Planning lessons – where to start!

Hey there!

Since there are many of you who are starting your teaching course in September, I thought I would talk about planning lessons on professional practice. As you are likely to start your placement around January time, you have plenty of time to research and get support from university.

I found the seminars before placement really useful to gain more ideas and inspiration for teaching different subjects. As you will be teaching up to 30% of the timetable in first year, you can spend some other time observing your teacher’s lessons or visiting other classes in order to feel even more inspired!

Finding inspiration:
  • Facebook groups can be really useful to discuss and share lesson ideas
  • Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest
  • websites such as TES where you can create a free account and download lots of different resources
  • advice from other teachers
  • advice from university tutors
Other things to think about:
  • class size
  • if your lesson is part of a series within a topic
  • the resources you will need e.g. are there iPads available and are there enough for the whole class?
  • deploying support staff effectively e.g. can they challenge those children who can learn at greater depth?
  • how can you make the lesson as creative as possible to make it memorable and effective?
  • if the lesson is practical, how can the children demonstrate their learning for future reference?

These are just a few ideas that I hope will be useful to you… let me know if you have any questions! Have a lovely weekend.

Final Year Placement

Hello everyone!

I hope you all have that Friday feeling and have some nice weekend plans ahead!

I have officially completed 8 weeks of my final professional practice with only 2 more to go! The time has flown by and what an incredible experience it has been! This is partly down to the support and guidance from teachers in my current placement school, and also because of previous teaching opportunities that Edge hill have provided.

When I applied to study primary education, I did not realise how worthwhile and valuable professional practice would be. Although our seminars and lectures are useful for developing our knowledge of classroom pedagogy, putting theory into practice has been my favourite part of the course for many reasons.

Usually, at the start of a placement block, students begin to teach a small percentage of the timetable. This increases week by week until it reaches 80%, which used to seem impossible! However, having 3 blocks of professional practice has allowed me to grow in confidence and develop my love for teaching even more!

If you are going to study a teaching course with professional practice opportunities,  feel free to ask any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them!

Have a fantastic weekend,

Information and Preparation for a Regional Teaching Placement 👩🏽‍🏫📚

I’m not sure which other courses require you to go on placement but I know that for trainee teachers and trainee nurses it is compulsory. In your first year as a trainee teacher, placement is seven weeks. Last year it started in November, but this year we start in January. I think I would have preferred to get stuck straight in at the deep end, but I do feel more prepared now than I would have at the start of the year.

On the Primary Education with QTS course, you are allocated to a school by the university. You do have some say in this and they will do their best to accommodate you where you want to be placed. For me, I took a regional opportunity. This means I am moving away from home and from University to go and do my placement in the Peak District 🏔. The other choices were Cumbria and Barrow-in-Furness, but these may change. The University places you in accommodation that is paid for and any travel expenses are reimbursed. It’s a great opportunity and if you end up at Edge Hill and on this course, I can’t recommend it enough.

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I travel down on Saturday and I’m going to a very small sample school. I’m going to be co-teaching a KS1/2 combined class, which is something I hadn’t ever heard of before starting University. Whether you are staying on campus, moving home or moving to a regional place, prepping can seem daunting and it can feel nerve wracking if you’ve never taught before. 👩🏽‍🏫

You find out your school and year group, sometimes it can be just a Key Stage. You email the school and introduce yourself, hopefully, they give you lots of information that you can use to prepare. I’ve spent my time looking through the Year 2 and 3 curriculum and researching strategies for teaching combined classes. 🏫

A great thing about this course is we have people called SAMs (Student Academic Mentors), these are second and third-year students who are available to email or tweet and will answer any queries we have. I asked them for some advice on teaching combined classes and my Twitter direct message box was full of advice from students. 📫

I’ve done all I can to best prepare, I think. This profession is definitely about learning on the job and learning through experience so the first week will be observing the teacher and getting to know the class, the routine and the planning. I’ve got a notebook and pen at the ready and I’m so keen to get started. 📝

Please feel free to ask any questions about placements and I’ll do my best to answer! Thanks for reading ☺️

