The use of story in social studies

As part of our TDT for social studies we had to look at the book ‘The Desperate Journey’ by Kathleen Fidler. This is a book I had never heard of before and I was intrigued to see how this could relate to my social studies input and teaching.

The Desperate Journey is about the Highland Clearances in Scotland. It follows a family whom were affected by the clearances and were forced to leave their homes and travel to the large city of Glasgow. The family go to work in the mills which is a hard and dangerous job when the opportunity arises for them to move to Canada and again the book follows them on this journey.

Our TDT asked us how we would use this book to introduce the highland clearances. A way in which I thought it could be introduced was picking out a quote or page which hut home the message of the clearances. The quote I picked was

“Katy and Kirsty packed up the household goods… at last all the goods were lashed securely on to the cart. ‘Farewell Culmailie! We may never see you again.’
Kirsty began to weep, David put out a hand to comfort her. Do not look back, Kirsty he whispered. “It is better to look-forward.” 

This one quote immediately can open up a whole range of discussion, for example why are they sad? Why are they moving if they don’t want to move? Where are they going? An alternative option for discussion could also be to direct it to the children, how would they feel if they had to move homes? What emotions do you think you would feel? What would you take with you? This will encourage the children to develop empathy with the characters and imagine what it would be like for them if they were in the situation thereby providing a relevant context for the children. Through engagement with one quote this can stimulate discussion and provide a way of introducing a topic such as the highland clearances.

This book also inspired to look for other contexts which this could relate to. I felt that this book could also be a good way to introduce the topic of refugee migration which is an extremely current topic. By promoting the same type of questioning as the highland clearances this provides children with the ability to connect with something that seems so far away for them.

Through just one single page in one book there are a variety of teaching and learning opportunities such as through history by looking at evacuation of children in the war. Through geography by looking at refugees and immigration or in literacy as a stimulus for creative writing.

By examining just one text I feel inspired by the use that stories can have as an introduction to learning and I can see myself implementing this in to my practice.



Fidler, K (1984) The desperate journey. Edinburgh: Kelpies

Why Maths?

One of the fundamental reasons as to why I chose the Discovering Mathematics module was to overcome my own problems in mathematics. Referring back to my first mathematics blog post, I discussed some of the issues I faced in mathematics and my hope of overcoming them throughout the module. One of the issues I aimed to overcome was the attitude of ‘why maths?’, why is mathematics so important to me?  Well, mathematics is important to me as it is part of absolutely everything I do in to my day-to-day life, and I am not over exaggerating when I say everything. The Discovering Mathematics module has opened up my eyes to a whole new perspective of mathematics and away from education.

I can’t say that immediately my view on mathematics changed it has been only very recently that everything started coming together. At the start of the module I found it difficult to grasp the concept of viewing mathematics away from educational applications and taking my teacher hat off. I realise now that as an education student, soon to be teacher, this is such an important trait to have and for that I am grateful to the module. Throughout my time on placement I can’t emphasize the amount of times I heard, “maths is boring”, “why do we have to do this” and to be honest I did not have an answer. I knew it was boring, and I wasn’t sure of the relevance of the topic, I just knew that I learned that, people before me learned that and that’s just what we had to do. Now, going in to next year’s placement I aim to challenge these views and now I can successfully give the children an answer.

Math is boring if you make it boring, the module has opened my eyes to a whole new way of teaching mathematics. Mathematics is a tricky topic and it is difficult to grasp however the current teaching of mathematics has no relevance to the children. The Discovering Mathematics showed me the mathematics that surrounds me and that is in my daily life. The buildings I enter are all built using mathematics; the golden ratio and measuring. The doctors who look after me use mathematics in prescribing my medicine. The music I listen to all includes mathematics such as counting beats, rhythm and patterns. Then of course the obvious mathematics I use such as telling the time, handling money and driving. There is never a truer statement when someone says mathematics is all around us. Nature represents mathematics such as the golden ratio which is represented in plants and the shape of countries. By making this clear with children and showing them mathematical links in the world away from “education” I aim to challenge the view of “why are we learning this?”

By looking at Liping Ma’s profound understanding of fundamental mathematics (PUFM) this has allowed me to understand there is more to mathematics than just knowing the methods. Through looking in great depth at PUFM and what makes a teacher have PUFM I feel this has again provided me with a new perspective of mathematics. Ma discusses that mathematics is about not just knowing how to do something but knowing why and knowing this with breadth, depth and thoroughness. Again, by applying this to the classroom will give children an understanding of why they are learning a particular topic instead of just learning the methods and memorising it. Another crucial part of PUFM is having the ability to make connections with mathematical concepts. This could also be beneficial within the classroom, if a child is not understanding a particular concept having the ability to show them similar techniques of a less complicated form could make mathematics less daunting for them and hopefully guidance they could begin to create their own links.

I am glad I picked the discovering mathematics module as although it was not designed for the purpose of education I feel it will benefit me greatly in teaching. It has challenged my own negative views of mathematics and that you don’t have to be a ‘whizz’ in order to be good at mathematics and has provided me with more confidence which as a result will ensure I am a more confident teacher. It also has allowed me to make mathematical connections with topic’s I would never had associated with mathematics.


Mathematics and Science

Mathematics and Science

Mathematics has applications in many aspects of society and science is one of these. There are many mathematical elements within science. Arithmetic is used when working out values and to solve simple equations or formula. Mathematics is used in Astronomy for distances, sizes and masses. As these numbers are very large mathematics is used to portray the numbers in a smaller unit.  Algebra is used to show relationships before the measured numbers are used for calculations. Higher math is used for complex relationships between properties (Kurtus, 2013.)

During our lecture, we looked at scientific graphs and the mathematics behind them.


Some of the mathematics we used whilst studying the graphs:

  • Algebra as we had to work out what each formula meant
  • Understanding of coordinates
  • Basic equations such as multiplication

We then had to make our own graphs. First, we had to complete an activity where we compared the distance and weight of two magnets using the device below.


We started with both magnets being 15cm apart and found the weight of the pressure that the magnets created which was around 280g. We decreased the distance by 1cm each time and recorded the weight. We found the weight never really changed until the distance was around 10cm apart. This was when we saw changes happening. By the time, we were around 2cm the weight was around 400g. We then created a graft using the weight and distance. We compared our graph to those we studied earlier to find which ours was most similar too.

Although this was a scientific experiment we used many aspects of mathematics such as measuring, weight and graph’s.

This is only one example of the relationships between mathematics and science. We looked at the scientific formula ‘E=MC2’ and the applications of this formula in to the wider world. This was a formula created by Albert Einstein. So, what does this formula actually mean? The ‘E’ represents the energy which is measured in Joules, the ‘M’ represents the mass of the object which is measured in kilograms and the ‘C’ represents the speed of light (Carroll, 2014.) Prior to the mathematics module I had never heard of this formula before let alone understand the significance that this plays in everyday life. This formula applies to medicine as it is used in pet scans as well as everyday items such as smoke detectors (Tyson, 2005.) Einstein’s formula is responsible for the creation of power and water stations and is one of the reasons we have electricity etc.   Einstein’s formula also had a negative impact on society. It was used in the creation of automatic bombs when used cause devastating effects.

Overall, we can see that mathematics plays a large part in science and is responsible for a lot appliances in our society today but how does this link to Liping Ma’s profound understanding of fundamental mathematics?

Basic Ideas: Throughout science, mathematical concepts are frequently revisited and reused for equations and formula.

Connectedness: Different mathematical concepts are used across the board within in science for example equations are used in physics, chemistry and biology. Although the equation may change according to the topic the mathematics remains the same, similar to the example below.

3   S= D/T   T=S/D D=SxT




M=F/A  A=F/M F=MxA

Reference List

Carroll., J (2014) A fun way of understanding E=mc2. Available at: [Accessed on: 29 November 2016.]

Kurtus, R (2013) Using mathematics in physical science. Available at: [Accessed on 29 November 2016.]

Tyson., P (2005) The legacy of E=MC2. Available at: [Accesed on 29 November 2016.]

Your fired!

