Vision Statement of the Draft ICT Programme of Study

 

‘ICT is not only the future of our childrens’ education it is the present; and we need to make the investment in ICT now!’

Walter Lockhart

Technology is rapidly changing and progressively becomes a more important factor in today’s society. Therefore, the future of Information Communication Technology (ICT) within schools is uncertain due to this progressive development (Potter & Darbyshire, 2005). It is inevitable that the upcoming ICT technologies have implications on school and education. Therefore, education is faced with the challenge of updating and reflecting upon what ICT skills need to be taught in the classroom, as it is not uncommon for children to enter statutory schooling with profound capabilities. However, this challenge should be embraced by primary schools because when ICT is used effectively it can improve education in many ways.

The Programmes of Study were developed in 1999, when computer access was relatively limited. In fact, technology such as iPhones, Wikipedia and Facebook were unheard of. Therefore, with the rapid increase in children’s knowledge and capabilities with technology, it is imperative the Department of Education re-evaluate the primary framework. Looking at the ICT Programme of Study and the new draft curriculum, it is nice to see that the teaching of ICT is changing to reflect the society we now live in. The purpose of the draft Programme of Study is to offer children a high-quality ICT education. It will teach them how to understand the world around them through computational thinking and provides a sense of empowerment in using digital technology. 

A society in where technology has been changing the way students view and interact with the world (Santos, 2011). The framework highlights the importance of children being exposed to a vast range of technologies within the classroom. It highlighted three key areas that the education of ICT should include:

  • Digital Literacy
  • Information technology
  • Computer science

The playful, purposeful experimentation with technology that fosters understanding is something which can be modelled by teachers rather than taught. Therefore, it is important that teachers, and to some extent children, have a secure understanding of these terms and what the terms entail. Moreover, as a trainee nearing the end of my course, it is essential that I have a clear understanding of what these changes mean for ICT teaching and how to integrate them in the curriculum.

Digital Literacy (DL) focuses on the ability to access, use, and express oneself using digital technology, including a critical understanding of technology’s impact on the individual and society (Naace, 2012). The single most important digital literacy skill is the ability to find
information on the Internet. Primary school children should be taught how to use search engines effectively. In fact children who cannot locate information on the internet are, in many ways, functionally illiterate. However, simply being able to locate information on the internet is not enough; student must be taught the skill to be able to critique and evaluate the risk of the online material.

A final, important part of digital literacy involves writing for a digital audience. Digital writing does not simply mean using a keyboard instead of paper. Instead, children should be taught how to use hyperlinks and basic HTML tags to enhance their online writing. When writing in an interactive online space, such as a blog children need to be taught how to engage the reader and pose questions. Schools have always had the goal of developing literate, productive, empowered citizens who can lead their country into the next generation. Today, simple teaching students to read, write, and understand basic mathematics is not enough to accomplish this goal, children must be digital literate as well.

Information Technology (IT) covers the use and application of digital systems to develop technological solutions purposefully and creatively (Naace, 2012).

Computer science (CS) is the subject discipline that explains how computer systems work, how they are designed and programmed, and the fundamental principles of information and computation (Naace, 2012). If Computer Science should be taught at school we must answer the question “just what is Computer Science, viewed as a school subject?” Computer Science is deeply concerned with how computers and computer systems work, and how they are designed and programmed. Another dimension of the revised curriculum is computing itself, including an introduction to the craft, art and science of programming.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/mar/31/why-kids-should-be-taught-code

Starting in primary school, children from all backgrounds and every part of the UK should have the opportunity to: learn some of the key ideas of computer science; understand computational thinking; learn to program; and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of excellence in these activities (Naughton, 2012).

Toolkits like scratch make it easy for pupils to create scripted animations and their own interactive games. Google’s App Inventor provides a similar ‘building block’ approach for developing mobile phone apps.

Look at the following articles about computer science:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-16493929

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/jul/10/digital-literacy-roundtable

Now we have seen what computer science involves do you think children should be taught programming as part of their school day?

Take a look at the article below which is a poll to whether children in the UK should be taught programming:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/poll/2012/sep/05/estonia-students-learn-to-code

So to see a Programme of Study of ICT that reflects this, offers me hope as a teacher.

The use of computers in education can provide better learning results and it can be made adaptive to the individual learner. Most importantly ICT is fun and develops skills such as collaboration, critical evaluation, planning and organisation.

