The children in today’s classroom have grown up in a world where technology is a huge part of their generation and people’s day to day lives. As teachers, I believe it is extremely important to embed various types of technology throughout the curriculum and provide children with the necessary skills needed to be successful in today’s society. Despite their being a wealth of evidence that supports incorporating areas of digital technologies within the curriculum, there is also criticisms towards this subject as experts argue that digital technologies are an unsuitable choice for children (Janka, P, 2008). This may be because children often get carried away when using several types of technology within lessons. However, I believe the benefits outweigh this and digital technologies are in fact a great tool used within classrooms. In today’s lecture we looked at the benefits of using programable toys, in particular the bee-bot.
Janka (2008) states that “The curriculum introduces programmable toys as a good example for developing knowledge and understanding of the contemporary world.” This reinforces the importance of embedding areas of technology within parts of the curriculum to ensure children are ready for the ongoing developments in today’s world.
This week in digital technologies we had the opportunity to explore the major benefits of using programmable toys within the classroom. I don’t have a lot of knowledge regarding programmable toys and rated myself a three in my personal assessment, however, I recognise it as an extremely important area of the curriculum. I was exceptionally looking forward to this workshop as I am eager to deepen my knowledge and understanding of programmable toys and the different ways we can incorporate them within curricular areas. Today, we were given the opportunity to either work alone or in groups to make a mat for the bee- bot. The bee bot is a very popular programmable toy which is used within many classrooms. It is a simple, easy tool which is specifically targeted towards children in early level. Bee bots are programmed to follow up to 40 instructions at one time and is located with 7 simple buttons which enable it to move: forwards, backwards, turn left, turn right, stop, clear and go. When each button is pressed the bee-bot creates a small sound. Similarly, when the bee bot has been programmed to move the eyes light up. The bee bot is a very versatile programmable toy as there are many different mats which relate to a range of curricular subjects and different areas within that subject. For example, there are many mats available which focus on developing numeracy skills such as time, money and shape. Personally, I had never used the bee bot within primary school. However, prior to the workshop I researched some of the main benefits of using programmable toys, in particular, the bee bot within classrooms.
Some of the benefits include:
- Can be used in a variety of subjects in many ways
- Quick and easy to operate
- They can help introduce the main ideas in a fun and simple way (NCTE, 2012)
- Encourages hands on learning
I decided to work in a group alongside 2 of my peers. Before creating the mat, we decided to create a mind map of a few ideas we had and which curricular area it was targeted towards. We also watched some clips on YouTube to give us a feel of some of the existing maps. After preparing, we decided to create our map around literacy, in particular, phonic sounds. Phonics is an area which is introduced in early level and continually developed throughout first and second level. It is a vital area of the curriculum, which was why we decided to create our map around this. In order to make it more versatile we decided to make our mat double sided. The first side was targeted towards the ‘oo’ sound and the second side was targeted towards the ‘sh’ sound. Our mat fulfilled the following Cfe experiences and outcomes:
- I explore sounds, letters and words, discovering how they work together, and I can use what I learn to help me as I read and write. (E NG 0-12a/ LIT 0-13a / LIT 0-21a)
Each side contained 20 drawings of pictures which contained that particular sound within. Alongside our mat, we had a wheel which contained different letters of the alphabet. Children would be asked to spin the wheel and whatever letter it landed on the children would have to find a picture beginning with the chosen letter and then programme the bee bot to go to the picture. Children would then be asked to spell out the sound either out loud or on a show me board. The purpose of this mat was to not only develop children’s phonics knowledge, but also to challenge children and help them gain practice with spelling, which is an area many children struggle with. When creating the mat, we all worked effectively as a team and took on different roles. We started by drawing out the mat ensuring each square was 15cm by 15cm. We then created two separate columns of each sound and then came up with words containing that sound which we then drew and stuck down. Finally, we created 2 wheels for each sound which children were able to spin.
In conclusion, I believe me and my peers worked well in a team. We divided up the tasks evenly and all took on an individual role which I feel worked effectively. Despite this, I feel we could have managed our time better as in certain areas we got carried away which delayed the process of our project. I recognise time management as an extremely important skill in everyday life, more importantly as a teacher which is why I am going to take this feedback positively and ensure it is something I work on.
I really enjoyed this class and gained a lot of valuable knowledge regarding programable toys. As a developing student teacher I am looking forward to embedding programmable toys within lessons both on placement and in the future.
Below I have attached photos and videos of our mat:
Above is a video of our completed mat and bee-bot in action!
Janka, P. (2008) Using a Programmable Toy at Preschool Age: Why and How?[Online] http://www.terecop.eu/downloads/simbar2008/pekarova.pdf [Accessed: 28th January 2019]
Education Scotland. (n.d.) Curriculum for Excellence.[Online] Available: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/All-experiencesoutcomes18.pdf [Accessed: 10 January 2019]