Category Archives: Undergraduate

Back to the Sixth Form

Final Year Undergraduate QTS students visited Carmel  College to discover how it is different to teach in a Sixth form college.  We were met by Sarah Daley, who is in charge of 10:10 RE, the general RE provision for all students, and a Glenn Skelhorn, who is in charge of the A Level Philosophy and Religious Studies.  

After introductions, we thought about the Art of the A level RS lesson. Sarah and Glenn reminded us that sixth form students are not that different from Key Stage 4. They explained how hey have worked on the principles of The Flopped Classroom for their A Level lessons. They try to remove the element of ‘rote learning’ from lessons in college. This learning from text books, for example, is done at home prior to the lesson. As they do Buddhism at A Level, and there was no textbook for this, the department have produced their own flipped learning booklets, which have been very successful. This means that the role of the teacher is different- they do not deliver content in class, they are challenging misconceptions and developing students’ ideas, which in some ways is a much greater challenge.

Sarah talked us through how she would plan a lesson on the three marks of existence in Buddhism. It was clear that the focus was on engaging with the material, rather than being on transmitting knowledge.  She also introduced us to the idea of the Carmel Mindset, based on the Vespa material, developed from the growth mindset of Carol Dweck and others.  She then explained the general RE that the college delivers as part of their 10:10 programme, which is a common feature of RC colleges.

Next up was a tour of the college.

We then went to observe some 10:10RE lessons, one with Sarah and one win NATHAN a graduate of our course.  The lesson was an introduction to Human Rights, and began with a picture starter. This was followed by writing nine rights on post it notes and ordering these with a diamond 9 activity.  Students then questioned what is meant be Human Rights, It was great to see Nathan and Sarah really work hard to draw out answers from even the reluctant students.

In Glenn’s Year 13 RS lesson the students were continuing with Sexual Ethics, but began with some riddles, and a starter involving incest. Students were given two minutes thinking time, were they were asked to write a justification for their moral opinion.  They then shared and scrutinised their reasoning in small groups, before a whole class discussion. This discussion was ten widened to a broader discussion of sexual ethics. There was then a teaching episode ensuring students were aware of Mill’s Liberty Principle.

Sarah’s Year 12 lesson was on situation ethics, but was focussed on students developing their essay writing skills to improve their examination performance.

We then had some time to prepare a short part of a lesson, and we all got the chance to deliver to the lovely students of Carmel College.

GCSE Expertise

Year 3 undergraduates visited Lowton CE High school to spend a day looking at teaching GCSE. Having battled through the traffic, we were met by Heather Clare, a very experienced RE teacher and Senior Teacher at the school.

Our first task was to look at the Specification (From AQA) and decide what religions and themes we would teach it we were the Head of RE. We then planned in what order we would deliver that, leading to a discussion of our different answers.

Heather helped us to understand the importance of key words, and of teaching the content in an efficient way, using the exam boards definitions. Heather’s delivery modelled good classroom practice throughout. We tested our knowledge of Jewish key words in a fun interactive way.

We turned to look at evaluation questions, and Heather challenged us to get our pupils to write like a river, or even an ocean, and not like a puddle (lacking depth, breadth and with nothing much there), or a pool (structured, contained, with arguments going one way then the next. With this in mind we had a go at assessing some evaluation questions, using the marking criteria, before looking at a task to help pupils ‘develop reasoned consideration’.

A year 10 class joined us then, for a lesson on Animal Rights. This began with a picture starter and a quick survey of opinions on food. Whiteboards were again used for definitions of key words.  The lesson ended with some evaluation work, which would lead on in a future 12 mark question.

After Lunch, we looked at some examples from least years exam paper, looking at marking. Finally we looked at revision techniques, including Heather’s incredible audio revision recordings.

Fieldwork in Religion: Going Out and Finding Out

This last week has been very busy for our undergraduate students, who have benefitted from meeting and engaging with local faith communities.

Year 2 Ethnography students are currently engaged in their own fieldwork projects, exploring a range of topics including witchcraft, perspectives on the after life in a care home, life in a convent, challenges and controversies in contemporary religion, digital ethnography, as well as engaging with Paganism, Christianity, Sikhism and Islam. The principle of the module is to allow students to go out and find out more about how living religion is experienced as part of every day life.

Year 2 Judaism students and their module tutor, Dr Chris Greenough, visited Southport and District Reform Synagogue on Wednesday 7th November. They received a very warm welcome from the team there, especially Selwyn and Anne who gave an informative talk about the Jewish way of life and particularly the differences between the Orthodox and Reform movements. On Tuesday 13th November, the same group of students visited Southport Orthodox synagogue, where they were able to consolidate their subject knowledge about Jewish worship practices and the design of a synagogue.

Year 3 students, with Maggie Webster, were welcomed by Swaminarayan Hindu temple in Preston to mark the celebration of Diwali and new year.


A Level Experience

Year 3 undergraduate RE with QTS students spent a day at Haslingden High school, looking at how to teach A Level RS in a school with a sixth form.  Ben Wood the Head of RE and the Chair of NATRE welcomed us and offered us pastries and coffee!

We then were able to observe a Year 13 RS lesson, focussing on sexual ethics, and specifically an introduction to Christianity and homosexuality. We saw how Karen, the teacher, skilfully introduced students to the massive changes to social attitudes which have occurred over recent years. Using the school produced literature, she guided students through traditional interpretations of key biblical texts relating to homosexuality. Drawing on prior Learning they applied Catholic teaching (such as natural law) to the issue, discussing how the church is responding to the complexities of the issue. Previously taught ideas, such as Jesus the Liberator, were used to show a more liberal Christian view.  The lesson was mostly discussion and reading of the materials, with students making a few notes on their handouts.

Ben’s year 12 class started with him collecting in homework. He then gave them the questions for a timed assessment that they would do next week, with a recommendation to work on a plan over the weekend. The lesson was the beginning of the Developments of Christian Thought module and was looking at Augustine. The students were given homework on the background of Augustine. Genesis 2 and 3 was analysed, and will be used over the next few lessons. Ben led the class through Augustinian interpretations of this text. The final part of this double lesson focussed on Augustine’s teaching on human relationships.

This was followed by another Year 12 class, They had the follow on lesson about Augustine, and began where the previous class had finished, recapping what we had just seen. Whereas the earlier lessons had been very teacher led, in this one there was much opportunity for students to work independently, but Ben was constantly helping individuals with their work, explaining the concepts repeatedly. When Ben looked at students’ work, his praise was very specific: “the language you have used here is spot on!”, for example.

After a fantastic lunch supplied by the school we stayed with the same Year 12 class, but this time being taught by Karen. We joined in with the first activity, which revised key terms and the basics of  Situation Ethics in an Active way. This was followed by a quick 15 minute test, as Karen wanted to see how well the students had got the basics, before moving on. Karen explained that the purpose of the test was not summative – about collecting marks, but about helping the students self identify what they need to revisit. In order to point out these areas, they were peer marked with missing information highlighted.Students were then set targets to work on in their independent study time.

At the End of the day we had a Q and A session with Ben and considered pedagogy, teaching styles, the intrinsic fascinating subject that Religion is, and Behaviour. Ben gave us a sample of NATRE materials and told us about the New2RE scheme.

“Speaker’s Corner” in Jerusalem during the Second Temple Era

Today, as part of the new “Abrahamic Traditions” module, the first year students from both Secondary Religious Education + QTS and Education and Religion programmes participated in a roleplaying game reenacting different major religious groups that were current during the Second Temple period (roughly around 0 C.E.).

The students were stunningly dressed in makeshift costumes and props from the RE storage cabinets while delivering short fiery speeches summarising the teachings of Pharisees, Zealots, Gnostics and Messianic Jews, against the Powerpoint backdrop of the old Western wall of the temple. The speakers did splendidly in spite of the presence of a strange heckler.

“Roman authorities and Jewish city elders are said to have been interested in the outcome of these discussions, and rumours have it that there might be arrest warrants for some of the speakers!”

A Pharisee calling for adherence to the Torah and criticising the hypocrisy of the Temple priesthood.

“Zealots” calling for militant rebellion against the Romans.

Mysterious Gnostics propounding radically unusual interpretations of the Torah and the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
Messianic Jews cheerfully bringing good news of an “Apocalypse” and the coming of a Messiah
A bemused heckler. Has one of the speaker groups convinced him to join their cause?

SEND at Harrop Fold

You may have seen the television series Educating Greater Manchester.  The Director of Inclusion at the school Miranda Rathmell is a former PGCE RE trainee from Edge Hill.

We were delighted that she was able to give up a day to help our Year 1 QTS Undergraduate RE students understand SEND and spend some time helping pupils at the school with additional needs.

We were also able to tour the school and meet a few od the stars (both staff and pupils) of the TV series, which is returning for a second series later in the year.

Post 16 in Haslingden

We were welcomed to Haslingden High School by Sally Finney who is the director of teacher training at the school. Then Ben Wood, the Head of RE and Vice Chair of NATRE met us and explained the day.

The first class we observed was a Year 12 class.

Welcomed the class as ladies and gentlemen,

Homework collected in.

Coats off.

Revision questions – as part of the routine. Worked in silence. Numbers are 1,7, 13, 25, 30

Targeted questions by name,  can you give me more? Still want a bit more. Did allow others to help fill out the answer….

Work is a continuation, looking at Augustine’s teaching. Last two this week, following on from Prior learning.

Students begin by reading through a source sheet (holes already punched for easy insertion into folders), making notes and drawing to a conclusion.

Students work informally in groups, to put the sources into for or against columns.  Ben circulates and is called on by some for help. He is able to ask challenging questions and is clearly expert. He observes what some students are writing, and challenges some to write in more depth or ensure their conclusions are firmly evidenced. He is trying to get them to think beyond the obvious answers. Having already taught the knowledge in previous lessons he is helping to prepare for exam essay questions by debating.

When students have completed their work, they move on to the second question independently. The atmosphere is relaxed with a buzz of on-task chatter.

Work is not completed, so this will be returned to next lesson. Homework is to do 17 revision questions on body, mind and soul.

 

Ben then explains to us that at A level he is not interested in opinions which are short term, and easily changed. He is interested in conclusions based on evidence.

He outlined our task which is to read about Wittgenstein and language games and think about how they would teach the Year 13 lesson later.  We did this, enjoying some breakfast pastries and struggled with both the subject content, and how we would present it to a Year 13 class.

Next we watched Ben actually teach it.  As with the Year 12 class, the lesson started with 5 revision questions from the selection the students had done for homework which they first handed in. They have a short amount of time to do this on their own in silence, and they are given a one minute warning. These answers are shared, Ben selects a students to say their answer and rewords the correct answers to emphasise correct terminology. He further questions incorrect or incomplete answers.

The last two questions about Heaven, hell and purgatory being symbols or metaphors directly relates to today’s lesson. Ben begins with a mindmap on the board asking students prior knowledge of Wittgenstein. He uses the two Ideas they remember to draw out the difference between logical positivist, and Wittgensteinl’s later view. He asks if Wiggenstein can be described as a cognitive st or a non-cognivist.

He turns to the prepared information sheet. He stresses that the meaning of a word depends on its use. Words have no fixed meaning. Using Wittgenstein’s chess analogy he shows that meanin depends upon context.Students add to the printed notes.

He compares chess and football are different games and therefore have different rules. In the same way religious language has different rules from other forms of language. This means that the criticisms of the verification principle are irrelevant for the language game of religion.

To illustrate the key term lebensform, the students discussed ‘offside’ in football, rugby and driving, and then the changing meaning of ‘literally’. The understanding of this concept is enhanced and developed by discussion; students are free to answer or ask questions as they wish.

The lesson then turns to reading and interpreting a quote form D. Z. Phillips, suggesting that ‘eternal life’ has a meaning other than an infinite extension of living after death. Pupils are asked to write a paragraph exemplifying this idea. Ben offered help and challenge to students who requested it, or who he noticed needed help.

At the end of the lesson, students were given another set of revision questions to work on at home.

We then had lunch and then spent an hour discussing the theory of how to teach A Level RS.

