Category Archives: 3.1 Teaching & Learning

The History in Castles

This week I have been lucky enough to have visited not one but TWO castles, have been learning about history teaching in lectures and have frankly loved every second of it. I went to visit family for the weekend in Northumberland and with them knowing how much I love history, going round the castles seemed the best activities to undertake. The first was Bamburgh Castle – the ‘King of the castles’ which looks over the sea, was built in the medieval period and is now home to the Armstrong family. Sunday’s stunning castle was Alnwick castle – home to the Duke of Northumberland, has some magnificent state rooms and is some of the inspiration to the outside of Hogwarts, including where the broomstick lesson scene was filmed in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (absolutely not the reason I went *ahem).

However, my week of history started on Thursday with my first social studies lecture based around history. As I aspire to someday become a history teacher in a prep school, I was eager to get started and learn what I can. But, I am very aware that history can be one of the more challenging and emotive subjects to be teaching in a primary classroom and some teachers will keep as far away as possible from the subject and for as long as they can. Furthermore, one of our first tasks has been to ensure that we fully understand the constraints when teaching history and what good practices we can keep to help ourselves as professional practitioners.

We have been asked to look at the The Historical Association (2007) TEACH booklet which has some very useful tips to teachers who need some guidance when it comes to teaching history and also what the constraints are that teachers find the most trying. Moreover, one of the more regular constraints I saw popping up was that there is not enough time given to the subject. But I honestly cannot blame some teachers! The amount some teachers have to do is incredible and then the government have the cheek to pile more on. It’s quite ridiculous. But at the end of the day, none of this would be the problem that it is if teachers had the training in history they needed because they would be more willing to find the time. We all know how good history is at falling into the themes that teachers know (and usually love to teach), but teachers have inadequate subject knowledge.

Bamburgh castle was simply gorgeous!

Moreover, although self study would help this quite considerably, teachers do not have the time to simply buy books to teach themselves what happened here and watch lengthy documentaries about what this person did there and it is unfair to ask teachers to give up their time to do this! If schools and councils were able to give suitable training and information sessions on certain history topics, I am without a doubt that teaching history would not be quite as much of a chore to some professionals as it seems.

Resources are my bug bare in schools, I love creating them and the laminator is my ultimate best friend, however as before I constantly find there is just not enough time to be cutting and laminating a whole topics worth of resources (and I applaud those who do) every couple of weeks. Some teachers will read this gritting their teeth and minds screaming “but its your job!”. However, I am not the only trainee on a placement to be hunting around the school’s resources to see what I can borrow for my “mini project” and know from speaking to other professionals that it is all to easy to slip into the routine of grabbing that box off the top shelf, dusting it off and rifling through the same resources used in the eighties for something to teach the children with. I hold my hands up and say I am a hypocrite because I have done it, but am very aware this is one of the worst things that you can do! All of these old resources will have some value yes, and I’m not in anyway saying we should bin them, all I’m saying is we should be not relying on them but mixing them with newer ideas. The Historical Association (2007, p.21) TEACH booklet suggests using puppets, music, films and cartoons that will appeal to today’s children and can also encourage personal engagement with the topic.

I would teach children about cooking in different times and the challenges big banquets would have brought!

Walking around both castles, I also saw many different ways in which you could link different periods of history with other curriculum subjects. Both castles had libraries which I would take as an opportunity to explore some of the books that were written years ago but are still read and thoroughly enjoyed today. Health and wellbeing could be explored through how people would prepare meals and which foods they would eat. I might even attempt to get my class to prepare their own meal from this era to see if they would like eating/prepping foods from these times – if taught the right way, it would certainly relate to their lives today! Finally, I might take a look at some of the scientific findings that have been discovered – for example Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb in 1879 – and do some experiments, involving light, of our own. It would all take a little more thought than little old me typing away at my keyboard for 5 minutes, but you all get the idea that it can all be linked together if you try..

