SOLO & Technology at Holly Lodge

Year 2 RE Undergraduate students prepared for their placement with a visit to one of our partner schools Holly Lodge Girls’ College where Former Edge Hill graduate Terri Lee is Head of RE and led the informative and useful session.  The afternoon began with a quiz using Socrative, to assess our prior knowledge.

Then Colin Riddell, Lead Learning Innovator at the school, went through some of the theory surrounding SOLO taxonomy, including Lego and y8 science examples.

Rachael Douglas: The session really enthused me. I loved learning about solo taxonomy and want to apply this method of teaching if I can. Good to visit the school as well.

Applying this to RE,  Terri showed us an example of how she used SOLO taxonomy in her practice- an example from A Level Business Ethics.

Students then had opportunity to work on their own lesson plans structuring the planning using SOLO taxonomy.

Jade Parke: I thought it was really good and I’ll definitely use the resources they gave us in my lessons on placement! I thought the solo taxonomy was really easy to understand and is very student friendly 🙂 also I like the idea of using all that technology in classrooms

Next, Colin showed us Triptico, an Internet based collection of interactive resources which enable imaginative teachers to create engaging learning tools.  One of the features  is the ability to move and create hexagons on an interactive whiteboard, clearly linking to SOLO.

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Next up was Edmodo, described as a bit like Facebook for schools.   This is completely free! and gives teachers the ability to communicate safely with pupils.  Terri showed us how she uses it with her A level students for discussion and younger pupils as a way of sharing resource which she suggests is particularly useful for stretching higher level students.  By signing up and joining the classroom, we were all able to access the resources from the day.

Christie Kennedy: I really enjoyed the session, I thought the technology stuff was really good and I think solo taxonomy would be really good to use in the classroom (need to try and get my head around it a little more though)

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Lastly, Terri showed us progress books, which look good in principle – as a way of tracking progress throughout a pupil’s school career, Fillling these out by hand could be can be quite tiem consuming, so creative staff such as Terri and Colin have used Google forms to generate this feedback in an efficient way.

 Nicola Lyon: I think it was really useful. Solo taxonomy was good 🙂 and all the computer stuff makes life a while lot easier 🙂 I learnt a lot

A Very Special School

Lucy has written about Year 1 Undergraduate’s visit to a special school. You can read more of her blog posts here: https://lucywatsonre.wordpress.com/

I was really excited to visit Rowan Park Special School, having had very little experience outside of mainstream schools. Prior to our visit, I had a quick browse of their website (http://www.rowanpark.co.uk) and so I had somewhat of an idea as to what to expect. There is even a gallery on the website, titled ‘School Tour’, which gives a quick glimpse into the schools layout and inside some of the classrooms.

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Rowan Park accommodates ‘up to 133 pupils aged 3 to 19 years, with severe, complex, profound and multiple learning difficulties, ASC and sensory impairments.’ Our visit was both inspiring and instructive in equal measure, and so it came as no surprise to me that OFSTED rated it ‘Outstanding‘. Each classroom varied according to the age of the pupils and were adapted to their specific learning requirements – no classroom looked the same. As I had expected, classes consisted of small groups of around 7 pupils. In spite of this, each room had multiple TA’s, reflecting the very specific needs of individuals. I remember thinking, ‘this job requires the patience of a saint!’.

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I loved the way in which the school had clearly made an effort to be as close to mainstream education as possible. It was clear that some of the pupils, who might eventually progress to a mainstream school, would not find the transition too severe a jump. In fact, it was interesting to consider that they often find that pupils who have become reliant on one to one support in mainstream schools, often find it difficult to adapt when transferring to a Special School. This is because Rowan Park encourages its students to be both independent learners and to work as a group.

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The ‘Adventure Park’ and the playing areas were fantastic; as Fran commented, her niece would be ‘in her element’. Rowan Park really had thought of every child’s requirement, such as ensuring that a child confined to a wheelchair would still be able to enjoy the roundabout along with the other children. We were also informed that the parents of the pupils are given the opportunity to purchase a £60 pass, which enables them to access the park at all times, both inside and outside of school hours. This provides a safe environment for the children, where they can feel safe and not judged by others unaware of their disabilities. The playing area is quite clearly well loved as, during our tour, we overheard one of the children refusing to go back inside!

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I can definitely see the appeal of working in a Special school such as Rowan Park; it is a very tight knit community, with some members of staff having seen pupils grow from the age of 3-19. The staff were truly inspiring and the school an invaluable place for young people to learn.

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ROWAN PARK, N/D. Rowan Park School. [online] Available from: http://www.rowanpark.co.uk [Accessed 10/2/15]

Four Churches in One Day

Dominic has written this post about Year 1 Undergraduates’ recent visit to Leyland. You can follow his blog here: https://dominickidney.wordpress.com/ 

Today was a good opportunity to visit various churches in the Leyland area with the chance to speak to various pastors and priests. It has truly given me a deeper insight into similarities and differences of a few different Christian denominations and how they practice their faith in the eyes of God.

Leyland Baptist Church

Pastor Tony Crawford began the day at a Baptist Church with a speech on the history of Baptism and how it emerged as a separatist movement due to the fact that the ecclesial church had stepped to far away from the true word of God. Moreover Baptists believe that only an adult should be Baptised (in water similar to that of John the Baptist, we were also able to view the Baptism facilities at Leyland Baptist Church)due to the fact that a child can not consciously make a decision to make a commitment to God. Baptists have also stepped away from the idea of a priesthood by allowing pastors to lead services and perform Baptisms and other priestly duties. This is due to the fact that they believe in the concept of  the ‘Priesthood of all believers’ so that everyone gets a say in church life. Furthermore so that priests do not hold complete authority over church decions making. Overall there are two main distinctive features about the Baptist denomination which include a ‘gathered church’ where everyone is gathered to praise God and his son Jesus Christ. Secondly ‘believers baptism’ where you make a commitment to God with a new start and a new beginning with God, it’s a declaration of ones faith.

