Coding – Scratch JR 29/1/19

In today’s digital technology input we were exploring the concept of coding.  In particular coding through the Scratch JR programme. I felt a little apprehensive about this input as I have had next to no previous experience of coding, even in the simplest form.

Thankfully we started the process with a very basic walk through of the programme which helped me to learn how to do such things as create a background, add a character, change it’s colour and programme it to move using the directional command buttons. We then went on to explore the app individually and make a start on the task of creating a literacy and technology based activity through Scratch JR.

After exploring the app and deciding on which of my ideas would be best to pursue, I decided to go for a common words lesson in a classroom environment.  I set up the classroom environment using a classroom setting background and adding in scratch as the teacher and a few children for the class. Scratch the cat began by introducing himself to the class and the lesson plan for the day; to work on our common words (such as and and the) through the Read, Say, Break, Blend, Cover, Write method.  The idea of my programme was to explore the common words in a fun and stimulating manner.

The Experiences and Outcomes that would be explored in this lesson are as follows:

I can spell the most commonly-used words, using my knowledge of letter patterns and spelling rules and use resources to help me spell tricky or unfamiliar words. LIT 1-21a

I explore and experiment with the features and functions of computer technology and I can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts. TCH 1-04a / TCH 2-04a

 (Scottish Government, 2014).

The lead project stated that “Scratch is designed for exploration and experimentation, so it supports any different learning style” Scratch can be used as an aid for teachers in subjects such as Maths, English, Art and Information Technology. Alongside this Scratch JR has  a vast array of commands ranging for basic to complex which allows for children of all ages and stages to be able to explore and create using the app. Their is also a second version of this app  called Scratch which is a tool i hope to use in upper school as it offers such a breadth of experience and exploration at a more advanced level. Another great aspect of Scratch is the sheer amount of opportunities it gives children to show their creative side and take the lead in learning when creating their own projects. The lead project concluded that ”When children are creating scratch projects they are not just learning how to write computer programs. They are learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively – essential skills for success and happiness in today’s world.” (The Lead Project (2014)). In today’s digitally immersed society it is essential for the youth of today to be exposed to such technologies as Scratch in order to develop the key life skills that they will be using in the future and as such this is definitely a programme which I will explore in the future.

References

  • Scottish Government, 2014 https://education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf
  • The Lead Project (2014)    Super Scratch Programming Adventure: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games! No Starch Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multimodality – ActivInspire 22/1/19

In this weeks digital technology input the focus was placed upon multimodality, in particular the way in which ActivInspire can be used in a classroom environment .  We began the session by discussing what it means if a text is classed as multimodal.  A text is described as multimodal when it combines two or more semiotic systems. In total their are five semiotic systems :

  1. Linguistic – the use of words.
  2. Visual – the use of such things as pictures and colours.
  3. Audio – the use of sound, volume and pitch.
  4. Gestural – the use of such things as movement and speed.
  5. Spatial – the way in which we organise the design and position of layout.

The combining of the 5 semiotic systems makes a lesson or activity more engaging and stimulating for a child as it allows them to physically interact with the lesson.

We then moved on to discuss and explore ActivInspire. ActivInspire is a multimodal programme in which teachers and pupils can design slides in order to present their ideas. Prandstatter stated that ”Touch displays can become a social learning tool encouraging hands-on experiences, thereby helping children to learn by doing.” (Prandstatter 2014). ActivInspire allows for this  hands on interaction which will allow the children to explore and understand the information further. At first glance ActivInspire appeared to be similar to PowerPoint, in the sense that you create a selection of slides. However after delving deeper into the programme it became abundantly clear that they were completely different. ActivInspire has an endless amount of tools to aid the learning of the children : ranging from maths tools such as protractors to background designs and voice recording. With this in mind I thought it would be best to watch some YouTube videos on the many tools ActivInspire had to offer in order to be able to navigate the programme with ease. However even after doing so I still struggled to use the app to the full capacity.

My plan of action was to follow up on my BeeBot activity and complete an interactive programme on the very hungry caterpillar, in which the children could feed the caterpillar the correct amount of each item of food in the correct order. I began by creating my cover design, this took some time as inserting separate images into the programme was very time consuming (especially with me being so new to the programme). I then managed to create another 3 slides which told the story of the very hungry caterpillar beginning his journey, for these slides I added in some voice notes of the caterpillar saying such things as ‘I am so hungry’.