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Summer Biology Internship

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, it’s been over 12 months since I’ve been properly on campus – with an ERASMUS+ internship in Sweden and a placement year in the USA, it’s weird to be back! However, there’s no rest for the wicked so I’m back on another internship, this time a lot closer to home. The biosciences department offer a number of summer internships aimed at second years who are progressing into third year. This year, 6 lecturers offered internships, in disciplines such as genetics, ecology, microbiology, covering organisms including plants, invertebrates and humans. I was lucky enough to receive a place on Paul Ashton’s internship, after applying for two of them (you can apply for two internships maximum) with a CV and cover letter. Being abroad at the time of application, I participated in a Skype interview – a strange experience!

The subject area of my internship is titled, “Does meadow restoration conserve genetic variation?”, although I haven’t actually got to that part of the work yet! Before I start on that project (being worked on by a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) and PhD student, Elizabeth Sullivan), I’m assisting on a different project to do with lime trees. This project is Carl Baker’s (a Postdoc Researcher). Right now I’ve been assisting in the final steps of DNA extraction, cleaning up the extracted DNA to try and get rid of any impurities in the samples. This process involves inverting and emptying a tube of liquid whilst keeping a pellet of DNA precariously stuck to the bottom – quite nerve-wracking to see your sample hanging by a thread!

Another unexpected aspect of this internship was setting up and running a session for the 2018 Edge Hill Biology Olympiad. The Olympiad is a series of challenges completed by teams from various sixth forms and colleges that come to Edge Hill University for the day. Each activity is graded and the scores released in a ceremony at the end of the day. I didn’t expect to be doing this kind of work but thoroughly embraced it – it was a great opportunity to push myself and see what it felt like to run a teaching exercise of sorts.

Memorable Moments 2

Hello! I hope you are all enjoying this lovely weather! Continuing with my ‘memorable moments’ from my recent professional practice, I am going to be talking about a science lesson I taught to the year 4 pupils.

After Edge Hill introduced this idea in a Science seminar, I knew I wanted to try it with the children. It is a very messy activity… which just adds to the fun, right?!

The activity was based on the human digestive system as their current topic is animals and humans. The children had also learnt about instructions in literacy so this was a perfect chance for a cross-curricular task! Below are the instructions I put together to hand out to the groups of 3…

You are creating your own human digestive system. Every day materials such as the tights that you brought in, will represent a part of the body – so you need to use your imagination!  You will follow the journey of the banana through the body, starting with the mouth.

You will need to do the following:

  1. Use scissors (the teeth) to cut the banana up in the cup (the mouth).
  2. Add a few drops of water (saliva). This will create a ball of food (the bolus).
  3. Push the bolus with a finger through the funnel (the oesophagus), and into the plastic bag (the stomach).
  4. Pour more water into the bag (this represents the stomach acid).
  5. Seal the bag (seal the opening to the stomach). Try not to trap air… if there is a lot of air in the stomach it creates a burp!
  6. Squeeze the bag to make the mixture smooth. Food usually stays in the stomach for 6 hours!
  7. Make a small hole in the bottom of the plastic bag with the scissors.
  8. Pour the contents into the tights (large intestines). You may need two people to ensure the mixture does not spill. Cut a hole at the bottom of the tights.
  9. Use your hands to wrap around the tights and squeeze the mixture to move it down.
  10. Make sure to place the larger plastic container (the toilet) underneath the hole (the anus).

If you are still on teaching practice or plan to start soon, I highly recommend this practical activity if you have the chance! The children were so engaged and absolutely loved it. Afterwards, they were able to talk through the digestive system and apply their knowledge by relating scientific terms to the everyday materials which they used.

Have a lovely weekend!!!

Anna 🙂

Memorable Moments 1

Hello everybody!

My second year placement for Primary Education has unfortunately come to an end. 8 weeks have flown by and I am feeling VERY sad to leave after building such strong relationships with the pupils and staff. There have been so many wonderful memories that are too special to put into one post… so I’m going to start my ‘memorable moments’ blogs to summarise some of my favourite times on professional practice.

