Being a TA for the day!

I recently had the exciting opportunity to accompany some of the Year 2 RE students on a teaching day. I was assigned a student teacher, and helped her with whatever needed doing around the classes.

Throughout the day, the Year 8s were being taught about different parts of the Jewish faith. This included: teaching about the Torah; holy days Jews observe; looking at what a Synagogue is like; explaining the meaning of Kosher, and how this impacts what Jewish people eat; and also looking at the Holocaust.

Obviously, the majority of the teaching was done by the Year 2 trainee, but I presented a starter activity and a plenary in a couple of lessons through the day. My main role was to ensure that the class was paying attention to the teacher, and handle any naughty behaviour I may observe while the teacher was busy.

It was a really interesting day, and have my my first insight into the difficulty of trying to manage the behaviour of an entire class. It was also the first time I had spent all day in a school, giving me the opportunity to see how teachers work, and all they have to do in the school day.

TA

Visiting a Muslim Girls’ School

On 13th March, our Year 1 RE group visited a Muslim girls’ school. This was quite an experience for me as I had never seen or been in one before.

We began the day with a talk about the aims of the day, and identifying what we already know, and what we would like to have found out by the end of the day. Everyone was so warm and inviting, I felt really comfortable asking questions, knowing that I would get a thorough response that would help me in my Islam module in university.

The highlight of the day for me, was being able to speak to actual students about Islam. I felt that speaking to a ‘normal’ person as opposed to someone who was extremely educated allowed me to identify basic points on which to develop my knowledge. All the girls I spoke to were really polite and answered any questions I had to the best of their abilities.

I also really enjoyed visiting the local Mosque and being able to sit and observe one of the daily prayers. It was such an amazing experience seeing a community come together to pray as one. It was also a good chance to see the diversity of Muslims that were in one small area. Their style of dress tended to show their heritage, and our speaker and guide was able to tell us where they were from based on their clothes.

After the prayer was finished, the Imam came to speak to us and answer anymore questions we had. He told us a little bit about what is was like for a child in Islam, and how they can attend a madrassa to help them learn more about Islam. The whole session was extremely informative and useful for me, as I am in the middle of writing my Islam assignment about Salah (the five daily prayers).

We were also lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to observe a man perform Wudu – the ritual cleansing and purifying a Muslim must do before praying. Again, this was more useful information to use in my assignment, as well  as just being really interesting to witness.

All in all, the trip was really eye-opening, and gave a great insight into Islam as both a religion, but also as how it is a way of life for its followers. It was such a worthwhile trip, I’m so glad I got the opportunity to go on it!Pictures

Extra Reading

I must admit, that I probably haven’t done as much extra reading as I should have done. While I have taken books from the library, most of these have been to help me with my assignments, and have been on our reading list. However, this is all changing!

I recently found a book in a charity shop that gave a really nice overview of lots of the world’s religions, including some that I had never heard of. I bought this book as I felt that it would be a good place to begin my extra reading, due to it being written in quite an informal style. As well as the books I currently have from the university library, I am waiting on two more that are not on our reading lists, but that I feel will be extremely helpful for both assignments and teaching in the future.

Aside from reading, I am trying to watch as many documentaries as I can. I find documentaries more accessible than academic books, especially when I am in the beginning stages of developing my knowledge. I enjoyed watching the BBC2 programme, Muslims Like Us, not only because it clarified some misunderstandings I had, but also because it showed a unique insight into the daily lives of Muslims, and how they can be so different, even though they all follow the same religion. This was extremely important to me as I feel that many people seem to umbrella Muslims as being the same, when in actual fact, their lifestyles and personal beliefs are very diverse. I have also seen a programme advertised called Extremely British Muslims which I am looking forward to catching. I think this programme will be extremely useful, as I have to talk about modern Muslims as part of my essay, so can hopefully gain some information I can use as part of my writing.

I plan on getting many more books from both the library and online/in shops in the future, and look forward to learning as much as I possibly can during my course.

extra-reading
These are the books I currently have.

Reviewing My Lesson

Leading up to my lesson, I wasn’t very nervous. I was of the mindset that we were all in the same boat, this being everyone’s first time planning and teaching lesson. That all changed when I was stood at the front of the class with my PowerPoint ready to go, and the class all looking at me, ready to start!