In a recent lecture, we were looking at the mathematics in global food supply and demand planning. We started off by looking at the mathematics behind global food supply chain. It is a well-known fact that food is transported all around the world from country to country, but I had never stopped and thought about how much must be considered prior to transportation especially mathematically. There are many mathematical concepts to be considered in food transportation such as mass, distribution of mass, size, strength, temperature requirements and distance travelled i.e. for shelf life. Shape also plays a large part in food transportation for packing vans/ships etc. There are many things that must be considered such as the shape of each box and the best way to fit them all together. Also, the type of item that is being shipped i.e. eggs, heavy items could not be placed on top of these. In order to do this there must be some basic understanding of shape and what shapes fit best together. There also must be some understanding of weight to ensure no items become broken or squashed.

We also looked at demand planning. So, what is demand planning? It is used to predict/forecast businesses future sales (Demand Planning, 2016.) As a class, we were put to the test and asked to create our own business plan. We had to pick 5 items out of a list of 15 and had to decide what we thought would sell best. We were given £5000 to start off with. The business plan was from January to December. Once we had picked our items we were given further instructions which told us the success rate of those products and if we lost or gained money. This was the rule for throughout the game. It was a challenging task to say the least! It took a lot of getting in to and a bit of time to understand it. It was beneficial however as it allowed us to see for ourselves how exactly demanding planning works and everything that must be taken in to consideration. We had to consider how many items we had not sold, shelf-life, the money we would lose if we could not sell these items and at what time of year was best for products. Me and my partner started off well however we managed to lose a fair amount of money and although we finished with more than we started with it was far off some other teams. There are many aspects of mathematics involved in demand planning such as problem solving skills, data handling, money and basic equations.

There are elements of Liping Ma’s four characteristics both within global food supply and demand planning.

Basic Ideas; In order to understand demand planning we had to be able to work with basic equations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. We also had to have basic problem solving skills and handling money.

Connectedness; Global food supply has connections with other mathematical topics such as tessellation. Tessellation is when many regular shapes fit together (Eastaway and Askew, 2013, p195.) This also applies to shipping food. Those who pack the ship must make sure all the shapes fit together to get all the items on board.

Multiple Perspectives: This applies to the demand planning. As the class was split in pairs, each pair had a different approach to the demand planning. Some tried to be tactical with their buying whereas others chose to buy large amounts of food. We each tackled it differently and all had different reasons as to why but were able to discuss which methods worked best in comparison to others.



Demand Planning (2016) Available at: [Accessed on 29 November 2016]

Ma., L (2010) Knowing and teaching elementary mathematics. New York and London: Routledge.

What are the chances?

What are the chances?

In a recent lecture, we were looking at probability and its application to real-life. So, first of all what is probability? Probability is a measurement that is applied to events. What is being measured is how much we believe that an event will or will not happen (Haylock, 2010.) Personally, I believe a lot of us use probability without consciously knowing we are doing so. I am a big football follower and I know I evaluate my chances constantly whilst watching it such as the chances of my team beating a team. Given the fact I am Dundee fan the chances are usually none or very unlikely! Prior to the discovering mathematics module, I never really thought about how much mathematics I do use every day and it has opened my eyes.

So, what is the mathematics behind probability? There are many aspects of mathematics which play a part in probability such as fractions, decimals, ratios and percentages. In order to understand probability, we must understand mathematical language such as impossible, evens and certain (Haylock, 2010.) There are various aspects of mathematics which you must fully understand such as percentages to  understand how probability works.

How do we apply probability to real life? Probability can occur in something as simple as playing a board game such as when rolling the dice what is the chance that you roll a number six. When flipping a coin, probability occurs as you have a 50/50 chance of it landing on either heads or tails. There is on aspect of the wider world which requires probability to function, gambling. The “fundamental principle at play in all casino games is the theory of probability. After all, gambling is all about what your chances are of winning or losing” (Mathematics of gambling, 2001.) Therefore, to succeed in gambling you must have some understanding of probability. In modern day gambling technology, does most of the mathematical thinking for you but we must have some mathematical concept such as the ‘odds’. Odds are “ratios of a player’s chances of losing or chances of winning, or the average frequency of a loss to the average frequency of a win. If a player owns 1 of 4 tickets, their probability is 1 in 4 but his/her odds are 3 to 1 (Tunrner, 2007.) Therefore, in order to have some understanding of how gambling works we must understand fractions and ratios.

This was only a brief example of how mathematics applies to the wider world and without mathematics some aspects of life would be virtually impossible i.e. gambling. I feel probability links to aspects of Liping Ma’s four properties.

Basic Ideas  – In order to understand probability we must have a profound understanding of basic equations, fractions, decimals, rations and percentages.

Connectedness –  Probability links with various aspects of mathematics i.e. fractions and decimals. Making these links allows us to develop a fuller understanding of how probability works.

Multiple Perspectives – Depending on the person people may have different perspectives of chance. For example how likely or unlikely a event is to happen.



Haylock., D (2010) Mathematics explained for primary teachers. Thousand Oaks CA: SAGE Publications. Edition 4.

Mathematics of gambling (no date) Available at: [Accessed on 20 November 2016]

Mathematics and Art

“Mathematics is all around us.”

This is a statement which I highly underestimated prior to the ‘Discovering Mathematics’ topic. I was more than aware of the amount of mathematics I used in my day to day life such as when I am driving, going in to a shop or cooking. However, I was very unaware of the mathematics surrounding me. From the buildings, I look at every single day to the tables and chairs I sit at. Mathematics has links in absolutely every part of life from art and music, science and technology to just general day to day activities.

Prior to the lecture I was aware of some of the mathematics involved in art such as symmetry, shape and measuring. However the mathematics we then went on to look at I had never heard of before. We looked at the Fibonacci sequence, the Golden Spiral and the Golden Ratio. To begin with each concept absolutely blew my mind however the further the lesson went on the more I began to grasp the idea.

So, what is the Fibonacci sequence? The Fibonacci Sequence is a series of numbers 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34… The next number is found by adding up the two numbers before it. The 2 is found by adding the two numbers before it (1+1) The 3 is found by adding the two numbers before it (1+2), and the 5 is (2+3), and so on!

The Golden Spiral is when we make squares using those widths. You then create a spiral unnamedfrom this. I feel this aspect of mathematics links to Liping Ma’s basic ideas. Without having a basic understanding of how to measure, count, use patterns and use mathematical tools such as a ruler and protractor this task would have been extremely difficult. Even with a basic understanding of each I still found the task quite difficult to understand at first. This shows links between mathematics and art as you are using a mathematical concept to create a piece of art.

The Golden Ratio is when we take any two successive Fibonacci Numbers, and divide the larger number by the smaller. The answer is very parthenon-golden-ratioclose to the Golden Ratio which is approximately 1.618034… We tried this in our lecture using the numbers from our Golden Spiral. I chose the numbers 21/13, the result of this calculation was 1. 6153.. The Golden Ratio! The Golden Ratio is used for building and art work such as the Parthenon in Greece, but it is not known if it was designed that way. It was also used to design the Notre Dame in Paris. The ratio features also in the United Nations building and the pyramids in Egypt (Boaler, 2016.)

Not only does the ratio exist in buildings it exists in nature.04d6e83bf242df62faf949390f339222
Flower seeds that grow in  spira they grow in a ratio of 1.618:1… the golden ratio.

This is only one example of how mathematics play
s a part in art. When using pattern in art 533px-taizokaithere are aspects of mathematics. Pattern is a combination of  elements or shapes repeated in a recurring and regular arrangement. Repetition also occurs in patterns and this refers to one object or shape repeated. Pattern and repetition is used in Buddhist mandala. Buddhist mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe. This is an example of mathematics being used to create religious art.

As we can see mathematics plays a huge part in art and day to day life, whether its creating a picture or designing a building, there always aspects of mathematics being used. Prior to the Discovering Mathematics I was unaware of how much of an influence mathematics has in everyday life. It is not just the obvious mathematics such as dealing with money or driving a car but the design of the building we walk in. Mathematics is all around us and as the module progresses this is becoming more and more evident.

Profound Understanding of Fundamental Mathematics 

Basic Ideas – In order to understand Fibonacci sequence I first of all had to understand basic equations. Without having a secure knowledge of addition it would be difficult to understand how the Fibonacci sequence works. As well as understanding of measuring etc previously mentioned when discussing the golden spiral.

Multiple Perspectives – When carrying out the Golden Spiral we each had a different approach which we found the simplest for us. The approach I was taken was over complicated and one of my fellow peers showed me her approach which I found much easier.



