Thursday, 12 September 2013

Second Year Placement

I've been meaning to write a blog about my second year at uni for a while, but I never got round to it.. So here goes:

Starting with placement, the most recent of educational things I have done. This year I found it hard to settle in to start with. Last year, I was told by my uni tutor that I had said something in the staff room which offended someone. They wouldn't tell me what was said, or who I had offended so I never had the chance to apologise. On my second placement, the same thing happened. I have never been so upset about something I didn't know anything about. Who had I said something to this time?  I approached my in school tutor, who told me this wasn't true and she was completely happy with me, but essentially, it's made me feel awkward and uncomfortable about talking in a place where I didn't know. For a week or so, I was really withdrawn and edgy but it turns out most of the teachers had the exact same thoughts that we had.

Travelling was hard for me, I was 60 miles from home and so arranged to stay with a friend in Exeter. I was commuting 22 miles a day, and this really got to me so I was poorly on the last day of the first week! I made a decision to stay in a host family, but I was so nervous! Turns out it was easy, the people I stayed with were lovely and I had a Marjons student staying as well so I wasn't alone in my nights planning lessons at the dining room table! We got on so well we're going to a concert together in September - I cannot wait! Only bad thing about the host family is the expenses, something which I am trying to account for this year.

My partner in school was lovely and I'd love to work with her again! Working with an art specialist was really interesting, the blend of ideas we had worked really well in the classroom and I don't think I've ever had so much fun. The kids were quirky and creative and we got to see some really unique situations in behaviour management. We got to see children who were textbook autistic, children with issues at home, children who had anger problems and children who just liked to stand out. Meeting parents who were really enthusiastic about their children being taught by us was the best.

Working with a child who had issues at home was one of the most rewarding experiences of placement. In fact, out of all of my placements, this experience has been the best! The child just wanted to be normal, to be treated like a normal child but  had a 1-1 TA, whom he loved but he couldn't understand why he was different. Truth is, he was normal he just couldn't control his frustration and was putting other children at risk. Over the period of weeks, me and Jess managed to build a relationship with him, we treated him just like every other child and the last week we managed to keep him in the class for 4 full days, an achievement he had never experienced. He loved playing basketball and although his team skills weren't the greatest, if he did his work in class, he knew we would eat our lunch and head out to the playground to shoot some hoops..

Teaching the children equivalent fractions was an interesting experience because something incredible happened and our teacher couldn't quite believe it. I used the game fractonimoes, where the children paired a picture of a fraction with a domino of equivalent number. One lunch time I was tidying up and in comes the child I was talking about above. He said he had no one to play with and so just sat down and asked to play fractonimoes. He sat quite happy for a good 20 minutes before deciding to go and try again with his friends. They were really proud of him for making a conscious decision to come inside and talk to someone instead of getting angry when no one would let him join in other games.

Placement was the last thing we did this year and although I wasnt looking forward to it, I had a really great time. But the rest of the year was hard.. I've moved three times since I started and I don't exactly feel like I fitted in. Every cohort has the cliques, but I don't fit into any of them. At least I don't think I do! Because I'm always busy or working, finding time to spend with people on my course is difficult. I have friends on the course, people I love spending what time I do have with but group work is hard and that is something I noticed too much this year. Each completing one small task doesn't work effectively, and finding the time to work together is even harder.

Since starting this post and deciding to come back to it at a later date, I have been on holiday, ended a relationship, moved into a student house and taken my old job back. I'm looking forward to the next year, not for the work or the money but because it means I'm one year closer to my dream. Next year, I've promised myself I will finish driving lessons, pass my QTS tests and do my assignments with plenty of time! I plan to do more reading, be more critical and spend more time in the library instead of at home finding ways to avoid the tasks!

Wish me luck!

Friday, 8 March 2013

My Digital Identity

I'd been asked to create a project in uni, looking at my online personality or identity and so I started by Google'ing myself... What a shocking idea that was!

I asked myself these questions - what are your answers?

Am I trying to avoid a stereotype?
Am I dependent on technology?
Do I need to erase my online past?
Does my online past stress me out?
Does my behaviour online have a physical basis?
Is this me?
Has the technological world conditioned me to be the way I am online?
Can I alter my online behaviour?
Can I forget what goes online?
Has being online changed how I deal with emotions?
Can being online help my learning?
Can I have Freudian slips online?
Does technology affect my dreams?
Do people act the same online all around the world?
Is my personality the same online as in person?
How does the internet affect motivation?

See my answers:

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Memory and Education

Blog is incomplete at the moment - plan on adding to it at a later date! 

Psychology has always interested me, particularly in regards to memory because I always question myself - was what I remembered true? Could I remember those faces if I saw them again? Did I lock the front door? Would I remember where the 'safe place' I put my money was?

