RE Session 6: Assessing RE, Reviewing Planning and PSHE

Our objectives for our final session of RE were to know about assessment in RE. Our second objective was to be able to evaluate planning to include assessment.

Our first activity was to discuss how teachers and parents feel about RE, within our table groups before then feeding back to the rest of the group. I think that we came to a group consensus, that the majority of parents are a bit unsure when it comes to their understanding of religious. We felt that parents don’t always understand the importance of RE being taught in school and that they may also be unsure what the teaching of RE entails. We also agreed that with teachers there may also be a degree of uncertainty when it comes to religious education. One reason for this is because a teacher may have taken either a PGCE degree or a GTP in which case they won’t have had as much training about RE and therefore may not be familiar with everything that the teaching of RE covers, in comparison to a BA Primary Ed student where they have three years of training and therefore may feel more secure within their knowledge and teaching of RE.

After that, we then moved on to discuss the question ‘Is Religious Education hindered, or at an advantage, as an academic subject because it is not regulated in the same way as other curriculum subjects?’ Overall everyone agreed that it was a bit of both (a hindrance and an advantage). It can be viewed as an advantage, because it means that teachers have a degree of freedom in the way in which they teach and assess RE. However, it can also be a hindrance because it is not a part of the National Curriculum it is often disregarded as not being an important subject because of this, which is not the case! We also discussed that from observations on placements we have noticed that RE is often taught by TAs in PPA time, which again shows complete disregard for RE as an important academic subject.

It is then important to consider what comes first… Plan? Assess? Or Teach?

We had the task to discuss this on our table I said assess because you can’t plan without taking into consideration children’s prior learning (which is gained from assessment). However, some other people believe that planning or teaching comes first. I think that there are arguments to support all of them coming first i.e. you can’t teach without planning first, and you can’t assess without first teaching a lesson. Although this is the case, we eventually came to the consensus that assessment comes first as you can’t plan without looking at assessment data, similarly you can’t teach without planning.

So we were then posed with the next question… how do you assess in RE?

The suggestions that we came up with as a whole group are:

–       Marking the children’s written work

–       Questioning

–       Observation

–       Discussion

–       Debates

–       Sequencing of stories

–       Group work

–       Role play

After this, we watched a clip of a successful RE lesson where its focus was about being reflective. The lesson was really fantastic to watch, particularly from my perspective as I haven’t had the opportunity to observe any RE on placement yet. It also gave me some ideas that I could take away and use in my own teaching practice, this is particularly the case as the lesson focused on meeting requirements from AT2 and I was unsure how to go about this, however I now have a better understanding of how it can be drawn into an RE lesson.

teachers media- session 6

Our next task was to go back to what we had looked at with regard to assessment, and look at a variety of different types of level descriptors that are available or used in schools as a method of assessing RE. We had to work individually to decide what descriptors we would prefer to use and why before then sharing our ideas with the rest of the group. We all agreed that we preferred the idea of using a grid format as it was clearly laid out and easy to read the information, I also found that with this example the examples given were more specific not just general statements. I thought that because of this they could therefore be applied to the classroom situation easily in comparison to the descriptors that were just ‘sweeping’ statements. We then had the opportunity to put our knowledge of the level descriptors to the test and have a go at looking at how another teacher has assessed some children’s work and decide whether or not we agreed or disagreed with the level that they had been given. I thought that the levels which had been given were pretty accurate and were a reflection of both the child’s work and the level descriptors. Reflecting on this task though, I was surprised at how difficult it could be to assess a child’s work within RE particularly if they had expressed their understanding through a drawing. However, I can take away from this that I would need to get to grips more with the level descriptors and how to assess work in RE, something which I currently have had no experience with.

Finally, for this session we discussed PSHE and its place within the new National Curriculum. Which unfortunately it seems to have little place… something which I was not aware of before the start of this session. In the new National Curriculum all that can be found for PSHE is a very small statement. There is no guidance on what children should be taught and what progression they should make as they pass through primary school. Ultimately it can be said, that the government believes that PSHE should be taught in schools, however it is completely up to the teacher how they go about teaching it.

To conclude, I have reached the end of my RE section of my blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed my RE sessions this year, I feel like I have covered a lot of information in a short space of time however I have learnt a lot from that, and hopefully this blog shows the progression that I have made this year. I can’t wait to get into the classroom either on placement or in my future career and put what I have learned in RE into practise.

RE Session 5: Visits and Visitors

Our objectives for this session were to consider the use of educational visits and visitors as resources to support children’s learning. The second objective was to discuss the benefits and difficulties associated with organising and running visits.

Our first task was to work in small groups to discuss; the benefits of having visitors, the issues or difficulties of having visitors and considerations when planning for a visitor. I worked with Emma Perring and our discussion about what fits into each of these categories can be seen below:

Benefits:

–       1st hand experience

–       Engages children

–       They have good subject knowledge and are classified as an ‘expert’ within their particular religion

–       Bring artefacts or objects to share with the children

Issues:

–       Could potentially be thrown into an RE lesson just for the sake of it- this should not happen!

–       It is important that they teach the children about their religion, not preach to the children or try to convert them- this is not appropriate!

–       Cost effective

–       Time consuming

Considerations for planning:

–       What time are they going to be visiting?- will the children be engaged, distracted, bored, hungry etc.

–       Prepare the children- show respect, listen carefully, save questions till the speaker has finished talking

–       Talk to the visitor beforehand- ensure that they do not preach!

–       Make sure there is a clear objective

–       How many visitors will be visiting?

–       Children to think of questions to ask beforehand

–       Notify parents beforehand

After this activity we then listened to the other groups suggestions as well as contributing our own.