Ma, L. (2010) Knowing and teaching mathematics: Teacher’s understanding of fundamental mathematics in China and the United States. 2nd edn. New York: Taylor & Francis

Fibonacci Sequence (2016) Available at: [Accessed on 29 October 2016]

Design in art: Repetition, pattern and rhythm (2006) Available at: [Accessed on 29 October 2016]

Mathematics and Play

In a recent lecture, we were looking at mathematics and play. I feel this is a very divided topic. Some people are in favour of introducing more play into mathematics, others however would rather keep mathematics traditional. I can understand why, as many people view mathematics as traditional subject which is very much textbook based. I enjoyed sitting down with a text book and working my way through problems, there was no greater feeling than understanding a complicated mathematical concept and firing your way through a series of questions (and that is from someone who was never fond of mathematics.) However, education changes frequently and we must welcome these suggestions with a more open mind. I feel play is important especially in early years for allowing children to put their knowledge to use and to engage them.

My own personal of mathematics was never a positive one. I found mathematics difficult for as long as I can remember. I was never in the top math setting nor was I ever super speedy with my equations. It also took me a vast amount of time to understand mathematical concepts especially throughout my high school years. Would I have felt different about mathematics if it was more active? Yes, I think I would.

I feel at this point I must define what is meant by ‘play’ in mathematics. For me personally I don’t define play as children ‘playing’, I feel it is more about children being active, engaged and driving their own learning. Play can be physical such as children using cubes to create shapes or for working on their symmetry. They can be using sand or water for making shapes and patterns and filling boxes and materials of different shapes and sizes to compare weight and quantity. Play can be imaginative such as having a class café, they can be looking at recipes, measuring, dealing with money and time management. It can be something as basic as a jigsaw puzzle. Play can promote more mathematical discussion amongst the children and provide more opportunities for the use of mathematical language such as first, second, third, heavy and full. Now I understand that this does seem more directed towards younger children. However, there can be opportunities for older children to be more active in mathematics. They can be measuring the playground, running a shop or even developing mathematical skills on the computer.

I am also not stating that mathematics should be all play and absolutely no written work. I feel that there should be a balance between both. When introducing mathematical concepts to children it would be difficult to do this through play at first. They should be shown how to do the methods, provided with examples and provided with opportunities to do the questions themselves. Incorporating play after this point may be beneficial as it allows the children to reinforce their knowledge.

During our lecture, we were provided with an opportunity to implement play. We were provided with cubes which we had to pretend were a chocolate316168 bar. We placed them together and count how many snaps it would take to break the bar into singular pieces and provide a formula. If this task had to be carried out individually and without physically being able to break the pieces, it would have proved difficult. However, as we worked in a group it was an enjoyable experience.

I feel play in mathematics particularly the activity we carried out in our lecture links to aspects of Liping Ma’s fundamental mathematics.

Basic Ideas – In order for us to create our own formula we had to have a basic understanding of how to do this i.e. basic calculation.

Multiple Perspectives – As we were working in a group each person had a different way of carrying out the calculation for the formula. We developed our mathematical language whilst discussing what would be the best way to do the formula.

Longitudinal Coherence – I feel this would be a good starting point for moving on to more complicated mathematics such as algebra.

By examining mathematics and play I feel it has developed my mathematic understandings as it has encouraged me to look at this topic from a new perspective. I am a firm believer of introducing mathematics in play, especially due to my terrible experience of mathematics. However, through discussion with peers and further reading I now appreciate that ensuring there is a balance of both play and textbook work is key. Mathematics is an ever evolving subject and it is important as professionals to embrace change. However, I feel there must still be traditional aspects involved in mathematics such as repetition and text book to ensure methods are embedded in children’s knowledge.



Ma, L. (2010) Knowing and teaching mathematics: Teacher’s understanding of fundamental mathematics in China and the United States. 2nd edn. New York: Taylor & Francis

Where did it all begin?

The history of mathematics is a topic which I have never really giving much thought, until our lecture the other day. I understand the way mathematics works within in my own country but I had no idea of the process that was involved for mathematics to be the way it is now and how long mathematics has been around for.

ishango_bone No one can know for sure how long mathematics or numbers have been around but it is believed that the working systems and the use of symbols for numbers has been around for about 10,000 years. (Bellos, 2011, p15.) Although there may not have been actual numbers systems prior to this time it is believed that our ancestors would have had some understanding of amounts. For example, they would have been able to distinguish between one animal or two animals’ (Bellos, 2011, p15.) Some of the earliest evidence of numbers are dating back from 35,000 to 20,000 years ago in Africa when they counted on bones. (Mastln, 2010.) This shows that for generations there has been some understanding of amounts and numbers.

Sumer – modern day Iraq –  developed the earliest known writing system and were one of the first generations to assign symbols to numbers (Mastln, 2010.) One of the reasons for the development of symbols associated to numbers was a response to the needs of the country and developed agriculture (Mastln, 2010.) They were dealing with larger numbers such as plots of land or taxation therefore they needed symbols for larger numbers. Sumerian and
Babylonian mathematics was a base 60 system, which means that number 60 was the base number. This is still used in modern day society with aspects of mathematics such as time babylonian_numerals(Wikipedia, 2016.)  The Babylonians also discovered a mathematics revolution by acknowledging zero as a number and symbolising it (Mastln, 2010.) It also believed there was evidence of some type arithmetic exercises in Sumerian and Babylonian schools. It is believed that Babylonians were one the first to invent multiplication. As their society grew there was a need for more sophisticated mathematics and this led to the invention of multiplication tables. They created multiplication tables on tablets and carried them around to speed up calculations (Marcus du Sautoy, 2014.) Another example of mathematics from thousands of years ago being relevant in today’s society.

There are many different number systems from all over the world and that have developed over time and that play a part in mathematics today. The Egyptians created one of the first fully developed base 10 number systems, the system we use today, as well as fractions (Mastln, 2010.) The Rhind papyrus was discovered by Henry Rhind, in the 19th century. It was a book filled with problems and solutions which included a section on fractions. The Egyptians used fractions such as 1/4, 1/2 and 1/8 (Shuttleworth, 2012.) This is another area of mathematics which stems from thousands of years ago which we use frequently in today’s world.  Greek mathematics was based on geometry. The Greek’s have established well known and used theories such as Pythagoras Theorem (Mastln, 2010.)

It is fascinating to see how far mathematics has developed from Babylonian number systems too today’s number system. However, there are still places in the world which are not as numerically developed as us. The Munduruku tribe in the Amazon only have the numbers ‘1 to 5’ after the number five it is just referred to as many (Bellos, 2011, p15.) We live in a society where numbers and mathematics play a large part in our everyday lives that I found the concept of only having five numbers completely alien. Pierra Pica went to live with the Munduruku tribe for many months and on his return he had lost the ability to describe the world in terms of numbers (Bellos, 2011.) I found this fascinating as he was a highly intelligent man living in the 21st century, how can you lose the concept of numbers so quickly? Due to numbers not being a huge part of day to day life such as time or counting, he simply learned how to survive without numbers. This made me wonder, as a society why are we so “obsessed” with numbers and time? Is this due to the fact that we are surrounded by it much more. I am intrigued to experience what life would be like where numbers play a minimal part in your day to day life. If others can live by it and survive, surely we can?

During our lecture we were asked to complete an activity where we had to create our own number system using symbols, and I tell you I take my hat off to those who have created number systems as it is definitely not as easy as you would think. Me and my partner Hannahunnamed thought it would be a good idea to use a circle as our symbol and one whole line within the circle would represent the amount. We quickly figured out that our system was too complex as by the time we reached number five we were both confused. Some of our classmates came up with really good examples and were
very simple to follow.


So how does this all link to Liping Ma’s profound understanding of fundamental mathematics?

Connectedness – In order for me to understand the way different number systems work I had to make connections with different mathematical concepts such as different base systems. I made these connections with concepts which I was familiar with such as time which is a base 60 system to understand my new knowledge in more depth. I also had  to make connections with real life in order to understand how number systems have developed over time and how they are different to the numbers I deal with daily.



Bellos, A. (2011.) Alex’s Adventures in Numberland. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, London.

Mastln, L. (2010) 20th Century Mathematics – The Story of Mathematics. Viewed at: [Accessed on 7 October 2016.]

Shuttleworth, M (2012.) Egyptian Mathematics – The History of Mathematics. Viewed at: [Accessed on 7 October 2016.]

Du Sautoy, M (2016) The Guardian. Viewed at: [Accessed on 7 October 2016.]

