ICT and History

February 11, 2014  Tagged , , ,

We had a history specialism session that looked at the links between ICT and history. We began by sampling a range of different programmes that can be used to draw links between the subjects, such as Tellegami, iMovie and . We then had a choice as to which programme we would use and had a challenge to create a 5 slide resource for teaching primary History. I worked with a partner and we decided to use iMovie to create a 5 slide video on ww2 evacuees. We began by researching in a primary History textbook a little bit about the evacuees so we could decide what we were going to put into our slides. Then we experimented with iMovie as it was a programme that neither of us had used before, and this took a little bit of time to get used to. We compiled the movie by taking photographs of images on the internet and in the textbook, and we used a bomb artefact to take a picture for our movie.  We added in text to go with the pictures, and then exported the movie so we could edit the film to eliminate all the other slides at the end.

Our film worked well as it presented clear text and images about the evacuees, but we didn’t have time to add music to our slides, which would have added to the feeling of the movie. I felt that I improved in my ability to use iMovie, but would need to practise some more and experiment with the programme before I could use it in the classroom.

We had the chance to see each other’s pieces of work, and there were some fantastic pieces including a movie clip on Benin, and a moving presentation on the Great Fire of London. Both of these used gripping pictures and music to capture the audience, with the intention that it would make the children want to learn about the history topics.

Rounding off the topic- Assessments in RE

February 5, 2014  Tagged , , ,

In our final RE session we looked at the different methods in which you can assess Primary RE. We established many different methods which could include questions through storytelling, post-it notes, listening to discussion, religious artefacts, drawing, role play, hot-seating, and questions for visitors. This list is not exhaustible as there are no specific learning goals and levels for work in RE. There is however, a non-statutory framework which sets out the standards for learning and attainment, whilst exemplifying the contribution RE makes to the school curriculum. All of these assessment strategies have their individual benefits such as drawing giving children a chance who can’t express themselves through writing a chance to demonstrate their thoughts and knowledge. However, using a series of these methods together also provides benefits as it makes the lessons exciting and stimulating whilst collecting a huge amount of assessment data on children’s progress in RE. The non-statutory framework also highlights the significant contribution that RE makes to pupil’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural education, providing cross-curricular links.

We also determined that you would need to use different pieces of work to decide on a child’s ability level, rather than just one piece of work. Whilst one piece of work may represent a particular level really well, it would be better to find lots of examples of work that demonstrate a particular ability, even though they couldn’t be used as a stand alone piece. Assessment in RE needs to demonstrate both AT1 and AT2. One assessment method that can be used in RE is ‘Can do’ statements. These provide teachers with an opportunity to set success criteria in child talk, and could also give children a chance to invent their own achievements, as there are no set learning objectives.

We watched a video on Teacher’s TV which looks at being reflective in Primary RE. The teacher on the video demonstrates many different assessment methods including ‘I wonder’ questions, wise word leaves and retelling of stories. The children demonstrate clearly that they have engaged with the task and learnt as they are able to reflect carefully and retell religious stories with meaning behind their answers. Children at the end of Key Stage 1 are expected to express simple views about religion and belief, and give simple reasons to support their view, which the Year 2 children in the video are very able to do.

The video can be viewed here:


Children in lower Key Stage 2 are expected to make judgements about religion and belief, and support views using a plausible reason. They are also expected to show awareness of other people, whereas children in upper Key Stage 2 are expected to make judgements about religion and beliefs, and support views using sound reasoning.

Makey Makey

February 3, 2014  Tagged , , , ,

In our final computing session we explored off screen computing. Me and a couple of my friends trialled Makey Makey, which is a small controller of six buttons, where you attach crocodile clips to, in order for an action to take place. These crocodile clips are then attached to objects which have a small charge, such as play-doh or carrots, which can be used as the controls. The Makey Makey is also attached to the computer by a USB. This then allows for certain programmes such as Scratch, to be controlled by the objects which the crocodile clips are attached to, so long as the person in control is holding a crocodile clip.

