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E-Thoughts

Blogging – love it or hate it?

So, as a final post (FOR NOW…) I would like to give my views on blogging. In particular, blogging as an assignment.¬†Personally, I have loved creating and maintaining a blog rather than trudging my way through an essay. I especially loved the day that Helen announced that we don’t have to write in a heavily formal/academic style but should instead write in our own ‘voice’. YES! Finally! The chance to express myself and MY views in MY way without having to act all pretentious and ostentatious and quote archaic authors and pretend to agree with their bigwig views (apart from in the vision statement…).

That’s just me though, I have found that blogging is one of those little things in life that suffers from the ‘Marmite effect’ – you either love it or you hate it.

I hadn’t maintained a blog prior to this one. I have thought about it but then I decided that very few people would be likely to read it. I was actually pleasantly surprised and excited about the prospect of creating an ICT blog. I engaged quite well with my e-portfolio in previous years but it was quite disheartening to know that no one else would be viewing it apart from the marking tutors. That’s one of the things I especially liked about this blog, that it could be set to public so people could read each other’s blogs and hear their views.

There are some disadvantages to blogging though and I can understand why some people don’t like them. If you’re not very IT-savvy I suppose they could be somewhat confusing. Some people might question the purpose of them. Plus, they can be quite time-consuming and it’s annoying when they don’t look how you want them to.

Overall though, I have enjoyed constructing my blog and I wish more assignments were like this.

In a neat list of pros and cons of blogging –

Pros –

  • The opportunity to personalise your work
  • The chance to use your ‘own voice’
  • An opportunity to be creative
  • Ability to view other people’s blogs and comment on them
  • Generally quite straightforward to use and maintain

Cons –

  • Quite time-consuming
  • Not always easy to get them to look how you want them to
  • The dependence on technology – and technology isn’t always perfect.
  • Difficult if you’re not very ICT-savvy

 

That’s all.

Thanks for reading.

– Bailey ūüôā

 

VISION STATEMENT.

‚ÄúI think technology has brought the world a lot closer together, and will continue to do that. There are downsides to everything; there are unintended consequences to everything. The most corrosive piece of technology that I‚Äôve ever seen is called television ‚ÄĒ but then, again, television, at its best, is magnificent.‚ÄĚ – Steve Jobs

 VISION STATEMENT FOR THE FUTURE OF ICT IN THE PRIMARY SCHOOL

Recent academic literature is awash with definitions such as the ‚Äėdigital‚Äô or ‚Äėelectronic‚Äô age for modern society as a response to this huge incursion of new technologies into everyday routines.¬†It is more than evident from both research statistics and from simple observation that the modern world is clearly gripped by new technologies and that ICT plays a key role in the majority of careers. A career in ICT alone is particularly rewarding; an ICT manager is the 14th highest paid job in the UK. It is evident that children are more competent with ICT than in previous years. In some respects this is idealistic, particularly as technology has such a huge role, however children’s technology use is also met with negativity. Palmer (2006) argues that children spend too much time on screen-based activities such as watching television or using the computer, which is harmful to their development. In contrast, Plowman et al. (2010) suggest that computer use provides an¬†intellectual¬†challenge and opportunities for learning. In my opinion, technology use can be beneficial but only if, like anything, it is used in moderation and for the correct reasons.

An article published earlier this year by¬†the Guardian¬†suggests that today’s ICT-literate children are ‘bored’ by ICT in schools (Murray, 2012). It is clear that the existing programmes of study for ICT are inadequate for our incredibly technologically-advanced society.In January 2011, the Secretary of State for Education announced a¬†review of the National Curriculum. ICT is a subject that has received considerable attention thus far.¬†It is generally agreed amongst educationalists that our¬†technologically-adept children need less teaching of how to use software and more focus upon how the software works. Fortunately, education secretary Michael Gove recognises this and is consequently giving priority to computer science in schools, and is even offering scholarships to graduates wishing to study computer science to increase the number of outstanding teachers of computer science (Vasagar, 2012).

The current draft ICT programme of study¬†divides ICT into three strands; digital literacy, information technology and computer science (Naace, 2012). I feel that it is a significant improvement on the former programme and a good skeletal structure to build upon. To express my vision for the future of ICT, I have constructed a¬†Prezi¬†to present my ‘curriculum’. It gives a simple overview of the coverage that I deem as relevant in an ICT curriculum, and the types of resources I would use.¬†I found the work of¬†Simon Haughton¬†particularly useful, we seem to share similar philosophies.

I would use both Microsoft and Apple software, since both have their advantages. The iPad has phenomenal uses in the classroom. Sheppard (2011) discusses its role, explaining that its introduction in 2010 promised to bring mobile technologies into every classroom with its access to resources, books and purpose built apps. However, since it has a reputation as an entertainment device, Sheppard suggests that it brings with it considerations for learning and pedagogy. His research focuses on the value of the iPad as an eBook reader in the classroom, however more recently the iPad is seen to be used to a much greater extent in primary schools across the UK and Ireland, as demonstrated by this article.