The dreaded ‘M’ word…

Maths. That word has filled me with fear and dread for my whole life. Maths is a subject which I find extremely difficult. The different concepts, the rules, there being only one correct answer is something I have had difficulty understanding for years. I’m not sure if my difficulties in maths developed from the idea that “you can only be good at either English or maths; you cannot be good at both.” From a young age this is the statement you hear from parents, friends and teachers. There may have been a point in my life where I just accepted my strength was English and that if you could only be good at one, why try? After school when again will I need maths? How wrong was I… math-jokes-for-teachers

Firstly, the idea of you can only be good at maths or English is just ludicrous. There are many people who have a natural ability to be good at both, I know as I have witnessed it. From colleagues, to friends and the pupils I taught on placement they have opened my eyes to the fact that yes, you can be good at both. Do not get me wrong you may be stronger at one or enjoy one more but what is stopping a person being good at both. This is backed up by Eastaway and Askew who state that there is “no such thing as a maths gene.” (Eastaway and Askew, 2013, p14.) They discuss that mathematics has been around for hundreds of years and that today’s society are much more mathematically sophisticated compared to those in medieval times, therefore how could there be a gene that programmed us to “be good at maths.” (Eastaway and Askey, 2013, p15.) I understand people can argue that maths has developed heavily over the last few centuries however my argument would be if we were all genetically programmed with a “maths genes” then why were people in the medieval times not as developed as us?

Secondly, the concept of you do not need maths after you have left school does make me laugh, now. For years I was a firm believer of “when will I need maths again?” Fast forward a few years and here I am standing in front of a class teaching them angles, fractions and decimals. All the things “I would never need to use again”. Maths plays such a heavy influence in day to day life. We need it for such basic things such as setting an alarm clock or calculating change. As we grow older we need maths for knowing how to drive or buying a house. Without mathematics these things we do each day without thinking would prove extremely difficult. In modern day society maths is an essential qualification to have when applying for most jobs. Whether we like it or not we do need maths and it is deemed a requirement in society. (Eastaway and Askey, 2013, p21.)

Predominately, the reason why I chose the ‘Discovering Mathematics’ elective was due to my anxiety about maths. People’s anxiety from mathematics can stem from many different things. Eastaway and Askey state that people’s mathematics anxiety can develop from a parent or teacher but mainly it is not the fear of maths itself but the fear of being shamed. (Eastaway and Askey, 2013, p15.) Personally, I feel one of the reason as to why I feel anxious mathematics was due to the way I was taught it. We were given brief explanations about the methods and explanations and then set on to a task from a text-book. This method never worked for me. As a learner I need to be able to relate it too real-life. When I become a teacher I strive to ensure that when teaching mathematics, I will relate it too real-life as much as I possibly can. This will give the children an insight as to why they need maths and I hope that they will never be asking themselves “when will I use this again?”

Eastaway, R., Askew, M. (2013) Maths for Mums and Dads. Square Peg. London.



Teamwork makes the dream work

As part of today’s TDT we were encouraged to engage with peers posts which has prompt me to keep on top of my ePortfolio more.  I do engage frequently with mine however it is more for TDT’s rather than professional thoughts and opinions. By looking at my peers posts it has inspired me to engage with my ePortfolio outwith my TDT’s.

Prior to the Christmas break I was beginning to really getting into the swing of writing posts and commenting on my peers posts. However this began to fall away when assessments and presentations were coming up as all my focus was on them. The lack of engagement from my peers and lecturers on my post also made me lose my confidence. When I am posting a blog it takes me ages to write it up as I am constantly re-reading and re-writing it. The amount of time I together-everyone-achieves-more-teamwork-quotespent on my posts and the lack of feedback I received really made me think, whats the point?

However after today’s lecture with Derek my “what’s the point attitude” slowly began to fade. After engaging with my peers post I was made aware that people did not engage on every single post and they still continued to post outstanding blogs so therefore why shouldn’t I?One blog that particularly stood out for me was – 5,6,7.. Dance. I found this post really interesting as Lauren’s passion and enthusiasm for her love of dance really shone through. I liked how she incorporated pictures from her own dance experience into her blog to make it that bit more personal. Her lesson plan really showed how much experience she has in dance and I am sure her enthusiasm would really motivate the children.

For me to improve my blog personally I feel I need to be more open to share my posts on edushare. I still feel very apprehensive when posting my work on their for everyone to see and for my professional development I feel this is something I must work on. I also feel I need to include more interactive sources such as videos, pictures and my professional reading into my blog to show I am really meeting and understanding the Standards for Registration.

The ePortfolio’s are a great tool to use as it is a space in which your thoughts and feelings are gathered. It allows you to reflect and engage in professional dialogue with peers and university staff providing you with the opportunity to expand your professional knowledge, thoughts and opinions.  After engaging with my peers posts this has really spurred me on to engage with my ePortfolio more and also my peers. By working together as a cohort and really engaging with one another’s ePortfolio’s we can flourish and grow together as professionals and make this a huge learning success.

Dance like nobody’s watching..

Ever since I was a little girl I always loved dancing therefore when I saw we had a dancing input I was excited. I danced from a very young age right through to around 16 so I have a quite a broad experience of dance. My experience however is very much learning how to dance and 13682601-Word-dance-with-colorful-and-funny-letters-Stock-Vector-dance-cartoon-kidsperform rather than actually teaching dance so the prospect of this excited me.

I was very unaware of the amount of skills you actually develop through dance and through gaining this knowledge I feel that Dance is a really important curricular area. Dance allows children to build social skills such as team work and creating friendships. Some of the people I met through dancing have been lifelong friends. You learn to support one another through the good and bad times and this is skill which is valuable throughout life. Dance also allows time for children to really think outside and bring out their creative sides. It can provide a time for children to express their thoughts and feelings through dance movements.

From a teaching perspective I understand the spectrum of ability and anxiety which may appear when planning and teaching a dance lesson. From my own experience of dance in schools, girls liked dance more than boys. In my professional reading I discovered that “dance levels are highest in S1 with 62.4% of girls taking part in dance compared to only 11.5% of boys.” (Get Scotland Dancing, 2012, p17.) I found this interesting as it is around an age range which is similar to those in the upper years of primary schools. There is a stigma attached to dance that it is a “girls sport” and this may be the reason for the lack of male participant in dance. However there also girls who do not enjoy dance. When planning for a lesson I believe you have to consider the confidence of children within your class, their ability within dance and also age. The older children become their self awareness develops and they conform to fit in with their friends. This can prove as a challenge as many may not be fully committed to the lesson. I believe you have to slowly build up their confidence within dance and not make it all performing in front of one another.

For a Primary 5 class and through my understanding of the Curriculum for Excellence I aim to create an exciting and fun lesson for all.

Curriculum for Excellence Outcome: I can explore and choose movements to create and present dance, developing my skills and techniques. EXA 2-08

Learning Intention (LC): To be able to create a short dance routine related to a specific mood through the use of different movements which will be explored in the lesson.

Success Criteria (SC): To successfully create a short dance routine through actions such as travelling, gestures and stillness. To understand how these actions portray the mood which has been chosen. 

How will I achieve my LC and SC:
Warm up:
 Gather the children in to a circle and begin to warm up the children’s body by loosing off their body. I will also incorporate some rhythm exercises into the warm up by asking the children to walk, run, jump or clap to a piece of music. This allows me to evaluate the stage each child is at and also to examine if a child is carrying any injuries.

Main body: I will talk the children through different actions within dance e.g. travelling and ways ti travel such as; striding, skipping and hopping. This is to show creative ways to travel rather than walking and running. I will also demonstrate different gestures such as twisting, flop and stretching. Stillness is another aspect of dance I aim to examine is stillness. I will explain to the children the power stillness such as a freeze, sleep or pause can have in dance. Finally we will look into different levels of dance such as high, medium and low levels. Once we have examined different actions of dance the children will split into groups of around five to six people. In these groups they will be provided with a certain mood such as happy, sad, worried or excited and work together as a team to put together a short dance routine in which they will incorporate the different actions they have learned. I will half the class and ask them to perform in front of the other half of the class. This will allow the children to see how different actions create a certain mood and also the contrast of different moods performing together. Performing alongside peers rather than one group at a time can reduce children feeling embarrassed or anxious about performing and can allow them to flourish fully within the lesson as it is not all eyes on them.  This lesson may be conducted over the course of a few weeks depending on the pace the lessons go at.

