Vision Statement – What should ICT look like in the future?

With the national curriculum being currently revised by the coalition Government, the question: What should be included in the ICT national curriculum? is being discussed by educationalists and teachers all over the country. With today’s technology, children are growing up with a natural ability to pick up a piece of technology and know the basics to use it within minutes. In fact, AVG (2010) claims that children are able to complete basic computer skills before they learn basic life skills. Therefore, mouse control and hand-eye co-ordination are not key skills that need to be learnt by a majority of children anymore once they are in primary school.

 

Kennington and Meaton (2009) writes children have more confidence with technology than we realise, even in Early Years children. The draft Programme of Study appears to represent this as the aims include children being able to write and use “algorithms, data representation, and communication protocols.” (DfE, 2012, p1). These skills can be considered “specialist skills” (Kennewell et al, 2000) as they are skills that professionals would be expected to use. Due to these skills being of a higher level at a much younger age, teachers feel less confident about teaching ICT in the classroom because of a lack of knowledge themselves (Kennington and Meaton, 2009).

Another aim stated in the draft Programme of Study is that children can

critically evaluate and apply information technology (including new or unfamiliar technologies) confidently, responsibly, collaboratively and effectively to solve problems and work creatively.”

(DfE, 2012, p.1)

This is in reference to children having an understanding of digital literacy. West (2012) writes that most learners go into higher education with the inability to cross over their knowledge of technology into other areas and this lack of digital literacy can affect them in 90% of jobs. Therefore, it is our job as primary school teachers to instil confidence with technology to the children at a young age. This also implies that cross-curricular activities are important as being able to apply a skill in an ICT setting and then being able to apply the same skill into a different subject may be a hard concept for children to accomplish. Digital literacy is now a section in the curriculum which children are expected to develop in order to let them use ICT creatively and critically for the purpose that they want. This ability to use ICT independently is what teachers hope will happen, as this will prepare them for adult life.

 

A part of digital literacy is that children need to be critical and evaluate the tools that they are using which includes online and offline tools. E-safety is a major issue within primary schools as even if unsuitable websites are blocked, eventually children will come across inappropriate websites and children need to be aware how to deal with them appropriately. Similarly, children need to be taught how to deal with cyberbullying appropriately. Websites such as thinkuknow can train teachers and offer activities to children in order to teach about how different situations on the internet and how they can be dealt with. When using this website with Year 3 children, they were easily able to identify issues and many could use terms such as ‘attachment’ (considered specialist terminology). This implies that the current local authority programme is not aimed at children’s actual knowledge and this could result in children being disengaged during lessons and cause disruption in their learning.

In schools, ICT tends to be utilised in other areas of the curriculum as opportunities are in abundance. So many teachers take advantage of the opportunities because children can develop one skill while still developing an ICT skill. However, in order to gain the best from this children need to be aware how to use the technology that is helping them so much technology on a daily basis and many children can act as ‘experts’ in the class for those who are less confident. Based on ideas collected by teachers via a forum, this video was set up to inform teachers on simple ways to incorporate ICT on a daily basis.


Harris and Kington (2002) also writes to explain the impact of using ICT on a regular basis can have. In a primary school they provided Year 6 children with constant access to a computer, used writing for meaningful purposes (e-mail) and gave access to Challenge 2000. Results showed many improvements including, but not limited to, “increased ability to work independently (p.ii), “Increased confidence, self-esteem and self-discipline” (p.iii) and “increased ICT skills”(p.iii). All of these are parts of the aims of the new draft Programme of Study, which suggests that they are recognising the values that consistent access to ICT has.

Therefore, the national curriculum needs to concentrate on the specialist skills for example, computer programming rather than basic computer skills, for example how to turn the computer on. If children are extended in their ability to use computers in this way then their application into the wider world when they are adults is endless. However, children should be given many more opportunities to engage with computers in a meaningful way (not to play games on the internet) in order to experience the positive consequences.

 

Reference List

Kennington, L. and Meaton, J (2009) Integrating ICT into the Early Years curriculum. In: Price, H. The really useful book of ICT in the Early Years. Abingdon: Routledge.

Kennewell, S., Parkinson, J. and Tanner, H. (2000) Developing the ICT Capable School. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

 

 

Floor Turtles

An aspect of ICT, which planned on being covered in sessions but couldn’t be due to lack of time was control technology including floor turtles.

I have used floor turtles on most of my placements and they can prove to have many problems for teachers in the classroom but many children love to experiment and play with them. They come in many shapes and sizes including; Beebot, PIP and Roamer.

 

 

 

 

 

Both of the above have been used on placement.

Beebots (Normally used in Early Years and Key Stage 1)

I used Beebots in my 1b placements with Reception and a few Year 1’s. My mentor and I arranged it that the children will guide the Beebot around a map that I they had made previously. However, the children this very difficult as they had no real concept of measurement and how far the Beebot was moving each time. We tried several ways of explaining how far the Beebot was moving but still the children could not estimate or evaluate their answers. This was still rather early in my teaching practice and my knowledge on effective questioning was still very limited.

Therefore, in the future I would make sure that the squares on the floor mat match up to 1 movement of the Beebot to make sure the children can see it easier and evaluate their ideas better.

http://www.tts-group.co.uk/shops/tts/Range/Bee-Bot/92b201eb-0c85-4e38-a297-35932cbc56b6?pagesize=-1 – This website offers products but gives you an idea about how many accessories are available for the Beebots.

