Quality v Quantity?

23 03 2010

I spent an enjoyable morning at LTS talking with and being filmed by Con Morris and Anne McGhee about my Malawi CPD, it’s the first time I’ve ever managed to forget about the camera being there, probably because I could talk about that all day long!

I was then up in Castlefield to do a lesson on rights and responsibilities with P5/6 and P6.  This was part of our link school programme, LCD run a yearly event at this time that all link schools in both countries have the opportunity to take part and swap their work.

I spent an enjoyable evening on Sunday planning the lesson.  I was really excited about it, it felt like a while since I spent time preparing a lesson as much as this (LCD did send a lot of guidance if we wanted it from UNICEF to do with the rights respectings schools award).  I had asked the HT who was interested in this and two classes wanted to do it.  Once I started planning it I realised there was no way I could fit two lessons into the afternoon so I suggested that we put both classes together.

Although technically this did work I am not sure that it was for the best.  More of the pupils got to work on the lesson and learn about their (and all children’s) rights and responsibilities and then make some posters for their link school but I did not get to do all of the questioning and deeper discussion that I would have liked.  Time was a bit pushed and as we were out in the open area, as were others, it was pretty noisy.  There was lots of group work and we did get some good discussions, just not as much as if I had only taken the one class and/or over two sessions.  I have just barely had time in my diary to get into the school to spend more time on our link projects.

Below is a short version of what we did:

Rights and Responsibilities lesson

Introduction – most important cards

  • Set of cards and need to pick what the group think are the 6 most important.  There were 20 cards, 10 of which were needs from the UN Convention of the Human Rights of the Child and 10 cards of wants like mobile phone, TV holiday trips, fast food.
  • Discussion of what some picked

Needs and wants

  • Now separate into needs and wants
  • Discussion of how they divided them
  • Explain the correct answers.  Explain that these are some of the 42 articles within the Convention for the Rights of the Child.  These are rights that were decided all children should have and have been signed by 191 out of 193 countries.  So these countries have committed to fulfilling these for every child.  Children’s needs should be met for them as they can mostly not provide them for themselves but rely on adults.  There are things that every child can do though to make sure they are not denying other children their rights.


  • Unicef suggests some responsibilities that go with the rights:
    1. Right to be protected from conflict, cruelty and neglect then they have a responsibility not to bully or harm each other
    2. If they have a right to a clean environment then they have a responsibility to do what they can to look after their environment
    3. if right to be educated then have a responsibility to learn as much as they can, to share their knowledge with others and not to stop others from learning
    4. if they have a right to a full life then responsibility to help the needy, disadvantaged and victims of discrimination
    5. if have right to freedom of thought  and religion then have responsibility to respect others thoughts and religions.
  • Discussion of these, getting the pupils to think about their responsibilities


  • In pairs going to get a card with either a right or a responsibility on it and make a poster for me to send to partner school to explain to them what their rights and responsibilities

The pupils picked very similar cards for the 6 most important things with the two they most agreed on being decent shelter, clean water and clean air.  They did not all pick education!  I would have liked more time to discuss those but there just wasn’t!  With needs and wants they mostly got it correct with some groups just not sure about which category a mobile phone was in and play so we got to have a good discussion about play and why that that was a need.

I asked them what they thought their responsiblities were in relation to their rights above and with a little teasing it out of them in some cases they came up with the ideas themselves which I was very impressed with.  They had just about enough time to do the task, could have done with a bit more but if they were focused it was enough time and sometimes with more time they don’t actually get it done any better.

Part of the idea from LINK was for these posters etc to be sent to the school in Malawi.  I will do this but I am not sure about it as these children are getting all of their needs met and I’m just not sure if it is the right thing to do.  In saying that I could pinpoint pupils I was working with today who were not getting all of their needs met; clean air (pupils mentioned smoking), nutritious food and being free from neglect are a few that came to mind.

If I had my own class I would have spent much longer on this over a number of days and it could be such deep learning.  In fact looking forward to doing it (and going further, possibly with UNICEF’s Rights Respecting School Award) when I do have a class again.