We then moved on to look at educational visits to a place of worship. Trips such as these have been described as a valuable educational experience and it gives them a fantastic opportunity to put the religion being studied into a religious context. Good visits are said to have the following characteristics: build positive attitudes, planned in a sensitive manner, build on work which has been prepared beforehand, they are interesting and engaging and finally they relate to the programmes of study found within the local agreed syllabus.

Below is a link to a useful website which provides a range of information about all six religions as well as suggestions to take into consideration when planning a visit to one of the places of worship. The website is also useful as it has a variety of videos of virtual tours.

http://www.reonline.org.uk/specials/places-of-worship/

An image of the website:

re session 4 re online 2

Our next task was an individual one, and that was to consider our own experience of an educational visit. After having to think quite hard back to my school days the majority of the trips I recalled were residential trips and they were often at the end of the school year as a reward- not for educational purposes! However, after much thought I did manage to come up with the Black Country Museum in Birmingham. I remember this was a trip I undertook in year 6 in order to learn and consolidate our knowledge of the Victorians. This trip was such a memorable experience because whilst it was educational it was also a lot of fun! I think that this is one of the reasons why many years later I can still recall details from the trip such as exploring the coal mines and trying Victorian style sweets. After thinking about this, my next thought was about how great it would be if children could also have this memorable experience and even better if it was a trip to a place of religious worship!

In our session we also looked at a useful link to browse through when planning an educational visit for RE. The first of which was a link to webpage about how to deal with parents who may object to their child’s participation:

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20090608182316/standards.dfes.gov.uk/schemes2/religion/rel2d/

Our next task, as a whole group was to watch a video of an educational visit to the Manchester Jewish Museum (formally a synagogue) and a visit to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. The video was very interesting and linked well to the benefits we discussed for taking children on educational visits. In my opinion, I preferred the trip to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall I felt that this trip was more beneficial for the children and it was clear from the video how engaged the children were and how they benefited from it. However, that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t consider taking children to the Manchester Jewish Museum as I think that would be a beneficial trip for children for different reasons. The link to the video can be found below:

http://archive.teachfind.com/ttv/www.teachers.tv/videos/the-manchester-jewish-museum.html

Our next task was to work in small groups to prepare a visit to a religious place of worship and to think carefully about what we would need to take into consideration before the trip took place, what activities we would want the children to do at the site as well as what they would learn from that and what we would expect from the children once they returned from the trip. I worked with Emma Perring and we decided on St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Our suggestions for each of these categories can be seen below:

Before:

–       Pre-visit for the teacher to get an idea of the place and complete a risk assessment

–       Make sure that children have a firm understanding of the religion or topic beforehand (Christianity)

–       Make sure that children are aware of the high expectations of behavior that they should uphold throughout the duration of the visit

–       Get the children to prepare any questions, or to think of any information they want to find out on the trip

–       Gain parental consent, and pay for costs etc.

Tasks and activities during the visit:

–       Explore the different chapels

–       Tour of the cathedral

–       Look at the art, architecture and mosaics (cross-curricular link to Art)

–       Guided tour of the cathedral (cross-curricular link to history)

–       Activity workshops run by the cathedral: for example design and make mosaics

–       Option to meet a priest

–       Reflection session held at the cathedral with a lighted candle

After the visit:

–       Children to discuss what the learnt/found out at the cathedral about Christianity that they didn’t know beforehand

–       Children to reflect and discuss what they have learnt

–       Answer further questions that the children may have

Aims of the visit: to bring the cathedral ‘alive’ to children as a place of prayer and worship.

St pauls cathedral- session 5

Directed task:

 

The big debate: what were the main points, and what were your opinions?

The link to the video is: http://www.teachersmedia.co.uk/videos/religion-in-schools.

The main points from the video were:

–       Religion in schools is controversial

–       Big debate: what is the place of religion in a 21st century education system?

–       Faith schools: are they the way forward?

–       Important that children should learn about religion: however disagree with children being labelled with their parents religion when they are to young to understand those religious beliefs

–       Do all faiths have the right to attend a faith school?

–       Faith schools damage social cohesion: segregating children

–       Faith should come from the home, not within school

–       Children at faith schools are far more likely to go on to higher education? No evidence to suggest this is the case

–       RE not on the National Curriculum- makes it difficult to regulate

big debate- session 5

In my opinion, the debate on the issue of the teaching of religious education in schools was not resolved in this debate. It is a fact that there are many people out there who have their differing views about RE being taught in schools however I believe that even though RE is not a part of the National Curriculum, it is still statutory in schools and therefore should be viewed as an important subject whether or not the school is a faith school or comprehensive school. At the end of the day children should still be taught about all six religions no matter what is the personal belief of the teacher teaching RE or the beliefs of the pupils in the class.

 

Computing Session 3: Beyond The Classroom

The objectives for our third computing session were to: explore ways of using technology to enhance learning outdoors. To think about bringing the outside in and connecting with people and places. To explore the use of date handling, modelling and simulation and relate these ideas to the computing curriculum. And finally to think about assessment and progression.

During the session we were talked through a variety of applications, tools and resources which could be used to take ICT beyond the session. I have split them into categories, with the tools that can be used to support that category labelled next to them.

–       QR codes: similar to barcodes, user can scan the code using an application and it will bring up a web page or information

–       Making books come to life:

–       Aurasma: an application with image recognition technology that recognises real life images and overlays media over the top

–       Chart and data tools:

–       Excel: a spreadsheet tool created by Microsoft office

–       purple mash: website with a variety of topic based interactive activities

–       Green screen:

–       Green screen FX: an application that allows the user to creates special effects behind photographs or videos

–       touch cast: an application where you create a video and it applies multimedia over the top

–       Exploring through simulations:

–       2 simulate: part of the 2DIY software

–       Topia: an application which lets you design and create a world

–       Recce: an application which is used to explore London

–       epic citadel: an application that allows the user to explore a fantasy town

–       animal creator: website which allows the user to mix animal parts to create their own unique animal

–       create a monster: website which allows the user to create their own monster

–       creatorverse: enables the user to become an inventor and create their own unique creations and set them in motion

–       kids paint: a painting application for children

–       Cross-curricular/linked learning:

–       Collins big cat books: website full of books that children can read online either independently or with a parent/guardian or teacher.