Education is faced with the challenge to incorporate computers and communication discretely and within other subjects across the curriculum. There has been much debate and a vast amount of research into whether ICT should be taught as a separate subject, or whether it should be embedded within other areas of the curriculum. The answer is that ICT should be taught as a discrete discipline and used within other areas of the curriculum. Discretely teaching ICT allows children to develop the ICT skills and embed the technology, into other areas of the curriculum allows children to test the technology for a range of purposes and audiences, collaboratively and individually (Condie et al, 2007).

Overall, ICT is important educationally. It requires logical thinking and precision. It encourages innovation, collaboration, and resourcefulness: pupils apply underlying principles to understand real world systems, and to create purposeful artefacts. This combination of principle of principles, practice, and invention makes ICT an intensively creative subject, suffused with excitement, both visceral and intellectual. A firm foundation in ICT provides pupils with the knowledge and skills to contribute to the digital economy.

 

Will we break the cycle as teachers to teach a relevant and sophisticated ICT curriculum?

 

 

References

Santos, A.N.E. (2011) Blogs as learning space: creating text of talks. Contemporary issues in Educational Research. 4(6), 15-19.

Potter, F., and Darbyshire, C. (2005). Understanding and teaching the ICT National Curriculum. London: David Fulton Publishers.

Condie, R., Munroe, B., Seagraves, L. and Kenesson, S. (2007) The Impact of ICT in Schools: A landscape review. Coventry: Becta.

Potter, F., and Darbyshire, C. (2005). Understanding and Teaching the ICt National Curriculum. London:David Fulton Publishers.

Converted to blogging!

As you would have noticed by the common theme of my blogs I am not great with technology. Therefore, the thought of completing an assignment that involved adding tags, widgets, categories etc really frightened me! However, I now feel (fairly) confident with the logistics of blogs. However, even up to the point of finishing my blog I occassionally struggled with uploading images/ videos etc. In fact I don’t think I would even have a blog with writting on, let alone images, videos, widgets and even a wordle if it wasn’t for Nicola-Kate Henderson and Jenny Blackburn, who have answered my qeustions and on many of occasion just taken control of my computer and done it for me!! So… a massive thank you to you two!! In fact, you may have noticed but I have even managed to tag you two into this post! Aren’t you proud?

Although I have found this assignment tricky, I have really enjoyed it and am definately a converted blogger and even a converted tweeter!

So watch this space I may be blogging for a long time yet…

Imovie… Wow I’m youtube famous!

Last session I enjoyed playing with the apps on the ipad as you would know if you had read my last blog (which I hope you did). But this week I had even more fun… My partner I was due to work with wasn’t in so I joined with the lovely Ben and Toni and knew I was in for a right laugh! Both Toni and I didn’t have a chance to use imovie in the previous lesson, so Ben kindly let us make a movie. Ben had used imovie the week before, so gave us a very quick overview of the app. We looked at the different genres available and almost immediately chose ‘fairytale’. Although we are all budding teachers we could only think of one fairytale from start to finish, so had no choice than to do ‘The Little Red Riding hood’. Except we are professional s and we only had access to a blue coat so changed the name to the ‘The Little Blue Riding Hood’ (how original?). So… Anyway we sat there for no more than 2minutes and we had decided what we were doing and our coats were on. Then all the fun and filming began… take a look at our video and our fantastic acting skills!

The app can be used with children both in Key Stage 1 and 2, as a group we decided that Key Stage 1 children would be able to use the app with support to develop their literacy skills, in particular speaking and listening, drama and group work rather than discrete ICT skills. However, the majority of Key Stage 2 children would be able to use the app (once guided) independently. Nevertheless not all children will be able to use the app independently (although I am basing this theory on my experience). When we were filming, both Toni and I commented that we were glad we had Ben in our group. Ben has used the software the week before and without making his head expand even more he was quite the expert. Therefore, we all agreed that it was really helpful having an ‘expert’ in the group.

Using this app in the classroom will engage, motivate and stimulate ICT skills, I recommend anyone with an ipad to get purchasing its only £2.99 that’s nothing!

If our fantastic acting skills haven’t convinced you take a look at the video of Key Stage 1 children using iMovie.

Morfo Booth… Is it just a laugh or a teaching resource?

I don’t think I have ever laughed soo much at University, until today’s ICT lesson. Nicola-Kate and I, downloaded Morfo booth onto my ipad. We weren’t too sure what to do so we began by taking a photo of Nicola, and then pushing a variety of buttons, which turned Nicola into an animated (crazy) rock star. After getting funny looks off everyone in the class, we started to discuss how this app could be used effectively in the classroom… and we struggled! We are meant to be inspiring, full of ideas training teachers yet we couldn’t think of anything.

