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.



Animation… Impressive!

Learning about Stop frame Animation in university was really inspiring and I can say I will definitely use this with children. Creating animations can provide a fantastic opportunity for children to work together and produce some very impressive work.

Children can create settings, characters and other props using plasticine, clay or toys.  Depending on age and ability they may  be able to write the script.  The skills children will develop include problem solving, communication and subject specific skills.

My first attempt at creating an animation, using MonkeyJam, didnt go to plan as we recorded over the layers we needed, but at least we learnt from our mistake. And as we didn’t have time to record another in the class I borrowed a camera to take home, installed MonkeyJam on my laptop, and attempted another animation. The pirates are having a sword fight until the croc comes and scares them away. I added Pirates of the Caribbean theme tune for effect:

This animated movie was really easy to create. All you need in addition to a PC/Laptop is a web cam and scene setters and characters. You will also need stop-frame software, I used MonkeyJam which is free to download, and I also used Windows Movie Maker to enhance the movie but this is not essential.

Stop frame animation is soooooo much fun and suitable for all ages and abilities and children can work together to assign different members of their group to do different things based on their strengths. Children could also keep a video/image diary of how the animation is formed from start to finish; this gives them opportunity to reflect on what they have done and what they are going to do next. This could also be very useful for assessment purposes.

A Child’s View on Stop Frame Animation

I asked my 8 year old son if he has produced stop frame animation in school, he said he has and told me how much he loved it; he was also very excited when I said I could download the software onto my laptop so we could try it out at home! Off he went to route through his toys, shouting ideas to me about what he could do!

I like Ed Rudge’s idea; he mixed children from different year groups to work together in producing a stop frame animation, see his blog for further details:

To create Stop Frame Animation all you need is a digital camera and animation software, such as MonkeyJam which is free to download:

Here’s a lovely example of stop frame animation created by primary school children who must have been learning about a sustainable environment. It was produced by a colloboration of KS2 pupils:

Tateshots ‘This Exquisite Forest’ was exceptionally inspiring. It’s a global piece of work where people have connected via the internet and have created short animations that grew from each other’s contributions: “a collaborative animation plarform”.

I gained many ideas from these ‘Browsing and Reading’ suggestions. Animations can be created by children in small groups, as a whole class, in groups by mixing different ages from around the school or even as a whole school collaboration. Taking the idea from ‘This Exquisite Forest’ this could even be extended on a wider scale – involving schools from across the county, country or even the world! I’m really excited by this idea and I think children would love it too!

I searched for school collaborative animation projects and found Rotoball which is intended for highschool students but could be adapted for primary children, it’s the idea I liked! There are some simple rules each contribution must follow, it looks fab!

 Personal Reflection on Animation:

Until today I had never used animation equipment before and was amazed at how user friendly it was. Animations are so versatile they could compliment almost any topic or project within the classroom offering a great opportunity for children to work collaboratively to create something amazing. I also love the idea of working with schools that are geographically distant, this is something I will definately consider when I’m a teacher!