Games Based Learning – 6th March 2018

After having spent numerous weeks undertaking the Digital Technologies module and learning about a multitude of various technologies that can be used effectively in the classroom, I was unsure how using a well-known game would fit into the curriculum other than its use of developing technology skills, technology awareness and fine motor skills. However, today we learnt about the use of the Wii console in the classroom can be effective through using it as a stimulus in learning for many different areas of the curriculum.

The Higher Education Academy state that ”Digital Games-based learning is the integration of gaming into learning experiences to increase engagement and motivation.” Despite not being in the classroom today with children, it certainly increased my own motivation for learning in this subject in particular and I felt thoroughly engaged with the task at hand.

The use of technology is argued in the classroom as to wether it should be included or not. Theorists including Jean Piaget and Leonard Vygotsky have argued that “play is a crucial component of cognitive development from birth and through adulthood”. Wether this play is done through solid materials or interactivity through a smart device or TV screen is left to personal preference. As a parent myself, I see the benefits and impact that the use of technology has on my own daughter and how a range of apps and games have increased her own skills, abilities, knowledge and confidence in her own learning. I can only imagine the benefits and motivation they will impose on young learners if the use of these same resources were to be used within a classroom. The use of games-based learning is supported by Farber (2016) who notes that “…students are provided with a gameful learning experience driven by play.”

Before we got to get to the task at hand, we were asked to create our own character and vehicle based on the principle of Mario Kart, the racing game for the Wii console. This put to good use my creative art skills and I enjoyed coming up with different ideas that I thought would appeal to children and fit in well with a game such as Mario Kart. Having children design their own character and kart is alone allowing them to use their creativity and imagination skills to design something they would use themselves in game play.

Upon completion of our own characters and racing karts, we were given time to complete our task for today’s class: to create our own IDL lesson plan based around Mario Kart. Having the lesson planned around the IDL topic allowed for a breadth of Experiences and Outcomes to be explored across many of the curricular areas. The following are the ones which we included in our lesson plan:

‘I can describe, follow and record routes and journeys using signs, words and angles associated with direction and turning.’ MTH 1-17a

‘Using technology and other methods, I can display data simply, clearly and accurately by creating tables, charts and diagrams using simple labelling and scale.’ MTH 1-21a

‘I can design and construct models and explain my solutions.’ TCH 1-09a

‘I can create and present work using the visual elements of line, shape, form, colour, tone, pattern and texture.’ EXA 1-03a

‘I can present my writing in a way that will make it legible and attractive for my reader, combining words, images and other features.’ LIT 1-24a

After completing my drawings (which I did feel rather proud of and impressed with) as a group we came together to come up with areas in which we could use Mario Kart as a stimulus across different areas of the curriculum. At first I felt a little apprehensive as to where this would take us when creating our IDL plan, however once we got started, we found it difficult to stop. There were so many areas which we could cover, some of which included; Literacy, Maths, Technology, Expressive Arts and Health & Wellbeing. Games based learning offers a whole host of learning opportunities across education including the following:

  • Using games as a stimulus (or contextual hub);
  • Games are often used as a starting point for other activities;
  • ›Using games to teach content;
  • Games can be used to illustrate concepts and materials to be taught;
  • Using games to teach social skills.

Along with Games-based learning having an evidently successful impact on young learners, it too has the ability to enhance the educators skillset and knowledge in the world of Gaming and provide them with skills and abilities they otherwise would not have if they had not became a teacher. It offers rich learning opportunities to take a game, turn it into a learning opportunity like what we done today and immerse their pupils in an engaging and rich lesson that can be carried over the course of just a few days, or possibly even weeks or months. It is important to remember that although our job is to be the educator, it is highly rewarding to learn from the pros themselves – our pupils. They are the finest examples to learn from when it comes to gaming as a lot of children in Scotland have already adopted a mass of knowledge and ability when it comes to games such as Mario Kart and Minecraft. They can teach us just as much as we can teach them in some aspects of education. Along with this, we are offering our pupils lessons in which they grasp, understand and will be excited about. Stephen Reid of Immersive Minds supported this theory by stating that “Although game-based learning has had a ‘difficult history’ with teachers who may have felt threatened by children becoming more expert in technology than they are, there is no denying that such platforms offer them a way to engage the pupils in a way they understand and can relate to.”

