Vision Statement

vision“What is the purpose of primary education?” This is a question that has been posed in many lectures and seminars which has made me aware that in this rapidly developing world it is essential to prepare children for the unknown; becoming adaptable, autonomous learners with transferable skills in order to become successful citizens. Why? Because we do not know what these children are going to be when they leave school; as time changes, so do occupations. One thing that is evident is that technology is continuously developing and becoming increasingly popular. Doyle (2002) acknowledges that ICT is used by everyone for a wide range of reasons; it is part of our daily lives with children being in increasing contact with it (Berson and Berson) and playing a fundamental role in shaping a child’s education and development. Potter and Darbyshire (2005) advocate the importance of preparing children with the skills and knowledge they will require to function within an expanding and evolving technological world.

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As of September 2014 a change was implemented to the Primary National Curriculum; children are now taught ‘Computing’ which was formerly known as ICT. ‘These proposals included one to replace the existing, outdated ICT curriculum with a new computing curriculum with a greater emphasis on computational thinking and practical programming skills, to help England retain a competitive edge in the global digital economy’ (DfE, 2013, p.2).  Poplawska states ‘the discipline of information technology should be given “equal emphasis to computer science”, something she feels the new curriculum’s ‘Computing Programme of Study’ does not do. In order for England’s education system to compete globally it is suggested that the children need to be taught both elements; programming and ICT. However, Grantham recognises that although the subject name has changed, the curriculum content for ICT has not been removed and highlights that ‘the old ‘control’ strand links nicely with a lot of the programming and algorithms objectives!’

Rachael, Jenn and I worked in collaboration to prioritise Our top 3 benefits for using ICT in the classroom: enabling access to the curriculum for minorities, increasing collaboration and communication and enabling publishing and audience. So let me explain exactly what we mean. A range of technological resources such as IWBs, internet access, floor robots, audio recording devices, cameras (just to name a few) can be embedded into any area of curriculum (explored in an earlier post) to make learning more exciting and interactive (ELG PSED – Dispositions and Attitudes); encouraging collaboration and therefore communication too (ELG PSED – Making Relationships; CLL – Communication). Bartlett (2003) advocates the use of ICT suggesting that it is an invaluable resource for encouraging talk amongst the pupils and also states that interactive, online resources can be found to support any subject or topic. Technology can also support children with SEN or those who speak EAL via specialist equipment, appropriate websites or to help the teacher differentiate activities. I have seen ICT used as rewards/sanctions for a child with autism; once the child had earned 5 stars for good behaviour, they were allowed 5 minutes on their choice of computer game. Additionally, some children may not have the opportunity to access ICT outside of the classroom therefore it is a teachers responsibility to provide these opportunities to ensure no children are excluded from these advancements.  Thirdly, technology can enable children publish their work in various forms e.g. video recording, digital books which children are always really proud of (ELG KuW – Exploration and Investigation). Additionally, teachers use ICT for processing assessment information (Haine, 2007) and also publish this for a variety of audiences e.g. staff, parents. Haine also recognises that children who see their teacher using technology will become curious and want to explore it themselves (ELG KuW – Information and Communication Technology). This is also an ideal opportunity to demonstrate how to handle technology appropriately; modelling expected behaviour and responsibilty.

I am a firm believer that technology can be used effectively to enhance children’s learning and also provide experiences that are otherwise impossible, for example: if children are learning about remote places, technology provides the link, enabling children to explore through the use of videos (ELG KuW – A Sense of Place), photographs or even connecting with other children in a different location which is an idea I explored last year. Additionally, using a keyboard to type (ELG PD – Using Tools and Materials) or apps where children use their finger to create letters reinforces phonetic awareness (ELG CLL – Linking sounds and letters) and children will enhance their problem solving skills when learning about algorithms as they will need to debug them if they do not function and fix the error. This is an essential, transferrable skill that children will hopefully relate to in other contexts; finding solutions to problems in order to overcome barriers (ELG CLL – Language for thinking).

hookICT can provide an exciting stimulus to hook children in to learning or to prompt discussion. Siraj-Blatchford and Whitebread (2003) have also found that children find ICT interesting and exciting. To illustrate this I can relate to prior school experience where I used videos on the IWB as a lesson starter or one of my favourites is to get the children to close their eyes whist listening to sound clips as this really gets their imagination working and the discussion afterwards is very high quality as they have been encouraged to think deeply.  Overall, I found the use of technology supported the children to focus on the task, facilitating higher levels of involvement and engagement in the learning (ELG PSED – Dispositions and Attitudes).

