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

 

 

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.

 

BA1 Reflections on Placement

So after two quick weeks in my first school placement I’ve found myself back at uni with an overwhelming sense of dread and fear for what the next hectic 4 weeks of my life is going to bring. Endless assignments, studying, research, academic reading, getting to grips with referencing and just in general managing to survive till I finish for Christmas!

However, looking back on a successful and eye opening two weeks in my first school experience I can only feel excited for what my future career holds! (The good, the bad and the ugly of course!)

Strengths

In the lead up to starting my time in the school I felt excited yet slightly nervous just by being the ‘new student’ going into a busy school environment where relationships and friendships had already been formed. However, I found throughout the duration of my placement that I communicated and worked well with all members of staff that I dealt with and most importantly the pupils in classes that I worked in. I felt that having previous experience working in schools and being a youth group leader I already had the confidence and ability to assert myself when appropriate and become an authoritative figure to the pupils I worked with. By using my initiative and confidence this allowed me to successfully become part of an effective team for my short stay and build a rapport with both staff and pupils in the classrooms, staff room and playground.

Area of Most Progress

Being in the classroom with the children is where I felt most comfortable. Whether it was working with a child one to one or in group tasks with 6 or 8 pupils I felt I was in my comfort zone and in control of the environment I was in. Working in the classroom alongside the class teacher and being involved in the daily routines and pupil’s learning allowed me to develop skills and abilities I thought I already had confidence in. With assurance and praise from the class teacher that I was conducting myself in a professional yet nurturing manner allowed me to delve more into the children’s educational experiences and use my initiative to assist the class teacher in her planning and teaching. Using my creative abilities I was able to complete making props for the school nativity alongside using new ideas for the children to make at their annual Christmas fayre. Along with developing good rapport with the children and getting to know their names and learning styles this certainly made me feel like I was progressing successfully and developing my interpersonal skills throughout.

Area Requiring Progress

Looking through my self reflections and peer observations the one thing that appeared was my pace when delivering an input to children in a small group. Talking quickly is something I have felt I’ve always done and am aware of but find it difficult to overcome and fix. However, this is something I am aware I need to focus on and need to implement strategies to overcome this in order to make my pace slower and easier for children to understand and take in what I am saying.

Action Plan

Receiving my school assessment report form was a great confidence boost and assured me that my two weeks in the school were valuable to not only myself but those who I worked with. On advice from the class teacher I will continue to conduct myself in a friendly and professional manner whilst maintaining a nurturing and caring attitude towards the pupils. I will continue to use my initiative and offer my assistance to class teachers, pupils and other staff in the school for if and when they require it. Strategies to improve my pace of speech such as breathing techniques and looking back at recordings of myself presenting will allow me to improve and record areas in which I find I talk too quickly and implement strategies such as pausing or breathing to ensure I talk slower for those around me to understand me more concisely. Continuing to engage positively with all staff and children as well as maintaining calm and capable characteristics that will serve me well in my upcoming career.