Cool Down: Gather the children back in a circle to stretch out their bodies and to regain their focus. We will then discuss as a group if we feel we have all met the LC and SC. 

Assessment opportunities: Through the children’s performance I aim to examine if they have met the success criteria but also allow their peers to examine if they feel they have meet the success criteria too.

As stated in the Standards for Provisional Registration as a student teacher I must “develop tasks and set pace of work to meet the needs of learners, providing effective support and challenge.” I feel through dance lessons I can achieve this. I understand the range of abilities that pupils in the class will have and to take this into consideration when planning in order to provide a challenging but supported lesson. I understand the challenges I may be faced with also such as lack of motivation to participate, anxiety and also children who have  experience of dance, providing a lesson which can challenge them. I believe I could successfully  support the needs of the pupils in my class by motivating them and encouraging them to challenge themselves and step out of their comfort zone.





Be smart, stay safe!

For one of our ICT inputs we were looking into internet searching and safety. This is a topic I feel is so important to incorporate into schools, the internet plays such a huge part in our day to day life. The internet is such a great tool and provides so many opportunities and learning experiences, however, there also many dangers and hazards which our children must be aware of searching online and also communicating online. Children are beginning to use the internet younger and younger now and providing children with information on what to do and what not to do on the internet can help keep them safe.

Sharon introduced us to some websites for internet safety such as ChildNet and Doople Me. I looked further into these and found them very useful. Child Net  provides information to teachers about teaching children how to use the internet safely. It also provides information for teachers how to remain professional online and within the workplace. ChildNet also gives helpful advice to parents with on how to encourage their children to use the internet safely.  I feel its so important for parents to be aware of what their children are doing online and if parents have more knowledge about internet safety they can really help keep children safe. Child Net provides a area in which children can access games and tips about internet safety. There was an acronym of SMART I found on Child Net which I thought would be great for children to use as a way of remembering how to be smart and stay safe online:

SAFE: Do not give out person information such as phone number, house address or passwords when chatting or posting online.
MEET: Do not meet someone you have only been in touch with online as this can be very dangerous. Only do so with parents’ or carers’ permission and even then only do so if they are present. Online friends are still strangerUntitleds even if you have spoke to them for a long time.
ACCEPTING: Do not accept friend requests, messages or emails from people you do not know, They may contain viruses or nasty, inappropriate messages.
RELIABLE: Some people or websites may lie about who they are or the information may be false. Always check information by looking at other websites or books. If you like to chat online it is best to chat to people you know.
TELL: Tell a parent, carer or adult if there is something oavatarr someone online which makes you or someone you know feel uncomfortable or asks you to do something you are not happy about.

I also thought Doople Me was a very useful tool. This is a website in which the children can create an avatar which represents the way the look. This allows the child to use this as a picture online rather than an actual photograph of themselves. This protects the children identity. I feel that this website is also a good tool to witness how the children view                   themselves. I made my own one and it was very simple and straight forward!

Throughout this input I also learned a few valuable skills when it comes to searching online. I am the number one culprit for using google for any questions or help I need. I was aware that some websites you have to careful of as they can portray false information. However I was not aware to how to condense your search so you are not getting so many results and also the other search engines available to use. After the input I felt that it was my job to educate children how to search correctly and also the other search engines such as AOL Kids.  AOL Kids is a search engine which caters for kids. On the homepage it provides popular and suitable websites that kids can use such as Disney and Fun Brain. I feel this would be a good search engine to use in school as search engine such as Google can sometimes have content which is not suitable for children.  Sharon also introduced to us some presentation tool such as Prezi and Animoto. These are different ways and ideas of putting together to make presentations more fun and interactive. These would be both beneficial for teachers and children to use.

Overall, I feel this input was very useful as it give me an insight to different resources available to keep children safe on the internet without scaring them completely of using the internet. It also provided me of different resources to use in class with the children not just for internet safety but across the curriculum areas. The internet is a wonderful resource which we are so lucky to have and having the knowledge to use it appropriately will help to keep children safe online. Be smart, stay safe!

The dreaded maths lesson..

Maths has always been a subject I have associated with anxiety and fear. During my time at school maths always filled me with dread and I used to get myself worked up about going to it. I feel one of the reasons why I did not enjoy maths was the teaching style. The teacher would always go around the room and make everyone answer maths questions. This type of teaching did not suit me at all I needed time to think and process what was being asked of me.

When I arrived at university and there was maths on my timetable I thought, oh no!! However the maths input really surprised me and also comforted me to see how many students teachers also shared my anxiety about maths and how nervous they felt about teaching maths. I was shocked to find out that one of the reasons why so many people have anxiety about maths is due to the way they were taught it in school. This then made me think, how will I reduce these feelings of anxiety make maths fun and exciting for my pupils?

From my personal experience I feel I did not enjoy maths because it was very much read out the text book. However I do remember one maths lesson in primary school. We were doing measurement and it had been snowing, our class teacher took us outside and we built snowmen and then measured how tall they were. To this day I still know how many feet are inches etc as I can relate it back to the snowmen. I believe that by making maths more interactive and fun increases the chance of children not feeling so stressed and anxious about maths.

I feel its so important for children to have a concrete knowledge of maths and have confidence in their ability. Maths is in everyday life and also evident across the curriculum. It is heavily evident in subjects such as science and technology however it also appears in other subjects such as; geography for map work and history for timelines. One way I feel can be beneficial for securing a child’s mathematical knowledge is having them explain the solution to you. It is important for children to get the correct answer. Having the ability however to understand how they got to that answer and being able to do it again is when you know if they have really understood what you have taught them.

In my personal opinion, in order to change this perspective of maths I feel we have to make maths more interactive and creative. Instead of a child just reading out of text book and answering the questions actually put maths into action. If your studying measurement ask the children to measure something, if your doing fractions use plasticine and make pizza’s and get the children half their pizzas. A child will always remember more when they have something to relate it to, like myself with the snowman. There will be times in maths when it is just a case of using the textbook but when you can bring your maths lesson to life. Maths is such a crucial part of life and it is so important for everyone to have confidence within their maths ability.



Oh Science..

When we received an email instructing us to create a small science experiment for our lecture a wave of stress and anxiety swept over me. I have never been good at science and I was totally disengaged during science lessons at school which made this task particularly difficult. I researched some experiments and decided I would make a rainbow. It was a very simple experiment all you needed was a sunny day, however, in Dundee they are very few and far between so I therefore settled for a torch, blank piece of white paper and a glass filled with water. You shone the torch into the glass of water and a rainbow was projected on to the paper. I chose this experiment as I felt it would be appropriate for a classroom as a fun task when studying the water cycle and I may be able to use it in the future.  Rainbow Experiment

As I said previously my time studying science was not an enjoyable experience and I feel this was due to the lack of input we had during our primary years. Throughout my whole time at primary school I cannot remember a single science lesson. With science comes high amounts of facts and figures and this can scare many people, myself included. I feel that many teachers may feel anxious about teaching science due to this. Personally I aim to overcome my anxiety with science now which will allow me to become more confident within the subject and therefore will not be so hesitant about teaching it.  This not only improves my own professional knowledge but broadens the knowledge I can provide my pupils with.

In order to improve my knowledge  I will research different areas within science. I aim to do this in various ways by visiting places such as Dundee Science Center or beginning  to look at the Curriculum for Excellence experience and outcomes and begin to research the topic areas and plan lessons for them. I will achieve this through researching and by asking my peer, lecturers and teachers on placement for support and advice.

how secure are you?

During our psychology lectures one lesson I particularly enjoyed was studying the theory of attachment. I found it interesting that your sense of security and attachment is connected with the development of you as a person. Attachment is a bond in which a person has a special sense of security  and comfort to another person which is usually the Mother. However in the modern day attachment can be formed with many different people such as the child’s father or the child’s grandparents.

I looked further into some studies regarding attachment and one that I thought was interesting was Freud and Dunn (1951) study on war orphans. Freud and Dunn studied six war orphans who’s parents were killed in the concentration camps. The infants were looked after as-well as possible from fellow prisoners however it was difficult to form any sort of attachment as people were never around long enough. The conditions the children lived in were hard and they had limited food and no toys to play with. After the war had ended the children were moved to Bulldogs Bank Reception in the Lake District. The children couldn’t communicate much except a few German swear words. Freud and Dunn found that the children were very hostile to the adults trying to help them and the children would do everything together, if one did not eat nor did the rest. They appeared to have formed attachment to one another. The children progressively developed relationships with adults and slowly recovered from the deprivation they suffered however still remained very much attached to one another. For me I thought this study was a real eye opener as to how key attachment is for development. The infants missed a crucial period for creating attachment therefore their social skills were affected.