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my weekend, and I would go to both castles with classes of children to give them a close up view of how people used to live. Moreover, I feel that getting the children out there to see these castles on school trips is a vital part to learning, something which is concured by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2004, pp. 4). I see the value in teaching history greatly, and cannot see my opinion changing but only becoming stronger on my social studies course which I am really happy about and excited for. The upcoming weeks will hopefully provide me with many more good practices and recommendations to help me with the constraints that teaching social studies can prove. I might even force myself to visit a few more castles…

References

Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2004) Inspiration, Identity, Learning: The Value of Museums, Leicester: RCMG.

The Historical Association (2007) T.E.A.C.H: Teaching Emotive and Controversial History 3-19, London: The Historical Association.

Powerful Knowledge in the Social Studies Classroom

So, after a wonderful summer of work, work, Paris, work, its back to third year and within my first day I have been subjected to TDT’s! Nothing quite like getting into the swing of things, is there? My elective module this year is Scottish Studies (unlike me I know, but when I signed up to it, it was called social studies and it sounds like this is what it will be) and will have main focuses on geography, history and politics – just has social studies does in a primary school. It looks as though I will be updating this blog on a more regular basis again (yay) because we have to create a portfolio which will have pieces of writing which reflect on what I am reading, thinking and learning. So lets start as we mean to go on!

I am starting off by comparing two very different articles which are referenced at the end, on a knowledge based approach in the classroom setting. Young (2013, p.115) throughout the article, has argued that a knowledge based curriculum is not a workable solution to any problems arising in our curriculum, but would highlight the issues in our modern society. Roberts (2014) on the other hand has written positively about knowledge in the curriculum, feeling that the knowledge children bring in to the classroom from past experiences can be an asset to the classroom for pupils. Now I’m going to be honest here. I found the article Young wrote quite a tricky read, putting it down and thinking “what does knowledge even mean anymore”? It could have been the fact it was the evening and I just needed some sleep and it could have been the language he has used, but I decided to find out exactly what is meant by  a knowledge based curriculum. The Great Education Debate (2013) has stated that a knowledge based curriculum is based primarily on knowledge as opposed to the skills a child will need for going out in adult life to work. Currently, our curriculum’s are based on the skills needed and not the knowledge, but some people feel that knowledge in the classroom is far more important.

Now we know what a knowledge based curriculum is, what are my thoughts on what I have read? I personally think there is absolutely a case for knowledge in the classroom. At the end of the day knowledge is already a huge part of the curriculum, we are teaching knowledge everyday – I am slightly confused as to why we are believed NOT to be teaching knowledge already, but rather skills. Roberts (2014, p.192) discussed Vygostky throughout the article and points out how Vygotsky values knowledge learned at home and supports children’s everyday experiences. On the other hand, Young (2013, p.111) disagrees with Vygotsky, claiming that a child’s experiences growing up can limit their education. Personally, I feel a child’s previous experiences can benefit the child’s learning in the classroom because I have seen first hand how enthusiastic some children can be about sharing personal stories from home and the joy on their faces when they realize they already knew something. The children can feel smart and accomplished with is really positive for those pupils with low self esteem.

Don’t we find out what children already know as teachers everyday from their old books?

My argument is also that, do we not as teachers get taught to understand our children when they join our classroom, which I have always believed to mean, understand how much knowledge they already have AND the skills they already have. Furthermore, the first thing most teachers will do is grab the child’s old books and see what they have learned previously or talk to the child to gain an understanding. Young (2013, p.111) reports that students don’t come to school to learn what they already know from experiences and frankly I completely agree. It seems stupid in my head to teach children something they have already learned, but at the end of the day, as a teacher if you do not explore what knowledge children have already learned then how will you know what it is you need to teach them in the first place. Therefore, previous knowledge can benefit the teacher in the classroom as well. 

