Friday, November 23rd, 2012

My Vision Statement

We live in a world that is increasingly dependent on technology. Mobile phones, computers, iPads, online banking, the internet and many more. Children are in a unique position…they were born into this technological world. Children, of schooling age, have been brought up in a society focussed around the advances of technology, so does it equip them to be experts in the field? In my experience, i’m not so sure. Some children will have access to many forms of technology and will bring their knowledge into the classroom, whereas others will have limited access and will feel under confident when it comes to using ICT. I find teaching ICT fairly challenging because of the above issue. There will be those children who understand exactly what to do, who want to get started straight away and will finish first, producing an outstanding piece of work. But then there’ll be the children who will not understand how to open the programme, who will become disengaged because they ‘don’t get it’ and will have only written the title at the end of the lesson. A challenge? I think so.

The new Draft Curriculum by Naace (2012) outlines the future of ICT teaching with the focus being on 5 specific areas: Digital Literacy, Skills, Technology in the World, Technical Understanding and Safe and Responsible Use. It’s nice to see that children will now be learning about the role of ICT in their lives and the impact that it has had on the world, but most importantly, it’s good to see that there is still a focus on keeping safe, both online and offline. It’s vital that in this ‘technology boom’ that children are reminded about how to stay safe, particularly when using the internet and this is covered in the ‘safe and responsible use’ section of the framework.

This brings me onto my next topic: Social Media. Social networking is useful but as i’ve highlighted in a previous post it can be a very dangerous place to be. Children especially need to be aware of what they say on do on the internet, but regarding schools, it’s not just the children that need to be wary. In May of this year and article appeared on the BBC Newsbeat website about a teacher who was forced out of teaching due to cyberbullying. This teacher had been subject to abuse from her students via Twitter and Facebook and was forced to leave her job and became physically ill and on medication. So, do we teachers need to be associated with social media? Is it worth it? Personally, i’m no longer on Facebook, I found it a waste of time and wanted to make sure that I was rid of it before I got my first teaching job.

Below is a very powerful video about the dangers of cyberbullying and how that it can affect people’s lives. It was created by Childnet, a charity devoted to “help make the internet a great and safe place for children”.


So, how can ICT specifically be used in schools to support children’s development?

My last placement was in a special school, teaching a Key Stage 1 class. There were 10 children in my class, of which 80% of them regularly used technology  to help them communicate. Without these pieces of equipment the chance to communicate with those children would have been poor which would have significantly hampered their learning. Within special schools, Information COMMUNICATIONS Technology is essential and in some cases it has been the difference in allowing children the ability to communicate with their teachers but more importantly their families.

Within mainstream schools ICT is used in a slightly different way but a way that is equally necessary. Most classrooms will be equipped with an interactive whiteboard, will have access to computers and laptops, will have a digital camera and other pieces of technology. Meadows (2010) explains that teachers use ICT to produces resources and the organise their planning. With access to these resources, teacher’s will be able to plan more efficiently to suit all children’s learning styles. The use of ICT across the curriculum is another strength of the new ICT framework Naace (2012) and I believe that ICT can be used in every subject.

PE: video analysis, dance projects etc. – When teaching I used a video camera to film my pupils rehearsing their dance routine. This routine had been developed during the course of the half term and was eventually performed to the whole school. As a class we watched back the footage and talked about the positives and the areas that we could improve upon. It was a really valuable resource to have. Dimitriadi et al (2006, p.146) state that by using digital video to make a group video, it ‘offered the children opportunities to work in role, engage in real-time situations’ and that it is ‘an example of multimedia opportunities offered by the availability of more inexpensive and easy to use digital cameras, camcorders and video editing software’.

English: Used video cameras to film the children presenting a news item about the plague that started in Eyam. We also produced a newspaper article detailing the ‘breaking news’.

Maths: beebots with a reception class to enhance their directional language, computer programmes designed to support children, in mathematics, with special needs.

