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Algebra Simplification

Algebra can seem abstract and confusing to pupils when they first meet it.

The fact that you are expecting quite young children to imagine letters representing numbers can be tough enough. Then making it harder by confusing the matter with methods that frankly do not make much sense.

Initially pupils are expected to write expressions

e.g. Consider the number y

Write an expression for:-

“twice the number”  2y
“four more than the number”  y + 4

less than 20”  20 - y

The pupils get the hang of these and hopefully see the logic by relating the to the number 6 for example.

The next challenge involves simplifying expressions.

Gathering Like terms

Consider 2a+3b+4a+6= 6a+9b

Some textbooks talk about “adding 2 apples and 4 apples to get 6 apples then 3 bananas and 6 bananas to get 9 bananas”. And stressing that you can’t add apples to bananas.

The children have just about got used to a letter representing a number when suddenly it becomes an apple, banana, egg or car!

Attempting to simplify 7ab -3- 5- 6- 2+ 5 + ab using apples and bananas makes no sense. (negative 5 bananas subtract 2 bananas ?? 7 apple/bananas ??)

A Better Way:

Using the listing method
Starting off with 2+ 6think of as a pile of sand, x metres above ground level. Adding 2 piles high of this sand with 6 piles high will give a pile 8 high.

Negative amounts of are then thought of as holes in the ground. 

-3is thought of as a hole three lots of metres down.

Looking at the examples below.

1) – is thought of as a pile of sand metres high filling in a hole of giving level ground.

i.e. 0 metres.

2) 2– 3is thought of as a pile of sand 2metres high filling in a hole deep leaving us with a hole of metres deep 

i.e. -a

page2image33563792

This is then used to explain the Listing Method:

A negative will cancel out a positive.  (filling in holes) 

Two positives will combine to make a bigger positive.   (a higher pile)

Two negatives will combine to make a bigger negative.  (a deeper hole)

Consider 1. 

List 3a - 4+ 5a - 2b

 

page3image33655856

= 8a - 6b

Consider 2. 

List -3y - 2z + 4z

 

page3image33677648

y(or -z+y )

This method is especially useful when simplifying expressions with powers of letters. 

Consider 3.

page4image33657104

This method has been used successfully for the last few years. The pupils are more accurate and are more likely to understand the logic of gathering like terms.

It can also be used to understand basic negative number calculations.

R. Farnan 18/11/19

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Algebra Simplification

Algebra can seem abstract and confusing to pupils when they first meet it.

The fact that you are expecting quite young children to imagine letters representing numbers can be tough enough. Then making it harder by confusing the matter with methods that frankly do not make much sense.

Initially pupils are expected to write expressions

e.g. Consider the number y

Write an expression for:-

“twice the number”  2y
“four more than the number”  y + 4

less than 20”  20 - y

The pupils get the hang of these and hopefully see the logic by relating the to the number 6 for example.

The next challenge involves simplifying expressions.

Gathering Like terms

Consider 2a+3b+4a+6= 6a+9b

Some textbooks talk about “adding 2 apples and 4 apples to get 6 apples then 3 bananas and 6 bananas to get 9 bananas”. And stressing that you can’t add apples to bananas.

The children have just about got used to a letter representing a number when suddenly it becomes an apple, banana, egg or car!

Attempting to simplify 7ab -3- 5- 6- 2+ 5 + ab using apples and bananas makes no sense. (negative 5 bananas subtract 2 bananas ?? 7 apple/bananas ??)

A Better Way:

Using the listing method
Starting off with 2+ 6think of as a pile of sand, x metres above ground level. Adding 2 piles high of this sand with 6 piles high will give a pile 8 high.

Negative amounts of are then thought of as holes in the ground. 

-3is thought of as a hole three lots of metres down.

Looking at the examples below.

1) – is thought of as a pile of sand metres high filling in a hole of giving level ground.

i.e. 0 metres.

2) 2– 3is thought of as a pile of sand 2metres high filling in a hole deep leaving us with a hole of metres deep 

i.e. -a

page2image33563792

This is then used to explain the Listing Method:

A negative will cancel out a positive.  (filling in holes) 

Two positives will combine to make a bigger positive.   (a higher pile)

Two negatives will combine to make a bigger negative.  (a deeper hole)

Consider 1. 

List 3a - 4+ 5a - 2b

 

page3image33655856

= 8a - 6b

Consider 2. 

List -3y - 2z + 4z

 

page3image33677648

y(or -z+y )

This method is especially useful when simplifying expressions with powers of letters. 

Consider 3.

page4image33657104

This method has been used successfully for the last few years. The pupils are more accurate and are more likely to understand the logic of gathering like terms.

It can also be used to understand basic negative number calculations.

R. Farnan 18/11/19

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Algebra SImplication

Simple methods bring success!

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Planning in the Moment

Young children live in the here and now. If adults are to make a real difference to their learning they need to seize the moments when children first show curiosity, and support their next steps immediately. When children are allowed to select where, with what, and how to play, they are truly invested in their play, they become deeply involved and make dramatic progress.

Young children are experiencing and learning in the here and now, not storing up their questions until tomorrow or next week. It is in that moment of curiosity, puzzlement, effort or interest – the ‘teachable moment’ – that the skilful adult makes a difference. By using this cycle on a moment-by-moment basis, the adult will be always alert to individual children (observation), always thinking about what it tells us about the child’s thinking (assessment), and always ready to respond by using appropriate strategies at the right moment to support children’s well-being and learning (planning for the next moment). From National Standards document Learning, Playing and Interacting 

Planning in the moment can be broken down into three stages:

  • The Child’s Spark – This is when the child first shows an interest in something. There should be an air of fascination around the object and concentration in what they are now doing.
  • The Teachable Moment – The teacher will notice this and approach the child. This is the opportunity to extend their interest, by asking open-ended questions and considering ways to apply this interest to other options within the environment.
  • The Documentation – At a later date, you can document the observation. Include the spark, the teachable moment and what you did next. This will help you to map out each child’s interests, and plan an environment that works for them.
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In Nursery we are beginning to embrace the concept of planning "in the moment" which emphasises the critical role of the adult in promoting child-led learning, giving early years practitioners the confidence and insight to work and plan in the moment, and enabling our children to live, learn, play and develop in the here and now.

We aim to ensure that practitioners can integrate spontaneous planning and rich adult–child interactions into our everyday practice and early years curriculum, responding to the unique needs of each child. We want each child to feel that we value them and their ideas and suggestions; responding to and extending their individual learning. Making detailed and sensitive observation to really see what they are doing, make sense of their actions and to recognise individual achievements which in turn will further their learning and development.

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Planning in the Moment

Young children live in the here and now. If adults are to make a real difference to their learning they need to seize the moments when children first show curiosity, and support their next steps immediately. When children are allowed to select where, with what, and how to play, they are truly invested in their play, they become deeply involved and make dramatic progress.

