunting therefore may not follow the correct procedures. Practitioner enquiry can be uncomfortable for many people and can lead to a more stressful string of events when trying to engage with their enquiries. This is where expert support may need to be brought in to ensure that they understand the processes and to make it a less stressful time.
  3. People may find it difficult to critically question and think about their practises. Without the right set of skills and expertise it can become quite difficult to critically question your own beliefs, understanding and knowledge to improve yourself.

For me, as a student teacher in this present day, being an enquiring practitioner does not seem as daunting as others may think it is. I believe it is easier for student teachers these days to take on practitioner enquiry as the research skills are fresh and will not be forgotten about. They are a set of skills and techniques that can be continually develop even after your time at university. Despite some of the challenges that I have noted whilst reading, I think that being an enquiring practitioner is a vital part of your professional development and will make a huge but hopefully positive impact upon the learning experiences that your pupils will gain.

Gender and My Experiences At School

There are many discussion points around gender which I discovered through my Higher Modern Studies course in sixth year. This includes the pay rates for women, top positions in jobs and the typical careers most commonly known for women.

However, during our input from Jill regarding gender, she asked us questions which really got me thinking. I suppose I hadn’t really ever thought about it before but how exactly did gender affect me as a child growing up?

My answer is that I believe it never really had a major affect on me. My primary school always encouraged equality and opportunity or everyone, no matter who they were. The only difference for gender I can remember is the separate toilets and changing rooms that we used. But when I discussed this with peer sit gave me a different perspective and really made me think.

A typical sports day: races for boys, races for girls; having to partner up with a boy for Scottish Country Dancing; asking for boys for task that involved lifting heavy objects. One thing that really stood out, however, was the fact that boys always seemed to get into more trouble than girls. After some thought, I agree with the last point. Many boys in my class got into more trouble than girls did and so the stereotyping seems to be true of both sides.

Overall, my gender and experiences of school weren’t really affected as I still got an education which has gotten me to the place that I am today.