It has been recognised that ICT offers many benefits for children’s education, however, it does also pose some problems. The internet provides access to unlimited resources in multimedia forms which children can learn a great deal from. However, Wishart (2004) acknowledges that there are concerns with regards to inappropriate materials online being accessed by children. DeFranco (2011) also identified that children are increasingly putting themselves at risk by posting personal information online. It is vital that children are made aware of online safety (Willard, 2007); I would teach children about this prior to them using the internet. I explored how this could be facilitated in my post about Internet Safety last year. Pitler et. al. (2007) states that by creating a simple set of rules for expected online behaviour and practising these from a young age can prove effective. Wishart et. al. (2007) recommends the use of role play as an effective method for teaching children this concept; posing different scenarios to the children can heighten their awareness and encourage them to think of an appropriate action (ELG CLL – Communication). It is also important to heighten parent’s awareness of internet safety to prevent jeopardising the children’s safety at home. This could be facilitated by sending home newsletters or running internet safety workshops.

This blog post has demonstrated the following Teacher’s Standards:

TS1 – The safety of ICT has been acknowledged and will be practised in schools to enable a stimulating, yet safe, environment to be established.

TS2 – I acknowledged the concept of algorithms and related these to problem solving (de-bugging) which I will encourage children to practise in all areas of learning; encouraging children to reflect on their learning and take a consciencious attitude towards their work.

TS3 – I have demonstrated my understanding of how the ICT-Computing curriculum has changed.

TS4 – It has been mentioned that ICT can stimulate children’s curiosity and make learning exciting; fostering a love of learning.

TS5 – ICT can assist with the differentiation of activities to meet the needs of all children and enable some children to access areas of the curriculum which would otherwise prove difficult.

TS7 – As a teacher I will model how to use technology responsibly and set high expectations for the children.

TS8 – I have developed effective professional relationships with colleagues and discussed our group philosophy for ICT in the early years. I have explored how assessment information can be shared with parents.

TS Part 2 – Teaching children about internet safety and implementing provisions to safeguard the children whilst using the internet.

References:

Bartlett, N. (2003) ‘A picture is worth 1,000 words, for children it’s 1m’, Early Years Educator, 5 (4), pp. ii – viii.

Berson and Berson. http://www.infoagepub.com/products/High-Tech-Tots

DeFranco, J. (2011) Teaching internet security, safety in our classrooms [online] Available from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=cc7ec59e-f558-4b27-bfcd-c999a0145035%40sessionmgr4001&vid=8&hid=4212 [Accessed 10th November 2013].

Department for Education. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/205921/ICT_to_computing_consultation_report.pdf

Doyle, S. (2002) Applied ICT GCSE. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes

Grantham. http://swaygrantham.co.uk/computing-not-ict/

Haine, H. (2007) ‘Assessment using ICT’, Early Years Educator, 8 (11), pp. xiv – xvi.

Pitler, H. Hubbell, E. Kuhn, M and Malenoski, K. (2007) Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works. Colorado: Research for education and learning.

Poplawska, J. http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2280243/new-ict-curriculum-too-focused-on-development-side-of-computing-says-corporate-it-forum

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

Siraj-Blatchford, J. and Whitebread, D. (2003) Supporting ICT in the Early Years. Maidenhead: Open University Press

Willard, N. (2007) Cyber-safe kids, cyber-savvy teens: Helping young children learn to use the internet safely and responsibly. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Wishart, J. (2004) Internet safety in emerging educational contexts.  Computers and education. 43 (1), 193-204.

Wishart, J. Oades, C and Morris, M. (2007) using online role play to teach internet safety awareness. Computers and education. 48 (1), 460-473.

Subscription Software and Assessment Tools

This was our final session of ICT and we spent the first half of the session exploring software that requires subscription, including EducationCity and HelpKidzLearn for which we have received log in details for to provide access beyond our time studying at the University of Northampton.

Education City is simply organised into subject areas, key stages and year groups which makes it easy to navigate. I spent a bit of time exploring the English area of F2 and finding out that it provides tools for a number of popular phonics schemes (Letters and Sounds, Jolly Phonics and Read Write Inc.) was really useful. There are also lots of tools for popular learning themes which can be accessed on PC mode or IWB mode. This website is really useful; I would use aspects of it during the main teaching, maybe as starters or plenaries but also on the classroom PCs for children to access independently.