Have a look at the crazy rockstar herself:

So… when I got home I researched (well just googled actually) how to use Morfo in the classroom. I was pleased to see so many suggestions and was even more shocked to see it could be used in mathematics; however it tended to be with older children in secondary school to teach Pythagoras theorem. But… even so using an app like Morfo to teach maths still shocks me!

Anyway… I realised that Morfo Booth can be used to engage children, across the whole curriculum. In particular a fantastic idea is to use it as part of an English lesson to enhance story time, to animate characters and emotions more vividly (making children feel even more part of the story).

Take a look at the link below to see how you can use Morfo in the Early Years to bring stories to life. Spend 5minutes looking… It’s fantastic!

Morfo in the Early Years

Quick response Codes…Ohhh (QR codes)… I have learnt something new already!

As mobile learning and technology is more readily integrated into school classrooms, QR codes are one of many new revelations being used to inspire and engage children across the whole curriculum. QR codes, are simple, scannable images; by scanning a QR code through a mobile device, information can be accessed… How amazing is that? I thought barcodes in the supermarket were clever, this however is a revolution.

In the classroom, QR codes can be used in many different ways- from conducting treasure hunts to quizzes (and everything in between). In fact, during today’s session I had a go at completing a maths sheet of QR codes and it bought to life a few simple maths questions (which every teacher wants to be able to do). Newton-Conover City Schools (NCCS) are currently in their second year of an ipad pilot in schools and this is what they quoted this week in their blog. “The kids love the mystery about what the problem is going to say and are excited about working it out”.

Below is a QR code linking you to an article that gives teaching ideas:

Scratch cont…The Aliens turn out to be friendly!

The aim of today’s session was to use Scratch to create a resource that can be used in the classroom, sounds easy doesn’t it?  My group originally consisted of Megan and I, however we found out we had inherited the wonderful Nicola-Kate. We sat down to think what resource we could make and I immediately thought of a fantastic, original idea (or so I thought). My idea was based on a previous Science lesson about habitats. So I thought hey, why don’t we do a resource about habitats (no-one will think of that)? It turned out that half the class had the same wonderful, unique idea.

Nevertheless, we were still really proud of our resource. We decided that we were going to do a habitat of ‘under the sea’. This choice wasn’t a philosophical decision, it was because there was a pre made template of the sea… but it turned out we didn’t like it and designed our own. Well Megan designed it and a great job she did. I tried to join in on the designing process and tried to draw coral, which turned out to look like an upside down lobster, so that as you will see unfortunately did not make the final cut.  The game was actually not too difficult to make, once we had designed the scene and placed our animals into the game (again there was no specific reason to choosing most of the animals, it was purely based on whether we liked the look of them). We chose 4 animals that do not live in the under the sea and 4 that do. The aim of the game was for children to click on the animals that do not live under the sea and they disappeared! Also if a child clicked on an animal that does live under the sea then it wouldn’t disappear, to avoid misconceptions. Once we had added the… oh so cool bubble sounds, the game was complete!

Believe it or not, the hardest part of this lesson was deciding what to call our resource. Every suggestion just made the game seem really laborious. In fact the only way we even began to come up with suggestions was for some strange reason… to sing under water songs. Thats when we came up with the suggestion of “Who lives under the sea?” (The Spongebob Squarepants theme tune, I’m sure every knows it).

Soo… as I have said it’s a fabulous resource but how and who can you use it with? Well infact, it can be used with either Key Stage 1 or 2 children. In a Key Stage 1 classroom, we decided it could be used as a starter or plenary when teaching habitats. It would be an ideal resource to put on to the interactive whiteboard, to encourage discussion and engage children at the beginning or end of a topic on habitats. Key Stage 2 children would be able to use the resource as a template to create their own game using a different habitat. The children would be able to see the programming and copy it, applying the programming to their theme. Furthermore, it would be fantastic for Key Stage 2 children to make the resources, applying computer programming skills and then they can show it to children in Key Stage 1. Aren’t we great,  we really did think of everything!!

Check out ur research and see What you think for yourself?

http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/MLJacob/2838532

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Triptico…

I have had the internet for years and in fact had an ipad for 3 months and been downloading apps just for fun… yet I was amazed by the app Triptico. It is an app that contains over twenty interactive, fully-customisable resources to use in the classroom (or at home because some are great fun). And it’s completely FREE! Today Helen used Triptico to put us into groups ready for next session; and it was a fascinating 10 seconds while the whole class sat waiting for their doom (only kidding). I really do think this would be a great program to use to group/partner children, as its fun and engaging and more importantly it means there is no squabbling.

 

 

Computer Programming: Aliens might as well have landed!

