Daily Archives: May 1, 2017

Week 4 – Reflection

Image from Google – the Year 8 boys have started studying this classic

Most people moan about Monday mornings and having to get up at quarter to 7 to get to school on time, but I am having such a fantastic time that when my alarm goes off I seem to get straight up! Monday of my week 4 was great with me attending an English lesson with the Year 8’s who have just begun the Sherlock Holmes tale “The Sign of Four”. Once again, I observed some fantastic teaching practice where the teacher was getting the children really involved by reading allowed and explaining to them why he wanted them to read certain points. For example, reading one sentence at a time going around the room with all the boys taking a turn, means that the reader is able to see the punctuation and sentence structure a little clearer in certain situations. This is really good practice for me to see and I was especially impressed when the teacher showed some of the film to help the boys imagine the setting etc. When I was at primary school the teachers only brought out films for end of term treats or if they weren’t feeling well, but I can absolutely see the benefits to analyzing films in the classroom with the pupils for English purposes. To continue this, I then went on to a drama lesson with the Year 8’s again. The boys were definitely testing the teachers patience and this is the first instance of anything you could remotely call bad behaviour that I have seen, and compared to what I have seen in other schools or guide meetings, it simply didn’t compare. Not once did the teacher raise their voice throughout the whole lesson, but they used a lot of eye contact with the pupils to make them aware that the teacher was not pleased and when this didn’t work with certain pupils, talking to them individually about their behaviour did. These techniques are things I have read about in many teaching books and is a way I can see me being able to save my voice as a teacher when I graduate where I won’t be shouting to gain attention as much (Hayes, 2009, Chapter 5). The drama lesson content was really active and had elements incorporated that I remember from my own drama school days. Every element of the lesson was explained to the pupils and they were also encouraged to be respectful when watching performances and constructive when giving feedback to peers – all elements which may help them in later life. My day ended with a science lesson which is one of the only lesson the Year 4’s will get before I am teaching them science. I picked up on the children who need some extra support in the lesson, especially as this is the last lesson of a very long day for these boys, and I will factor them into my planning, ensuring that they have the support they need from myself and the teacher. My Monday fully ended with a trip to Tesco to by irn bru and Scottish shortbread for my talk to the boarders the next day.

Image from Google

On Tuesday, I was at the school for in total 14 hours. It was a very long day but I was so excited to be finally seeing the boarders and what boarding life was like at Moulsford. However, I couldn’t do any of that until I had spent a day observing lessons and preparing my own. Although my day began with a history lesson, it was science I was looking forward to the most as I wanted to see how the boys got on recapping what they had learnt the previous lesson the day before. Most of them fared well, needing very little help from me on the whole, but it was still interesting going around the room and observing the way that the boys solve their questions, especially seen as I will be working with this class a lot more, teaching the science and maths in the coming weeks. Tuesday’s school day ended with a trip to forest school when the forest was “alive with faeries” and “a kitchen for wood cookies!”. I love how imaginative the boys are when it comes to forest school, with the forest being something completely different every signal week. Rich (2012, preface) states that spending lessons like forest school outside is not only great for the school because it’s free, but also educational for the children because it enriches their environmental knowledge base. My Tuesday then continued with a fantastic evening with the lovely boarders which I wrote about it Boarding Life at Moulsford. As this was one of my many goals, I was glad to be completing it and answering all those questions I had about whether or not boarding life is just like it was in all those school stories I read as a child. Feel free to read it to find out more.

My Wednesday was tiring, naturally after such a long day previously. I was really pleased in the morning when the teacher for ICT and me had a discussion that in my last two weeks at Moulsford I may be able to teach that class some ICT. The were working with Google Sketch Up which I hadn’t seen before, let alone used, so I may need some practice before I teach a lesson in it. My English lesson was great, with me working with the same child I have mentioned in previous reflections, who I am helping in English lessons for added support. I started to adopt a “you write a sentence, I write a sentence” strategy with them to save time, so they could get more written down, so I was delighted when they expressed their love for writing and how happy they were with me allowing them to write half of the work themselves. I feel this is important to allow the child to take control over their own work and to show the class teacher that all of the work is their own and even though I am there to aid the student, I am only enhancing his education. My day ended with my first lesson at Moulsford and needless to say I was really worried! I don’t know why because I am usually an really confident person when working with children, especially when it comes to social studies subjects, however maybe it was the fact I had all day to worry about it and maybe it was the status of the school, because I was extremely nervous. But, there was no need to be as the lesson went really well with some extremely helpful feedback. You can read about what I did and an evaluation of the lesson here. I was also keen to write the post about history teaching in private schools in England in comparison to those in Scotland. I published this on Sunday night for everyone to read and as it is one of my goals to work with a different curriculum and learn about private schools. Both of these goals, I consider to be completed in terms of history education in this post.

