27.3.18 – iMovie & e-safety

The themes for today’s class were internet safety and also the use of iMovie in the classroom.  I have two children aged 11 and 13 and so the subject of internet safety for children is a very relevant and current one for me.  It is a constant source of worry, even though I know I have equipped them well to be safe online.

Having looked at the resources we were given links to it is reassuring to that that there are so many forums dedicated to helping children, and adults, to stay safe on the internet.  I particularly like the Hector’s World animation on the “Think you know?” website and can see it would be an excellent talking point in a classroom.  There are many discussions as to who the responsibility should lie with to teach children to be safe online.  In my mind it is just another aspect of child protection and as such that responsibility falls to us all…teachers, parents, guardians and the wider community.

Research by The Scottish Government (2015) into Raising Attainment has shown evidence that digital equipment, tools and resources can improve the speed and depth of learning in science and mathematics and improve aspects of literacy and numeracy skills.  This resonates with the discussions in previous blogs of the importance of having digital technology in the classroom.  When we bring this equipment in to the classroom, including internet access, then we do have a responsibility ensure the children are equipped use it safely and responsibly and direct them to take those skills and knowledge out with the classroom environment. It is important to approach the topic in a manner that encapsulates the concept “…the key idea [is] that e-safety is not about restricting children, but about educating them.” (Beauchamp, 2012, p.58) Indeed he goes on to discuss further that generally the schools most successful in teaching e-safety were those that placed an emphasis on ensuring pupils knew what to do when things went wrong. (Beauchamp 2012).  I can see how this would be a successful strategy as it is not about restricting what the children can access or about making them terrified about being online but it recognises that things that go wrong and focusses on equipping children with the knowledge and skills on what to do next.  I think it is important that children feel comfortable that they have those skills and equally importantly, that there are adults within the school that they can go to with anything that concerns them about their safety online.

The use of iMovie to create a short video about e-safety was the next part of the lesson.  Working with my class mate we first decided on the storyline and the genre we would use.  We looked at the iMovie app on the iPad and liked the style of the trailers so used that for our creation.  We opted to use toy characters and still shots so I can see that this is a task that could be done in the classroom in groups but equally we could have opted to act and used various locations inside and outside as the set.  This would definitely encourage children to be creative in their storymaking! It is Porter (2004) who noted that “digital storytelling begins with the notion that in the not too distant future, sharing one’s story through the multiple mediums of digital imagery, text, voice, sound, music, video and animation will be the principle hobby of the world’s people.”  I think we are there now.

Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes that I would link to this are:

I understand that there are people I can talk to and that there are a number of ways in which I can gain access to practical and emotional support to help me and others in a range of circumstances.                                                                                                                        HWB 0-03a/1-03a/2-03a/3-03a/4-03a

I have experienced the energy and excitement of presenting/performing for audiences and being part of an audience for other peoples presentations/performances.                EXA 0-01a/1-01a/2-01z

I can explore digital technologies and use what I learn to solve problems and share ideas and thoughts,                                                                                                                              TCH 0-01a

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 enjoy creating texts of my choice and I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to suit the needs of my audience.                                                                  LIT 1-20a/2-20a

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

 

The 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: 27.3.18]

20.3.18 Outdoor Learning – QR codes & Picollage

Today we looked at QR codes, Picollage and how to use them to enhance outdoor learning.  Firstly, we had a class discussion on the benefits and importance of outdoor learning in the curriculum.  We all agreed that we could remember more vividly the moments in our own time at school when we were involved in outdoor learning than we do about our classroom time.  Those experiences ranged from school trips to just being in the playground carrying out tasks. This is one of the things specifically noted by Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010) “Outdoor learning experiences are often remembered for a lifetime. Integrating learning and outdoor experiences, whether through play in the immediate grounds or adventures further afield, provides relevance and depth to the curriculum in ways that are difficult to achieve indoors. Learning outdoors can be enjoyable, creative, challenging and adventurous and helps children and young people learn by experience and grow as confident and responsible citizens who value and appreciate the spectacular landscapes, natural heritage and culture of Scotland.”  Looking back at those times I am sure that I was more focussed on the excitement of being outdoor and the fun than I was on realising I was still learning.  This is a particularly important aspect of outdoor learning, especially for children who struggle for whatever reason to engage in the classroom environment.