My year 4 class and I made visits to the local church to learn more about Christianity as part of their religious education syllabus. Since their next topic was Judaism, I invited a Rabbi/former teacher of mine to visit my year pupils. After introducing the topic of prayer, children showed deep interest in learning about my Jewish identity. So, when the Rabbi delivered an informative and HILARIOUS talk to over 60 pupils, it was great to see the enthusiasm of the children. This gave them a chance to ask questions they have not been able to ask before, and it was amazing to see. The children’s’ eyes lit up when they recognised so many similarities between Judaism and their own faith, and they were astonished to learn about the traditions of another culture.

Brilliant opportunities like this, reminds us of the importance of acceptance. By allowing children of a young age to connect with someone of another faith, it encourages them to embrace differences and appreciate similarities. When children don’t have the chance to communicate with members of another faith, they begin to see ‘being different’ as a negative thing. As teachers, it is our responsibility to encourage open-mindedness. In a world where acceptance is often tested, small moments like these highlight the importance of celebrating differences instead of simply tolerating them.

When you were in school, how did you learn about different faiths?

Speak soon, Anna 🙂

Placement Magic

Hi everyone!

With my placement drawing to a close, I am starting to feel quite sad! 6 weeks have flown by and I only have 2 weeks left of teaching my year 4’s… but I hope to visit them again when they’re in year 5! So, here are some of the many reasons why professional practice is the best part of my Primary Education course:

1)The children

After teaching the same pupils every day for the past few weeks, I have gotten to know each and every individual – their personalities and unique quirks. One of the most worthwhile parts of teaching is watching a pupil understand a new concept or overcome an individual struggle within a certain aspect of work. Knowing I have helped to make a small difference puts it all into perspective. Not only is it amazing to help children learn, assisting with social or community events like a school disco, sports day or club allows children to simply let loose and have carefree fun – laughter and smiles are enough to make anyones day!

2) Developing yourself as a teacher

With every placement, comes new lessons learnt. I cannot begin to explain just how much I can take with me from just 6 weeks of professional practice. This is mostly down to the teachers, mentors and every adult who works there. Their guidance and support has been brilliant and inspires me to become as supportive as they are when I eventually have my own class!

3) The creative side

This professional practice has allowed me to recognise the opportunities for creativity in everything I teach. In Religious Education we recently made stained-glass windows for their topic of the church. In Literacy, the children have put themselves in the roles of Boudicca and Claudius for their Roman topic (also relating it to History). Overall, it has been wonderful to deliver these lessons and watch the children participate with enthusiasm.

Thank you for reading! Feel free to ask any questions if you’d like to know more about my second placement within Primary Education! Speak soon,

Anna 🙂

Lesson Planning

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend and you are feeling refreshed for the week ahead! My two weeks of placement so far has gone super fast, I can’t quite believe it! Since I should be planning my lessons right now… I thought I would procrastinate and tell you how I plan them! (hopefully this might help you teachers out there!).

  1. Understand children’s prior knowledge

I find that the most important thing is to find out what the children know, and what they want to find out. Questioning children at the beginning of the lesson is really helpful to get an idea of the extent of their understanding. Whether it’s more or less than expected, it makes it easier to adapt the lesson content when you teach it. Prior to the lesson, looking at previous lesson plans and written work / evidence of learning will allow you to be more specific in your planning.

  1. Use your feedback

Being a trainee teacher involves learning from mistakes and knowing what is effective to a child’s learning. By thinking about your feedback to your previous teaching, it will allow you to personally evaluate your teaching methods and approaches to improve for next time.

  1. Adapt to different needs

Always have a plan B. Consider the differentiated abilities within the classroom and plan for different learning styles – visual, auditory, kinaesthetic. Make sure you have extension tasks to challenge pupils in addition to considering the help from teaching assistants, children with special educational needs, and children with English as an additional language.

  1. Be Creative

Ensure you use varied teaching approaches with a variety of resources. Children can only concentrate on one thing for a certain amount of time – as for any adult! Engaging them with creative tasks will encourage the use of their imaginations and active learning.