On a different note I wanted to have a check over the things I said I would do this year and how I was getting on with them:

  • Post graduate certificate in Leaderhip and Management in Education.  I have handed in a further two assignments and am just about to start the module which will start me on the diploma plus next term I will do my final 1/2 module of the certificate.
  • Build up my use of this blog, Glow and twitter and attend the Perth teachmeet.  I have blogged a little more now than I had done the first half of the session and see that improving more as I return to school in August.  I do obviously use Glow all the time but had not built much from scratch in a while.  This changed with the Fairtrade SLC glow group that I have set up with consulation of a Fairtade group within the council.  I have really enjoyed this and have an International Education one to do now as well for the authority which I am want to do in a similar way having learnt a lot about what teachers want from the group from the input of the group.  I read Twitter all of the time but am not so good at posting stuff up, still working on this one!  I did attend the Perth Teachmeet and really enjoyed it.
  • Extend my reading again.  I am keeping a page on this blog with the non-fiction I am reading.  It’s not exactly deep reading all of it but it’s good not be reading the chick lit trash that I tend to gravitate towards durng term time as I am generally too tired for anything else.
  • Still not running and just saw a podiatrist today who says I have Plantar Fasciatis in both feet so I’m still not going to be running for a while.  Was keeping my weight down, although not managing to lose any more, but went off the rails the last week or so as I have been really run down and leathargic after having my wisdom teeth out and the gums getting infected etc etc etc.  As well as the Caley Challenge I now have a plan for the summer, although not booked it yet, which would give me something to look forward to.  I would like to fly to Southern India and have a week or so travelling a bit down there, then fly to Kathmandu and do a group tour with Imaginative Traveller through Nepal and the northern/Golden Triangle area of India.  The next day I would fly to Leh in the Indian Himlayas (highest airport in the world I think) and spend 10 days trekking/climbing Stock Rhangi, which at 6,153 metres and over 20,000 feet is the highest peak in India.  It is also about 250 metres higher than Kiliminjaro, ideal as I was looking for a bigger challenge than last year!  Although the bigger challenge would be that I would be going myself!  Walking the Great Glen Way in 3 days in the Easter hols in prep for the Caley Challenge and the trek.
  • Volunteering – I have got as far as looking up some info (in fact I was stunned there was so much) on the web about volunteering in my area but not done anything about it yet.

Bit of a mammoth post this one but I was in a reflective mood!

Catching up

9 02 2009

I thought that with doing those lessons on literacy I would feel I had teaching to write about and would keep this up to date but obviously so many other things have got in the way that I have been too busy to keep this up.  I have really  been trying to focus on my running blog lately to help me keep going with that as the 53 mile Highland Fling race from Milngavie to Tyndrum is only 11 weeks away now!  I am starting to wonder how I am going to keep going for about 12 hours!  

I did 5 lessons in a primary 5 class on Lets Think Through Literacy.  The p.5’s were definitely at the bottom end of the age group for these activities and the ideas were very typical of that age.  When we had the training day we actually did some of the lessons as if we were pupils and had some great ideas and really got into it.  I think this may have given my too big ideas of what to expect from children as their ideas were nothing like ours!  Maybe if I did it with p.7 it would have been slightly different.  I was pleased to be in this class though as the teacher was really enthusiastic and followed and took notes through every lesson.  She was definitely the type who thought that children should be given the chance to use drama and talking and listening to gain in confidence and she could see big differences in some of the pupils from the beginning to the end.  I am looking forward to running some CPD on this next year and getting teachers to do this in the same kind of way we did at the training.

And then I started doing lessons in a secondary!

I was looking at shoo fly resources and as I am going to be running CPD on that next year as well I thought I had better pilot some lessons on this.  This resource had specifically been given to a secondary to try and I was working with the PT of the English department when I suggested I do a series of lessons which he watches and then he does a series that I can watch. 

I chose to do the poetry work as it is one of my weaker areas so I thought I would challenge myself but it was also probably the piece of writing the children would find most interesting as it was a bit scary and was entitled ‘A Gothic Tale’.  The resources can be used on the interactive whiteboard or viewed through power point, which was what we had to use. 

It was a first year class, and although I have done a lot of Malawi work with classes from 1st to 6th year this was my first time at trying out teaching at secondary level and it’s fair to say I was a bit worried!  The class are an absolute dream though, I would have loved to have them in p.7.  The things we could have done!

So we spent time on the poem, wrote a synopsis and researched gothic culture and history so far.  Tonmorrow we will write a poem and then on Wed they will put it onto powerpoint like the original poem and make it look gothic.

I have really enjoyed working with the class and find secondaries fascinating but being stuck to a timetable is very restricting and I am not sure I would want that all the time while teaching.   50 – 55 mins is not very long to discuss things and get the associated work done and I have felt I, and the children, are just getting into things properly when it is time to stop.  And that is with a wonderful class where the behaviour and the work ethic was as close to perfect as you get.  With Curriculum for Excellence schools are definitely going to have to look at timetabling, as I know some are, so that pupils can go into a particular topic in more depth and not be restricted by time.  It made me realise how lucky we were in the primary if we were given the freedom to be loose with the timetable and spend longer on subjects/topics the children were interested in and that consquently generated more learning.