I think when it comes to social studies, we need to draw on these experiences. Children will have a wide range of ideas of what, for example, geography means and this includes from direct and indirect experiences Moreover, as Roberts (2014, p.193) suggests, a schools curriculum should not exclude a child’s everyday knowledge, it should be utilized. The problem with this is that every pupil is different and with that, every child’s experience will be different, so how can you possibly design a curriculum which can include the millions of different experiences a child will have. This argument against a knowledge based curriculum continues with, Young (2013, p.112) believing, this curriculum will not be practical for all students, leaving the proportion of students failing left to increase. Although, this is a rather bold statement to make, I see that Young believes the knowledge based curriculum is not a solution for the faults in the current curriculum and may add to them.

To conclude, with the many arguments for and against from Young and Roberts’s articles, I have come to the conclusion that when it comes to class sharing activities, it is vital for a child to have knowledge in the classroom. I don’t feel it is right for the current governments to suggest that we only prepare students with skills for the working adult world either, because on a daily basis teachers are using the experiences that children have brought into the classroom with them positively. Children are leaving our education system into a modern society very different from the societies we have seen before, with knowledge at our finger tips from just one click of a button. We need a curriculum that will take both skills and knowledge into account to equip our young for the working adult world of today.

 

References

Roberts, M. (2014), ‘Powerful knowledge and geographical education’, The Curriculum Journal, Vol.25, No. 2, pp.187-209

The Great Education Debate. (2013) ‘The Curriculum’, [Online] Available at: http://www.greateducationdebate.org.uk/debate/debate.the-curriculum.html (Accessed on 13th September 2017)

Young, M. (2013), ‘Overcoming the crisis in curriculum theory: a knowledge-based approach’, Journal of Curriculum Studies, Vol.45, No.2, pp.101-118

Science Lesson – Year 4 – Week 6

Image taken from Google – The boys really like the Twinkl resources

Monday’s lesson was my second science lesson within the school and I am really confident that it went well and know that the boys enjoyed it. Unfortunately there was no real opportunity for the teacher to observe me but did give me some informal feedback that was really positive. I think something that I can take away from this lesson is that I need to work on my assessment skills throughout lessons and that although there are many ways of assessing children it is best to ensure that you are taking it on board as you are teaching, not after you have taught. Furthermore, the boys have been working with twinkl and I continued this in my lesson by workiing with twinkl resources and teaching them what twinkl feel they should know with the added tweak to make it my own lesson. I really like the twinkl resources and think that when I am a teacher this is a website I would like to use more often.

Individual Lesson Plan Format (Primary)

 

Class/Group: Year 4GS                    Lesson: Science                                Date: 8.5.17

 

  Previous Experience

In previous lesson, children have sorted animals into a variety of groups in lesson 1 using different keys.

 
  Working towards outcomes of a National Curriculum

Pupils should be taught to explore and use classification keys to help group, identify and name a variety of living things in their local and wider environment

 
  Literacy/Numeracy/ICT/HWB (where appropriate): ICT – to work on Ipads for extension, Literacy – for reading work off board and on worksheets, Numeracy – working with classifications keys and tables.  
  Learning Intentions Success Criteria  
  To be able to generate questions about animals.

To be able to use questions to sort animals in a key.

To see similarities and differences between vertebrates.

I can generate questions about animals.

I can use questions to sort animals in a key.

I can see similarities and differences between vertebrates.

 
  Resources Photo cards, worksheets, science books, smartboard, pencils, rubbers, glue sticks,  
  Timing Assessment methods
10 mins

 

 

 

 

5 mins

 

5 mins

 

10 mins

 

 

4 mins

20 mins

 

 

 

 

10 mins

 

Total

64 mins

 

Setting the context/Beginning the lesson (Introduction)

Read the information on the Power Point Presentation to introduce children to the concept of classification and ask questions about it.

Teaching the learning intentions (Development)

Introduce the classifications of vertebrate and invertebrate, asking children to give examples of each. Explain that vertebrates can be further split into five groups: amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles.

 

Explain the broad characteristics of each, asking children to note their similarities and differences. Explain that we will be focussing on vertebrates only today

 

Hand out Vertebrates Photo Sorting cards one per pair. In pairs, sort the cards into animal groups.

Tidy away cards.

