Category Archives: 1.4 Prof. Commitment

Inset Day – Purple Pens and Labelling Lads

Yesterday’s inset day was a lovely relaxing first day back for the teachers before the madness of the children arriving! Moulsford had booked a local teacher to talk to us from a private school in Oxford who are changing their curriculum, like Moulsford, to a more skills based curriculum. As he started I already liked the idea of what he would be talking about and he ended up keeping me engaged throughout his whole talk and giving me fantastic ideas to come away with to put into practice.

Image taken from google – is this really how we want children to feel when we label them?

The first thing which the gentleman discussed was ensuring as teachers we have high expectations of all our students. One of the problems in teaching at the moment can be the way we label our pupils from “low ability” and “lazy” to “gifted” and “clever”. I had never actually sat and thought about how my own thoughts and discussions with colleagues could have such an effect on the child themselves but I am really glad I have because I have realized now that it can really influence a child and their own expectations for their learning. Even the parents start to pick up on children who are in top sets or low sets and it reminded me of the episode of desperate housewives (I know sorry, but it was a good example) where two of the main characters go crazy trying to figure out which one of their children were in the higher maths class by stealing homework to look at from other children.

Image taken from google – what does this image really say about us as teachers putting children into sets?

Now although that is going to the extremes and is from a made up show, there is definitely something there to think about, because labeling our children as teachers clearly has an effect on our pupils. Granted, this can often be positive with children thriving from the praise of being a “star pupil” or an “A-grade student” but those labelled as “weak” or “unable” are, in my opinion far less likely to try to get better grades. The RSA have an interesting article on a system where at the start of the year every child is given an A grade and they have to continually show good academic work to keep the grade. Their research shows in fact that children are likely to try to hold on to the A they have been given rather than being given a C and to then have to try and bring it up to an A.

Growth mindset is everywhere at the moment and is something which was also discussed about in the talk. I can honestly say I didn’t really understand it fully until yesterday, it was just words that professionals kept using and I was reading in academic books and journals. However, now having done the activities in the talk I can say that I understand more of what growth mindset is and how important showing children that they can change is. Intelligence shouldn’t be seen as a fixed point, it should be seen as something which can be developed. Moreover, failure was discussed at the talk as well and how giving the children an opportunity to fail and learn from it, is just as important as giving children an opportunity to learn. This was then continued as the main focus for today’s morning assembly for the first day back. The head master made the point interactive by having children up at the front and re-iterated the fact that failure is something which should be seen as positive as we are able to learn from it. The following video was also shown, in order to prove to the boys that failure can happen to anyone, not just them.

Image taken from google here is an example of the pit

The last 2 points of the talk were challenging children and giving children informed feedback. I always try to challenge my pupils no matter their age or stage, but I dont challenge them to the extremes where children go into the “panic zone”. The teacher leading the talk discussed “the pit” with us and what using this tool could do for our teaching and the childrens learning. When discussing feedback, we looked at many different ways in which feedback can inform the children of ways they can improve on their work. Many different marking strategies including two stars and

Image taken from google – here is an example of the purple pen of progress in action!

a wish, peer assessment, question and answer were discussed in groups, but overall the main marking strategy I will be taking away from this is the “progress pen”. The idea behind this is that the children will be able to write in comments in their books around the teachers comments about how they will progress in their learning and more specifically they use it to answer their next step targets that the teacher has given them. To be picky, the amount of time this may take students to create a target for each piece of work could be lengthy until they get the hang of it, however the idea behind it is something I like and I feel it is a great way of teaching children that they should be in charge of their own learning!

To conclude, I feel that labeling children can be dangerous and the the RSA have come up with something very different with their ideas of starting off every pupil with an A grade. I personally don’t like to label children, however sometimes when discussing the child’s progress and ability in certain subjects I do see how these terms can creep into conversation, even if they are positive! Furthermore, I definitely think the learning pit and the purple progress pen are teaching tools which I like and would  use in lessons, even as just a student myself to make children in my class feel better about their learning and feedback. It is our job as teachers to ensure that all children feel that they are in a safe space to fail and by teaching them these techniques we can get one step closer to making them feel that they are in a safe space.

Image taken from goolge

 

Week 2 – Reflection

Each week on this placement, I must right a short reflection on my time at Moulsford and link it to the GTCS Scottish Standards for Provisional Registration. It was the last week of the Spring term before they boys go off on their Easter break and there was a lot of random days and lessons that there wouldn’t be in the average week at Moulsford. However, is any week a normal week when it comes to school life? Either way, I took it all in my stride and have had an extremely productive second week at Moulsford.