The list goes on and so do the opportunities to use ICT within the primary classroom.

So my thoughts on ICT in schools? Well I think the range of opportunities to use ICT is immense and it can be used to support and develop children in their learning. If used correctly and effectively then children most certainly develop in their learning. My only worry is that with the increase in technology, children may start to loosing the skills that are essential to life: speaking, listening, reading and writing. If the emphasis is on developing all of these skills and using ICT to supplement them, then I think that the children of today will be looking forward to a bright future.

Aaron

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/17956218

Dimitriadi, Y. and Hodson, P. and Ludhra, G. (2006) Emphasising the ‘c’ in ICT: speaking, listening and communication. In: Jones, D. and Hodson, P. (eds.) Unlocking speaking and listening. London: David fulton. pp.146-161.

Meadows, J. (2010) E-learning. In: Arthur, J. and Cremin, T. (eds.) Learning to Teach in the Primary School. 2nd ed. London: Routledge. pp. 402-411.

http://www.naace.co.uk/naacecurriculum

 

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

QR codes.

Hello.

“QR codes. Come again??

Oh you mean Quick Response codes, those weird little boxes with black and white patterns on that are used so that those people lucky enough to have smart phones can lazily scan them and be directed to another page usually a form of advertising but the viewer hasn’t quite worked that out yet?

Yeah, I know nothing about them.”

That was me. I don’t have a smart phone, even though I think my phone’s pretty smart, I can’t scan anything and i’m not really that bothered about them.

In fact they are quite useful and I can see that they’d but useful to use in schools. Basically using an ‘app’, one can scan these boxes and will be redirected to a site/page with information on. For example:

 Use in schools?

So as previously mentioned, having enough devices, iPads or iPods, to use within the classroom is fairly hard and I haven’t in fact been to a school and seen this type of technology. But if you did then by creating your own QR code, you could direct children to a site or a page in which they have to answer a question or something like that. You could send them on a QR code treasure hunt. This could be used at the start or the end of a topic to se what the children may already know or to consolidate their knowledge.

 

It’s amazing what you can do with technology these days. Back in my day, all we had was Microsoft 98 and I tell you what, the pixels on that beast of a machine were, shall we say, large.

 

Short but sweet, I hope.

Thanks.

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

iPads – breaking all the grammatical rules.

So,

In relation to the title…who do apple think they are, bursting onto the scene, naming all their ‘toys’ iThis and iThat? iMean how do you expect children to learn about where capital letters are needed if they’re bombarded with ‘advertisers license’? Oh well. Their ‘toys’ are pretty pretty though iGuess.

As you might have guessed, i’m going to talk about iPads. If you haven’t seen one before then you’ve either been stuck in a hole for the past 5 or so years, or you’re over the age of…let’s say…60? Apologies to all those 60+ iPad users out there, if indeed there are any, if not then my wild statement is in fact true. They’re flat pieces of glass that move around when you touch it with your finger. I should take up advertising.

We used the iPads in one of our university sessions on ‘the wonders of mobile technology’. The aim was to have a play/explore of the ‘apps’ that are found on the iPads, both free ‘apps’ and bought ‘apps’. Although it was tempting to waste the lesson away turning my face into 80’s rock goth and making it laugh (ask me if you’re that interested), we looked at how these ‘apps’ could be used in an educational setting to enhance learning. Firstly, we briefly looked at the ‘green screen’ technology and in fact I was privileged enough to be the model (not the last time I hope) and to be transported to virtual space (I had a great time, thanks for asking). This could be used to start a topic or maybe to end a topic…what was it like in Egypt? How big were the pyramids? Who did you meet? I don’t want you all to actually respond to these questions, they’re what you call rhetorical.

We then moved onto how to make a video resource that could be used in the classroom. We had the option of creating a movie trailer or some other type of video. We used iMovie to create it and create it we did. iMovie is a simple to use, effectively piece of filming software. It’s can be bought for the iPod, iPad, Macs etc and is a brilliant resource to use in the classroom. Below is an example of something you could produce (up to you) using iMovie.

