This is a must watch!
On Friday we had the privilege of attending the Writing in Cultures conference hosted by Sue Ellis here at the university. The day was full of interesting speakers from all over the world taking about the teaching of writing in their country.
Steven Layne from Judson University in Illinois, America spoke about how to ignite a passion for writing in your classroom. Steven was genuinely inspiring and so easy to listen to. He spoke about various ways we can gain inspiration for writing. One of the most interesting things Steven spoke about was writing down your own family stories for others to read. Many of his own books have been inspired by things his children have said or done. Steven used the lovely example of “Mailing May” by Michael O. Tunnel. This is the story of a young girl who was mailed by the U.S postal service to visit her grandma. To find out more go to http://www.michaelotunnell.com/mailing_may.html.
Another idea which I can’t wait to try on placement is using a visual aid as a stimulus for creative writing. This could be a photograph or a piece of art work that could tell a story, however each person may interpret it differently and come up with unique scenarios and stories. Steven also suggested that you could give the children a title to work with or a caption to match the visual aid which would give the children a starting point and some inspiration to work their ideas from. “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” by Chris Van Allsburg is a book which features no stories in the form of text, only drawings, titles and captions. This could be used as an effective stimulus for creative writing within the classroom.
Children also need the opportunity to write about whatever they want. It seems as though children are so used to having the thinking done for them as they are more often than not told what and how to write. The same topics seem to appear year after year – “write about your christmas holiday”, “write a story about a time you felt scared” etc. Children may feel nervous about write whatever they want as they lack confidence as writers orperhaps they are not sure their ideas are as good as the teacher’s. However, this could perhaps be improved with a positive classroom ethos when it comes to writing, where the teacher encourages children to be creative. It is also important for children to understand that it is ok to take risks in their writing, that writing is a personal thing and there is no right or wrong when it comes to putting pen to paper to record your own experiences and ideas.
The New Year brings a new bunch of CPD opportunities! The first week back after the Christmas holidays has brought two excellent literacy events. The first being a Read to Inspire event which welcomed two wonderful children’s authors. Mairi Hedderwick took the stage to give us an insight into the stories behind the famous Katie Morag. I was always a fan of the Katie Morag stories so it was fantastic to hear how they started. Mairi Hedderwick started her career as an illustrator, so it is no wonder the illustrations which accompany the Katie Morag stories are beautifully done, full of detail and integral to the story line. The second author to take the stage was Eleanor Updale. Her books are targeted at older children so would they would be fab to use in the Upper Primary and secondary schools. The remarkable thing about her new book, The Last Minute, is that there are online follow-up resources the pupils can look at to get a more in-depth background about the story. I can’t wait to use that resource in future as I am sure children would love to take on the role as detectives and look through the number of newspaper reports, social networking pages and tributes to find out what really happened.
Exploring Writing Cultures was the second event to be held and what a day! Educationalists from around the world gathered to share their literacy findings. It was very interesting to hear about literacy approaches from other countries and compare their ways of working with Scotland’s education system. I definitely gathered advice which I intend to implement on my upcoming placement and I am sure the other students will be doing the same.
As for this semester, we students are all out on school placements. The thought of placement fills me with excitement, nerves and a desire to get into that classroom and start teaching! To finally get the opportunity to put into practice what we have all been talking about is great. Although I am sure that placement will be a challenge, I keep thinking about what Jane Thomson keeps telling us. “You will love it, it will be great, you’ll just love it!”
The CPD committee was busy last semester but I think we will be even busier this semester. We are in the process of finalising details with outside speakers and we are looking forward to providing lots of CPD opportunities.
I will finish by saying good luck to all the students preparing to go out on placement and I hope to see lots of faces at the upcoming CPD events!
The start of a new semester means the start of a final teaching placement for the B.Ed 4 students. I can’t believe this is our final block placement! Having already met the class and class teacher I will be working with, I’m excited to see them all again. Good luck to the B.Ed 4’s who are starting their final placement on Thursday; we’re so close to qualifying now, we can do it!
