Category Archives: Recommened reading

Inset Day – Purple Pens and Labelling Lads

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image taken from google here is an example of the pit

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

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

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

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

Image taken from goolge

 

Week 2 – Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

References

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

GTCS (2012) The Standards for Registration. [Online]. Available at: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/about-gtcs/standards-for-registration-draft-august-2012.pdf (Accessed on 25th March 2017).

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

Week 1 – Reflection

Each week on my placement I will be writing some short weekly reflections about what I have been up to and what I have learned whilst linking it up to the GTCS (2012) Standards for Registration. My week started out rather nervously on Monday with my first day and I honestly don’t think I have ever felt so welcomed anywhere as I have done at Moulsford this week. I met the headmaster and all 3 of the deputies where one of them kindly showed me around the school so I wouldn’t be too lost. After this it was my safeguarding induction with the deputy for pastoral care for the school. I went on to spent some time with the pre-prep aged children and then with the Year 3’s for maths, but lunch was the biggest surprise of the day where it was family service, my first ever experience of this before. I am much more used to the classic go up to the counter where the dinner ladies serve up the meal rather than the teachers serving the meal at the table and then eating with the children. It is certainly a big difference to anything I have seen before in a government run school and as it is one of my goals to see the difference between the private and government run I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are

Image taken from google – I am used to seeing this kind of lunch service. Family service is a welcome change for me and it is much nicer to see teachers eating and chatting with pupils at lunch!

differences which are quite easy to spot when you are looking for them so completing this goal should not be an issue for me. My day ended with the Year 3’s doing English and coming home to write up Learning from Life – First Day Nerves.

Tuesday was a fantastic day of meeting more of the boys and staff throughout the school and seeing more lessons in action. In the afternoon I set off to my first ever forest school session which I wrote about in The Moulsford Forest School Experience. My main observations from the day were how much play and imagination through nature was key to forest school and a vital part to Moulsford’s ethos as a whole school, with many expeditions and activities for the older children. Jeffery and Craft (cited in Hayes. D, 2010, p. 110) state that these types of opportunities in schools should be seen as an attribute rather than a teaching technique. Moreover, I definitely feel from my observations, that in this particular private school, play and imagination through nature is a key quality that some government run schools are less able to uphold. Additionally, I am definitely seeing the values, culture and role of private education at Moulsford which I am showing through writing about my experiences in regular blog posts which is important for the social justice part to the Standards for Registration (GTCS, 2012, p. 5).

Image taken from google

Wednesday was filled with lessons with many of the older students from Years 4, 5, 6 and 7 many of whom I was yet to meet. In art I was helping the teacher who is also the second master of the school and found that as in government run schools the deputy teachers also have classes of their own to teach. In the french lesson with the Year 5’s I found that a lot of emphasis was put on interactive learning of 5-7 words and revising their meaning for the rest of the lesson by putting them into sentences, playing games and learning the sign language for those words. This similar practice as I have seen in language education in government run schools Scotland and both practices have been extremely interactive. Following this lesson I went on to read Successful Teaching Placement in Scotland: Primary and Early Years (Medwell, J and Simpson, F. 2008, chapter 4) to see the value of interactive language lessons in a classroom and found that teaching in an interactive way can not only address children’s learning through different sensory channels but this also means that you as the teacher are able to make assessments of more children. Modern languages at Moulsford are compulsory as they are in Scotland with Scotland having specific experiences and outcomes (Scottish Government, no date) for children for listening, talking, reading and writing but with schools being able to choose which modern language they teach from first level. Similarly, modern language tuition in England under the National Curriculum (Department for Education, 2017) is taught from key stage two and states that “teaching may be of any modern or ancient foreign language”.

Image taken from google

Additionally, Wednesday evening was a treat for me as I was invited to attend the lion king which was a production put on by the year 7’s. This was AMAZING and treated just as a professional west end production would be with singing, acting, sets and lighting. As one of my goals is to learn about schools as a whole from the kitchen to the classroom I was surprised to find that members of the school from all areas had played a part in the production from the set design and costume, making to the music to the advertisement and selling of the tickets. Teaching staff, office staff, learning support staff and boarding staff all had a part to play and the children that I spoke to at the end of the night said that even with all the work and how tired they felt they had overall enjoyed playing their parts the Lion King and were very thankful to the staff from all areas of the school for what they had done to help them put on the performance. There were 4 shows in total with children taking turn about on each night for the main roles which you rarely see in government run schools. From experience it is usually a fight for the main parts with one performance, but here at Moulsford everybody gets a fair chance at the role they want no matter their background or grades which is able to be done through the amount of performances.

Image taken from google

On Thursday I was working with the year 7s all morning who were naturally rather tired from their performances in the Lion King each night. The teacher had taken this into account and explained to me that their English lesson would be slightly more relaxed than normal but I still observed some excellent teaching practice. Moreover, the children were looking at pictures and explaining what the scene looked like to fit what type of film it may come from (e.g. horror, comedy, fantasy). The teacher used a lot of question and answer for his assessment methods and was extremely positive with the children’s answer using phrases such as “I see this too”, “I agree” and “how does it make you feel”. Pollard, et al (2008, chapter 6) explains that keeping positive praise a constant stable in the classroom and also keeping corrective language positive, is a sure way of keeping challenging behaviour to a minimum. Throughout the school so far I have seen no instances of challenging behaviour, not even just the simplest shouting out in class. Although, the school, like government run schools, has a behaviour policy I am yet to see it needing to be put in action and wonder if the amount of positive praise used by teachers has something to do with the low levels of challenging behaviour in private schools such as Moulsford? I continued my Thursday with a Latin lesson which I reflected on in Cognita De Vita and then ended my day with another visit to forest school with a different age group.