Hand out worksheets, glue into science books, answer, ‘yes or no’ questions to sort the vertebrates into animal groups. When children finish they can do the key questions classification sheet.

 

Ending the lesson (Plenary)

Play “20 questions” game from maths but instead of guess a number its guess the vertebrates.

Question and Answer

 

 

 

 

 

Peer Assessment

 

 

 

 

Teacher Marking

 
Success Criteria Results Next steps for the children
I could see that the boys were able to successfully generate questions about animals after marking their classification keys.

From observation and the boys shouting out answers to questions I can see than the boys can all use questions to sort animals in a classification key.

After going over as a class the photo sorting activity game I am confident that the boys can see similarities and differences between vertebrates as each pair got them correct.

Child 5, 8 and 9 did get at least 1 question wrong in the classification keys and would benefit going over this through revision before the Year 4 exams.

It think as a class as a whole the next steps for the boys would be to create their own classification keys from the beginning by going outside and doing some outdoor learning by exploring the outdoor wildlife.

EVALUATING MY PRACTICE
Going well (what worked and why?)

I am pleased at how well this lesson went considering how unfamiliar I am with this topic. It worked well to use twinkle resources as the boys are familiar with these and the resources are bright, colourful and engaging.

The boys were really engaged throughout the lesson, answering questions when asked and volunteering to read off the board.

The boys all, except 3 successfully reached their success criteria and I would feel confident in them moving on to the next stage which I think is great as I feel that I taught them what they needed to know.

Areas for development (what didn’t work and why?)

The boys were quite chatty throughout the lesson and I did have to stop the lesson to tell the boys they were being too noisy and to quieten down. I think this was mainly due to the lesson being at the very end of the day, however this is no excuse and the boys should be listening from the beginning.

I don’t think the boys really needed to do the first classification key as a practice as it was slightly easy for their level and they already knew what to do. On the other hand, 3-4 boys did find this rather tricky let alone the sheets after but for the bulk of the class in was unnecessary.

Next Steps for Me

In future, I will try to assess the children as I am teaching a lesson, as some children already have a good idea about what I intend to teach them and there is no sense in wasting valuable class time teaching them what they already know.

I will continue to use engaging activities in my lessons as the boys are far more engaged in the lesson.

 

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.

Week 3 – Reflection

Week 3 has been a 4 day week due to Easter Monday being a bank holiday. I’m so used to being in Scotland where most people work and most things are open on a bank holiday but down here in England everyone closes up shop and takes the day as a proper holiday for family time! I think its lovely.

Image taken from Google – this was something discussed at the inset day. We need to ensure we teach in the learning zone and not send children into panic

So Tuesday I turned up to Moulsford bright eyed and bushy tailed, very excited to be going back to the school and found coming back after 3 weeks off, rather a breeze. Tuesday was only an inset day but really productive as the school had booked another teacher from “teddies” school in Oxford – also known as St Edwards – to talk about their skills based curriculum. It was really interesting and gave me some fantastic ideas which I would love to put into practice in the future and highlighted some important points like labeling children, giving the children challenges that are suitable but not in “the panic zone” and how important failure is to children so that they can learn from it. Moreover, as it is a goal of mine to find out about the school from all aspects I attended the staff meeting where, although opened and lead by the headmaster, many of the teachers took part in the discussion by putting forward comments or reminders about certain aspects of the school, their department or their class as well as comments from the bursar, office staff, learning support staff, cleaning staff and boarding staff. By attending the staff meeting I was able to demonstrate my professional commitment to my role as a teacher (Medwell and Simpson, 2008, Chapter 4) which is also a vital part to being a teacher in Scotland according to the GTCS (2012, p. 5) and also picked up on some valuable discussions taking place about the school in the summer term. For example, a discussion was held about the new boys who will be joining at the beginning of this term and it was lovely to see how much emphasis was put into this, to ensure it was a smooth transition from previous schools and happy term for the boys from members of teaching staff and office staff. Another discussion was held about members of staff across the school who would be joining the cleaning department and

