Monday, 16 July 2012

Summer School Experience

My school experience is one which has lead me to very different ideas and thoughts about school life. This is what happened, well some of...

For summer placement, I attended a lovely school called St Margarets Academy (see website). The school was a mixture of small individual buildings and one main one, which was older looking than the rest. It was modern, and very secure.

Teachers had swipe cards for the car parks and each corridor so children could not wonder during lessons and also meaning no strangers could get into the school other than reception to speak to someone. The lights were automatic, the computer suite was full and mostly functioning and each classroom had working interactive whiteboards.

The staff were very welcoming, and treated us as if we were one of them. From what I saw, the teachers communicated extremely effectively. Staff meeting every tuesday, parents could organise meetings whenever and there was information plastered all over the staff room about what was up and coming, who was taking time out of the classroom, who was leaving or joining, and they had stacks and stacks of resource books! It was heaven!

Preliminary Week
I spent this week trying to find out as much as I could about the school and class and began to plan the science display with Alex, my teaching partner. We got all the policies, and being the ICT specialist I was massively pleased to see the size of the e-safety policy... Shame the ICT wasnt used to it's full potential though! Saying that, the school was brilliant.

The school had a change over of SENcO while we were there so we got the opportunity to speak to 2 different women about their role, and how they ran the hearing support centre which the school ran.

Getting to know the children was really hard because this week was spent as Olympics Week with the whole school divided into mixed age classes, nicknamed 'countries'. We had a parade at the end of the week, and so this week was majorly spent doing arts and crafts and learning about China, the country of our class.

I tried to meet some Q standards, but this week was difficult to meet the ones I wanted to! Need to get in a routine! Bad times.

Week 1 - Maths Profile Child and Science Display Plan
Thursday and Friday we took the register to try and get to know some children, and this continued throughout placement.

The first day back was a non-pupil day and we were asked not to attend... BONUS. (I'm only joking!)

We picked a Maths profile child to observe and today we started gathering information. I picked a deaf child who really interested me. The behaviour of this child was very different to the other children in the class, and it was particularly interesting to see them work with another deaf child who was also in the class. I spent most of the week focusing on this child, and we really got on well... Not that I didnt get on with the others, I just mean because this child was my focus for a uni task! :)

We took guided reading and observed as many lessons as possible and I learnt a lot about managing our class. There was a wide variety of behavioural needs ranging from ADHD, hearing impaired children to those who struggled to remain focused.

We needed to organise our science display, and fast! They had a 3 board habitat display which needed to come down, but we didnt have anything to put up... Better get a move on!

Next week is Olympic Week....Bring it On!!

Week 2 - Olympic Week & Science Displays!
This week had next to no lessons in at all, and when I say lessons I mean those sat in the classroom doing activity kind of lessons... Oh no, we were teaching Table Tennis to 2 different classes EACH day! This was brilliant, getting to see how the other teachers managed their class and it also helped us to identify those other children in school who had particular needs.

Anyway, we did get to learn about the Olympics, and even teach some Geography to do with it! We were given an activity booklet, so there wasn't too much to plan, we just had to cater the activites to our class. By this time, it was a little easier to spot which children may need additional help or who may need a higher ability set of work, and so we tried to differentiate the tasks as much as possible... Only trouble was, I made a matching activity which I thought would take them a while with the atlas (the lesson objective involved atlas use!) and some of the children didn't even need to use them! Whether they used the process of elimination, team work or just had enough knowledge to complete it, I had certainly underestimated them! I was gutted!

Thursday and Friday were taken out to do sports day, but we had a horrendous bout of rain and so it was cancelled. Instead, we did phonics teaching and I took circle time alone. It was kind of scary, but the responses the children produced made it worth it.

We were discussing their week, what they had learnt, how the Olympics made them feel, why the children think we are the host and how this week had affected them, and some responses included:

'This week has made me realise it's not about winning but taking part'
'I am proud to be part of this country because I might not see this again'
'I didn't think I would enjoy any of the sports, but I had a go and it turns out I really did. I do some sport at home now!'


And then came the science display...

We had resourced our science display but it was time to put it up.. and here it went.

The topic was moving and growing, and so we used cross curricular links to tie it in with their Olympics topic, and the work they were doing in Maths.