NATRE Conference 2017 at Edge Hill

Just before Christmas, Editor of RE Today magazine and NATRE Adviser, Lat Blaylock delivered an outstanding and engaging conference for UG and PG ITT trainees entitled ‘RE for All: Entitlement and Opportunity’.  As current PGCE students,  we found the  day to be extremely informative and enjoyable. Lat discussed and demonstrated activities which we could use in the classroom to help engage pupils which we found particularly useful and which encouraged use to think about what ‘good’ RE looks like. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and we thank Lat for making it possible 🙂 – Catherine Agnew & Rebecca Eiffe-Harvey (EHU PGCE trainees)

 

GCSE in Lowton

Undergraduate QTS Third Year students spent an amazing day at Lowton CE High School to find out about teaching the new GCSE RE specifications.  We bgan by looking at the AQA – two papers Religions and themes.

Tried to choose what religions and themes

Then attempted a curriculum map: what is best to do Religions first and then themes?

Then looked at setting and answering examinations. thinking carefully about the precise wording of questions, and how teaching needs to reflect these assessment objectives from the start.

‘Show my homework’ quizzes are used at Lowton to help revision.

 

Spent a lesson with year 10, looking at how to structure an evaluation answer on Animal Rights.

The pupils played a game with pieces of Card with 4 statements and two questions, to ensure everyone was talking about the knowledge gained in previous lessons. Following that pupils collaborated to write a 12 mark question on large whiteboards with each pupil using different pens. Groups then swapped boards to consolidate their answers, key words being highlighted.

 

Then year 9 joined us for a lesson on whether it is right to use animals for food.

Tasks, peer working, questioning, targeted, what do you think. One from this table. “Emotional response” praise, further explanation of pupil answers…

Link from pupil generated answers to ‘exam spec’ answers….Opinion question… visual stimulus … red green cards. Discuss….Memory Aid….. SIRS

 

 

 

Opinion questions with red green cards…. no discussion PACE!

Named pupil. Pick one and explain it….

From pupil generated to answers from spec… 4.

“If we say it we remember it!”

Ted talk…4 minutes…. talk about what you heard…. are you persuaded?

Targeted feedback….

Recap on 4 reasons..

“You are going to have to talk about it-so write something that makes sense”

-key points on revision cards., drawn from an information sheet explaining three of the reasons… individual work.. tightly timed…

Movement… paired discussion … peer assessment… one explain, one listen for what is missed.

After a fabulous lunch, we returned to look at pupil exercise books discovering what is good and what challenges they present for teachers.

We considered what should go in pupil books and how it should be assessed.

Finally we bought about revision. Lowton stresses that after school revision sessions should be short and active. We tried a revision technique called lost luggage and another technique whee pupils would collaborate to make revision notes.

Islam in Preston

Year 1 Undergraduates at Edge Hill study a module on Islam and as part of that spend a day in the Muslim community in Preston.  One of the Year 1 students, Katie, reflected on the day.

We began the day with a talk about the aims of the day, and identifying what we already know, and what we would like to have found out by the end of the day. Everyone was so warm and inviting, I felt really comfortable asking questions, knowing that I would get a thorough response that would help me in my Islam module in university.

The highlight of the day for me, was crossing the road to Preston Muslim High School for Girls and being able to speak to actual students about Islam. I felt that speaking to a ‘normal’ person as opposed to someone who was extremely educated allowed me to identify basic points on which to develop my knowledge. All the girls I spoke to were really polite and answered any questions I had to the best of their abilities.

I also really enjoyed visiting the local Mosque and being able to sit and observe one of the daily prayers. It was such an amazing experience seeing a community come together to pray as one. It was also a good chance to see the diversity of Muslims that were in one small area. Their style of dress tended to show their heritage, and our speaker and guide was able to tell us where they were from based on their clothes.

After the prayer was finished, the Imam came to speak to us and answer anymore questions we had. He told us a little bit about what is was like for a child in Islam, and how they can attend a madrassa to help them learn more about Islam. The whole session was extremely informative and useful for me, as I am in the middle of writing my Islam assignment about Salah (the five daily prayers).

We were also lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to observe a man perform Wudu – the ritual cleansing and purifying a Muslim must do before praying. Again, this was more useful information to use in my assignment, as well  as just being really interesting to witness.

All in all, the trip was really eye-opening, and gave a great insight into Islam as both a religion, but also as how it is a way of life for its followers. It was such a worthwhile trip, I’m so glad I got the opportunity to go on it!

You can see more pictured from the day here