I felt a little more at ease once I had explained the starter activity and everyone had begun to discuss the pictures with their group. It gave me a chance to walk around the class to check progress instead of just standing at the front of the class waiting. Once we had gone through what the groups had circled and addressed any mistakes that had been made, I continued with my lesson.

I had picked out four key aspects of a Christian wedding ceremony to teach to the class. Each slide had some easy-to-read bullet points and a picture to facilitate the learning process. I thought, when I was planning this lesson, that it would take longer to explain all the aspects than it actually did. I think this was partially due to nerves, which meant that I was speaking faster than I should have been, but also because in trying to keep the information accessible, it was a bit too short. However, I now know for next time how long my slides should be, and what to include.

Next, came the part of the lesson where the pupils had to pick an aspect we had gone through, illustrate it, and then basically teach it to their partner. Initially it was going well, but I found that the noise level in the class went up somewhat. This being my first time teaching, I was a little unsure of how to handle it, so I approached the table that was making the noise, and asked how they were getting along with their drawing. I felt that because this was the first time there had been some low-level disruption, I didn’t want to make to big a deal of it, but still let the pupils know that I was aware of the noise they were making. After around 10 minutes, most of the class seemed to have finished their drawings, but it was too early to move onto the peer teaching. I decided that pupils who had finished could choose another aspect of the Christian wedding, and make some bullet points on in so that there were no pupils sat with nothing to do. I then let the class know that they were to finish their drawings or bullet points and teach their partner based on what they had drawn.

The drawback with this drawing and teaching part of the lesson was that the slide that explained what to do did not indicate that the class was to wait until I told them before they started teaching one another. This meant that some pupils had already began their peer teaching before the allotted time, which meant that the task was a little shorter than I would have liked. However, despite this, the class still took away all the information I had intended, and managed to recite this to their peers. lesson-plan-pictureOne more thing I want to improve for the next time I teach, is the inclusion of different abilities in the classroom. As you can see from my lesson plan, I did not make it a point to include SEN (special educational needs) or G&T (gifted and talented) pupils. This meant that my range of work and difficulty was rather limited, something which I particularly want to focus on improving.

What went well:

  • all pupils understood the lesson
  • the majority of the class remained on task for the entirety of the lesson
  • I used a range of teaching and learning styles throughout my lesson (as opposed to simply standing at the front of the class and talking)

Targets for improvement:

  • make sure my lesson is long enough (mine did not last the whole 30 minutes)
  • take into account SEN and G&T pupils so that I can prepare work of different difficulty levels
  • address the learning objectives/outcomes in my PowerPoint as well as in my plan

Planning My Peer Taught Lesson

As part of our PPP module, we were expected to plan and deliver a 30 minute lesson to the rest of the group. This involved planning each activity, manage our time effectively, and ensure that everyone took something away from the lesson that they did not know before. As the title of this blog post suggests, my lesson looked at how certain aspects of a Christian wedding ceremony help prepare the couple for married life. I chose this subject for two reasons: I had looked a little bit at wedding ceremonies back at GCSE level, so had a starting point for my lesson; I am also  always looking for symbolism in everything as a way to understand concepts, so thought that my lesson would be more interesting if it was something I was genuinely interested in.

Once I had the key idea, the first hurdle was trying to come up with activities that would not only facilitate learning, but also be creative and take up the right amount of time. The lesson plan template we had been provided helped in setting out suggestions for how long tasks should be. Without it I probably would have spent too long on my starter activity, and neglected the assessment aspect of the lesson.lesson-plan-pic-for-blogI envisaged my lesson being aimed at mid-set pupils in year nine, so my first thought was, I needed to have something set out on the tables for when the lesson was ready to begin. This was not only to save some time handing paper out, but also so that the class could get straight on with work, and not become distracted because there was nothing to do. I decided that for my starter activity, as a way to see how much the class already knew, I would set out paper on the tables with pictures commonly associated with weddings and ask them to circle the images they thought related to Christian ideas of marriage.