I believe that the ICT curriculum could be divided into six areas of learning; computer science, digital creativity, multimedia, communication, research and data-handling. Together these incorporate the draft programmes of study and my personal philosophies for ICT. It is important to acknowledge that my ICT curriculum does not restrict ICT to a single subject, I believe that the areas I have identified can be used across the curriculum.

The area of computer science not only incorporates computer programming, and use of software such as Scratch, but also includes identifying parts of a computer and how to maintain it. I am not inferring that children should be taught how to install anti-virus software and reformat a computer, but they should know the basic components and how to keep both themselves and their computer safe, e.g. preventing it from over heating, and maintaining good posture during use, something that Straker et al. (2008) have researched here. I would also like to spend time looking at designing iPad apps in addition to computer programs, inspired by this child. This aspect is, admittedly, very ICT-subject-specific.

Digital creativity is an area that I am especially passionate about. I believe that this is an aspect where children should be given more freedom to experiment and to be naturally creative, something that I have reflected upon in posts within my blog. It would utilise the iPad but also digital cameras and flipcams. Cross-curricular links would be strong with art and English. The multimedia aspect links to the digital creativity area except it involves a broader range of media. Again, iPads would take the leading role, particularly through the use of iMovie for making videos. I am also including presentations and website design in this area. Again, this could be very much cross-curricular with any subject across the curriculum, for example, children could design a website about an area of history.

The research aspect teaches children to be more selective when researching. I wouldn’t spend an entire ICT lesson on research, but would incorporate it into a different subject where the children would need to research a topic. The use of sites such as Sqworl would help to limit the sites that children can access, linking to eSafety.¬†The handling data aspect is relevant to maths and science. Children need learn how to handle and present data digitally since this is a key element of many careers.

Finally, the area of communication is essential, in my opinion. Children will inevitably be already aware of the many ways in which ICT allows us to communicate yet it is important that they understand how to use technology to communicate safely and sensibly. Once again there will be links with eSafety and digital citizenship should be addressed.

Overall, I want children to enjoy ICT. I want them to learn new skills and develop existing ones, as opposed to inanely repeating what they have already discovered. Knowledge of ICT is essential nowadays in our technological age, and for children to want to learn then enjoyment needs to be at the heart of what they are being taught.

 

References

 

Haughton, S. (2012) How to teach outstanding ICT. [online] Available at: http://www.simonhaughton.co.uk/2012/10/how-to-teach-outstanding-ict-e-book.html [Accessed: 14th November 2012]

Murray, J. (2012) ICT at school is boring, children say. [online] The Guardian. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jan/09/children-computer-lessons [Accessed: 14th November 2012]

Naace (2012) Draft ICT Programme of Study. [online] Available at: http://www.naace.co.uk/naacecurriculum/programmeofstudyconsultation [Accessed: 7th November 2012]

Palmer, S. (2006) Toxic childhood: how the modern world is damaging our children and what we can do about it. London: Orion Books Ltd.

Plowman, L., Stephen, C., McPake, J. (2010) Growing up with technology: young children learning in a digital world. Abingdon: Routledge.

Sheppard, D. (2011) Reading with iPads Рthe difference makes a difference. [online] Education Today. Available at: http://www.minnisjournals.com.au/articles/ipads%20et%20t3%2011.pdf [Accessed: 21st November 2012]

Straker, L. M., Coleman, J. Skoss, R., Maslen, B.A., Burgess-Limerick, R. and Pollock, C.M.  (2008) A comparison of posture and muscle activity during tablet computer, desktop computer and paper use by young children. Ergonomics. 51 (4), 540-555.

Vasagar, J. (2012) Graduates to be offered £20,000 to train as computer science teachers. [online] The Guardian. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/oct/19/computer-science-lessons-facebook-update [Accessed: 14th November 2012]

 

 

Free Rice!

Screenshot obtained from the FreeRice website.

This is a seemingly random post but it involves ICT since it is a website recommendation so I’m going to include it.

I’d like to recommend FreeRice.com because it is simply marvellous. I’m sure some people may have heard of it before since it has been around for quite a few years now. However, if you haven’t heard of it, it’s certainly worth checking out.

I wouldn’t hesitate to use this in the classroom, especially now that it has a wider range of topics available. Originally it focused on developing your vocabulary. Basically, it offers you a word, you have to click on the word that means the same as this word and if you are correct you are rewarded with 10 grains of rice. These grains are subsequently donated to third world countries.

It would work wonderfully as a starter or just as a filler.

It now offers a much broader range of subjects, I have found the Mathematics one particularly useful;

Screenshot obtained from the FreeRice website.

Let me know how you get on!

