Digital Technologies Week 6 – Movie Making

Prior to this input I had never used movie making software. I was surprised both by how simple it was to use the iMovie app on the iPad, and by the versatility presented by the medium.

I would have never thought to link movie making to online safety before this input. Personally, I grew up in a time where it felt as though the adults around me were quite militant about not speaking to anybody online. It was accepted as something inherently dangerous and in my own group of friends it led to hiding online activities so that we were allowed the freedom to socialise online.

For this activity, my partner and I created a cautionary tale about a princess who speaks to someone online who is not who they appear to be when she goes to meet them. We had fun creating our film and it struck me while creating the movie that it would be a good way to introduce the subject of online safety with an element of levity. Getting students to create a film like this could incorporate a number of Technology Outcomes within the Curriculum for Excellence across stages:

  • I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts. TCH 1-01a
  • I can extend and enhance my knowledge of digital technologies to collect, analyse ideas, relevant information and organise these in an appropriate way. TCH 2-01a
  • I can extend my knowledge of how to use digital technology to communicate with others and I am aware of ways to keep safe and secure. TCH 1-03a
  • I can explore online communities demonstrating an understanding of responsible digital behaviour and I’m aware of how to keep myself safe and secure. TCH 2-03a

Porter (2004, p.35) states that “the digital environment provides a unique opportunity to empower people of all ages to manipulate, combine and distribute their self-expressions as living stories that can be sent into the world and through time.” In addition to this, the Scottish Government (2015) states that “there is conclusive evidence that digital equipment, tools and resources can, where effectively used, raise the speed and depth of learning in science and mathematics for primary and secondary learners.” After telling a story through the medium of film using the iMovie app, I am convinced of the usefulness of movie-making in the classroom as a way to enhance literacy and wellbeing lessons while also developing practical skills in Technologies which are valuable to the next generation.

An activity like this would be a useful way to start a conversation about how children should immediately tell an adult if anything is making them uncomfortable online. Beauchamp (2012, p.60) states that “the schools most successful in online safety were those who informed students on what to do if things went wrong.” If talking about the risks surrounding social networking is normalised in the classroom, I believe students in the classroom will be more likely to inform an adult and seek help – rather than assuming they will be given into trouble, like my peers and I when social networking was in its infancy.

 

References

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

Porter, B. (2004). Digi Tales: The Art of Telling Digital Stories. Bernajean Porter Publication.

Scottish Executive (2004). Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Scottish Government (2015). Literature Review on the Impact of Digital Technology on Learning and Teaching.  [Online] http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/24843/1/00489224.pdf [Accessed: 01.04.18]

Digital Technologies Week 7 – Animation

According to the Moving Image Education website, “Animation ‘breathes life into something that wouldn’t normally move’.” Today we were challenged with creating a stop-motion animation to tell part of a story.

I was soon inspired with thoughts of Wallace and Gromit-style plasticine models. My expectations were quickly altered as I watched a series of tutorials and discovered the time and skill that it takes to produce something of the sort.

Rather than simply being a beginners’ sort of movie-making, animation is an art in its own right. There are five different types of animation, which serve different purposes: cutout, stop-motion model, pixillation, drawn and computer animations (Moving Image Education).

We found that the simplest to create was cutout animation and My partner and I were lucky enough to have had experience with the iStop Motion app on placement where we created a scene for their Viking topic with small groups of primary three children.

We decided to challenge ourselves with creating a scene in the plasticine stop motion style. We had an hour and a half to fully familiarise ourselves with the app and create our scene. We began by animating the process of creating one plasticine character, with little details such as the character picking up his second arm and ‘putting it on’ by himself. It was a very fun and engaging session and as we went we were further inspired, which culminated in a 14 second sequence where another character came along and jumped on the original and made a ‘splash.’

This was a fun activity with the potential to form a basis of a very engaging lesson. Besides the obvious development of Technology skills that takes place when creating an animation, asking children to do a task like this gives them an opportunity to “communicate clearly when engaging with others within and beyond my place of learning, using selected resources as required,” meeting the Literacy outcome LIT 1-10a (Scottish Government, 2004). A lesson creating animation is yet another opportunity to use Technology in the classroom in a way that promotes inclusion for those students with additional support needs, who may not be able to tell their story as well by putting pen to paper as they can by designing a model and ‘bringing it to life.’

