Across the Curriculum

baby with remoteTechnology is part of a child’s life from the moment they are born; it is all around them and from a very young age they become interested in it. Babies are often fascinated with television remotes, the button on a dvd player, toddlers and children in general love exploring their parent’s mobile phones or tablets. And I have noticed, as a parent (of a 6 and 10 year old) and through school experience that children are often more advanced than me at using some technology; demonstrating an interest in learning how it functions. As technology is a major factor in the way the world operates it is important that children are provided with opportunities to use technology. Information communication technology can be in a wide range of ways within and early year’s setting, for: capturing children’s learning on devices with cameras and video recording software; role play areas are an ideal place for including technology e.g. tills for shops, digital scales in bakeries; computer software and apps can enable children to present work differently to that produced by hand; and in the reading corner there could be opportunities for children to listen to stories as well as record themselves retelling stories (ELG PSED; CLL; KuW; PD; CD). 

ICT to support the Early Years Foundation Stage subjects

Here I will explore a few examples of how ICT can be used to support learning in all of the Early Year’s subjects; contributing to the children working towards their Early Learning Goals:

  • PSED

Children could be encouraged to take turns, talk, listen and share the computer through this activity on PurpleMash. The video to introduce this activity provides the children with kind examples of how they could describe their friend. The template also provides prompts to start the children’s sentences; this could be used to provide differentiation. There are also clip arts available which could be used to label for children who are not able to produce sentences.

cam purple mash

 

  • Physical Development

Children’s fine motor movements are being used whilst using keyboards, a mouse, touch screens, IWB etc. which contributes to their handwriting ability. To make the activity more specific to handwriting there are  lots of apps available to support handwriting development and correct letter formation: Use Your Handwriting, My First Alphabet, Letter Workbook just to name a few. Such apps support children to link letters to their sounds, practise writing uppercase and lowercase letters and will be useful in KS1 when children are introduced to joined up writing. It is important to choose an app that corresponds with your school’s handwriting scheme though otherwise the children will be practising their handwriting in a incorrect style and potentially the letter formation may differ too.

  •  Understanding the World, Communication, Language and Literacy and Expressive Art and Design

Recce (online and available as an app) combined with Rollworld and iMovie have been used here to create a short film clip to show a virtual tour of London. The Recce app provides an interactive and fun way for children to explore London, San Francisco or New York. There is built in GPS and compass functions so the child can quickly locate themselves to continue exploring the environment; they are in control of navigating around the city. Adults could support children to take screen shots of the virtual tour and these could be used to create news reports, comic strips or stories. In this case, I have imported the screen shots into iMovie to enable a short movie to be created; it also allows you to record a commentary to accompany the video. This provides an opportunity for children to research the places they have virtually visited and present their knowledge audibly. This will consolidate their learning and provide the teacher with a piece of work that can be used for assessment purposes.

  • Maths

SMART Notebook is a great tool for creating activities for children. It hosts a bank of readily available pictures and a lesson activity toolkit with templates that can be adapted to suit your needs. Alternatively you can create your own activities from scratch, which I have an example of here. I had an animal theme in mind and created this resource to support children with their maths skills; division. Used on an interactive whiteboard, the objects can be dragged to help the children work out the answer; physically sharing the fruit among the animals to provide an image for the children to relate their mathematical thinking to. Maths_sharing_Animal Theme

SmartNotebook Activity

A variety of additional topic tools can be found on Parkfield ICT, Cookit, TopicBox and Crickweb which all offer free online resources and games for Early Years, KS1 and KS2 to support learning across the curriculum.

Digital Storytelling:

Having explored Little Bird Tales (online) which suggests that it allows you to capture children’s voices and creativity whilst being fun and easy to share, I actually found the website difficult to navigate and also operate. The first step in the ‘creating a tale’ process allows you to enter your own title and name. Then, this is where my problems began; you have the option to draw, upload or select a picture from the gallery to create an illustration. I attempted to draw my own using the artpad, however, I was unable to save or use this. This did bring back memories as to how difficult it is to actually draw a picture using a mouse though and although it is supporting the development of fine motor skills I think children would be more satisfied with their picture if they used the app version; drawing on tablets with your finger is a lot easier than using a mouse and produces more satisfying results. Having failed to save my image I tried the gallery; no pictures available. I was quite disappointed to have come across these barriers so early into the process and think children would find this frustrating so I will not be pursuing the task of making a digital story book using this website.