Take it easy ūüôā

 

Bailey.

 

 

This video is public. Are you okay with that?

“It’s impossible to move, to live, to operate at any level without leaving traces, bits, seemingly meaningless fragments of personal information.”
– Some chap called William Gibson.

 

Now, I have already created a post waffling on about privacy settings on Facebook but I have decided to create another one. I’m relating this one in particular to this blog, and to YouTube. This was inspired by a conversation with Helen yesterday, mingled with a short piece of ‘disputational’ talk with Aaron over whether or not our video should be listed as public on YouTube.

Screenshot obtained from YouTube website.

 

This is (from my memory) roughly how the dialogue went –

Bailey: Right, we can have our video private, unlisted or public. I’d like to go for unlisted.

Aaron: Public.

Bailey: No, Aaron! That means anyone can see it!

Aaron: Yes, public. Set it to public.

Bailey: Ack. It won’t upload anyway.

Helen approaches at this point, takes the iPad to our friendly IT genuis Stephen and then returns. Helen explains that it should now work.

Aaron: So you can upload it and set it to public.

Bailey: Noooo.

Aaron: But what if someone recognises our fantastic acting skills… etc etc

Bailey: Hmm, true… but nooo, I don’t want randoms in Iceland or somewhere watching me! No! (Disclaimer: it needn’t necessarily be Iceland, anywhere else would equally concern me, I’m not victimising Iceland and its people)

At this point Helen interjects and asks if I would be okay if she shared our video with the class. I am happy with this. She asks if she can share it with other members of staff at the university. I can’t see a problem with this. She then asks if she could share it with other professionals who may not work at the University of Northampton. Once again, I agree. Aaron then retaliates with “Well then it might as well be public!” or something along those lines.

My original argument was that I didn’t want people I didn’t know viewing our video. However, I don’t know Helen’s professional colleagues. Despite this, I do maintain that there is a very significant difference between having our video viewed by teaching professionals, and having it viewed by ANYONE and EVERYONE on YouTube. This unnerves me slightly, I don’t like the vastness of YouTube. But then, someone might argue that if I ended up on a BBC news feature, that will be viewed by millions of people and I probably wouldn’t object to that and how is that different?

I’m starting to think that there is no answer to this debate.

So instead let’s consider my blog, this blog. It is now public, but cannot be indexed by search engines. I don’t know who might be viewing my blog and reading what I have written, yet this doesn’t concern me too greatly. Why? Because my name, address and even photo are not revealed. It’s just me, a random student at the university, rambling on about ICT and stuff. I really couldn’t care who views my blog, I’m actually quite happy for it to be shared. Yet I am in turn aware that this means that people will also be viewing the resources I have made, including my videos! It’s a crazy neverending loop of debate.

But what if it was a class blog? Sharing stories and information about members of your class? Is it ok if that is public? Perhaps parents would have some strong views about this. It’s all worth considering.

I’ve decided to make my thinking slightly more organised by having a list of pros and cons for having my blog and videos public (for the whole wide crazy world to see)

Pros –
1. Publicity. As Aaron argued, you could end up being talent-spotted. Well, what can I say…
2. Sharing information with the world. People could learn things from you, what a treat that would be.
3. Success. If what you post/share is successful and receives lots of positive feedback, it could play a part in helping obtain future jobs. Everyone likes having something to add to their CV!
4. Networking. Linking back to #2, in sharing information you may attract the eyes of other people in your field who may have more exciting ideas and information than you do, which is always useful. Perhaps a class blog could be linked up with another class blog on the other side of the world.
5. Staying up-to-date. Blogs and sharing videos is pretty common in our modern world. It’s good to keep up with what’s hot.

Cons –
1. Publicity. If it’s embarrassing, it’ll inevitably go viral. Do you REALLY want the world to see it?
2. Anyone can see it. Literally anyone, even the people you really wouldn’t want to be viewing. As I said to Aaron earlier, at least people at uni have been CRB checked. I’m thinking extreme stuff here, identity theft and such, but if it was a class blog there are even more concerns.
3. It’s permanent. Now that’s a bit extreme again, but partially true. If you upload a video to YouTube, it stays there until you delete it and even then it might not be gone. If someone else has downloaded it, there’s nothing to stop them from uploading it again.
4. Maintenance. You have to maintain YouTube videos, deleting negative comments and responding to constructive ones, just as with a blog.
5. I couldn’t think of a fifth.

As the quote at the top of this post conveys, it is impossible not to leave small traces of your personal information, no matter what you do. I have bits of personal information left all over the place. Whether it’s just my email address or mobile number, right up to my home address and date of birth. Do I have a problem with this? Not if is a large, trustworthy organisation or for legal purposes…
But even then, is my information really safe? It’s not uncommon to hear about large organisations ‘losing’ large amounts of information, or sending it out publicly by mistake.