  1. Have a read over the teachers’ standards

Familiarise yourself with the Teachers’ Standards to ensure every standard has been/will be met.

I hope these few ideas are useful to you, drop me a comment if you have any questions! Thanks for reading, have a good Monday!

Anna 🙂

Placements in Education – Tips!

Hello everybody! I hope you’re all having a lovely Easter (and Pesach)! In my first year, professional practice took place from the end of November to the beginning of February. Throughout this placement, it taught me a lot of things and made me realise how I can improve this year. You may feel nervous or overwhelmed when given all the information for your placement, but this is completely normal! I thought I would list some tips to help calm your nerves!

Introduce yourself to other teachers

No matter how nervous you may feel, once you talk to teachers at the school you will feel more comfortable I guarantee! They will be welcoming and are there to give advice!

Don’t be afraid of the staff room

Following on from this, you should not avoid the staff room! You are there to get to know the teachers, and they also want to get to know you.

Ask, ask, ask!

One of the most important aspects of placement is to ask questions. You are there to learn and improve your skills as a teacher, so it is important to ask your mentor any questions you can think of. For example, I feel I did not find out enough information about assessment on my last placement. So this time around, I know to question what types of assessment are used and how often they are implemented.

Get to know your school

In your first week, try to find out where everything is – which classroom is which, where the toilets are, where the head teacher’s office is etc. Throughout your time on practice, it is important to know where to take the children if you are asked to guide them to another place.

Go to staff meetings and events

Yes, these things may make your day longer… but when you have less planning to do one night, you should take advantage of every opportunity. It is important to observe the structure of meetings, to find out what types of preparation is necessary when teaching a class of your own. In addition to this, attending and helping out with school events will provide you with a varied and unique experience (as well as contributing to your Teachers’ Standards).

Be reflective

Professional practice isn’t going to be perfect… teachers expect your lessons to flop sometimes. But the important thing is to know how to pick yourself up and improve for next time. Analyse how your lesson went, make notes and talk to your class teacher/mentor about aspects of your teaching that went well and those aspects that didn’t.

Make the most of it

And finally…make the most of your experience there! Celebrate your achievements, learn from your mistakes, and remember every moment is leading up to teaching your own class one day!

Feel free to drop me a comment if you have anything you want to ask. Thanks for reading, have a good weekend and bank holiday!

Anna 🙂

It’s Nearly Time for Placement!

As Easter is approaching, it means it’s nearly time to enter the classroom again. As part of my primary education course we have one block of professional practice each year. It goes as follows:

Year 1 – 6 weeks

Year 2 – 8 weeks

Year 3 – 10 weeks

Last year I was placed in a lovely year 1 class at a primary school in Crosby. Although it involved a lot of time and hard work, it was an experience I know I will always remember and benefit from (apart from the tonsillitis I got during the last week…that wasn’t the best way to end it). I have learned a lot from that… take vitamins, drink water and buy some hand sanitizer!

Obviously, only particular courses include placements such as teaching, radiography, nursing etc. So here is some advice for any of you who are entering such a course!

  1. Have early nights

We all have those nights when we’re watching a TV series, then we look at the clock to see it’s 3am. As tempting as this is, waking up a few hours later is almost impossible (well, for me it was). Once you have your paperwork done for that day, relax and try to get some sleep!

  1. Make plans over the weekends

Whether it’s with your friends or your family, it’s always important to have something to look forward to. Remember you’re still at university…

  1. Recognise the support around you

For myself, most days were filled with useful teaching approaches I know I will use when I’m qualified. However, all the planning and assessments could be stressful at times. Fortunately, you have so many people you can go to for support – your personal tutor, visiting tutor and classroom teacher are some examples. I never felt out of my depth because I knew there were people to go to if I had any problems or queries.

  1. Smile

Placement is a very special time which can go very quickly! Grasp every opportunity such as providing extra help for school clubs. Since my course is only 3 years, I am trying to get the most out of these experiences to feel prepared after graduation. So my biggest snippet of advice for professional practice is to enjoy the thing you love to do!!

I hope this is useful, leave me a comment if you have any questions!

Speak soon, Anna 🙂