Also, good luck to the B.Ed 2’s who are beginning their block placement shortly too, with their first Tutor Support Visit. I didn’t know what to expect, but a visit really is fine! Everyone feels nervous beforehand but after a few minutes you forget that anyone is observing you. A wee tip would be to have your class teacher and, where possible, a placement peer observe you as often as possible. You will become used to someone watching you and taking notes as you teach and these observations help address anything you need to work on and where you are showing strengths. What you have learned in lectures and tutorials so far will support you when you are in school, so don’t panic!
The first semester was a busy one! There were some really fantastic CPD opportunities which were engaging and purposeful; thank you to all external organisations and University staff who have worked in conjunction with the Society to provide these opportunities to the named “Times Higher Education UK University of the Year”. The University was described as a “bold, imaginative and innovative institution”; let’s spill this over to Education and continue to be “bold, imaginative and innovative” in our teaching. If we are to be “bold, imaginative and innovative” in our teaching, we must broaden our bank of teaching related knowledge; so come along to CPD workshops and events, learn from others, share your knowledge and stimulate your imagination!
I hope this semester brings everyone new and exciting experiences to Education students! Thank you to students who have participated in CPD workshops and events; we appreciate your support and feedback!
If you’ve been looking for some new ideas for ICT, I tried using Google SketchUp with my class (Primary 5) and the kids loved it. It’s a basic 3D drawing program that you can use to create 3D models. We used it to construct our own homes and then placed them onto Google maps. It teaches complex I.C.T. skills and I’m planning on using it next when teaching shape and measure.
I must start off by apologising for not blogging in ages!!! I am sure you can understand that fourth year has been a busy year. Just because it has been and continues to be a busy year does not mean in any way that I have stopped CPD!
Unfortunately I was unable to attend the Teachmeet on Wednesday but I have heard great things about it! Well done Rebekah! I was at a school show at my placement school which I helped to organise. The children were fantastic and all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears were worth it. Helping with the school show has been such a valuable experience for me and now seeing it being organized well, I am sure it will not faze me in the future. The teachers in the school decided to have the play ‘Pirates of the Curry Bean’ (I know…long story!) as their big interdisciplinary topic of the year. This meant that the organisation of the play, as well as the learning of lines etc. could all be done in class time – which is definitely cross-curricular learning! The upper primary were split into four departments; Advertising, Props, Costume and Scenery. I was in charge of the advertising department and had a group of ten children to work with, creating posters, tickets, programmes, contacting the local press. I was very impressed by the children’s enterprising skills; there are some budding ‘Young Apprentices’ in the future!
Peer-led CPD day
The Autism session with Megan and Karyn was great and although there have been children with autism in my earlier placements, I still found out new things and different ways to support children who have autism. I was intrigued by the different ways in which the classroom could be set out to support this child, for example bright wall displays can be distracting.
I really enjoyed Nicholas and Camilla’s are class. He made a very valid point, why shouldn’t art just be taught as art, why does it need to relate to the topic. I have always related art to the topic, for example the Jacobites or Healthy Eating. There are so many visual elements in art that children need time to develop these before creating topic work art etc. I found this very relaxing and was inspired to pick up a paintbrush again!
My input to this day was to organise a ‘Working with Families’ workshop. I arranged for three representatives from the ‘National Parent Forum Scotland’ to come and speak to the group about what parents expect from teachers as well as what we can do as teachers to help build partnerships and work with the parents effectively. To student teachers, parents seem like aliens, we are scared to encounter them however with the notes from my elective class and from this session, I hope that I am able to foster a positive relationship with all parents, so that we can work together in partnership to help the child learn to his/her fullest potential.
Thanks to everyone who came and presented; and special thanks go to Rea and Rachel for organizing the day! Also thank you to Morven for the lovely breakfast buffet!
Learner Voice and Pupil Participation
On Friday Paul, Megan, Morven and I from the society went through to Edinburgh for the Learner voice and pupil participation conference. Not only was it in the amazing Royal college for physicians, which reminded me of Hogwarts, (Nicholas, we have to go!) but the workshops were brilliant.