So yes, I’d be up for hearing other people’s opinions, feel free to comment… ¬†How do you feel about publicly sharing blogs and videos of yourself?

That’s all for now.

Take it easy ūüôā

 

Bailey.

 

 

 

The wonders of mobile technologies: Part II

So, whereas in last week’s ICT session we were given the¬†opportunity¬†to just ‘have a play’ with the iPads and their range of apps, this week we engaged in a slightly more structured activity that involved us coming up with an idea for using iMovie, or a similar movie-making app, in the classroom.

Before I get to that though, I would like to mention something else we had a look at in today’s session. We actually spent a little bit of time investigating how green screens can be used in the classroom. We used Aaron as our model and placed him against a green background, and then, using GreenScreen Movie FX on the iPad, we transported him to the top of the world. I’ve made it sound considerably more simple than it really was. This iPad app is very basic and the results are definitely not perfect. It is pretty novel though and I’m sure children would enjoy messing about with it – they would probably have more patience than I.

But yes, I’m thinking that this app could be used at the start of a new topic. For instance, say I was looking at the Egyptians with a class, I might record myself on a green screen with a background of the pyramids. That’s just a very unoriginal example, given time I could probably come up with something far more invigorating. Ultimately, I do think this app has some promising potential. You just need a substantial amount of green material that matches one of the three shades that the app allows you to use. Or a room that is painted (both walls and floor) green.

Moving swiftly on and back to our main task… today I worked with the lovely Steph¬†and, well, Aaron. We decided to think slightly outside the box and went down the direction of ART. Yes, art around the University of Northampton. We created 4 minutes and 5 seconds of insightful footage of the campus’s examples of art, both intentional art, such as sculptures, and unintentional art, such as buildings. Our video is aimed at children, hopefully inspiring some kind of creativity. It is our hope that they might feel moved by one of the sculptures or buildings that they see in our video, and that they may create a piece of artwork influenced by one of the pieces. I would probably go as far as to say that we could potentially assist in highlighting a future Claude Monet, or Leonardo Da Vinci purely through inspiring children via the means of our video.

However, there is an alternate side to our video, for not only could it be used as a stimulus but also as an example. Children could use iPads to create a video, not dissimilar to our’s, around their school environment. They could go outdoors, look for art and capture it in a beautiful video. Now, without further ado, I would like to share with you, our video (apologies for the sound quality, blame Apple) –


If we were to do this video again I would make the following improvements:

– Steph should be given a tripod to support the iPad so she doesn’t chop people’s heads off. Or better still, Steph should attend a film-making course prior to the filming of the video to ensure that she has the skills necessary for creating a high quality video.
– I should speak louder (but not as loud as Aaron when he introduces the horse)
– We should have explored more examples of art, in particular the emblem on the front of Holdenby that we couldn’t film because a noisy dustbin lorry pulled up just as we started =(
– We should be provided with refreshments, namely hot chocolate, cookies and strawberries.

Of course, it is important to allow children time at the end of the session to reflect upon and evaluate their work to help them to improve their work.

Overall, I think I engaged well with this session and worked remarkably well with my group.

Thanks for reading, beautiful people.

 

For now, take it easy ūüôā

Bailey.

The wonders of mobile technologies: Part I

Mobile technologies are now a huge part of our lives. Pretty much everyone I know owns a mobile phone (the majority of them are slaves to Apple and have various generations of the iPhone) and, I’ve got to admit, I do tend to feel rather lost without mine. It’s really not that surprising because mobile technology is amazing! It has developed¬†phenomenally¬†over the past decade and the capabilities of our mobile devices are revolutionary.

Now, I’m not just restricting the term ‘mobile technologies’ to mobile phones since the term actually refers to all technology that is used for cellular communication. It can therefore include iPads and some other tablets (don’t ask me which as I’m only really familiar with the iPad), basically any device that can connect to a cellular network provided by a mobile phone operator. Let’s focus on mobile phones for the moment though and I’ll come back to iPads later.

Image used under the creative commons license following an advanced Google search

I really don’t think that I stand alone when I say that this (to the left) was not dissimilar to my first mobile phone. Mine was a simple, faithful, virtually¬†indestructible¬†Nokia 3310. Only mine I had a ‘cool’ case on mine and it played the Max and Paddy theme-tune when it rang in a series of high-pitched, ear-splitting beeps. I actually thought it was awesome at the time and often spent far too long playing Snake. This phone could do simple things, probably the main things one might expect a phone to do; make phone-calls, store contacts and send SMS messages. The games and potential to change the background were bonuses that we all thought were cool at the time.

