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Developing the Primary Curriculum: History and Geography
Transcript of Developing the Primary Curriculum: History and Geography
Developing the Primary Curriculum: History and Geography
Exploring Learning Inside and Outside the Classroom
Anna Killough 40044120
Place-Based Learning Outdoors
Geography and History
Researching and Planning
I understand it is of vital importance for teachers to assess the area before bringing children on an educational visit/field trip. I visited the Town Hall in Ballymena to help consider possible outings. As I walked through the town I could see the learning potentials present in the streets alone. This was the impetus to start my trail firstly on a walk through the town. At the Town Hall an education officer gave me useful information on their programme 'Ballymena in 1920s then and now'.This hands on session uses a variety of museum objects and photographs to explore how the local area has changed over time, how everyday objects have changed over time and the similarities and differences between lives past and present.
The workshop is charged at £20 per class. I thought this was very good value. I therefore, thought walking through the town to the town hall for the workshop would be the perfect trail. The school is in close proximity to the town.
What is Place-Based Learning?
It is firstly appropriate to define what place-based learning entails. Promise of Place (2013) defines place-based learning as an educational approach that uses all aspects of the local environment, including local cultural, historical, and socio-political affairs as well as the natural and built environment, as the integrating context for learning. It has obvious relevance to the local school and immediate community.
Why is place-based learning implemented in schools?
'Place is really important. If you can get kids to bloom where they’re planted and take ownership of the area around them, they’re going to be more likely to come back and be those good citizens that we need here in our communities.’
Radcliffe cited in Boyd (2010)
Place-based learning rightfully should be part of a child’s education. Boyd (2010) describes that today’s children need to be educated in a way that helps them shape the world they will inherit. They need the wisdom, skills and confidence to meet the many social, environmental and economic challenges and inequities facing the ever-changing world.
Young people often take the place they live in for granted, they fail to appreciate their surroundings. Teachers alike, should realise the educational potentials available in their local area and utilise these. Scoffman (2012) agrees, stating that using what is familiar to children, such as their local community and neighbourhood, should be a fundamental element of primary education.
How is it beneficial?
Radcliffe cited in Boyd (2010) explains that exploring place-based learning will give children a sense of place and pride in where they’re from. Constable (2012) echoes this describing place-based learning can make children feel important and enhance confidence and self-esteem. As an aspiring teacher my main goal is for children to engender an interest in their education and to have a positive experience; place-based learning is a window of opportunity for this. In addition to this, LOTC (2014) describes how the experience of a variety of buildings, institutions and outdoor settings can play a key role in children’s appreciation of and identification with their own surroundings. It can introduce them to places they would never otherwise visit. It truly provides children with an emotional connection with their local area and helps unveil a sense of identity and belonging.
NPS (2014) highlights how a strong connection with and affection for home places has been noted to be a significant prerequisite to taking an active role in the stewardship of their community. LOTC (2014)agrees, articulating that real world experiences helps to raise educational aspirations and equip children with the expertise and abilities to emerge as active, responsible citizens.
Dixon and Hales (2013) discuss how they can discover their historical heritage, begin to see how their community was formed and realise the changes which have emerged. Likewise, they can consider the future of their environment and consider the geographical factors which are putting their locality under threat.
It is evident that place-based learning is rich in historical and geographical learning opportunities. Scoffman (2012) pinpoints that integrating geographical learning with other learning areas such as history provides a ‘powerful nexus’ where pupils can develop a deeper understanding of what it means to live there and be ‘rooted’ in a place within the world.Northern Ireland Curriculum (2007) recognises this, stating that it is a statutory requirement for children to develop knowledge, understanding and skills about ‘Place’ in the World Around Us area of learning.