The only limitation I could see with this in a lesson is that it took us the full hour and a half to create 14 seconds of footage. However, this could be useful in the classroom to promote groupwork – with small groups of children each creating one snippet of a story.

One key finding of the Digital Literacy Impact Review (Scottish Government, 2015) was that while there is evidence that digital tools and resources can help to close the attainment gap, it is just as important that teachers are equipped with the skills to use it; it is not enough simply that the technology is available for use in the classroom, teachers must be familiar with it and competent when using it. After this session, I am confident in my ability to use the iStop Motion app to create animations and quite excited to hopefully see it used, or use it myself, in the classroom again on my next placement.

 

References

Moving Image Education: [Online] https://movingimageeducation.org/create-films/animation [Accessed: 21 February 2018].

Scottish Executive (2004). Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Scottish Government. 2015. Digital Literacy Impact Review. [Online] Edinburgh: APS. [Accessed: 21 February 2018].

Digital Technologies Week 5 – eBooks

The Oxford English Dictionary defines an eBook as “an electronic version of a printed book which can be read on a computer or a specifically designed handheld device.” Today in Digital Technologies we designed our own eBooks and examined how they could be useful in the classroom.

First of all, we were given a task in groups to create a brochure for UWS with prospective students in mind. We used the Book Creator app on an iPad. To make the University seem appealing to new applicants, we fully utilised the features of the app.  It was very easy to customise the book by selecting appropriate colours and fonts for our purpose. It was also simple to insert videos and images taken or saved on the iPad. In less than half an hour we had managed to familiarise ourselves with the app and create an effective multimodal text which made use of a number of semiotic systems through the inclusion of text, sound and video. Another group took a look at our UWS brochure and said that it was engaging and attractive. This made clear to me how useful it could be in the classroom to be able to create a small eBook in such a short space of time.

With this experience of the book creator app, we were then tasked with creating either a summary of a well-known book or a small eBook to help someone engage with the book. I chose “Matilda” by Roald Dahl. As it is such a long book, I chose to create a short close reading exercise for Key Stage 2 which would encourage reflection on personal relationships. The eBook asks questions about where Matilda likes to spend time and how that relates to the way the people around her treat her. It then goes on to ask for a comparison of how Miss Honey treats her and how her parents treat her, which is an activity which links to LIT 2-14a: “I can make notes, organise them under suitable headings and use them to understand information, develop my thinking, explore problems and create new texts, using my own words as appropriate.” (Scottish Executive, 2004). The last page of the eBook asks for reflection on how different people in their life make them feel through their actions, and how they can affect the feelings of others with their own actions. This links a literacy lesson to Health and Wellbeing outcome HWB 2-05a (“I know that friendship, caring, sharing, fairness, equality and love are important in building positive relationships. As I develop and value relationships, I care and show respect for myself and others.” (Scottish Executive, 2004).).  These exercises were not simply written down on paper. I believe that being able to use an iPad to flick through the exercise makes it more effective for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was multimodal as I used a number of Quentin Blake’s illustrations from relevant parts of the book to help prompt the answers to close reading questions that I both wrote in text on the page and inserted as voice clips. As we know, multimodal texts encourage accessibility in the classroom and are a useful way to close a gap in higher order thinking for individuals who may find it more difficult to follow along with reading text. Beauchamp (2012, p.88) further suggests that children who are reading from tablets in the house will be more inclined to use the same mobile devices in their learning than they may be, perhaps, to use physical books.

For myself as a prospective teacher, this was an interesting tool to learn to use. I did not realise how quickly an eBook could be created or that they could include video or voice clips – it was my own misconception that eBooks were simply novels in digital form. It is particularly relevant to me as a budding teacher in Scotland as our Digital Teaching and Learning Strategy specifically aims to develop the skills of our educators (Scottish Government, 2016). While I consider myself relatively competent and experienced with using computers the creation of eBooks for a purpose like this had never occurred to me as a way to embed technology in the classroom. An eBook like this can be created quickly, edited easily for different levels and distributed to students efficiently using Apple AirDrop – as long as iPads are available in the classroom. While this may seem like an unrealistic expectation in the classroom, tablets are getting cheaper all the time and there is motivation in particular by Education Scotland to ensure there are handheld devices available in school to enhance learning (BBC, 2012).