However, I have been impressed with the Scribble My Story app. This provides a range of template books which provide prompts for writing although these do have limited pages and some text cannot be altered. These templates would be suitable for Early years children, those in KS1 who are able to write less or even SEN or EAL children. The blank template can be used by all abilities; for inserting pictures on to pages, adding labels or typing/writing sentences onto as many pages as required. Children are able to use their finger to produce letters/words rather than type which is good as this practices their letter formation and handwriting, however this can turn out quite large and take up a lot of space on the page.

Haiku Deck is a digital book creating app I used last year; this was also simple and effective.

QR Codes

I felt a little overwhelmed when we were introduced to QR codes as, although I have seen them before, I had never created my own. I was pleasantly surprised at how simple they are to create and can provide great interaction within the classroom. I chose the theme of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to create a QR resource which provides links to: a digital version of the story, a sequencing activity, Goldilocks games, a grizzly bear video and instructions for making porridge. The advantage of using QR codes is that it provides children with a direct link to websites and different sources of media without having to type the URL in which could easily prove difficult for EYFS children. My QR Resource for Goldilocks and the Three Bears is available on the ResourceBank.

Reflection

ICT can be integrated into all other curriculum subjects to help deepen children’s understanding and build on their skills; accessing the learning in a different style, often making it exciting.  I believe that ICT improves the quality of teaching and learning if used in an effective manner; to enhance the learning experience and not outweigh it. It is important to balance the learning objectives and ensure that the ICT does not take over, one way of ensuring that the children remain focussed on the learning objectives is to allow time for plenaries and refocus the children if necessary. It can also capture children’s learning and be used as an assessment tool.

This post demonstrates the following Teacher’s Standards:

TS1 – I have explored a range of resources that will help to set goals for children to challenge them regardless of their background, ability or disposition.

TS3 – These resources can be used in order to maintain children’s interest in a topic. I have explored how ICT can support children’s development in a variety of curriculum areas.

TS6 – Using ICT to assess learners.

TS8 – I have gained further knowledge about how to use ICT effectively in the classroom.

 

Creative Computing

Session 3 was about the Computing curriculum which is extremely important as this is a new area of the National Curriculum; only implemented in September 2014. I was disappointed to have been ill for this session and therefore will endeavour to use the resources available to teach myself about Computing and explore various ways in which it can be taught to Early Years and KS1 children.
Integrating Computer Science into the Curriculum
Early Years practitioners should introduce computing skills to children during the Early Years, this will provide them with the necessary skills for them to build on once they reach KS1. To encourage computational thinking in the Early Years children should be provided with resources in which they can sort and opportunities for planning the sequence in order to do something. These kind of activities are teaching children about computing without actually using a computer. This is often referred to as ‘unplugged learning’. Such activities could include: sorting shapes (ELG Mathematical Development; Creative Development), colours, animals or asking children to sequence a set of simple instructions e.g. making a sand castle, building a bridge, making a model – the children could then take turns at ‘programming’ each other to carry out a task. Another important addition to this is to provide time for peer review and feedback (ELG CLL).

Children should also have open ended opportunities for problem solving as this enables children to engage in higher order thinking. There are activities within all areas of the curriculum which can facilitate this, e.g: setting up obstacle courses in the outdoor provision to cross imaginary swamps and rivers (ELG PD), using Lego or bricks to build bridges for toy cars to fit through, using story props (or even making their own) to sequence familiar stories, making a pattern with beads on strings (ELG Mathematical Development) just to list a few ideas. These activities could be made more challenging by setting specific requirements or limiting the resources.