An attachment theory I feel can be really beneficial in the classroom is Mary Ainsworth Strange Situation study. Ainsworth studied children’s reaction when a stranger was in a room with and without their mother present.As a result of the experiment she came up with three different attachment types; insecure avoidant, securely attached and insecure resistant. Insecure avoidant  is when the child has little interest in their caregivers and aren’t phased when alone with a stranger, they also aren’t looking for comfort when the caregiver returns. Securely attached is when the child gets upset when their caregiver leaves and seems distressed when alone with the stranger, however is quickly soothed when their mother returns. Insecure attachment is when the child doesn’t want to explore the room and they cry when their caregiver leaves and when left alone with stranger. There is however mixed responses when their mother returns they want to be soothed but they can also reject their mothers comfort and be angry. Children with a secure attachment don’t need all the teachers attention on them and are happy for other children to receive some of that attention. These children are able to wait their turn, with belief that their teacher will be able to meet their needs.  This allows the child to take risks and tolerate frustrations in the learning process. However, children with attachment difficulties will typically show distrust within in their teacher and classmates, and many put this down to  lack of concentration rather than attachment difficulties. A child who constantly talks can be using this a strategy to keep bad thoughts away. These children may also have difficulty dealing with unstructured situations such as playtimes . If they make mistakes, these children may have explosive reactions.

Overall for me I feel that having the knowledge of the attachment theory is crucial for teachers. Having the ability to spot that a child is acting up as they have trust issues because due to not having that attachment figure in their life, and not because they are trying to show off or be the “class clown”. As teachers having the knowledge and tools to deal with this situation can only insure a better learning experience and future for your pupils.

Beneficial or not?

For me I feel feedback is critical in your learning experience. Receiving someone else’s perspective on your work can really enhance your knowledge as it opens up a whole new way of thinking for you. One of the most effective ways of feedback for me personally is getting someone to read over your work. It is very easy to miss errors in your own writing therefore having someone proof read your work and feedback to you what needs improved or what they enjoyed can be very beneficial.

There can be some barriers when you have to give feedback to other people. It is very easy to focus on the positives rather than giving constructive criticism as well. If you are giving feedback to a friend it can be difficult trying to give them ways to improve without feeling that you are offending them. Although some may appreciate what you have to say finding the correct balance between both can be beneficial to both you and the person you are helping.

My own experience of receiving feedback has been mixed. Many of the people who have commented on my own posts on Glow have been very positive. This is really great as I am glad to see people can relate to my posts and enjoy reading them. However I have not received much constructive criticism which I feel, would also really help me being able to hear areas in which I should improve on.

From this post for me, it is clear that feedback is really crucial in order to help your learning . Taking on people’s opinions and appreciating someone else’s beliefs and views can really broaden the way in which you think and you can then pass these beliefs and views onto someone else. Having the ability to receive constructive criticism without taken offence is a real strength as it is difficult to have your work criticized especially when you feel you have done well. Taking on board what people have said about your work and improving from their feedback, I feel really shows your professionalism and commitment to growing as a learner.


What is an Enquiring Practitioner ?

An enquiring practitioner is some who grows as professional “by challenging or ‘disrupting thinking’ and ‘ingrained habits of mind.” For me this means someone who is open to change, someone who seeks to gain more knowledge and someone who reflects on their teaching styles and aims to better these in order to  provide their pupils with the best learning experience.The best way to better yourself as person is to reflect and learn from particular situations.

Some benefits of being an enquiring practitioner which is stated on the GTCS is that it “enables teachers to bring about fundamental changes in pedagogy and curriculum and thereby significantly improves the quality of students’ learning experiences in educational institutions.” Seeking further knowledge regarding the curriculum and incorporating different teaching styles allows teachers to grow as professionals but also improves the learning environment for children.  Another benefit I thought was of importance was that it “enable teachers to collaboratively develop the curriculum.”  The saying “two heads are better than one” comes to mind for this, working with someone allows you to see a situation from a whole different perspective. By reflecting together it allows people to share different experiences and ideas which can develop whole new opportunities for learning. Also to be a enquiring practitioner you have to ask why and having the ability to challenge certain ways of thinking. There are however some challenges which may be faced when being an enquiring practitioner such as some people may feel uncomfortable. As an enquiring practitioner the aim is to continue to better yourself as a professional through research and reflecting; this means there may be new skills and challenges being faced which can be daunting especially if you have been in the practice for a long-time. Another would be that It can be difficult to question your own assumptions  therefore many can start looking for problems in products, strategies and pupils. To be an enquiring practitioner you have to be critical of yourself to learn how to adapt to different ways of teaching.

I feel that learning now, how to be an affective enquiring practitioner will really benefit me as a student teacher . Within the University set up for example, in lectures not just believing everything you are told. Having the ability to go away and research theories and challenge them will allow me to grow as professional.  Another example would be whilst observing your classroom teacher on placement having the confidence to ask why they done that particular lesson plan or why they dealt with that behaviour in that way. Not just accepting that, that’s the way it is done. Then having the ability to reflect on this and either use it in your own lessons or deciding you may do something differently. I feel this will all set me in good stead for becoming an enquiring practitioner.

The Secret Life of the Brain

As part of a psychology TDT we were asked to create a timeline of brain development. I felt that this was very interesting; to see what people used to think about the brain compared to now.

  • 4000 B.C.- Sumerian records show first writing on the brain
  • 450 B.C. – Alcmaeon was a Greek physician. He used anatomic dissection of animals as a basis for his theories. He believes from his studies that the brain is the central organ of sensation and thought. This idea contradicts a lifetime theory that see’s the heart as the true seat of intelligence.
  • 335 B.C- Aristotle believes that the heart is the main organ for sensation and thought and the brain is a radiator which is there to cool it. Aristotle believes that the organ of thought and basis for thought are not the same. He claims that the basis for thought, is what he calls the rational soul, this is immaterial and can’t be found anywhere within the body. Aristotle’s theories about memory are proven to be more successful. He surmises that the processes involved in short term memory are different from those involved in long-term memory.
  • 1664- Thomas Willis was an Oxford Professor he wrote the first monograph on brain autonomy and physiology. In his book, he states that the cerebral hemispheres – which makes up 70% of the human brain – determines thought and action and this is separate from the part of the brain that controls basic motor functions e.g walking. Willis’ work was crucial in encouraging future neuroscientists to study the functional contributions of individual brain parts.
  • 1848- Phineas Gage was a railroad worker; he was involved in an accident at work when an explosion caused an iron rod to pierce the frontal lobe of his brain. He recovered from this accident however suffered from mood and behaviour changes. Accounts showed that Gage was a quite worker before the accident however became irritable and could not hold a job down. This was accident was a milestone in brain study as it showed a link between the frontal lobe and personality. These findings lead to the development of lobotomy. This was based on the theory that removing portions of the frontal lobe could cure mental derangement and depression.
  • 1869- Francis Galton claimed that intelligence was an inherited trait and high levels of intelligence was linked to a person’s genes. He made the first attempt to measure intelligence. In 1888, he sets up an “anthropometric laboratory” he used measures of visual acuity, auditory accuracy, and breathing capacity to assess levels of intelligence.
  • 1875 Wihelm Wundt set up the first lab devoted to study of behaviour. He was deeply interested in philosophy as well as psychology. He studied attention and sensory process.
  • 1905- Alfred Binet was a French psychologist. He disagreed with Galtons use of sensory discrimination to explain intelligence. Binet believed that individual differences in intelligence can be detected only through measures of complex processes such as memory, imagination, attention and comprehension. Binet aimed to develop a scale that could differentiate children who are slow learners from children who are learning at a normal rate. The result as a scale made to measure a variety of mental processes such as memory and imagination. In 1905, Binet and Simon introduced their intelligence scale and provide guidelines for its administration. They stressed that the scale was only appropriate for assessing if a child is of normal or inferior intelligence and is not designed to uncover the psychologically unstable or insane.
  • 1929: Hans Berger demonstrated the first human electroencephalograph (EEG). This was used to measure and record the electrical activity of the brain. Berger’s invention was fundamental in brain development as this is now used routinely as a diagnostic test in neurology and psychiatry and as a common tool in brain research.
  • 1950: Karl Spencer Lashley was an America neuropsychologist who conducted an experiment which aimed to uncover neural components of memory which he named engrams. He worked with rats in order to see where their memory was situated. During one experiment, he systematically removed different percentages of rats’ brains and then tested them in mazes that they had ran before. The result of this was a gradual, but consistent, decline in their ability to remember the twists and turns of the maze. From Lashley’s findings he conclued that there is no particular area for memory in the brain, but that it is a holistic process made up of many neural connections.
  • 1953: Nathaniel Kleitman and Eugene Aserinsky were doing research on children’s sleeping patterns when they discovered Rapid Eye Movement Sleep. Prior to this it was believed that the brain was inactive when a person was asleep. However when using the EEG record the brain activity of someone sleeping they found that the electrical pattern was similar to someone who was awake. However the electrical waves between periods of REM sleep were slow this suggested the brain was at rest. Researchers now believe that people experience two kinds of sleep, orthodox and paradoxical. These change throughout the night in breaks of about 100 minutes. Orthodox sleep occurs 80% of the night and there is no rapid eye movement. Paradoxical sleep (known as REM sleep) makes up the rest of the time and involves bodily movement as well as rapid eye movement. Newborns spend more than 20% of their sleep in the REM phase, this suggests to researchers that this part of sleep involves some sort of learning process.
  • 1974: M.E.Phelps, E.J.Hoffman and M.M.Ter Pogossian created the first Positron Emission Topography (PET) scanner. This is a machine that gives visual information about the brains activity. A patient that undergoes a PET scan is administered a substance which includes radioactive atoms that give out positively charged particles known as positrons. The gamma radiation that results from this process is sensed by detectors and converted into computer-generated images of the brain. Doctors use PET scans to monitor such things as blood flow and oxygen utilization in the brain.
  • 1987: Prozac is introduced to and becomes a treatment for depression. Prozac works by enhancing the effects of the chemical neurotransmitter, serotonin. Serotonin creates a sense of well-being. People who suffer from depression suffer from low levels of serotonin. Prozac alters the brain chemistry of depressed people by allowing more serotonin to remain in their brains.
  • 1990: The US president George Bush declares this the “decade of the brain”.
  • 2000 : Arvid Carlsson, Paul Greengard and Eric Kandel share the Nobel Prize for their discoveries concerning signal transduction in the nervous system
  • 2014 – John O’Keefe, Edvard Moser, and May-Britt Moser share the Nobel Prize for their discoveries about cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain

Teachers on professionalism

What makes a teacher who makes a difference?

In video 1 “Being a Professional Teacher” it highlights certain similarities between teachers and doctors. Some of the similarities were that both teachers and doctors see their profession as a calling. They have to be caring, passionate and also up to date on their profession e.g new laws and regulations. However I have to disagree with the severeness of when life and death is stated. I would not say that having an unprofessional teacher is a matter of life and death. There have been many people who have had an unprofessional teacher or bad schooling experience but still succeed in their lives. However to be at the hands of an unprofessional doctor can result in death.  The first teacher in the video shows how enthusiastic and committed she is to her pupils.  Not only does the teacher have the backing of her pupils but also their families and community. The teacher has to adapt to her surroundings and little resources available and fulfill the needs of the pupils; by doing this provides her pupils with the best learning opportunities. The teacher in the video goes above and beyond the expected by taken on lots of extra activities such as abuse awareness and literacy classes in order to make the lives of the people around her better. I feel that what makes a teacher makes a difference is them making the first move to make a change.

What teachers call professionalism

In video 2 Miss Long highlights how teachers are becoming more noticed in society and there is a higher knowledge of professionalism of teachers. Many could see this as a disadvantage as it can add excess stress. However the higher standard set  makes sure that teachers are providing an education to the greatest of their ability allowing the children to seize the most out of their education. Mrs Nursen states that professionalism of a teacher can affect the children when the they grow into adults. Your pupils spend a lot of time around you and therefore will pick up on your traits. Therefore if you behave in an unprofessional manner such as the language you use in your class or the values you portray the children will think that behavior is the norm. Mrs Walsh had a similar idea of Mrs Nursen that we have to professional as teachers have to be good role models to the children. She also highlights a very important point that as professionals you should not judge the pupils on their home life or appearance. Every child deserve fair and equal opportunities. Mrs Smith believes that professionalism allows you to be an effective communicator. You are able to communicate with children, family and teachers. Professionalism is about teachings being aware of the influence they have on children, they way you act in the classroom they take that outwith the school walls.



Reflection is when you draw from your experiences, beliefs and emotions and by reflecting back on these better yourself as person. I believe that being able to reflect is crucial in teaching. The Standards for Registration states that student teachers must, “reflect and engage in self evaluation using the relevant professional standard.” This shows how vital it is for teachers to be able to reflect.

As teachers in order to be able to reflective we have to be open-minded and responsible. We need to have the ability to be critical of ourselves. If a particular lesson did not work well we must be able to reflect by looking a the lesson and identifying what did not work well and learn from this in order to prevent the problem arising again. Reflection leads to change and adaptation; without reflection I feel education would never progress.

I feel the key to becoming a successful learner is having the ability to reflect. If children are taught from a young age to look back and reflect on a particular situation within their learning provides them with a staggering amount of opportunities through development. Reflection is also vital in allowing people to recognise and consider other people’s beliefs and values. Having the skills to take a step back from your own values and see other people’s perspectives is a vital skill throughout life.

In brief, we need reflection in order to improve as teachers. If teachers are constantly improving this gives the students a even greater education.

Active and Co-operative Learning; Is it effective?

Personally I am a huge supporter of active learning and co-operative working.I feel that active lessons through things such as play or investigating and exploring are much more effective for children rather than the teacher standing infront of the class dictating to them. I believe active learning is effective because when it comes to a time in which they have to reflect on their learning they can think back to the exciting lesson that they really enjoyed and it will stick with them. I can say this from personal experience; when I was in primary 6 we were discussing Victorian Britain as a topic. My teacher set up a life-like Victorian Classroom at the back of the class. We each got a chance to sit in there for the day to experience what it was like for children in Victorian Britain. That is now a matter of years on and that lesson still sticks with me. Children enjoy interacting with their peers and by creating a environment where are working alongside their friends excites them and really draws them into the content of what you are saying. I can understand that people can argue it is not effective. If we rewind fifty years children were taught by the teacher standing infront of them dictating the lessons and back then it did work. However now we have an amazing opportunity to change the way learning is taught through the use of technology and play.

Through my own experience of learning I believe that co-operative working is really effective. When I could not understand what the teacher was trying to get across I would go to one of my peers who did understand and they would simplify what they were trying to say. As teachers I feel we can sometimes over complicate things so through co-operative learning children have the chance to help their peers. I also feel through co-operative learning a lot of life skills can be taught such as; learning to work in a team, co-operating with other people and listening to other peoples opinions. These are skills that you use in everyday life and by using them from a young age really gives children the chance to develop these. Working together also gives children time to process what you have just taught them. Letting them go away and discuss what they have just been told allows time for the information to actually sink in rather rushing on to the next part of that days lesson.  Once again I understand that this is just my views on active and co-operative learning and that there can be disadvantages to this. One disadvantage I do understand is that children can go off task when working with peers and starting chatting about things other than the lesson. However my personal view is that the advantages to outweigh the disadvantages and when I am planning lessons I will try to make them as active as possible.

Virtues of Teachers

As part of a TDT we were given a list of the virtues of teaching and told to pick five of the list. The five that stood out to me was; patience, fairness, respect, empathy and compassion.

I feel patience is such an important virtue to have in teaching. From my own personal experience at school I used to hate having to ask the teacher for help over and over again as I felt that they became less patient each time I asked. However for me I feel that you should not lose patience with a child because they do not get something correct first time. Your there to teach them how to do something and not every child is going to get it first time; there may be times were you have to keep going over something; however I love the feeling you get when you see  that they are beginning to understand. You also are dealing with a large number of children everyday and they all want your undivided attention so your patience will be tested!!

Another virtue I thought was important was fairness. Every single child in your classroom should be treated the same. When you start to make divides in the classroom I believe this is when problems can be created. I believe a mutual respect is created when everyone is treated the same which creates a much more happier classroom.