Image taken from google – lovely to see lots of music tuition going on this week and to see what an important part it is to school life

On Monday it was one of these days, where it was a day full of house music and I wrote the blog post Musical Madness at Moulsford all about the day. This is a tool that Moulsford as a private boarding school use to bring children throughout the school to work together on a common goal. As a musician myself I found the day a fantastic way of speaking to the boys and forming a professional relationship with some of the members of staff that were in the house Bering. Furthermore, I found myself having discussions with staff members from across the school, all in different roles, about the work that they do on a daily basis, most of which I found insightful. As a teacher it is important to develop a culture of trust and respect with other members of staff and the pupils and I feel by taking part in the activities here at Moulsford I am doing this. Moreover, Cremin and Arthur (2014) concur, and believe that by managing a team of adults to ensure that all children can access a range of curricular opportunities, adapted to the children’s own needs in this type of culture, it will facilitate a child’s learning.

On Tuesday it was a normal teaching day where I spent the majority of the day with the pre-prep children and staff. This lead me to write the blog post First Time at Phonics, because it was my first ever encounters with phonics in a teaching setting. I had no idea how useful phonics could be to children in the primary classroom and on Friday morning discussed even teaching a lesson on phonics early next term. Furthermore, on Tuesday I also attended forest school for the third time where we did a Gruffalo hunt with the children. The children all seemed to really enjoy it, although by the end of the hunt were getting rather tired. This made me think about the amount of activities in Moulsford which are packed into the average school day which can be immensely fun and rewarding, however the longer days could lead to tiredness. Since my time here I have found that the length of the school day is definitely a big difference between private schools and government run schools with some children attending school from 8am to 6pm. Following Tuesdays excitement, on Wednesday,I was extremely excited to be invited to attend a pupil council meeting with the staff and boys. A one of my goals is to learn about schools from all aspects I personally felt that watching the children discussing matters throughout the school that are important to them was really interesting. Additionally, I was able to see the trust and respect that there needs to be between staff and pupils in a school once again after Monday. The day did make me think a little more as well about my goal which is to learn about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom. Furthermore, as important as the staff members are in a school, the children are equally as important and over the coming weeks I think I will try to speak to some of the boys in the school about their experience at Moulsford to gain an insight into this aspect of a school.

On Thursday I spoke to the lovely team in Learning Support and wrote the post Learning for Support and Support for Learning about the experience. I felt the experience made me closer to successfully completing one of my goals “I want to learn about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom”. The Integrity Standard for Provisional Registration (GTCS, 2012, pp. 5) “critically examining the connections between personal and professional attitudes and beliefs, values and professional practices in order to inform and shape personal and professional development effect improvement” is linked closely with this goal. To gain more of an insight into what a learning support staff members role in the classroom is, I went on to read chapter 8.2 Working together: other adults in the classroom by Cremin and Arthur (2014) in Learning to Teach in the Primary School.

By Friday, the school was in a quick paced flurry of excitement as the term was about to end. Each class was tidying up their individual form rooms, making mothers day cards

Image taken from google – it was great to sit in on Mark Reading where this was a huge theme throughout the morning!

and easter gifts to take home. As mentioned earlier, I myself had a chat with the Year 3 teacher about doing some lessons of my own at the beginning of next term. To start with, over the Easter break I will be planning a lesson on rivers, mathematics and phonics to each last an hour. To help me plan I will be referring to the National Curriculum (Department for Education, 2017). Before the children all left for their break away from education, it was time for Mark Reading which is something I would usually refer to as an achievement assembly.

To conclude this reflection, during 3 of these days on placement I have written 3 critical blog posts about my time here at Mouslford and feel that I am critically examining personal and professional attitudes and beliefs and challenging our own assumptions and professional practice which is also one of the Standards for Provisional Registration (GTCS, 2012, pp. 4). Furthermore, to add to my practice I am completing my goals through frequent academic reading which I am referencing in the blog posts and observations in the school itself. Being away from the Prep school for 3 weeks will certainly be bitter sweet as after a busy term at the University and going in to placement straight away has left me shattered but, I am have the experience of a lifetime at Moulsford and just want to keep going back everyday.

 

 

References

Department for Education (2017) National Curriuclum. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study (Accessed on 25th March 2017).

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 25th March 2017).