Nokia may have been rather popular in the days of its 3310 but today, it’s just not quite up there with the likes of Apple and Samsung yet. It might get there and it certainly isn’t a poor company, but it just doesn’t have the same reputation or status. Nokia are due to release their newest smartphone, the Nokia Lumia 920. Apparently it uses PureView technology. I don’t know what this is but they’re making a big deal out of it so it must be good. It has a powerful camera with optical image stabilisation. It can store a large amount of music, videos and photos. And more. Nowadays, it is rare to find a phone that doesn’t have an inbuilt camera. The majority of mobile phones have access to the internet and wifi. They can play MP3 and MP4 music. The Apple iPhone 4s and 5 have a PERSONAL ASSISTANT on them called Siri!! If you’re not impressed, then you have a problem.

 

The iPhone is hugely popular choice of mobile phone. It’s not difficult to see why, Apple is an incredibly successful organisation predominantly because it stays ahead of the competition, it’s always one-step ahead. It creates simple, stylish, user-friendly devices that people want. This article describes what I want to say in far better words.

I personally don’t own an iPhone. I’m still stuck on the BlackBerry train which seems to be getting more sluggish by the day. I plan on getting a new phone but I’m stuck between becoming a slave to Apple or standing out from the crowd ever so slightly (although maybe shooting myself in the foot) and getting a HTC. The problem for me with Apple products is that EVERYONE has them. There’s no individuality. Plus, there’s the danger of becoming obsessed, like these people… waiting for the iPhone 5 which judging by the level of excitement in this video must be not dissimilar to obtaining an Olympic medal:

 

However, the problem with my BlackBerry Storm 9500 is that, whilst it’s modern in some respects, it has many limitations that the majority of smartphones nowadays are miles ahead of.¬†My phone definitely can’t scan barcodes, which leads me to one of the focuses of this week’s ICT session.

I’m quite confident with QR bar/scan codes. I don’t understand the science behind them, I’m not 100% how they work but I know how to make and use them. Basically, a QR code looks like a square bar code. If you scan it using an app on your smartphone or iPad, you are instantly directed to whatever that code leads to. It could be a website, a picture, a video, some music or some other kind of file.

Here’s an example. I made my barcode using this website,¬†scan.me,¬†it’s very user-friendly and fast. It also allows you to view how many times your code has been scanned, which is quite nifty.
So apparently if you scan the barcode below using your smartphone you should be led to my page –

So that’s quite cool.

Moving on, let’s talk about iPads. Even though they’re another member of the Apple empire, I actually really like iPads. Sure, they have their limitations, I think one of their major negatives is the lack of USB port. That’s particularly frustrating. Yet they do have a huge number of positives. They’re practical, portable and very pretty. I could spend hours playing on an iPad and exploring all the apps. If only they weren’t so expensive…

iPads can be particularly useful in the primary classroom because they are so interactive. There are lots of educational apps available, but some of the apps that aren’t specific to education and can be very useful. I haven’t seen iPads used largely in school but I can certainly see their potential. One of my placement schools did have an iPad, but it was only available to a pupil with SEN. Whilst he benefited ¬†from it greatly, I did feel that it would have been more inclusive to allow all of the children the opportunity to use it when appropriate. When researching my dissertation, before taking a slightly different route, I found one article on the Apple website particularly interesting, it discusses an Irish primary school that has succeeded in using an iPad in every subject across the curriculum. I would love to have the opportunity to visit this school to see how they do it!

I would say that I would be mildly concerned about the rather distracting nature of iPads. I might set my class off to work with one app and they might be distracted by a more exciting app such as Angry Birds. I suppose the answer would be to delete all non-educational apps. Furthermore, I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before the novelty wears off. Before children don’t get excited by them and just go, “Oh yeah, iPad… we have that at home. Big deal.” I’m trying to be optimistic though, I’m just creating a balanced argument!

Now, the app we spent time looking at today is not specifically an educational app but it could definitely be used in the classroom. It’s called iMovie and it is fantastic. It allows you to take a series of clips which it will then edit into a movie with transitions. You can add your own music, voiceovers and titles. Alternatively, you can use a trailer template and design your own movie trailer. This kind of app could be used in conjunction with literacy perhaps, to make a trailer for a book the class has been reading. In fact, it could really be used across the curriculum. Children could create a documentary about an area they have been studying in any subject, they could make a virtual tour of their school, an advert for a piece of D&T work, the opportunities are endless. Perhaps one ICT lesson you could just give the children iPads in small groups and tell them to go off and make a film about ANYTHING. Give them some freedom and choice!

That’s what we did today and the results were… well, they were creative. I worked with Laura and Prabjot and we decided to create a tour of the university using iMovie on the iPad. We then uploaded the movie to Facebook and YouTube. We did have the opportunity to add music and voiceovers etc but we decided to leave it in its beautifully natural state.

 

Well I think I’ll leave it at that! I’ve definitely waffled on enough.
My writer’s block appears to have gone. I think it’s because this is an area that interests me and therefore I feel keen to engage.

Thanks for reading.
Take it easy!