Help Kidz Learn offers a range of activities for the Early Years including creative, games and stories. All of these have the option to be controlled by a mouse or a ‘switch’ which is a tool for children with physical impairment who cannot control a mouse. All of the resources are very simple and easy to use offering visually attractive pictures or videos along with accompanying sound and text to read along to which reinforces children’s literacy skills (ELG CLL; Creative Development). I feel that these resources only offer a limited outcome due to the simplicity and therefore I wouldn’t use them for teaching an actual lesson but I think they are ideal for continuous provision for the children to explore independently. Here is an example of one of the creative activities ‘Make a Scarecrow’ (ELG Creative Development; Physical Development; KuW; PSED):

Make a scarecrowhelp kidz learn Create a Scarecrow

Assessment:

Assessment needs to capture children’s learning; making it visible and enable it to be shared.  It should also make it clear where the children are in their learning and also show where it is leading to. There are many assessment tools which automatically structure the information captured i.e. photographs of children learning will be stored against the correct the child in the relevant area of development.

2Build a Profile is an app that allows teachers to gather observations on the go which, in turn, ‘improves the quality and consistency of formative assessment, while also saving educators hours of record keeping time.’ There are two versions available; one for the EYFS and the other for Primary. Although this used to be a free app, there is now a subscription fee.

Assessment Tool
Assessment Tool

Evernote is another tool that digitises formative assessment. One KS1 teacher has shared how they have used Evernote over the past year, I found this really interesting, especially as they are a practicing user of the tool; not just trying to sell the product. Evernote allows users to collect evidence in many multi media formats such as photographs, audio recordings, hand-written annotations and text either individually or combined. Children can even annotate their own work (ELG CLL), or make an audio recording (ELG Creative Development) which is a great advantage for emergent writers, EAL or SEN.  Another benefit for children being able to annotate their own work is the fact that teachers may interpret their work incorrectly so this provides the opportunity for children to explain exactly how they intend it to be portrayed. Traditional methods of collating evidence does not capture this richness of a child’s work. Electronic portfolios are created for each child to assist the teacher with organising their data; individual pieces of evidence are stored as notes which are stored in notebooks and notebooks are filed in stacks. Tagging notes allows evidence to be located really easily; each piece of evidence can be tagged upon input with key words e.g. the child’s name, area of development (e.g. literacy) and the skill being used (full stops and capital letters) and then when a piece of evidence needs location you can simply search for these key words to find the work. The teacher (Anon.) summarises her post by stating: ‘Evernote is a hugely adaptable app that has become an important part of my pedagogical toolkit.’

An alternative digital tool that creates online learning profiles is called Tapestry which appears to work very similarly to Evernote, however, I have never experienced working with either. TapestryTapestry allows teachers to link evidence of learning to statements out of the EYFS profile which is a time efficient method of storing observations whilst giving it a professional appearance.

Learning Journals have become increasingly popular, providing early years settings with a method of recording each child’s development which in turn provides a talking point for keeping parents informed about their child’s learning; helping to establish and maintain effective teacher-parent partnerships. Traditionally these records have been collated in folders consisting of photographs, samples of work and post-it note style observations which in the end create a treasured memoir that parents can keep when their child leaves the EYFS.

Having considered a variety of methods in which teachers record their assessments, digital methods do appeal to me more as they seem more organised, professional and consistent in appearance. However, I do acknowledge that there is an associated fee for purchasing these tools and staff will also need time to be trained in order to use them effectively. Additionally, some parents would argue that they like to receive a hard copy of their child’s journey as I previously referred to the physical versions as ‘treasured memoirs’. To overcome this argument I think it is a good idea to use digital tools whilst printing selected evidence to produce a keep-sake for parents.

This session has supported me to demonstrate the following Teacher’s Standards:

TS2 – Using assessment tools to be accountable for pupil’s attainment, progress and outcomes.

TS5 – I have been made aware of ‘switches’ and iGaze to provide access to technology for children with physical impairments and also become familiar with Helpkidzlearn which is ideal for emergent learners or SENs pupils which contributes towards differentiation.

TS8 – I have considered the views of parents with regard to the child’s learning profile.

TS Part 2 – Children’s observations and assessments should be stored securely as this is personal data. Digital tools should have access restrictions.

TSP2 – I acknowledge that assessment data is personal and sensitive information that is highly confidential and should therefore be stored in an appropriate place and made only shared with the necessary persons.