–       night zoo keeper: create art and write stories about unique animals

–       Interactive books:

–       toy-story read along: an application that is an interactive read along tool

–       me books: lets you create personal editions of popular books which have been published

–       Key stage one:

–       Jelly bean count: an application where a variety of jelly beans will appear, there are four different colours and the user has to count how many of each colour there are.

–       Spellosaur: an application to help with spelling

–       felt board: allows the user to create stories that are made out of ‘felt’

–       letter school: an application to help with letter and number formation

–       kodable: a game that introduces children to programming concepts.

In the session and as part of my directed study I had the opportunity to explore a variety of these tools.

After this session I decided to explore some more of the tools looked at in the session. The first one I decided to explore was the maths game suitable for primary school children titled ‘jelly bean count’. I found the game to be very straightforward, the user is simply presented with an option to choose the difficulty setting; easy, medium and hard. They are shown a screen of jelly beans and have as many seconds as necessary to count the jelly beans, they then press answer and type the answer in to the key pad. If they get the answer correct, the user then has the opportunity to move on to the next level and so on and so forth. Overall, I thought this was a really good educational game suitable for both primary key stages as children in key stage one can use it to aid their counting skills whilst children in key stage two can use it to improve the speed at which they count. I feel the game can also be used to help children’s subitising skills in maths and to help them to see patterns. A screen shot of me playing the game can be seen below:

jelly bean-session 3

Another tool that we looked at that I decided to explore further was spellosaur. This was another application that I decided to explore after the session. This is a game for spelling, it has various options the parent or teacher can begin by typing in the words that they want the child to learn, the child then has to complete a series of activities in order to learn the spelling before they then complete a spelling test at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed using this application, I found it was a great tool to help children learn spellings but it was also very engaging through its interactivity and the fact that there was dinosaur theme and motif used throughout. I took a screen shot whilst playing the game and this can be seen below:

Spellosaur-Session 3

After this session I also decided to undertake some extra reading, which can be found on the following web link: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/117304765267049745/. I found this an exciting resource that a mum of two had created for her children. The activity worked by her taking photographs of their toys all categorised; lego, toy story etc. She then took photos of the individual toys that were in the photographs. After all that photography she then got the photographs printed and put the photographs with the toy scene on the right hand side of a page of a photo album. On the left hand side she then put the individual items along with text asking the children to find things such as ‘can you find 3 buzz light years?’ Therefore she had created a personalised activity book for both of her children! I think this a fantastic idea that could be adapted within the classroom or even for parents to try at home to keep their kids entertained on a long trip! Either way it is a genius way to use ICT outside of the classroom. An image of the page can be seen below:

pinterest- session 3

My directed study was to reflect on the pros and cons of mobile technologies. What I have come up with can be seen below:

Pros:

–       effective tool for education because they engage children

–       not only are they educational but they are also entertaining

–       teachers can use apps as part of their day to day school life to free up some of their time

–       sustainable in comparison to traditional educational methods e.g. pen and paper

Cons:

–       limited to use on only a phone or a tablet, can be a problem if a school does not have access to these resources

–       lots of good educational apps cost money

In summary, there are more pros for the use of mobile technologies in classrooms in comparison to the cons where there is not many. Therefore it can be said that there are more reasons to use apps within an educational setting than not. Whilst I have not seen any apps being used within the classroom on my recent school placements, I am keen to have a go at using them in my up and coming placements and within my own practice in future.

To conclude this session, I found it really interesting to consider how both computing and ICT can be used outside of the classroom. It allows great opportunities for children to continue to develop and refine their ICT skills without being in the classroom environment.

RE Session 4: RE Through ICT

The objectives for our fourth RE lesson were to consider and investigate the use of ICT in the RE classroom to engage and challenge pupils, to reflect and evaluate the usefulness of a variety of ICT resources.

We began by discussing how ICT can be used to enhance RE lessons:

  1. Enhance teaching and learning by:

–       Using a range of technologies to cater for different learning styles

–       Using technology to enable learners to collaborate with peers and with partner schools and their students

  1. Improve administration and planning:

–       For learning and teaching, reusing and adapting documents

–       By using technology to access and share information and enhance your personal knowledge of RE and understanding of professional issues around the subject

  1. Improve assessment and reporting by:

–       Recording learner achievement and attainment electronically, tracking pupil progress and using the information in assessment for learning

–       Communicating with parents electronically through email and the school learning platform.

Our next task was to share our experience of ICT being used within RE lessons… From my primary school days, I can remember that it was becoming more and more common for interactive whiteboards being installed into classrooms. I can remember interactive whiteboards being used as a tool in all lessons, not just RE. Unfortunately, that is all I can remember about ICT being used within RE lessons in primary school however when I was in secondary school ICT was used in RE through the use of video clips.

It is important to consider the reasons for using ICT within an RE lesson:

–       To allow pupils to investigate or be creative in ways not possible otherwise

–       To facilitate safe communication with peers and other communities, locally, nationally and globally

–       To provide access to authentic information, insights and resources from the world’s religious communities- bringing the world of religion into the classroom

–       To engage pupils in the selection, critical use and interpretation of a wide range of information

–       To help pupils to understand important, and complex ideas

–       To support pupils in organising, recording, reporting and communicating findings

–       To enable pupils to see patterns or behaviours more clearly

–       To enhance the quality of presentations

However it is also important to consider:

–       Would the RE learning outcomes be achieved as or more effectively without the use of ICT?