Bailey.

 

I-C-Teamwork

So today we spent some more time on Scratch¬†and worked in groups to create a resource that we could ultimately use in the classroom. Our groups were sorted using the free to download teacher’s toolkit¬†Triptico app. I’ve yet to download it but it looks pretty useful and I can see the appeal. I found myself placed with a grand pair of people known as Ben and Chelsey. I was rather pleased with this… Not that I wouldn’t have been pleased if I had been put with any other members of my group but, if I’m totally honest, there’s only so much of Aaron‘s dry sense of humour that you can take in one session and I had already had to sit with him the previous lecture. Definitely used too many hyperlinks in that paragraph.

Now, Chelsey, Ben and I weren’t completely sure at first what to do for our resource. We had a few ideas but they mostly seemed too complicated or over-ambitious or another group were already doing something similar, but in the end Chelsey came up with a fabulously simple idea that we all agreed on straight away. Using Chelsey’s idea, we decided to design a game using Scratch that involved a series of true or false statements appearing on the screen. The player would have to click the correct statement and would consequently earn a point. If they were to click a statement that is false, they would lose a point. Simple.

We didn’t have a project manager as such (since we weren’t on the Apprentice, unfortunately) but instead each member of the group focused on a different task. Ben worked on the mechanics of the game, assisted by Chelsey when needed, Chelsey crafted some true/false statements about our chosen topic whilst I focused on designing a powerpoint presentation to accompany our game. We decided to make the topic of the game relative to the primary curriculum and selected science, in particular, Sc2: Living things and life processes (since we have been doing this in core science anyway!).

We decided that the game could be used at the start of this topic to see what children already know and then by the end of the topic they should be able to construct their own version of the game, using our template, and to create their own statements to test their friends. The powerpoint that I designed earlier today covers in much greater detail what the game entails, its educational value and how it works. You can download it here: Science game presentation .

By the end of the session, we had successfully constructed our game and powerpoint ready to present to the rest of the group. We received some very positive feedback and it was agreed amongst the group that this game could be used for any area of the curriculum. I do think that had we had more time to mess around with Scratch we could have done even more with our game, creating on screen instructions, more statements, levels etc but this really would take a great deal of time and I think our game is already quite sufficient for its purpose.

Anyway, without further ado, here, my friends, is our game:


Sorry this isn’t a longer post, I’m currently suffering from a very severe case of writer’s block.

The next one will be more detailed I hope!

For now, take it easy ūüôā

Bailey.

Starting from Scratch.

I decided to inform my IT-friend, Mace, of this week’s antics in my ICT seminar. Indeed, this week¬†we have spent some time looking at computer programming using a program called Scratch. Scratch itself is a programming language that makes it ‘easy’ (their words, not mine) to create animations, stories, games, music and art. I’ve got to admit that computer programming has never been a real¬†forte¬†of mine, neither have I had any kind of desire to pursue it but apparently children in primary schools today are more than competent at basic computer programming. Since the world more or less revolves around computers and ICT (bit of an exaggeration, but it’s not totally outrageous), it’s becoming more and more important that children have these skills. The majority of careers nowadays demand some kind of computer use, even it’s just sending the occasional email. If one is to pursue a career in ICT then the programming route is one of the golden areas.

Image obtained from the official ‘Scratch’ website.

Scratch is basic and clearly has limitations, you probably wouldn’t catch Bill Gates using it, but it is ideal for amateurs. Most primary schools have it on their computer systems and it is free to download. Now when I first saw Scratch running, I’m not going to lie, I felt slightly daunted. There I was thinking that I was pretty confident at most areas of ICT and then all of a sudden this bizarre and complex program is thrown before me and I am told that 10 year olds can work it. Great. However, fortunately, the people who made Scratch are very kind and provide confused users ‘Scratch Cards’ and guides¬†to help you get started with their wild program.

So when I opened Scratch I was presented with a cat, various boxes, a grey canvas and lots and lots of controls. I might as well have been thrown into the pilot’s seat of an aeroplane. Fortunately I now understand the very very basic controls. After following a guide, I actually did succeed in creating a game which you can see below. However I currently would not say that I feel super confident with Scratch. I think it would require a bit more time, perhaps a day or so, and a cup of tea.