Overall, today’s lesson provided a highly useful and exciting insight into the world of Games-Based learning. As a teacher I am impelled at the prospect of using a popular game as a stimulus and getting my pupils motivated, engaged and excited to learn around something they likely already have experience of using. Furthermore, using games in the classroom allows educators to create unique and stimulating lessons across various aspects of the curriculum whilst avoiding unnecessary repetition and maintaining pupils engagement. I look forward to enhancing my skills and putting them to good use in the classroom when I become a professional teacher.

References

Edutopia – 3 Ways to use Games-based Learning. [Online] Available at: https://www.edutopia.org/article/3-ways-use-game-based-learning-matthew-farber. [First Accessed – 7th March 2018]

Future Scot – Immersive Minds. Teachers Experience Games-Based Learning at Minecraft Launch. [Online] Available at: http://futurescot.com/educators-encouraged-open-minds-possibilities-games-based-learning/. [First Accessed: 7th March 2018]

Higher Education Academy – Gamification and Games-Based Learning. [Online] Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/gamification-and-games-based-learning. [First Accessed: 7th March 2018]

Scottish Government (2008) The Curriculum for Excellence [Online] Available at: http://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf [First Accessed: 7th March 2018]

 

Games Based Learning – Minecraft

If someone had told me before I came to university that I would be learning how to use Minecraft in an Education degree programme, seriously – I would of laughed at them. Both my stepsons have been engrossed in the same game for the last couple of years and despite them excitedly showing me their weird and wonderful creations, I never really took a proper interest in how the game worked, what it really involved or noticed that in fact it was benefiting their education in more ways than one. Today we got a really deep and useful insight into how it worked and the many purposes it serves in and out of the classroom. However today’s lesson was totally different. It wasn’t just watching tutorial videos online or having a play around the iPad to get to know my our way around it. Today we became the pupils, and a group of young local primary school pupils became the teachers! Well I never…

When we found out that children from a local primary school were coming to show us how to use and work Minecraft I was feeling positive and looking forward to the prospects of…

  1. Working with children in this class in particular;
  2. Learning from the most experienced users;
  3. Understanding the benefits and areas in which Minecraft fitted relevantly into their education and
  4. Becoming more familiar with the game and gaining knowledge and experience that I can take forward with me in my own professional career.

As a prospective teacher I feel it is vital to ensure that my technology skills are up to date, relevant and I can use them to the best of my abilities in order to enhance my pupils educational experiences. As suggested by Bray (2012) “Games-based Learning has the most transformational impact when it is combined with good learning and teaching”.  Marrying together my learning experience from the pupils today with a skillset that I am enhancing each year of my degree, I feel that Games-Based Learning in the classroom has the potential to be a tremendous success across many curricular areas. Beauchamp (2012, P.9) states that “Not only do [teachers] have to become familiar with the games, they also have to ensure that they make clear the way in which they want for the game to used.” Curricular areas that could be utilised with Games-Based Learning can include:

I regularly select and listen to or watch texts which I enjoy and find interesting, and I can explain why I prefer certain sources. I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to create texts of my choice. LIT 1-01a / LIT 2-01a

I have the opportunity to choose and explore an extended range of media and technologies to create images and objects, comparing and combining them for specific tasks. EXA 2-02a

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

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 can work with others to generate, discuss and develop imaginative ideas to create a product of the future. TCH 1-01b

When exploring technologies in the world around me, I can use what I learn to help to design or improve my ideas or products. TCH 2-01a

It was suggested by Ofcom (2001) that “The use of computer games, particularly console games, is firmly embedded in 21st century youth culture.” If children already have prior knowledge and experience in certain areas in technology then they are set in good stead for their future in a classroom where technology is prevalent and also in a society out-with education where being surrounded by technology is now seen as the norm.

