QR Codes and Outdoor Learning – 20th March

And so it has arrived, our final class in Digital Technologies. Today we explored and learnt about the use of QR (Quick Response) Codes and the benefits of Outdoor Learning. I have had some previous experience using QR codes but mainly through working in retail and through simple day to day tasks like shopping and using social media. I had never once considered the thought of using QR Codes in the classroom, until now. The theme of today’s lesson was to partake in an outdoor activity where we had to locate six hidden clues, answer the multiple choice questions and scan the QR code to be able to continue to the next clue. Once all the clues had been found and answered, each answer gave us a letter which in the end had to be unscrambled and the correct word made up. This word linked to a Scottish IDL topic. The purpose of using the QR Codes in this activity was designed to enhance our (and future pupils) outdoor learning experiences. This was just one example of how they could be used effectively and successfully as I and the rest of my team thoroughly enjoyed the activity.

The effectiveness of Outdoor Learning in education is outlined by Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010) who state that “…it’s clear that the outdoor environment offers motivating, exciting, different, relevant and easily accessible activities from pre-school years through to college.” This was certainly evidenced today in our group’s case as we all found the task fun, rewarding and enjoyable and found working outdoors also promoted other positive factors such as learning about the environment and creating memories that will be remembered for years to come. We collated images taken from our time outdoors in an app called PicCollage. PicCollage allows for many images to be organised together in various styles in the one image and is a great way of sharing with others in order to give a quick insight into a particular event or activity.

The Curriculum for Excellence support Outdoor Learning and this too is highlighted in the 7 Design Principles:

Challenge & Enjoyment; Breadth; Coherence; Personalisation & Choice; Relevance; Progression and Depth.

“The core values of Curriculum for Excellence resonate 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…” Education Scotland (2010)

Outdoor Learning offers a variety of positive effects on both student and learner: It allows for pupils and teachers to learn and communicate in other ways that maybe hadn’t been achieved previously in a classroom setting; promotes the building of positive relationships between both peers and professionals along with enhancing self-awareness and the understanding of others. (Education Scotland 2010). Along with the aforementioned aspects of Outdoor Learning it also promotes other advantages to our young learners such as: Developing their critical thinking and problem solving skills, personal development and achievement; promotes a healthy lifestyle and can lead to lifelong recreational hobbies such as walking, cycling and swimming; provides opportunities for children to develop skills in order to assess and manage risks; promotes inclusion and equality broadly and can lead to resolution, increased feeling of self-worth and confidence along with personal achievements.

There are many areas that both Outdoor Learning and QR Code activities could be used within the curriculum including Literacy, Health and Wellbeing and Modern Languages. The activity we completed today would encompass the following experiences and outcomes from the Curriculum for Excellence:

I can communicate clearly when engaging with others within and beyond my place of learning, using selected resources as required. LIT 1-10a

Through taking part in a variety of events and activities, I am learning to recognise my own skills and abilities as well as those of others. HWB 1-19a

I work on my own and with others to understand text using appropriate resources, demonstrating my
understanding by matching written words to pictures and by reconstructing the text in a logical sequence, for example. MLAN 2-08a

Upon completion of our class task, we then gathered back into the classroom to create our own activity based on the same ideas and principles of the one we had just completed. I chose to create a quiz based around the topic of Easter and was similar in format to the one we had just finished as a class. By doing so, it showed me just how easy it was to create a simple yet fun and fulfilling activity that I know children would get excited and geared up for and thus encourages their learning and enhances their experiences of education. In just 20 minutes I had created a relevant and educational activity that children would find engaging, fun and that they would certainly get excited about whilst being educational at the same time.

Overall, the use of the QR Codes in the outdoor learning activity allowed me to see yet another fantastic resource that could be utilised in many different areas of education whilst giving young learners fun and memorable educational experiences. I will certainly use this resource in the classroom as a professional and look forward to seeing my pupils reactions when they are participating and having fun outdoors. I know that they will get just as much as enjoyment and fulfilment out of a similar lesson as we did today in our last class of Digital Technologies.