–       When planning to use ICT in RE lessons is the use of ICT adding value to the lesson?

–       Internet safety

Our next task in the session was to look at an example of how ICT can be used as part of an RE lesson through the use of a virtual tour. This was a task that we did as a whole class and the clip can be found from: http://www.reonline.org.uk/specials/places-of-worship/. After we had watched the clip in pairs we had to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using this clip the ideas we came up with can be seen below:

Advantages:

–       Very informative

–       Good for planning a visit

–       Good for children who may not be able to participate in the visit

Disadvantages:

–       A long clip, therefore quite time consuming

–       Linking to the first point children may become disengaged/uninterested

–       Doesn’t show all the features the children may have the opportunity to explore if they visited the place of worship as part of an educational trip.

An image of the website where the clip can be found is included below:

re session 4 re online 2

 

After this session, we had a series of tasks to complete as part of our directed tasks.

 

  1. You can find resources to support the teaching of Christianity on the following website, consider where and how you might use these within an RE lesson: http://www.request.org.uk.

 

Both myself and Firouzeh Kern decided to complete this task together we found that the website explores the Christian religion in great depth. Therefore, it is a valuable source for developing subject knowledge about Christianity. On the homepage of the website, there are 6 clickable links which highlight the important aspects of the Christian Faith including the Bible and how it is used, festival and celebrations, issues Christians face, Jesus, life as a Christian and people and places. The website also has resources to support teaching about Christianity. Clicking on the “Teachers” link on the homepage, leads to the “Teachers’ Toolkit” webpage which has a wealth of teaching resources including ideas for lessons, lesson plans, activity sheets, photos and videos suitable for both key stages one and two.

request session 4

  1. Explore the following web links and consider how they might be used in a lesson.

As part of our directed tasks both myself and Firouzeh Kern decided to work together to explore the following web links and consider how they could be used within an RE lesson.

http://www.globalgang.org.uk

Both myself and Firouzeh agreed that this website was a useful resource that could be used both inside and outside of school. We felt that if this resource was to be used in school the website would be displayed on an interactive whiteboard for all the children to see. We agreed that the website would be used as part of a PSHE lesson, where poverty was the focus. On the website itself there are a variety of clips that can be shown to children to support their understanding of poverty and it also provides good examples of how the charity ‘Christian Aid’ are working to prevent poverty around the world. An image of the website can be seen below:

christian aid session 4

http://www.muslimaid.org

This next website is also run by a reputable charity, however at first glance the website can come across as very distracting and chaotic as there are a lot of buttons asking the user to donate money to the charity. Whilst there are no videos, there is a lot of useful information on the website about how the charity are working around the world to help people, particularly people who are in disaster affected countries. We believe that this would be an effective tool for children who are upper key stage two as it provides useful information about how the charity is helping countries, however we also felt that this website would be not be helpful for children in key stage one because there is a lot of information and it would be very difficult for them to comprehend all of the information given. An image of the website can be seen below:

muslim aid session 4

http://www.cafod.org.uk/schools

The third and final website was very useful and again very relevant to children who are studying at primary school. Down the left hand side of the web page there are a variety of links that can used as part of either PSHE, RE or a cross-curricular topic. These included; water, poverty, peace and conflict and fair trade to name but a few. Once you’ve clicked on the link they provide a variety of information about the topic, and they also have a variety of resources relating to that topic that are classroom friendly and can be used in school, the resources are also suitable for both key stages one and two.

To conclude, there are a variety of resources and information out there relating to specific topics that may be studied as part of either RE/PSHE. The links we have explored today are just some of the many resources that are out there and that are freely available to trainee teachers and practitioners alike. An image of the website can be seen below:

cafod session 4

Other directed tasks:

Another directed task was to discuss the benefits and constraints of using ICT.

Benefits:

–       Enhances learning through a range of technology helping to cater to all learning styles

–       For the teacher it improves both administration and planning

–       For the teacher it also improves ways of recording assessment data

Constraints:

–       Can be time consuming

–       Unpredictable, technology doesn’t always work as planned!

The benefits for using ICT definitely outweigh the constraints, this suggests that ICT should be more a part of teaching within the curriculum subjects not just within RE.

As well as the directed tasks, I completed further essential reading after this session. This included reading chapters 4,5 and 8 of McCreery, E., Palmer, S. and Voiels, V. (2008) Achieving QTS: Teaching religious education.

Chapter 4- This chapter focused on the variety of different ways in which stories can be used in RE lessons, as well as looking at the benefits behind using stories and story telling.

Chapter 5- This chapter looked at the different thinking skills which are developed in RE lessons with a particular focus on critical thinking and why this is an important skill to have as well as how it can be developed through religion.

Chapter 8- This chapter was focused on planning within RE, it covered all three strands of planning (long-term, medium-term and short-term) as well as providing advice and things to take into consideration when planning an RE lesson.

Reference List

McCreery, E., Palmer, S. and Voiels, V. (2008) Achieving QTS: teaching religious education. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RE Session 3: RE in the Classroom

Our objectives for today’s session were to consider pedagogy in RE, to explore pedagogical principles through practical activities for the classroom and to enhance subject knowledge and understanding.

We began this session by completing each group’s activities that were based on the pedagogical principles. This activity was very enjoyable to participate in, it was great to see and experience the other activities that the other groups had devised as in my opinion I would have struggled to think of how all seven of the pedagogical principles could fit into an RE lesson or to even think of activities that would ensure that they had been met. At least now I have a good understanding of activities that I could try out with children and how they could be used in the classroom in general! I felt that my group’s activity was very successful, it ran smoothly due to us being well prepared. I also felt that we met the requirements of our pedagogical principle and it was an activity that could be adapted to a variety of religions and therefore used in the classroom for an RE lesson on a number of occasions.

