Drugs and Alcohol. SPHE / RE topics

A very important aspect to education is warning signs for the variety of drugs available to the genera public and allow them to understand the key distinctions between the different types and overall understand that a drug is simply any substance other than food which changes the way the body or mind functions.

Recently I started the module with my third years about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol irresponsibly. So far the students have co-operated well with the module and have asked a lot of questions contributed greatly to the lessons. I found that there was a colossal amount of resources on this topic so it made lesson planning very easy in comparison to some other social topics.

One Power point I  found was on the various drugs types and the category each one falls under. However, as I always say, a PowerPoint is only as good as the teacher who is using it. To begin the series of lesson,s start with the lesson of what is a drug?


Secondly, inform them of what qualifies as a drug, e.g. caffeine, and what it is categorized under;

Carry on the lesson appropriately that suits you class understanding and ability. Have the pupils read from slides and incorporate higher and lower order questions and using a variety of methodologies that permits students participation and discussion.

The various PowerPoint and worksheets on resources websites like TES.co.uk, are so effective and once examined properly they can be incorporated into the lesson effectively. Drugs and alcohol is of course an important and arguably difficult topic to teach especially since the frequent things that adolescents are exposed to in modern society. So like many social topics, you have to teach it from an outside perspective, not judging those who have or have not taken any form of drug that effect their body whether it is for medical or recreational purposes and of course making no presumptions or putting any pressure on students in the class. A ‘Say no to drugs’ rant maybe very irrational, but instead ensure it is an illustration of their effects and how the consequences can be dangerous. Know the difference between informing and lecturing.

In addition to the PowerPoint, there is a documentary you can show parts of at the end of each lesson that is perfectly divided to allow you to show different parts on different lessons. The documentary : What drugs do in your body,  illustrates what several different drugs effects drugs have on the body and the mind. The documentary is just over 40 minutes but shows how intoxicated people react to the different everyday and emergency situations under the influence of narcotics. If you divide the video to 3 lessons based on the 3 scenarios that take place in the video.The documentary is engaging in many ways as it shows how people react to under the influence and while they are sober. The idea is not to put a shock value for the pupils but to provide them with the heads up as to what is out there and whats ahead of them.

Assessment can be tricky with this section. The topic is an important but not a mandatory lesson for the Junior or Leaving certificate. This is ideal, as the lessons should not require a need for examination. However, if in an exam subject it still has its benefits, for religious education it can be used to illustrate the choices in morality and ideally can used as an example of respecting yourself and moral codes. For S.P.H.E. its very relevant for obvious reasons, drugs are very relative to peer pressure, a common issue for teens. It is also appropriate for seniors under social ed or non-exam RE as maturity is important. Avoid the topic with first years and second years as instead the maturity of the topic requires the pupils to be more aware about the world and themselves.

The topic can cross over with science and P.E. for effects of drugs on the body and even C.S.P.E. with importance of raising awareness of the dangerous impact abusing drugs can have on both the users and those around them. It is an important topic to inform the pupils on this area and although not a polite area to teach, holds a lot of necessity for their social and mental development throughout their school days. Most importantly from, it appropriately incorporates the key skills of the NCCA. Communication through class discussion, managing information through breaking down the types of drugs, critical thinking for the striking factors that are raised, working with others for pair discussion etc.

Its an important and mature topic, Don’t be afraid to answer controversial questions or listen to students inputs. However, for any inappropriate comments from students you may have, promote a disclaimer prior to beginning the lessons. Inform the pupils that their opinions can be respected as long as they are appropriate and do not offend any other pupil in the classroom. If pupils do not co-operate maybe disallow them from contributing in discussions. You do not know what issues students sitting in front have that may relate to drink or drugs. Again don’t let this put you off, but ensure respect is maintained from your part too. Remind the students that if they feel uncomfortable in any shape or form about the class they are welcome to address it privately afterwards, and in case you are worried the students are too shy to say talk about their concern, the post it method for class reflection works wonders. It can provide yourself with a decent reflection on how the lesson went and realize if there is any concerns from the students.



