Category Archives: 2.1 Curriculum

Winnie-The-Pooh

During our mathematics lectures we have been exploring the different words we use as mathematical language in the classroom. One way in which we use mathematical language on a daily basis is through reading picture books. To explain this further I have chosen to look at old time favourite, Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A.Milne.

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Filled with great stories and great illustrations Winnie-the-Pooh has been engaging children for over 90 years but not many people would look quite so carefully at the language it uses. The first page of this book alone which only has 13 lines includes;

  • One
  • Some
  • Down
  • Begin
  • Behind
  • Far
  • Another
  • Bottom
  • First

There are probably more on that page that I haven’t picked up on, but you see the point I am trying to make. Shape, height, pattern and time are also written into the book which anyone not looking for it would miss entirely, but if a teacher was looking to point this out, is readily available for learning opportunities.

Some fun activities that I might do linked to this book are;

  1. Having a honeypot number line in the classroom
  2. Making “woozles” tracks in sand or mud (or snow if you can!) to explore patterns, size and shape
  3. Looking at the map at the beginning of the book to explore numbers, compasses and length
  4. Counting different things on the pages such as honeypots, bees, footprints, words and woodland creatures

There are so many amazing things that I love about this book but one that I really want to point out is the layout of the writing. In each book I have come across the way the words are spread out across the page, in many different directions, sizes, lengths and fonts are really interesting and unique to each edition of the book. The page opposite is from the original by A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard edition of 1926 and I would definitely compare different editions of the book and focus on these pages when in the classroom.

I think in the short time it has taken to write this post it has become plain to see that mathematical language is featured heavily in this book. This classic book will live of for years to come and be read in classrooms across the country, but it is up to the teachers to point out the mathematical language when reading, Winnie-the-Pooh.

Non-Fiction Writing Ideas

Today’s lecture was our second so far about non-fiction texts and delivering lessons around them in the classroom. After going through the different types of non-fiction texts we will be teaching about we were all given a book and asked to create our own lesson from this. The group I was working with was given was “Beware of the Storybook Wolves” by Lauren Child. blog-picture

It was a lovely little book about a little boy who’s mother always read him a bedtime story and the wolves start to escape from the books. One part of the story was about the boy saving himself involving jelly and this is what we decided we could base our non-fiction lessons around. We thought about the time it would take and finalized that a week would be perfect for these activities and thought that the non-fiction text we would be teaching the children would be instructions in the form of a recipe for the jelly. We also wanted to incorporate other forms of media other than cookbooks into our lessons, thinking about cookery programmes on TV like Saturday Kitchen, Magazines like BBC Good Food and contemporary online websites like BBC Food and Deliciously Ella. The rough template of the lessons throughout the week is as follows.

Monday – Read the story and talk about the main parts of the book – especially the Jelly part. Start a discussion with the children on what they already know about layout of recipes, making jelly, accessing recipes and what recipes are used for.

Tuesday – Recap with the children about the discussion from yesterday and explain that they will be looking at some of the different kinds of recipes out there and how to access them. Show them a cookbook and ask them to find a recipe for jelly. Show them the BBC Food website and show them how to navigate it. Watch a video similar to this one or a clip from The Great British Bake Off? Find some food magazines and ask the children to compare them to the cookbook recipes – are there any differences? Would they appeal to them more because you can get a new magazine every week etc? Are the recipes all the same style of food like in the cookery book? All of these would be done as a whole class or in groups going around tables. Also if you have time it might be good to look at the back of packets of jelly and look at the instructions and how they are written. What kind of an audience are they tailored to, could anyone understand them?

Wednesday – Discuss different roles in groups i.e. head chef, team leader, photographer, writer etc depending on the the number of children in each group. Once the groups have been divided hold a lucky dip with each group writing/filming a recipe in the style of a website, cookery book, TV show or jelly packet. Give the children enough time to design the non-fiction text, create it and look over it. You may want to give them “deadlines” to keep them on task in the time you have and also have 2 minute interval’s for whole class reflection if some groups go off task.

Thursday – Each group will be given a different recipe to the one they have written and then make their own jelly by following the instructions. Leave jelly to set overnight. Not every child get the chance to cook at home themselves and by giving them this opportunity in the classroom you are broadening their experiences and connecting the literacy outcomes with health and well-being.

