ELCOLS – Week 2

A description of lessons shadowed by James – Edinburgh Uni student on placement with ELCOLS


My week started with a trip to Prestonpans Infant School for a ‘Bairns in the Woods’ session with a small group of students and their parents. We were able to construct simple shelters in the playground using only tarps, rope, teamwork and imagination within each group. Then, we all put up the giant tipi to escape the bad weather, and had a go at building little fires to roast our marshmallows on and stay warm. I think these activities highlight the potential social and academic benefits to families who may or may not be comfortable teaching or playing in an outdoor setting. Some of these parents (and grandparents) said they hadn’t done any of this since they were children. These simple activities engage children on a number of levels. It allows them to develop their communication, teamwork and physical skills while having fun with their families and teachers. I think they all had a fantastic time and I felt really privileged that I was allowed the opportunity to drop in to this school and family activity.
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The next day, myself, Antony Stone and Bob Baird all traveled to Elphinstone Primary School to have a ‘Go Mountain Bike’ afternoon with the P6/7 class. I had a really great time at this school, all the kids were fantastic and incredibly enthusiastic. At the start of the afternoon there were 4 or 5 students who didn’t know how to ride a bike, but by the end, they all could. Most were flying around the bike course we prepared for them and were honing their skills to become very capable mountain bikers. We’re going to need to think of something more challenging for these pros before the next class I think.

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I then returned to last weeks crime scene where a group of Higher Physics students from Ross High School and their teacher Chris Laud made me feel incredibly stupid because everyone seemed to know exactly what they were doing and what they were measuring except for me! I think I managed to get my head around this weeks task of measuring the different levels of friction in belay devices. This was the last day of experimentation before they analyse and write up their results. They all seemed to know exactly what they were doing and looked as if they all enjoyed doing it. I loved Chris’s “thinking outside the box” ingenuity to combat this potentially mundane topic, and engage the kids to a different method of learning. I can’t praise him and ELCOLS enough for their efforts in making this happen, and I’ll look forward to reading a lot more about it in the future. (Physics – mundane? Outrageous comment! – Editor)

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My final day was spent at Macmerry Primary School for a day of ‘Madventure’. All classes are currently doing projects about maps – so we decided to do all our outdoor learning activities using orienteering as a platform to develop their individual understanding of maps. It was a perfect morning and the students were raring to go and get stuck in. There were 6 activities in total, utilizing the whole of the school staff and grounds. I’m certain all the students had a fantastic time, they didn’t want to go back inside (even when it started snowing at the end). The teachers and support staff were fantastic at assisting and collaborating with teachers from ELCOLS and it was amazing to see the transfer of learning from the classroom to the outdoors happening among the kids. I hope they continue to develop their orienteering and map reading skills so they can perhaps take it a stage further and leave the school grounds next time. Maybe the next ‘Madventure’ day?

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