The children were learning about bar charts, scatter graphs and other sorts of graphs, and so we decided to incorporate growing into their maths work, and while they measured their heights in pairs, we also took down the measurements and made this section into a completed bar graph.

We chose colours which would stand out, and appeal to the eyes of the children, so we used Orange for the axis and Yellow and Green for the bars.

There is a gap in the graph because a student was on holiday!

We were asked to make the display interactive for the children so we made sure they had consistency by using a fact box, and then I created question flaps for the children to use at their leisure.

Above shows the terms they would need for the whole topic, and some interesting facts.

On the right is 3 of the 5  question flaps which would intrigue the children to think. They were brightly coloured and contained images to help them get the answer.

Bottom left and right shows some more interactivity where the children could label a knee bone and an elbow joint, something they would be learning about later on.

The section in the middle was a brilliant idea we came up with, and we observed the children using this since the first day it went up. The investigation title was' One way I have used my muscles today is...' and they had to fill it in. Some children came up with the same responses, so we put a sign up asking them to think of a different one each day.

It was finished!!!

Week 3 - A Week Full of Observations and ICT
Although I had been doing some observations throughout the other weeks, this week I NEEDED to get things done! Science display, observations, and a TONNE of evaluations! Ann (our uni tutor) told us we were doing too much work though, WIN!

This week I observed how presentation assists learning, worked alongside a TA in numeracy, planned Science and Geography lessons, taught those lessons, took a group out for numeracy, observed a different class teacher on organisation and structure and then taught ICT databases.

ICT was a brilliant lesson, because I had been given a pack full of lesson plans, how to get to the programme, what the children should learn, NC references and anything else I needed...Trouble is, the programme didnt work!

I raced through a lesson and created a database using their heights and feet sizes we had measured for the display using their programme called 2Investigate, part of the 2Simple package. I like this package, it really helped the children out!

I had 15 minutes to learn how to use the programme, about the same to add the data and then lunch time to create a worksheet like the one I was given to teach. Thankfully the children worked well with it, and were even more focused with the programme because it was about them! I followed this up the following week, and taught databases to the other year 5 class which was great fun!

Week 4 - Sad Times!
This week, although it was the last week it was also one of the best. We got to help make pinatas with the children for their school fayre, take the children to an orchestra concert and the previous week we took them to TCC for the day to experience secondary school. I also got to observe Alex teach music, teach my class database lesson 2 (creating their own databases), teach the other year 5 class how to search for information in a database about themselves, teach geography which I have to be honest was just learning about Indian tea and then tasting different teas, and teaching the same lesson to the other year 5 class.

Although this is a long blog, it will help me when I look back for next school experience....I hope!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Mans Best Friend

To start with, I love my dog. I always have, and even when he's gone I always will.

Aged 13-16, I spent a lot of my life grounded as a troublesome teenager, but Casper, he never gave up on me. He knew I wasnt a bad person, and he knew I enjoyed walking him 3 times a day because he got me out.

So this got me thinking how animals affect the way a persons' life. Forgive me if I do talk a lot about my experiences, Casper's helped a lot.

I started by looking at therapy dogs because I watched this video in the past and it really made me think about how others are affected by the calm and loving prosperity of such a creature. When I am old, I want a therapy dog. Casper helped me when I was young, but as he is already old now, he wont make it until im old and dying!

When I felt down, Casper would sit with me for hours in the garden or on my bed just playing and cuddling, and I want my children, or even children I work with to experience the same happiness that I have with him.
Seeing animals, not just dogs, being hurt makes my blood boil. I follow a page on facebook called 'The Barking Army' who post horrific images and videos, some of which I have cried at but I follow it because it keeps me aware of what nasty people there are in the world, and also those who help the innocent animals.

Ok, so not all dogs are nice and friendly but given the chances and the right training, they could be.

I read a newspaper article last year, about a girl whose dog went to school with her, and he would sit with his head on her desk and would let her know when she needed medicine. Heres another story, about the same sort of dogs. I think it is incredible that such love and devotion can come from such a small animal, and yet us humans are not always the nicest of people.

This blog post might not seem to have a massive point to you, but I watched this video yesterday and it made me so sad. 

Be warned, you dont see any animal abuse, you see a rescue but you can see the injuries of an animals from a dog fight. 