We decided to produce an informative video showing the art that is all around the university. Emma and Steph (briefly) both helped me in our quest to find art, both intended and unintended, in all parts of the university.

With children it’d be great to produce a video as they love them and it could really enhance their understanding of a topic. They could maybe produce a film about their topic that they have studied and use it to present to the whole school. It also provides an assessment basis for the teacher. What have the children learnt? Enjoyed? Enthused about? etc (again don’t answer them, I mean you can but…do what you like. Okay?).

I’m a keen photographer (check out my flickr page if you’d like to?) but have never really tried my hand at filming. I really enjoyed making the film and think that if we’d had more time then we could have produced something even more professional (I know it would have been hard).

To sum up…iAm a convert to using iPads. Really useful tool to have at schools and the children would love them.

Problems though:

a) Cost – they cost a lot and to have enough so that all children can access one (even in groups) will cost a small fortune and if someone drops one…I don’t even want to talk about that.

b) Distracting – children like things that move and that you can touch. You’d need to be extra specially wary of the children, making sure they stay on task at all times.

c) Time – teacher needs time to accustom themselves with one/the apps. Children may need extra time to get used to using them which could mean an extra lesson just on ‘how to use the iPads’.

But all things considered…get them, use them and enjoy them. iCertainly have.

 

#iCheers

 

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

The long awaited projects.

Hello.

After my last post about the wonders of scratch, I though i’d share with you some of the ACTUAL projects that I/other team mates had created. It would be a great idea to create a game/animation that supplemented the topic that a class were studying. For example i’ve seen games relating to the environment that were created because that was the classes topic. Children love games and why would you want to miss this opportunity to allow your children to create a fun, yet educational game or animation.

Mine, however, wasn’t so educational and was not related to a topic that I was studying at the time. “Children, we’re starting our new topic today, it’s all about…weird, swirling, singing snowmen, and here’s an animation to get us excited”. I doubt that will ever happen, but here it is anyway. My scratch project numero uno:

Learn more about this project

 

As you can probably tell, the above animation isn’t the most exciting thing you’ve probably ever seen. Pardon the vocals also, I usually sound like a mix between Frank Sinatra and Nina Simone, I promise you. So moving on to the next marvel to come before your excitable eyes. This time we worked in groups (thank goodness for that) to produce an animation that could be used with children. We (Angela and Laura)  decided to create a variation of the simple bat and ball game that i’m sure many of you have played in your time.

We decided to base our new project on ‘space’. We chose this topic as it’s a topic that is often studies over a term or half term and we thought that the children could, during their ICT lessons, create a game to go alongside this topic, to supplement it. It was fairly simple to create and it’s extremely simple to play. It’s a case of stopping the aliens hit the side, although nothing happens if they do, using the arrow keys. We then showed our expertise by adding sound, a background, more than one sprite (the alien creatures) and many more wonderful things. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it, but most of all I hope you will use scratch with your class.

 

Learn more about this project

Cheers and that.

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Are you itching to try scratch?

Computing or Computer Programming  is a subject that often has many stereotypes associated with it. I often thought that those people who were ‘into it’, sat on their own, memorising code all day, doing things that I didn’t even think were possible on a computer. Although this may still be true, computing is not as complicated as it seems.

My only previous experience of ‘computing’ is that of programming beebots, creating a series of instructions that would inform the direction that the bee moved in. This is something that I have in fact taught to children in year 1. It was part of a mathematics lesson on direction.

There are a number of computer programs that are designed for children to introduce them to this subject. Kodu is an example of a computer programmer and is described as ‘a visual programming language made specifically for creating games…designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone’.

The programme that was focussed on during our session was Scratch. It can be downloaded here. The program allows children to develop their creativity whilst learning new computing skills. Below is a screenshot of the start-up page when you first open scratch. As you can see, the interface is simple and easy to use. On the left of the screenshot, there are commands that you use to create your game/programme and if you select the help option, then boxes will appear to guide you through your programming experience.