We played the game Super Mario and fashioned ourselves 5 different buttons made out of play-doh. These 5 buttons were up, down, left, right and jump, and were set using Scratch. We then used our buttons to get Super Mario through different levels, jumping to avoid lava and water, and landing on stepping stones.

This computing method would be really exciting for the classroom, as children would get to play a game whilst they are learning about the computing and controls. They would hopefully enjoy playing the games, and could make a simple game of their own.

We had a chance to listen to other people talk about their favourite things that they had made in computing over the past 6 sessions, and from this I gained many ideas that I would like to take with me to the classroom. One group had used Makey Makey to create a dance mat game, where they had to step on different play-doh pieces to dance in time with the different arrows. This would also be lots of fun in the classroom, and could have cross-curricular links to Physical Education, as children are building on balance and coordination skills. However, with this you would have to be careful of health and safety, so children don’t trip over wires.

Another group used Lego weDo to create a boat that rocks, whilst splashing sounds are playing. This was achieved by building the Lego boat, by following on screen instructions, and then following programming instructions to create the boat to rock by a motion sensor. Sound effects can be added to make the Lego seem more life like. This I would also use in the classroom as many children love to play with Lego, so by using it to learn computing and programming skills, children would be motivated and entertained for the lesson.


Ofsted: REalising the potential

February 1, 2014  Tagged , , , ,

Ofsted discusses the importance of RE in an article entitled Religious Education: realising the potential. The article begins by stating recommendations for the Department for Education, Local Authorities, Primary and Secondary Schools to improve the standards of teaching in RE, with recommendations such as “improving the arrangements for developing teachers’ subject expertise.” The article then goes onto discuss the eight key challenges which are low standards, weaknesses in teaching, curriculum problems, confused sense of purpose, limitations in leadership and management, gaps in training and the impact of recent education policy changes on RE in schools. Low standards can lead to problems understanding deeper aspects of religion, and children’s knowledge was found to be weak in 3/5’s of Primary School’s visited. Weaknesses in teaching RE found that there was poor and fragmented curriculum planning, weak assessment and ineffective monitoring amongst other things. There were problems within the curriculum which limited the effectiveness of RE, and these included a difficulty to develop a curriculum which secured progression, continuity, change, breadth and balance for learning. Many teachers were found to misunderstand or not understand the reasons behind teaching RE, and this impacted negatively upon the teaching, for example teachers found it hard to differentiate between RE and spiritual, moral, social and cultural education. Leadership and management can limit effective RE teaching by many factors, including schools not prioritising RE as a subject. Gaps in training such as non-specialist teaching and low level subject expertise led to ineffective teaching of RE, and less progression than should be demonstrated. Recent education policy changes have negatively impacted RE, as the subject’s importance has been decreased by decisions to exclude RE from EBacc subjects and reduction for teacher training places in RE. All of these factors have led to ineffective RE teaching.

The end of the article draws upon the best aspects of RE teaching, which strongly feature individual enquiry. Other methods are using big questions to lead learning, and using digital technology to support inquiry.

Religious visits and visitors

January 30, 2014  Tagged , , ,

In our fifth RE session we discussed and learnt about different school visits we could go on to religious places, and different visitors that could come into the school and talk to the children. We began by looking at the benefits, problems and considerations of having visitors. Benefits included a new knowledge form, an exciting change for the children and a more real life situation. The problems include sessions being age appropriate, carefully planned, religious beliefs within families, and obtaining visitors in the first instance. Before having a visitor into school, the teacher would need to consider what questions children will ask the visitor, and whether the visitor is appropriate for all children’s religious backgrounds.

We also determined the benefits and problems of taking children outside of the classroom, and came up with building positive attitudes, building on prior work, making learning interesting and active, and integrated with a programme of study for the benefits, and expense, numbers of staff and time consuming for the problems.  Although religious visits take a lot of time and careful planning, we decided they would be really worthwhile for the children, as they get to gain a new experience that they might not have had the chance to do before.

We then had a chance to reflect on school trips we had been on as a child, to determine what makes a good experience and what doesn’t. We established that a good school trip will provide you with multi-sensory experiences such as music, foods and costumes, whereas a bad school trip will just give children a talk on what they are learning about.