Image taken from google – there is a real feeling of teamwork here at Moulsford which I love. Everyone works together and shares any information they can with their collegues.

boarding department which showed me just how vital these role are seen as in the school. Following a whole staff lunch I was kindly allowed to attend the English departmental meeting by the head of English. The meeting was putting emphasis on making English lessons creative and which books children would be reading from each year group. A member of teaching staff from each year group attended this meeting along with a member of the learning support team. There was a huge feeling of shared information and team working which I personally feel is important. I went back home at the end of the day to read Pollard et al (2008, chapter 10) about how teachers should implement a curriculum and found that team working and senior management meetings like the ones I have attended today are key to ensuring a curriculum is delivered to a high standard.

Wednesday was a rather full day for me with classes all day but starting with a whole school assesmbly. The topic for the assembly was faliure after the previous days training for teachers and I wrote more about this in Inset Day – Purple Pens and Labelling Lads. My timetable is set now and I will be doing the same things almost every week and my second lesson on a Wednesday will be in Language where I will be helping a pupil with some additional support needs. This is great experience for me as I be continuosly working with them and hopefully, accross many Language lessons in the following weeks, I will be able to see some improvement in their Language work. To help me with this set of lessons in my remaining time at Mouslford I have read the chapter, providing for special educational needs by Noel Purdy (cited in Cremin and Arthur, 2014, p.372). One interesting piece which I read in this was about individual education plans and how important it is to keep the children involved in their own learning. SEN, Ofsted (1999) found that many primary schools believe that not involving the pupils in the formulation of their IEP targets was a weakness to their own learning. I know that here at Moulsford the children are heavily involved in the creation or their individual education plans and therefore the child I am working with, will be informed in how they can work to help their learning. Furthermore, if I can read this, I will be more informed in how my attendance to the English class can benefit their learning to the highest standard.

Image taken from google – Moulsford understands how important sharing a childs IEP is with them, in turn allowing them to benefit more from their learning

Wednesday continued with my first ever proper music lesson which was with the Year 7’s. They were singing and the teacher has asked if I would like to prepare a song for the boys to sing next week. I am racking my brains but so far have not found anything I deem appropriate for this age group. It is times like this that you realise how much swearing and inapropriate subjects are used in music these days. Moreover, after lunch I spent the rest of the afternoon with the Year 3’s who were doing Language and Humanities. The languages lesson was really active with kung fu punctuation a huge part to what could have been a dull lesson about full stops.

Image taken from Google – I loved this idea of Kung Fu Punctuation!

Moreover, in preperation for my rivers lesson with the Year 3’s next week I was able to prepare slightly more by seeing what level some of the children where at already. This week they were foucssing mainly on Britain and I was able to have some very in depth disucussions with the children about Scotland. Most of the children were interested in the typical Ben Nevis, shortbread, whiskey and Gaelic conversations however much to my amusment a few of the boys challenged my football abilities “as a scottish woman” and were surprised to find I know my way around a football pitch rather well. As funny as I found their suprise, it was nearing the end of the day and I helped the class teacher prepare the boys for home time and even met a few of their parents when sending them out the door.

Thursday was very quiet with me meeting teachers across the school to arrange my lessons for the next 3 weeks, so rather exciting for me! I did attend 3 lessons today though and a assembly about cricket, which was great as I love cricket (I know its weird because I’m Scottish but I can’t help it) and its cricket season at Moulsford so I am definately going to try to attend a cricket tea at some point before I leave! In regards to my lessons, the first of these was Year 4 maths. The children were learning number lines and playing games and standing at the front of the classroom to make themselves a number line. Doing a physical number line with the boys meant they were actively engaged and participating in their lesson and I really liked one of the boys techniques of remembering what to do when rounding. This was 5 to 9 climb the vine, 0 to 4 to the floor. Me and the class teacher were both very impressed with this and both expressed our wish to use this again. As the lesson ended the class teacher had some time left over so played a “guess my number” game where the children had to guess which number the teacher had written on their wwhiteboard in only 20 questions. This meant that the class were using mathematical language which made me think back to the mathematics and science module I took earlier in the year where making maths fun and using mathematical language was actively encouraged by the lecturer in order to