So, today sees us at the end of our Digital Technologies journey with this being the last instalment of what I can only describe as being one of the most rewarding and educationally rich experiences I have had so far throughout my time at UWS.  Since starting the module back in January, taking us up until now – almost at the end of March – I can honestly say that my attitude towards technology both in and outside of the classroom has changed significantly from the opinions and feelings I presented towards it at the start of Trimester 2. I have gained a wealth of knowledge, ideas and skills through undertaking this module and I am so glad that I choose it as part of my BA1 learning experience. The lessons throughout the module have evidenced to me the clear links to education and curriculum and have allowed me the opportunity to delve deeper into areas of digital technology that I may never of had the chance to do so beforehand and for that I feel grateful and rewarded. I look forward to putting the skills and knowledge I have adopted in this short space of time into practice into what I hope will be a long and successful teaching career.

References

Curriculum for Excellence: Experiences and Outcomes. [Online]  Available at: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf. First Accessed: 21st March 2018.

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

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

 

 

Animation!

This week in Digital Technologies we were learning about the art of animation. I would consider myself to be quite a crafty, creative person so for me this really got me excited and I wanted to jump right in and get started. After those initial feelings, I started to worry that maybe we wouldn’t have enough time to create an animation as 1 – I had never actually created an animation before so I didn’t know what kind of time frame it would take and 2 – I was feeling a bit wary of the resources we had available to us.

Today’s task was to create an animation of anything we wanted. This was an individual task however we were allowed to work in pairs if we wanted to and I thought that by working with another individual, in this case then two heads were better than one. Jarvis (2015, p.89) states that ”animation involves the stringing together a sequence of static images, generally so that they appear to move.” Having never strung any images together before in order for them to appear as though they were moving, I was still feeling a little apprehensive about the task.

Firstly, we began to explore the app ‘Puppet Pals’ which gave us some depth and knowledge into how an animation app works and the types of features and tools it has to allows us to create an animation that stood out and worked well. In this app we were to create a short animation based on a classic fairytale. It had to include voice recordings, movement from the characters, the characters changing size and also have a structure – a beginning, middle and an end. This short 10 minutes exploring the app put me at ease as it showed me how animation worked and the different features that could be used to create a strong animation.

Since the start of this module on digital technologies, it has left me feeling excited as a student teacher due to the amount of technology that is out there as a prospective teacher to be able to use with my future pupils. Reflecting back on my own time as a primary school aged child, there were nowhere near half the amount of fun and valuable resources that there are now in my educational journey and the thought of being able to use them while I was at school I know that not only me but my friends and peers would have had a great time using them. This simply just evidences how quickly the times move and how fast paced the development in technology has become. As suggested by Beauchamp, (2012) ICT allows pupils to ”achieve something that would be very difficult or even impossible to achieve in any other way.” Reflecting back on my first year school experience placement, I came across numerous children who all had their own individual learning style and watching them create or succeed through the use of digital technology was evidencing just how important the use of this tool is in the classroom. Furthermore, Beauchamp states that ”e-Inclusion aims to use digital technologies to minimise the problems that pupils with learning difficulties experience.” By giving all children in primary schools the same opportunities across their educational journey but in particular through access to technology, we are closing in on the gap of problems that pupils who have learning difficulties can experience.

After exploring puppet pals, my partner and I began to create our own props and scene for our own animation. We worked collaboratively and worked within our allocated time to create a short animation using small wooden characters who were school pupils, and a pink bendy character who was the class teacher. I created a backdrop by simply drawing and colouring a school classroom and by one of us recording and the other moving the characters in order for us to create a series of stills and frames, once put together they created our short animation. We added features including a clock which we moved in most frames to give the idea of time going by and changing some of the characters to represent different emotions during different parts of the scene. Once we completed our recording, we enjoyed looking back on the final piece and were really pleased with it. It is a great way for children to use their creative and cognitive skills along with their patience and persistence in order to create a piece of work that is effective, fun and created animations to a high standard. The tutorials and Moving Image Education website provided a lot of helpful hints and tips in order to produce a great animation despite it being my first time using and creating with this resource.