St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church

A valuable opportunity to view the magnificent architecture of a Catholic Church with the facilities to seat 1000 worshippers for a church service. Also an interesting aspect inside of the church was the fact that the book written by the renound Humanist Dawkins (2006) ‘The God Delusion’ was openly available on a book stand which could be viewed as controversial. However I think it is a good example of interfaith dialogue and pluralism with religious and non religious groups in contemporary society.

The Orthodox Church of The Holy Apostles

Being my first time visiting an Orthodox Church I can say that this experience has truly assisted me with my knowledge on the Orthodox Christian faith. Due to Fr Dionysios (James Higgs) I have learnt how the Orthodox Church was formed due to the fact that they saw the Roman Catholic Church as giving to much presence to the Pope and Rome. Orthodox Christians believe that everything should be decided in unity. Moreover I had the opportunity to have a tour of the church to view the icons and learn how a Church service is performed. An interesting point I have learnt is how each service begins with the statement “Blessed to the Lord, in peace let us pray”. I think this raises the point of how Orthodox Christians main focus is to give thanks to the Lord in his divine peace that he wishes us to act upon.

St James Church of England

A wonderful example of a Victorian era  Anglican Church. Moreover the point was made how much the Catholic and Church of England service are similar. Overall a good tour and a valuable experience of the history of the church in the local area.

Overall a very educational experience that has definitely assisted my understanding of the similarities and differences of various Christian denominations. The knowledge learnt today will surely assist me in my training to become a secondary school RE teacher and how valuable it would be to bring students to visit various churches to increase their understanding of Christianity.

References:

– DAWKINS, R, 2006. The God Delusion. Black Swan: United Kingdom.

Meeting Muslims

Year 1 undergraduates study a module on Islam.  A key part of the course is to meet, talk with and learn from followers of the faith, to get a real life, contemporary understanding of what it means to be a Muslim in 21st Century Britain.

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First up we met Yunus Chasma who is a follower of the Sufis. One of the students, Luke commented about what he had learnt:

Sufism is an essence without form. It is independent from everything, and is free from the shackles of religion. Pure Sufism is finding the fullness of knowledge from God, where the worshiper sees God alone in all that he contemplates and at the same time feels a total and ecstatic sense of his presence.

“When the individual self is lost, the universal self is found”. The soul can directly communicate and become united with God, so that a Sufi can be the perfect man.

The following week we had a question and answer session with four Muslim  RE PGCE students: Aisha, Shabana, Nasira and Zaleka.  The discussion was wide ranging from fasting to prayer, to arranged marriage and even Beyoncé! What was great was to be able to first hand hear about the variety of interpretations of Islam.  Athe visitors were able to show how though this answers weren’t always the same they were all Muslims.

The final experience was a day in Preston Muslim Girls High School and the Quwattul Islam Mosque where we met a number of practicing Muslims and had some fantastic experiences.

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The day began with Riyaz Timol who is currently completing a  PhD at Cardiff on contemporary British Islam.   He explained how King Offa had interacted with Islam as early as the Eigth Century, that the first UK Mosque was opened in 1889 in Liverpool and that a large expansion, mainly through Post World War II  post colonial immigration meant that there is now close to 2000 mosques.  Religion and culture are frequently intertwined within the immigrant community. For many Muslims their religion is just an extension of their culture. For example,  arranged marriage is a cultural phenomenon contra to Islam based on the Hadith. FGM would be another example.  He spoke about the rise in Islamophobia since 9/11.  He suggested that much ‘extremism’ is political grievance dressed up as religious rhetoric. In Riyaz’ experience Imams base their teaching on Qur’an and are not radicalising agents. He recommended a free online course that he is involved in delivering, Muslims in Britain: changes and challenges: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/Muslims-in-Britain

Zahra Patel gave us a perspective of a British Muslim woman. She started wits some group work, asking what does society say about women in connection with religion, education, work and home.  She pointed out that at Eton, the uniform gives the boys a proud identity.  Zara wears a niqaab for the same reasons. But she is not just “the girl in the niqaab” she is the girl who loves football, pizza and watching Rafael Nadal!!  She is a feminist, and not in any way the oppressed woman the media would paint her as.

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We were then treated to a delicious vegetable biryani, before going over the road to the Quwattul Islam Mosque to observe the  zuhr prayers, an inspiring experience, before meeting the Imam.

Imam Ismail explained he is the leader of Salah, but there is no priesthood in Islam.  His other roles include marriage ceremonies, funerals, teaching the children in the madrasah, mediating disputes and dispensing advice.  On a Friday he gives a khutbah, a sermon which is written by the imam in response to the perceived needs of the congregation one week this is in Urdu, the next in English.  Women are allowed to the mosque , but this mosque doesn’t have facilities due to the cultural heritage of the mostly Gujerati congregation. He explained that Men and women must worship separately because there would be the possibility of distraction if they were together.

Waqaus Ali, our host then took us on a tour of the Mosque,  explaining many of the beliefs and customs associated with the faith, including wuzu, giving zakat and sadaqah, and of course prayer.

We then had a chance to meet a number of year 10 pupils from the school and talk to them about various important aspects of the faith, including the Qur’an, Muhammad and the five pillars. This was really fascinating, being able to hear such eloquent young members of the Islamic faith.

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The day ended with a plenary feedback activity, where it was clear that the students had learnt much from the many Muslims they had been able to meet and discuss with. These experiential learning opportunities are key features of the course and will enable the students to complete their assignment, but also to teach Islam with conviction on their school placements.