Today’s session was on computer programming (two words I feared). Computing is a controversial debate amongst educationalists, so although it may scare me… it is an important aspect of the ICT curriculum and fun and engaging for children.

We were introduced to a program called scratch. It is a program popular within schools; probably because it is free to download. Only kidding, it has many great features!! It is designed to make simple (not the words I would use) animations, games, stories, music and art. It also can be used as a forum, where children can upload their creations and share them with everyone, encouraging collaborative work. When I opened Scratch my anxiety levels began to rise, however I was pleasantly surprised (not saying I am suddenly an expert but I could manage the basics). Well actually you can be the judge of that, below is my first game I designed, which as you may have noticed is just a screen shot as I could even work out how to save it (not that it was worth saving). It was just a slightly dodgy animated picture rather than a game. In order to create my animation/game I followed the ‘scratch guides’, which I am, sure, are easy to follow but not for a technophobe (often called this by friends).

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Although, I struggled (massively) with Scratch I could see what an amazing program it would be for children, so I took it upon myself to download scratch at home and try to actually attempt to make a game this time. It was important for me to explore the program more and try out different buttons and listen to every sound available (which was probably inappropriate considering I was in the library). I know have a new not so improved game but an actual game none the less. However, I now feel a lot more confident with the basics on scratch and definitely understand the importance of giving children (and adults in my case) time to explore and understand the controls of the game. Time, although precious in the primary curriculum is essential for promoting scratch, children would need at least 10-12 weeks to complete a project. I think scratch can be used with both Key Stage 1 and 2, however I think the level of support would be very different.  In fact, I definitely cannot wait to teach Scratch or an alternative free (very important when you are a teacher) computing program and may even attempt using it next placement (not a promise).

Take a look at my second game, its slightly better, but not much:

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I learnt it in Year 1 so I must be safe now!

The internet is an incredible tool; it allows us to be lazy but pro active all at the same time. So… Why go to a busy supermarket when you can have someone deliver? Why traipse around the shops finding that perfect pair of shoes, when you can choose them with a click of a button. Why make a phone call when you can instant message (Okay that is a bit unsociable but you get the idea). In 2010 over a billion people were using the internet globally. In fact, most people in the 21st Century could not face life without the ‘net’.

So the internet is fantastic isn’t it but is it dangerous too?  Should we be putting our bank details online to order food, should we be messaging people private information online. Dangers are everywhere, yet we turn the cheek to the dangers online. You wouldn’t wear a t-shirt in the street advertising your address… would you? So why would you advertise these details freely online? All of the above can be perfectly safe, as long as we are aware and educated about the dangers that are present. As a teacher it is vital we are educated on internet safety so children can explore the rich resources of the internet risk free.

In today’s session we discussed internet safety and we all agreed that e-safety can be taught in and outside of school and it’s both the parents and teacher’s jobs to make sure that the importance of internet safety is embedded into children. Another common theme within the discussion was that e-safety can be a dull subject to teach and learn if you let it! Children often learn e-safety year on year. So… it is the schools and teachers job to make sure that they find invigorating ways to inspire children to continue learning about being safe online. It is simply not enough to tell children to be safe online it needs to be explored through games, videos, examples, quizzes and plain old information. Amongst the online shopping and social network sites there are fantastic websites available to both adults and children on ‘how to stay safe online’. A great website is called thinkuknow, it offers training to parents, teachers and children on how to keep themselves and others protected.  In fact, teachers definitely haven’t got an excuse not to teach fantastically exciting e-safety lessons, as the website offers a vast amount of engaging lesson plans for teachers to use with children of all ages. Kidsmart is another great resource; it appears to be aimed for older children. As it tackles the important rules of keeping yourself and others safe when using mobile phones, file sharing and social networking.

On a final note…Sometimes schools and parents can replace teaching children of the dangers of the internet and put a filtering system in place instead. Filtering systems are a fantastic tool for removing the risk of children accessing websites, pictures and information that is in appropriate. Hector’s World Safety Button is a free download to help protect children while they are on the computer. A Hector’s World character will swim in the top right hand corner of the computer screen, if chidren access something that makes them confused and scared then you can click on Hector or one of his friends to cover the screen. However, what about if a child using a computer at an uncle’s house that does not have such filtering systems? Will the child know what to do? Or will they just be putting themselves at risk. As stated by Teach Primary, we should inform children about filtering systems and explain how they work in protecting you whilst on the computer. It should be made clear to children that not all computers have filtering systems and highlight the importance of always staying safe online. Relying solely on a filtering system as a form of internet safety is dangerous. You have been warned!!