Image taken from Goolge – this was the rhyme one of the boys said in their maths lesson on Thursday. Fantastic!

make their learning significant. Furthermore, 90% of pupils in Scotland feel that the mathematics that they are learning in school is significant to them outside of school (Scottish Government (Scotland), 2014) which means in Scotland teachers are teaching mathematics in a fun and engaging way. I feel that these statistics would be similar here as every mathematics lesson I have attended has been engaging and relevant. My day continued with another fun Latin lesson – I am certain I’m starting to pick up a few words. Break and lunch followed, with a history lesson about King John after with a lot of question and answer for the assessment methods. I will be with the Year 6 history group until I leave and look forward to seeing them continue on with this subject with the magna carter being a heavy feature.

Image taken from Google – Completely throwing it back to the absoloute classic magic key books which I learned to read with (so they must be old!)

Friday was my last day of week 3 at Moulsford before the weekend where I spent a morning with Year 3 doing reading and Science and an afternoon with pre-prep doing games (P.E.). The first thing I was doing, was listening to Year 3 readers individually with the class teacher. I really like to do this because you can have a quick conversation with the children about their book and get to know them a bit better. Reading here at Moulsford isn’t done with reading schemes but in Year 3 the children can choose their own stories. I have never seen this done, the schools I have previously attended have always ran with reading schemes. The difference in the two ways that the schools in England and Scotland encouraged me to go away and read some of Primary English: Knowledge and Understanding (Medwell et al. 2014). I found that although reading schemes can be extremely useful in helping teachers reach their children’s experiences and outcomes and equivalent in England, sometimes they can not be particularly interesting or have controlled grammatical and vocabulary structures (Medwell et al, 2014, p.141). Moreover, I personally feel that by giving children the opportunity to learn how to read by allowing them to choose their books the children will be more likely to pick stories they think they will like and therefore enjoy reading, which may give them a positive view of reading in the future. The difference between the way Moulsford teaches reading and Scotland does really interest me as you can see the difference between the children I taught this year compared to last year and the children at Moulsford definitely enjoy reading more. Furthermore, after my previous post which mentions the negative effects of labeling children, many reading schemes such as the Oxford Reading Tree and Read Write Inc do in fact encourage children to be put into reading groups with their books for differentiation. As much as teachers may like this, surely it is better for the children to learn from books they have chosen where they are not feeling pressured to go onto the next book or be in the “top reading”?

Science followed with lots of interesting expeirments taking place about soil. Some exciting question and answer games took place with an active true and false game which I really liked and discussions in pairs. Following this, the children had brought in their own soil and were putting it into a table under appearance, texture and moisture. This was great for me as next week I will be taking their science lesson where they will be continuing this and growing some broad beans. My afternoon was spent with pre-prep in the games hall where the children were playing active games running around and the discussing the skills they were practicing after. This was something that I compared with giving children their success criteria in Scotland which we know is important for their future development. I am really enjoying games lessons and intend to observe a couple more lessons next week and write about the way that Moulsford does games here compared with Scottish education. Although it has only been 4 days it has really been a busy old week for me here because I have observed loads which can be seen in this reflection alone! I am really excited for next week where I will be teaching my first lessons on my own and also seeing the boarding side to Moulsford!

 

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).

Medwell, J and Simpson, F (2008) Successful Teaching Placement in Scotland: Primary and Early Years. Exeter: Learning Matters. Chapter 4.

Medwell, J. Wray, D. Moore, G. Griffiths, V. (2014) Primary English: knowledge and understanding. London: Learning Matters

Ofsted (1999) The SEN Code of Practice: Three Years On. The Contribution of Individual Education Plans to the Ihe Raising of Standards for Pupils With Special Educational Needs Ihe Ihe . Available online at: www.ofsted. gov.uk/resources/sen-code-of-practice-three-years (accessed 20th April 2017).