Education Scotland (2011) state that children will learn progressively about different places through exploration, play, direct experience of natural materials, the natural and built environment and through a series of planned and structured learning and teaching activities. The outdoors environment is where true learning takes place. Scoffman (2012) agrees, highlighting that allowing pupils to gain a sense of place through hands-on ‘enquiry’ process gives them opportunities to develop relevant knowledge, skills and understanding. For example, a visit to a local park, nature reserve or farm can increase awareness of the natural environment and the issues that affect it. The local museum or archives can give contact with personal and social records (such as diaries, maps, and media) that bring the history and geography of the area to life (http://www.lotc.org.uk/why/sense-of-place/).
Place-Based Learning Outdoors= Learning Success
In relation to this, Beames et al. (2012) states that it is almost absurd to expect children to learn and contribute to society if they are confined to the four walls of their school building for the entirety of their education. If the ultimate goal for society is to live harmoniously with one another it is vital children are educated in their world, be it through gardens, local businesses or green spaces.
Education Scotland (2011) proclaim how being outdoors allows children to engage directly with the environment through a direct, ‘hands on’ approach with challenges which cannot be offered in the classroom. Outdoor learning brings together many different areas allowing children and young people to ‘make connections’ on their learning journey.
Classrooms can be extremely stressful for a lot of children, specifically those who struggle. Many children struggling in today’s classrooms are practical learners. The outdoors can be seen as an extremely successful teaching approach for kinaesthetic learners. The fresh air and natural light stimulate the brain and can ultimately lead to more receptive, motivated and successful learners (http://www.ltl.org.uk/childhood/learning.php). Arthur and Cremin (2010) agree, denoting that it can make subjects such as geography and history more vivid, clearer and interesting for pupils to enhance their understanding.
Milner and Jewson cited in Scoffman (2010) highlights how trails can be an excellent way of structuring local area work and serve to focus attention on specific themes or issues.
For the purpose of this task I will be creating a trail for a Primary Five class. My hometown is Ballymena, this is the local area my project will be based on. Even though Ballymena may not be perceived well due to various events; it is home and poses beauty, heritage and fond memories for me.
Before creating my trail I looked at the work of 'My Square Mile' initiated by DCFW (2007). This incredible project encouraged the use of the local built environment as an educational resource. It showed me how towns, like Ballymena, can be opportune places in aid of children's development and knowledge.
My aim was to make my trail purposeful, meaningful and rich in geographical and historical learning potentials. I consulted the work of Beames et al. (2011) and Baker (2005). They both triumph the importance of deeply connecting with the local area. Baker (2005) pinpoints how teachers have the responsibility to create 'landful experiences'. Baker's model of landful experiences became the basis of my trail. I feel it truly shows how geography and history can be used effectively outdoors in order for children to gain awareness, appreciation and knowledge of their local area.
Stage 1- Children need to
become deeply aware by:
Responding to what is around them.
Becoming familiar with maps which show
where a place is relative to other places.
Using and learning a vocabulary to describe
Stage 3: Children need to sense
the place in the present by having:
Experiences which help them understand what a place is used for in today's world including any changes happening to the place at present.
Stage 2: Children need to
land history by having:
Opportunities to explore the factors which helped to shape a place.
Opportunities to explore what a place was like in the past.
There are various risk assessment and management issues before engaging in out of school visits. I consulted 'Educational Visits: Good Practice' document developed by DENI (2009) to complete this:
• Parental permission slips and collection of money.
•Carry out trail and identify any areas where children
could be at potential risk and avoid these. Road safety
will have to be discussed.
• Ensure I have enough adults to accompany children
• Catering and toileting access- Children may use
Ballymena’s public toilet facilities if needed during town walk. Town hall have appropriate toileting facilities which children can use also. Children will bring a snack to eat on arrival at town hall.
• Medical needs- Bring ‘epi pen’ for child with allergies and first aid kit.
• Emergency contacts for each child and mobile phone in event of emergency
• Booking confirmation with town hall
Before the Trail
• Mapping skills: Children will discuss the use of maps and explore the programme ‘NI Maps’ This will entail children searching their local area in the present and past. This will aid children through the trail where they have to use maps effectively.
• Children will complete a short trail around their school playground in order to understand what a trail entails. They will look at how their school has changed over the past 90 years. (This particular school is a modernly built and amalgamated with another local school 10 years ago).