To prepare for a religious visit you would need to consider the basic outlines of the religion, dress code for the building and a rough outline of expectations of what the worship is like. After a religious visit you could compare religions, practices and religious buildings between different or the same religions. We looked into different places of worship for school trips, and found that Exeter Cathedral’s website had a very useful virtual tour. The tour could provide teachers with ideas about what learning and discoveries the children could make, and so help to plan a successful trip.

Here is the link to the website for Exeter Cathedral:



January 27, 2014  Tagged , , ,

Today we experimented with Scratch to build upon our computer programming skills. I began by trialling one of the games where you have to keep a ball up in the air by hitting with a paddle. The game continues until the ball has been dropped and lands on the red line.  I then looked at the game controls that had been programmed, and instructions included movement for both sprites, the paddle and the ball. The ball was programmed to start at a certain height and direction, to bounce every time it hits the edge or the paddle and to stop if it hits the red line at the bottom of the page. The paddle is programmed to send the ball in a random direction and height upon contact, and moves side to side by control of the mouse.

I then adapted the game to make it a bit more difficult. I changed the speed that the ball travels at to make it faster, and achieved this by changing the number of steps from 10 to 20. I also adapted the angle at which the ball moves after hitting the paddle, by changing the number of degrees from 170 to 200, to 170 to 190. By doing this, I have built on my computer programming skills and linked them to the National Curriculum outcomes for computing, by creating and debugging simple programs.

In the classroom, I would allow children to use Scratch, as it is a simple programme which lets children use instructions to create a whole manner of different programmes, including games and stories. It can be linked very easily to other areas of the curriculum, e.g. a maths game or a fairy tale story in English meaning that it could be an effective tool for classroom use.

Programming Beebots

December 9, 2013  Tagged , ,

Today we experimented with different programmes, and we used the Beebots to practise programming and giving instructions. We were able to manoeuvre the Beebots around the map so they could reach different destinations, e.g. from the house to the pig pen. There were different mats that we could use, and it meant that we were able to experiment with giving different instructions. This is an example of plugged programming, and we compared this to the Beebot app.

The Beebot app  also allowed us to give instructions, and builds on our positional language. It may be more helpful for the visual learner as they can see the Beebot on the screen, and then can give the instructions as the Beebot moves before their eyes. Using the Beebot on the mat will be beneficial for the tactile and kinaesthetic learners, as they will be able to touch and command the Beebots themselves.

We also experimented with unplugged resources, and discussed the ideas that we could do to cover this. We experimented with using directional language to direct a person from place to place across the classroom.

Green Screening

November 25, 2013  Tagged , , ,

Today we experimented with a video recording app called touch cast. We were able to select a background for the video, and by placing the camera against a coloured background, you can no longer see the room background but your chosen background instead. We then recorded a video with Tom and Daniella set in Doctor Who’s tardis, with them off on an adventure talking about where they were going and what they were going to do.

Unfortunately we couldn’t get the sound to work on our video so you can’t hear what is being said, which demonstrates some of the difficulty we had with using the programme. I would use green screening with children, but would need to recap and practise with all the controls before using it in the classroom. There could be many classroom applications for green screening, including English news reports. Children will be building on their speaking and listening skills working towards National Curriculum objectives.

Little bird tales- a very merry christmas!

November 18, 2013  Tagged , , ,

Today we experimented with different programmes, websites and apps to make images and animation come to life. In partners, we selected a theme and my partner and I decided on Christmas as our theme. I used the programme Little Bird Tales to write a story about Christmas day, which is aimed at young children in the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. I began my book by adding pictures in for the children to see.  The programme allows you to either upload photos from your documents or the internet, or you can draw your own images for the story. I decided to have a go at drawing my own pictures in order to improve my computing skills, and because I don’t have any images saved in my documents that could have been used currently. It was harder than I thought to draw the pictures, as sometimes I pressed the eraser button by mistake when I meant to press the brush! However, it was lots of fun, and good to use as the programme allows you to draw your pictures in lots of different media, including paint brush, paint fill and pencil. It is also possible to add text to the pages you are designing, which was very beneficial for me as it meant that I could have neat writing on my page which is easy to read, making the book is more accessible for children.

