Today trainees got the chance to visit one of our outstanding partnership schools, Cowley International College in St Helens. Led by the experienced RE team, trainees were able to reflect on the notion and importance of professionalism, benefit from the experiences of ex-Alumni and get some top tips for being professional from Principal Cameron Sheeran. They also got the chance to chat to some fabulous students who shared their experiences of RE and their thoughts on what makes a good RE lesson. A fantastic afternoon that got everyone looking forward to starting their first placement next week. Thanks Cowley!
The group took a trip to Liverpool as part of their ongoing subject knowledge development course to look at the differences between the Jewish and Christian places of worship.
First stop was the very grand and ornate OrthodoxJewish Synagogue. Trainees were able to hear about the history of the Jewish community in Liverpool, the features of the synagogue and the way an Orthodox synagogue would differ from the Reform. Our host was able to share with us a number of Jewish artefacts and demonstrate the significance of the Torah Scrolls in worship.
After a quick bite to eat, we moved onto the Anglican Cathedral, just down the road from the Synagogue and made from the same sandstone. After outlining the role of the Cathedral in Christian worship and the extensive outreach programmes the church runs, trainees were taken on a tour, learning all about the building and development of the Cathedral, enjoying the Whispering galley and finding the Derby Mouse.
On Thursday we ventured up the M6 to visit the Gujurat Hindu Temple and Preston Buddhist centre as part of developing our subject knowledge about the Dharmic traditions.
At the Gujurat Temple, we were able to learn about the importance of the temple in Hindu puja (worship) and the significance and stories of some of the many gods that live there. Students ejoying asking lots of questions on everything from Hindu attitudes towards homosexuality to the belief in reincarnation and karma. Some were eagle-eyed enough to spot an image of the Buddha – raising interesting questions about the links between Buddhist and Hindu belief.
It was lovely to see Pagba on our visit to the Vajravarahi Kadampa Meditation Centre. As always, he was able to offer real insight into what it means to be a practicing Buddhist and how he was drawn to Buddhism and made the choice to become a monk. Some very deep philosophical discussions about the nature of ‘the mind’ were had!
We all enjoyed a visit to the Sri Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara in Chorlton as part of our Sikhism development on the SKE. We were treated to a tour of the Gurdwara, lots of discussion and questions with our host, Sukhbir, before enjoying the free meal given to all visitors, the langar.
As part of their pre-NQT enrichment week, RE PGCE trainees visited Bradford as part of an interfaith visit to a number of places of worship.
The day began with a visit to the Gurdwara Singh Sabha where trainees were given a tour of the worship hall and able to see the rituals and practices associated with the Sikh Holy Book, the Guru Granth Sahib. Trainees enjoyed asking questions and experiencing some of the sounds of Sikh worship.
Next it was onto the Shree Laxmi Narayan Hindu Temple where trainees were able to observe the daily Aarti worship and meet with Seema, who discussed her experiences and beliefs as a Hindu. Ready for a rest, we thoroughly enjoyed our vegetarian lunch!
Before making our way back to Ormskirk, we ended the day with an insight into Reform Judaism at the Bradford Reform Synagogue, learning about the history of the Jewish community in Bradford and some of the differences between reform and orthodox practice.
A wonderful (very hot!) day and a lovely end to the PGCE course.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Prior to starting their first placement, PGCE trainees attended a professionalism conference at one of our partnership schools, Cowley International College in St Helens. Led by the fantastic PM Sue Reed, trainees considered what it means to be professional and chatted with the Principle and Vice-Principle about issues such as social media, attendance and professional expectations. They got to meet the ‘RE ambassadors’ from year 10 and get some inside information on what they think makes a good RE lesson before speaking to ex-Edge Hill alumni about surviving your PGCE and NQT year. A lovely end to a very intense 3 weeks! Thanks Cowley!
On Friday 15th September the RE PGCE trainees visited Liverpool Anglican Cathedral to help develop their subject knowledge around Christianity and places of worship. We had a great tour from Helen, who told us about the history of the Cathedral and that without a ‘cathedra’ a Cathedral is just a big church! Trainees thoroughly enjoyed the ‘whispering arch’ – some claimed it was better than vodafone!