Teresa, C. and Arthur, J. (2014) Learning to Teach in the Primary School. Abington, Oxon: Routledge. Chapter 8.1 – The changing role of the teacher

Learning for Support and Support for Learning

I want to learn about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom

If you are keeping up to date with my blog and reading it daily, you will be familiar with my third goal for this placement quoted above. Today’s main learning focus for myself was Learning Support in my fantastic placement school. This is a part of school life I myself have had a lot to do with as a child. Readers for my previous posts will know that I went through the Gaelic curriculum in the Highlands of Scotland but may not know that I actually have severe dyslexia which was discovered at 14. I am very open and honest about it and throughout primary school struggled with reading, spelling and especially Gaelic language. After my father was ill and passed away, a lot of my work slipped further and this was put down to what was happening in my home life. Not till I was 14 did anyone spot that there might be more to it and sent me for a screening. After being diagnosed with severe dyslexia, the only support I was given by the school was extra time in exams even with me and my mother crying out for more support. The exception a was few individual teachers who were kind enough to give up their own time recording notes for me to listen back to and giving me one to one support. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The reasoning the school couldn’t support me further was down to funding and time and like so many others, my schooling may have been so different if this hadn’t been the case. So, my experience was not great, but this was 5 years ago now and times have changed since I was at school. Here is a good video explaining what Additional Support Needs in Scotland are currently recognised to be.

Today, I was able to have a chat with the Head of Learning Support for Moulsford which is where I have received the majority of the information for todays blog post. Moulsfords Learning Support is constantly busy as they have over 50 boys who need support from 4 full time and 2 part time Learning Support teachers. Their work ranges from one to one support to early morning group working interventions and it is massively supported by the other staff in the school and used well. The interventions and resources used vary from child to child but some that we discussed were for reading and maths recovery, group work and extra time in exams. At Moulsford, similar to the practice I am used to seeing in Scotland, additional support can be long and short term. It can range from the child having an additional support need (long term) to a parent being unwell (long/short term) to the child having a broken wrist and being unable to write (short term). No matter what the support is, no child is turned away and every child is catered for. Additionally, the school also have additional language and speech therapists, occupational therapists, school counselors and many other visiting support staff to support the children in any way they may need.

Image taken from TES Resources

Learning Support at Moulsford is well catered for as it is integrated into every classroom as well as 3 individual rooms being used for one to one support. If you go to Moulsford all over the school you will see these dyslexia posters provided by TES, informing staff at the school what to look out for in students work.

But how does all this compare with the Learning Support in Scotland? For a state school in Scotland, they must have support in place for children with additional support needs after The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (and the amended 2009 version) was passed and are currently enforcing it through Getting it Right for Every Child and the Curriculum For Excellence in schools across the country. Iain Nisbet also chairs The Advisory Group for Additional Support for Learning in Scotland, who focus on eight areas related to additional support for learning over a two year period at a time.

Image from google. Scotland are putting great emphasis on GIRFEC at the moment to help children who have Additional Support Needs

However, some may say the Learning Support at a private school like Moulsford also has a serious drawback. Unlike in Scottish/English state schools where any support given via the school or outside support staff (i.e. NHS) is totally free, at a private school, one to one Learning Support is charged on top of the fees their parents already pay. Moreover, I personally see the benefits to this as in Scottish/English state schools and the NHS, money is drastically being withdrawn and children are being turned away constantly and therefore not receiving the support they need. See here for more. At Moulsford every child in Year 3 is screened for additional support needs and then after that teachers and parents can raise concerns where the child may be screened again. Once a child has been screened and an additional support need flagged, the child will have an Individual Educational Plan drawn up for them – similar to the ones I have seen schools use in Scotland. The whole system at Moulsford is amazing, nowhere else have I seen every child being screened for support needs at Year 3 and wonder if I had been given a screening at the same age for my dyslexia, would it have been spotted and schooling made easier for me?

A short quote about individuality which should be taken into account when thinking about learning support from google images

I cannot change my own past and experience through the Scottish education system, but can certainly say that my point of view is that the Learning Support team at Moulsford have absolutely got it right from their screenings to the resources they use to the range of support staff who come into the school. In Scotland, I think we could learn a lot from the Learning Support team at Moulsford and would do well to take on board some of their practices and values. Before my meeting with the head of Learning Support ended, I had enough time to ask one final question which was “What piece of advice would you give to me as a trainee teacher for spotting and then supporting children who have additional support needs?” The advice given was to use differentiation, early intervention and if something doesn’t seem right, to always question it. This is advice which I am sharing so that I can not only enhance my own practice but readers may be able to so as well. I can certainly say that today has been one of the most educational for me so far, definitely hitting one of my goals for this placement. They are a lovely team and I look forward to learning more from the Learning Support team more over the next four weeks.