Image taken from Google – I have really enjoyed looking at history education at Moulsford

Thursday was the day of my second lesson at Moulsford, slightly different working with Year 4’s. I wasn’t as nervous as Wednesday, possibly because I had already done a lesson the day before which went well too. The lesson plan and evaluation for the Mathematics Lesson – Year 4 – Week 4 is there if you click on the link. My day continued by attending another Latin lesson were I was a lot more active (yes me, the girl who speaks no Latin, active in a lesson, stop laughing). The children where deciphering a piece of text from Latin into English and this was my opportunity to go around the class talking to the boys about what they had done and how they had done it. The boys were extremely confident in explaining what they were doing and most boys were able to explain to me about the 7 different tenses that Latin has as well as reading out pieces of the text. I feel that the Year 7 boys were able to work with me quite confidently because they trust and respect me which is one of the main sections of the Standards for Registration (GTCS, 2012, p. 5) that we must achieve on this student placement. Furthermore, I would even be as bold as to say that the boys

Image taken from Google – I am thrilled that I am gaining pupils trust and respect when it comes to my lessons and observing lessons. This model shows how trust and respect can be acheived.

throughout the school trust and respect my position as a student teacher from the way they stand up when I enter the room, listen to me when I am teaching a lesson and do not display any challenging behaviour when I am teaching. I have worked hard to get to this level with the boys after I read that trust and respect can come from children on placement when you know their routines and behaviors (Medwell and Simpson, 2008, chaper 3). I did pick up on the trust and respect that the teachers and boys had, as the teachers mostly left the boys to do their work on their own. He was there and walking around the room but he trusted the boys enough to work together and get the work done in the time given, which they did. Trust and respect is a huge thing in this school where the staff members do trust and respect each other massively. There is a huge amount of trust and respect between the staff and parents too at Moulsford, with the parents “paying for a service” which they trust the school with provide. However, on the same point the staff trust the parents to back them up and enforce the schools rules in the home environment as well if a child was displaying challenging behaviour. Thursday ended with another history lesson about the Magna Carta. Some of the boys were extremely off task during the lesson so I was glad to be able to wander around the room and keep the boys on task where I could.

Friday was another lesson day for me where I was teaching science. More specifically, I was teaching about how plants grow and what uses roots have on plants. The children stayed really engaged throughout the lesson and on task which I was delighted with and overall I feel it was a really good lesson. You can read my lesson plan and my evaluation here. After my lesson I attended an English lesson with the Year 8’s where they had a spelling test and continued on with “Sign of Four”. It was clear that very few of the boys had revised for their spelling test and as they are a class full of pupils with places sorted when it comes to private high schools and no more exams to take, it is frustrating for the staff who are trying to teach them when they are

Image taken from Google

not interested in learning. The teacher in this class spoke to the pupils as though they were adults which really impressed me and is something that I see often at Moulsford. Even though the children are from 4-13, they are all spoken to in the same manner rather than being spoken down to because they are children which you see at some schools. Moreover, by modelling this type of behaviour as teachers, it can develop the way that students talk to one another in typical conversation (Cremin and Arthur, 2014, chapter 12). The GTCS (2012) also state in their professional commitment section how vital it is that a teacher demonstrates commitment to their role through collaborative practice, which I feel the staff do here by treating the children like adults, so this could be considered collaborating with them. Furthermore, my afternoon was spent conducting culture interviews for my social justice section of my folio where we need to demonstrate an understanding of the values, role and culture of the placement. I will write a separate blog post on the culture of Moulsford early next week. Next week will also bring a Harry Potter Studios tour with Year 4, more teaching and another bank holiday! I cannot believe there is only 2 weeks left on placement, I am having the time of my life and want to stay forever!

 

References

Cremin, T, and Arthur, J (2014) Learning to Teach in the Primary School. Routledge:

GTCS (2012) The Standards for Registration. [Online]. Available at: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/about-gtcs/standards-for-registration-draft-august-2012.pdf (Accessed on 17th March 2017).