I attended a workshop led by Bucksburn Academy, who I met at the Scottish Learning Festival 2012. They were fantastic! The students were completing their John Muir award. Although this was a secondary school, it really related to Primary school; ideas could easily be transferred. I especially liked how the pupils from the academy went out to the local primary school to teach the children about the outdoors. When listening to one boy in particular talk about what the award did for him, it really made it seem worthwhile, he talked about how he used to lack confidence but know, having worked with others, is able to speak his views and participate.
It has been a busy week and there are still many busy weeks to come. At the moment I am still working away at my Major Project, two assignments and an exam but I can’t wait until this is all over and we can start to organise another event!
I’m currently out on placement with a p1 class, this is a blog post about my experiences with philosophical inquiry in the classroom both with my current p1 class and a previous p7 class.
Last year on my third year placement I had a primary 7 class. I wanted to try out different teaching strategies that I had learned about at university. One of which was philosophy. The children were looking at ‘vivisection’ (class teacher’s idea!) as their topic to develop arguments within language. I decided to put I a philosophy lesson to allow the children to think as a group about what vivisection means to them which would help them develop their arguments for writing. However it did not go as I had planned. In fact the lesson was an absolute disaster!
I went into the lesson the wrong way for two reasons. Although we had already discussed vivisection as a class with reading books, the pupils never actually chose to talk about vivisection. Secondly I never had any stimulus to allow the children to think about something in context, such as a story or a picture.
This year I decided to try out philosophy again, this time with my primary one class! We are learning about different feelings you have. Each feeling is firstly explored through a story within a drama lesson, with the story being set in a toyshop (to link in with their environmental topic) and the children hear stories of toys who have different feelings, i.e. sad because their friend has been bought and left the toyshop, or angry for being teased by another toy etc. The feeling is then explored by a philosophical discussion. I tried this out with my primary one class a few weeks ago and I was so surprised how well it had gone, considering my last failed attempt!
I started by introducing a talking teddy toy. Whenever someone was holding the teddy that meant they got to speak. This helped to stop any interrupting and shouting out which may put shyer children off. I then showed the pupils a large image of a child feeling ‘left out’ on the whiteboard. I initially asked them to talk to me about what they see getting responses like “That girl is not being allowed to play by the other girls” “that girl is alone!” and asking the children to then elaborate on their responses, describing how each child may feel, or what they should do in the situation. The children needed very little from me, only a few questions and thoughts to help encourage the children to think about their opinions and ideas, but they had ownership of the conversation as they were responding to each other’s ideas! This is the difference between the first time I tried philosophical inquiry with my primary 7 class; although my p1s didn’t choose the topic they did choose the flow of conversation and of thought. My primary 7 class were not motivated or enthusiastic to talk about a topic they had little interest in in the first place, so they were then unable to use each other’s ideas as a basis to consider their own. Also by giving my primary one class a stimulus of the picture, this hooked them into the lesson and allowed them a visual reference to consider ideas.
The creative thinking and the way that the children spoke about their ideas was fantastic, it did show the ‘power’ of philosophy with young children. Young children love to talk to teachers- philosophical inquiry gives them opportunities to share with their teacher what they think about deeper issues and situations.
I hope this inspires some people to think about how they can implement philosophical inquiry into their classroom (and learn from my mistakes!)- after all if p1s can do it…
what is stopping the older children?!
p.s. I’d like to thank fellow B.Ed.4 and CPD Vice president Nicholas McMahon for giving me advice for planning philosophy with p1′s! : )
(from Paul’s blog – http://mrcampbell91.wordpress.com/)
The holidays over the past few weeks did consist of manic assignment writing and thinking about how my Primary 7s and I are going to set up the ‘Rainforest Protection Agency’, but I had a good week off at least. It was filled with coffees, parties, dinners, family events… all for my twin sister who was moving to Australia on Wednesday this week!