Another aspect of learning outdoors is it allows both the pupils and the teachers to see different sides to their peers that are not always obvious in the classroom.  In this respect it allows for improved understanding of others and positive relationship building (Education Scotland 2010).  This can be particularly important in relation to inclusion of pupils who may otherwise normally feel on the outside due to varying support needs.

We highlighted the fact that it can be hard for teachers to identify suitable locations for outdoor learning and we discussed Beauchamp (2012) point that “…children are citizens of their localities, making contributions to the communities whether playing sport, interacting with others or simply hanging out with friends…” (Beauchamp, 2012, p. 126) from this we concluded that this is an area where the children could be actively involved in planning their learning.  Without doubt they will know the best part of the playground for a given task or in the wider local community.

We then broadened our discussion to look at the Shannari Wheel and how we could link aspects of outdoor learning to each area on the wheel.  It was surprising just how many different ideas we could come up with in a very short space of time which demonstrated how beneficial outdoor learning is to wider learning.

We are fortunate that the core values of Curriculum for Excellence align with long-standing key concepts of outdoor learning. Challenge, enjoyment, relevance, depth, development of the whole person and an adventurous approach to learning are at the core of outdoor pedagogy. Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010).

Having idenitifed the massive benefits of outdoor learning we then looked at how we could link digital technology in to the outdoor environment using QR codes.

QR codes are basically a more advanced version of the barcodes you find on the back of any product you buy from the shop.  These basic barcodes can store up to 30 numbers but a QR code can store 7089 which is what enables it to allow access to far more detailed information via an ‘image-based hypertext link’.  It can link to a short bit of text, an audio recording, a website, a phone number, an email address, a map location, an calendar event.  I have used QR codes in the past but I had never considered how they could be used educationally.  Our lecturer demonstrated how we might integrate them into our learning by creating a treasure hunt style quiz.  He had placed various QR codes around the campus which we had to locate, scan with the QR code reader on our iPads and answer the question the link took us to.  Dependant on the answer we chose it gave us a letter that would form the jumbled up answer to the final question.  There is no denying that we had great fun and got more than a bit competitive!  Having been through the experience allowed me to see that the topic of the treasure hunt could have been anything at all so as a teacher I could use it as an excellent revision tool for a subject that had already been covered in class across the full curriculum.  It could even be discreet assessment to identify knowledge gaps yet the outdoor fun aspects has completely drawn the children away from the fact they are being assessed.

Once back in the classroom we were asked to devise our own quiz and create a QR code treasure hunt.  My classmate and I decided to use maths based questions and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to create which is definitely a big bonus when we get to the stage of planning lessons.  Some Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and outcomes that I have identified that link to this are:

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

Opportunities to carry out different activities and roles in a variety of settings have enabled me to identify my achievements, skills and areas for development. This will help me to prepare for the next stage in my life and learning.                                                                                                 HWB 2-19a

Within and beyond my place of learning I am enjoying daily opportunities to participate in physical activities and sport, making use of available indoor and outdoor space.                               HWB 1-25

As we went along we also took a few photos to document our outdoor experience.  We then used the Picollage app to create collages with those images.  It demonstrated well how an app like this could be used to log student learning in a more engaging way.  It would also be an excellent way to display photos from school trips or collection of work done by the children for display on the wall or to be shared electronically with parents.

Looking back….

This was our last lecture in Digital Technologies today.  It was definitely a fun topic to finish on.  Since the start of the module I feel I have learned a great deal not only about the actual digital equipment I could take in to my future classrooms but more importantly why it is so important that I do that.  I have a much deeper understanding of why technology needs to be an everyday part of school learning, because it is an everyday part of life.  I have learned that without its presence in education today’s learners struggle to see the relevance and the real life context of what that are being taught.  I understand that it is well documented that used effectively, learning across the curriculum is greatly enhanced when digital technology is used to support and facilitate the learning.  But I have also learned to be cautious not to use technology ‘for the sake of it’ but to focus on when it is the best option.  I feel that moving forward I will be much more confident when I become a  teacher that I will be able to include innovative lesson plans that will engage the minds of my learners and that I will broaden my thinking to find the best resources to do it.