Today we were paired with 2 pupils from a local primary school. They showed us how Minecraft worked on their own tablets and gave us an informative description of how Minecraft works, how it can be used, what it can be used for and objects and building they had previously made. They told us why they liked using the game which included that they could be as creative as they wanted and there was no right or wrong thing to do. It allowed them to develop a space which they called their own and if they wanted to share it then they could do so by joining the same network as their peers and game virtually together. We were then given the opportunity to get hands on with the game ourselves, with the pupils giving us only verbal prompts and advice and were not allowed to take over. It allowed us to work as a team, use active listening and questioning skills and collaborate effectively and in turn it allowed us to gain knowledge on the game and the end product ended up being the Three Broomsticks from Harry Potter. The pupils were excellent in answering our questions and giving us prompts and advice. It also allowed me to see how much they enjoyed it and the many benefits they got out of it wether they realised or not that they were impacting their education. Some of which included:

  • Strategic Thinking;
  • Planning;
  • Communication;
  • Application of numbers;
  • Negotiating Skills;
  • Group decision-making and
  • Data Handling Skills as noted by Beauchamp (2012).

Overall, I would have to say that today’s lesson was by far my favourite. I really enjoyed working with the pupils from the school and learning from them. They were passionate, engaged, motivated and were keen to let us in on the magical Minecraft world and the autonomous potential that it can hold. Utilising a game such as Minecraft in the classroom I think would be genius, as in just the few short hours we spent with the kids today, it was evident that it engaged, motivated and held the pupils attention. They were keen to learn, keen to show us their creations and was apparent that Minecraft is not just a game. It is a valuable resource and learning tool that if used in the classroom correctly, holds the key to pupil success and education satisfaction for both them and the educator. I will certainly be taking forward with me what I learned today, and building on my knowledge of Minecraft as well as recognising and researching for other ideas and areas in which it can be used in the classroom. It has already been downloaded onto my daughters iPad and we have started to create our own Barbie Dreamhouse. We are both enjoying getting to make our own designs and already she is starting to show me what else can be done!

 

References

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

Bray, O. (2012) Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education.  [Online] Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/Microsofteduk/playful-learning-computer-games-in-education First Accessed: 13th March 2018

Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes, Ofcom (2001). [Online] Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/Microsofteduk/playful-learning-computer-games-in-education First Accessed: 13th March 2018

Images – Pixabay

Scottish Government (2008) The Curriculum for Excellence [Online] Available at: http://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf First Accessed: 13th March 2018

 

Mobile Devices in the Classroom – 27/02/2018

Today’s input saw us learn about the use of mobile devices in the classroom, and the benefits they can have upon both learners and teachers. Having been studying this module from the start of the year, and covered a small section of digital technologies in a previous module, I am aware of some of the resources that are used in schools such as BeeBots and Smart Boards. The resource we used today was something I hadn’t came across before – the Easi Speak Microphone. When I first got my hands on it, I wasn’t sure that I would see the need for a small recording device in the classroom, however, as the lesson went on it became more apparent how this type of technology would have its uses and linked into various curricular areas.

The Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland conducted a survey on a total of 93 children aged between 8 and 11 years. The aim of the research was to ‘help shape the approach to digital learning and teaching in Scotland’. It was found that children noted they already had access to a large amount of varying technologies at home and in their schools. Such technologies included: computers, cameras, iPods, smart phones, gaming consoles, smart watches and tablets to name a few. It is becoming evident by this type of evidence gained via research that children are well and truly exposed and immersed in the various types of technology that surround us in our environment and that they are familiar with their purposes and uses. Furthermore, research conducted by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) evidences the importance of technology in children’s education. They stated that “schools see technology such as games consoles and smartphones as playing an important role in primary-aged children’s education…” (Gurney-Read 2015). Today’s lesson allowed us to discover a new technological resource that can be used in the classroom and just one example of a way in which it enhances our young learner’s educational experiences.