So, there was a lot going through my head, then I sat down at my desk, and looked at this…
I was thinking a few things…
1. I’ve accumulated some amount of crap if this is the stuff that can’t fit into my cupboard.
2. How fast have these 4 years of studying to become a primary teacher flown in. 4 years ago today, I was in 5th year at secondary, studying for my higher prelims, and now I’m one placement away from being a primary school teacher.
3. How do I feel competent, and have a careful confidence in my practice, after what could be described as a relatively short period of time?
4. Where am I going? Where do I want to be? When? Will I be teaching in Scotland after the probationary year? Do I want to teach in Scotland after the probationary year? Is that even important just now?
It’s amazing what a sibling moving continent and a messy working space can make you reflect on.
But seriously, it made me think about my commitment to lifelong learning – way off on a tangent. I hated school; I hated a lot of my teachers, which is why I wanted to be one. The teachers I got on great with, inspired me and have influenced so much of the professional I have become and hope to continue to develop as. The teachers who I had bad experiences with have influenced me as a professional just as much – they taught me exactly what makes a bad teacher, and taught me that there is so much more to teaching than ‘teaching’.
The social context to our role, the relationships we build, and the ‘corporate caring’ (as the S. Government like to refer to it as) that we need to show has to be the starting point to whatever we do. For me, it is the caring aspect to our role that comes first. Acting upon this effectively, we can facilitate an ethos and environment conducive to learning, nurturing and support, and it is in such an environment that children can learn, grow and develop.
What has been at the core of really reflecting on these experiences and the continual process of growing as (hopefully) a caring, sufficiently knowledgeable and empathetic teacher is the time I’ve had in teacher education, the theory and research which underpins practice (a relationship that has never been more evident to me than in the past year) and the change that happens constantly all around me.
It makes me think about the relatively quick progression and development that happens over four short years, and what progress could be made over the next four years. Will I be teaching Primary 7 or Primary 1? Will I be living in Scotland or Australia? Will I have a tidier workspace, or will it be just as crammed? One thing I do know is, I will still love working with children as much as I do now, I will still be as committed as I am now, and I will still be ignoring everyone that says to me, ‘After a few years in the job, that enthusiasm will be knocked right out of you.’ For people that think that, I have no problem proving you wrong
It makes me also realise that my concept of children as learners and what I think education should be has grown and developed over time and influences my practice to an inexplicable extent. I know that this will continue to grow, change and develop just as everything does – but I do thinking the underpinning principles and philosophies of my attitudes, beliefs and practice will remain with me.
I do know, that when I sit down on my first day with my first class on Wednesday 15th August this year, I will want to make sure that the children in my care know that I value them as personally important; to know that I’m not the source of all knowledge and wisdom, and know that we’ll learn just as much from each other, as we will together. And I hope, that with sticking with these ideas and principles, regardless of the class I might have, or the school or country I may end up teaching in, I can offer the best experiences for the children and young people in my care.
I read a teacher’s comment recently that was referring someone to a student teacher group, saying, ‘Be sure to speak to them if you want to collaborate with some developing teachers’. I know that regardless of where I am or the role I’m in in 4, 8, 12, or 16 years, I won’t stop considering myself as a developing teacher, and I’ll be hoping that the children who are in the care of a teacher who doesn’t consider themselves as developing, don’t have too bad a time!
We cannot underestimate the power and influence a teacher can have in children and young people’s lives, an influence that if had been even slightly different, could have changed my path entirely. This is why I like the words of W.B. Yeats so much…
‘Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.’
Interpret it as you like!
It tends to be one of the most dreaded things that student teachers must come to face and overcome – teaching maths.
In the second year of the B.Ed. programme at Strathclyde University, there is no maths provision, as this is an aspect that is deeply covered in your first year. In first year you also acquire the knowledge on how to go away and learn for yourself. While coming into B.Ed. 2, it dawned on me – I will have to teach maths to an upper school class on placement in the coming year! Quite nerve-wracking!
Knowing that others would be in the same position, and taking into account the fact that no initial teacher education institution can teach a teacher everything they will ever have to know - I decided to set up a maths focus group.
The purpose of the focus group was to work collaboratively, to share different pedagogies, resources and ideas, with the aim of developing our own practice and confidence when teaching maths.
