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.

chimney sweep childoffice workersastronaught

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 ‘These proposals included one to replace the existing, outdated ICT curriculum with a new computing curriculum with a greater emphasis on computational thinking and practical programming skills, to help England retain a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.

 

 

 

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.

 

Embedding Technology in the Early Years and KS1

Remote Control Toys

Children love remote control toys and they provide an easy and fun way of including technology into the classroom. These toys could be left out for children to freely access and explore, or challenges could be set up, for example: have a list of instructions suitable for the children to follow e.g. state a starting point, 10 fairy steps forwards, turn left, 15 fairy steps forward, turn right – where am I? Alternatively, the children could right their own instructions. This will contribute to the children’s understanding of direction, distance and spatial awareness.

Embedding ICT across all areas of learning

ICT can be used in a dynamic way to raise standards of learning, and this video demonstrates how everyday technology can be used with children:

Household technology such as microwaves will look familiar to young children but many of them will not have had the opportunity to use one. I think it is a great idea to bring one into the classroom and involve children in cooking their own snack; this will cover many areas of learning including mathematics as they will be using the timer on the microwave. Teachers can reinforce the technical language for such appliances and the children will be more likely to remember this as they are using it in a meaningful context as well as being physically engaged.

Sparklebox provide a play dough recipe suitable for microwave use, the children could learn how to make play dough and enjoy playing with something they have created themselves:

Whilst such learning is taking place, I would also use digital cameras, voice/video recorders with the children to capture their learning which provides great evidence for assessment. The children could also help to download photographs or even edit videos or create digital stories about their experience.

ICT can be used to extend the learning that is already taking place or to link familiar experiences with new ones e.g. children are familiar with a story; their learning could be extended by providing them with props and a video recording device (webcam, ipad, video recorder) enabling them to instantly play their performance back; they will love seeing themselves on the screen and this will also reinforce the language used in the story.

Multimodal Texts

Scholastic provide free resources for multimodal texts which are advocated to be used during the teaching of literacy through the use of the internet, digital cameras, sound recorders and presentation software. Children can be encouraged to listen to instructions whilst making something, such as puppets. They can pause after each instruction which allows for differentiation; children are able to work at a pace suitable for them. The children could then make their own sound recorded instructions – this could be done in pairs and once complete, they could swap sound recordings with another pair and try them out!

Alternatively, videos can be used (without verbal sound – it may have instrumental music playing as a sound-over) so the children can make their own written commentary; through not having verbal sound to accompany the video, the children will be using their imagination and developing their creativity more than if they were provided with key vocabulary.

A Great Example of Multimedia Instructions

I recently attended a Theatrical Dance course where I was taught how to teach children dance routines to accompany musicals. For the chorus, all the children dance the same moves and for each verse the children are free to make up their own routines. High School Musical has a great video which breaks down the dance moves to make the routine more manageable to learn, and the advantage is that is can be skipped back and played as many times as necessary.

However, this is just an idea… children could video record their instructions for anything they wanted to and these could be used to teach other children.

 I am now more aware of how technology, beyond the use of computers, can be embedded into the EYFS and KS1 to enhance children’s learning and also to directly teach children how to use technology itself. The drawbacks may include lack of resources so finding suitable alternatives would be necessary and making justified suggestions to the ICT coordinator could make a difference to the children’s experiences.

Digital ‘I Spy’ Book

Haiku Deck is free app for the ipad that I was intrigued to explore to see if it would be suitable for use with children and to find out exactly what it has to offer. Here is the production of my initial exploration:

I love the fact that it is extremely simple to use but allowing you to customize your project by altering themes, text formats, backgrounds and layouts. Images can be imported from the web or from your gallery/camera roll, charts and graphs can be created and notes can be made public or private. The only drawback I found was that imported images are automatically used as backgrounds; you cannot insert smaller pictures to accompany parts of the text. However, I would still use this app in the classroom and will now attempt to create a resource suitable for EYFS/KS1.

Firstly, I chose a theme for my book – Pirates. I collected a selection of lego characters, jewels and skulls as I believe these relate to young children’s interests, especially boys. Using the ipad I took photographs of one set of objects (Lego characters) and put this image onto a page in the app along with some accompanying text. Then, I added another page on the app and inserted a second image containing the Lego characters and some jewels along with further text. The third page contained a third group of objects; skulls, mixed amongst the Lego characters and jewels along with some more text. You can add as many pages as you like!

Thinking about it, this would actually be a lovely way of producing a Learning Journey for each child in the class as you can keep updating it as often as required.

Using Haiku Deck to create an ‘I Spy’ ebook on an iPad was an enjoyable activity; it can be used to create resources for use with children, or could even be used by children for them to produce their own work. Children will benefit from such a creation as it encourages visual discrimination and aids counting skills, however, this app could be used to create an eBook or slide show about any topic – the content is easy to add! This app would be ideal to use with the children as it is really simple to use and they could create books about the topic they are currently learning about, or to summarise a topic which would provide excellent summative assessment evidence.