Coding – Scratch Jr. Week 4

Coding has began to become an increasing need for our society. “Universities want to reverse the decline in applicants for computer science courses. Gaming companies want more programmers… Manufacturers want trainees who can design embedded systems. And head teachers want bigger budgets for even more computer labs” (Naughton, 2012, p. 2). With this increase in the need for individuals to have the skill of coding it is essential that we try too, to teach the younger generations; to allow them to not only know what it is but to fully understand the benefits of coding also. The reason for this is because it will be helpful for the younger generations when looking for their future career. Some of the benefits of coding is that the individuals will develop their problem solving skills, enhance their ability to create new ideas and design new projects. It is also believed to be a fundamental part of literacy in todays modern world.

A way in which we can accommodate this within schools is by using the computer program, Sctrach Jr. This program is designed to allow children, from the ages 5 and above, to create their own games as well as their own stories by using characters, actions as well as voice overs to achieve what they want to invent. In today’s session we had to create our own Scratch Jr. to promote literacy skills. With previously having completed the readings, they informed me why we should teach these skills which lead me to find out how to use the computer program itself . I found a 5 minute video on YouTube which showed me what it was about and also informed me of the basics of how to use it. Personally, I feel this gave me a head start when entering the lesson today. In my own opinion I felt like this was much easier to use than ActivInspire from last weeks session. However, I believe that both will be useful in the classroom.

“Scratch is designed for exploration and experimentation so it supports any different learning style.” (The Lead Project, 2014, n.p) Whilst carrying out the task I could see how interactive it was for myself as well as enjoyable to complete. For many children, they will sit for hours playing around with the computer program simply because it is so interactive and creative. For my own task I decided to create a story about ‘Kat and the Gang!’ Where a group of friends use their imagination to go around the world. For the purposes of promoting literacy my thoughts were taking the group of friends round different countries, seeing the different animals and then giving the children the chance to decide which country the group of friends would travel to next.

Above is the Scratch Jr. which I created!

The learning outcomes for the activity that I created would be:

  • I can create, capture and manipulate sounds, text and images to communicate experiences, ideas and information in creative and engaging ways.  TCH 1-04b/ TCH 2-04b
  • I am developing problem-solving strategies, navigation and co-ordination skills, as I play and learn with electronicgames, remote control or programmable, I can work individually or collaboratively to design and implement a game toys. TCH 0-09a/ TCH 1-09a
    (Scottish Government, 2014)

I felt as though these suited my activity best since the children were able to decide how the story ended meaning that they could be creative with the program and freely decide what happened. They would use their problem solving skills to link the slide to what had happened before as well as create their own slide to finish the adventure that had begun. To summarize the topic of coding, there is a need for children to be up-to-date with the world around them since children are becoming ‘digitally native’ (Prensky, 2001). This suggests that there is a need to teach technology and the concepts surrounding since it is required in today’s evolving society.

References   

  • The Lead Project (2014) Super Scratch Programming Adventure: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games! No Starch Press.

Multimodality – Week 3

Hello again! This week’s session was about multimodality, a concept which we have briefly met in another module. Overall, I feel a little more confident as the weeks go on when writing my blog as I am getting used to the website as well as discovering the new widgets which are available to use.

If a text is multimodal, there is one or more semiotic systems used, these include: linguistic, visual, audio, gestural or spatial. In terms of this week’s session we had the task of using ActivInspire; something which we can use to encourage cooperation and collaboration on interactive whiteboards. At first I thought that this task would have been simple to do since I usually pick things up quite quickly when it comes to technology. However, I struggled to figure out how to use each widget at first and did not quite know how to start creating something which would be beneficial in a classroom environment. For myself, I feel as though this is something which I would need a little time to get used to but after knowing what to do, would find it fairly straight forward to use in the future as by the end of the session I was able to create an interactive activity on coordinates. Below is what my partner and I created:

This was the finished product. However it did take some time to get to this stage. In my opinion, once we figured it out, we found it much more enjoyable to work with AcivInspire and still managed to succeed in this lesson.

When we present in a classroom we should make sure that it is captivating, motivating and engaging the pupils who we are teaching. An advantage of ActivInspire is that you were able to have characters and noise as well as colour. All of these factors are our semiotic systems which can enhance the children’s learning due to the variety in which you can present; meaning it can help with pupils understanding (Beauchamp, 2012). Even though interactive whiteboards can be very advantageous within a classroom there are consequences to just using them all the time.

“Other technologies will need consideration to meet individual needs across the range of diversity found among learners” (Deubel, 2010, p.4). It is important that we do not fall into the trap of only using interactive whiteboards because there is more advanced technology being used within the society and is still evolving. If we use them in moderation and integrate other devices, this will prevent the children from not knowing the technology which is surrounding them.

References 

• Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary School: From Pedagogy to Practice. Pearson.