After the first couple of sessions, we decided to set up a hash tag (#StrathMathBEd2) on twitter to share resources and connect with the wider education community.
This is something that has played a benefit to many people, and the resources shared – I hope, have inspired people and given them ideas when teaching maths.
So, that was the rationale behind #StrathMathBEd2, I just want to share some of the resources that have stood out for others and myself in the group (and beyond!).
1. Times Tables in 10 Minutes
Watch this – I bet you can list off the 17 times table now!
The group found this video to be excellent. Why?
- It was engaging and interactive.
- It was OKAY to make mistakes and that environment was established at the start.
- The numbers each had an association with something (a movement/ phrase). Which made it easier to remember.
- Each of the numbers were put on the number stick individually, and the different methods on how to get to that number were explored.
- Afterwards, StrathMathBEd2 were able to answer any multiplication of 17 up to 170, despite it not being in the video. (e.g. What is 17 x 8? = 136 (that’s the one she can’t remember!)
This website is rich with ideas and resources. There are also some excellent online CPD opportunities and materials – all you have to do is sign up (free of charge) and take part!
It is a really interesting report and I’d recommend you read it if you have time!
3. Another report that is definitely worth a read, is Good practice in Primary mathematics published by Ofsted in November 2011.
- Ofsted – Good practice in primary mathematics report – summary
- Ofsted – Good practice in primary mathematics
The report is contemporary – it looks at issues and the actually practicalities with teaching maths. Both documents are available for free download from the Ofsted website and the URL is:
4. Here is another video – an excellent way to teach fractions – recommended by @ajcorrigan.
(I can’t display the video here! You will have to follow the link – please do so!)
It, like the multiplication video, speaks for itself!
What the group loved about this video, was that:
- The children clearly understood fractions.
- The way in which the teacher hosted the lesson, accommodated for children of all different levels, everybody could be involved and perform at their own pace and level.
- The teacher was able to observe how the children were coping with the work with the white ‘show me’ boards.
- The chidden were able to apply their knowledge and were able to visualise the cups and different processes with the two different tables. This was also evident when they started to use cards.
5. I would also suggest the following 2 books:
- Haylock, D. (2010). Mathematics Explained for primary teachers (4th Edition ed.). London: SAGE Publications.
- Hodgen, J., & Wiliam, D. (2006). Mathematics Inside the Black Box. London: GL Assessment.
6. A lot of other resources and ideas have stimulated from other websites (see below).
- Primary teaching resources
- BBC Website
- “Great Maths teaching ideas” Web page: 1 & Web page: 2 - via @Maths_Master.
- ICTmagic – via @JanieT56
There are many many many more! So, feel free to follow #StrathMathBEd2. If you have any resources or different ideas you would like to share – tweet them or comment below!
Lastly, I would just like to say thank you to the group of people who have participated throughout – you can’t have collaboration without people!! Also, thanks to the wider education community for suggesting resources, articles, ideas and just general tips and opinions. It is great – get involved if you are not!
Susan and I attended a managing stress CPD event in Edinburgh this weekend which was provided by the ATL union. It was great to meet other student teachers and probationers, and get some advice on dealing with stress.
I have to admit, 4th year has flown by already and I have been stressing myself out. Trying to juggle seeing friends, family along with university work is a challenge, and I’m fortunate enough to not have to worry about a part-time job too. Teaching is also a stressful job too, and I’m going to have to get prepared for probation year and then having a full time job as a teacher (when I get one!).
So tonight’s blog is really sharing with you some of the advice and tips that Susan and I got from the event. I hope you find them useful.
Symptoms of stress are important to note so you can recognise your ‘warning’ signs! Does it start off feeling tired one day and the next with a headache and then progress into crying by the weekend?! Symptoms might include feeling more tired, having aches and pains, being irritable and withdrawn, finding it hard to concentrate, feeling anxious and depressed, increased consumption of stimulants such as caffeine and or alcohol, and your personal relationships might be come strained.
Here is a procedure for when you are feeling over-stressed:
STOP; sit down and or plant your feet on the ground.
