Before I go………..

So you thought you’d seen the last of me? Think again! Before I sign off, I just wanted to share a website I found a while ago that I think will be extremely useful to me in the future. I was first introduced to Teaching Ideas by a Facebook friend, who is also a teacher, who follows their Facebook page and suggest I do the same. Teaching Ideas offers loads of free resources through their website,but also puts you in touch with over 35,000 colleagues who also follow their Facebook page. I think this is invaluable as it allows you to ask questions of more experienced teachers whenever you feel the need. It also enables the sharing of ideas in an open forum, along with general ‘teacher chat’ if you so wish. It was through this page that I read about a fantastic blogger called Simon Haughton. Simon offers lots of free ideas to teach ICT to children, along with downloadable resources, sites for children and an educational app! His site is well worth a look!!

Well that’s it from me! See you next year!!!

 

Session 8: E-Safety and Using the Internet as a Resource

This session focused on e-safety and the use of resources originating from the internet. We began by talking about what we thought should be contained in a set of ‘blogging rules’ and my partner, Frankie, and I came up with the following:

-Never give out personal details

-Use appropriate language

-Do not use photographs without permission

Afterwards we took a look at a real-life set of blogging rules from Bridgewater school, which included the rules that we came up with plus many more, for example:

-Don’t be rude or horrible about anyone or anyone’s work

-Only use your first name

It’s imperative that all schools who encourage their pupils to blog have a set of rules such as these in order to protect themselves and those around them from the dangers that could crop up as a result of internet usage, both at school and at home. Just take a look at these interesting facts I found on the Medlar with Wesham CofE Primary School website:

  • 76% of children have internet access at home
  • 56% have access in their bedroom (31% have a webcam on their computer)
  • 22% use MSN (3-200 friends)
  • 40% have friends they don’t know
  • 47% have a smart phone
  • 22% have received a ‘nasty message’

We owe it to our children to ensure they are aware of the importance of e-safety and as a result are using the internet responsibly. A website that is actively promoted at my children’s school is CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) which offers a wealth of information and guidence about how to keep our children safe online.

We also discussed in this session the use of resources from the internet, particularly photographs, and the fact that we must have permission from the owner of the resource before we use it in our own work. We must make sure that we, and the children in our classrooms, only use creative commons photographs that people are happy to share, and even then we must accredit the material to the originating source.

As this was our final ICT session, we spent the remaining time tidying up our blogs and preparing them for submission. I learned how to insert a Cluster Map into my blog which is fab (even though I currently only have two visitors, one of which is me)!!

In my first post, Hello World!, I expressed my nervousness about sharing my thoughts with the world through my blog and described my, very limited, past experience of ICT. Boy have I come a long way since then! I have learnt so much about what is available for use in the classroom and have an abundance of resources under my belt to ensure that I can use ICT in an effective, engaging manner, in many different cross-curricular settings, not just in ICT lessons. And not only that, I feel I can do so confidently!!!!

 

Session 7: Games Based Learning and Computing cont…….

Session 7 was a continuation of session 6, once again looking at games based learning and computing. Having made our ‘Whack a Witch’ game using Scratch in session 6, we were introduced to another free download – Kodu. This is very similar to Scratch in that it uses visuals instead of code, but I found it SO much easier to use!It is as simple as instructing your character to ‘do’ something ‘when’ something happens using pictorial tiles.

We found a great youtube tutorial which showed us step by step how to create a simple apple collecting game. There are also tutorials available on the Kodu website which would allow the more able children in the class to develop themselves further. Once we’d become confident with the basics of Kudo and our basic game was created, we were able to customise it a little by changing colours and adding more features.

The aim of our game is to eat all the apples whilst avoiding the rocks. We also added gold coins to collect, which score extra points, for more variety. Our game uses the keyboard move the Kodu around the board, but all Kodu games can also be programmed to be played on an Xbox, which I’m sure children will love! Why don’t you try it? Just click on the image below…..

I really like Kodu as I feel it is far more user-friendly for the lesser computer-literate children in the class, while still providing options for the more able children to challenge themselves, thus lending itself very well to differentiation. There are also potential cross-curricular links that could be explored, for example our apple collecting game can be linked to healthy eating, as the apples are providing the Kodu with healthy snacks. The 3D appearance of the Kodu worlds (as opposed to the 2D appearance of Scratch) could also be linked to Literacy, encouraging creative writing linked to the fantasy worlds the children have created for their games.

