Essay on Rationale
Number of words: 1623
Reflecting on my experiences of planning a series of Geography lessons for a Key Stage two class (Years 3-4 being the principal focus), a thorough understanding of the processes involved in doing this has been ascertained. However, Lave and Wenger (1991) advocate gaining real-life experience as an effective complement to studying theory. Weick (1979) defines the relation of these two processes as enactment, and this is something I will have to do in my practice, by applying what I have learnt through this module to my own teaching practice. Following my study of the recommendations proposed in an authoritative OFSTED report (2011, p.7), I implemented a ‘thematic’ approach of teaching Geography through the topic of ‘Egypt’ (see Appendix 1 for a overview of the teaching plan). Rowley and Cooper (2009, p.52) provide reasonable justification for adopting a thematic approach, arguing it contributes to ‘saving time and repetition’ and assists with examining how children learn as opposed to solely focusing on what children learn. Conversly, Barnes (2011, p.62) identifies the pitfalls of ‘applying two, three or four subjects to the same theme’ as it invokes ‘misconceptions’ and ‘half understood ideas’ within pupils. Although Johnston et al.(2002, p.5) criticises ‘topic work’ as being ‘less successful’, I adhered to Owen and Ryan’s notion (2001, p.57) of making geography flourish ‘in integrated topics’ by accrediting it with the ‘most attention’. They also regard this pedagogical approach in Geography as conducive in allowing children to develop a ‘holistic’ perspective of the world which ‘allows them to construct their own meanings’. To overcome these barriers to learning via a thematic approach, as illustrated in the concept map, ‘Aims/ILOs’ are constructed in accordance with the National Curriculum (NC) (DfE, 2014). These will be visible to the class during the lessons to avoid any digression away from content.
Teaching the topic ‘Egypt’ also fulfils the requirement of the NC (DfE, 2014, p.186) which expects children to ‘extend their knowledge and understanding beyond the local area’. Many opportunities stem from this, whereby children will be able to ‘locate’ where it is, state its ‘human and physical characteristics’, investigate ‘how these aspects have changed over time’ and so forth (refer to appendix 1 inserted in ‘Appendices: Concept Map folder’ for an elaboration of the other curriculum links that can be extracted from studying this topic). ÇUBUKÇUa (2012, p.1528) advocates children will also be exposed discreetly to a ‘hidden curriculum’ through studying a distant place. This will be accomplished by covering ‘objectives [that are] apart from the…official program’ such as developing an understanding of ‘social norms’ through ‘real-life experiences’ (2012, p.1529), giving children a sense of authority ‘away from adult control’ (2012, p.1531). An activity included in the concept map which supports this active learning is evident in session twos’ plenary; this lesson diverges away from the traditional didactic pedagogical approach, giving children a chance to construct their own meanings (constructivism theory). Barnes (2011, p.97) proposes the beliefs of Vygotsky (1962) who also favours children learning through active ‘social reconstruction’ whereby concepts are ‘discovered with others’ (2011, p.47). Scoffham (2004, p.289) agrees with this stating ‘active learning’ enables learning to be ‘more memorable and effective’. This justification explains why this activity will be delivered as a whole-class split into two teams. The activity will also develop a sense of empathy within children for the less fortunate in the world. However, Catling and Willy (2009, p.135) challenge activities as such to generate an ‘unbalanced view of countries’ that are studied, therefore to overcome these stereotypes, children will encounter on a holistic view of what Egypt’s discoveries by studying ‘tourism’ in the last session.
Some lessons (i.e. session four) are suited to be child-centred in the concept-map. Despite Johnston et al.’s (2002, p.5) criticism of this approach being too ‘flexible’ that it holds the risk of being ‘unworkable’, stronger arguments originate from Halocha (2001, p.15) who promotes children’s ‘ownership’ in their work. Similarly, Driscoll et al (2012, p.249) acknowledge the ‘greatly enriched outcomes’ that were generated from ‘pupil-led responses’ in their study. Thus, children will be encouraged to have a voice during the course of these Geography lessons.
Scoffham (2004, p.66) stresses the importance of practitioners being aware of their student’s ‘prior knowledge and understanding’. This has been embedded within the concept map ‘to ensure…the work…is at a suitable level’ for the children. In addition, children will develop a ‘cognitive framework’ which will ensure ‘new learning [is] accommodated’. Another feature implemented within the lessons, which contributes to children’s cognitive framework being developed, is ‘differentiation’. Fisher and Binns (2000, p.70) cite the argument of Bruner (1966) who also supports the concept of ‘differentiation’. He considers this to be a form of ‘scaffolding’ children’s ‘learning’, allowing teachers to ‘meet [the] needs [of] their pupils’ hence why every lesson has been carefully differentiated according to a variety of children’s abilities. During the plenary in session three, differentiation is weaved into questioning. Owen and Ryan (2001, p.142) regard this as a ‘tool for diagnosing learning difficulties’ as questions can differ from ‘closed/factual’ to ‘higher-order thinking’. This teaching strategy is of advantage to the children who are intelligent towards the ‘verbal-linguistic’ spectrum of Gardener’s multiple intelligences (1983) and will develop oracy skills for those who have English as an Additional Language, thus maintaining an inclusive classroom.
Visual sources such as ‘Google maps’ will assist the visual learners to make sense of where Egypt is located on a world map. Storey (2002, p.15-16) reports the potential of such tools in ICT to ‘increase opportunities for communication and collaboration’ which is apparent through the questions that will follow on from displaying images from ‘Google maps’. Willy and Catling’s (2009, p.186) findings correlate to the argument above as they also confirm the benefits of ‘Google maps’ which brings a ‘3-D virtual tour’ to children and provides them with ‘photographs and information’ they may have not been able to comprehend as they may have been unfamiliar with the place. Lambert and Jones (2013, p.196) seek to explain the limitation of students not realising that ‘what they are looking at is not the ‘real world’’ but instead is a ‘mosaic of many images and layers’. This misconception will therefore be highlighted to children.
The invaluable learning opportunities provided in the concept map will ensure every child progresses. This will be achieved through the contribution of resources that range from ‘stories’ which help ‘children visualise different places and lifestyles’ (Catling and Martin, 1995, p.282) and will stimulate ‘abstract concepts such as movement, pattern and change’ (Scoffham, 2013, p.32) to games that ‘review and consolidate children’s learning’ (Owen and Ryan, 2001, p.65). Consequently, the role of resources in the teaching of Geography is crucial to a child’s ‘understanding’ and ‘overall development’ (Hutton and Soan, 2010, p.119-120). Activities that incorporate assessment for learning (Black and William (1998), as cited in Fisher and Binns (2000)) will facilitate ‘pupil attainment’, focussing on the processes involved within the lessons rather than the outcome (Fisher and Binns, 2000, p.278).
In essence the above justification provides the reason why the concept map has more emphasis on the processes of geographical learning taking place rather than detailing the final outcome, even though the final outcome would be more memorable and practical to a child.
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