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):
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.
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. Tapestry 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.