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.

ICT to Support Personal, Social and Emotional Development.

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

Whilst writing an assignment as part of the Children in Their Worlds module, I came upon what I thought was a fantastic tool to support children in writing about themselves. I discovered a section on the Cbeebies website which allows the child to create a story about themselves. This web based game allow the child to talk about their dislikes and likes and to create a mini profile. This web based game could be particularly useful to children who have English as an additional language or who may find it difficult to write much text. Children can select pages in the book to complete for example based upon their favourite foods, their friends and their family. Included are pictures to assist with completing the information, children can drag and click the appropriate picture onto the page. Children can also input some text onto the pages if they wish. This activity would also support communication development if it was completed in pairs or with the support of a teacher or adult. I liked that the options included lots of multi cultural foods and activities which helps to make the activity more inclusive. Children are also able to create stickers and upload thier own photographs onto the pages. This would allow for the use of various types of technology to be used. This web based resource could also be used to create a story about an imaginary character or perhaps a class teddy bear, allowing for lots of imaginative thinking and discussion. I really liked this resource and would certainly consider using this within my classroom to write personal profiles for the children.

Click on the link below to take a look for yourself to discover how you could use the app.

Cbeebies My Story Maker Game

Lights, Camera, Action!

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Early Years | Posted on March 17, 2013

We often talk as teachers about a hook into the lesson for the children. That ‘wow’ moment that captures their imagination and fires their interest in a topic. A video is a great way to bring a subject to life for children and a great way to grab the attention of the children at the beginning of the lesson.

There are many websites with videos that can be used to educate children about a theme or topic. Probably the most well known video streaming site is YouTube, however due to the high security settings in  many schools teachers are not always able to access this resource. The BBC have some fantastic resources available on their various websites for example the Bytesize learning sites. These cover a huge variety of subjects and learning for all ages.

But, why not create a video yourself to create that ‘wow’ moment? Why not join with other teaching staff to create a short clip to introduce a theme to your children, to tell a story or bring a subject to life.  This can be fun for both the teaching staff and the children and can be a great way to assist the learning of EAL children or children who have a preference for visual learning. We recently created a short video as a hook into a presentation and received a good response from our audience as we had immediately caught the audiences attention. This demonstrated to me how a similar principle could be used with children.

Making a video with the children in the class can also be a great learning tool, as well as a way of creating a record of assessment. Children could retell a story, record themselves during an activity and have a go at creating a video around their theme of learning. It could be a fun way of the children demonstrating to their peers their ideas or what they have learnt. Videos do not have to be really technical or well edited for the children to enjoy them especially if they have produced them themselves. Many children may not have had the opportunity to use a video camera and may really enjoy using this form of ICT. With careful guidance of the teaching staff children can become film makers and could produce a cinema style session for parents to come into school to see what heir children have been learning.

There are many ways in which videos either on websites or that the teaching staff and children produce themselves can be used to bring ICT learning into the classroom to support children’s learning.

Smartboards are really smart!

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Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Directed Tasks, Early Years, Uncategorized | Posted on March 1, 2013

Today’s ICT session looked at how the use of Smart boards has developed in the classroom. Smart boards are a fairly new technology to me. I have had a little experience with them through my previous job, but they were not at any of my schools probably because the technology wasn’t available.

The smart board is a multi sensory learning aid that can be used by all the staff and the children in a class or setting. The smart board offers opportunities for whole class learning, small group learning or individual learning. It can be used in conjunction with a variety of software and other ICT hardware to enhance learning. Teachers are able to create and produce their own learning tools as well as providing opportunities for children to create their own work.

Smart boards can be an effect tool for showing video clips, creating spider diagrams of class ideas about topics or pictures for example or for playing education based games. However there is a theory that smart boards can be over used. Do the learning objectives need to be written on the board every day? Does the teacher need to demonstrate learning on the smart board or are there other ways to do this? Does it always have to be the teacher leading the learning on the smart board?

Creating an ICT based learning activity for the smart board was surprisingly easy. It was very interesting to see exactly how these games or learning activities can be created. I found the idea of showing a picture and revealing it bit by bit and writing the children’s ideas of what they thought they could see down on the board a really great idea.

The smart board can be used to help develop both fine and gross motor skills in children depending upon the activity. It could also be a great resource to use with children who need additional support with language and communication. It can be used as a visual aid to help the teaching staff or children understand what is happening in the day or in the learning.

I can see many ideas for using the smart board with even the youngest children. They could use it to view pictures and discuss, listen to sounds, play learning games and create their own artwork to name a few ideas. The smart board can definitely be used as a cross curricular resource and can be used to support the learning in any subject. I think it is definately important to ensure other resources are used to support the learning so that the excitement remains when the children get to access the smart board.

Click the link to voew some examples of smart board work that I created in the session on smart boards.smart-board-work-1k0xmj9