Additionally, there are plenty of online activities to also support computational thinking, such as these sorting activities:

Sorting Game

Living or Non living
 
 
 
 
There are also programmable toys available to aid children’s computational thinking. Beebots are recommended for Early Years, I have seen these used during school experience and children enjoy using them whilst learning how to program a toy to get from A to B; gaining the basic skills required for computer programming. Children have to press the arrows in order to make the Beebot move. The Roamer is more advanced, children can make the roamer move by pressing the  forward arrow, a number, then ‘go’ (ELG KuW – ICT). To change the direction of the roamer an arrow key must be pressed followed by the amount of degrees to be turned. As children require knowledge of degrees/angles the Roamer will be suitable for older children; later KS1 into KS2.
Beebot
 
What does ‘Computing’ look like at KS1?
The National Curriculum states that ‘pupils should be taught to understand what algorithms are; how they are implemented as programs on digital devices; and that programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions.’ (DfE, 2013, p.179). The first implication that comes to mind is “what the heck does this actually mean?” … “What’s an algorithm?” Let’s find out…
An algorithm is a set of instructions for solving some problems step by step, typically used by computers but people can also use them too. This video explains what algorithms are in a simple way:

Having watched this video and gained clarity as to what algorithms are I am now beginning to understand what is expected of the aforementioned element of the NC; 1) children need to gain an understanding of what an algorithm is. 2) Children need to understand how algorithms are used on digital devices. Ok, so… how are they going to learn this? Firstly, I think it is important for children to learn how explicit the instructions need to be which is portrayed in Philip Bagge’s video:

This task of programming somebody to make a jam sandwich requires clear articulation of instructions, the ability to sequence tasks in the correct order and to pay attention to the smallest of details. Using such a concrete example of what an algorithm is will provide the children with a memory they can refer to when using computer devices; especially if their algorithm is not performing as expected, hopefully they will have gained the skill to re-check the instructions and figure out what is not explicit enough for the computer to follow. Finally, 3) the children should have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skill of algorithms to program a devise to make it perform a task by following their set of instructions. How can we facilitate this?

Programming in the Early Years and KS1

There is a wide range of resources available on the internet for use on PCs and tablets to support the teaching of programming to young children. I will now explore a variety of these and share my reflections.

Programming and Control:

Cheese Sniffer requires the user to plan the least amount of steps that the mouse will have to take to eat a piece of cheese. The maximum amount of steps is given and once these have been used the game moves over to the other mouse; a two player game (ELG PD – Using tools and materials). Children will develop their spacial awareness skills in order to predict how many moves are required to get to the cheese (ELG Mathematical Development – Shape, space and measure).

Cheese Sniffer

Compass Points and Simple Grid References requires children to use compass points and grid references to plan a route around the islands. There are many ways in which the teacher could support children’s programming skills through the use of this game e.g. provide a starting point and a set of instructions to follow – see if the children end up at the correct grid reference, ask the children to compose a set of instructions and swap with their partner – did they end up in the correct grid reference? (ELG – Mathematical Development) If using grid references this would be aimed at older children, but the idea of planning a route could be used by KS1. Teachers should ensure that children recognise that the same language is used when programming something on the computer as it is when programming a floor robot (e.g. Beebot or Roamer). However, some computer programs will leave a line to show the route taken but not all do and neither will a floor robot.

Rowing Boat

Children can also be supported to sequence events through computer based activities such as those available on http://www.iboard.co.uk/teacher/jlisaw8/1. These will also assist children with science topics such as lifecycles, living and non-living and habitats. These give you the option to print the children’s work too which is a good assessment tool and provides evidence of the child’s learning.

Sequencing Games

ipad apps for programming:

Daisy the DinoDaisy the Dinosaur is a free app that offers a ‘free play’ mode or ‘challenge’ mode. The free play mode lists a selection of commands which can be selected in any order and dragged into the ‘program’ box, or out again if you change your mind; a good opportunity to explore the effect of commands. By pressing ‘play’ you can watch the dinosaur perform your commands. It also highlights the commands in order as the dinosaur performs them which will help children to link the command to the movement and also assist to identify errors in programming. The ‘Challenge’ mode provides a problem e.g. ‘Try figuring out how to move Daisy so that she stops in the centre of the star’. This requires children to have the ability to read unless supported by an adult. Once the challenge has been attempted (not necessarily correctly) it provides written feedback and moves on to another challenge. This supports another element of the KS1 NC in Computing: ‘create and debug simple programs’ (DfE, 2013).

Kodable is another free app which is child friendly and provides children with an introduction to programming. Further apps to explore include Move the Turtle, Toca Boca Builder, Cato’s Hike, Hopscotch, Beebot and Scratch Junior.

