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.

Innovative ways to use ICT in the Primary Classroom & Blogging Tools

I was very interested to read about the 25 Features of Outstanding ICT Lessons by Terry Freedman, as a lot of people do perceive ICT as ‘boring’.

These are some of the ideas I felt were very useful:

As a pupil, did you ever think “What is the point in doing this?”

I believe it is important for the teacher to spend time at the start of any session letting pupils into the “secret” of what the objectives (intended learning outcomes) of the lesson are, i.e. what is intended to be achieved by the end, and how this lesson fits in with the preceding and following lessons.  I remember when I was at school, and in work too, on various occasions thinking “what is the point of doing this?” Some tasks seemed pointless, without a focus and this did not motivate me… I certainly agree with Terry Freedman here and will prepare children by letting them know the learning objectives to give them a real purpose for their task which will hopefully motivate them.

Print your work and log off…. is that it????

Terry Freedman also explains how allowing plenty of time for a plenary is essential; it is useful for checking what learning has taken place, it consolidates learning and also prepares pupils for the next stage. Avoid the “Print your work and log off” approach.

Can the pupils use technology… appropriately?

Children need to know how to use technology and how to use it appropriately, so it is essential to provide plenty of time for discussion and reflection in lessons. There are many ways I am aware of to include this in the lesson, such as: partner/group/whole class discussions, group presentations, even role playing or freeze framing something they have learnt.

Experimenting with blogging tools:

I came across the ‘Popplet’ tool and thought it looked very useful for using as a mind map, so I decided to create one, just to try it out, using ‘ICT in the classroom’ as the focus for ideas. The popplet was incredibly easy to create; you need to sign up so you can log in to update your popplet at any time. It also allows you to upload documents and files from your computer or from various websites and to share your popplet.

There is also a wide variety of ‘Public Popplets’ that are already made for anyone to view and use.

Padlet is a great tool to collaborate information. It provides you with a blank wall where you can edit the background, give it a title and alter the layout. The ‘wall’ you create can be public or private (only people with a password can see it and add to it). So once it’s ready people can add their own information, I made an example that could be used as a ‘getting to know eachother’ exercise, it may be good to use in the classroom at the start of a new academic year:

Padlets could also be a useful tool for planning, as the notes you pin to your wall can be moved around, edited and removed.

PrimaryPad  is a web-based word processor designed for schools that allows pupils and teachers to work together in real-time.” Having read about this tool, and watched the demo video, which enables teachers and children to work collaboratively to draft out their ideas I would love to see this in use in schools to get a real feel for it’s qualities.

Storybird enables you to create digital books, there is a bank of images and layouts to try and you can add as many pages as you need. This could be used during literacy lessons with children. It is really easy to use, I created a short book ‘Back to School’  just to try it out:

I’ve really enjoyed exploring the various tools that are suitable for use in classrooms, I will continue to search for these and try them out so I’ve got a good bank of them to use in the future.

Inspirational ideas for ICT in the classroom

I’m trying to think of all the ICT equipment I have ever encountered in classroom, as a student myself and whilst working in primary schools. Powerpoint presentations spring to mind the most (as an adult learner) and Interactive Whiteboards are probably what I have seen most frequently used with children along with digital cameras, PC’s for word processing, games and research, video recording children’s performances and using floor robots.

This short video – only 1:15mins long – is an excellent summary of how rapidly ICT is evolving in the classroom, and it’s us, as teachers, who have to keep up!

ICT in the Early Years shows a lovely video of how ICT can be integrated into the EYFS. The children are encouraged to independently access IT equipment e.g. digital cameras, the children all have their own floppy disk (which can be identified by the child’s photograph on the front) so they can download the photo’s they take, and print them. ICT is also used as much as possible in the role play area e.g. a hospital will have a laptop, a light box to use as an x-ray machine and a telephone. This site offers a range of resources and planning materials – it’s well worth a look!
I came across the Hot Potatoes suite which enables you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for use with children. It is free and can be adapted to suit any project.

Good use of ICT not only enhances experience for students, but the outcomes they generate too.” – Mark Anderson

Peers can be the best teachers, because they’re the ones that remember what it’s like to not understand.” Peter Norvig. His video is really interesting and you can relate to it… I found myself nodding in agreement to my laptop! Worth watching: http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_norvig_the_100_000_student_classroom.html?quote=1698

This video shares 5 ways in which ICT can be used within the classroom:

‘Building’ a PC with Year 5 – Chris Leach. This idea involving the children ‘becoming’ the components of a computer is a super idea, the active learning will certainly help them to remember the different components of a PC. This ICT lesson was taught through the use of freeze framing, much more fun than a worksheet!

NAACE offer workshops for Teachers, Subject Leaders etc to help plan for “full integration of ICT into all aspects of school life”. They are a professional association concerned with improving education through ICT.

Reflection:

This first session has opened my eyes to actually how much ICT is actually involved  in schools; until now, I was only aware of the basics. Having divulged into the ‘Browsing and Reading section’ for session 1 I am more aware of how ICT is, and can be, used in the primary school. I am keen to continue researching resources to use in the classroom whilst enhancing my personal ICT skills at the same time. I have also ordered ‘The Really Useful Book of ICT in the Early Years’ by Harriet Price.