Session 5: Visits and Visitors in RE

To begin this session we looked at a recent game that is taking the world by storm as it is readily available on all Androidand iOS devices; Flappy Bird. The key objective of this starter was to produce Sudo Code to decode the game, for example, when you tap the screen, the bird flies higher. Although the objective is simple, it proved to be quite difficult when considering all of the different aspects going on at the same time. I feel that a starter like this could be extremely useful within a classroom, as it will ensure the children are prepared for the task in hand, and are also building up their skills gradually in order to be able to program something at a later date.

 

We also then looked at an Angry Birds game created by the Hour of Code producers; it provided a contrast to the first activity as it was the reverse actions taking place – we were coding a character to make it move. I also feel that this could be extremely useful when used in schools, as it provides the basic skills but leaves room for the development of skills. This activity also has the same basic principles as Scratch allowing for consistency within learning.

The Hour of Code is a resource which can be used as an encouragement when beginning their computing course. By completing the levels in the games provided, you are eventually provided with a certificate to say you have completed the Hour of Code. It will give children a boost and ensure they are interested in the journey they are about to embark on. Children are beginning to learn how to code in a fun and engaging way.

Session 4: Computing in KS1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leBEFaVHllE

Whilst watching this video during the lecture it became apparent the difficulty that comes with teaching and learning about algorithms in computing.  I think that this video could be used to both engage and inform children about the difficulties that come with and the precision required to use algorithms effectively in lesson.  This video is a fine example of the misconceptions and errors that can be made and is something that can easily be replicated by the class teacher.  Whilst the age group of this particular clip is aimed at KS2 children, it can easily be adapted to accommodate learning in KS1.  To conclude this video would be an excellent lesson starter when looking at the stages behind designing, running and then debugging programmes.

This session was focused on the differences between ‘plugged’ and ‘unplugged’ learning within the computing pages of the curriculum.  Unplugged learning in computing is learning about the subject without the use of a computer and so plugged learning is learning done through use of a computer.  An example of unplugged learning would be using floor robots to work on programming simple instructions using a set of arrows in order to make the robot move.

‘Once children are familiar with the idea that they can control a vehicle using simple instructions, they then need to link the instructions into a sequence’ (Ager, 2003, 85).  The use of floor robots can be used to link computing with maths through using language such as “turn the robot 90 degrees to the right”.  This unplugged computing can be placed into a real life context through the example of traffic lights being operated by sensors in the ground.  It is important to place computing in a real life context as sometimes children and adults can become disillusioned by the lack of knowledge about how computers operate within the community and consequently can become unmotivated to develop their knowledge of the subject.

During this session I worked with Hannah and Hayley from my group to create a game that could be used within the classroom.  We focused on using Beebots, as these can be used in the majority of KS1 classrooms.  We were given the task of creating an activity based around healthy eating, something which is very prominent in the news and in the new curriculum.  The game revolved around children programming the Beebots to choose different ingredients to create a healthy meal.

  • The game is played on a grid on the floor where children must instruct the robot to land on a specified square.  This can be made easier or harder by placing obstacles on the grid that the children must navigate around.
  • Once the children make it to the correct square they will be asked to choose an ingredient to create a healthy meal.  They then will be asked a healthy eating question to move onto the next square.  If they answer the question correctly they will be given coordinates to move onto the next square and the process begins again.  If however the children answer the question incorrectly then they will have to return to the start of the game.

This game can be easily differentiated by making the questions easier/harder and also by making the coordinates and the route the children must make the Beebot take easier/harder.  Through giving the children a greater ownership of their learning participation and engagement is likely to be increased.

As mentioned in the opening paragraphs unplugged learning can then be followed by plugged learning.  There are a variety of programmes that work on a similar level to the game that we created.  An example of an online resource that can be used to consolidate learning is Roamer.  Other resources include:

  • 2Simple Software
  • 2DIY
  • Imagine Logo
  • Terry the Turtle (Screen Robot)

Apps that can be used on the iPad include:

  • Daisy the Dinosaur
  • Monster Physics
  • Move the Turtle

Session 3 ICT Outside of the Classroom and Mobile Technologies

Mobile technologies and the use of computing outdoors provide a unique opportunity for linking computing with learning outside of the classroom.  Today’s session examined a variety of resources which are suited to extending learning outside of the classroom.