Friday – Try each jelly and discuss as a whole class which recipe was the easiest to use. At this time the whole class could look over the different recipes created on the Wednesday and reflect on their work in the group, did they all have the right jobs? This could also be done on the Thursday if there wasn’t enough time on Friday and the jelly had set.

So that was our plan. Not only would this connect in with literacy outcomes but health and well -being (wash hands/general hygiene when making jelly and written into recipe, will the children add fruit to their recipes), technology (those designing a website and filming a TV style recipe) and maths (measurements for jelly making/in the recipe and the time it takes to set) too! I personally really enjoyed planning this because I realized that you can make literacy lessons fun and interlink them with other curricular areas. Plus it involved food. Who knew you could get so much learning done through jelly?

Is Scottish history the only history that matters in the classroom?

Scotland.

A place of beauty…

Home to the good old bagpipes, Irn Bru and Whiskey…

A long spanning history that is truly interesting…

BUT WHY OH WHY ARE WE BEING TOLD TO ONLY TEACH ABOUT SCOTTISH HISTORY?

Recently, I started back at University (what a shock to the system – let me tell you) and my elective module is history. This got me thinking about something that was said to me in my first year of training, that I should only teach primary aged children about local and Scottish history and that anything else will not gage their interest and be a waste of time. Now, nothing against Scotland, but come on! Thats got to be a joke… Only teaching 5-11 year old children about Scotland? Everyday we are becoming a far more diverse country, excepting children into our schools from all across the world and integrating them into our society. Surely we want them to feel welcome and not bombarded with this attitude that Scotland is some kind of self absorbed motherland (which we all know it isn’t) who doesn’t care about any other pinnacle points in history?

Like I said and I really truly mean, Scotland has an amazing heritage and should be remembered, celebrated and talked about – but in the same respect there are so many other topics out there that teachers with this opinion are just not focussing on in the way that they could because of how much Scottish history there is. It means things like the Egyptians, The Great War, Rosa Parks and Cavemen are only being taught outside of schools through conversations with parents/family members, trips to a museum and books like Horrible Histories. I lost count in school of the amount of times I went on school trips to visit Culloden just because it was easy to teach and it was basically the closest thing to the school with some historical significance or we did William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Other than that it was a whirlwind through the Egyptians and a whistle stop tour through the vikings.

Me with the Eiffel Tower. Just something with a lot of history that isn't in Scotland...

Me with the Eiffel Tower. Just something with a lot of history that isn’t in Scotland…

I can’t say we learnt any other aspects of history considering my love for history is so strong. Like many children out there my love of history has been passed down from my parents – my mother is hugely interested in World War Two and two of my great grandfathers on my father’s side worked in yorkshire mines together and I have been lucky enough to have heard so many stories about this. From having this background when it came to holidays abroad, my go to activity choice was always the local museum or the local church because I knew that way I would be learning something about somewhere else and not just Scotland. I mean, I live here and I find once you’ve done a topic once, with the best will in the world you don’t want to do it again for a couple of years…

It is widely known that the Scottish Government requires that schools offer at least one Scottish History topic at Higher level. This gives teachers as much room as they like to teach as many other topics as they please. After all isn’t the Scottish curriculum meant to be based around what the children want to learn? I personally love the diversity that the Scottish curriculum gives teachers and think it makes my job easier trying to gain childrens interest in the classroom around all sorts of subjects. No other government in europe that I can find recommend that teachers only teach about the history of their country and having read the House of Lords recommendations for teaching history also, it does not state anywhere that it is compulsory to only teach history from Britain. It infact clearly states that children should learn about history in “Britain and in other parts of the world”.

I love history of all aspects and that includes Scottish history too. Scottish history is something that I feel if you are Scottish you should be exposed to at some part of your life, as it is your heritage and part of your nationality. Just as if you are French I feel you should be exposed to French History at some part of your life. Overall, I feel that this is a topic that everyone feels strongly about whether it be down to heritage or just opinions, but I hope I have given you something to think about. It certainly gave me something to think about however, I know how I want to run my classroom and I will certainly be open to teaching all aspects of history in this great world.

 

 

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?

Craft, Design and Hot Glue Guns


Many people that know me would agree that me going near a hot glue gun isn’t necessarily the safest or most sensible option. BUT! On Tuesday I was given my own shot when we made these.. Mother’s Day Plant Pots. Richard (our tutor) basically gave us free rein to create whatever we wanted with the intention that we would make a learning intention and a success criteria to go with it for children in a classroom. The first thing we decided was that we wanted to have as our learning intention;

We are learning to safely use a hacksaw in order to cut a piece of wood into equal lengths.

imageWe then started looking on pinterest on things we could reasonably affordably and quickly make with children in a classroom. Here was our inspiration, which we made into our own idea. A plant pot for mother’s day for the children to take home with them. With that we discussed, we decided how to make the box, who already had experience in this field and who wanted to do which job. Teeny and Skye chose to do the presentation sheet and wrote down our success criteria as well as the learning intentions and the other areas of the curriculum covered in this activity.

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Our success criteria was

I can successfully; hold and use a hacksaw safely, measure equal lengths of wood.

After some further thought we realised that really we should have had more of a basic success criteria that the children could easily follow, but we can only learn!

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While this was going on we had Jess and Grace doing a fantastic job of sawing our pieces of wood. They all had to be equal lengths for the box to start taking a proper shape so they had a harder job with that in mind. When working with children I think I would want them to have already discussed with me safety whilst using a junior hacksaw and were able to measure properly with a ruler and understand why they were doing it. It could take quite a lot of practice to be able to properly use a junior hacksaw so this would be a good practice activity. image

After this was done we sanded down the pieces of wood and started gluing them together using a hot glue gun. This part could almost be another lesson on craft and design all together depending on how long the children take to do each part of the box making. However, using a hot glue gun is again something that I would be wary of doing with the children without some safety instruction beforehand.

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With all this excitement of me and Teeny using (very well actually) hot glue guns and sandpaper, Kathleen and Megan were busy to work making our pretend flower just for show. Although if I was going to do this in a cimagelass my obvious choice would be to use a real plant rather than one made out of wood. We imagedid not have that option available to us so we had to be practical and just made one instead. Using a real plant would get the children thinking about science, looking at the life cycle of a plant, different types of flowers and gardening just as a few examples.

So we did all this but what did we actually learn from doing it? Well we learnt about safety in the classroom and why it is important to teach the children the safety beforehand. I also took note that all the things in the room that we used are readily available to us, in a classroom they might not be and you might have to bring something in yourself from home (like a hot glue gun) or even go to the shops and spend your own money on it. Collaboration for us was hugely important. Yes, it took eight of us to make a box which might sound ridiculous but at the same time, children do sometimes work better in teams and I know for a fact I could not have done that without the others! Maybe this is a teamwork task more than an individual task and we would need to assess the different uses for the boxes.

So that was how we made our Mother’s Day flower pot! Here is the finished product!

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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?

Is Playdough Really for Everyone?

After my blog post The Science Behind Play dough… I ended my post saying that I would be evaluating my play dough experiment. I took everything to my lecture in containers and the student I worked with seemed to really enjoy making the play dough and gave lots of positive feedback about my experiment. Everything went to plan and it was really easy to make and the recipe was perfect. One thing that I would add is colour to the play dough. Adding colour makes this activity more fun for children and if you are going to use it within a theme can match up – for example making it orange and black at Halloween.

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Whilst carrying out the experiment, as well as following the instructions, one of the discussions that we had was what age group this experiment could be done with. Through my experience I have always (wrongly I hold my hands up!) assumed that play dough is something that younger children mainly have an interest in by middle primary school age they don’t want to play. I even said this in my Science behind Playdough post writing “Each year group is different and obviously nursery aged children and P7’s will have different reasons for playing with play dough in class and speaking from experience the older children are the less interested they are in play dough and the more interested they are in Play stations.” Furthermore, it was mentioned in our discussion that actually there are many children who like making things out of clay and there is not a huge difference between clay and salt dough which you can leave to dry and become hard naturally or put in the oven. Plasticine is something else. Remember Morph?

And Wallace and Gromit are made out of plasticine?

They were some of my favourite things to watch as a child. So my initial thought that this would be a science experiment mainly aimed for younger children was completely abolished. Especially when I took the play dough we made home and I had 5 19-21 year old boys playing with it at the kitchen table…

A dinosaur

A dinosaur

A pig...

A pig…

 

 

 

I guess play dough really is for everyone…