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Teaching Reflection tasks

Encouraging students to reflect on their experiences throughout second level. this is important for a variety of reasons. Reflecting on work they have done ( with a checklist) allows them to realise how much content they have covered since beginning.

the checklist can be done at the end of each term and is a good way to show students they have finished another chapter in their school.

Reflecting through meditation. Bringing the students to a retreat location such as an oratory or even just swapping chairs around in the classroom. Give a spoken meditation  after settling the students and getting their ‘zen’ on, have them think about how far they have come since they began in education and even how far they have come socially. Reminding them about new and old friends and the new relationships they have or haven’t started had in their current lives. Meditation is a great and relaxing lesson for the class.

Journal work. Having the students keep their own reflecting journal is not an easy task to encourage the pupils to do. There is a necessity that we appreciate their privacy here but if we were to provide the pupils with a series of questions about what they have achieved and have them keep it on a word document so it it is electronically saved for them (possibly a great blog if your class are involved with some of the great blogging websites).

Overall reflection is a vital aspect of social and personal development that can help them overcome stress and understand how to amend their previous mistakes.

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Inspirational Quotes, ICT

The following are a series of quotes relative to ICT and teaching:

Albert Einstein;

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

Bill Gates;

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.”

‘I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user.’


Tips for correcting exams

This weekend I began correcting students mock exams. Although CSPE and RE are not extensive exams as leaving cert English, they require time and effort like any other subject.
Here are my first few tips for marking exams.

First up: Be fresh. Don’t mark exams tired because you need to ensure you give your full attention to detail. So after good brekkie and warm coffee ensure you go into it eyes wide opened.

Second: leave the best to last. Always mark the best class or students last so you finish marking on a good note and somewhat satisfied that the students listened to you

Thirdly: mark the same section all at once. Don’t go through every paper restarting marking at every student. Instead, mark the first section of all students, then the second of all students, that way the marking scheme is still fresh in your head and it’s easier to keep your perspective on the marking scheme at the same level. I was advised to do this by one of my old teachers and it works wonders. Made Every thing, from my focus and speed at which I corrected all the better and if anything is the best method for producing results.

Droichead                 LESSON PLAN TEMPLATE


Student Teacher 

Brian Courtney



St David’s C.B.S.

Class Group / Subject

A4 / RE




Scheme Theme

Foundations of Christianity

Lesson Topic 

Life in Palestine Part I – The House



Lesson …..1 in a series of …12

DURATION of lesson


Intended Learning Outcomes

(Knowledge, Understanding, Skills, Attitudes)


·         The class will know the main features of a house in Palestine during the time of Jesus.

·         The students will be able to acknowledge where Palestine is located in the world.

·         Through their own interpretation of society of the class will be able to distinguish the characteristics of Palestinian house and a modern home.



Assessment of Learning Outcomes.

(ie. What assessment will you use to show you that learning has taken place?)


  • By showing a map of Palestine the pupils will understand where the Holy Land is situated and where keys cities such as Bethlehem and Nazareth are located.
  • Through the comparison exercise, the class will get 5 differences between a modern society and the society of a Palestinian house through their own interpretation of data.
  • Survivor Series Challenge



A Question of Faith
Display and Electronic media

Life in Palestine PowerPoint

–          Image of House and people


Teaching Strategy:


Teacher exposition,

Interpretation of Data, Concept Learning.



Phase  1 Brief Outline
  I will
  • start the lesson by taking the role,
  • Then I will recap by informing the students to learn a list of key definitions for a quiz for the following class.
  • Display the learning outcome on the PowerPoint and carry on the lesson.
Phase 2 Brief Outline
  I will begin by
  • Displaying a map of Palestine during the time of Jesus on the overhead projector. The map will highlight some key regions in Palestine that will outline some important locations which the pupils will record.
  • Use lower order questions to ask about each part of the map. What happened where etc. (Nazareth, Bethlehem)


Phase 3 Brief Outline
I will

·         Have the class write down their dream home, following that, write down the main features of their homes.

·         then show an image of a house that people lived in during the time of Palestine.

·         I will ask the pupils what they notice about the image and have them compare the house to their own modern homes and then their dream homes to break down the comparison.

·         I will carry on by displaying images of the interior of the home.

Phase 4 Brief Outline
I will
  • to conclude I will have the class answer lower order questions relevant to what was covered during the lesson in a quiz style format to assess their learning in the class

i.              What are the main provinces of Palestine?

ii.             What are the main features of the Palestinian house?

iii.            Would have living in these houses been ideal for the people of Palestine at this time?

–          Their homework will be a series of questions.

Phase Brief Outline


Motte and Bailey Lesson Layout

Why did William build Castles?


Task 1:


Label your Motte and Bailey Castle:


  • Drawbridge
  • Tower
  • Motte
  • Bailey
  • Palisade Wall
  • Moat
















Features of the motte and bailey castles Function of the motte and bailey castles

Describe the key features and how you think each of the features would be good for defence














Task 3:


How effective was the motte and bailey castle?


Think about the strengths and weakness of the motte and bailey castle:


  • The defensive strengths of the motte and bailey were…


  • The defensive weaknesses of the motte and bailey were…


  • The motte and bailey castle helped William to control England because…





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What are teachers’ perceptions of using ICT in the classroom?

My preface and initial draft for my thesis I have started in college.


Education is the most powerful tool we can use to change the world. Throughout the years there have been significant developments in technology. These developments have revolutionised and have enhanced almost everything in our day to day lives. Shopping, exercise, transport and communication have come much further in 10 years then they did in the past 100 and education is not different.

Teachers in schools all over the world have seen a new influx of technology in the classroom and, for many; it has changed the way we plan for a lesson. Whether it is by using PowerPoints, YouTube, Social Media, Podcasts, the methodologies of teaching has changed thanks to technology but many would raise the question is it or the better or does it make any difference whatsoever.

When I first started out as a student teacher, I found that using technology had many benefits, but I also felt them almost a stabiliser for my lesson planning. This was certainly not a bad thing but it did raise the question am I myself relying too much on technology as a teacher in the classroom, especially even since when I was a child technology has only recently developed. Therefore I decided to further examine the area of using technology in the classroom but more specifically, examining how teachers find using technology and whether to not it has changed the way they teach. Some may say it is a tremendous benefit for any subject, especially when teaching topics which require many visuals. However many might argue it takes away from traditional learning methods which are not frequently used as a result of this flood of technology.

The OECD report certainly helps us to receive and intriguing understanding on where the world is going with technology in education. Ireland is not at the top or bottom of the poll of countries using technology in the classroom; instead we are in the middle. Is this a sufficient level for pupils in their learning environment, especially since so much of their home life is filled with technology, or should Ireland increase the usage of technology in the classroom, as the NMA Horizon report of higher education stated that 90% of jobs will require some ICT skill by the year 2020 and we need to ensure students are equipped to deal with such needs when the time comes.

Therefore I derived three question; what are the benefits of using technology in the classroom for teachers?

  1. I will begin my first chapter by examining the reports of the OECD on use of technology in modern countries as well as the 2014 Horizon Report on higher educatio4n which examines several areas and the use of such new ICT (or Web 2.0 technologies).
    1. How do the OECD and 2014 Horizon Report indicate there is a need for ICT in the modern classroom?
  2. For my second chapter I aim to survey several teachers of different generations and from different types of schools if possible with a series of questions around the enhancement of schools using technology.
    1. What are teachers’ perceptions of ICT in the classroom?
  • Finally, I will deduce all of my work in the third chapter and illustrate the findings of my research and possibly answer the question I set out to answer.
    1. What do my findings tell us about the future of ICT in the classroom?


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