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 ‘These proposals included one to replace the existing, outdated ICT curriculum with a new computing curriculum with a greater emphasis on computational thinking and practical programming skills, to help England retain a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

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.

 

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.