After I had designed my first page, I had the opportunity to record myself reading the page to the listeners, or alternatively you can use a pre- recorded voice to do the talking. I decided that it would be a nice idea to do the recording myself, which meant that I got to experiment with more of the controls for the programme, and thought it would be more personal for the listeners (particularly if you were on placement in a classroom!) Little Bird Tales allows you to record the reading for the page as many times as you need to in order to get it perfected, which was really handy in case I made mistakes. After the first page was completed, I followed the same procedure for the remaining pages of the story. I experimented with using different colours, painting styles and thickness of the painting styles in order to create my different pictures and effects. Once the story was completed, I was able to preview it to check that all the recordings were working ok and were associated with the correct pages, before saving to complete my little bird tale.

The benefits of the programme include that it is possible to use pictures from a range of different places, or you can create your own, and you can use either a pre-recorded voice or your own voice to make it more personal. Whilst the programme controls could be slightly complicated to young children, with a proper explanation and demonstration of all the different functions you can do it should be accessible for all learners. Little Bird Tales also allows for cross-curricular learning, and links in extremely well with English as children can practise their story writing abilities alongside computing skills.  The stories that children write could be from any area of the curriculum, such as a historical account of a significant event, a cooking recipe for making cakes, or a geographical description of a major landmark meaning that the programme is versatile.

I had the opportunity to use the programme Story Bird last year, and this has allowed me to make comparisons and contrasts between the two. I prefer the Little Bird Tales programme as it is possible to use any images or art work within my stories on little bird tales, whereas, in Story Bird, it is only possible to use art work supplied by the programme, and you don’t have the opportunity to create your own. Although the art work on Story Bird is very aesthetically pleasing and has different pages to suit a certain theme, it isn’t possible to swap themes or artist’s work halfway through the story, which could be a potential issue within creating the ideas for your story that need to fit to the images. However, in the classroom I would give children the opportunity to select which programme they would rather use to create their story, and would see what was written!


Below is my Christmas story, enjoy it and a very merry Christmas to you all!

littlebirdtales.com cover image

The Sacred Sacre

November 16, 2013  Tagged , , , , ,

I took some time to read the government document of the Sacre 2011- “Growing Together.”  The Sacre begins by discussing the different approaches that can be used in RE. These consist of the phenomenological approach, experiential approach, interpretive approach, conceptual approach, humanising approach and world view approach. The phenomenological approach allows children to see religions as they are, they learn about religions and religious activities. On the other hand, the experiential approach looks at answering life’s big questions, using religions as the sources to the answers. The interpretive approach develops interpretations of religions and related it to real life, whilst the conceptual approach develops religious literacy and clarifies key concepts with children. The humanising approach experiences the spiritual and the world view approach analyses how children see the world in relation to other people. It may vary from school to school which approach is used, but each approach can present benefits to children such as using questioning, considering other’s views and experiencing religious activities.

A wide variety of pedagogy is encouraged in RE within the 6 kinds of learning methods. These are learning from my own view of the world, learning about religions, learning from experience, learning from interpretation, learning from conceptual understanding and learning from religions by exploring my own answers to ultimate questions. The six learning methods link in to the 2 skills in RE (AT1 and AT2.)  AT1 consists of learning about religion and belief, and considers the skills and processes of developing understanding of religious beliefs, practices, life styles, sources of authority and ways of expressing meaning. AT2 consists of learning from religion and belief, and considers the skills and processes of developing the ability to handle questions of belonging, identity and diversity, meaning, purpose and truth, and values and commitments.

Religion can be taught in many ways. The phenomena of religion can be taught by using artefacts and discussing what they are used for, whilst educating the spirit can be taught by guided story and creative imagination to use children’s spiritual capacities. Children can be presented with contradicting accounts of religious practices for interpretive RE, they can discuss how different concepts fit into stories for concepts for learning in RE, children can think of questions they would like to ask God in ultimate questions, and pupil’s can look at their own commitments in world views.


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