Respect is an important part of teaching. As a teacher you have to be respectful of everyone you work with from the pupils, to the parents, canteen staff, janitors and headteachers. You all are a team and no one person is better than the other. Respecting people’s opinions is also important. As a teacher you hear different opinions regarding the way you teach and you have to respect these opinions and take on board what they are saying.

Being able to empathise with a person is important as a teacher. In teaching you meet people from all walks of life and you have to be able to see different perspectives. Empathy is essential for building bridges between individuals and the ability to understand other people’s emotions. Empathy is important for creating relationships for progress.

The final virtue I chose was compassion. You are seen as a “parental figure” at school. The children are with you everyday and you have to care for them. They rely on you so much, when they  are hurt or have a problem you have to show compassion and that you are there to help them.

Personal vs Private

The GTCS states that teachers have to use social media wisely and in a correct manner. Even though they are entitled to a private life; what they say on social media or how they use social media can be classed as unprofessional and seen as going against the GTC code. Teachers have to maintain the trust of both pupils and parents. This trust is maintained through behaving in an appropriate way both in there personal and professional life.

For me personally I feel it would be difficult to marry up both your personal life and private life on social media and I prefer to keep both mine separate. All my personal social media accounts such as; Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are private. In your private life you could say something on social media which you see as harmless however others may think you are being inappropriate or unprofessional. I also feel it would be difficult to maintain a professional boundary if you tried to marry it up with you personal life as people can see you in a different light. My personal view is that people have very high standards regarding the way teachers behave and are quick to pick up on any negative behavior and come down hard on this.  I feel marrying the private and personal life can make a teacher vulnerable to scrutiny.

The use of social media professionally however I feel has great aspects. Social media is the forefront of everything these days and children are heavily involved within social media. I feel introducing social media sites into the classroom such as Glow makes learning more modern and relevant to the children. However I feel its so important to stress to children the dangers of using social media and that they should be taught how to use social media safely and appropriately. I looked into some statistics regarding social media and young children and one that really sprung out at me. On Guardchild ( it stated that “Only 10% of parents of children aged 10 and under had frank talks about appropriate online behavior and threats” Children are using technology and social media from such a young age that this should be drilled into them especially when they do not get told in depth at home about appropriate use of social media.

There are many challenges to social media and I feel that social media is portrayed in a negative way. This could be due to all the horror stories you hear regarding it or that because its relatively new that some people of older generations see it a bit alien like. However I feel it is a very positive aspect of learning. Websites such as Glow allow you to communicate safely and appropriately with pupils. It expands pupils literacy skills e.g by using blogs. I feel there is always going to positives and negatives of using social media however it is the future and I believe we have no choice but to embrace it.

Professional and Academic Development

Activity 1

1. Below are a list of skills and abilities. Complete an audit of where you are now. Record this in your learning journal/portfolio.

Rate yourself (1=Not very well developed; 3=very well developed)

Skills and Abilities




 Working under pressure                      X
 Time management                      X
 Listening                     X
 Confidence                   X
 Using technology                     X
 Learning outwith university                     X


Although it is important to identify where we are now, it is not enough to stop there. We need to reflect upon how we can develop the skills where we are less confident and how we can transfer the skills in which we are confident and competent.

Activity 2

Complete the audit below, using the information from the table above.

Recognition Reflection Action
Skills already developed How will I use these How do I know (evidence)**
 Working under pressure  I will use this skill when having to meet deadlines for my assignments. I feel working under pressure helps my time management skills.  During my time at school I studied a 5 or more subjects at one time. Therefore this meant that my work load I had was very high. The more I felt under pressure the better I worked as I knew that I had to get my work done in order to meet the deadlines set.
 Time Management  I will be realistic about how much time I actually have to complete tasks.  I prioritise my workload either by deadlines or by my strengths and weakness. For example; If I am finding a particular area difficult I will set myself more time to focus on this.  I plan my time by either using my whiteboard which I write down all my tasks and can then wipe them off when they have been completed. I also like to use my diary to keep on top of my time
 Listening I feel this skill is useful as I take into account other peoples opinions or points of views before making my own opinion on the situation. In group discussions I like to hear what everyone has to say before I speak. I feel this helps my learning as someone’s perspective may be totally different to mine; however it then opens up my way of thinking and I see that situation from a whole new perspective.

** This section should be completed as you identify when/where/how you have used/developed these skills.

Recognition Reflection Action
Skills to be developed How I will develop these How do I know (evidence)**
 Confidence  I feel I lack confidence in voicing my opinions in group discussions. I will try to improve this by being more vocal in discussions
 Using technology  I am a little bit stuck in the olden days and much prefer to write everything down in a notebook rather than use technology. However I realise that technology is a huge part of my profession therefore I am going to make more of an effort to use it in my learning.  I already have started to do this by using my e-portfolio as a record of my learning.
 Learning outwith the university  I need to develop this skill by taking my learning into my own hands and researching what I have learned in more depth.  I have started to come home and expand on all my notes from my lectures so that I have more information on that topic.

** This section should be completed as you identify when/where/how you have used/developed these skills.

How gender affected me as a child.

As a child I cant say that gender affected me. However I asked my grandparents how gender impacted them at school and I thought it would be interesting to see how times have changed. They said girls were separated from boys to do different classes. The girls learned sewing and cooking and boys learned more manual work. They said very rarely mixed with the opposite sex in the classroom or outside the classroom, and even encouraged to not mix with the opposite sex from teachers.

My experience at school however was completely different to this looking back now I can see that gender was present in my schooling experience however not to the extent were I would say it affected me. The girls did tend to play with other girls and the same for the boys. However I don’t see this as an inequality its more due to what interests you. I played in the boys football team and there were a few boys who came to the schools dance club. Within the classroom the groups we sat in were mixed and we were all treated fairly. There were times within the classroom that we were defined by our gender such as when lining up outside the classroom there was a boys line and a girls line. Or for example when it came to carrying the pack lunch box to the dining hall the teacher would look for a ‘strong boy’ ( I was always glad about this as it was far to heavy for me!). For me personally gender never stopped being able to do what I wanted to do. Maybe in the past this could have been a huge issue in the classroom but definitely not for me during my schooling experience.

Why did I want to become a teacher?

From a really young age I remember wanting to become a primary teacher. I would come home after a hard day in primary one and would sit my Gran and Grandad down and take a register, ask if they were pack lunch or home dinners and tell them about the day’s lessons. I really enjoyed my experience in primary school and the teachers I encountered played a huge part in this. They made my learning experience fun and exciting. It wasn’t always a case of just working out a textbook. One that sticks with me is when we were studying Victorian Britain and we made a Victorian classroom at the back of our classroom. Even now I still remember everything about Victorian Britain because we actually experienced it.  When I become a teacher I aim to create lessons like that so the pupils are actively learning rather than me dictating to them.

The older I got the ambition of becoming a primary teacher was always there. In S3 at high school I chose to do my weeks work experience at my old primary school. It was strange going back and participating in the teaching aspect of it. At this point I realised that this was what I really wanted to do when I grew up. I remember I was helping a primary one girl with writing her ‘kicking k’s’ and she would always write them backwards. I worked with her for only a small matter of time, helping her write them the correct way. The following week I went back and looked at her jotter, here were a line of perfect ‘K’s’. The feeling I got from this is hard to describe, it’s an accomplishment for yourself as you have taught her how to do something she will use every day for the rest of her life.

When I become a teacher I want to make my pupil’s learning experience as enjoyable and interactive as it possibly can be. Personally when I look back on my time at school, you remember the lessons and the input of the lessons in which you interacted, whether it was in groups or on the interactive white board these are the ones that stick by you. I want to be that teacher, when someone I taught is sitting in my positon now and they are writing something like this, I am the one that they are thinking of because I made there time at school the most pleasurable it can be and played a part in them fulfilling there learning to the highest possible standard.


Welcome to your WordPress eportfolio

Welcome to your eportfolio. This is where you will document and share your professional thoughts and experiences over the course of your study at the University of Dundee and beyond that when you begin teaching. You have the control over what you want to make public and what you would rather keep on a password protected page.

The eportfolio in the form of this WordPress blog allows you to pull in material from other digital sources:

You can pull in a YouTube video:

You can pull in a Soundcloud audio track:

You can pull in a Flickr page

Teacher, Lorraine Lapthorne conducts her class in the Grade Two room at the Drouin State School, Drouin, Victoria

You can just about pull in anything that you think will add substance and depth to your writing.