If I was to teach this I think you would have to allow a considerable amount of time and I would have my class working in pairs, so they can share their ideas and one child can read the guide while the other controls the computer and vice versa. It’s definitely a program that would be used with upper Key Stage 2 as opposed to Key Stage 1. Due to my lack of confidence with the program, and children’s phenomenal abilities to figure out how to use programs on their own I think I would give very little teaching input unless I felt that my class really needed it. I would actually just give each pair a guide and ask them to follow it, which might seem lazy but it’s how I learnt the basics of this program and often children get bored of watching their teacher clumsily perform tasks on the computer that they think they can already do. But yes, I would really need to know exactly where my class are at with their ICT skills before teaching this area.
I found this clip on the TED website particularly intriguing. It is presented by a 12 year old child who has independently created several iPhone apps. Not only is he very engaging speaker (I felt more engaged by him than I have by many lecturers over the past three years!) but he is also a fantastic example of just how competent children today are with ICT, and how much they can achieve.
This is my game that I developed during the seminar. I followed the guide word-for-word but then made a wizard to act as the pointer. It’s certainly not the highest quality of games but nevertheless: Witches!¬†And here’s a screenshot:
I would also like to share with you this game that I discovered on the Scratch website because I feel that I can relate to it quite well.
That’s all for today.
Take it easy ūüôā
Bailey.

E-safety: It’s not just for children.

Now I know that in my last post I said that the focus of this post would be cyber-bullying, but I changed my mind. And I apologise for that.
Basically, earlier today I was thinking about the poster I made for the ICT assignment last year and then that thought led to this blog and those thoughts combined and made me think, well now, what’s the point in re-inventing the wheel and looking into a whole new topic when I already have an existing topic that is particularly hot right now?

So the focus today shall be:

Image obtained from the official Facebook website.

It’s a big picture because Facebook is, well, big.

The first ICT seminar looked at e-safety, that is internet safety, which is very important of course. It is crucial that we teach children to protect themselves both in reality and online. However, it is also important to consider our own e-safety as adults, and particularly as teachers. I’m not just talking about making sure we have up to date anti-virus software (although this is important as pop-ups can be both annoying and highly inappropriate at times, especially if they appear during a lesson on the whiteboard), but we should also be aware of our online presence.

For instance, a friend of mine recently asked me why my twitter picture is all blurry. I explained that I wanted to remain mildly anonymous on twitter for fear of  jeopardising future job opportunities with my tweets since it is important to remember that everything you post on twitter is public. You never know how people might get the wrong impression or judge you. I generally try to keep my tweets neutral and inoffensive but you never know. It would not be outrageous for a potential employer (not just in the teaching profession) to check out your twitter account.

I could probably write a dissertation on e-safety for both trainee and qualified teachers but as I said, my focus will be Facebook. I’d like to start by sharing this rather powerful video. I think it’s a nice little intro to this topic.


So if you sat through that you’re probably thinking, wow. Although scarily those statistics are now somewhat outdated and are probably even more terrifying. I know one new Facebook user who can be added to those stats; my Nan opened a Facebook account a couple of months ago and is now rather addicted and avidly stalks my account.

Clearly, Facebook is one of the most popular social tools on the internet. It’s actually a fantastic way to keep in touch with friends and family across the world. However, it does have a dark side. We’ve all read and seen the horror stories; ‘Primary school teachers resign after insults about pupils’, ‘Primary school teacher rants about parents on Facebook’, ‘Teacher fired over Facebook status’.

We’re all entitled to our private lives but it is so important to make sure that your private life is not being made public. Even so, as a teacher, it is¬†essential to really think before posting on social networking sites. As a general rule, don’t be tempted to talk about pupils, parents or even colleagues on Facebook. You never know who might be reading, or who might pass it on. Facebook is notorious for changing its privacy settings without telling us, but sometimes you need to consider the friends you have on Facebook. Do you¬†really know all of them? What about friends of those friends who might read things you have posted on their wall? What if a friend of that friend has a friend with a child at your school?

It’s certainly not in Facebook’s interest to get its¬†members into trouble, so it does provide guidelines for increasing your¬†privacy settings. It also provides this¬†guide¬†which is aimed at educators on Facebook. It isn’t entirely relevant for primary school teachers, but it provides some guidance on protecting your own identity on the site.

Children under the age of 13 shouldn’t actually be on Facebook, but of course it wouldn’t be particularly rare for a child to bend the rules and make up an age. They may try to search for their teacher. Nosey parents are also likely to try and find their child’s teacher on Facebook. Teachers are hugely advised NOT to add parents or pupils on Facebook. Some teachers are even wary¬†of adding their colleagues as friends.

It is possible to change your privacy settings so that you won’t appear when searched for, but you are not protected in this way if someone tries to search for your profile on one of your friend’s friend lists. Therefore it is advisable to ensure that you have an appropriate profile picture. Give some thought to how it might be interpreted. If it’s just you and a friend sat together at a restaurant smiling, that’s fine, if it’s you half-naked and surrounded by empty bottles of vodka in your room after a night out, maybe think again.

When searching around for advice for teachers about the use of Facebook, I came across this really useful and up to date guide (since Facebook are always changing their privacy settings).

Of course some teachers may disregard Facebook completely and just delete it. I think this is rather radical. I use Facebook to keep in touch with friends who live too far away to stay in contact with easily, especially those who live overseas. I think that like anything, as long as you use it sensibly and with some degree of common sense and intelligence then it shouldn’t become a problem.