The only negative thing I have to say about Kodu is the fact that the games cannot be embedded into a blog and have to be linked instead, whereas Scratch has this facility. A very small niggle compared to the great benefits this program has to offer!

While browsing in preparation for session 7 I came across the Computer Science Unplugged website, which offers free activities that teach Computer Science through games and puzzles, using cards, string, crayons and lots of running around – with not a computer in sight! One of the activities I looked at was called Colour by Numbers, which explores how images are displayed, based on the pixel as a building block. Another activity, called Ice Roads, explores techniques for finding efficient networks between points, and has the children running around outside. What a fabulous idea!These activities are multisensory and cater for many different learning styles, and the opportunities for cross-curricular links are endless. Who would have thought that Computer Science and PE could be incorporated into the one lesson!

 

 

 

Session 6: Games Based Learning and Computing

Copyright ‘Sheri’ and licensed for reuse under a CC by 2.0 Licence

I  found today’s session both enjoyable and frustrating! We began by revisiting the new Draft Programs of Study and looking at what children will be expected to learn throughout each of the Key Stages. The emphasis is well and truly on Computer Science, with children as young as Key Stage 1 being taught about algorithms and simple computer programming, which then becomes more complex in Key Stage 2. As a result of this, future teachers will be at an advantage if they are themselves confident with programming.

The session was spent looking at Scratch, a free visual programming language that encourages children to think computationally by allowing them to create their own games. I must say I found it fascinating! You forget that behind even the simplest of computer programmes lies a complex web of instructions, or ‘scripts’ that are essential for making it work.

Scratch allows you create ‘scripts’ using backgrounds, sprites, music and sounds, making sequences of instructions to define the game. We were asked to create our own game using Scratch and I chose to create a simple game called ‘Whack a Witch’, which is very similar to ‘Whack a Mole’ but you have to click on the witches to make them disappear. The instructions were easy to follow and I followed them down to the letter but I just COULD NOT make it work! There was a general problem with Java in the classroom so maybe it was that, but I ended up giving up and returning to my game when I got home this evening. I installed Scratch on my laptop, followed the instructions again and it worked perfectly! I customised my witches by changing their size, speed and colour, and even managed to insert a ‘special’ speedy ghost character that commanded 10 points if whacked!!!

I really enjoyed creating my game but would never be able to create something from scratch without instructions. To be honest, I think children would need a lot of support and scaffolding in order to get to the level where they were programming independently, and I would definitely have to become a lot more proficient in programming myself before attempting to teach it. On saying that, the idea of the ‘Code Club’ is a fantastic one. Teachers and computer-literate parents run Code Club after-school at their local primary school or community centre and children attend once a week to learn the basics of coding. The aim is to have a Code Club in 25% of primary schools in the UK by the end of 2015. I think I need a few sessions myself!

I’m really looking forward to telling you all about our second games based learning session next week, in which we’ll be looking at other ways of using games within the classroom. While you’re waiting, why don’t you have a go at ‘Whack a Witch’!!

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Session 5: Data, Modelling and Simulations

In today’s session we looked at interesting ways of collecting and representing data using infographics. There are a wealth of resources available on the web that will allow you to create infograms, adding charts, graphs, images and even videos! The finished products look as polished and professional as anything that could be produced in MS Publisher, but created in half the time.

In our session we got into groups and looked at three sites that all offer free infogram creator software: Piktochart , Visual.ly and Infogr.am. Having compared all three, we decided that Piktochart offered the best templates to use as basis for our infogram, which was entitled ‘Vacation! Vacation! Vacation!’ and was all about our favourite holiday destinations.

The software was relatively easy to navigate (once we got used to its quirks!) and we managed to upload pictures with no problem. One downside was that we had to use it in Firefox rather than Internet Explorer for it to work properly. The software has a built in excel chart creator or you could use a separate tool such as Google Chart Creator or Piecolour. We also discovered a nifty little tool called Scribble Maps, a Google application that makes it easy to draw on maps, as well as adding things like placeholders and icons. We used this to mark our holiday destinations.