By the time I am a fully qualified teacher, if handheld devices are as widely available as this, I think that the ability to quickly create an eBook will be a useful skill to have.

References

BBC (2012). Education Scotland looks to expand use of tablets in schools. BBC News. [Online] 16 May. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-18081005 [Accessed: 9 February 2018].

Beauchamp, G. (2012). ICT in the Primary School: From Pedagogy to Practice. Harlow: Pearson. p.88.

Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence.  Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Scottish Government (2016) Enhancing Teaching and Learning through the use of Digital Technology: A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. [Online] Available: https://beta.gov.scot/publications/enhancing-learning-teaching-through-use-digital-technology/ [Accessed: 8 January 2017].

Digital Technologies Week 3 – Multimodal Texts

We have looked at how multimodal texts can enhance literacy lessons before but in this week of Digital Technologies we took a closer look and created our own multimodal texts using the Promethean ActivInspire app.

Multimodal is a term that refers to any text that combines two or more semiotic systems. These are visual, gestural, spatial, linguistic and aural. The children of today are bombarded with multimodal texts more than any generation before them due to the rise of technology. “The increased use of multimodal texts, digital communication, social networking and the other forms of electronic communication encountered by children and young people in their daily lives,” is reflected in the Curriculum for Excellence (Scottish Government, n.d., p.4) with the active inclusion of these multimodal texts.

Multimodal texts have been shown to be effective in classrooms because they allow a text to be understood and engaged with by more individuals. A child who struggles with reading as quickly as their peers may benefit from audio to support the text and vice versa. Multimodal texts in the classroom are a way to present ideas in “a variety of different ways to help pupils understand [them].” (Beauchamp, 2012, p.8).

With a group of other students, I used ActivInspire to create a multimodal text that would be suitable in an Early Years setting. It took the form of a ‘fill in the gap’ exercise. The background of each slide in the presentation was a place such as the jungle, the sea or a house. It asked who lives here, accompanied with an animal name in the form “c_ab,” for “crab” for instance, with a selection of letters underneath to be dragged and dropped into the space to complete the word. In the classroom, children could be asked what animal it is likely to be and what letter is missing from the word. Once the children have worked out the word, or if they are really stuck, there is a picture of the animal beside the word which can be revealed; this reminded me of ‘lift the flap’ books and struck me as very likely to keep children engaged. And of course, with an Interactive White Board, children would likely enjoy being invited up to drag and drop the letters or reveal the animal themselves, creating a “hands-on experience,” (Prandstatter, 2014). If I were to do this task again and able to invest more time in creating, I would include animal noises to increase the multimodality of the text.

Before this session, if asked to create a presentation to support a lesson, I would have instinctively used Microsoft PowerPoint, however a lot of the functions that make ActivInspire particularly engaging for children are not as easy to achieve with PowerPoint. ActivInspire is an accessible app. It is free and quick to download on both Microsoft and Apple computers. My group and I created our presentation on an Apple Mac and I expected to run into formatting issues when opening the file on my Microsoft laptop, but I did not experience any. There was a learning curve with the app when working out how to do more advanced operations but there is an abundance of tutorials available on YouTube to assist with this. My group was able to create our presentation within around an hour of being introduced to the app.

In my opinion, for these reasons, ActivInspire is a very useful tool in the classroom. It is easy to use, accessible and, if you know your way around the app, it can be to create an engaging, multimodal text to support a lesson in a matter of minutes. Following this week of Digital Technologies, I will definitely consider using ActivInspire before Microsoft PowerPoint in the primary classroom setting.

 

References

Beauchamp, G. (2012). ICT in the Primary School: From Pedagogy to Practice. Harlow: Pearson. p.8.

Prandstatter, J. (2014). Interactive Displays in Early Years Classes. [Blog: Online]. Available: http://connectlearningtoday.com/interactive-displays-early-years-classes/ [Accessed: 26 January 2018].

Scottish Government (n.d.). Curriculum for Excellence: Literacy and English Principles and Practice. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. p.4.

Digital Technologies Week 2 – Programmable Toys

In this weeks Digital Technologies input we were introduced to programmable toys, and how to use these in the classroom to enhance learning in many subjects – not just Technology. We were set the task of designing and planning a Bee-Bot activity with the potential to fulfil one Technology outcome and at least one Numeracy outcome.