Pedagoo Perth

My aim throughout my time as a student is to continue developing my professional practice so that when I graduate then I will already be in the habit. From day one, the University of Dundee have encouraged our use of twitter, twitter chats and blogs to effectively share our experience with others. I can safely say I’ve caught the bug and I can’t get enough of tweeting ideas I have seen and writing reflective pieces on my experiences at university. Therefore, it was natural that when I saw a tweet about Pedagoo Perth I was keen to find out more. After finding people to go with and signing up, I was getting more and more excited in the lead up to the event, to find out what this all entailed. I was not disappointed. I attended 3 separate chats all hosted by different practitioners and some of the discussion I was involved in taught me more than I could have ever imagined.

My first learning conversation was with Jason Bain where we discussed how to ensure that you record, reflect and take forward your professional learning? It was all about journals and keeping organised with our professional updates for the GTCS. This was interesting for me as I am a very organised person but have tweet ideas written on post it notes and facebook statuses saved all over the place but having an online journal where you can keep everything seemed to be a really good idea for me.

The second learning conversation was with Oscar Chamberlain discussing ICT in the classroom and how we can use excel and other applications to our advantage. I’ve never really been in a classroom for long enough to find that I have struggled with keeping up to date with reading groups and maths groups but I would imagine that I am the kind of teacher that will end up forgetting entirely so going out into a classroom with these ideas already in head, my first few years should hopefully be that little bit easier.

Lastly, I attended the learning conversation run by Kevin Hodgson about The Pursuit of Pivotal Plenaries. This was by far the discussion I took the most away from, especially as I am someone who struggles with plenaries from all angles. Finding the time, finding the ideas, having the motivation – you name it, I struggle with it. However, Kevin made the idea of plenaries sound fun, quick and informative for not just myself but also for the children. Using current themes like twitter and instagram – for example having a twitter wall – is something I had always wondered about the actual use of, but now I fully understand and look forward to creating my own! A book that was also recommended to us by Kevin which may interest any readers of this blog is The Book of Plenary by Phil Beadle. I am hoping to buy this soon during my next placement and put some of the ideas into action.

So overall this experience has been amazing for me as a new professional just starting out. Being part of this kind of community makes me much more passionate about teaching and being on social media fuels this passion as it is with me in my pocket wherever I go. Even going down to Oxfordshire for my Learning From Life placement this year will keep me focussed on being part of this community as I will be blogging as part of my assessment. Although the learning conversations for me were over after 3, other professionals who I have connected with through twitter or at the University have talked to me about other learning conversations that they attended so I then have an idea about what was discussed. This just shows that we can and sometimes have to learn from and rely on each other. After all, I am going into a career where you constantly have to learn. Its up to me to find anyway that I can to do this.

 

 

Do School Trips Educate Our Young?

I’m fresh from a school trip today and as a student teacher on placement, I wanted to share my experience as to whether or not school trips are – in my opinion – educational. The school trip in question was at Dundee’s Discovery – the ship which took explorers to Antarctica over 100 years ago.image1 The class had been doing the Discovery as a topic in the classroom and had covered many activities to go with the topic so that the children had some idea when they were in that part of the ship, what the sailors would have been doing. This was extremely educational. The whole layout of the ship was amazing and took you around each part with things to do like pull the rope and signs up with information on. There was a video too, which had loads of pictures from the expedition and of the sailors and it talked you through what the conditions would have been like for the men. There was even a talk for the children set up where they could try on clothes and compare them to current clothing meant for icy weather.

Me riding a camel in Egypt. A once in a lifetime experience I will never forget.

Me riding a camel in Egypt. A once in a lifetime experience I will never forget.

However, although this was an extremely educational trip for the children, why is there a lingering question from parents and the media around school trips being educational? School trips can be for an hour across the road in the local post office to a three week trip in India. The possibilities are endless. I was lucky enough to go on several school trips in school and in high school one teacher imparticual has inspired me to take my children on school trips when I am fully registered. I went to Edinburgh, London twice and Egypt with this teacher and I can hand on heart say they were some of the best experiences of my life – I learnt so much and I was never homesick because she planned so much for us to do. We were also made to fundraise to keep the costs low and if I did carol singing in one tesco around the highlands of Scotland those christmases, well, I sang in them all! I was truly lucky to have her as my teacher, she really cared about us as individuals and our experiences growing up. This is the type of teacher I aspire to be.

