Blogging in schools?

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on February 20, 2014

Many schools have now started blogging from the classroom. This allows parents and carers to keep updated on special events, learning that is taking place or any other special news the class wishes to share with parents. From a parents perspective this is great! My child in year 4 had recently taken to blogging and enthusiastically comes home from school asking to post a comment about his day on the blog. The class teacher also poses questions on the blog at the end of the day for the children to answer, and I can see how this could be used as an assessment tool to evaluate the level of understanding about the days learning. So far I have been able to see pictures and learn about the football trainig the class recieved in PE, learnt all about their homework projects and got to find out how the trip to Cadbury’s World went! All comments are moderated by the teacher to ensure they are appropriate, and parents are able to comment too. It was nice to provide the entire class with some feedabck after looking at the pictures of the homework projects.

      

A negative to the blogging however could be some parents may not have the time or the facilitites to access the class blog, meaning they are missing out on opportunitites to see what the children are doing. The majority of families do have access to the internet, but there are some who don’t or who may feel excluded because they are not computer literate. Confidentiality may also be an issue as some blogs are not private.

After speaking with the class teacher about the class blog, she suggested that it is only some children who access and comment upon it frequently and not the entire class. She also explained conversations can occasionally occur in the comments which go completely off track from the original post. The blogs are something that are currently being developed further in the school and all classes are yet to have them up and running properly, but I do think they are a fantastic way to communicate with parents.

To take a look at my sons class blog, and get a feel for how they can support learning and involve parents click on the link below

My sons year 4 class blog

Blogging is something I will definately consider using within my class. I will think about making it accesible to all parents and maybe look at holding a session every so often after school for parents who have no internet access to take a look. Obviously this will be time providing! I think if used well and kept up to date it can be a very valuable resource for sharing with families their childs progress and achievements.

 

 

Is It Important to Teach ICT in Primary Schools?

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on February 10, 2014

I’m looking to get some views on whether people think teaching ICT in Primary Schools is important. Please insert  up to 20 characters to post your answer. Please note, you can write in an answer that has already been submitted.

Is it important to teach ICT in Primary Schools?… at AnswerGarden.ch.

 

Shutdown or Restart? A Report on Computing in UK Schools.

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, National Curriculum, Uncategorized | Posted on February 10, 2014

The Royal Society

 

I have just read a report on the future teaching of ICT in schools and it was really interesting. The report was published by The Royal Society and looked at whether the teaching of ICT needs to be revamped to better support pupils, or whether it is relevant to be taught in schools. It was interesting to read the views on using the term ICT in the National Curriulum. I have often thought that ICT is a very broad area and gives much flexibility to teachers to use it as they choose. I agree with the point made in this report that because it is such a broad description, it does allow teachers to deliver it at the lowest possible stage and I have seen this in practice. Due to the teachers lack of confidence in using the technologies it was not something that was often present within the classroom. Visits to the computer suite were short, brief and didnt appear particularly of value as the children were completing work they could freely access in the classroom on the PC’s that were available. There were no new skills being developed and no guidance to access new programmes or software. With this is mind I agree with the points made in this report that suggests teachers need to have structured training and Continuing Professional Development to improve subject knowledge, skills and confidence. However I think this training needs to be carefully managed to appreciate the lack of confidence some teachers have around ICT. Resources within the schools could also prove to be a hinderance to providing computing in some schools. Schools are currently managing tight budgets and may not have endless funds available to constantly update technology hardwares and networks. The report suggests working with businesses and individuals to improve both skills and resources within our schools.

I found this report quite interesting to read, and the recomendations all seemed to make sense. I have written previously in my blog about my worries about having to teach Computing as a subject rather than ICT in its current form. Reading these recomendations in this report I can still see the positives of teaching computing, and the benefits to our children in later life, and if these recommendations are taken onboard it would make it a little less daunting.  I can also see the points that are made by traditionalists about not allocating time to Computing and instead focussing on other subjects such as Mathematics. Unfortunately the world we live in is racing forwards at great speed when it comes to technology, computing and ICT and the need is definately there to try to keep our children up to speed. With trading and business frequently carried out online, with cars for example becoming more computerised and with more use of robotics, we need to ensure our children have an understanding to allow them to compete with thier peers from across the world in later life. i’m yet to be convinced children as young as 5 need to be taught about programming, but with time and seeing the benefits within the classroom this view may change.

If you would like to read the report summary, Please click on the image below for the link.

 

I have also included a brief video clip of an interview with Professor Steve Furber FRS talking about Computing in UK schools.