The task we were given today was to create an ‘I am’ poem. This involved creating a poem of our own choice using opening lines already provided to us whilst using the Easi-Speak microphone to record sound clips from the poem. It allowed for us to be autonomous and put our creative skills to good use by writing through our own choice and basing it upon our own thoughts and feelings. The poem had to be presented on a PowerPoint presentation with copyright free images selected from a website called Pixabay. This came together as a multimodal text, as it contained sound clips, images and words along with spatial features that evidenced it to be multimodal. If this inout were to be delivered to a class there are various Experiences and Outcomes that it could cover, for example:

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

Within real and imaginary situations, I share experiences and feelings, ideas and information in a way that communicates my message. LIT 0-09a

I am aware of and able to express my feelings and am developing the ability to talk about them. HWB 0-01a/1-01a/2-01a/3-01a/4-01a

As stated by Beauchamp 2012 (p.81) “…Pupils need to be equipped to view language as a ‘metamode’ that enables them to access the meanings of a wide variety of texts, images, sounds and information…” If this type of lesson were to be delivered in the classroom, it would certainly support Beauchamp’s suggestion of children viewing language as being ‘metamode’. It allows for children to see that texts come in all different shapes and sizes and not solely just printed forms such as books and textbooks.

Overall, despite my initial thoughts on today’s input being somewhat reserved, I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to use the Easi-Speak microphones and viewing the end result. It supports various learning styles for children in the classroom along with bringing an element of fun into their day. Furthermore, it also supports their technological skills along with collaboration skills whilst working with a partner or s part of a group. Fast forwarding myself into a classroom of technology experts in the coming years, I look forward to putting to good use the skills and knowledge I have gained from taking this module. It will certainly set me in good stead for a career in which I can weave the many uses of technology throughout lessons and keep my prospective pupils educational journeys fun and engaging.

 

References

Children’s Parliament (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland  – The Views of Children. [Online] Available at:  http://www.childrensparliament.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/REPORT_digital-learning-consultation_Childrens-Parliament-1.pdf. [First Accessed – 27/02/2018].

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

Gurney-Read, J.(2015) Classroom Technology ‘rarely used’ by half of teachers. The Telegraph  [Online] 24 November 2015 [First Accessed: 28 February 2018]

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

eBooks in Education… 05/02/2018

Reflecting upon today’s class of eBooks, I firstly found myself thinking about how fast the Digital Technologies module has gone in so far. It seemed that not long ago we were faced with a range of modules in which we got to select our own choice for undertaking in our second trimester. When I first looked over the options, Digital Technologies was the one which certainly caught my attention first. I assumed that it would be a module which explored the use of ‘teacher’ resources in a classroom such as SmartBoards or getting to grips with printers and photocopiers – quite naive, I know. But knowing that I had areas I needed to develop to become more competent in the technology field, I was looking forward to getting started and expanding my skillset and knowledge. However, looking back at the first class and receiving our introduction to the module, I quickly realised that it was going to be a module that not only enhanced my own learning and knowledge, but also that of the pupils I teach in the near and distant future – wow!

When we were asked the question of, “What is an eBook to you?” I immediately thought ‘kindle’. This then led me to think of the prospect of children sat in a classroom, with their heads bowed, stuck in a smart device reading their reading books or taking instruction or direction from what I can only assume would be another hand held wifi enabled device they would then have access to. Not that I am against technology, but I do find that children in society today are easily pacified with their iPads or mobile phones which when I was younger, I never had access to. I find myself quite a traditionalist when it comes to books. I thoroughly enjoy the experience of reading a ‘real’ book. Flicking through the pages, eager to find out what happens next; convincing myself that at the end of each chapter i’ll put it down and go to sleep but knowing that really i’m lying to myself and I will instead fall asleep and wake up with it somewhere at the side of my bed; being able to mark my page with the homemade bookmark my daughter made me which is adorned with hearts and kisses. I love the feel of a real book and so was a bit sceptical at first when I was wondering where eBooks would fit into a classroom.

The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of an eBook is as follows:

‘An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose’.

Up until today’s class, that is exactly how I interpreted what an eBook was. However after today’s input I can gladly say that I now no longer have the aforementioned perception.  After discussing in groups with peers what we considered an eBook to be, I gained a lot more in depth understanding of eBooks. Not just used for novels, but can be used in the kitchen for cookbooks and recipes, for online shopping and accessing catalogues along with academic texts and journals.