In regards to school, I never had a class pet but I think they should bring them back into schools. Teach the children about love and devotion and how to care for these animals, and maybe animal abuse cases would decrease. It makes me so sad.

The only problem is allergies in children (obviously a big issue!) and who would have them over the holidays. I would by happy to have a zoo in my house, should I be allowed but I want to be able to teach people how to love and care for the animals who rely on you for help.

I want to pass on my love for animals to others, and through teaching I think I will be able to do that. 

If you have watched the video and felt a bit sad (obviously you're not going to be jumping for joy) have a look at these pictures from the Daily Mail to cheer you up! 

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Music In School

My life is full of regrets, just as everyone elses is at times - but something I always regret was not learning to play music. I could never read music notes, I tried I really did, and it is something I still cant do.

Hearing music from people who do covers of celebs songs, specifically using the piano or drums makes me incredibly jealous of the talent here. I know I could learn now, but it wouldn't be the same. Take Carrie Fletcher for example, the little sister of pop sensation Mcfly's Tom Fletcher. She has the confidence to sing to the world through video after video of her singing covers. Her voice is no Beyonce, but its bloody good still! Heres a few video's so you can see what I mean: Rolling in the Deep, Shine a Light, The Only Exception. They've been into schools, and this video shows The Olympic Mascot song being performed by them in front of an assembly.

I'm listening to this cover of Whitney Houston right now by Boyce Avenue and although I could never sing like this guy, I am jealous of his piano skills. So it got me thinking about music in primary school - I never really did any :( I was encouraged to play recorder but I hated it, I loved singing and I definitely couldn't play recorder and sing at the same time! The only music I saw was in school plays, and we didnt exactly have many of them!

We did do sign language to Flying without Wings, and were on the news, but I never got the hang of that either!

On school placement I saw music as learning about whether a sound was deep or high, if it floated or just stopped. They used various foreign instruments, and then later in the week I helped my partner, a music specialist to teach a music lesson using his own Ukulele. We sang a song which went something like 'Today I heard the old man say, John Kaknacka Knacka too Nai Aye, Today, Today is a hol-i-day, John Kaknacka Knacka too Nai Aye, too Nai Aye, too Nai Aye, John Kaknacka Knacka too Nai Aye'. It was the most fun I had all week with the kids, dancing and singing and for once I wasnt afraid to be the one singing for everyone. When they didnt get the words right, I just carried on and helped them.

I think if I had done music more in school, I would be more confident and quite happy about singing in the classroom. It seems to be a very important practice, specifically with the younger children where they can sing a lunch time 'prayer' or sing Christmas hymns and songs for a nativity.

Keep music in schools, because as we get older music becomes one of the few things we can enjoy to our hearts' content and consciously make our own opinions and choices about it.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Information 2.0 and its implications - Please comment!

What do you think the implications of information 2.0 upon learners are?

Your opinions would be greatly appreciated! Tweet me @KellyHolborow or comment on here if you can!
I dont know the difference between articles and journals - at least I didn't until today! 
We had 2 seminars on how to access them online through uni - but obviously not in enough detail. I thought I knew how to use them, when in truth I had no idea! Thanks to Pete Yeomans (@ethinking) I think my reading will now expand! 

So basically I wanted to find out about Web 2.0 and Information 2.0 because we are being given the opportunity to learn how to write a Year 3 standard assignment through extra marking on a Year 1 module, and I want to be prepared! No last minute work anymore!
I have only recently started to feel comfortable in my group at uni, and have recently teamed with a couple of people to mark my work to our criteria, in the hope we will all improve. You can view one of their blogs here.

Excuse me if there are a few links in this blog - I've just figured out how to do it! 

So our question (its a broad one, giving us lots of scope) is 'What are the implications of information 2.0 upon learners?' But this isn't Web 2.0, its information 2.0.

So how do I answer this question?
Going on Pete's advice, I am going to start by defining the terms - of course this will involve more research than I'm going to put in the blog but you have to start somewhere, right?  