Then I planned my main ‘teaching’ segment of my lesson. In this allotted time, I would go through my PowerPoint slides, and explain the significance of the different aspects of Christian wedding ceremonies. I thought a good way to test if the class had taken on board the information was to ask them to illustrate one of the aspects we went through together. This way, I thought it would be more interesting than a written task, while still allowing me to see any progress made.

I thought it would be a good idea, as the ‘demonstration’ part of the lesson plan to have the pupils use their drawings to do some of their own peer teaching. Using what they drew, I wanted them to explain the aspect to their partner, and then swap. I had done this in school myself, and thought it was a good way to test understanding, while also seeing if they had retained the information enough to feed it back to someone else.

The final part of my lesson was simply to clear up any misunderstandings or answer any questions that the class might have. I would say that this was the part I was the most nervous about, simply because I didn’t want the whole class to be asking the same questions about something I thought I had explained clearly enough. Luckily, it appeared that I had delivered my lesson well enough that people had grasped all of the information given to them.

My next blog on how the lesson went will go through what I think went well and what I think I can improve for future lessons I teach.

Hinduism – Pathways to God

In this seminar we looked at the different approaches (Yogas/Margas, meaning union or connection) through which Hindu Devotee’s unite with Brahman. There are four proposed pathways to God and they can be used individually, or should someone choose, they can use a combination of yogas/margas.

The four yogas we examined are: bhakti yoga; raja yoga; karma yoga; jnana yoga. Each yoga has a different focus, so will suit different people. For me, this makes the yogas even more inviting as you can choose which is best for you, knowing that whatever you choose to do, you can form a connection with Brahman.

 

bhakti-yoga

 

Bhakti yoga: the term ‘bhakti’ means intense love for God, meaning that bhakti yoga is the path of love. This pathway is more suited to those people who are naturally drawn to God. This type of devotee will spend their time praying and worshipping in remembrance of their deity. Bhakti yoga includes doing things like reading the Hindu scriptures, singing devotional songs and developing a loving relationship with the deity of the devotee’s choice.

 

raja-yoga

Raja yoga: this path is the path to God through meditation. It could be said to be the hardest yoga as it requires the devotee to allow their mind to be absolutely still in order to experience God. Rishis, the founders of Hinduism, were able to see God through meditation.

 

karma-yoga

 

Karma yoga: this is the path of action. This yoga is based on Krishna’s teaching in the Bhagavad Gita that action is better than inaction. It is this idea that forms the basis of karma yoga. The main instructions of karma yoga are: to never stop working, but ensure the work is selfless; work for the benefit of others; lead a God-centred life by offering the results of our actions to God. Karma yoga teaches that as God lives i everyone, whenever we do good to others, we become closer to God.

 

 

 

jnana-yoga

 

Jnana yoga: this is the path to God through reason and intellect. Devotees of jnana yoga believe that we require a far greater understanding of the world in order to ‘really’ see what is out there, and what we are all about, and for this reason we should partake in the practice of jnana yoga. The tools for this type of yoga are dispassion and discrimination. Dispassion towards the world in order to become less distracted, and Discrimination – to focus our minds on what is real and what is unreal.

 

This seminar was a really interesting session, and showed me the actual meaning of yoga. Before this session, I didn’t realise that there were different types of yoga to suit different needs – I just assumed that there was one type of yoga, and that it was just used in the therapeutic sense to help people relax at home.

 

 

 

My First RE assignment!

I decided to do my assignment for this module slightly differently to my peers. Instead of doing an overview of everything we have studied, I focused on my strongest subject, and went into more detail. My assignment was a PowerPoint presentation based around the question ‘what is religion?’, but focused purely on the sociological point of views on the question.

I decided to work this way because I previously studied Sociology at A Level, and did a module on beliefs in society. As I still had my old work I felt that it would be the best way to achieve (hopefully!) a good grade for this module. My choice of how I would present my work was based on the fact that later in the course, if needed, I could use the PowerPoint as a teaching tool. It is for this reason I kept the information, although complex, concise and easy to work through and understand.

I had so much fun producing my assignment as I really felt that I put in all the information I could, in an easy-to-understand way.

This may be a short blog post, but there are limited ways to express how enjoyable my first proper Religious Education assignment was to produce!

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