Furthermore…

Children should also be taught to ‘recognise common uses of information technology beyond school’ (DfE, 2013). Teachers can support children to think about the things that are used to control things such as: TV remotes, dials on kitchen appliances (microwaves, cookers, washing machines), keypads on mobiles and tablets. Children could have the opportunity to see such items in use e.g. during a cooking session the teacher could show the children how they are operating the cooker/microwave, and toy versions of these items can be used in the role play area (ELG CLL; KuW).

Reflection:

I have realised that the ‘Computing’ curriculum is beneficial to children in their learning across the whole curriculum: it teaches them how to use ‘talk’ productively; develops their problem solving skills; enabled them to work in collaboration with their peers, building on their social skills; and also promoted independence. I have enjoyed learning about the requirements of the KS1 Computing Curriculum and have gained a comprehensive understanding of how to implement it effectively and now I am looking forward to putting it into practice!

This post has demonstrated the following Teacher’s Standards:

TS1 – I have provided examples of how activities can be extended (differentiation) to challenge pupils of all abilities.

TS2 – I believe that when children are creating algorithms and they have to debug any problems this will demonstrate a conscientious attitude towards their work as they will be encouraged to keep trying until it is correct.

TS3 – I believe this post demonstrates my ability to gain a coherent understanding of the curriculum subjects which will be a continuous part of my role role as a teacher.

TS5 – I have identified which activities would be suitable for EYFS/Y1/Y2 children which could be used to support differentiation.

TS3 and TS8 – I have engaged in a depth of research to broaden my knowledge about the Computing Curriculum.

Mobile devices in the classroom

During session 2 we explored the uses of apps that can be used in the classroom. There are many apps that are suitable for educational purposes; they can explicitly teach elements of the Computing curriculum, or be integrated into other curriculum subjects. As an Early Years teacher I am passionate about promoting collaborative learning by providing children with social opportunities (ELG PSED – Making Relationships; CLL). I have seen children working in pairs on PC’s; taking turns to hold the mouse, use the keyboard, swapping seats etc. Sharing an ipad removes these issues as the touch screen allows both children to engage at the same time; enhancing their social skills. Additionally, apps allow: media to be used flexibly, learning to be customised, SEN and EAL learners to access areas of the curriculum that would otherwise be inaccessible i.e. listen to stories when they cannot read (ELG CLL – Language for Communication) and also engage in visual activities. Children will also enjoy the independence; taking control of their own learning by choosing their own apps to explore. However, I do believe it is important for the children to know the purpose of what they are doing; an adult may have already modelled how to use the app (ELG KuW – Exploration and Investigation; PD – Using tools and materials) and explained the links to the children’s learning, or facilitating their experience on the ipad to make it purposeful.

collaborative learning
collaborative learning

Exploration of the Apps

thinglinkThinglink is a wonderful app (and is also available for use on PCs: https://www.thinglink.com/) as it enables you to bring pictures to life by making them interactive; making information visual and accessible. Notes, music and videos can be added to a still image (ELG CD – Music; CLL Reading). This is a completely free app and is very easy to use. You simply choose an image (from the sample, or your camera roll) and add interactive tags by tapping the image. The interactive tags can be photographs or videos from your camera roll, YouTube videos or text including web links. Children could create their own Thinglinks to display their own knowledge; taking their own photographs or videos and adding labels (ELG KuW; PD; CD). Teachers could use these for a variety of purposes: to introduce a new topic, during main teaching, left out on the IWB for children to freely access which would also enable children to use the IWB pens to write free hand onto the image as opposed to having to type. I tried Thinglink out with the Topic idea of The Hungry Caterpillar in mind. I took a photo using the ipad and made this interactive by putting on prompt questions which may be used during story writing, and I also attached some videos: The Hungry Caterpillar story and a video of a caterpillar hatching and another of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. This app could be used across the whole curriculum e.g. interactive information about different countries, cultures, food, animals, traditions, history, problem solving. I think what is missing from this app is the ability to draw your own pictures, however, used on an IWB this can be achieved! I have shared this resource on the ResourceBank.

This post demonstrates the following Teacher’s Standards:

TS1 – These ideas would help to foster the development of a stimulating environment.

TS2 – Encouraging collaborative learning demonstrates my awareness of social constructivism.

TS8 – I have gained further knowledge about how to embed ICT into the curriculum; the resources available and how these can be used effectively.