The resources that are available are such things as handheld GPS devices, video cameras and digital cameras.  A great way of using GPS devices outside of the classroom is for activities such as creating a treasure hunt with the use of coordinates.  Through using coordinates and creating a route you are making links between maths, geography and computing.  Through allowing children to create their own treasure hunts you are giving them ownership of their learning and so they are likely to be more engaged with the activity.

A similar use of computing outside of the classroom was made evident when we used QR codes to perform an orienteering based task in a PE lecture.  This requires having a QR reader on your phone, however these can be downloaded for free.  Each QR code contains a clue to go and find the next code and so on.  This can be an innovative way of linking PE with any subject through computing.  For example each QR code could contain an answer to a question, as well as a clue regarding how to find the next QR code.  Then at the end of the session the teacher could ask questions relating to the answers found beneath the codes and the children will be required to think logically to match each question with what they believe to be the correct answer.

There are numerous ways that technology can be used outside the classroom.  The Creative Star Learning Company incorporates many interesting and useful blogs from experienced teachers.  These blogs contain information on how ICT can be used for activities such as outdoor sketches, studying mini beasts and taking photo’s for a geographical study.  This website can be found at this address: http://creativestarlearning.co.uk/blog/

Other examples of apps that can be used for such things as viewing the earth and its relationships to other planets and the sun include Google Earth, SkyORB and SoHO.  These apps link directly to learning about space and the universe and in a few days I will be using these apps to teach students about the earth’s relationship to the moon and why the moon appears to be different shapes in the sky. Screenshots of the apps?

To conclude it is clear that computing outside of the classroom has very few drawbacks, obviously the use of cameras will need to be monitored as children’s safety is of paramount importance.  However the benefits outweigh the risks and I believe that computing should be used more and more to develop learning outside of the classroom.

Session 2 Images and Animation

In todays session we experimented with animation in small groups using software called MonkeyJam.  At first we were unsure of what to do, however when I was in my early teens me and my friend used to make animations using similar software to MonkeyJam before we had to go swimming.  The process involved taking props, we used lego men, and making them move by altering their position ever so slightly and taking pictures.  I believe we took around 800 images for our 42 seconds of animation.  Although it was worth it because its definitely worthy of an Oscar, or a BAFTA at least.

The synopsis of our animation is that of a man who loses his hair.  This is then found by a character known as the ‘Odd Policeman’, and the two men battle it out for the hair.  I’m afraid you will have to watch the clip at the bottom of the post to find out who wins.  I must warn you it contains graphic images, despite this I feel we have created an action master class and a Hollywood style fight sequence that Quentin Tarantino would be proud of.

I believe that this software could be very effective in schools for getting children involved in such things as telling stories, or creative thinking with regards to storytelling.  Another possible use for this software is for the children to create visual aids which can be saved and then later used as revision tools.  For example certain aspects of Mathematics, or Science.  The lesson would have to be an extended session due to the fact that the process of taking the pictures takes up a large amount of time, and for this reason I believe it should only be used in upper KS2, for instance in Years 5 or 6.

Here is my MonkeyJam animation:

http://youtu.be/Ch3lUO2A2mc

 

 

Computing National Curriculum content covered within this session:

Key Stage One:

Use technology purposefully to create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content.

Key Stage Two:

Select, use and combine a variety of software (including internet services) on a range of digital devices to accomplish given goals, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information.

Use search technologies effectively, appreciate how results are selected and ranked, and be discerning in evaluating digital content.

It is important to have a back up plan as most animation software/applications rely heavily on the internet, and if the connection is weak or there is a technical issue then the lesson will be affected.  It is also critical that children are taught to search for images and videos correctly as e-safety and the Data Protection Act are issues that appear regularly in the news and so children must be made aware.

 

 

Session 3 Computing – Mobile Technology and ICT Outdoors

Mobile technologies and the use of computing outdoors provide a unique opportunity for linking computing with learning outside of the classroom.  Today’s session examined a variety of resources which are suited to extending learning outside of the classroom.

The resources that are available are such things as handheld GPS devices, video cameras and digital cameras.  A great way of using GPS devices outside of the classroom is for activities such as creating a treasure hunt with the use of coordinates.  Through using coordinates and creating a route you are making links between maths, geography and computing.  Through allowing children to create their own treasure hunts you are giving them ownership of their learning and so they are likely to be more engaged with the activity.