Hayes, D (2009) Learning and teaching in primary schools. Exeter: Learning Matters

Medwell, J and Simpson, F (2008) Successful Teaching Placement in Scotland: Primary and Early Years. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Rich, S (2012) Bringing Outdoor Science in : Thrifty Classroom Lessons. Vancouver: Arlington.

Moulsford. History. Common Entrance.

Its no news to anyone back home, at university or even here at Moulsford that I love my history and its definitely an area I am really interested in teaching. Mouslford are about to go through a whole curriculum change which will happen in the next few months, but for the next few weeks I am seeing the curriculum as it stands now which is with the Year 6 boys and up working towards their common entrance exams. Obviously, there are exams in Scotland but not until the children are working towards their nationals and highers etc.

Image taken from Google – Children at Moulsford can take a common entrance exam in history

So how structured are the two curriculum? We all know how much “free reign” teachers in Scotland get under the Curriculum for Excellence. As long as each child in the class hits the Experiences and Outcomes in the social studies subject, the teachers are able to teach what they like, when they like and how they like. Here at Moulsford the same goes for Years 3 to 5. Children study The Vikings, The Egyptians, World War 2, The Aztecs and more with a range of different methods in which they teach it. When it come to Year 6, everything changes slightly as the boys are working towards their common entrance exams for private schools. The history syllabus for common entrance includes Medieval Realms: Britain 1066 – 1485, The Making of the United Kingdom: 1485 – 1750, Britain and Empire: 1750 – 1914 where they must cover topics like the Black Death, Henry VII, American war of Independence, seven years war and the English Civil War. I certainly think there is a lot to cover in 3 years for boys so young, but if the boys are to go onto do history at a higher level, the lessons that they have now will prepare them. The 60 minute common entrance exam for history in compiled of 2 questions, 1 unseen evidence based question and then 1 essay based question from the common entrance syllabus. They would usually have at least 7 questions to choose from. Schools will then take candidates depending on their score, for top school 65-85% or above.

Image taken from Google – I know many teachers who wish the Government had nothing to do with education. What are your thoughts?

More recently in Scotland, there has been a slight shake up in the way history is being taught. Although this does not affect primary schools as much, the curriculum for exams in high schools has in the past few years changed to include a lot more about Scottish history, rather than history of the world. Many have stated that this is just part of the SNP trying to rewrite history books to create propaganda for their pledge for independence. Personally, I agree that if this is the reason they have changed the curriculum, that is utterly unacceptable to teach children based on something that a political party wants, rather than changing the curriculum to benefit the children being taught. Either way and no matter what the reason was for changing it, this does show just how much power the government in Scotland have over the curriculum. My personal feeling on the matter is, no matter where you are in the world, that we should teach children about what they are most likely to be interested in and most likely to equip them for adult life. As a child, I was sick to the back teeth of Culloden by the third time we studied it, let alone the fourth! There was no need for me to learn 4 times about the Battle of Culloden. Yes, it happened only 70 miles away from my house and yes, it is an extremely important moment in history, but 4! Really! When have I ever used my knowledge that I know about the Battle of Culloden in everyday life? I have written about this subject before, explaining my disgust and anger when a lecturer told us that we should only be teaching about Scotland in Is Scottish history the only history that matters in the classroom? So I won’t bang on about it anymore.

Image taken from Google – The famous Battle of Culloden!

To conclude, I am certainly enjoying attending history lessons here at Moulsford and when discussing history with the other teachers feel very enthusiastic about teaching history on the whole. I do feel that there are history subjects out there which are more important to teach that others, especially when it comes to engaging children and teaching them at age and stage appropriate levels. The Scottish curriculum is really basic and allows teachers to teach what they wish up till secondary level when it becomes a more structured tyrant of constant Scottish history, with little scope to go by. At the end of the day though, there is not much difference here at Moulsford. The boys learn a range of historical topics, until Year 6, when everything changes to make room for that dreaded common entrance exam. However, the topics with this are really broad, so do give teachers more scope to play with when planning for the children. At the end of the day, I could write for days about my love of teaching history and the fact that we teach history to equip our children to learn from the past so they can plan for the future, and no matter how much we as teachers may protest, for better or worse, the one thing we can never change is the say that the governments will always have in the way we do this.