However, after creating these slides I found that the voice notes stopped working and I feel this may be a future issue to watch out for and it would take away the audio element of the lesson.  In the four hours I was not able to complete my lesson plan, however I do feel this was because I was completely unfamiliar with the programme and subsequently I had to spend a lot of the time simply researching and exploring the app.

Beauchamp stated that ICT has the ability to structure new experiences  when presenting things in a variety of ways , however it can only do so if the teacher has sufficient understanding on the area (Beauchamp,2012).  From a teaching perspective I feel that ActivInspire could be an extremely beneficial programme for the classroom and in presenting things in a variety of ways  but only if the teacher had a great wealth of knowledge on how best to use the programme. With this in mind i feel it is vital for me to explore the app further in order to know exactly what it offers and how best to use it. Multimodal programmes are captivating, motivating, interactive, memorable and personalised all of which help to stimulate and engage the children in the classroom environment.  ActivInspire captures each and every one of these aspects and as such I feel it is an programme the children will definitely love. I am looking forward to exploring this programme further and integrating it into future lessons to maximize the children’s learning.

References 

  • Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary School: From Pedagogy to Practice. Pearson.
  • • Prandstatter, J. (2014) Interactive Displays in Early Years Classes. [Online] Available: http://connectlearningtoday.com/interactive-displays-early-years-classes/

 

 

Programmable toys 15/1/19

In this weeks digital technology class we were given the opportunity to explore programmable toys (specifically Bee-Bot) in order to develop our ability to use this learning utensil and to deepen our understanding of how this programme can be used in the classroom environment to expand the children’s learning.

At the beginning of the class we were introduced to the history of programmable toys. I found it extremely interesting to find out that programmable toys and robots dated back to the 1960’s when Seymour Papert created Logo. This programme was designed to give the children a chance to explore complex programming by controlling the arrow in order to draw lines on the screen (Papert S, 1960). After discussing the history of programmable toys and the many benefits of them, we were given our brief for the assessment task.  For this we were to design a Bee-Bot mat which would be a stimulating activity for children.

Prior to this assessment I had limited experience with the Bee-Bot technology and therefore I was a little apprehensive. However, after being given a Bee-Bot to experiment with my nerves were very quickly settled as the Bee-Bot was extremely simple to understand and programme. It was also extremely bright and colourful which I feel will be very stimulating for the child.  Alison Lydon stated that the children in her classroom had ‘Gained independence faster than she had anticipated’ with 12 out of 28 of them being able to use the Bee-Bot independently after the first instruction (Lydon, 2008, pg.2).  I feel this was similar within our classroom with the majority of the cohort being able to programme the Bee-Bot with ease.

After exploring the technology,  I began to draw a plan of my Bee-Bot mat. I decided to opt for a Bee-Bot game focusing on literacy, which would be aimed at early level learners on curriculum for excellence. This is usually pupils from nursery to primary 1. I planned the Bee-Bot mat around the story ‘The very hungry caterpillar’ and food the caterpillar ate in it’s journey to become a butterfly.

I designed a 4 x 5 square mat, with the boxes exactly 15cm in order for the Bee-Bot to fit in comfortably.     

I then added the foods the caterpillar ate on his journey;

  • 1 apple
  • 2 pears                                     
  • 3 plums
  • 4 strawberries
  • 5 oranges
  • 1 cake
  • 1 cone
  • 1 pickle
  • 1 slice of cheese
  • 1 slice of salami
  • 1 lollipop
  • 1 piece of cherry pie
  • 1 sausage
  • 1 cupcake
  • 1 slice of watermelon
  • 1 leaf.    

The expectation of my mat was that the child would program the Bee-Bot to move from the ‘GO’ position to each of the food items the caterpillar ate. Prior to the activity I would read and discuss the ‘very hungry caterpillar’ book with my class and this would be a method of developing the children recall in a fun and stimulating manner. After the child has programmed the Bee-Bots movement and watched the robot move they will check if they were correct by checking the very hungry caterpillar book.  The Curriculum for excellence experiences and outcomes that I was looking to achieve throughout my game were:

I listen for useful or interesting information and I use this to make choices       LIT-0-04a

I can develop a sequence of instructions and run them using programmable devices or equivalent TCH 0-15a.