Before the input I was already somewhat familiar with the concept of programmable toys as my son received a Fisher-Price Code-a-Pillar as a gift on his third birthday. Observing him playing with the toy, I could see the value of programmable toys as a way to teach young children about logical sequencing and how to put a concept into words (NCTE, 2012). These transferable skills are particularly valuable in the workplace as the technology sector is booming and the ability to code is an asset to any individual wishing to pursue a career in the STEM field.

With these things in mind, it is no wonder that programmable toys are becoming more popular and their uses in the classroom are being exploited across the curriculum, even from the Early Years.

There is a heavy importance placed on Active Learning in the Early Years in the Curriculum for Excellence (Scottish Executive, 2007). It is essential not to teach programming in isolation. For instance, my son found the Code-a-Pillar fun for a few turns but after a while he grew bored of it. The toy moving in different ways depending on how he orders the segments is interesting for him but there are a limited number of different ways these can be sequenced without investing in costly expansion packs.

This is what makes Bee-Bot such a useful tool in the classroom. Its possibilities are not limited only to learning outcomes in Technology and there is an abundance of resources out there to assist with lessons involving Bee-Bot. My group and I were immediately inspired by one of these resources – a suggestion for an activity where bee-bot is given a list to go shopping (Lydon, 2007, p.40). We got to work creating a supermarket on a grid suitable for Bee-Bot to navigate and we designed an activity to meet these Experiences and Outcomes from the Curriculum for Excellence (Scottish Executive, 2004):

  • “I understand that sequences of instructions are used to control computing technology.” (TCH 0-14a).
  • “I can develop a sequence of instructions and run them using programmable devices or equivalent.” (TCH 0-15a).
  • “I am developing my awareness of how money is used and can recognise and use a range of coins.” (MNU 0-09a).
  • “In movement, games and using technology I can use simple directions and describe positions.” (MTH 0-17a).

We drew arrows to direct children through the ‘aisles’ of the supermarket (TCH 0-14a) and brightly coloured every day products with price tags on the ‘shelves’ of the supermarkets.

Armed with a shopping list and a ‘purse’ of coins, their job was to guide Bee-Bot to the items on their list (TCH 0-15a, MTH 0-17a) and use coins to help them keep track of the cost of individual items along the way (MNU 0-09a), and at the end of their ‘shopping trip’ to calculate the total cost of their shopping.

There were a number of benefits to this activity as a teacher. It did not take very long to implement the design and the mat could be used again and again with different shopping lists to give the activity varying levels of challenge when it comes to counting the money out. It is also very flexible enough to meet other outcomes, even at first level. For instance, by giving the children a bank note instead of their coins to pay for their shopping, they could try their hand at “[using] money to pay for items and [working] out how much change [they] should receive,” which is outcome MNU 1-09a. There is even scope for meeting Modern Language outcomes in this activity. If the child is supplied with a list in a language such as French or Spanish, this could meet part of the criteria for MLAN 1-08b; “I can work on my own or with others to demonstrate my understanding of words and phrases containing familiar language.”

With Bee-Bot in the classroom, the only thing holding you back is your imagination. There is an abundance of resources available to teachers to help them plan lessons that can utilise Bee-Bot to teach skills not only in Technologies but also across the curriculum. Children in First Level could even design their own mats and stories to go along with them as a Literacy lesson in creative writing.

In my opinion, Bee-Bot is superior in functionality to the only other programmable toy I am familiar with – the Fisher-Price Code-a-Pillar – for a number of reasons. Bee-Bot can store 40 instructions in each sequence whereas the Code-a-Pillar comes with only 8 segments. Bee-Bot moves 15cm with each instruction, meaning it does not take up as much room as the Code-a-Pillar which can move as far as three feet when programmed to move straight ahead. Pekárová (2008) argues that one of the best things about Bee-Bot is that activities can be designed for children that simulate real-life problem-solving scenarios. This is concurrent with the Active Learning environment that is endorsed within the Scottish curriculum in the Early Years. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which the Code-a-Pillar could be linked to real life. It is certainly more colourful than the Bee-Bot, however yet again the latter is unmatched in the amount of resources available online, such as printable ‘outfits’ for Bee-Bot that children can decorate themselves.