My last day of the working week was Friday and I spent a lot of time in English lessons with Years 3-8. The one exception to this rule was a Learning For Life lesson, something which each class in the school does a the same time where children do different activities from gardening to having visitors in to discuss future job opportunities. This is not a lesson that we have in Scotland and I believe in something that is specific to English education as when doing some more research into it found that RSA Academy (2017) also have this as part of their curriculum. Ending this week on this note was definitely a great way to end the week by learning something new and taking part in some fun gardening activities. I am looking forward to next week where I will be continuing to see the differences and similarities between government run and private education, working with a different curriculum and learning about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom.

 

References

Department for Education (2017) National Curriuclum. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study (Accessed on 18th March 2017).

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

Hayes. D (2010) 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. Chapter 4.

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

RSA Academy (2017) Learning for Life. [Online]. Available at: http://www.arrowvaleacademy.co.uk/Departments/Learning_4_Life.aspx (Accessed 20th March 2017).

Scottish Government. (no date). Curriculum for Excellence: Introduction. Edinburgh: Scottish Government [online]. Available at: https://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf (Accessed on 14th March 2017)

Musical Madness at Moulsford

With over 75% of boys at Moulsford learning at least one musical instrument, 2 choirs (involving over 120 boys) and an orchestra it is needless to say that Moulsford Preparatory School is a fantastic place to go if you’re interested in music! Today was a fantastic (although slightly mad) day at the school as it was the interhouse music competition. The school has 4 houses which the boys are all divided into for competitions like there were today. Those are Amundsen, Bering, Cabot and Drake. The competition has an external judge and consists of solo, ensemble and whole house performances from each house. The whole day is given to this and things got very competitive amongst the boys (and the staff).

I joined Bering for the day where the whole house performance was  ‘Boys That Sing’ by Viola Beach.

The whole morning after monday assembly was given over to whole house practice where it was lovely to observe everyone getting involved – including the staff. The staff in fact became a band playing guitars, bass and drums with some of the students and much to my dismay, me on the tambourine! Anyone without a musical instrument was singing and the year 8’s came up with dance moves for the pre-prep and senior sections of the school. Each house did something similar, some with backing tracks and us with a full band, but all had coordinated outfits, choreography and harmony. Each house was in it to win it and everyone had a part to play in this no matter how old or young.

Image taken from google I felt that the children working together with the pupils was the best thing about the inter house music competition!

Seeing everyone getting involved in this was not only heartwarming but food for thought in terms of how students and teachers work together in education all the time. Although as teachers we must always make sure that the students understand that we have responsibility for them and that means we should be the authority figure in the classroom, far too often we abuse that power and forget to spend time doing something fun rather than just learning. I feel that today I have spoken to far more children about the school, their classes and their lives than I ever would in a classroom and this is a key point that I will remember when I am a teacher for Health and Wellbeing topics. With the new named person legislation being put into place in Scotland, it will become more important for teachers to discuss with students about all aspects of their lives from school to home, and I personally do not feel this can be achieved if the children constantly see the teacher as someone who can never have a bit of fun. Furthermore, the attachment theory (Bowlby, 1969) explains that a positive teacher-student relationship enables students to feel safe and secure in their learning environments. By working together in the inter house competition today, I certainly felt that the children and staff were gaining each other’s trust through a lot of teamwork.

Image taken from google

There were broken classes in the middle of the day which were mainly given over to the solo and ensemble artists, so they had time to practice before the full competition in the afternoon. Everyone was amazing! The musical talent at Moulsford is simply fantastic and for children so young could certainly give the professionals a run for their money. Throughout all of the performances I was stunned at how quietly the children sat, listening to their peers and although competitive, how supportive they were of each other no matter which house they were in. Moreover, I have never been in a school where the children have sat so well and focussed so clearly on anything for such a long period of time. The guest judge gave positive feedback to each solo, ensemble and whole group practice as well as things to improve on which was excellent because every boy put their all into those performances and to be honest they all deserved to win. Additionally, studies of effective teaching and learning (Dinham, 2007) have shown that learners want to know where they stand in regards to their work.

Unfortunately, at the end of the day there can only be one winner and for the first time in 13 years a huge congratulations must go to Cabot who were the overall, very deserving, winners of the day. (Bering did come third and I would like to think this had something to do with my fabulous tambourine playing…). Today may not have been the most academic day for a teaching student to observe, but I did really enjoy my day listening to what musical talents Moulsford have to offer and see them taking a whole day away from the learning to spend time working in teams.

 

References

Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss, Vol. 1: Attachment. New York: Basic Books.

Dinham, S. (2007). The secondary head of department and the achievement of exceptional student outcomes, Journal of Educational Administration, 45(1), pp. 62–79.

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.

Image result for winnie the pooh book

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.

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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