From a teaching perspective, this weeks lesson on programmable toys has been invaluable in developing my knowledge of how to use technologies such as Bee-Bots in the classroom well. It has shown me that Bee-Bots are an excellent method of allowing the children to explore cross-curricular learning in a fun, imaginative and stimulating manner. Bee-Bots open so many doors for learning with 1 activity sprouting 10 other ideas  and follow up activities. It allows for collaboration, conversation and allows the children to take the lead in learning.  Alongside the fun and social aspects of using Bee-Bots, it also allows for the children to be introduced to the idea of programming technologies which will be a fundamental skill from them later in their school careers. Beauchamp (2012,p65)  further emphasises this point when stating  that ‘ICT is not just a computer with Early years software installed. ICT is anything that you can press a button and make something happen,  it is the beginnings of children understanding that technology requires programming and that they can be in control of making things happen’.

Overall, I really enjoyed exploring Bee-Bot,  the amount of activities that are achievable through using Bee-Bot is astonishing and I will most definitely  be using them in my classroom in the future.

References

  • Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the primary school from pedagogy to practice Pearson:Harlow, England.
  • Lydon, A. (2008)  Let’s go with Bee-Bot : using your Bee-Bot across the curriculum. TTS group Ltd.
  • Papert, S. Http://www.transum.org/software/logo/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first digital technologies input.

On Tuesday I had my first insight into my option module of BA1 : digital technologies. I chose this module as I felt it would be extremely beneficial to explore a variety of ways digital technologies can be used effectively within the classroom environment in order to stimulate the children and further their learning. I also feel that this module will help to improve my level of technological skill and knowledge. Being 20 years old it is often assumed that I will be technologically minded. However, this is not the case. I have very limited knowledge of technologies as a whole, the technology I am familiar with are those I come into contact with in my day to day life, and I am looking forward to exploring others.

In today’s society their is an ever growing focus placed upon digital technologies, in day to day life and within the educational environment.  The youth of today are born into a society which is swarmed with technologies and as such these children are digital natives. A digital native is some who is a ‘native speaker’ of the language of computers, video games and the internet (Marc Prensky (2001)). With this in mind, I feel it is crucial for me to be able to work with and have a real understanding of the technologies the children in my care are so familiar with.

Prior to beginning university and being introduced to the importance of digital technology I often wondered why there was such a great emphasis placed upon it, by not only teachers but the government too. The digital learning and teaching strategy for Scotland states that there are four main objectives of digital technology within education, these are :

  1. To develop the skills of the educators
  2. To improve access
  3.  To enhance curriculum and assessment delivery
  4.  To empower leaders of change

(Scottish Government,2016)

Another document which supports the use of digital technologies is the Scottish government (2015) literature review on the impact digital technology has on learning and teaching. This document highlights the positive impact digital technologies can have on children with additional support needs. If used correctly, digital technologies can support learners with communication needs, increase a child’s confidence in presenting their findings and opinions and support reluctant workers in all areas of literacy (Scottish Government, 2015).

Over the next 12 weeks I am looking forward to exploring technologies such as the bee bot, scratch and iMovie. I am also looking forward to gaining a deeper understanding of how these can be used to expand a child’s learning and to do further reading into the benefits of the technology being used. By the end of the module I hope to feel more confident in my ability to teach digital technologies effectively to the children in my care, in order to make learning as stimulating and enjoyable as possible.

References

  • Marc Prensky (2001) Digital Natives Digital Immigrants.
  • Scottish Government, (2015) Literature Review on the Impact of Digital Technology on Learning and Teaching. Retrieved from http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/24843/2/00489303.pdf Last accessed 11th  January 2019.
  • Scottish Government, (2016) The digital learning and teaching strategy for Scotland. Retrieved from http://moodle1819.uws.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/39814/mod_resource/content/2/Digital%20Learning%20and%20Teaching%20Strategy%20.pdf . Last accessed 11th January 2019.