One of the tasks we were given today was to create an eBrochure as a group, designed to give information on life as a student at the University of the West of Scotland, using the Book Creator app on an iPad. The beauty of the Book Creator app was that it allowed us to turn what could have been just text and images to inform others, into a multimodal text; containing sound, moving images, and text along with spatial and gestural aspects. In completing our task, the Book Creator app highly appealed to me as both a student and prospective professional primary educator. Simply, taking a novel or short story and creating a multimodal eBook that contains a host of different, eye-catching and attention grabbing features allowed me to see the real benefits that eBooks would have in a classroom and most definitely gave me the answer to my question – ‘where do ebooks fit in a classroom?’

Our final task today was to take a children’s novel and create our own eBook version of it, which was focused around a literacy outcome. After having created the eBrochure I was enjoying exploring the different features of the app and found myself keen to get to grips and become more familiarised with the app. I wanted to create an eBook that I thought would be of benefit to a learner/learners who have different learning styles but also for children of all abilities in order to enhance their learning experience through digital technologies.  The use of eBooks have a variety of benefits on children and young learners; from assisting children who require different resources and tools to suit their own learning style, to enhance children’s skillset and knowledge on ICT equipment in the classroom and to also give children an equal and fair chance of discovering what type of technology is available to not only access but to use to its maximum capacity. This is evidenced and supported by Beauchamp (2012), who  stated that “The first, and perhaps most important reason for using ICT in the classroom is that it can have a positive effect on attainment.” The findings by Beauchamp evidence that technology can in fact have positive impacts on raising attainment and assisting in closing the gap.

Technology in the classroom covers a wealth of subject areas, not only literacy. It can be used in science, arts, health and wellbeing and numeracy to name a few. Although our task today was centred on literacy, it also covered another area of the curriculum – technology. The following experiences and outcomes were the ones in which i focused my eBook on and evidence that technology in the classroom does not cover only one area of the curriculum.

I am learning to select and use strategies and resources before I read, and as I read, to help make the meaning of texts clear. LIT 1-13a

I regularly select and read, listen to or watch texts which I enjoy and find interesting, and I can explain why I prefer certain texts and authors. LIT 1-11a/LIT 2-11a

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

Overall, today’s input has managed to successfully change my viewpoint on having eBooks in the classroom. By taking a simple text and creating a multimodal creation out of it, it will allow me to engage my pupils in the future with technology effectively and also deliver lessons which they will not find repetitive and mundane. In conclusion, it was found by ‘A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland – The Views of Children’ that,

 

“Looking forward, children thought that accessing iPads or other classroom technology should be seen as the usual/normal thing to do, and not just something offered as a reward or part of Golden Time.”

Our children and young learners in Scottish education feel that technology should be incorporated into a daily teaching environment and should not be seen as a reward or accolade for them. Using the Book Creator app is certainly a resource that I endeavour to use in my classroom as a professional along with many other exciting and beneficial programmes I have discovered throughout the course of the Digital Technologies module. While still enjoying the thrill of a paperback book myself, I certainly now see the benefits for myself as to how the Book Creator app and eBooks can have a staggering affect on children’s education, while increasing my own knowledge and skillset as a prospective teacher.

References

Beauchamp, G (2017) Computing and ICT in the Primary School From Pedagogy to Practice 2nd ed. London: Routledge.

Oxford Dictionary (2018) – E-Book Definition. Available online at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/e-book [First Accessed: 9th February 2018] Author: Oxford University.

Scottish Government. (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland.  Edinburgh: Scottish Government. Available online at: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/0050  [First Accessed: 9th February 2018].

