Category Archives: Digital skills

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.



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?

Making This Blog Count

Are you blogging?

Today I spoke to some students from the University of West Scotland about this blog. It was to discuss what it is all about and in part reflect on what it has done for me. We used skype which I have to admit I rarely use unless it is to talk to my mother so my skype etiquette isn’t quite what it could be. However, I found the whole experience interesting and something I would do again. The fact that people were interested in what I am doing here on this blog and what my peers around me are on theirs is incredible to me. The University of Dundee seems to be making its voice heard about glow and so it should! It’s here, let’s use it. But, it made me start to think about why I personally have got into blogging so much when some of the professionals around me just don’t want to?

I have always been one to say what I think (not always positive things either, just ask my teachers from school) and some would say I am quite the debater. To be perfectly honest I have found this blog a slight outlet to write about some of the things I have been thinking.

You can blog about anything!

Sometimes it’s something I have read in a textbook or on social media (Term-Time Holidays. Yes or No?) or a resource I have seen that I want to share with others in this profession (Have a Frozen Christmas in your Classroom) or something I have been asked to do as a tutor directed task from the University (Dancing Under the Sea). Whatever the reason behind my posts, each one I do gives me a little more confidence in my ability to write and reflect professionally. I get a little boost every time I read a positive comment which is usually something about my posts that has made someone question their own point of view or just that the person reading wanted to share that they enjoyed it with me. Comments are always lovely and the fact that people are even reading what I write is crazy to me (seriously, I come from a fishing village with 2,000 people in the middle of nowhere 60 miles away from a primark, it would be crazy to you as well!).

Of course blogging has its downsides. Like time! What with a workload from the university including placement, a social and personal life and needing that quiet time at the end of every night to watch eastenders or pretty little liars (who is A though seriously!!) – finding the time to blog even once a week can be a struggle. Most weeks I look like the woman in this picture, dazed, confused and surrounded my post it notes and to do lists. English was never my strong suit at school either so knowing if my grammar and spelling is right can always be a boulder in the way. I like to write my blogs how I say things in my head as well or would say to another person to make my blog more readable. In my opinion there is nothing worse than going onto a blog and although the content of that post might be terrific, there is no pictures or something to look at other than text. But is that the right point of view or should blogs be all about the writing? See, blogging can give you a tough time if you overthink it!

So you see, there are many ways to take blogging on board. You can look at the negatives and think too much time is taken up doing it, I won’t write anything interesting and I was rubbish at writing in English classes, I’ll be rubbish at this too. Or you could look at the positives? I’m starting to put my views out into the world and people are reading and taking an interest in them? My confidence has skyrocketed since starting blogging and it is helping me become a reflecting and professional person whilst at university. So are you a glass half empty or a glass half full blogger? I certainly know which one I am..

Happy blogging!

Have a Frozen christmas in your classroom

With christmas just around the corner my mind is totally focused on the magic, lights and joy the festive day brings. And so will most of the children in your classroom. I wanted to share with you, some of the ways I would make christmas in my classroom extra special this year for your early years with an extra special appearance from one of my favourite snowmen.

Disney isn’t just about the fun, you can learn from it too.

Now many educators might read this and think, there is no way you can learn anything from a disney film and that films are for fun, not for learning. But I’m hoping this post might just change your mind.

First of all some literacy ideas…

  •  Frozen alphabet cards are a great way of getting children involved with literacy at all stages of development
  • Get the children to write their own letter to santa on this paper – especially great if you’re a parent, guardian or carer! The children writing their own letter encourages use of language and fine motor skills holding their pencil
  • Read one of the many many frozen related books that have been published which you can pick up dead cheap in poundland – or take the children to the library to find a book about a snowman and read it in the library
  • Analyse the song “Let it go!” and write down key points about the song
  • Writing a story about a Frozen character. Here’s some paper printouts to make it extra Frozen but here the children’s imagination can run wild!
  •  Make up a crossword or wordsearch full of words relating to Frozen!


Some fun numeracy ideas…

  • Having a memory game similar to pairs where the children have to match up characters and remember where they are hidden
  • Do you want to build a snowman olaf game – using a dice can help children with their numeracy skills
  • A Frozen jigsaw puzzle
  • A which Frozen character is your favourite chart – which is a lovely wall display as well!
  • Frozen addition flash cards which are great for children to get used to addition and what numbers look like
  • Print out this board game on A3 card and laminate. Put on on every table and this can be a fun golden time activity!

Throw the ball into the numbered bucket is another fun game

Fun for the senses and craft table…

  • Put ice in the water tray and learn about it melting or make Elsa’s frozen hands or put magnets in the ice
  • Make play dough and put glitter it to make it that extra little bit more Frozen and then print out and then print out a playdough mat to enhance their imagination
  • Make Frozen snowflakes to decorate the classroom
  • Make your own snow
  • Make Frozen bowling balls and then play bowling during P.E.
  • Create Elsa’s Frozen castle for the role play area on the craft table and then play away!

A Frozen castle for the role play area

And lastly just for fun..

  • Why not make hot chocolate from marshmallows from scratch, Olaf’s nose carrot cake or snow balls (white chocolate truffles which could be a good gift for the children to take home for the parents for christmas on the last day of term)
  • Sing let it go (most children know all the words, so at least you won’t have to teach them or print out the words)
  • If you are lucky enough to get snow this December make snowmen – great for some health and wellbeing outcomes
  • Colour in some Frozen colouring in sheets and do some Frozen dot to dots

Overall my aim with this post is to show all educators out there that almost anything can be made educational if you put your mind to it and using the children’s current interests are the best way to gain their attention. Hopefully anyone who has read this has found something they find interesting or would use themselves. All ideas that are not my own have the link to the appropriate website and were all found by myself on pinterest – a website I highly recommend to all educators out there.