However, enough reminiscing about my own experiences and onto the question in hand. Do School Trips Educate Our Young? Well, the Scottish curriculum supports school trips by having an area on their website where you can find places in Scotland to go that they consider educational. This can be found here.  Education Scotland also say “Heading away from a young person’s familiar environment can provide new perspectives and lead to fresh discoveries.” So if our own curriculum supports school trips, is there really still an issue? Many teachers find that risk assessments put them off of actually taking the children outside of the classroom and I can see their point. Being involved actively in Girlguiding, I know just how much of a hassle risk assessments can be when I take the girls away or even outside of the hall for an evening. But surely as teachers we need to look at the positives? So you may spend 4 hours (yes, I really have spent this amount of time on a risk assessment before now) on a risk assessment which is a huge pain – but think of the experiences the children will have had by the end of the trip! Surely that alone is enough to persuade any teacher.

Through my reading I have read time and time again how outdoor education helps young people to be physically active as well as teaching to understand how to assess and manage risk.

This is a really good poem put onto a video about outside education by Hollie McNish. I think the main point that she points out is that schools are there to open doors to children. How can we do this unless we actually take them outside to see the world around them. A trip to the park can be educational enough for 3 and 4 year olds – I did it all the time with the nursery last year – because you can talk to them about what they see plus you’re giving them exercise by walking around and playing (major health and wellbeing benefits). The other reason we used to take the children to the park was because it was free. Cost is a huge issue for schools these days and if you can’t afford a proper educational school trip with all the bells and whistles to match then what you as a teacher will be giving your children is essentially something like a trip to the park. However, I have already explained how a trip to the park can be educational.

These are only two very short points on how educational school trips can really be. If we covered them all I would be writing this blog all day. So, to conclude, what I am saying is, school trips are all educational. They aren’t all boring or non-educational or costly. You just need to be thinking about them in the right context?

Health and Wellbeing – One girl’s opinion

In my opinion Health and Wellbeing is one of the most important areas in the Scottish curriculum. It is where students are able to learn about and discuss relationships, physical education and wellbeing, mental wellbeing, emotional wellbeing and social wellbeing just to name a few. In the principles and practice document for the Scottish curriculum it states that Health and Wellbeing is “the responsibility of all practitioners.”

The diagram above is an image similar to the diagram shown in the principles and practice document. It shows us that when teaching children Health and Wellbeing the common goals should be active, nurtured, respected, responsible, included, safe, healthy and achieving. I think this is a good way of looking at Health and Wellbeing in a rounded way and that these are not only things that practitioners should be teaching but they should also be looking out for in pupils of all ages. Watching a child’s health and wellbeing means that you can check if they are healthy or safe etc and as a practitioner you have the responsibility to spot if something isn’t quite right. Asking yourself, is that child safe in this classroom? Is that child being included in that activity? Is that child healthy – why are they always sick? are just some of the ways that back up my point. When I was in school there was a huge change over from teachers not taking much interest in Health and Wellbeing to it being taught in most subjects. This is probably due to the curriculum for excellence being produced, however I remember there being a huge emphasis on Physical Education in primary school and sex, relationships and drugs in high school before the huge change over happened in my last year at school. Maybe it is due to the area I come from but I think that this was more likely at the time a whole country wide shift into seeing the relevance of Health and Wellbeing.

Relationships is a factor which I only took into account recently. Still being a student, I have not yet had my placement and in my previous work haven’t had a huge amount of experience working with families, just the children. But children all have different families not the “nuclear family” that everyone expects of 2 children a mother and a father. We need to teach that this is ok, so that we prevent bullying and children feeling isolated because their family is different to what is considered “normal” these days. I was bullied after my father died and I believe that if the children had been taught that it was ok that families come in all shapes and sizes and if the teachers had been better at looking out for their students health and wellbeing, then I probably wouldn’t have been bullied as badly as I was. There was support out there, but nobody told me until I had left school. As families are different the way that children and adults in families think different too. Here is a video which shows just how differently children think to adults, and how their go to reaction is that they want to be around their family.

I think it is so lovely that these children all want to have dinner with their families but not all children have the opportunity to say that or live in an environment where they could sit down and have a meal with their family like this. Every child’s home experience is different and we need to remember this as teachers and for the 6 hours you have them in your class, make sure they are safe and included. This is all part of looking out for a child’s health and wellbeing in the classroom. I feel it is something we should also teach in the classroom so that peers can spot bullying and report it.