Researching Web 2.0
This is what I have seen so far looking at common sites through Google (Isnt this linking thing great?!)
Wikipedia says Web 2.0 is the second generation where static web pages have become shareable content and social networking.
Youtube This video gave me lots of buzzwords, which I will probably research and use again in my work if I find it useful - But can anyone tell me what a 'Mash-up' is? Andy Gutmans (@andigutmans) said everyone would know but I dont :(
Slideshare This leads me to believe that Web 2.0 is more person orientated than Web 1.0 which began at a conference
Researching Information 2.0
Mark Lewis of EMC Content Management & Archiving Division presents to me the idea that this is about accessing and processing information - which will need to change in the future because of the amount that will be produced- After all, everything is information!
Youtube Video Although I dont think this completely relates to information2.0 it does have some interesting facts about information and what they predicted back in 2005/6.

This is what I have found out so far, plus the stuff I have learnt in seminars - but I take so many notes they would take hours to type here!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


Since at least monday, I've had a cold which has now stemmed into earache, headache, hot and cold sweats, feeling sick, blocked synuses and generally feeling ill. While I was in school, I was never off school for more than one day, but since 6th form ive been ill ALOT, even more so since I moved to Plymouth.

So is it the city? Maybe its the way my life changed when I moved, maybe its because my Mum made such cracking dinners!

I love my Mum! Who made mums so bloody brilliant! So, for this blog topic, I'm going to talk about my mum, Sandra. She's definitely a topic I'm proud to talk about!

I miss being at home sometimes, I definitely had it easy! I wasn't always happy, but I was spoilt. Not spoilt in the way alot of children are nowadays with materialistic items (I was pretty lucky), but with the amount of care that was given to me as a child. 

My Dad wasnt always reliable, but my mum was, and is always there. And after her mum passed away, me and my brother Stewart were sat together at my Nans funeral when I pointed out one of my Uncles were shaking. My brothers response was one I will never forget 'Well what would you be doing if it was Mum in the coffin?'. That didn't need an answer, but it did get me thinking.

She was a starting point in my life, and although there were definitely other factors, my Mum was definitely the most major influence. Always helping with homework, making me dinner, cleaning the house, letting us have pets, providing us with the best she could and she would never ever stop giving. 

Every Friday, after her long week of work, she would even take us out to her work place (a large service station in Oxford) and give us arcade tokens, buy us a burger king and let us pick a magazine. Every week, without fail. 

I really do feel sorry for the people without Mums because I believe, as the saying goes 'Anyone can be a mother, but it takes someone special to be a Mum'. Without my Mum, I wouldnt have moved out of home and grown up at such a pace. I would probably be one of those people stuck in Torbay with no prospects. Not that all people in Torbay dont have prospects, they do. But you know the people I'm on about.

Afterall, I'm not shamed to admit I failed my first year of AS levels. So, I decided to move. My Mum didnt like the idea of me moving to Plymouth but since she can see the effect, it has definitely grown on her. She can see how happy I am, and how my life has bettered for it. I stand on my own two feet, and stand up for myself now. Previously, I was bullied and standing up for myself was something I never did. I knew I had to hurt her feelings, for her to see the benefits in time.

I speak to her almost daily, about anything. My house, her house, my boyfriend, her husband, my job, her career, uni, neighbours, TV or even dog walking. I cant ever imagine not being able to speak to my mum, she doesnt even have one of those voicemails that I could call to hear her voice, if something were to happen to her. How must she be feeling, she cant do that to her Mum either! The picture underneath shows my Mum, my niece and my Nan the weekend before she passed away. Her very last picture :(

Thats what I hate about time, its going too quickly. I'm not worried about me growing up, thats happening. Thats predicted, but quite honestly im dreading the day I have to be without my Mum. She did everything for me, and still does all she can. 

My Mum deserves a Christmas everyday, I just wish I could afford it.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Support, communication and motivation

As a child, I can never remember being stressed. Not how I would define stress at this stage in my life anyway.

But can it affect children in the classroom? I've been wondering this for a while, and if

So..A little bit about me..
My Dad is an alcoholic, and throughout my childhood I saw him repeatedly steal, attempt suicide, hurt people, lose his license and go to prison. But at school, it never affected me. At least I don't think it did. I was popular, I was hard working and I generally enjoyed myself. My home life never got brought into school, and the only time it did was when we were moving away.