A similar use of computing outside of the classroom was made evident when we used QR codes to perform an orienteering based task in a PE lecture.  This requires having a QR reader on your phone, however these can be downloaded for free.  Each QR code contains a clue to go and find the next code and so on.  This can be an innovative way of linking PE with any subject through computing.  For example each QR code could contain an answer to a question, as well as a clue regarding how to find the next QR code.  Then at the end of the session the teacher could ask questions relating to the answers found beneath the codes and the children will be required to think logically to match each question with what they believe to be the correct answer.

There are numerous ways that technology can be used outside the classroom.  The Creative Star Learning Company incorporates many interesting and useful blogs from experienced teachers.  These blogs contain information on how ICT can be used for activities such as outdoor sketches, studying mini beasts and taking photo’s for a geographical study.  This website can be found at this address: http://creativestarlearning.co.uk/blog/

Other examples of apps that can be used for such things as viewing the earth and its relationships to other planets and the sun include Google Earth, SkyORB and SoHO.  These apps link directly to learning about space and the universe and in a few days I will be using these apps to teach students about the earth’s relationship to the moon and why the moon appears to be different shapes in the sky. Screenshots of the apps?

To conclude it is clear that computing outside of the classroom has very few drawbacks, obviously the use of cameras will need to be monitored as children’s safety is of paramount importance.  However the benefits outweigh the risks and I believe that computing should be used more and more to develop learning outside of the classroom.

 

 

Session 1 Manipulating Media

Today’s session involved us looking at how different forms of media can be used within the classroom to aid teaching and further pupil learning.

Media can be displayed in a variety of forms such as, videos, pictures, text, websites and magazines.  Media in any of these forms is a valuable resource in the class room and can be used in almost every subject, thus hitting the curriculum aim of integrating computing into every lesson.  Media can also be manipulated to allow children to create their own images, videos and e-books through a range of different applications and programmes.

Today I looked at how media can be used to extend learning within a PE lesson.  Today I focused on using the app ­­­­­”FIND APP” .  There are a variety of apps and programmes available for children to manipulate images.  For instance Pic Collage can be used to display photographs in a slightly more aesthetically pleasing manner than simply copying and pasting them into a word document, something which many children are more than adept at doing.  Pic Collage can be used in art lessons to display famous photographs by people such as David Bailey or David Hockney.

Windows Movie Maker is perhaps the best known programme with regards to editing/rendering videos.  It is simple and effective and usually comes as standard with any Windows package.  iMovie is another programme that can be downloaded on Apple products and is effective for use in schools as the layout of the interface is very self explanatory and therefore is ideal for children.  There are other programmes such as Videoscribe which enables children to create videos by manipulating images, text and sound.

With regards to manipulating text, Popplet is a very useful app that creates mind maps.  This can be used in all areas of the curriculum and can allow children to display their ideas in an organised manner.  This is also a useful tool for teachers to use to organise thoughts and ideas so that they can plan lessons and order their ideas systematically. Below is an example of a Popplet I created displaying the benefits and drawbacks with regards to using media in the classroom: MAKE POPPLET

Another app which was available to use within this session was the Green Screen app.  Whilst I was intrigued as to what this app was capable of, a small group had already said that they would be using it.  However from speaking to them afterwards and reading other comments from other blogs it is clear that this is an application that requires time to understand its full capabilities.  “Although, the prospect of this app was exciting at first, we soon came to realise how difficult it was to use without having any training before.”  This is something which has been taken from Hannah Straw’s blog which can be viewed at http://mypad.northampton.ac.uk/hannahstraw/2013/11/12/hello-world/.

To conclude, apps such as Pic Collage and Popplet are fine examples of how manipulating media apps can be used within the classroom in a variety of different subjects.  Other apps such as Aurasma also received positive feedback.  This is an app that can be used productively in an Early Years setting as well as in the later Key Stages.  It is an app that can be used to scan images and a spoken definition or explanation is displayed.  Children can use this when creating a display, if children from other classes come in and are unsure about a word on the display for example, then Aurasma can be used to scan the image and provide an auditory explanation.  This gives children a greater control over their learning and subsequently learning is proven to become more focused and knowledge can be retained.