While working in our group of three, rather than let one person do all the work while the group brainstormed, as we did last week when creating our Storyjumper Book, we each had a job i.e. I managed the template, Frankie created the map and chart, and Maria collated information on the top three holiday destinations. It worked far better and we progressed quicker by doing this. Have a look at the finished product….

Infograms in the classroom are a fun, interactive way for children to build their investigative skills, while taking ownership of the project and presenting their findings in an engaging way. As a teacher I would prepare by getting to know my chosen software inside out and ensuring that it works proficiently on the school hardware.

Using ICT to Improve Writing

While completing my reading from this week’s session, I read a really useful blog post by Mr G Online about using ICT to improve writing. The post talks about how, for too long, computers have been used solely as a publishing tool but, with the right pedagogy, are able to improve writing from the planning stage upwards. It was the planning part of this post that interested me most. For years, children have been taught that they must hand-write their plans and drafts by teachers not confident enough to experiment with technology. But, with most schools now having access to iPads for children, there is so much available to assist with these steps that it cannot, and must not, be ignored.

Planning apps available for the iPad range from Popplet, with its mind-mapping properties, to Evernote or Notability, which both allow you to add audio and video to your plans.

When i was at school, the planning stage of my writing was a boring necessity to me. I just couldn’t wait to get into writing the finished article. With engaging tools like this, children will be just as excited and motivated by planning their writing as they are by writing and publishing it!

Session 4: Classroom Applications

Yet another enjoyable ICT session was had by all today! We were tasked with creating a classroom resource for a particular year-group using either one of the tools we have already covered in the sessions, or a new tool such as Storybird , StoryJumper or Animoto. Our group decided to use StoryJumper as the props seemed more suited to younger Key Stage One children, who were our target age-group.

We wanted to make an alphabet book that could be used in the classroom to support prior phonics learning using large, bright pictures to encourage children to recognise the beginning sounds of words. We began by browsing through the props in order to find a picture for each letter of the alphabet. We found most of what we needed right there in the site but there were a couple of letters we got stuck on. It was great that we were able to browse the net for images and insert them into our book. You can even use photographs and crop them into characters (a feature I’m sure children would love – a story all about themselves!).

As with most of the new resources we have learnt about so far, it took a while to figure things out. But once we did it was an extremely simple tool to use, with very effective results! I would not hesitate to encourage children to use this tool to create their own books during literacy lessons

A couple of negatives include the fact that you can’t add sound to your e-book in StoryJumper and, unless I’m missing something, you aren’t allowed to embedit into other websites. There is the facility, however, to share your book with friends, so children would be able to email their creations home to Mum and Dad!

 

 

 

 

Session 3: Digital Images and Animation; Skills and Techniques

Had a brilliant time discovering the world of animation in today’s lesson. After being introduced to, and given a brief tutorial on, MonkeyJam and Movie Maker, we were let loose with an abundance of props, backgrounds, music and cameras and given the task of creating our own short movie. It was harder than it looked! It took three attempts for my partner, Lee-Ann, and I to get to grips with the software (not to mention the props that seemed to have a mind of their own) before finally coming up with our finished masterpiece. It took us two hours to make 29 seconds of film, but we reckon the end result was worth it! 😉

Reading Highlights…..

This evening I caught up with some suggested reading from the first two ICT sessions and thought I’d quickly share a couple of things I found useful. Teacher LED is a website that provides loads of free resources for IWBs. It also has its own blog which includes advice on the most popular resources and how to use them in the classroom.

Two sites offering great lesson planning advice are ‘Wokingham Learning Hub’, which includes schemes of work and lesson plans designed for use from year one all the way through to year six, and ICT in Education, which has published a list of 25 Features of Outstanding ICT Lessons. Something tells me I will be visiting these sites, and many more like them, quite frequently in the future!!

Session 2 Reflection and Session 3 Prep

Having spent some time navigating around my blog, I feel a little more comfortable with using some of its basic features. I have managed to change my theme, organise my sidebar, and add links, tags and categories.

I have read Helen’s post about presentation software including e-book making and am excited about using some of the available software in the classroom. I especially like some of the planning tools such as Wallwisher, Wordle and Bubbl.us.

In preparation for session 3, I have read the Class Blog and downloaded the MonkeyJam software. I am looking forward to finding out how this works and making my own animations!