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.

 

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.

Placement 2A – putting my uni work into practice

I’ve decided to create a blog post so I can keep a record of any ICT that I use whilst on placement. I already know that they will be following a Pirate themed curriculum, for which I have created a topic web using Popplet:

I came across a website called Teachers Direct and found many useful resources and website links on there. I was able to create a word-search for the pirate theme; I simply had to follow these short steps:

It allows you to preview the word search and identifies any words it has not been able to place to enable adjustments to be made if necessary. Then, it creates a print version and an interactive version if you selected that you wanted one. The only drawback I found was that you had to have a grid size of at least 15×15 for the interactive word search.


Although the interactive word search is great – enabling children to engage with the technology, it is a shame that the grid size has to be a minimum of 15×15 as this may be unsuitable for year 1 children – I wouldn’t use any larger than 8×8; but this would have to be a printed version, such as: wordsearch-pirates. However, the teacher of Y1 on my placement agrees that 15×15 may be difficult for the children but has suggested we post a link for the interactive wordsearch on the school website for the children to access at home; they may enjoy the challenge with their family.

Additionally, on Teachers Direct you can browse web resources and apply filters to make the search more specific:

I’m really looking forward to starting placement and finding out how the school create a balance between ‘computing’ and embedding ICT throughout other subjects and also how the school plan to address the new National Curriculum. I also want to hear teachers’ perspectives about enhancing pedagogies through the use of technology and how ‘digital literacy’, ‘technology enhanced learning’ and ‘computer science’ is evolving. Watch this space!

Meeting the Schools’ ICT Coordinator

Having had the opportunity to meet with the schools’ ICT coordinator I am aware that the children’s ICT skills, such as using a keyboards and a mouse, are facilitated right from YR and built upon as they progress throughout the years. Initially the children will have access to PC’s to play educational games and use Beebots to program simple commands. The children regularly use software such as PowerPoint for presenting their work to each other and Word for word processing and editing their work. However, it is acknowledged that these are too frequently used and the ratio of ’embedded ICT’ and ‘computing’ is currently off balance.

The new National Curriculum has made it a statutory requirement for KS1 and KS2 children to learn ‘computing’ and the ICT coordinator is currently planning to develop the technological skills of children by teaching them how to make digital products as apposed to passively consuming devices. One of the methods in which they plan to support this development is to invest in Raspberry Pi’s. These are inexpensive products (approx. £22) that can teach children to program e.g. enabling them to create a computer game character to perform commandments. I can appreciate how engaging this will be for children, especially boys, as most children love computer games and take to using technology like a duck to water. The implementation of Raspberry Pi’s in the school will provide children with an understanding of what is behind the gaming material without needing to be an expert in programming. This short video provides a quick insight to Raspberry Pi. This short video provides more of a practical demonstration:

Additionally, there are currently a set of iPads being ordered to provide each class with one of their own. This is a great stepping stone towards enhancing children’s technological skills as I have demonstrated in previous posts. The school is also liaising with a local secondary school, building a partnership that will hopefully enable groups of primary school children to visit the secondary school to have the opportunity to use their equipment. This saves on cost, storage space and could also mean there will be an expert in available to educate the children and even the teachers; contributing to their continuous professional development.

Over all, it is clear that the school are being proactive as they have identified where improvements need to made and have secure plans to improve the children’s education in computing and embedded ICT, with some plans currently underway! Through this discussion it has become clear to me the different between ‘computing’ and ’embedding ICT’ and also the requirements of the new National Curriculum and how to facilitate this. I think building a partnership with a local secondary school is a brilliant idea where resources are lacking, and it also has the advantage of having additional staff for support.

 

 

Global Connections

 

I m very interested in finding out about connecting with schools around the world ready for when I start my career in teaching. This would provide children with the opportunity to learn about the world beyond where they live and where they visit; some children may not have experienced beyond their home town.

I have just become a member of Students of the World to try it out! The aim of this site is to make penfriends, enabling children to discover new cultures, share ideas, stories, send postcards, practise different languages and potentially arrange exchanges.

The Best School Websites with clips of their content and links; these could be very inspirational!

Another site providing the same kind of service to link schools across the world is:

This teacher from Texas sums up all the advantages of connecting schools globally, and also recommends further sites that enable you to do this, such as Classroom Champions. I have explored his website too which is full of ideas, resources and apps!

eTwinning has also been recommended for facilitating international links so I have taken the opportunity to explore their site. It offers a platform for teachers in European schools to communicate, collaborate and develop projects promoting school collaboration in Europe through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by providing support, tools and services for schools. Once you have registered you can get in touch with other eTwinners to share ideas, learn together and plan future collaborative activities in which there are some great tools to assist you – this presentation explains everything:

 eTwinning allows students to take a leading role in ownership of the project, giving them responsibility which will enhance their self esteem as they will feel an important part of the community and the school. Teachers have found that the engagement in the project also has a positive impact in other subject areas and can especially engage boys e.g. many boys love football, and they are able to use this interest to link to different countries.

One of the areas for improvement identified by Ofsted for the school I am attending on 2A placement included raising cultural awareness. I have taken the opportunity to liaise with the deputy head on this matter and express my interest in being involved in a project whilst on placement. Up to now, the project has only gone as far as contacting the children’s parents to gain permission for the children’s involvement in such a project and also to find out about any family links to other countries. I will be suggesting the use of eTwinning and will keep this post updated with the progress of the project.

***If you have any experience of connecting with classes globally I would love to hear your thoughts!***