I just don't get why so many children now are diagnosed as being 'stressed'. To me, its just a label. There are ways to cope. We had ways as children, and if we didnt, we found them and so did my parents, grandparents and great grandparents, so why cant these children do the same? Not everyone needs medication!

I've been looking up stress in children on the internet and have come across a statistic site called Our Stressful Lives (it uses stats from something in america called APA) which says that when stressed, teens and tweens (8-12) reported difficulty sleeping, headaches and eating too much or too little. But come on, what child didnt get the occasional headache, had a sleepless night or had a day where they stuffed their faces and then a day where they didnt eat at all? To blame it on stress seems completely barbaric to me. Send them to bed at a reasonable time, feed them proper food and dont let them just sit in front of a TV all day long!

Dont get me wrong, as an ICT specialist I think games and TV's can be good. But in the right quantities.

Support, communication and motivation.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Wooden School

This is my first blog, so forgive me if it's bad!

I have been meaning to start a blog for a while now, but never found a topic. Not one professional enough anyway. I have so many questions about blogs, but maybe that can be the next topic!

Anyhow, in summer last year (2011 for those of you reading this in the future on your eye-phones...get it!) I travelled alone to a school in Uganda where a family friend had started a charity school.. a wooden one.

 She was trying to do too many things at once - run the school, bring western teaching into it, raise chickens to sell eggs, raise money to build a permanent school as well as doing the organising for her compound.

At first I thought the school was quite 'cute' as it were - small in size, only 75 children and 4 teachers, one office of resources, a kitchen the size of a classroom cupboard and the nearest field like playground was a 10 minute up hill walk away. The children were not English speaking, but they were taught in English, why? I never found out the answer.

Children of 3 were sitting end of term exams, happily with no complaints. Could you imagine that with the 3 year olds in the UK? They were just pleased to be in school as many dont get the opportunity. This picture shows Alvin, the teacher's son who wonders all day around the village. He's 2.

I noticed considerable differences between the schools here, and the two I visited there. I'll make a list.

The head teacher Agnes, was quite happy to beat children with a stick, for pretty much any reason known to man. The family friend really wasn't fond of this, and I'm not suprised. The children were made to concentrate for hours and hours at a time, did she expect them all to stay awake? At least 1 child was asleep in every classroom, head on the desk in the middle of a lesson.

Classroom structure
Here in the UK, I've definately noticed the freedom to move the classrooms round so the teachers can see all of the children, or all of the children can see them.. But Uganda, just a typical rows of little wooden benches with children crammed in so the teacher could have the back one to mark the books. It would have been better to move it round, but there's no space. Our staffrooms are bigger, and believe me I've seen some small ones.

It doesnt matter if a child is absent from school. They dont do registers often, they dont necessarily need them. After all, the parents of the children are paying per term for their child's education so what does it matter if the child doesnt turn up?

Being an English schooled person, I took in my suitcase pencils, colouring books, stickers, writing books, coloured paper, balloons and some other toys you would typically associate with a party bag in the UK. I spent 2 hours one morning with the oldest class (5-9 year olds) doing what they call 'crafts'. I gave them each some colouring pencils, a page from the colouring book, a sheet of stickers, some glue and some of those little pom poms. I have honestly never seen such excitement in any classroom in the UK. That was amazing.

Here are some pictures of the children's works of art.

I got brought in on a meeting one lunch, and I had to answer the question: What would happen if you didnt turn up at work and didnt call?.. Well I'd most certainly lose my job, unless there were special circumstance. Difference is..Umaroo (the teacher) had a headache. He didnt call, or show up, and he left the children with nothing to do. No supply teachers, not like here.

What shocked me more than anything, was the 2 young teachers wondering off at regular intervals. They lived not far from the school, so would go home to get a magazine to read or to put their phone on charge. To them, it was ok to text and answer the phone in the classroom. Imagine the hype if one of the UK teachers did that!

Ok, so this picture was during my crafts lesson but I saw this frequently.. The teacher sat staring into space.

I guess its easy to say there is a lot to talk about when you consider the difference between 'privileged' schools and ones who run in poverty.

Tip of the iceberg. And not the lettuce kind.

Comments on this would be massively appreciated, what with it being my first blog and if anyone wants more infromation on the school, go onto or search for UCETK Uganda on Facebook.