Within RE there are a number of different pedagogies, examples of which have been written below:

–       Experiential

–       Phenomenological

–       Interpretive

–       Conceptual

–       Humanising

–       World Views

In pairs, we had to read through information on the different pedagogies and discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages of some of the pedagogies, more information on this can be seen in this weeks directed task.

Within this session we also discussed the importance of varying the activities which are conducted by children in RE lessons, these include:

– Drama; role play, freeze frames, hot seating, conscience alley, thought tapping

– Debate

– Display work

– Cooking

– Celebrations

– Reflection

– Meditation

– Visits

– Using photographs

– ICT

– Interviewing

– Concept mapping

– Handling artefacts

– Listening

– Discussion

– Story writing

– Artwork

(to name but a few).

Stories can also be used in ICT through the use of story maps, story sacks, puppets, scripting a story, storytelling etc.

As a group we also looked at how drama can be used as a technique within
religious education, we experienced a drama technique as a class (conscience
alley) where as a group we had to express our thoughts and feelings as if we
were that character. This activity worked well, and could be adapted for a
variety of different topics within RE. Admittedly before this session I would
not have even of considered of using drama within RE! However when planning and
teaching religious education in future I want to incorporate elements of drama,
this will also help to make religious education more interesting and engaging. Other strategies that could be used in RE include:  role play, hot seating, thought tapping, freeze frame etc.

Artefacts can also be used in order to show children visual representations of objects associated with religion, they could handle the artefacts, listen to stories about them and create questions as well as discussion.

Photographs are another good source which can be used within an RE lesson. When children are presented with a photograph or series of images the teacher can ask them a series of questions in order to re-focus their enquiry, these include:

–       Where do you think this is?

–       What do you think is happening in the picture?

–       Who are the people?

–       Why are they there?

–       How do you think they feel?

–       What do you think has just happened?

–       What do you think happened next?

–       Who do you think took the photograph?

–       Is there anything puzzling about the picture?

–       How does the picture make you feel?

There were a variety of directed tasks for this session, the first of which was to read from Bastide, D. (1992) Good practice in primary RE 4-11. I completed this reading, I read the book and considered many elements of it very relevant to today’s RE session. Particularly as there is a lot of information about how stories, artefacts and drama can be used in RE lessons. Overall this information very much builds on the reasons for using these strategies that we discussed as a whole group within the session. The book also contains information about how to plan for RE across the primary school, again I found this information very useful and informative as I haven’t had much experience of teaching RE on placements so far, and these are suggestions that I can try out in practice on my up and coming placements.

As part of some extra reading, I read a journal article titled ‘Materials used to teach about world religions in schools in England: a summary’. I found the article an interesting read, as it provided information about how a variety of materials can be used to engage and aid the teaching of religious education in schools. Overall Jackson (2010, p.181) recommends that primary teachers should ensure that the resources they use within RE lessons should be used to ensure that pupils learn about other elements of religion such as spirituality as well as the history of such religions and the morals which are encompassed within that.

Pedagogy in RE

My final directed task was to review at least two different pedagogies in RE and to discuss both their advantages and disadvantages as well as demonstrating how they can be used in RE.

Interpretive

Advantages:

–       Open mindedness of children

–       Relating to context

–       Covers different strands of religion

–       Develops skills of interpreting, evaluating, justifying, reasoning

Disadvantages:

–       Sceptism

–       Overload of information

This pedagogy could be met in the classroom through the teacher getting the children to consider how the religion they are studying is practised at present in comparison to how it might have been practised in the past.

Phenomenological

Advantages:

–       Good AT1 focus

–       Helpful for all learners

–       Range of activities

–       Learn about a religion in depth

–       Very factual

–       Kinaesthetic

–       First hand RE

Disadvantages:

–       A lot of AT1, need to challenge prejudice

–       Cost of resources

–       Overload of information

–       AT2 activities need to be catered for

–       Doesn’t consider spiritual development

This pedagogy can be used in the classroom through the teacher teaching a specific religion and incorporating aspects such as stories, morals, beliefs and art into the teaching of the religion in order to meet the requirements of this pedagogy.

 

Reference list

Barnett, V. (1992) The use of artefacts in the classroom. In: Bastide, D. (ed.) Good practice in primary religious education 4-11. London: Falmer Press, pp. 131-142.

Collis, L. (1992) Planning RE across a junior school. In: Bastide, D. (ed.) Good practice in primary religious education 4-11. London: Falmer Press, 47-64.

Fleming, K. (1992) Drama as a teaching strategy in primary RE. In: Bastide, D. (ed.) Good practice in primary religious education 4-11. London: Falmer Press, pp.164- 171.

Jackson, R. (2010) Materials used to teach about world religions in schools in England: a summary. Religion and Education. 37(2), pp.179-182.

King, C. (1992) The place of story in RE. In: Bastide, D. (ed.) Good practice in primary religious education 4-11. London: Falmer Press, pp. 143-163.

 

 

 

 

 

RE Session 2- Religious Education and the classroom

The objectives for our second RE session were to explore AT2 in RE and to consider pedagogical principles in RE.

Before the start of this session I was not familiar with the terms AT1 and AT2 (although I probably should have known what they were!). Our first task in this session was to work in our groups to see if we could work out what was meant by these terms. As a group we decided that the letters AT stood for attainment target, however we did not know the differences between AT1 and AT2. When we fed back our understanding to the rest of the group it was evident that many people were unsure of the differences between the two or what the initials stood for. We were then told that AT1 stands for ‘learning from religion and beliefs’ contrasting with AT2 which stands for ‘learning about religion and beliefs’. A summary of the features of each attainment target has been summarised below:

AT1

–       Enquiring into, investigating and understanding religions and beliefs.

–       This would include thinking about and interpreting religious beliefs, teachings, sources, practices, ways of life and ways of expressing meaning with reference to the specific beliefs and religions studied.