REFERENCES

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

Education Scotland (2010) Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning.

Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010) Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning.

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

13.3.18 – Game Based Learning – Minecraft

Today’s class was a continuation of game based learning (GBL) this time looking at how Minecraft can be successfully used in the classroom.  Today we had a nice break from the norm and had a group of primary 6 pupils visit us from a local school.

Two pupils joined our group and demonstrated to us the world they had been creating in Minecraft as part of their class topic which was Harry Potter.  It was fascinating to see how excited they were to show us and talk to us about what they had created despite never having met us before. This to me was active demonstration of how GBL can enhance inclusion in the classroom for all pupils including those with additional support needs.  Minecraft is a game that hundreds of thousands of children and adults have been playing on consoles at home since its release in 2011. (Magbook, 2014).  This would make it a forum where most children would feel comfortable and confident so its inclusion in the class can then be used as the vehicle to encourage the development of social skills.

It was explained to us that when all of the iPads are on the same network in their school they can all sign in to the same ‘world’ and work collaboratively as a whole class on designing and creating the content of that world.

It was then our turn to try out creating a world.  I have seen Minecraft over the years as both my children were very into it a couple of years ago.  I would have to admit to never paying that much attention to it but I always thought it looked easy….I did not find this to be the case when I started using it!  I was putting blocks in the wrong place, I couldn’t fathom out the camera angles, I was turning the opposite way to that which I was trying to….I was ready to give up but the p6 pupils were great at helping me to find my way and I soon got the hang of it.  I think this is a valuable lesson in itself that a teacher shouldn’t be afraid to use the skills of their pupils to enhance a lesson.  It is ok to not know everything and it undoubtedly gives the children a sense of satisfaction to share their knowledge with others.

Once we had all had an opportunity to use Minecraft our creations were assessed by the pupils and we were given feedback.  I could see how that could be used in a real class setting as part of a literacy task. Reviewing and then writing the review of an aspect of the game.

After today’s input I still would not think of myself of competent in Minecraft but I have seen enough that I am won over to the benefits of using it to enhance a class project.  I would not be held back by my lack of knowledge of the game in the sense of actual game play because the learning that we seek in the classroom does not come from the game itself but from the context that we are using it in.

The use of computer games in school can help to overcome what is referred to as ‘digital disconnect’.  “Children engage in rich and extensive uses of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) at home but this knowledge and experience is then kept outside of the school gates” (Buckingham, 2007 cited in Learning and Teaching for Scotland/Futurelab report: The impact of console games in the classroom: Evidence from schools in Scotland).  The Curriculum for Excellence is very much designed to try and address this issue and as such technology is both a curricular area on its own but also one which is very much geared towards learning with and about technology across all subjects.  It is important to keep pushing forward with this immersion of technology within education so that we can move away from the situation Veen and Vrakking warn of whereby children “…now possess evolutionarily distinct advantages over adults. They are ‘active processors of information, skilled problem solvers using gaming strategies and effective communicators’ who ostensibly ‘consider schools as disconnected institutions, more or less irrelevant to them as far as their daily lives are concerned. … In fact, Homo zappiens (children) are digital, and school is analogue” (Veen and Vrakking, 2006).

Some Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes that I see as relevant to todays discussion are:

When I engage with others, I can respond in ways appropriate to my role, show that I value others’ contributions and use these to build on thinking                                                                                     LIT 2-02a

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 can use exploration and imagination to solve design problems related to real-life situations                                                                                                                                                                                         EXA 1-06a

When listening and talking with others for different purposes, I can:

  • share information, experiences and opinions
  • explain processes and ideas
  • identify issues raised and summarise main points or findings
  • clarify points by asking questions or by asking others to say more LIT 2-09a

REFERENCES

Futurelab & Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010) The impact of console games in the classroom: Evidence from schools in Scotland [Online] Available at: www.futurelab.org.uk [Accessed 13.3.18]

MagBook (2014) How to Do Everything in Minecraft

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

Veen, W and Vrakking, B (2006) Homo Zappiens: Growing up in the digital age London: Network Continuum Education

Images from Pixabay.com

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