 

Ultimately I’d say these are three golden¬†rules to remember –

1) Don’t add pupils or parents as friends on Facebook.
2) Think before you post; never share or discuss anything about pupils, friends or colleagues.
3) Ensure your privacy settings are at their highest and check them regularly.

 

That’s all, I feel like I’ve written an actual essay.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and find the information I’ve provided mildly useful.
So for now, take it easy ūüôā

 

Bailey.

 

I see tea?

No, no, ICT. As in Information and Communication Technology!

And that’s what this blog is all about. This post in particular is about my experience of ICT, how I feel about it and where I’m at. Or thereabouts.

I think I can label myself as ‘IT-savvy’. I type with both hands, I don’t have to look at the keyboard or even at the screen when typing (typed without looking at the keyboard or screen), I can perform disk cleanups, defragments and back ups, I generally know the basic parts of a computer/laptop, and I am quite competent at solving most simple computer-based problems (turn it off and on again). I have grown up with technology. My family have had a household computer since I was very young and I was always keen to learn how to use it, mostly for games but also for typing up stories that I had written and, later on, making PowerPoint presentations for fun. Because geek is chic.

I use a laptop, almost every day, predominantly for using social networking sites such as Facebook, but also to find information, read the news, watch television or to check the weather. I own a fair amount of technology including a laptop, BlackBerry, iPod, digital bridge camera and an old-school GameBoy colour. I’m quite comfortable with using iPads and tablets too.

For the past two years I had to construct an e-portfolio for uni, which is now being replaced by this blog. I was quite proud of my e-portfolio, I invested a lot of time into making it look visually attractive in addition to engaging well with the commentaries and reflections for each session. I’m particularly pleased with the opening sequence to my portfolio, which was constructed entirely through PowerPoint and actually didn’t take that long to make. Here’s a relatively low-quality clip of it –

As a teacher, I wouldn’t say that I’m particularly reliant on technology, but neither do I have ICT-phobia in lessons. I’m not one of those teachers who reads off a basically-constructed PowerPoint presentation or who only uses an interactive whiteboard for watching video clips. I will admit, I don’t like using technology for an observation because I get so worried that it will fail on me and end up constructing a back up lesson.

In my most recent placement with a Year 4 class I used the interactive whiteboard (IWB) more than I ever have when teaching and feel a great deal more confident.¬†I used it particularly when teaching numeracy to make the lesson more interactive and exciting. For example I helped support children’s understanding of ratio by using the infinite cloning tool to help children visualise what we were discussing. I also made use of ICT in Literacy lessons following the Shirley Clarke assessment strategies suggested to me by my mentor. This involved photographing a child’s work, uploading it to the computer, displaying it on the IWB and then discussing it with them and highlighting particularly effective words or sentences. We would decide things that were good about the piece of writing, and areas on which the writer could improve. The children would then peer-assess their own work and continue. I found that this worked far more effectively than simply reading out a piece of work, or waiting until I, as the teacher, came to marking the work.

In other placements I have made use of ¬†digital cameras, video cameras and flipcams in my lessons. For instance, I worked with a Year 6 class in my first year and they made film trailers for the book Kensuke’s Kingdom that we were working on by recording their own footage independently and assembling it using Windows Movie Maker and music that they had brought in from home. This was a lot of fun to do and the finished trailers were of excellent quality. The children were very competent with using the video cameras and Windows Movie Maker so the actual teaching input was dedicated more to the features of a movie trailer, and the generating of ideas and the planning process.

Ooh, I’d also like to recommend this site that was recommended to us last year which was created by a former student of UoN. It’s called the Literacy Shed¬†and has some brilliant resources that can be used on the IWB to inspire discussion and writing.

In regards to actual ICT specific lessons although I do not have a great deal of experience I generally feel quite confident with this area. I taught ICT to both the Year 3 and Year 4 classes on my last placement. I do feel that I need to spend more time on programming, as this is not currently a strength. I also feel that this year I need to refresh my memory of educational software and programs that may be used in school since obviously I’m not using them on a daily basis.

I’m feeling quite comfortable with the idea of maintaining this blog, and I think it would be a fantastic idea to set up a class blog when I have my own class, providing it is run carefully. I’m also an amateur and lazy member of twitter. I say amateur because I’m not 100% sure of how to use it to its full potential and lazy because I often can’t be bothered to scroll through all of the tweets from the one hundred and something people/organisations that I follow! I’m actually following a great deal of educational organisations and news accounts that help me keep up to date with current issues along with providing interesting teaching resources.

But yes, overall. ICT-savvy? Yes. Prepared to learn more? Absolutely.

That’s all for now. Watch this space for the low-down on the topic of cyber-bullying the role of Facebook. I changed my mind.

So for now, take it easy ūüôā

Bailey

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