Young children are experiencing and learning in the here and now, not storing up their questions until tomorrow or next week. It is in that moment of curiosity, puzzlement, effort or interest – the ‘teachable moment’ – that the skilful adult makes a difference. By using this cycle on a moment-by-moment basis, the adult will be always alert to individual children (observation), always thinking about what it tells us about the child’s thinking (assessment), and always ready to respond by using appropriate strategies at the right moment to support children’s well-being and learning (planning for the next moment). From National Standards document Learning, Playing and Interacting 

Planning in the moment can be broken down into three stages:

  • The Child’s Spark – This is when the child first shows an interest in something. There should be an air of fascination around the object and concentration in what they are now doing.
  • The Teachable Moment – The teacher will notice this and approach the child. This is the opportunity to extend their interest, by asking open-ended questions and considering ways to apply this interest to other options within the environment.
  • The Documentation – At a later date, you can document the observation. Include the spark, the teachable moment and what you did next. This will help you to map out each child’s interests, and plan an environment that works for them.
perch_rightColBody

In Nursery we are beginning to embrace the concept of planning "in the moment" which emphasises the critical role of the adult in promoting child-led learning, giving early years practitioners the confidence and insight to work and plan in the moment, and enabling our children to live, learn, play and develop in the here and now.

We aim to ensure that practitioners can integrate spontaneous planning and rich adult–child interactions into our everyday practice and early years curriculum, responding to the unique needs of each child. We want each child to feel that we value them and their ideas and suggestions; responding to and extending their individual learning. Making detailed and sensitive observation to really see what they are doing, make sense of their actions and to recognise individual achievements which in turn will further their learning and development.

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Nursery

Planning in the Moment!

How young children experience learning

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Last week, I was lucky enough to take 26 Form 7 children on a 6 day trip to Normandie, France. The choice of this location is not random: t is close by several important places which can be linked to other subjects. 

Obviously the first objective of the trip is to get the children completely immersed in the language and also discover more about the French culture. It helps them build some confidence and widen their cultural knowledge. However, there is another purpose to this trip. It can give the children a first hand lesson on many other subjects such as Biology, Geography or History to name just a few. 

I know, History is quite obvious with the visits to the WW2 landing sites and memorials plus there is the tapestry of Bayeux (next year’s visit), the Mont St Michel and other fortified cities such as St Malo which I hope to show to some children in a future trip….and not just because there is a famous ice-cream shop there! 

Geography is also an obvious one, especially with the crossing of the bay of Mont Saint Michel and understanding its ecosystem and how quick sand works (and try jumping in it). There is also the visit to the goat cheese farm when we learn more about farming in the region. 

Biology is maybe not as obvious but we do learn a lot about goats and how their digestive system works and about when milk is produced following the reproductive season. There is also an element of chemistry as we found out the different processes to make cheese. 

Adding to all these the culinary discovery (and not just snails!!), Maths (being given a budget to buy their lunch in a market), PE (sports tournament) and you get a full class day outside the classroom!

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Last week, I was lucky enough to take 26 Form 7 children on a 6 day trip to Normandie, France. The choice of this location is not random: t is close by several important places which can be linked to other subjects. 

Obviously the first objective of the trip is to get the children completely immersed in the language and also discover more about the French culture. It helps them build some confidence and widen their cultural knowledge. However, there is another purpose to this trip. It can give the children a first hand lesson on many other subjects such as Biology, Geography or History to name just a few. 

I know, History is quite obvious with the visits to the WW2 landing sites and memorials plus there is the tapestry of Bayeux (next year’s visit), the Mont St Michel and other fortified cities such as St Malo which I hope to show to some children in a future trip….and not just because there is a famous ice-cream shop there! 

Geography is also an obvious one, especially with the crossing of the bay of Mont Saint Michel and understanding its ecosystem and how quick sand works (and try jumping in it). There is also the visit to the goat cheese farm when we learn more about farming in the region. 

Biology is maybe not as obvious but we do learn a lot about goats and how their digestive system works and about when milk is produced following the reproductive season. There is also an element of chemistry as we found out the different processes to make cheese. 

Adding to all these the culinary discovery (and not just snails!!), Maths (being given a budget to buy their lunch in a market), PE (sports tournament) and you get a full class day outside the classroom!

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A Trip to France!

So much to learn and enjoy!

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Constructive praise and encouragement vs ‘empty praise’.

We often use praise because it’s quick and easy. You can throw out a ‘good job!’ or a similar phrase without having to analyse the situation, and this is the problem with it. It’s overused and has lost it’s meaning in our world. Everyone is ‘great!’

On the other hand – encouragement takes a lot more thought and more words but, it helps children to see what they have done. Encouragement helps children want to do better for themselves, not just for pleasing adults.

When you say, “good job,” “beautiful painting,” or “great performance” to a child, the comments become “white noise,” or empty words with little meaning - eventually platitudes not even heard. Praising your child expansively not only devalues the praise, but also prevents him/her from actually knowing what doing a “good job” means.

Praising in glowing terms - especially if it comes after less-than-perfect behaviour or performance -can actually send a message that he or she doesn’t need to try harder to improve.

Children who don’t receive a ‘good job’ or ‘well done’ may come to feel they’re entitled to praise no matter what they do. They start to believe that they can coast along, assuming credit will come anyway. When it doesn’t, they will be unprepared to cope.

Furthermore, when you praise a child who is not doing as well as she could, she ultimately learns to believe she doesn’t have to do better to be accepted. She can coast or feel entitled, expecting that everything should be coming her way whether she strives for her best or not. 

You cheat the child when compliments are hollow.

Constructive praise (encouragement) with specifics and emphasis on performance encourages a child to strive and work harder. Encouragement is effective because it: a) allows you to select a characteristic or behaviour you want to develop or foster in a positive and constructive way, and b) lets you call attention to the process

Here are 6 tips on using words of encouragement for kids effectively.

  1. Praise sincerely and honestly. ...
  2. Be specific and descriptive. ...
  3. Praise effort and the process, not ability. ...
  4. Avoid controlling or conditional praise. ...
  5. Avoid comparison praise. ...
  6. Avoid easy-task praise or over-praise.
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Constructive praise and encouragement vs ‘empty praise’.

We often use praise because it’s quick and easy. You can throw out a ‘good job!’ or a similar phrase without having to analyse the situation, and this is the problem with it. It’s overused and has lost it’s meaning in our world. Everyone is ‘great!’

On the other hand – encouragement takes a lot more thought and more words but, it helps children to see what they have done. Encouragement helps children want to do better for themselves, not just for pleasing adults.

When you say, “good job,” “beautiful painting,” or “great performance” to a child, the comments become “white noise,” or empty words with little meaning - eventually platitudes not even heard. Praising your child expansively not only devalues the praise, but also prevents him/her from actually knowing what doing a “good job” means.