 

It is important to note that children will need at least a half term to create a project using scratch. As simple as it is to use, I found it quite tricky having never used a computer programming programme before. The teacher would also have to have at least some experience using it so that he/she can help the children when they, will inevitably, get stuck.

I know i’ve only scratced the surface of this topic, but I do hope you’ve found it interesting and informative.

Thanks,

Me.

 

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Check these out…

I thought that it would be helpful to pop a couple of links up, specifically related to e-safety. It’s vital that teacher’s have the resources available to be able to effectively teach internet safety. It’s a subject that cannot be ‘swept under the carpet’ as it has potentially serious consequences if not dealt with properly.

Kidsmart is a website that is dedicated to the teaching of ‘e-safety’. It has a lot of very useful information regarding keeping safe. It covers the dangers of the internet, how to search safely, digital footprints and how to stay safe when chatting. But the overriding message that is conveyed is encapsulated in an acronym: SMART. Below is the poster that has been produced by Kidsmart.

SMART Poster

 

Another website that is excellent to offer assistance in the protection of children, is the CEOP’s (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) thinkuknow site. This site offers a range of advice to children of all ages and also offers anyone the opportunity to contact them if they feel uneasy about anyone they’re chatting to online. It also offers information for parents/carers and teachers to use with their children.

These two websites are a fantastic resource to have to use both at home and at school. It’s such an important subject and one that needs to be taken very seriously. Hopefully this helped alert you to a couple of resources that I have found particularly useful. Please do all you can to keep your children and yourselves safe when using the internet.

Thanks.

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Staying safe an’ that.

Yo,

Would you rather have a computer but no fingers? or fingers but no computer? It’s a tricky one.

So, moving on, apparently there’s this thing called the internet? and more surprisingly, apparently i’m using it? What happened to books and pen and paper and the like – surely those were the days?

I’ve just been informed that there is such a thing called the internet and that my task is to explain something called ‘e-safety or internet safety’. What I haven’t told you is that I do actually know a little bit about it and in fact I was just putting on ‘digital facade’.

So without any further (much) ado (about nothing) – a nice little cross curricular link  (Shakespeare) – i’ll crack on with my task of trying to say something sensible.

Right then: Internet Safety.

The internet has certainly changed the lives of everyone, since its explosion into the world in the 1990’s. It is undoubtedly a terrific resource for teachers and children as many ideas, plans and resources are readily available to use. But with the positives must come the negatives.

Of course, as we all know, there are many dangers associated with the internet. It’s very easy to access a wide range of inappropriate material, whether that is a website or a single image. There is also the issue of privacy; how much personal information do you share online? This has become a particular concern with the recent rise in people using social networking sites. And then related to privacy, is the issue of ‘cyber-bullying’. Although this isn’t something that happens during school hours, I believe that it is essential for the teachers to explain to their pupils, how to behave on the internet at home and not just at school. It is the duty of the parents to protect their children from the dangers of the internet and if this is confirmed by the school, then children are more likely to take note and listen.

There are a number of ways in which ‘e-safety’ can be taught. I have seen it being taught by the head-teacher to the whole school in assembly and also by a teaching assistant to a small group of children. Often classrooms will have a poster on internet safety which is useful only if it is eluded to often, by the teacher. You can’t expect primary school children to go and ponder over it and make notes in their own time. This is something that needs to be addressed regularly, especially before children embark on an ICT related project.

A great way of teaching this to children is by coming up with a set of class rules regarding safety online.

An example of a set of class rules on ‘e-safety’.

 

So hopefully this blog post has been interesting, informative, insightful and many more words beginning with ‘i’. Remember to stay safe online.

Comments gratefully recieved.

#cheers

 

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Welcome

Hello and welcome to my blog on all things ICT.

Let me know what you think.

Au revoir for now.

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