 

 

 

 

Computer Masters to Teach the Teachers

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Early Years, National Curriculum, Uncategorized | Posted on February 9, 2014

 

 

 

After my previous blog post, I found a recent article about how the Government will employ Computer Masters to teach the teachers in preparation for the delivery of Computing lessons in primary schools and Computer Science in secondary schools. The article doesn’t really explain exactly how the teachers will be taught about computer programming, but it does allay some fears I have about teaching this in the new curriculum. I would still be interested in hearing the views of other trainee teachers or teachers about how they feel about teaching this new subject. Is it really going to be much different from how we use and teach ICT in schools now? Or is it just the name and the language the curriculum is written in that makes it more scary? To read the article, click on the image above.

Computing in the New National Curriculum

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Early Years, National Curriculum, Uncategorized | Posted on February 9, 2014

Just taken a look at how Computing features within the new National Curriculum from 2014. I have to say I find this extremely daunting! As somebody who left education a number of years ago, computing is something I have had to almost teach myself as the technologies have changed. I haven’t been able to come from school, where we used smartboards, laptops and iPads knowing exactly how to use these resources and hardwares. Looking at the language which is used is in itself really quite frightening to me, let alone the thought of actually having to teach it! Some of the points in the curriculum such as staying safe and storing and retrieving data I do all the time, but Algorithms and debugging simple programs? Pass! It does worry me slightly that a lot of learning is becoming very ICT based and that traditional skills are being lost. I wonder how many children understand the process of writing and posting a letter? I’ll bet most children understand how to write and send an email! I’ve linked the National Curriculum page to this blog for you to take a look at what is expected to be taught. I’d be interested in other peoples thoughts on what’s involved, and how people feel about potentially teaching it. Click on the Department for Education logo for the link.

Evaluating and Sharing our Story!

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Early Years, Story Telling, Uncategorized | Posted on February 9, 2014

The last lecture of year 2 was the session I was most looking forward to. As a group we had completed our story ICT product and were really looking forward to sharing it with the other students. Before the students shared our work we took a look at a few more applications and website resources that could be useful when using ICT in the classroom. We had been introduced briefly to Purple Mash in Year 1 and it was good to get a refresher on how this website worked. It was great to see how Purple Mash could be used to support many areas of the curriculum, including Science, Maths and Design & Technology. Upon reflection it is great to see the positive benefits of using ICt to support all areas of the curriculum. Some children may not enjoy the traditional methods of learning and teaching, but they may find learning about subjects through ICT resources and hardware more engaging. I have included a short video clip below giving an overview of Purple Mash and how it can be used to support learning.

After taking a look at the different websites and applications it was finally time to share our work! Each group took it in turns to present to the class the story they had produced. It was really interesting to see how many of the different apps and resources had been used to make the different tellings of the stories. Some groups had used puppet pals like ourselves to produce their story. Another group had used Monkey Jam to make a short video telling of their story, and others had made trailers for their stories using iMovie. On the whole each groups presentation was very well thought out, and it was clearly explained how they felt the story would support further learning within the Early Years. Groups suggested it could be a link for Literacy whereas others noted how the story could be used as the hook into learning about Geography for example.

Our presentation felt as though it went well. We explained our choice of story, in that we felt it was a well known story, with characters that children find appealing and it had some repetitive parts that children could join in with as the story progressed. We shared with the other groups our thoughts on how easy or difficult we found the different apps to use, and how we would amend our piece if we repeated the task. Feedback provided by the group was on the whole very positive, and it was commented upon that they liked the use of a child telling the story. Proud Mum moment for me as my son had read the story very well!

It was great to get the opportunity to work with a group to produce our own version of a well known and much loved story, and share our work with our friends. We also uploaded our video to the universities resource bank site, to allow other students to freely access our story.

So here it is! Our version of Hairy MacLary! Hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it!

They think it’s all over, it is now!

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Uncategorized | Posted on April 2, 2013

This will be my last post before submitting this assignment.

I’m going to miss ICT! When I first started this module I was initially a little apprehensive. It’s been a long time since I left school, and many of the programmes, devices and software just did not exist when I was in school. For those colleagues who more recently left school some of the programmes discussed they had used frequently and had more experience of. It was really great to be able to learn not only from our tutor Ellie, but also from fellow students.

Since starting the ICT module I feel my confidence has definitely increased and I am more aware of the technologies out there. I have learnt about Tumblr, more about Twitter, using Bee bots, gaming, power point, the list goes on!

 

 

 

I can’t wait to get out on my next placement and into the classroom to try out some of the new ideas I have for using ICT with children. I am also really excited about blogging itself! I have been inspired to create a blog of my next placement to record my experiences so I can hopefully share them with others!

iPads in the classroom?