Praising in glowing terms - especially if it comes after less-than-perfect behaviour or performance -can actually send a message that he or she doesn’t need to try harder to improve.

Children who don’t receive a ‘good job’ or ‘well done’ may come to feel they’re entitled to praise no matter what they do. They start to believe that they can coast along, assuming credit will come anyway. When it doesn’t, they will be unprepared to cope.

Furthermore, when you praise a child who is not doing as well as she could, she ultimately learns to believe she doesn’t have to do better to be accepted. She can coast or feel entitled, expecting that everything should be coming her way whether she strives for her best or not. 

You cheat the child when compliments are hollow.

Constructive praise (encouragement) with specifics and emphasis on performance encourages a child to strive and work harder. Encouragement is effective because it: a) allows you to select a characteristic or behaviour you want to develop or foster in a positive and constructive way, and b) lets you call attention to the process

Here are 6 tips on using words of encouragement for kids effectively.

  1. Praise sincerely and honestly. ...
  2. Be specific and descriptive. ...
  3. Praise effort and the process, not ability. ...
  4. Avoid controlling or conditional praise. ...
  5. Avoid comparison praise. ...
  6. Avoid easy-task praise or over-praise.
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So much better than ‘empty praise’

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A Hurdle that can be Jumped!

Question: What do all of these Form 6 maths problems have in common?

  • Work out three quarters of 48
  • Express 105 as a product of its prime factors.
  • Multiply 479 by 34
  • Find the area of a triangle with base 8 metres and height 9 metres.
  • Add 3/8 and 7/12
  • Solve 7x + 2 = 37

Answer:  At the most basic, they all require the use of times tables in one form or another.

(See the websites: mymaths and ttrockstars)

The phrase ‘times tables’ elicits a wide range of responses amongst children: from the animated, hand-waving readiness.… to the slow slump in the chair – a perceptible embodiment of the dread that they feel within. 

Most students’ feelings lie between these extremes and are dependent on which times table is in question or how recently they gave them any thought.  

Whatever a student’s feelings about them, times tables are still fundamental to learning maths.

Confidence in the subject relies heavily on a robust knowledge of tables since they impact on or support most maths topics that are learned in school.  Their use goes well beyond the fairly unsubtle 7 × 8 = 56 as used in basic operations, including area, volume and ratios… to their use in simple applications such as division: 56 ÷ 8 = 7, fractions: ¼ of 24 = 6 and then onto identifying factors and multiples, identifying and utilising prime numbers, selecting lowest common denominators, simplifying fractions and solving equations.

Knowing the times tables, almost on reflex, frees up processing power for tackling the prescribed problems rather than taking the focus off the job at hand to deal with finding the answer to 7 × 8, for example.

By the time children reach Form 6 we like them to be comfortable and quick with the whole range of times tables and be able to identify the multiples of each times table too. 

Here are some learning targets:

1) Quick recall of the 2-12 times tables as they are usually written: 1 × 2 = 2, 2 × 2 = 4, etc.

2)    Know in which times tables multiples can be found (finding factors): 24 is in 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 12 times tables but 11 is only a multiple in the 1 and 11 tables.

3)    Know them ‘backwards’ (division): 72 ÷ 6 = 7,   66 ÷ 6 = 11, etc.

4)    Recognising multiples of a number. e.g.  Which of these numbers are multiples of 4?  10, 16, 28, 30

    5)   Divisibility tests for 2 to 9 times tables.

    By and large, times tables will need to be learned by practice and more practice, whether on paper, spoken out loud, playing games or on the wide range of apps available. 

    Learning times tables can be hard work but it doesn’t have to be boring and here are a couple of links to websites that Cargilfield subscribes to which can make learning them less arduous and, dare I say, fun!

    Mathematics presents a world of interesting puzzles and problems but sometimes it’s just the simple things that hold us back from enjoying these fully.

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    A Hurdle that can be Jumped!

    Question: What do all of these Form 6 maths problems have in common?

    • Work out three quarters of 48
    • Express 105 as a product of its prime factors.
    • Multiply 479 by 34
    • Find the area of a triangle with base 8 metres and height 9 metres.
    • Add 3/8 and 7/12
    • Solve 7x + 2 = 37

    Answer:  At the most basic, they all require the use of times tables in one form or another.

    (See the websites: mymaths and ttrockstars)

    The phrase ‘times tables’ elicits a wide range of responses amongst children: from the animated, hand-waving readiness.… to the slow slump in the chair – a perceptible embodiment of the dread that they feel within. 

    Most students’ feelings lie between these extremes and are dependent on which times table is in question or how recently they gave them any thought.  

    Whatever a student’s feelings about them, times tables are still fundamental to learning maths.

    Confidence in the subject relies heavily on a robust knowledge of tables since they impact on or support most maths topics that are learned in school.  Their use goes well beyond the fairly unsubtle 7 × 8 = 56 as used in basic operations, including area, volume and ratios… to their use in simple applications such as division: 56 ÷ 8 = 7, fractions: ¼ of 24 = 6 and then onto identifying factors and multiples, identifying and utilising prime numbers, selecting lowest common denominators, simplifying fractions and solving equations.

    Knowing the times tables, almost on reflex, frees up processing power for tackling the prescribed problems rather than taking the focus off the job at hand to deal with finding the answer to 7 × 8, for example.

    By the time children reach Form 6 we like them to be comfortable and quick with the whole range of times tables and be able to identify the multiples of each times table too. 

    Here are some learning targets:

    1) Quick recall of the 2-12 times tables as they are usually written: 1 × 2 = 2, 2 × 2 = 4, etc.

    2)    Know in which times tables multiples can be found (finding factors): 24 is in 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 12 times tables but 11 is only a multiple in the 1 and 11 tables.

    3)    Know them ‘backwards’ (division): 72 ÷ 6 = 7,   66 ÷ 6 = 11, etc.

    4)    Recognising multiples of a number. e.g.  Which of these numbers are multiples of 4?  10, 16, 28, 30

      5)   Divisibility tests for 2 to 9 times tables.

      By and large, times tables will need to be learned by practice and more practice, whether on paper, spoken out loud, playing games or on the wide range of apps available. 

      Learning times tables can be hard work but it doesn’t have to be boring and here are a couple of links to websites that Cargilfield subscribes to which can make learning them less arduous and, dare I say, fun!

      Mathematics presents a world of interesting puzzles and problems but sometimes it’s just the simple things that hold us back from enjoying these fully.

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      Cargilfield

      Value of knowing your Times Tables

      It is time well spent!

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      introTextHow to support children in their learning
      image/cms/resources/img1467.jpg
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      leftColBody

      Active learning is a concept which is widely applied in education and one which many of us here at Cargilfield embrace.  It is a pedagogy that essentially has the child at the centre of the learning.  

      Active learning focuses more on how children learn and not just on what they learn.