 

Roamer (Normally used in Key Stage 2)

We used roamers with a Year 1 and 2 group during placement 2b. This was used on my last placement with a partner. Luckily, she had taught floor technology before as well so we joined our ideas together and created free-flow activities which the children could pick and choose. However, we came across some major problems.

1) The school had very limited supply of floor turtles. There was 2 in the school and they had no batteries. This meant that there was frantic finding of batteries during the lunchtime.

2) The children had had no input into how to use floor turtles on the computer. The software that was on offer was also unsuitable for this age group because it used angles, which the children were not aware of.

The lesson was not a complete disaster but there were definite issues that were difficult to avoid due to a lack of resourcing on the schools behalf. This can be an issue with all areas of ICT. If topics are not correctly resourced then they can be difficult to use.

http://www.valiant-technology.com/us/pages/roamer_yourprojects.php?cat=1id3 – A website that explains what the robot is, has a page where teachers share their activities and a photo gallery.

 

P.S – When teaching using floor turtles – check the batteries the night before!

Movie Trailers

After missing last lesson I was unsure what programmes were being used and their effectiveness. We decided to do a movie trailer. This would be incorporated into a literacy lesson. Our particular trailer was a new James Bond movie. However, the idea originally came because on placement a lesson in a medium-term plan I was provided required the children to design a poster for their class book. The idea of creating an actual trailer seems much more appealing.

The library was really busy so we decided that we did not want to sit in the school experience section and play with puppets while creating a storybook trailer. The new film ‘Skyfall’ has just been released and gave us the idea of a James Bond spoof.

Not sure this is what Shane looked like.

We used the iPad software ‘imovie’. I found this a glitchy software, which was difficult to use. It also required a lot of video in order to make an effective trailer. If used with children it would be necessary to do storyboards and have some planning behind what they wanted to include in their trailer otherwise the freedom might cause confusion and problems.

Overall, I did not feel that our trailer was a complete success because it’s confusing. This is mainly due to the lack of video that we had and the trailer had to finished in order to work properly. Also, the programme was limited in the length of time that each video could be and this could be frustrating for the children. However, it produces a professional outcome that children will be proud of.

Scratch Resource

We decided to focus on learning and progressing in computer programming skills.  We would use this activity with lower Key Stage 2 children but it could easily be extended for older children or those who are accomplished programmers or as they progress with the programming over a series of lessons.

Children would be given the simple bat and ball game, which already has all of the script written for them.

Activity

Children are then to create their own theme for the bat and ball game.   They could choose their themes. We’ve chosen aliens, but it could be anything from cars to unicorns!  Depending on the children’s experience, we would ask the children, for example, to change the sprites, add sounds, and add a background.Our group have demonstrated possible outcomes of this activity with the space bat and ball game (see “Resources“).

We would ask them to prepare their games to be used with Key Stage 1 children so that they had an audience in mind.  The KS1 children could use the games as a stimulus for writing stories, poetry, drama, role-plays etc. These would then be shown and played by the KS1 children who could provide an evaluation for the children, giving it a purpose and the “assessment” not coming from the teacher.

Scratch

We had the opportunity to play with Scratch. Myself and another trainee teacher created a code where an alien dives into a swimming pool.

It’s a relatively difficult programme to create something worthwhile, especially for children, but with the right amount of scaffolding and with the right activities to complete, children are able to gain a sense of programming and develop the ability to problem solve.

 

We drew our sprites to give it a personal touch. These were our aliens.

Some activities we completed included;

  • Can you create this code?
  • Can you adapt this code to make it to do something different?
  • Can you use this game to make a different theme?

Scratch can encourage effective talk and is great for children to work in pairs. From my own experience, it is important to make sure that children take turns when completing the tasks and this can be done by the children assigning themselves roles. Also, 2 children (3 max.) is probably the best number to have as only one person can click at each time and other children might become disengaged.

At the end of the code the alien dives into the pool and a splash covers it up.

ICT and E-Safety

Everyone knows that e-safety is an important aspect that needs to be taught to children but through talking to children (and from my own experience) it isn’t always being taught in the best way.

When talking to Year 7 students during the transition period they expressed their views that the first topic covered was E-safety, which included making posters. They all said that although they understood it was an important topic that the information was always the same and that it was always taught in the same way via making posters.

It is our job, as teachers, to make sure that our pupils do not come out of our classes saying the same thing. We want them to have learnt something new and have learnt it in a new, inspiring and interactive way. How can we do this?

Internet safety is often taught as a topic. However, is this entirely necessary? Internet safety is something that needs to be thought about and adhered to whenever the children go onto the computer. This means that e-safety needs to be incorporated into every lesson. Through small activities, reminders before the children write an email or having information in the room. Also, children need to have the opportunity to put this into practice on a regular basis either through natural use of e-mail or VLE’s.

 

Blogs

This is the first blog that I have written myself and it was a new element of technology that I have had to experiment with in order to use effectively. The blog programme being used is Edublogs and is the subscribed version; which offers extra features to the free one. Edublogs is relatively simple to use, however the tuition from the lecturer proved to very helpful in being able to navigate the website. The most important tools include creating a new post, the dashboard and adding media and links.

I think that blogs are something that would be difficult to do with children, however I have seen a VLE where blogs are posted about school activities and their homework was posted and the children were able to comment and discuss with one another. It was really effective and kept children feeling involved with all decisions and other children in the school.

I would be happy to experiment with using blogs with children when I am teaching and think that children could have a section where they experiment with posting blogs and commenting about each other’s work as and when it fits into topics that the children are covering.