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on March 29, 2013

The use of iPads in the classroom is becoming more common in many of our schools. There has been much debate about the amount of time are children are spending in front of screen, and whether by digitalising our classrooms we are preventing children from learning fundanemtal skills such as writing. I believe in moderation iPads can be a great tool to support learning. Many teachers feel they are becoming an invaluable tool thanks to the ease of using them, the functions of them and the apps that can support many areas of learning. For children they are exciting and engaging and may support the learning of children reluctant to pick up a pencil.

This little guy seems intrigued by the iPad, more so than by the books on the nearby shelves at a recent German book fair. Could it be that technology and tykes are a perfect mix for learning?

 

A whole host of apps are available and I thought I mention three thhatt I have come across thatwould be good  for supporting learning in the classroom when used on an iPad.

The first app I came across was called Pocket Zoo. This app allows children to view real animals in real zoos via webcams from the comfort of the classroom. This is great fun and could be used to support learning in many areas for example, Understanding the World in the Early Years or Science and Geography in Key Stages 1 and 2. Children can also see virtual zoos and learn many facts about animals and their care. This is a fairly easy app to use and would be great for children who have never been to the zoo before. This is only available from the App store and there is a charge for downloading, but I feel it is an App that could be useful and lots of fun.

Garage Band is an app that allows children to play instruments by touching the screen. There are a wide a variety of instruments to choose fro, but I did feel this was an app better suited to older children. It is quite fiddly and may be quite difficukt for little learners. Again there is a small charge to download this app from the App store. A more suitable app for younger children is Easy Beats. This is a more basic app and allows cildren to create a four bar piece of music. It also teaches them how to create a music loop. This could be a good way of teaching music using ICT. It has some quite good reviews on the internet and is a recommended app from the music module of the Early Years Eucation course.

 

Another positive for using iPads in the classroom is that it may reduce the amount of paper used in the classrrom making it a little more environmentally friendly. iPads are also great for being inclusive. Children with a physical disability may find these easier to use than traditional pencil and paper, and with the additon of a voice recording app or video recording app work can be completed in a variety of ways.

I got to experience using an iPad in an art lesson and it was fantastic! So good I blogged about it! It was great to be able to create a piece of art through sound, photos, vidoe or simple drawing. One of the nicest parts is that if you get it wrong or want to make changes, it doesn’t neccesarily mean you have to completely start again! Just erase the part you need to without ruining your whole piece of work.

I have seen many children using iPads and they are often excited and very engaged by using them. It is something different for them to try and produces very different results to thise they normally achieve. Many schools are now introducing this into schools and providing one iPad per pupil.I read about a school in Bolton who are providing an iPad to each of their 800 pupils. Whilst this may appear to be a good idea I was surprised the children will be allowed to take them home allowing them to communicate with teachers outside of school hours. I would also worry about the potential for them to become lost or broken. Read the full article here: http://www.bee-it.co.uk/blogslink/932-bolton-school-replaces-pens-and-paper-with-an-ipad-per-pupil.html This is however a secondary school, so I am not sure whether this would be the same circumstances if it was a primary school.

I found another article online discussing a primary school that had given every pupil an iPad. I totally agree with the issue it means more children can have access to the Internet or computers at the same time than previously, but I am slightly concerned by the admission that they are used in almost every lesson. I would think this may start to take away the excitement of being told to get an iPad to use if it is an everyday occurrence. To read the full article follow this link: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6069357

I think there are positives and negatives for using iPads in the classroom, but I really believe the key is moderation and management of the amount of time children use them so that other learning skills and play skills are also allowed to fully develop.

 

 

Popplet and creating mind maps.

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Early Years, Uncategorized | Posted on March 29, 2013

 

A Popplet I created to show the links between ICT and the Early Years.

Popplet is another website I have been introduce to in the process of the ICT module. It is a fantastic site which allows you to produce visual mind maps of thoughts and ideas using words and media such as photographs.  Popplet would be a great interactive way to produce a mind map in the classroom. Children can suggest their ideas and they can be added to the map. It can be used to produce a map of learning showing what the children have already learnt and what they would like to learn. It could also be used as a tool to gather information about what children know at the atsrt of a topic of learning, and to see what they have learnt by the end. By producing two Popplets, one at the beginning and one at the end the teacher can see progress of learning that has been made.

This is definitely something I can see me using in the classroom to enhance and support learning. To see the Popplet I created about using ICT in the Early Years click on the picture at the top of this post.

ICT in the Early Years Wordle

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Early Years, Uncategorized | Posted on March 29, 2013

Wordle: ICT Early Years

I created a Wordle through an online site at Wordle.net. This is a site that allows you to create a piece of visual word art around any topic or theme. This is something that could be used with children in the classroom to create a visual display of the children’s thoughts or ideas, or to create displays in the classroom. It is something that children who are able to write could create themselves or the teaching staff could support the children in producing a Wordle. It is easy to use and the font, layout and colours can be edited to produce an interesting and visual piece of work.