One of the things I have mentioned is P.E. I hated P.E. and have to admit I did anything I could to get out of it (which worked out quite well after I had whooping cough and was left with a back injury when being pushed off a trampoline.. OUCH!). But having worked in the nursery last year and working with children at guides and brownies I am starting to see how important physical education is for children in this country and across the world. The World Health Organisation produced a report in 2009 that stated “43 million children under the age of 5 years will be overweight by 2010”. Now I know that we are 6 years on from this, but if that isn’t a scary enough statistic to prove that children need health and wellbeing to be taught in schools, I don’t know what is. Healthy eating is something else we should be teaching across all stages of learning. This sugar intake video that I posted a few months ago, shows just what goes into sugary drinks and if children don’t know these things, they will not turn them down and go for the healthier options of fruit, veg, milk and water.

So overall, I hope I have put across to you just some of the reasons that I think health and wellbeing is so important in the Scottish curriculum. After all if we don’t teach our children how to look after themselves, how can we expect them to?

I’d better get out there and do it then!

Geography in school was something that was never really covered – or at least not in my primary school. History was something covered well and to an extent mostly just about the local area – that was 60 miles away (if I did culloden once at school I did it a thousand times!). The most I remember is learning the countries and matching them with their capitals in Gaelic (which let me tell you is not as much fun as it sounds!). I personally would now argue as to whether or not I was doing literacy and language by learning the Gaelic words for all these places. To be perfectly honest it astounds me that we didn’t cover geography more, because look at where I come from! Surely perfect for some outdoor learning?

This is where I was brought up, perfect for a bit of Geography right?

Well, either way secondary school I dropped geography for modern studies and history which I then went on to get good grades in during my higher exams, so I can’t say I regret it. But I distinctly lack an awful lot of knowledge about Geography and what I have learned has been learned from my holidays – so going out to a school to teach it seems pretty daunting to me. The thought of teaching other aspects of the social subjects however, does excite me. I love doing projects with the kids and a period/event in history is a perfect theme topic.

During my work in the nursery, we did a little bit of geography. The principles and practice documents are split into 3 different categories – people, past events and societies, people, place and environment and people in society, economy and business. So with this is in mind we did a project with the children about different countries in the world – America, China,

This is a similar wall display to the ones we made with the children in the nursery

Italy and Australia. We did big wall displays with each countries shape being the main part and then the activities would go inside or around. Geography came into it with the countries names, the children would learn the names of the capital cities of the countries, look at pictures of the countries, look at the flags of the countries, find where the countries are on maps/globes and the children did activities relating to the landmarks in the countries (for example for Italy the children made little leaning tower of Pisa’s!). It was a great project for me and my colleagues as well as the children because we had to research a bit about the country before we could teach it – especially when the children asked questions. This is something I will definitely do when I am out teaching because how can I teach children effectively if I do not have knowledge about the subject myself?

It was mentioned in my lecture today, and I think to be honest we are all a little guilty, to every so often just rely on what comes up on my Facebook news feed. If it wasn’t for facebook and twitter the likelihood of me seeing this really cute video of the panda in Washington Zoo would be very slim.

When I was studying modern studies I was really good at watching the news daily (especially in the morning because who doesn’t love Bill Turnbull on BBC Breakfast) but reading and watching the news is something I only do when I think I should, just because it is on or if there is a political election coming up. Maybe it is down to student life but I think if I was to read newspapers and watch or listen on the radio to some form of news then I would start picking up on various things happening around the world in terms of geography, history and modern studies. After all history is happening around us every day!

Lastly, a great way which I will be starting soon is by visiting places.

Lake Geneva – where I learnt about water running into lakes from mountains

There are so many places around the world to visit. The majority of my learning, especially history and geography, has come from my travels like learning about the swiss mountains and the water that runs off them to form beautiful lakes such as lake geneva and swimming in the red sea and looking at the underwater coral reefs. Studying in Dundee I have such a wide range of accessible experiences on offer to me that I would be mad not to take them up like the Dundee Botanic Gardens and RRS Discovery just to name two!

So to round up my three ways of getting more focused on social subjects before getting out and teaching them are to watch the news, do some research and background knowledge about what I’ll be teaching and visiting places to get an interactive view of what I will be teaching. Goodness me that sounds a lot. I’d better get out there and do it then!