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Teaching in Scotland

Teaching at a primary school was such an eye-opening experience for me because I never realized how difficult it is to teach such a young group of people things that seem like common knowledge to people our age. My group taught them about food chains. Even though we had lesson plans, the worksheets we had prepared were actually more advanced for some of the classes than we’d thought. We had three separate plans for three different levels, but ended up using basically one of those lesson plans while adjusting the worksheets for age.

We expected the older kids in P6 and P7 to know more about food chains already, but only some of the kids in the class knew terms like producers and consumers, so we just had to teach terms like producer and consumer as though it was a new topic. The younger kids barely knew how to write, so we mostly focused on making sure they could name living and non-living objects, then we helped them write out those objects. We let them draw any object they wanted, but made sure they knew why that object was categorized as living or non-living. Our main activity for all the grade levels was using yarn to show how energy sources from the sun and transfers between different living objects in a cyclical manner. We handed out flashcards and asked them to separate themselves based on what that organism was classified as (producer, consumer, decomposer, etc.), and then they would take the yarn in order of which organism would consume what. In the end they would have a “web” of energy.

One of the main differences between their classroom and American classrooms was that the teachers would put the students in groups according to their learning ability. It was very apparent when we walked around class, because the students at one table would have a lot written down, while another table struggled to understand the directions. They do this so that the teachers can help the students more efficiently, but for me it made it a bit more difficult to teach and control my table. On another note, I really admired how the students were so quick to support each other. They easily partnered up and if someone was alone, a student would quickly go to them and make sure they were good to go.