Scottish Government (2008) The Curriculum for Excellence Available online at: http://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf [First Accessed: 10th February 2018]

 

 

Coding with Scratch Jnr 30/01/2018

Upon completion of today’s lesson in Digital Technologies, we were required to blog about our experience using an online resource that allowed us to revisit the concept of coding. Having previously had some experience in coding which involved creating a lesson using the programmable toy BeeBot, I was looking forward the prospect of using a different tool that would give me more depth and insight into another coding programme that I could use in both my student and professional capacity. The task given to us today was to create an interactive story through coding, using the programme Scratch Jnr. Scratch Jnr was developed for young people to help them develop creative learning skills for the 21st century. Such skills include collaboration, problem solving, logical reasoning and creative thinking. Furthermore, it was  created in such a style in order to aid more enhanced learning whilst being adaptable and can be suited to individual learning styles for our children.

So why coding? Coding allows for children to be immersed into technology whist keeping in line with a diverse and technological society that we live in. It also allows for children to use their creative skills and imagination in conjunction to write a computer programme. The Lead Project (2014) states that,

” They are learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively – essential skills for success and happiness in today’s world.”

Technology surrounds us everywhere on a daily basis; from smartphones and tablets, to smart boards in the classroom to reading flight times and information off of digitalised boards at airports. Children need to gain skills that will set them in good stead for their future as a young adult and continuing on through the rest of their life where technology is a prominent feature.  As suggested by Naughton (2012),

”Starting in primary school, children from all backgrounds and every part of the UK should have the opportunity to: learn some of the key ideas of computer science; understand computational thinking; learn to program; and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of excellence in these activities.”

Today’s task saw us create an interactive story through using coding, by using the Scratch Jnr resource on an iPad.  I felt quite confident in using the app as we had been given access to tutorial cards and online tutorial videos to view before we accessed the app which I found to be of benefit to me. It allowed me to gain an understanding of a lot of the features available on the app along with ideas and varying ways of creating an engaging and inviting story for children which would gain their interest and hold their attention. The story was to be based around promoting literacy skills whilst linking to the Curriculum for Excellence. I created a story which encompassed the following experiences and outcomes from early level outcomes the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence:

I enjoy exploring and choosing stories and other texts to watch, read or listen to andcan share my likes and dislikes. LIT 0-01b/LIT )-11b

I enjoy exploring events and characters in stories and other texts and, sharing my thoughts in different ways. LIT 0-01c

I am developing problem solving strategies, navigation and co-ordination skills, as I play and learn with electronic games, remote control or programmable. I can work individually or collaboratively to design and implement a game toys. TCH 0-09a/TCH 1-09a

The Scratch Jnr app allows children to create a storyboard which features multimodality along with promoting coding skills. Characters can be edited and moved around using programmable coding features, texts can be added and images/text/backgrounds can be edited and moved around. The lesson I developed allowed for children to use their own initiative and create their own ending to the story I had already made. This type of software promotes a wealth of benefits to the education of children, with the afore mentioned features being a few of these. It also has positive impacts on the educators, supported by The Lead Project (2014) stating that ”schools can use Scratch to aid teachers in subjects like mathematics, English, music, art, design and information technology”. This is a programme which can be used across the curriculum in a variety of ways: on an individual basis for the child or teacher; in a collaborative manner for pupils working in groups or between pupils and teachers and for teachers as individuals as well as sharing ideas with other professionals in the same career.

After reflecting back on my experience of Scratch Jnr today overall I would consider the experience of using the programme enjoyable and definitely something I will be revisiting in order to further enhance my skills and abilities on the app. I would consider this to be a valuable and intriguing resource to use in the classroom with children of all abilities in order to support them in their learning and in enhancing their skills in ICT. I look forward yo using this in both a student and qualified capacity and sharing ideas with peers in order to build up my knowledge on this exciting coding programme.

References

The Lead Project (2014) Super Scratch Programming Adventure: Learn to Program by Making Cool Games! No Starch Press.