AT2

–       Questioning, exploring, reflecting upon and interpreting human experience in the light of religions and beliefs studied.

–       This would include communicating reflections, responses and evaluations about questions of identity, belonging, diversity, meaning, purpose, truth, values and commitments, making increasingly insightful links to the specific religions studied.

In order for RE to be most effective, the teaching of it should include elements of both AT1 and AT2.

Learning from religion and belief includes:

–       Personal evaluation: the child will make introspective judgements about themselves and they learn from that introspection.

–       Impersonal evaluation: the child makes judgements about truth claims of religion and learns from that scrutiny.

In this session we also went back to the pedagogical principles that we covered after the first session as part of our essential reading. The pedagogical principles are:

  1. Remember the child
  2. Start with the particular and help children see connections
  3. Look for similarities between the children’s experience and the specific religious experience
  4. Also acknowledge difference
  5. Draw out themes from AT2
  6. Seek to engage head, heart and hand
  7. Use as many senses as possible

The reason for recapping these pedagogical principles was for us as a whole group to gain an understanding of different activities that we could do in order to meet these pedagogical principles. An example of this was an activity we did to meet the second pedagogical principle ‘start with the particular and help children see connections’. This was achieved through being shown an image of a typical Sikh boy, the image depicted a boy who was sitting down and there was a variety of characteristics about him that were specific to the Sikh religion for example his clothing. Our task as a group was to think of questions to ask the boy in order for us to gain a better understanding of the religion. This activity could be used in the classroom as a way for the teacher to gain an understanding of what children already know about a religion as well as what they want to find out, it also ensures that one of the key pedagogical principles is being met. Another example of an activity which can be used in the classroom to meet one of the principles is through the children hearing the story of the Good Samaritan. Through the children hearing this story, this helps to meet pedagogical principle five ‘draw out themes from AT2’.

In order to explore the pedagogical principles as a directed task for this session, we were set the task of getting into groups and each being assigned a pedagogical principle. We then had to decide on the main elements of our allocated principle, and present the group with a brief activity that puts the principle into practice. My group was allocated pedagogical principle seven ‘use as many senses as possible’. As a group we decided that our activity was going to focus on all of the senses with an added emphasis on taste. We also decided to take into account time of year and how our activity can be related to RE and decided that we were going to make our activity relevant to the festival of Diwali. We achieved this by having a go at making Diwali sweets for the rest of the group to taste and contrast these to the type of sweets typically found in the shops for example Haribo. As a group, we decided that the activity would focus on contrasting the sweets relating it to the senses so taste, smell, sight (appearance) and touch. This was achieved through us creating a table for the rest of the group to fill out as part of our activity. The result of this activity and how it went will be explored and reflected upon in session 3’s blog.

My first directed task for this session was to read ‘Northamptonshire SACRE and NCC (2011) – The Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education in Northamptonshire’. Unfortunately I was not able to access an electronic version of this text, however I was able to get a general feel for what the syllabus contains through reading around the subject and browsing through the Northamptonshire County Council website. I would expect the syllabus to contain information about what should be taught within RE, and I would expect it to contain a lot of information about Christianity (as this is still the predominant religion of this country) I would also expect to see information about the other five religions being taught; Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Sikhism across both key stages one and two.

Another directed task was to read a journal by Grimmet, M. (2008) ‘Inside a religious education research project: the influence of theological and educational considerations on the treatment of religious content within a prescribed pedagogic framework’. This journal was an insightful read, it provided information about what Grimmet considers to be successful teaching strategies within RE as well as what teaching strategies are not so effective. He also goes on to talk about how learning in RE is very focused on the same thematic approaches by covering the same topics such as festivals, the holy book and so on. Grimmet argues that in order for RE teaching to be effective there should be more use of stories, artefacts and objects within the teaching of RE. In my opinion, I believe that the teaching of RE should be a combination of both of these elements in order for the teaching of RE to be considered effective. I think it is important to look at religious festivals and key themed elements however I also agree with Grimmet that is important to consider other elements such as religious stories.

A final directed task was for our group to prepare for the pedagogical principle activity, my group achieved this by making the Diwali sweets, getting other resources e.g. haribo sweets and creating a comparison table. As well as undertaking these activities as a group we also rehearsed our activity and made sure that we were prepared for our next RE session.

Session 1: Religious Education

The objectives of are first RE session of the year was to review the purpose and importance of RE within the primary curriculum and to review our subject knowledge in RE. I will begin my reflections on my first RE session of my second year of my BA in Primary Education (QTS) course by discussing the question ‘what is the place of RE in the primary school curriculum?’ This is an interesting question, firstly because religious education does not form a part of the National Curriculum. Although this is the case the teaching of RE is still statutory, RE is determined locally and therefore must follow the locally agreed syllabus, something which is provided by the SACRE (the standing advisory council on religious education).

It is also therefore important to consider what is the statutory role of the teacher, with their main role being not to preach or indoctrinate. When children learn about religion it is important that they develop an enquiry into and investigate the nature of religion, its beliefs, teachings and ways of life, sources, practices as well as forms of expressions. What children should be taught from religion is to develop their reflections on and in response to their own and others experiences in light of learning about RE, develop their ideas and ask themselves questions about their own identity.

With the session already establishing what the role of the teacher is as well as what the children should learn from the sessions, as a group we then looked at answering the question ‘what is RE?’ through an activity done in small groups. The activity comprised of a series of cards in different colours: red, amber and green. On the cards there were a variety of statements such as ‘to teach children about a religion’, ‘to help develop a sense of right and wrong’ and ‘to be aware and respect the beliefs and practices of others in the community’. Each colour stood for a different factor, green represented what is RE, amber is possible RE and red is not RE. We worked in groups to complete this activity and the answers and photographs from which can be seen below:

Green:

–       Religion is important to many people so we need to know about it.