Having completed our animation and after watching it back, it gave me a sense of achievement as I was worried at the beginning having never made an animation before and not being sure of where it would fit into the classroom. However, after looking through the Scottish Education Experiences and Outcomes, it became a lot clearer that what we created linked to certain aspects of these, and in a classroom this type of technology would be an effective tool across many areas of the curriculum, such as:

I have the opportunity to choose and explore a range of media and technologies to create images and objects, discovering their effect and suitability for specific tasks. EXA 1-02a

I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to create texts of my choice. LIT 1-01a/2-01b

I enjoy exploring events and characters in stories and other texts and I use what I learn to invent my own, sharing these with others in imaginative ways. LIT 0-09b / LIT 0-31a

Animation could be used in a variety ways through a variety of areas in order to enhance pupils learning whilst supporting it at the same time. Despite my set backs at the beginning, throughout the course of creating the animation I found it to be a great task to collaborate on and a resource that I definitely would consider to be fun and educational for children across all levels at primary school. As suggested by Beauchamp (2012, p.66) ”ICT equipment is part of pupils’ everyday life, so should be part of their everyday play.” This type of technology tool would be an ideal resource to incorporate into a child’s everyday play as it encompasses a variety of skills and educational aspects that only impose positive aspects on the child.

References

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

Education Scotland (2004) – Curriculum for Excellence; Experiences and Outcomes [Online] https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/Experiences%20and%20outcomes [First Accessed on 22 February 2018]

›Jarvis, M. (2015) Brilliant Ideas for Using ICT in the Classroom: A Very practical Guide for Teachers and Lecturers. Routledge.

 

Programmable Toys (16/01/2018)

Today in our second class of Digital Technology we were introduced to the concept of programmable toys, with the main focus in particular on Bee-Bot. I had prior experience of using this programmable toy as we had previously undertaken a lesson in Semester 1, which introduced us to the unit, gave us an understanding on how it works, areas in the curriculum in which we can utilise it whilst interlinking Curriculum E’s and O’s across the three early level/primary school levels – early, first and second. My first experience using Bee-Bot I thoroughly enjoyed, as it gave me my first proper experience of getting hands on with this type of programmable toy and made me feel excited at the prospect of using it in the classroom with pupils. We had created a game which focused on literacy outcomes, whereas today we focused on numeracy and chose a first level outcome in which as a group we to structured an activity around.

As suggested by Janka (2008, P.2), ‘The curriculum introduces programmable toys as a good example for developing knowledge and understanding of the contemporary world”. Being able to integrate technology into the classroom I feel is important as it provides young learners with having experiences of technologies that surround them consistently. Furthermore, the National Centre for Technology in Education (2012, p1) states that the use of floor robots impose a variety of benefits on young learners. These benefits include: Developing skills such as logical sequencing, measuring, comparing lengths, space orientation and expressing concepts in words; encouraging group interaction, collaboration and conversation swell as providing a vehicle for the introduction of key concepts to young learners in an easy and friendly way.

The first level outcome which we used as a framework for our Bee-Bot activity was MTH 1-17a; ‘I can describe, follow and record routes and journeys using signs, words and angles associated with direction and turning’. We chose to base the theme of our activity on worldwide flags and famous landmarks, with direction and navigation being the prominent focus. We created brightly coloured images on the activity mat along with a set of questions that gave instructions to the participants. Bee-Bot required to be programmed to reach the specific destination along with a set of directions for each question tone recorded by those pupils in participation.

Overall, I felt we produced a brilliant resource which could easily be adapted to allow early and second level pupils to also use this is a learning aid. The use of the Bee-Bot today highlighted the importance of making activities intriguing and fun whilst eliminating the potential of repetition. Bee-Bot is a format of digital technology that if I am able to have access to, I will certainly endeavour to use in my future career as a rimy educator. I feel that it is an exciting and autonomous piece of equipment which brings children together in their educational journey to work as part of a team and also promotes their creativeness if they wanted to produce their own game or resource for the floor bot and also develops their problem solving and critical thinking skills. I look forward to seeing what next week brings in Digital Technology as I felt today’s lesson and activity was of great benefit to me as a prospective teacher.