• Why I love my local area: Children will work together to discuss various aspects of their local area which appeal to them. They will collaboratively jot down the various functions of their town on large sheets of paper.
• What was Ballymena like in the past?: Children will consider what Ballymena was like over 90 years ago. They will be able to look at a range of old photographs of the town which will help them consider the social, environmental and physical changes that have taken place. Children will have the opportunity to bring their Granda/Granny in to discuss with the class what Ballymena was like 50/60/70/80 years ago.
• Children will recap and revise the importance of safety when outdoors.
On return to the classroom a variety of activities could take placedue to the wealth of learning achieved through this activity.
• Children will have the opportunity to present in front of their peers what they found most interesting about the trail. They will evaluate the trail and describe the extent in which the trail exceeded their expectations.
• Children can create ‘Our Square Mile’ and distinguish where different places are in relation to their school. They could create ‘Our Square Mile in 1920’ and compare how their community has rapidly changed since then. Children will have the freedom to complete this in 2D or 3D form.
• Children will write a letter to ‘Mikey the Alien’ describing their current surroundings and how these have changed through the years.
And there is more....
• Children will discuss the issue of pollution in their town. They will create posters highlighting the dangers of pollutions and ways in which this pollution can be reduced.
• They will form a Primary Five council and think of ways to reduce litter or waste in their school.
• They will work in groups and work collaboratively to consider what they think might happen to Ballymena in the future. Will it be a positive or negative future? Why? What could we do to make it positive?
• Children will role-play life in the 1920’s. They will have to consider how these people lived and how it is dramatically different from life in 2014.
• Children will recap and revise the different items/artefacts handled in the town hall’s workshop; they will then create a time capsule as a class highlighting what life is like in 2014.
The possibilities are endless!
I now can see the benefit of place-based learning outdoors. I am thankful for this course as it has really inspired and motivated me to teach geography and history together more creatively and efficiently. I am excited to trial these in my future professional career.
Arthur,J., Cremin, T. (2010) Learning to Teach in the Primary School, Oxon: Routledge.
Baker, M. (2005) Landfullness in Adventure-Based Programming: Promoting Reconnection to the Land, Colorado : Experiential Education.
Beames, S., Higgins, P., Nicol, R. (2012) Learning outside the classroom: theory and guidelines of practice, New York, Routledge.
Boyd, R. (2010) Growing Kids who Care - Connecting School, Place and Planet Sowing the Seeds of Place and Community Based Education in Scotland , Scotland: Churchill Fellow.
CCEA (2007) The Northern Ireland Curriculum Primary Belfast CCEA
Constable, K.(2012) The outdoor classroom ages 3-7: using ideas from forest schools to enrich learning. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge
DCFW (2007) My Square Mile , Available at:https://hwb.wales.gov.uk/cms/hwbcontent/_layouts/NGFLSolution/MaterialDescription.aspx?LearningMaterialId=29772&lang=en (Accessed: 15th April 2014).
DENI (2009 ) Educational Visits: Best Practice , Northern Ireland : DENI.
Dixon, L., Hales, A. (2013) Bringing History Alive Through Local People and Places: A Guide for Primary School Teachers, Oxon : Routledge
Education Scotland (2011) Outdoor Learning: Practical Guidance, Support and Ideas for Teachers and Practitioners Scotland., Available at:http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/OutdoorLearningSupport_tcm4-675958.pdf (Accessed: 14th April 2014).
LOTC (2014) Council for Learning Outside the Classroom , Available at:http://www.lotc.org.uk/ (Accessed: 14th April 2014).
NPS (2014) National Park Service, Available at: http://www.nps.gov/index.htm(Accessed: 14th April 2014).
Promise of Place (2013) Promise of Place: Enriching Lives Through Place-Based Education, Available at: http://www.promiseofplace.org/ (Accessed: 15th April 2014).
Scoffham, S. (2012) Teaching geography creatively. London: Routledge