Naughton, J (2014) Why all our kids should be taught how to code Available Online at: moodle.uws.ac.uk/…/Why all our kids should be taught how to code Education The Observer.pdf First Accessed: 30/01/2018

The Curriculum for Excellence (2012) Education Scotland: Literacy and English Experiences and Outcomes. Available Online at: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/literacy-english-eo.pdf First Accessed on: 30/01/2018

 

ActivInspire Presentations 23/01/2018

Today in Digital Technologies we explored the ActivInspire software as a class and individually by viewing tutorial clips online and working in pairs to create a lesson directed for either an early, first or second level outcome. The online tutorials gave us a virtual experience allowing us to be guided through the software, by giving hints and tips on how to use the software effectively and to maximise the usage of this valuable tool in classrooms as a student teacher and as a qualified practicing teacher in the near future.

ActivInspire software allows for information that requires to be communicated to learners, become multimodal. Multimodality is the term which describes a set or forms of texts to adopt two or more semiotic systems; linguistic, visual, gestural, spatial and audio. Using digital technologies within the classroom allows for information to be communicated to learners in a variety of different, attention grabbing ways and by making texts multimodal, enhances the learners experiences in education whilst keeping in line with technology in society today.

The Scottish Government set out a strategy to implement the use of digital technologies in Scottish education for both learners and educators. The four objectives it is focusing on are:

1. Develop the skills and confidence of educators in the appropriate and effective use of digital technology to support learning and teaching.

2. Improve access to digital technology for all learners.

3. Ensure that digital technology is a central consideration in all areas of curriculum and assessment delivery.

4. Empower leaders of change to drive innovation and investment in digital technology for teaching and learning.

By using technologies in the classroom, it allows for children to be introduced and immersed in digital technologies that they may otherwise not be encompassed in at home or in other areas of their educational journeys.  It is stated by Beauchamp (2012, p.8) that ‘The multimodality of technology is another reason to use it, as it allows teachers to present ideas in a variety of different ways to help pupils understand it.’ By delivering young learners lessons involving multimodal texts it has the capability to  further enhance their understanding of lessons across curricular areas such as literacy, numeracy and science amongst others. It also allows for children and young learners to understand that ‘texts’ do not just come in printed form, but instead they come in many shapes and forms and can in fact be multimodal. Further supporting this suggestion, ‘pupils need to be equipped to view language as ‘metamode’ that enables them to access the meanings of a wide variety of texts, images, sounds and information.’ Beauchamp (2012, p.81). The use of ActivInspire today gave us the opportunity to create a lesson for a first level outcome in a Modern Foreign Language lesson.

My partner and I decided we would combine both our ideas and once we completed the online tutorial videos of how to effectively use the ActivInspire software, we proceeded on to the task and got to work on creating our multimodal lesson plan. We made various flip charts which included sound clips, images and interactivity through use of the smart board pens and various tools such as the spotlight and revealer. We created a Spanish lesson which allowed children to work in individually and with peers and allowed for the children to come up to the smart board to write down their answers and ideas.

Using the ActivInspire software excited me as it gave me an insight into a resource that is used widely across Scottish schools and gave me a quick glance into the different tools and aspects that the software has to offer. At first we found the software a great resource as it allowed us to create an extensively interactive lesson that would grab pupils attention and included all of the semiotic systems across the many Flipchart pages we made. When it came on to using different ‘wow’ factors of ActivInspire I personally really enjoyed the fact there were different attention grabbing tools that children would find exciting and would further encourage their investment and interest in the input being given. However, upon near completion of the lesson plan, when using the revealer tool we encountered an issue whereby the revealer would not stay on the Flipchart page we required and instead went onto the other pages and we could not in turn remove it off of the areas we did not need it on. This really frustrated us and put us slightly off course as we invested more time in trying to fix this issue than completing the task in the time given.

Overall, the use of ActivInspire in the two hour time slot we were given really impressed and excited me. I find it really encouraging to see that there are these resources in place for teachers to use whereby enhancing their lessons and I am very eager to use it in my own class as a student and professional educator. I will most definitely be revisiting the online tutorials and spending more time exploring the software in free time to get more familiar with it and also experiment by creating more lessons and sharing resources with peers in order to gain more knowledge and in depth experiences of the ActivInspire software.

References

Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/Digital%20Learning%20and%20Teaching%20Strategy%20for%20Scotland (First accessed on 23/01/2018)

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

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.