      Through active learning children are encouraged to apply their own thinking rather than to passively absorb the information which is shared with them.  Research over many years has shown us that understanding is not transferred to children simply by telling them what they need to know.  Instead, the engagement with the given task, on a number of levels, makes sure that the child’s thinking is challenged and ensures that it is robust as they build upon previous learning.  

      Active learning empowers children to engage in their own learning; building their knowledge and understanding as they respond to learning opportunities provided by their teacher.  Essentially, it is based on the concept of ‘constructivism’which focuses on the fact that learners build or constructtheir own understanding through applying and experimenting with the concepts they are trying to understand.  

      Learning is therefore, seen as a process of ‘making meaning’.  Children are able to develop their existing knowledge and understanding to achieve a deeper level of understanding as they learn.  This, as a result, empowers them to apply the higher order skills of Blooms Taxonomysuch as analysing, evaluating and synthesising ideas to their own learning.

      The role of the teacher, therefore, is to provide contexts and opportunities for this to take place; enabling deeper levels of understanding, curiosity and engagement.  Constructivism maintains that learning primarily happens through social interaction with others.  A theory which is vigorously embraced through active learning here at Cargilfield!

      Lev Vygotsky, possibly the most famous constructivist, developed the idea of the ‘Zone of Proximal Development’.  This ‘zone’ lies between what the learner can achieve independently and what they can achieve when supported by their teacher’s expert guidance.  As skilled teachers, we focus on learning activities within ‘the zone’.  The teacher can scaffold each child’s learning by providing guidance and support that challenges the child based on their current ability which then allows them to develop their understanding gradually; ensuring that each increment in learning is built on solid foundations.  

      Skilled teachers also provide meaningful feedback. This is ultimately based upon the concept of ‘Assessment is for Learning’ which ensures two things; firstly that each child is aware of their current strengths and weaknesses and secondly that they know what to do to help them improve.  It is important to remember, however, that learning experiences for children are developmental and that learning should be appropriate to their level of development.  This is often linked to their age although not always the same.

      rightColBody

      Active learning helps children become lifelong learners, encourages them to be successful and provides engaging and exciting learning opportunities for them to participate in each day.  

      There are some key questions which we, as teachers, keep in mind when engaging with active learning;

      - What do the children in my class need to learn?

      - How will the task that I have chosen help the children to learn?

      - How am I using questioning as part of the learning?

      - Am I creating a positive classroom environment where it’s fine to take intellectual risks?

      - How will I know that the children are learning?

      It is critical when we do our long, medium and weekly planning that we consider; how will we engage with active learning to ensure that the child and the learning are at the centre of the process.  It is important to remember, therefore, that tasks can be relatively simple but still get the children to think critically and independently.  Likewise, a complicated task does not always help to develop a child’s thinking or understanding. This is crucial to consider and something which we embed in the planning process here at Cargilfield.

      The key idea for us, as teachers, to remember is; that children must be empowered to think and engageduring their time at school and not just be passive recipients of an increasing bank of knowledge.

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      perch_introTextHow to support children in their learning
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      Active learning is a concept which is widely applied in education and one which many of us here at Cargilfield embrace.  It is a pedagogy that essentially has the child at the centre of the learning.  

      Active learning focuses more on how children learn and not just on what they learn.

      Through active learning children are encouraged to apply their own thinking rather than to passively absorb the information which is shared with them.  Research over many years has shown us that understanding is not transferred to children simply by telling them what they need to know.  Instead, the engagement with the given task, on a number of levels, makes sure that the child’s thinking is challenged and ensures that it is robust as they build upon previous learning.  

      Active learning empowers children to engage in their own learning; building their knowledge and understanding as they respond to learning opportunities provided by their teacher.  Essentially, it is based on the concept of ‘constructivism’which focuses on the fact that learners build or constructtheir own understanding through applying and experimenting with the concepts they are trying to understand.  

      Learning is therefore, seen as a process of ‘making meaning’.  Children are able to develop their existing knowledge and understanding to achieve a deeper level of understanding as they learn.  This, as a result, empowers them to apply the higher order skills of Blooms Taxonomysuch as analysing, evaluating and synthesising ideas to their own learning.

      The role of the teacher, therefore, is to provide contexts and opportunities for this to take place; enabling deeper levels of understanding, curiosity and engagement.  Constructivism maintains that learning primarily happens through social interaction with others.  A theory which is vigorously embraced through active learning here at Cargilfield!

      Lev Vygotsky, possibly the most famous constructivist, developed the idea of the ‘Zone of Proximal Development’.  This ‘zone’ lies between what the learner can achieve independently and what they can achieve when supported by their teacher’s expert guidance.  As skilled teachers, we focus on learning activities within ‘the zone’.  The teacher can scaffold each child’s learning by providing guidance and support that challenges the child based on their current ability which then allows them to develop their understanding gradually; ensuring that each increment in learning is built on solid foundations.  

      Skilled teachers also provide meaningful feedback. This is ultimately based upon the concept of ‘Assessment is for Learning’ which ensures two things; firstly that each child is aware of their current strengths and weaknesses and secondly that they know what to do to help them improve.  It is important to remember, however, that learning experiences for children are developmental and that learning should be appropriate to their level of development.  This is often linked to their age although not always the same.

      perch_rightColBody

      Active learning helps children become lifelong learners, encourages them to be successful and provides engaging and exciting learning opportunities for them to participate in each day.  

      There are some key questions which we, as teachers, keep in mind when engaging with active learning;

      - What do the children in my class need to learn?

      - How will the task that I have chosen help the children to learn?

      - How am I using questioning as part of the learning?

      - Am I creating a positive classroom environment where it’s fine to take intellectual risks?

      - How will I know that the children are learning?

      It is critical when we do our long, medium and weekly planning that we consider; how will we engage with active learning to ensure that the child and the learning are at the centre of the process.  It is important to remember, therefore, that tasks can be relatively simple but still get the children to think critically and independently.  Likewise, a complicated task does not always help to develop a child’s thinking or understanding. This is crucial to consider and something which we embed in the planning process here at Cargilfield.

      The key idea for us, as teachers, to remember is; that children must be empowered to think and engageduring their time at school and not just be passive recipients of an increasing bank of knowledge.

      perch_signoff
      perch_og_titleWhat is 'Active Learning'?
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      Cargilfield

      What is 'Active Learning'?

      How to support children in their learning

      Read More


      Posted on

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      introTextMaking the most of the great Scottish Outdoors
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      leftColBody

      As we embark on yet another exciting academic year at Cargilfield, one of the first tasks I undertake is to scrutinise the school calendar and ensure that I am planning ahead for the busy new term!  I am always struck by the myriad of opportunities afforded to our pupils and by the variety of learning experiences we provide for them, in line with our school ethos is ‘learning is an everyday adventure’.

      It is a privilege therefore, as a teacher of the Humanities subjects to be able to make the most of the outdoor classroom whether locally or further afield. So many school pupils nowadays are deprived of the chance to learn outside of the traditional classroom setting for reasons such as cost, lack of curriculum time or worries about safety. 

      IMG 3798


      As a geography specialist I can only be thankful that at Cargilfield, we are encouraged to widen the horizons of our pupils and their experiences of the environment in ‘real time’. Fieldwork is an essential component of geography education enabling the pupils to develop subject knowledge and gain a range of skills that are difficult to develop in the classroom alone. Being outside, in different habitats offers exciting challenges that many students may not otherwise experience. 

      There are many social benefits for the pupils who gain a great deal from the time spent working together in different environments. The sensory nature of being in the field can’t be replicated in a classroom setting and the scale and beauty of our surroundings are best appreciated by being immersed completely. How better to appreciate the awe and wonder of our landscape than to go and see it for yourself.

      Geography without fieldwork has been described as being like science without experiments. Thankfully, this year once again, our pupils will be out and about not only in Humanities subjects but in all curriculum areas where their love of learning with be further ignited and their skills enhanced.

      C4e63237 7e75 4f83 9f44 ff8b1d33c8c3

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      perch_introTextMaking the most of the great Scottish Outdoors
      perch_image/cms/resources/img3761.jpg
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      As we embark on yet another exciting academic year at Cargilfield, one of the first tasks I undertake is to scrutinise the school calendar and ensure that I am planning ahead for the busy new term!  I am always struck by the myriad of opportunities afforded to our pupils and by the variety of learning experiences we provide for them, in line with our school ethos is ‘learning is an everyday adventure’.

      It is a privilege therefore, as a teacher of the Humanities subjects to be able to make the most of the outdoor classroom whether locally or further afield. So many school pupils nowadays are deprived of the chance to learn outside of the traditional classroom setting for reasons such as cost, lack of curriculum time or worries about safety. 

      IMG 3798


      As a geography specialist I can only be thankful that at Cargilfield, we are encouraged to widen the horizons of our pupils and their experiences of the environment in ‘real time’. Fieldwork is an essential component of geography education enabling the pupils to develop subject knowledge and gain a range of skills that are difficult to develop in the classroom alone. Being outside, in different habitats offers exciting challenges that many students may not otherwise experience. 

      There are many social benefits for the pupils who gain a great deal from the time spent working together in different environments. The sensory nature of being in the field can’t be replicated in a classroom setting and the scale and beauty of our surroundings are best appreciated by being immersed completely. How better to appreciate the awe and wonder of our landscape than to go and see it for yourself.

      Geography without fieldwork has been described as being like science without experiments. Thankfully, this year once again, our pupils will be out and about not only in Humanities subjects but in all curriculum areas where their love of learning with be further ignited and their skills enhanced.

      C4e63237 7e75 4f83 9f44 ff8b1d33c8c3

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      Cargilfield

      The Outdoor Classroom

      Making the most of the great Scottish Outdoors

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      introTextIt is alive and well at Cargilfield
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      One of the prizes that we award annually at our end of year Prize Giving in the Upper School is called the Norway Cup. Not only is it a beautiful trophy but I love the wording that accompanies the cup and which I do my best to explain before making the award. I attach the full testimonial at the bottom of this article and I would recommend that you read it.

      It is a prize for Debating at Cargilfield and, as you will see below, it reminds us of a key moment at the beginning of the Second World War when debate played a crucial part in defining the future of the country and perhaps of Europe and the rest of the world.

      Would it be too strong a point to suggest that we have found ourselves in a place where debate has seemed equally important over the last twelve months? Certainly, the prep school that Sarah and I ran previously is now celebrating its first Prime Minister from amongst its alumni. And I am enjoying the fact that he has appointed one of my former competitive debating partners to his cabinet. Robert Buckland, the new Justice Secretary also once beat me in a college election by singing ‘My Way’ in a beautiful baritone voice at the hustings. Perhaps, as we may all suspect at the moment, it’s not just the quality of your argument that wins the day?

      Debating at Cargilfield is alive and well. All children in the Upper School join our Debating Society when they join Form 6. We meet every other Wednesday afternoon at 5pm throughout the Autumn and Spring terms. Our new Form 6 cohort will have their introduction to Debating on the first afternoon of the new school year and I hope that this year we may also encourage some children from local primary schools to join us in this Society. Those children in Form 6 and above who want some more practice at competitive debating can join the Debating Club that Miss Pett and I run on Monday evenings and we will enter one or two competitions next term (albeit that we find ourselves pitched against senior school children in those competitions). We also host the Scottish Prep Schools Competition in March each year.

      The strength of those competitions reflects the tradition for debating in Scotland. Certainly, some of the best university debating teams come from north of the border. This may be down to the tradition of ‘mooting’ as part of Scottish law degrees but I also believe that the best school debaters in Scotland would compete with any team down south.

      As the words below suggest, the importance of arguing your case well; of being able to think on your feet and of having the confidence to speak out in front of others is something that form an important part of our education.

      rightColBody

      Methode times prod web bin 864c90e2 fa2f 11e8 b253 3f2f3ba0db47

      On 7 and 8 May 1940 “The Norway Debate” took place in the House of Commons. Its subject: The conduct of the Second World War by the government led by the Prime Minister Mr Neville Chamberlain. What caused the debate was the great failure of the British forces’ campaign to resist Germany’s invasion of Norway. Hence, “The Norway Debate”.

      The Norway Debate became a vote of confidence in the government. And the government won the vote, albeit with a reduced majority. But what was said and done in the debate, and the consequences thereof, have become an important part of history. Most notably:

      Sir Roger Keyes, MP for Portsmouth, North, attended in the full naval uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet to say: “I came to the House of Commons today in uniform for the first time because I wish to speak for some officers and men of the fighting, sea-going Navy, who are very unhappy”. The impression left on the House by such words from someone so attired was marked.

      Mr Leo Amery, MP for Birmingham, Sparkbrook, closed his speech with the following decisive words, directed to the government: “This is what Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation: ‘You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.’”

      Mr David Lloyd George, MP for Carnarvon Boroughs and First World War Prime Minister, was also emphatically direct: “[The Prime Minister] has appealed for sacrifice. The nation is prepared for every sacrifice so long as it has leadership, so long as the Government show clearly what they are aiming at and so long as the nation is confident that those who are leading it are doing their best. I say solemnly that the Prime Minister should give an example of sacrifice, because there is nothing which can contribute more to victory in this war than that he should sacrifice the seals of office.”

      These and other speeches against the government so damaged the prime minister’s standing that, notwithstanding the government having won the vote, within two days Mr Chamberlain had resigned as prime minister and Mr Churchill was appointed in his place. The course of the war and of history was thus changed by the debate.

      The Norway Debate therefore stands as a notable testament to the principles that: (i) Debates matter; and (ii) Ultimately, it is what individuals say and do in a debate that defines its true winner, and not which side gains more votes at the debate’s end on a particular day.

      RT

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      perch_introTextIt is alive and well at Cargilfield
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      One of the prizes that we award annually at our end of year Prize Giving in the Upper School is called the Norway Cup. Not only is it a beautiful trophy but I love the wording that accompanies the cup and which I do my best to explain before making the award. I attach the full testimonial at the bottom of this article and I would recommend that you read it.

      It is a prize for Debating at Cargilfield and, as you will see below, it reminds us of a key moment at the beginning of the Second World War when debate played a crucial part in defining the future of the country and perhaps of Europe and the rest of the world.

      Would it be too strong a point to suggest that we have found ourselves in a place where debate has seemed equally important over the last twelve months? Certainly, the prep school that Sarah and I ran previously is now celebrating its first Prime Minister from amongst its alumni. And I am enjoying the fact that he has appointed one of my former competitive debating partners to his cabinet. Robert Buckland, the new Justice Secretary also once beat me in a college election by singing ‘My Way’ in a beautiful baritone voice at the hustings. Perhaps, as we may all suspect at the moment, it’s not just the quality of your argument that wins the day?

      Debating at Cargilfield is alive and well. All children in the Upper School join our Debating Society when they join Form 6. We meet every other Wednesday afternoon at 5pm throughout the Autumn and Spring terms. Our new Form 6 cohort will have their introduction to Debating on the first afternoon of the new school year and I hope that this year we may also encourage some children from local primary schools to join us in this Society. Those children in Form 6 and above who want some more practice at competitive debating can join the Debating Club that Miss Pett and I run on Monday evenings and we will enter one or two competitions next term (albeit that we find ourselves pitched against senior school children in those competitions). We also host the Scottish Prep Schools Competition in March each year.

      The strength of those competitions reflects the tradition for debating in Scotland. Certainly, some of the best university debating teams come from north of the border. This may be down to the tradition of ‘mooting’ as part of Scottish law degrees but I also believe that the best school debaters in Scotland would compete with any team down south.

      As the words below suggest, the importance of arguing your case well; of being able to think on your feet and of having the confidence to speak out in front of others is something that form an important part of our education.

      perch_rightColBody

      Methode times prod web bin 864c90e2 fa2f 11e8 b253 3f2f3ba0db47

      On 7 and 8 May 1940 “The Norway Debate” took place in the House of Commons. Its subject: The conduct of the Second World War by the government led by the Prime Minister Mr Neville Chamberlain. What caused the debate was the great failure of the British forces’ campaign to resist Germany’s invasion of Norway. Hence, “The Norway Debate”.

      The Norway Debate became a vote of confidence in the government. And the government won the vote, albeit with a reduced majority. But what was said and done in the debate, and the consequences thereof, have become an important part of history. Most notably:

      Sir Roger Keyes, MP for Portsmouth, North, attended in the full naval uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet to say: “I came to the House of Commons today in uniform for the first time because I wish to speak for some officers and men of the fighting, sea-going Navy, who are very unhappy”. The impression left on the House by such words from someone so attired was marked.

      Mr Leo Amery, MP for Birmingham, Sparkbrook, closed his speech with the following decisive words, directed to the government: “This is what Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation: ‘You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.’”

      Mr David Lloyd George, MP for Carnarvon Boroughs and First World War Prime Minister, was also emphatically direct: “[The Prime Minister] has appealed for sacrifice. The nation is prepared for every sacrifice so long as it has leadership, so long as the Government show clearly what they are aiming at and so long as the nation is confident that those who are leading it are doing their best. I say solemnly that the Prime Minister should give an example of sacrifice, because there is nothing which can contribute more to victory in this war than that he should sacrifice the seals of office.”

      These and other speeches against the government so damaged the prime minister’s standing that, notwithstanding the government having won the vote, within two days Mr Chamberlain had resigned as prime minister and Mr Churchill was appointed in his place. The course of the war and of history was thus changed by the debate.

      The Norway Debate therefore stands as a notable testament to the principles that: (i) Debates matter; and (ii) Ultimately, it is what individuals say and do in a debate that defines its true winner, and not which side gains more votes at the debate’s end on a particular day.

      RT

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      Cargilfield

      Importance of Debating

      It is alive and well at Cargilfield

      Read More


      Posted on

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      perch_page_path/teaching-and-learning/news/archive.php
      introTextOur job as educators is to provide opportunities for lots of sport!
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      Sport plays a large part in all children’s daily life here at Cargilfield. We play sport every afternoon, we have sporting clubs every break time and after supper every evening, we have competitive inter school matches every Wednesday afternoon and often at weekends, and we take part in national competitions, playing in Finals as far away as Somerset and Bristol. We consider sport a vital part in the children’s education development here, aiming for excellence where possible but also striving to provide competitive opportunities for all children to take part, to improve, and most importantly to enjoy their sport at whatever level they play.

      Like academic work, children’s sporting talent and enthusiasm develop at different speeds, so we try to adopt a ‘Sport for All’ policy as well as trying to aim for excellence and provide our talented athletes with pathways which may well lead on to district or national representation. Just as children become bored if not stretched academically, the same applies on the sports field and it is always a difficult balancing act, providing opportunities for all to take part as well as challenging the more able and finding top quality opposition against whom we can test ourselves.  At Cargilfield, we have nurtured full international amateur golfers, cricket, rugby and hockey players over the past twenty years, but have also engendered a love of sport, we hope, in so many more children which they will take on in to adulthood, long after they have moved on from here.

      However, just how hard should we push our children? When should children specialise and focus on just one sport? Or is it our job as teachers and parents to expose children to as many different sports as possible to engender a love of physical activity and exercise? Many parents will be aware or have heard of the 10,000 hour rule publicised by Malcolm Gladwell, and which often appears in the media when discussing talented athletes. The principle holds that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field whether it is in music, business, art or sport.

      As well as the 10,000 hour rule the media coverage of the road to success for Tiger Woods in golf and the Williams sisters in tennis who spent a large part of their childhood practising and specialising in one sport has been seen by many parents as the blueprint to success. However, for all the success of Woods and the Williams sisters there will have been thousands of failures attempting the above model – the only difference is that we do not know anything about it!

      Long term athletic development requires far more components than just deliberate practice. Two of the biggest issues evolving from the 10,000 hour rule are single sport specialisation and the push for early selection to elite sporting programmes run by National Governing Bodies such as the SRU, Scottish Hockey, the FA and British Swimming amongst others.

      Many parents now feel the need to get their child to 10,000 hours as soon as possible and to do this will ultimately mean focussing the vast majority of time and money playing and practising just one sport as opposed to experiencing a wide range of activities. This can rob them of their childhood and many children do not find the sport they would have enjoyed the most and become the most successful at.

      Single sport specialisation at an early age can lead to problems such as burnout, injury, lack of motivation and also psychological issues yet parents often cannot see beyond the initial short term success in helping their children achieve the best from their sport.

      Porter cash

      rightColBody

      HH52GRZ36VEZHOQ6LYN6RJO5KU

      Sport should be a lifelong, long term investment for any child and any parent. The fact still remains that although there may be exceptions many top level sportsmen and women sampled a variety of sports during their early years and only in their teenage years did they really begin to specialise and focus on one specific sport.

      The next issue for parents is that they are pushing and being pushed for their children to get selected into elite sports programmes at a younger age fearing that if they do not do it immediately they will struggle to get there in the future. In the UK perhaps football poses the biggest problem for parents due to its early selection criteria. With the offering of contracts by professional football clubs at the age of 9 many parents have been caught in a rat race thinking that the initial offering of a contract will give them the best chance of creating a professional footballer.

      Going back a generation footballers were not invited into the professional football clubs until their early teenage years yet now clubs are picking up children into development programmes as young as the age of 5. In the years that children should be sampling a large majority of sports children are playing football all year round and even at the end of the season when the summer gives them the opportunity to recover and refresh many are involved in summer tournaments most weekends in the pursuit of recognition from the professional clubs.

      Professional sportsmen and women have some time off each year to recuperate and do something different yet many parents are finding it acceptable to flog their young children all year round in the pursuit of success, yet the chances of ever ‘making it’ as a top class professional is miniscule. There are lots of sports which have started to select and give representative honours at a far earlier age than they did a generation ago adding fuel to the fire that these children may become professionals in the long term and increasing the expectations of parents along the way.

      Clearly, it is important that as parents that we can keep a real sense of perspective on our children’s sport.   Why is your child playing? What do you want them to achieve? That does not mean that your child cannot dream of being a professional or indeed you can even think about it but with the statistics of this becoming a reality this expectation must be managed accordingly.

      No matter how many hours you practise there is still no guarantee of long term success. Obviously, as with anything hours of practise will lead to improvement but it offers no guarantees in the future. We want children to be involved in sport all of their life so keeping them fresh by letting them try lots of different sports and finding what they truly love will help achieve this. To encourage a life long love of sport, and so experience all the associated benefits, exposure to as many different sports as possible must be the aim.

      Fundamentally there is nothing wrong if your child is fortunate enough to be selected in elite sports programmes at a young age. Great facilities, good coaches, playing with good players are all positives but it is the management of this experience that will allow your child to gain the most from it and give your child valuable lessons that they can take into all aspects of life with them.

      More important than anything else is that we must make sure that they are enjoying their sporting experience, and not us as parents or teachers! Unless children enjoy their sport, there will come a time where they will simply stop and walk away no matter how good they are……

      Something to ponder, as we head off to yet another tennis lesson on a Saturday morning with your little ones in the back of the car!

      Scot wal  34 497x405

      DM18becks.jpg

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      Sport plays a large part in all children’s daily life here at Cargilfield. We play sport every afternoon, we have sporting clubs every break time and after supper every evening, we have competitive inter school matches every Wednesday afternoon and often at weekends, and we take part in national competitions, playing in Finals as far away as Somerset and Bristol. We consider sport a vital part in the children’s education development here, aiming for excellence where possible but also striving to provide competitive opportunities for all children to take part, to improve, and most importantly to enjoy their sport at whatever level they play.

      Like academic work, children’s sporting talent and enthusiasm develop at different speeds, so we try to adopt a ‘Sport for All’ policy as well as trying to aim for excellence and provide our talented athletes with pathways which may well lead on to district or national representation. Just as children become bored if not stretched academically, the same applies on the sports field and it is always a difficult balancing act, providing opportunities for all to take part as well as challenging the more able and finding top quality opposition against whom we can test ourselves.  At Cargilfield, we have nurtured full international amateur golfers, cricket, rugby and hockey players over the past twenty years, but have also engendered a love of sport, we hope, in so many more children which they will take on in to adulthood, long after they have moved on from here.

      However, just how hard should we push our children? When should children specialise and focus on just one sport? Or is it our job as teachers and parents to expose children to as many different sports as possible to engender a love of physical activity and exercise? Many parents will be aware or have heard of the 10,000 hour rule publicised by Malcolm Gladwell, and which often appears in the media when discussing talented athletes. The principle holds that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field whether it is in music, business, art or sport.

      As well as the 10,000 hour rule the media coverage of the road to success for Tiger Woods in golf and the Williams sisters in tennis who spent a large part of their childhood practising and specialising in one sport has been seen by many parents as the blueprint to success. However, for all the success of Woods and the Williams sisters there will have been thousands of failures attempting the above model – the only difference is that we do not know anything about it!

      Long term athletic development requires far more components than just deliberate practice. Two of the biggest issues evolving from the 10,000 hour rule are single sport specialisation and the push for early selection to elite sporting programmes run by National Governing Bodies such as the SRU, Scottish Hockey, the FA and British Swimming amongst others.

      Many parents now feel the need to get their child to 10,000 hours as soon as possible and to do this will ultimately mean focussing the vast majority of time and money playing and practising just one sport as opposed to experiencing a wide range of activities. This can rob them of their childhood and many children do not find the sport they would have enjoyed the most and become the most successful at.

      Single sport specialisation at an early age can lead to problems such as burnout, injury, lack of motivation and also psychological issues yet parents often cannot see beyond the initial short term success in helping their children achieve the best from their sport.

      Porter cash

      perch_rightColBody

      HH52GRZ36VEZHOQ6LYN6RJO5KU

      Sport should be a lifelong, long term investment for any child and any parent. The fact still remains that although there may be exceptions many top level sportsmen and women sampled a variety of sports during their early years and only in their teenage years did they really begin to specialise and focus on one specific sport.

      The next issue for parents is that they are pushing and being pushed for their children to get selected into elite sports programmes at a younger age fearing that if they do not do it immediately they will struggle to get there in the future. In the UK perhaps football poses the biggest problem for parents due to its early selection criteria. With the offering of contracts by professional football clubs at the age of 9 many parents have been caught in a rat race thinking that the initial offering of a contract will give them the best chance of creating a professional footballer.

      Going back a generation footballers were not invited into the professional football clubs until their early teenage years yet now clubs are picking up children into development programmes as young as the age of 5. In the years that children should be sampling a large majority of sports children are playing football all year round and even at the end of the season when the summer gives them the opportunity to recover and refresh many are involved in summer tournaments most weekends in the pursuit of recognition from the professional clubs.

      Professional sportsmen and women have some time off each year to recuperate and do something different yet many parents are finding it acceptable to flog their young children all year round in the pursuit of success, yet the chances of ever ‘making it’ as a top class professional is miniscule. There are lots of sports which have started to select and give representative honours at a far earlier age than they did a generation ago adding fuel to the fire that these children may become professionals in the long term and increasing the expectations of parents along the way.

      Clearly, it is important that as parents that we can keep a real sense of perspective on our children’s sport.   Why is your child playing? What do you want them to achieve? That does not mean that your child cannot dream of being a professional or indeed you can even think about it but with the statistics of this becoming a reality this expectation must be managed accordingly.

      No matter how many hours you practise there is still no guarantee of long term success. Obviously, as with anything hours of practise will lead to improvement but it offers no guarantees in the future. We want children to be involved in sport all of their life so keeping them fresh by letting them try lots of different sports and finding what they truly love will help achieve this. To encourage a life long love of sport, and so experience all the associated benefits, exposure to as many different sports as possible must be the aim.

      Fundamentally there is nothing wrong if your child is fortunate enough to be selected in elite sports programmes at a young age. Great facilities, good coaches, playing with good players are all positives but it is the management of this experience that will allow your child to gain the most from it and give your child valuable lessons that they can take into all aspects of life with them.

      More important than anything else is that we must make sure that they are enjoying their sporting experience, and not us as parents or teachers! Unless children enjoy their sport, there will come a time where they will simply stop and walk away no matter how good they are……

      Something to ponder, as we head off to yet another tennis lesson on a Saturday morning with your little ones in the back of the car!

      Scot wal  34 497x405

      DM18becks.jpg

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      Cargilfield

      10,000 hour rule – Misunderstood by us all?

      Our job as educators is to provide opportunities for lots of sport!

      Read More


      Posted on

      IDValue
      perch_page_path/teaching-and-learning/news/archive.php
      introTextIs CE still relevant in today’s educational world?
      image/cms/resources/ded56e7f-f76f-47a2-bf12-106c36fa6beb.jpeg
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      While writing in the week that our Form 8s are hunched over their exam desks and tackling this summer’s Common Entrance exams, it seems a good time to reflect on teaching towards CE.

      In truth, I haven’t done much CE teaching for a few years and this year has been a refreshing experience and reminder of the quality of these exams. There are demanding comprehension tasks on both a prose passage and a poem supported by an interesting choice of imaginative writing tasks. In addition children are given the choice between writing discursive essays or a response to their reading, both in and out of the classroom. The tasks are challenging and require some sensitive reading and feel for language as well as an ability to write accurately and persuasively. They are a very significant stepping stone towards GCSE exams and present different challenges for a range of abilities. I have enjoyed teaching towards them and I haven’t noticed a significant difference in the level of challenge provided by these and a number of scholarship English papers used by local independent schools.

      In a wider context, it is very fashionable to ‘knock’ CE: too much learning, too prescriptive, too repetitive (as I might have suggested, none of those criticisms can be levelled at the English papers). In the hands of nervous or unimaginative teachers, there may be evidence of this – especially with exams in the Humanities.

      It is worth remembering, however, that although the idea of CE and a common curriculum and set of examinations to make sense of entrance to independent senior schools was first created in the latter years of Queen Victoria’s reign, criticisms were already being voiced in articles written before the First World War….and these exams have remained.

      They remain popular with the major public schools who see them as delivering a rigour and consistent quality that has been lacking in other curricula such as the Early Years Programme or Prep School Baccalaureate. 



      rightColBody

      The Independent Schools Examination Board that creates the curriculum and exams includes teachers from both prep and senior schools and they create examinations which are carefully trialled and reviewed. These exams are then marked at a child’s chosen senior school allowing for that school to mark to its own standards as best suits their candidates. While moderating grades to achieve consistency is always difficult (comparing grades amongst the children going to different schools never really works) there is something healthy in masking some of this potentially debilitating competition for 13 year olds. Different levels of papers have also allowed schools to differentiate the challenge even further.

      What I like best about Common Entrance, however, is the very personal nature of the communication between prep and senior schools. Children are not just candidate numbers and the inevitable exam disasters and ‘off days’ can generally be negotiated. And don’t forget, that an exam system that can turn around results within a week, allowing prep schools to keep meaningful teaching going right up until the midst of the final term, makes very favourable comparison to any of the larger examination systems.

      As I watch a row of focused faces and pens hurrying over the papers, I do reflect that I’m rather glad I don’t have to do examinations any more but - having watched one of my own children struggle through CE and then feel amply prepared for the challenges of the public exams he faced three years later – I say ‘Long live Common Entrance!’

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      perch_introTextIs CE still relevant in today’s educational world?
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      While writing in the week that our Form 8s are hunched over their exam desks and tackling this summer’s Common Entrance exams, it seems a good time to reflect on teaching towards CE.

      In truth, I haven’t done much CE teaching for a few years and this year has been a refreshing experience and reminder of the quality of these exams. There are demanding comprehension tasks on both a prose passage and a poem supported by an interesting choice of imaginative writing tasks. In addition children are given the choice between writing discursive essays or a response to their reading, both in and out of the classroom. The tasks are challenging and require some sensitive reading and feel for language as well as an ability to write accurately and persuasively. They are a very significant stepping stone towards GCSE exams and present different challenges for a range of abilities. I have enjoyed teaching towards them and I haven’t noticed a significant difference in the level of challenge provided by these and a number of scholarship English papers used by local independent schools.

      In a wider context, it is very fashionable to ‘knock’ CE: too much learning, too prescriptive, too repetitive (as I might have suggested, none of those criticisms can be levelled at the English papers). In the hands of nervous or unimaginative teachers, there may be evidence of this – especially with exams in the Humanities.

      It is worth remembering, however, that although the idea of CE and a common curriculum and set of examinations to make sense of entrance to independent senior schools was first created in the latter years of Queen Victoria’s reign, criticisms were already being voiced in articles written before the First World War….and these exams have remained.

      They remain popular with the major public schools who see them as delivering a rigour and consistent quality that has been lacking in other curricula such as the Early Years Programme or Prep School Baccalaureate. 



      perch_rightColBody

      The Independent Schools Examination Board that creates the curriculum and exams includes teachers from both prep and senior schools and they create examinations which are carefully trialled and reviewed. These exams are then marked at a child’s chosen senior school allowing for that school to mark to its own standards as best suits their candidates. While moderating grades to achieve consistency is always difficult (comparing grades amongst the children going to different schools never really works) there is something healthy in masking some of this potentially debilitating competition for 13 year olds. Different levels of papers have also allowed schools to differentiate the challenge even further.

      What I like best about Common Entrance, however, is the very personal nature of the communication between prep and senior schools. Children are not just candidate numbers and the inevitable exam disasters and ‘off days’ can generally be negotiated. And don’t forget, that an exam system that can turn around results within a week, allowing prep schools to keep meaningful teaching going right up until the midst of the final term, makes very favourable comparison to any of the larger examination systems.

      As I watch a row of focused faces and pens hurrying over the papers, I do reflect that I’m rather glad I don’t have to do examinations any more but - having watched one of my own children struggle through CE and then feel amply prepared for the challenges of the public exams he faced three years later – I say ‘Long live Common Entrance!’

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      Teaching

      Not so Common Entrance?

      Is CE still relevant in today’s educational world?

      Read More


      Posted on


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