Pollard, A., Anderson, J., Maddock, M., Swaffield, S., Warin, J. & Warwick, P. (2008) Reflective Teaching. (3rd ed.) London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Scottish Government (Scotland) (2014) Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy 2013 (Numeracy) [Online]. Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0044/00449212.pdf   (Accessed on 24th February 2017)

Religious Instruction

Image taken from Google

Image taken from Google – Moulsford teach morals in every subject throughout the school

Moulsford, as with many other schools across England prides itself in being a Church of England school. This means that during assembly the boys are expected to pray, sing religious hymns and uphold christian values. I have myself observed this in practice and remember prayers and assembly singing, well from my own school days in Ullapool. The children do not only learn about Christianity at Moulsford but all faiths and with a specific Religious Instruction teacher at the school who is also head of Year 7. Morals are also taught throughout the whole school at all times with the every teacher ensuring this is upheld throughout all classes.

Image taken from Google – a lovely example of a wall display for R.E.

With Easter being a large part of the previous term, an Easter service was held with hymns and narratives from the bible read by the boys themselves. The school choir directed the singing with the orchestra playing the music for the hymns and I felt that this was a whole school effort to make the assembly a big part of the school year. Children do also attend regular assemblies every week where praying and hymns will take place in each one. Furthermore, even though the school as a whole caries out some christian practices as a Church of England school, it strives to not only teach about Christianity but about world religions, contemporary issues, historical figures, current affairs and moral dilemmas in weekly Religious Studies classes. As a subject from Year 1, the boys with learn through active discussion, media, ICT, external visits and outside speakers. This continues until common entrance in Years 7 and 8. There is a Common Entrance Religious Studies syllabus which is followed at Mouslford and prepares the boys for their common entrance examination to their senior private schools which is sat at the end of Year 8. I myself have looked at a Religious Studies past paper where the questions follow subjects such as Elijah, the 10 Commandments, Jesus, Cain and Abel etc. They are nearly always from a subject surrounding the bible which interests me as in my opinion, as it is a Religious Studies paper, shouldn’t it have questions from all world religions and not just Christianity?

The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) in Scotland does not have that many experiences and outcomes for religious education and is actually titled “Religious and

Image taken from google – an example of some of the things the children following CfE will be taught

Moral Education“. It focuses on christian beliefs, practices, traditions and values, expecting the children to explore Christian stories, images, music and poems from early to fourth levels. Furthermore, practices and traditions in CfE will include things like Christmas and Easter which is very similar to the practice I am seeing daily at Moulsford. Additionally, having the values of what is fair and unfair and the importance of caring for, sharing and cooperating with others is again, similar to Moulsford’s values and there are certainly some comparisons between CfE and the National Curriculum in the way they teach Religious Studies. CfE do not only focus on Christianity but also all religions, with “World Religions” being the buzzword for this topic, so that teachers can focus in on any religions they wish and again teach about beliefs, practices, traditions and values of other religions. The National Curriculum in England actually sees religious education as another curriculum subject, as opposed to a programme of study by subject, where the subjects are more structured by key stages. There are some guidelines, but there is no specific content which needs to be studied at each key stage. The National Curriculum definitely contrasts with the common entrance exams for private education which do have a syllabus for Religious Studies.

Image taken from Google

To conclude, as one of my goals is to work with a different curriculum, my research into how Moulsford carry out Religious Instruction has been extremely interesting for me. The school as a whole teaches fantastic morals and although practices Christianity through the Church of England, encourages all religions. There is very little difference in the actual teaching of Religious instruction when it comes to the Curriculum for Excellence and the National Curriculum, so it is important the schools feel that they do what is right for their students. With regards to Moulsford, I see how crucial it is for them to stick to a syllabus that will not only enhance their learning but give the boys a better chance at passing their common entrance exams. Overall, I think Religious and Moral education is taught to a very high degree in all curriculum’s I have looked into to write this blog post, and certainly feel we as teachers, are equipping our children to live in the fantastically diverse country that we have in this modern age.