–       To help pupils develop their own ability to express belief and listen to those with different beliefs.

–       To provide an opportunity for pupils to explore important questions of meaning and value.

–       To be aware and respect the beliefs and practices of others in the community.

–       Pupils to know about religious traditions, beliefs and practices and understand why they are important to people.

Amber:

–       To help develop a sense of right and wrong.

–       To develop questioning, researching, reasoning skills etc.

important to RE

Red:

–       To teach Christianity to pupils

–       To teach pupils their cultural heritage

–       To make everyone spiritual

–       Children need to know the Bible if they are going to be good adults.

–       To instruct children in the religion of this country

–       To teach children a religion

–       To enable pupils to make a decision about which religion to follow

IMAG0618

After the activity we then moved on as a whole group to discuss the main purposes of RE. These purposes include providing an opportunity for pupils to explore important questions of meaning and value, as well as for pupils to value their own beliefs but also to gain an awareness and an understanding of the beliefs of others. Another purpose is to allow pupils to express their beliefs, pupils should also be aware of the beliefs of others within the local community. Pupils should know about the religious traditions, beliefs and practices and understand why they are important to people. The children should also be aware that religion and beliefs are important to many people and they should have an understanding of how this impacts upon everyday life.

Whilst the purposes of religious education had already been well established within the session it was also important for us to consider the many benefits of RE. Benefits of RE include: developing an awareness of cultural heritage, helping to develop a sense of right and wrong, extending spiritual development, informing pupils about religion and developing questioning, research and reasoning skills.

So what is RE not? RE is not about just teaching a religion. It is also not instructing children in the religion of the country. Nor is it about teaching them to know a religious text off by heart. It is important that as a teacher, I accept that my views should not influence the way in which I teach RE. I had never really considered this in depth, however after much thought when teaching religious education in future I need to take these ideas and make sure that I do not put them into practice.

Within our session, we also did some activities as a whole group that could be used with a class of children. The first of these, was the noun ice breaker activity. As we were a group of students who know each other and the lecturer was new to the university this activity worked well. It is therefore possible to say that if I was a new teacher and did not know my class of children very well, yet they know each other well through being at school being for a few years with each other. This would therefore be a perfect ice breaker activity in order for me to get to know the class of children. The activity was titled ‘If I were’ and as students we were paired off. We then had to choose one noun to describe something about ourselves to our partner and then introduce our partners to the rest of the group. I thought this activity worked well, as even though I know a lot about the people within my group it gave me the opportunity to find out some things that I did not know about them. This is exactly why this activity would work well with children. The other activity we did as a group was called snowballing. This activity involved each table group being given an A3 sheet of paper, and being given a topic to write down everything they know about that topic within a time limit. As groups we had a different religion and were given sixty seconds to write down everything we know about the religion within the given time limit. We then had to scrunch up the piece of paper into a ball (snowball) and throw it to another table before then receiving our own snowball to repeat the activity again. This activity was made more complex, by us having to challenge any information that had been written that we believed to be incorrect/ not quite accurate. I thought this was an excellent activity to assess children’s current understanding as well as to give them the opportunity to challenge others thinking and have debates as well as discussions about their ideas.

After this session, I began my directed study by exploring the web links that had been left on the power point. The first was http://www.reonline.org.uk/knowing/what-re/. This website contains pages which can be clicked on with information about all of the religions that children learn in school as part of their RE teaching.

re online image

 

I thought this website is a fantastic resource that can be used by a
trainee teacher or experienced practitioner to provide thoroughly detailed
information that can develop and consolidate existing subject knowledge. The
website could also be used in upper key stage two (year five and six) children
in order for them to carry out their own research about religion as part of
work within their lessons or for homework. The second web link http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/. Is another
fantastic resource which can be utilised by both practitioner, trainee and
pupil alike. It has been created by a highly trusted source within schools (the
BBC) and again similarly to the first website contains a lot of information
about each religion studied within school. It is very informative, yet very
user friendly which makes it suitable to be used with older key stage two
children.

The third and final web link that I had the opportunity to explore was http://www.natre.org.uk/. I believe
this website is great for trainees and practitioners. It has a variety of links
on the side panel on the left hand side which lead to free resources for RE.
The links also lead to information about how RE can be used in other curriculum
subjects and vice versa in order to achieve linked learning.

natre image

Next, it is important to move on to the directed tasks that were assigned for the first RE session. The first of which was to read pages 18-24 of ‘Achieving QTS Teaching Religious Education Primary and Early Years’. The information on these pages is about the basic pedagogical principles which should be taken into consideration when planning and teaching RE. The first pedagogical principle is to remember the child. “In all the discussion about RE and concerns about ways of approaching the subject it is important to remember that at the heart of education lies the child” (McCreery et al, 2008, p.18). This is an important principle, as the child should be the central focus when planning and teaching RE. The second pedagogical principle is start with the particular and help children see connections. This is important so that when teaching about a religion it is not interpreted incorrectly by children or upsetting children who may practice the religion being studied. That is why when teaching RE it is important that you start with the particular (the religion) and help children see the connections (similarities and differences to other religions) when teaching RE. The third pedagogical principle is to look for similarities between children’s experience and the specific religious experience. “In all teaching it is generally good teaching practice to make links with what the children already know when introducing them to something or someone new” (McCreery et al, 2008, p.20). This is because it helps the children to understand the information better in comparison to if this did not take place. It is important to recognise that there are many similarities to religious practices to everyday life which can be used as a starting point at the beginning of an RE lesson and as an extension activity after an RE lesson. This is a good principle to incorporate within RE lessons because it “creates opportunities for children to think about and reflect on their own lives and can also give space for children to value their own home lives and background” (McCreery et al, 2008, p.20). The fourth pedagogical principle is also acknowledge difference. This relates to the third principle as it is important that the practitioner doesn’t overemphasise the fact that there are similarities between religion and everyday life, they should also acknowledge the differences. Children should appreciate that “in the vast majority of instances difference is not only okay but it is something which enriches our experiences, enables growth and, with it, learning” (McCreery et al, 2008, p.20). It is important that the idea of difference is accepted by children in order to avoid further problems in future such as prejudice. The fifth pedagogical principle is to draw out themes for AT2. I think this principle is something which should occur within RE teaching as standard practice, as good teaching of RE should be based on both AT1 and AT2 (although this will be discussed further in session two). The sixth principle is seek to engage head, heart and hand. This principle is important because “RE cannot always be fun- indeed there are times when it is inappropriate for it to be fun” (McCreery et al, 2008, p.23). This is vital because there are many topics covered within religious education that cannot be made into a fun and interesting lesson because of their serious nature e.g. death. It is therefore important that they are engaged through their head, heart and hand in order for the teaching of RE to reach the children on a deeper level. The seventh and final principle is to use as many senses as possible. This is important as a method of engaging children within RE and getting them to participate and experience the lesson. The use of a multisensory approach not only benefits a class of children as a whole but it also benefits children who may have English as an additional language or children with special educational needs as it puts the lesson in a context which both groups of children may be familiar with through their own experience. After completing this task, I have reflected on my own experience and when teaching RE in the near future I need to make sure that these principles are considered when planning and teaching RE in schools.