So I started to look at what defined memory in itself, and I know there have been different models but who is to agree with any particular one? I'm sure they all cover at least one valid point!

I used the Oxford Dictionary (2010) to give me a definition of memory - 'The faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information'. But it isn't as simple as that, is it? You don't write a shopping list for the hell of it, you write it because your mind considers it not important enough to store.

Having read different web pages in the hope of coming across varied research, and studying Psychology in A-Level, I came to the conclusion that memory can vary in complexity, depth of the information and the length of time at which it is stored for.

Relating to education, memory improvement seemed most logical. Having looked at the links provided below, a number of strategies to improve memory became apparent, and I have tried to link these to education:

  • Chunking - a process where large pieces of information are broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks. In schools, children are asked to remember a lot of dates, particularly in History. A teacher could encourage a child to chunk relevant dates into a large number, allowing them to recall the dates with little difficulty - 193919451066 (1939 - World War 2 begins, 1945 - World War 2 finishes and 1066, the Battle of Hastings).
  • Cramming - This was not so much a memory improvement strategy, but one which was advised by most sources as to be avoided. Some sources, such as the BBC (2006) suggested that cramming was to be minimised to small amounts of time, and that this should be avoided if possible. From listening to others, it sounds like a lot of schools do not plan effectively ALWAYS, where a terms worth of work will be crammed into half a term because they over ran on another topic. Granted, this cannot always be helped but this will not improve a child's memory. 
  • Implementation intentions - These can also be known as cues, where an individual is encouraged to complete one process after another which the individual does without consciously remembering - an example with this was taking a tablet after a morning cup of tea, something which most people do in the morning. In schools, children could learn to use cues by looking at a particular piece of information at the same time each day (spellings before bed, for example) where children will repeat the process without noticing. 
  • External aids - This is something which schools can easily implement through the use of diaries, calendars, placing objects in conscious places (fruit by the door) to help children to improve their memory processes outside of school. Although, that does not have to be the case - these external aids can also be used inside of school.

Further Reading and References
Oxford Dictionaries (2010) 'Memory' , Oxford University Press [Online] Available at:

Monday, 18 February 2013

Gibson and Gregory

My understanding so far of Gibson and Gregory:

There are two opposing views in regards to perception - Gibson who argued humans processed information in a bottom-up method and Gregory (1970) who proposed a top-down method.

The bottom-up method (Gibson) meant that information was processed one way, where a person analyses a piece of raw data and this analysis increases as it makes its way through the visual system. Gibson argued that perception is direct and the environment provides enough information to make sense of our world.

The top-down method (Gregory) refers to the information which helps us to recognise patterns, mostly used in optical illusions. Gregory said this is because the meaning of surrounding words help to aid understanding.

Gibson claimed 'what you see is what you get' and there is no need for processing and interpretation, which Greogry says is necessary.
perception - Gibson optic array
McLeod, S. (2007) Visual Perception Theory [Online] available at: (Accessed 16 February)

Gibson's theory contained three important features:
  1. Optic flow patterns
    1. Light flow contains important information about the movement of a stimulus
  2. Invariant features
    1. A pattern or structure is available in texture gradients which is invariant, always occuring in the same way as we move around the environment and this helps cue depth.
  3. Affordances
    1. Optical Array - the patterns of light that reach the eye from the environment
    2. Relative brightness - brighter, clearer images are perceived as closer
    3. Texture gradient - grain of textures gets smaller as the objects get further away
    4. Relative size - objects with small images are seen as more distant
    5. Superimposition - if the image of one object blocks another, the first is seen as closer.
    6. Height in the visual field - objects further away are generally higher in the visual field
McLeod, S. (2007) Visual Perception Theory [Online] available at: (Accessed 16 February)
So how does this relate to education?
Gibson said that people perceived what is in their direct field of vision, and that no further analysis is required to receive all the relevant information. I believe this is difficult to do, because children are not always able to gain the relevant information from a stimulus which they have not seen before.

Gregory said that information is gained from the relationship between the eye and the brain, where different factors influence the information someone receives. I have noticed through personal experience that when looking at optical illusions, when younger I have not been able to see both images in an illusion, but looking at it again at an older age, I have been able to see both images or use the stimuli to pick apart the parts I can see, to find the images or illusions which I cannot see.

Faults with Gibson's Theory of Perception
  • Gibson cannot explain why perceptions are sometimes inaccurate. He claimed optical illusions are extremely artifical and are unlikely to be encountered in the real world.
  • Gibson's theory cannot explain naturally occuring illusions, such as a train in the horizon.
McLeod, S. (2007) Visual Perception Theory [Online] available at: (Accessed 16 February)
Noe, A. Direct Perception, [Online] Available at: