Cynon Valley

Mountain Ash visit 25/2/2016

A big thank you to our ineffable volunteers and the awesome pupils and staff today. We went out into the Valleys to Mountain Ash Comprehensive School. There we delivered workshops on Romans in Wales, Medieval Society, Cardiff in World War One to forty-nine pupils in years 7, 8 and 9 respectively.

On the trip were:

Coordinators:

  • Kostas Trimmis
  • Jon Langston
  • Olja Mladjenovic

Also joining them were the staff members:

  • Professor Paul Nicholson
  • Dr Steve Mills
  • Graham Getheridge

Steve and Paul were seeing some new integrations of their Heritage Lottery Fund project Images of an Antique Land with the existing WWI workshop. This involved the creation of a new ‘persona’ to investigate based on genuine research, as well as a new postcards from the front activity based on some gorgeous replicas of real-life postcards.

Most importantly of all, the following volunteers gave up their time and effort to deliver some awesome presentations and workshops:

  • Ben Dillon
  • Gemma Bush
  • Jack Tenniswood
  • Kieran Murphy
  • Chris Parry
  • Clara Freer

Thanks all!

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Guest post from volunteer Jon Cook

Jon Cook

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Training sessions were inventive and fun and helped us prepare for what was needed

My name is Jon Cook, a third year Religious Studies student. When I first heard about the program [SHARE with Schools] I knew it would help my future in ways of experience. Even though it was a little daunting at first because I was not doing a degree in archaeology or history but in religion, I took it as an opportunity to learn more myself and also enhance my public speaking skills.

I presented to a wide range of year groups in a few different schools spotted around Cardiff, presenting to different age groups was fun and different every time. I was involved in presenting a wide variety of workshops all teaching the history of Wales, such as The Romans in Wales, History of the Rhondda Cynon Taf and Wales in the First World War.

The training sessions were inventive and fun and helped us prepare for what was needed. The presentation was nerve wracking at first but once I was there helping kids learn about the past all fears diminished and if things went off track or pear shaped the post grad students were there to help as well.

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The presentation was nerve wracking at first but … helping kids learn about the past all fears diminished

All the kids were well mannered and enthusiastic, my favorite memory from the time giving the workshops is when I was at Cathays giving a presentation on the miners in South Wales and I managed to get a student engaged and interested in a subject that he previously was not.

I would recommend these workshops for everyone who wants to enhance their oratory and teaching skills but also for anyone who is interested in learning more about the subjects themselves as they are very informative. The only problem was that there wasn’t a workshop in my degree specific area. I have no doubt that this will help towards my future career plans and would love to thank everyone involved as it really has been a great experience.

Guest blog by volunteer Kelsey Clarke

Kelsey Clarke

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What if these children knew more than me? What if they asked me a question and I couldn’t answer? What if I mess up?

During my first year at Cardiff I wanted to sign up to volunteer with SHARE with Schools, but I convinced myself that I did not have enough knowledge to go out and deliver the workshops. What if these children knew more than me? What if they asked me a question and I couldn’t answer? What if I mess up? – All these questions flew around my mind, and I didn’t sign up. I immediately regretted this after talking to Jodie, a SHARE with Schools volunteer in 2013/14, who reassured me that it would be completely fine. She was right.

As a second year Religious Studies student, I was still nervous that I wouldn’t know enough but I signed up. I then signed up to numerous training sessions and was pleasantly surprised that not only did I know more than what I thought, but almost everyone was having the same thoughts as me about delivering the workshops. Catherine and numerous other co-ordinators made me feel at ease during the training sessions. They explained everything with clarity and ensured everybody was on the same wavelength for every single workshop.

Every time I signed up to go on a visit, Cath would send out all of the crib sheets as soon as possible. This was brilliant for preparation purposes, and it also enabled everyone to edit the crib notes to suit themselves.

Mountain Ash school with snowy peaks behind

Mountain Ash Comprehensive School

My first SHARE with Schools visit was to Mountain Ash Comprehensive School. I’m from the Cynon Valley area and it was amazing to go into a local school. On the morning of the visit I had so many nervous butterflies, but I decided these were a good sign. It showed that I genuinely cared about what I was doing. Throughout the day we delivered 2 x ‘Romans in Wales’ ‘The Three Orders of Medieval Society’ and ‘Life in the 19th Century Cynon Valley’, and the group grew more confident with each workshop, and although my butterflies were there throughout the visit, it was just a constant reminder to me that I wanted to do a good job with all of the workshops and really make an impression on the pupils. We delivered the workshops to pupils from years 7-9 but with varying academic abilities, including SEN [Special Educational Needs] pupils. All of the pupils engaged so well with everything, they loved the ‘hands-on’ parts of the workshop and this also drew out the best in them. The objects brought to life what we had previously spoken to them about, enabling their understanding more.

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SHARE with Schools has definitely been one of the highlights of my second year, and I can’t wait to see what next year holds!

My second SHARE with Schools visit was to Pencoed Comprehensive School. We delivered 2 x ‘Who wants to be a museum curator?’ here and it worked so well with the pupils. I was genuinely surprised at how much some of the children knew about museums and how enthusiastic they were about the idea of creating their own display. I believe this worked well because although the pupils had to create their display and find out about objects, they had free reign in doing so. The results of their work were amazing.

I can honestly say that I did not see anyone not doing what they were supposed to do or messing around in any of the visits. All of the pupils were polite and treated both the objects and the SHARE with Schools volunteers with the utmost respect. They were a credit to their schools.

SHARE with Schools has provided me with a plethora of transferable skills which I can use in the future. The whole SHARE with Schools experience has reassured me that I definitely want to apply for a Secondary Education PGCE in RE, and that it is well worth pursuing a career in teaching. SHARE with Schools has definitely been one of the highlights of my second year, and I can’t wait to see what next year holds!

Thanks to this week’s volunteers delivering at Fitzalan and Mountain Ash

A big thank you is well deserved for all of our volunteers this week. We saw some fantastic efforts from everyone involved, and were especially impressed by those participants who were delivering SHARE with Schools workshops for the first time.

Delivering Romans in Wales, Medieval Orders of Society and Life in the Nineteenth Century Cynon Valley at Mountain Ash Comprehensive School, Abercynon:

  • Kelsey Louise Clarke
  • Jacob Deacon
  • Chris Griffiths
  • Jon Langston
  • Ben Dillon

And delivering Who Wants to be a Museum Curator? and the brand new Archaeological Science workshops at the Eisteddfod at Fitzalan High School, Cardiff:

  • Beth Cox
  • Talia Brown
  • Liberty Vaz Townsend
  • Thomas Snook
  • Tom Allen
  • Rachael Mott
  • Katie Rees-Williams
  • Laura Rees
  • Jonathan Gilbert
  • Louise Morgan
  • Harriet Lomax
  • Elizabeth Nicholson

Well done and thank you one and all!

Here’s some pics from the Who Wants to be a Museum Curator? sessions at Fitzalan, showcasing some of the incredible work from the school pupils:

Volunteers talk about visiting Mountain Ash Comprehensive School

New volunteers Ben Dillon and Jacob Deacon talk to camera on the way to and from their first workshop deliveries at Mountain Ash Comprehensive School, Abercynon.

Both are students at the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University, and this is their first year participating in the SHARE with Schools outreach project. They discuss what they anticipate it will be like and then how they found their classroom experience.

Hit the CC button for subtitles if you find the audio a bit difficult.