Other essential reading from the session included reading chapters 2 and 3 from the ‘Achieving QTS Teaching Religious Education Primary and Early Years’ book.

Chapter 2- the chapter discusses the big question ‘what is religion?’ and looks at Ninian Smart’s approach to answering this question as outlined by his seven dimensions of religion; practical and ritual, experiential and emotional, narrative and mythical, doctrinal and philosophical, ethical and legal, social and institutional and the material dimension. The chapter also goes on to look at potential issues when teaching religious education and provides suggestions for how these can be overcome. Finally, the chapter concludes by looking at the disadvantages and advantages for taking a cross-curricular approach when teaching RE.

Chapter 3

This chapter is about different teaching strategies that could be used to teach varying aspects of religion including; festivals, artefacts, photographs, DVDs/Videos/TV programmes, visitors from the faith, visiting a place of worship.

Another directed task for this session was to reflect on the importance of RE. “Religious Education (RE) can be one of the most dynamic and exciting areas of the curriculum to teach, for it is here that children gain an understanding of the rich world of faith and explore some of the those questions which are fundamental to human existence” (McCreery et al, 2008, p.1). The reason why I began this discussion with a quote, is because I feel this quote sums up perfectly my view on why RE is important. I think as well as this, RE is a unique subject as it is the only subject that teaches about world religion, faiths and beliefs in the National Curriculum. It is also unique as it raises questions about the very meaning of the life and the issues which are raised through RE cannot also be answered because the answer is unknown. However whilst this is the case, this also means that discussion is created between the teacher and the children. It would be a shame to think that without RE, none of this teaching and unique learning would take place. RE is therefore important to make sure that this unique style of learning continues as a part of education.

As well as my directed tasks, and essential reading I also did extra reading of my own. The first can be found online at http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/2926/. This web link takes the reader to an article titled ‘Religions and education in England: social plurality, civil religion and education pedagogy’. The article was an interesting read detailing how in England religious groups have a say over how religion is taught in schools. The article also goes on to talk about how society has changed over time and the equality that has been gained as a result of this. The fact that the United Kingdom is now classified as a multicultural society also has impacted on the teaching of religion due to the fact that it is important for everyone to be aware of multiple faiths and beliefs as many cultures and traditions can be found within the United Kingdom. The second piece of extra reading that I did was the 2013 Ofsted report ‘Religious education: realising the potential’ this report can be found at http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/religious-education-realising-potential. The report identifies barriers to the teaching of RE which are preventing the teaching of the subject from being outstanding. The report also identifies ways in which the teaching of RE might be improved, as the report has found the teaching of RE to be less than good in over half of the schools that Ofsted visited. The report then goes to identify strategies to improve the teaching of RE, one of which was to focus a lesson around an enquiry in order to get the children asking questions and learning about religion through the process of enquiry. Overall, the report has found that the teaching of RE in primary schools is not good enough and requires significant improvement. Reflecting on my own practice, when planning and teaching RE in future I need to make sure that I have taken on board what Ofsted have said about the teaching of RE and make sure that I am teaching RE in a way which not only covers the local syllabus but also so that it engages children and meets the requirements of Ofsted for example, through the use of an enquiry.

Reference List

BBC (2013) Religions. BBC [online]. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/ [Accessed 12th October 2013].

Jackson, R. and O’Grady, K. (2007) Religions and education in England: social plurality, civil religion and religious education pedagogy. University of Warwick [online]. Available from: http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/2926/ [Accessed 14th October 2013]

McCreery, E., Palmer, S. and Voiels, V. (2008) Achieving QTS: teaching religious education. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

NATRE (2013) The National Association of teachers of Religious Education. NATRE [online]. Available from: http://www.natre.org.uk/ [Accessed 13th October 2013].

Ofsted (2013) Religious education: realising the potential. Ofsted [online]. Available from: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/religious-education-realising-potential [Accessed 14th October 2013].

RE online (2013) What RE. RE online [online]. Available from: http://www.reonline.org.uk/knowing/what-re/ [Accessed 12th October 2013].

 

 

 

 

Welcome to year 2!

Welcome to year 2! This year I am embarking on my second year of training at university to become a primary school teacher. My blog this year will be slightly different, in the sense that half of my posts will be related to computing and digital literacy whilst the other half will be about religious education (RE). After last years successful attempt at blogging, I am very excited to be giving it another go and cannot wait to get started!