• Deubel, P. (2010) Interactive Whiteboards: Truths and Consequences. [Online]
https://thejournal.com/Articles/2010/08/04/Interactive-Whiteboards-Truths-and-Consequences.aspx?Page=5 [Accessed: 28th January 2019]

Bee-Bot Fun – Week 2

This week’s session in Digital Technologies consisted of creating your own learning mat for the programmable toy Bee-Bot. Bee-Bot is a technological device which can be programmed to do a set of instructions. These include: moving forward and backwards, turning left and right as well as has a go, clear and pause button to assist the learner when controlling the Bee-Bot. The learner can tell Bee-Bot to do up to 40 instructions (Janka, P. 2008). Bee-Bot has many benefits as it can teach a variety of subjects and also allows the learner to be in control as well as have fun at the same time. In my own opinion it is important that we have activities like this since the children are digitally native and are generally more engaged due to having the permission to use something technological.

Alison Lydon found that 12 out of 28 children were able to use Bee-Bot independently with no help from an adult (Lydon, 2008, p.2). They gained independence quickly meaning that programmable toys had a positive impact on their learning. This could suggest to us that we should encourage teachers to use programmable toys like Bee-Bot since it can enhance the child’s understanding when in the classroom.

After doing the readings before getting into the lecture and having done some preparation with my partner before hand, I felt more confident about carrying out the task since I knew roughly what it was I was going to do. We chose to do the narrative of the story, The Gruffalo, in which the child would have to remember the characters in order as well as descriptions to help them go round the Bee-Bot mat. Bee-Bot (mouse) meets all four characters (including the Gruffalo) as well as uses descriptive words to illustrate what the Gruffalo looks like. As they make there way to each character in order, question marks are randomly placed so that they answer a question about the book to enhance their comprehension of the story and to see how much they already understood. Below are images of the mat we created:

The learning outcomes which we chose for this activity were Lit 1-07a and TCH 1-15a as they were most relevant to what we were creating. The first outcome would be achieved since the children would be expected to answer numerous questions on the book. This would develop their knowledge and understanding of the context as well as reflect on their own understanding of the descriptions. The second outcome comes from Computing Science as they would be demonstrating their problem solving skills by controlling the Bee-Bot as well as having to know the main ideas of the story.

The experience I had this session was interesting since I now know the advantages of using a programmable toy in a classroom environment. I would like to use Bee-Bot in the future as I think it would be a valuable use of time whilst teaching.

References
• Janka, P. (2008) Using a Programmable Toy at Preschool Age: Why and How?[Online] http://www.terecop.eu/downloads/simbar2008/pekarova.pdf[Accessed: 20th January 2019]

• ICTopus Article (2008) Sharing Good Practice: Robots in Early Education by Alison Lydon. [Online]http://moodle1819.uws.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/39830/mod_resource/content/1/Reading Programmable Toys/ICTopus – Sharing Good Practice – Robots in Early Education .pdf [Accessed: 20th January 2019]

 

The First Blog – Week 1

10/01/19

On Tuesday I experienced my first day in my option module Digital Technologies. I chose digital technologies due to its great importance in today’s modern society; forever changing and evolving. In terms of my own skills when discussing digital technologies I would say I have a fair amount of knowledge since I am digitally native. However, I do have areas that I am not as confident in. For example, after Tuesday’s session I learned that I do not know much about coding or what ActifInspire is. I believe that this module will further develop my skills as well as give me new ones which will benefit me when teaching in a classroom environment.

My confidence levels about taking this module was varied since I knew that it was going to be a challenge to sit. However, after sitting through the first session I now feel a little more at ease and I am more determined to see what I can achieve. Our first session included: having a course outline, discussing the expectations required as well as the importance of why we have digital technologies within schools. Personally, after reading Enhancing Learning and Teaching through the use of Digital Technologies by the Scottish Government, I feel more informed about why the use digital technologies should improve throughout schools. Firstly, it was brought to my attention during Tuesday’s session that not all children experience technology at home. This clearly justifies that we should have access and encourage technology to be used in school to close the poverty attainment gap (Scottish Government, 2016). In result it will allow children to feel more included within the society as well as allow them to learn in various ways.

“”Digital technology can enhance learning and teaching.” (Scottish Government, P.3.  2016).  With having being born into the world of technology I can also agree with this statement as I remember being so fascinated and focused when playing a game or simply browsing the internet. There has also been evidence to support this after a report was taken to see what children thought about the use of digital technology in schools. The report found that children felt more enjoyment when learning after using the technology and wished to see it being used more. They highlighted that it would be more beneficial to be used in balance; to avoid over using it. (Scottish Government, 2016).

Having digital skills will also benefit a child to become prepared when looking for a job and will give them the basic digital needs they will need in todays society. Since the new generations and some current generations are digitally native it is important that we evolve education. (Prensky, 2001). I believe that schools will continue to develop digitally due to the experiences I saw during placement. Technology was used throughout my two week placement, however, the teachers were still willing to expand on their knowledge of technology so that they could use it more within the classroom . Finally, I hope that this module is not just challenging but entertaining and I am looking forward to this term.

References

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants MCB University Press
Scottish Government (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Government  

[Online] Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00505855.pdf