As a student teacher with an interest in technology it has been an interesting and fun experience to learn about how programmable toys can be used across the curriculum. I think that Bee-Bot in particular has the potential to provide children with a solid grounding in a number of logical thinking skills, while allowing them to have fun and take part in learning in all areas of the curriculum. I also think it has the potential to support teachers as a useful, incredibly versatile resource. I find myself fully convinced of the benefits of Bee-Bot compared to another programmable toy I have encountered, and I look forward to seeing how else it can be used in the classroom.

References

Lydon, A. (2007). Let’s Go with Bee-Bot. Nottingham: TTS Group.

NCTE (2012). NCTE Floor Robots – Focus on Literacy & Numeracy. [Online] http://www.ncte.ie/media/NCTE_Floor_robots_focus_on_literacy_numeracy_primary_12-06.pdf [Accessed: 16th January 2018].

Pekárová, J. (ed.) (2008). Using a Programmable Toy at Preschool Age: Why and How? Intl. Conf. on Simulation, Modeling and Programming for Autonomous Robots. Venice, Italy, 3-4 November 2008. pp. 112-121.

Scottish Executive (2007). Building the Curriculum 2: Active learning in the early years. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Scottish Executive (2004). Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Digital Technologies Week 1

I chose Digital Technologies as my optional module because it seemed clear to me that it would be a useful topic for me as I train to be a primary teacher.  I already consider myself quite competent and fairly confident using technology. A large part of the first lesson of this module involved studying the Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. From this I learned that my comfort in using technology will benefit me in my teaching career.

In 2017, it is impossible to avoid technology and it is imperative that future generations are given the skills to use it responsibly, safely and to their advantage. In the Curriculum for Excellence, digital technology outcomes are addressed from the offset; even in the Early Years, such as the outcome TCH 0-01a which requires children to be able to “explore digital technologies and use what [they] learn to solve problems and share ideas and thoughts.” (Scottish Executive, 2004). The onus therefore is on teachers to equip children as young as three with this knowledge.

There is heavy emphasis in the Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland on not just using digital technologies in the classroom, but to use them in particular in a way that enhances learning.  A survey carried out by the Children’s Parliament of 92 children aged between eight and eleven found that digital technology helped students to engage more with learning, with the caveat that it is not over-used (Scottish Government, 2016, p. 8). This was interesting to me as it stresses the importance of using digital technology in the classroom only where it will assist the learning, and to avoid using it for its own sake. It also interested me that the children were wary of technology being over-used in the classroom, as my own instinct would be to assume that the generation this survey concerned would be most comfortable, and even happier, using technology almost constantly in their learning. I think an awareness of this in my teaching career will serve me well.

Reading this document also made me particularly aware that I will need to participate in a career-long development of my existing skills in using digital technology. One of the four main objectives of the strategy is to “develop the skills and confidence of educators in the appropriate
and effective use of digital technology to support learning and teaching.” (Scottish Government, 2016).  Another survey that was referred to in the document highlighted that a number of students aged between eleven and twenty five felt that many teachers lacked the skills to use digital technology properly. In my opinion this could not only hinder learning but also foster a lack of confidence in teachers in other areas. It is therefore essential that teachers are actively seeking to improve their skills to ensure that digital technology is used appropriately in the classroom.

To a certain extent, I consider myself a digital immigrant. I am confident utilising technology in my every day life but I do carry with me what some may refer to as a “digital immigrant accent” (Prensky, 2001, p. 2). For instance, I am far more comfortable printing something out and reading it on paper than I am reading off of a screen, which I tend to find uncomfortable and distracting.

To be an effective teacher and to integrate technology into the classroom in a way that enhances learning – in line with the Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland – it is my responsibility to be aware of these behaviours in order to ensure that they have a minimal impact on the learning that takes place under my guidance. I look forward to learning how to do this in the Digital Technologies module.

 

References

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon. [Online] Vol. 9(5), pp.1-6. Available: https://doi.org/10.1108/10748120110424816 [Accessed 12/01/2018].

Scottish Executive (2004) Curriculum for Excellence.  Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

Scottish Government (2016) Enhancing Teaching and Learning through the use of Digital Technology: A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. [Online] Available: https://beta.gov.scot/publications/enhancing-learning-teaching-through-use-digital-technology/ [Accessed: 8 January 2017].