Head Teacher’s Blog

Both schools this week have been engaged in Scots language activities around Burns Day. The relevant outcome in CfE says: “I engage with a wide range of texts and am developing an appreciation of the richness and breadth of Scotland’s literary and linguistic heritage”. This sounds rather grand when applied to a P1 learning an adaptation of Humpty Dumpty, but bear in mind large oaks and little acorns.
We may be tempted to question the value of this exercise- few of our children use Scots dialect or are even familiar with it; will it help us to communicate with the wider world; is rote learning of a poem worthwhile?
In visiting classrooms this last week, I saw many things that would validate these activities. A healthy interest in any word, unfamiliar or foreign, and investigation of its root, provenance or meaning surely helps us widen and enrich our vocabulary (and complete the crossword!) Knowledge of and interest in the heritage of the country in which you live may help to explain customs or sayings, as well as engender a pride in our roots. We know that rote learning as an exercise helps train our brain to retain information- though not necessarily the most useful information! Public performance, though daunting for some of us, brings its own rewards, even if it is just the satisfaction of pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone.
On a personal note, I was unexpectedly moved to hear the Humbie children reciting “Tae A Moose”. I don’t know whether it was the familiar words or the effort they had put into learning it- or just my age! Judge for yourselves at assembly on Monday. I look forward to hearing the Saltoun children this week too.
Like many people around snow-bound Humbie I had rather a lot of haggis to share at the weekend and so I had an impromptu Burns Supper for a few friends and neighbours. One guest- a Yorkshireman by birth, confessed it was all a foreign language to him, but stole the show when he produced an app. on his phone which recited the address to the haggis as we served it up. Rabbie would have been dumfoonert!

Have a good week and enjoy the recitations.
Lindy Lynn.

Head Teacher’s Blog

20th January
A very brief thought this week, concerning Curriculum for Excellence. I witnessed a nice little example of children using their learning to good effect. Saltoun has been undertaking a whole school, short study of the body to start the term. They have been learning about body parts and functions- differentiated to be appropriate to age and stage. The oldest children and the youngest shared this learning in a collaborative task on Friday. In mixed groups across the ages, they made a larger than life skeleton with hinged parts (upstairs) and a correspondingly large collection of vital organs (downstairs). The children were very engaged in the task and one P2 delighted in telling me all about intestines and how long they were (with demonstration). Eventually the two groups came together and the body was assembled in more or less anatomical order. I particularly liked the lengths of blue wool with beads for veins and red wool with beads for arteries.
The point of the exercise- as well as providing an opportunity for the children to work with different groups -which they enjoy- was to test the learning they had done by using it for a purpose. It was transference of skills and knowledge. Hopefully, this knowledge will be more firmly embedded now that it has been used rather than just learned.
Similarly at Humbie, the assessment task at the end of the current study of dinosaurs involves creating a dinosaur, choosing whether it is a meat or plant eater and matching it to a habitat suited to its size and diet. The children have to show real understanding of the knowledge they have gained to complete this successfully.
My thanks to the staff- for enthusiasm, inventiveness and willingness to go the extra mile to make all this happen.
Have a good week- take care in the snow.

Lindy Lynn

Head Teacher’s Blog

13th January 2013

A challenge to start the year! The germ of this idea came to me when I was watching the debut of the Saltoun Mum’s Choir. They were a little nervous- it was their first public performance, they hadn’t had a great deal of time to rehearse and singing in public is not easy. They were terrific and I would have given them full marks. I wondered how they would have rated themselves and began to think about the kind of evaluative exercises we do with the children. They are often involved in self and peer evaluation of pieces of work- especially those that go into the profiles.
Profiles are due to go out at the end of this week. They will contain examples of the learning that has been taking place since October. I wondered if it would help your understanding of what is in the profiles to do your own evaluation of something you have done recently. This could be -singing in the choir, learning a new skill, producing Christmas lunch for 12, a project at work, something associated with a hobby or sport…….you will know what you have done that you have found challenging.
The questions you might ask yourself may include

  • what was the desired outcome of the exercise?
  • did I achieve it?
  • how well?
  • what did I do well?
  • what could have been better?
  • how? and why?
  • what did I learn about myself in the process (or about my style of learning or working)?
  • would I do it differently next time?

These are all questions and processes we go through with the children in the course of lessons- not all of these every time- we would match the evaluation to the task. It is quite a reflective process and one of the main purposes is to get the children to think about themselves as learners so that they maximise the impact of what they do. This happens (at an appropriate level) from nursery right through.
If you have the time- and inclination- this week, give it a go. You will note I have stopped short of issuing a worksheet! I would be very interested to hear how you got on.
I hope you enjoy sharing your child’s profile when they come home- if you are at all confused about it, ask your child to talk to you about the entries- they are great little tour guides. If anyone would like to talk to us about what is in the profile, we have set up “drop-in” sessions for you and your child on Monday 21st January- Humbie and Wednesday 23rd January- Saltoun (both 3.15-4.30). Staff will be available to discuss any aspect of the profile that you would like clarified.
Have a good week,
Lindy Lynn