Breathe; take three deep breathes
Relax; relax your shoulders, and unclench your fists
Lower your voice; speak calmly, slowly and deliberately.
Managing your stress.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Write things down and break down tasks-layout exactly what you need to do to complete your school experience file or your planning. This is the 1st tip for stress management- if you write things down you know what you need to manage.
- Prioritise your actions
- Consider how long these things will take- and when they need to be done by. You might not need to stress about something which is due in December!
The key here is to take control and let go of things that aren’t important. Imagine you are an ambulance, which emergency do you go to first? This is prioritising what needs done first and there are a few ways to do this. The wheel of wellbeing is one and the magic prioritising grid is also another way.
This helps you really evaluate what needs to get done first. There should only be a few things in the top right corner. Really think about what needs done as a matter of urgency, do you need to make those resources for Wednesday’s assembly on Sunday night? You can even make separate grids, one for school and one for your personal life if you have stress that isn’t about work. This allows you to order your mind and make sense of what you need to do.
The wheel of Wellbeing is another great tool for prioritising your tasks and gaining perspective on what needs done.
It can look like this: (this is one I have made up!)
Draw a circle and divide it into equal eighths. Outside each segment write something that is making you stressed, for example placement work, and major project etc. If you imagine that the centre of the circle is 0% stressed and the circumference is 100% stressed draw a line in the segment where you think you are most stressed. From this drawing, it’s clear that this person is stressed about their exam! This means that this is the first priority when you are getting something done. You could then make another wheel but for the exam outlining what you need to do and which bit is stressing you; is it the essay or the questions or the calculations?
Some other tips for managing stress:
- Delegate tasks- feel like you are the only person in your group that does the biggest tasks? Then why not split them up into chunks which everyone does a bit of?
- This involves sometimes saying NO! saying yes can sometimes seem like the easier and quicker option, to just agree to do something, but often it just causes you stress as its adding onto an already big pile of things you have to do! If you find this difficult you can say it using the ’when… I… because statement’ i.e. “when I have to do extra reading for a class, I feel stressed, because I already feel like I have enough reading to do.” This makes saying something difficult a bit easier. You can even add on a “I’d like….” at the end; but adding this is a lot harder to get the hand of!
- You also have to remember that if you do one thing, you sometimes can’t do another, something has to give. If you said to your head teacher that you would help with playground duty, you won’t be able to set up your next lesson during playtime!
- Don’t procrastinate. Stop avoiding what you are stressed about and do something about it, by making a list for example. This can actually feel less stressed as it puts what you have to do into perspective.
- Avoid distractions. GET OFF FACEBOOK/PHONE/TV!
- Do you work best in the morning or at night? Work with what suits you best! When you feel like doing it and when you can do it.
- Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, as is talking to others. But only those who are supportive and you can just have a moan at without analysing your problems. Sometimes you just need a good moan/rant!
- Give yourself time off, and plan it if you need to. Have at least one weekend day off and two week nights off. Leave these work free and go and do something else, e.g baking, go for a run, meet friends etc.
- Set yourself deadlines so your work can be achieved within a certain timeframe- e.g. if you have an exam and an assignment due in at the same time, you are going to need to plan carefully what gets done by a certain time.
I hope you find these tips and techniques useful. I know that Susan and I really got a lot out of the entire event, a lot more than just a free lunch and sweets!
The Teachers support network (teachersupport.info) has a lot of resources and information about being stressed too. It also has some online tools for you to calculate how stressed you are.
Also the ATL union has pages for support on their website for new teachers and existing teachers. They also have hundreds of free resources including packs which give advice on behaviour management and health and safety and everything else inbetween. (Atl.org.uk)
Hope this helps a few of you who might be feeling stressed. Just remember that especially in teaching, things will get easier as you gain experience, so learn from those bad days that you have and use them to move on reflect on your practice and make it better! Also the committee in the society are here is anyone wants to talk about placement or uni work. We’ve done the 3 years of the B.Ed so far so have a few tips for managing them up our sleeves!