Digital Technologies | 30.1.18


In today’s session, we focussed on coding and, in particular, the program called Scratch Jr on the iPads. I have had some experience of the Scratch program on computers, while at a school for experience. The iPad version was slightly different, and I hadn’t gotten the chance to experiment on my own with it before, so I was excited for this class! Throughout the input, we also looked at why coding is so important in today’s society and why children should learn it, and looked at the links to the Curriculum for Excellence outcomes across all levels.

Firstly, it is important, as a teacher, to fully understand why you are teaching a lesson – if you can’t justify the reason you are teaching something, you shouldn’t be teaching it! You have to pass on the reasons and the context to the children to ensure they are a invested in the learning as they can be. This is why we have looked at the benefits of coding in the classroom. Firstly, it is becoming more and more important to have the ability to code in today’s society, and it can be expected that in years to come, coding will be an even bigger part of our lives; as I have mentioned before, it is important to always keep in mind that we are preparing children for jobs of the future. It can even be said that coding is the ‘new’ literacy! This may seem far-fetched just now, but the coding language is used a lot in day-to-day life, even if we don’t realise it ourselves. Also, the act of learning coding can help people use strategies for solving problems, designing projects and communicating ideas.

Scratch Jr is a programming language designed specifically for young children to allow them to create their own interactive stories and games. The program makes coding into a visual experience, as the child drags and drops ‘blocks’ that tell their character what to do: jump, walk, talk etc. However, children using Scratch Jr not only improve upon their computing skills, they learn to “think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively – essential skills for success and happiness in today’s world.” (The Lead Project, 2014). The Scratch programme is specifically designed to enable children to explore and experiment, with no limits to their imagination. It is for this reason that Scratch is so versatile and can aid teachers in subjects like mathematics, English, music, art, design and information technology. This also links with the Curriculum for Excellence’s Experience and Outcomes: first and second level outcomes such as “I explore ad 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) can be achieved by working with programmes such as Scratch.

As part of this class, we were challenged to create our own story using Scratch to illustrate it. We had to at least: change the background; add characters; program the characters to move and add in some speech. It was really interesting to use the programme for ourselves as it helped us to get into the mind of a child and how they might meet obstacles while exploring, and how they may overcome them and use their problem solving skills. It is obvious that children would get a lot of enjoyment out of working with this programme as well as quality learning and problem solving experience.


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

YouTube Tutorial – Welcome video and short introductory tutorial:



Digital Technologies | 23.1.18


Today’s Digital Technologies input focussed on multimodality and how it can enhance teaching and learning in the classroom. We then looked at different ways to create multimodal texts, and in particular, explored the program called ActivInspire. As a cohort, we have learned about multimodality in our semester one module, Literacy for Understanding; however, time did not allow us to look at this in depth, we now have the opportunity to fully explore multimodality.

We learned that a text is considered multimodal when it combines two or more semiotic systems; there are five semiotic systems altogether: linguistic, visual, audio, gestural and spatial. It is understandable that it is so important for teachers to fully understand multimodality, as we all know that children all have very different learning styles, and multimodality can cater to a wide range of them. Beauchamp (2012) states that multimodality “allows teachers to present an idea in a variety of different ways to help pupils understand it”.

The curriculum displays the need for multimodality in the classroom, as the Literacy and English Principles and Practice document states that the “framework reflects the increased use of multimodal texts, digital communication, social networking and the other forms of electronic communication encountered by children and young people in their daily lives”. Beauchamp (2012) also goes on to say that “we must challenge the implicit assumption that speech and writing are always central and sufficient for learning.”

The reasons for using multimodality in the classroom are vast – presentations that include more than 2 semiotic systems tend to be: captivating, motivating, interactive, personalised, dynamic, memorable and engaging. Multimodality can be introduced into a classroom in many different ways: one of which being presentations on interactive boards. Prandstatter (2014) states that “touch displays can become a social learning tool encouraging hands-on experiences thereby helping children learn by doing.”

We focussed on a program called ActivInspire, which is very common in schools. It allows you to create interactive flip charts which bring lessons to life. There are two forms of ActivInspire: Primary and Studio. The former being more suitable for younger children with bright colours and enlarged, simple icons, with Studio being slightly more advanced and functional. ActivInspire has many features: adding annotations, highlighting texts, adding handwritten notes or drawings, inserting images or videos, creating shapes and designs, adding backgrounds etc.

We were tasked to work in pairs to create some ActivInspire flipchart slides to create an interactive lesson in a classroom. My peer and I chose to make a French lesson. The focus of the lesson was learning basic French colours. The slides included interactive activities for the children to complete such as drawing a line from the English to the French translation and unscrambling the letters to create the French word for certain colours. The idea being that this flipchart would assist in teaching the children, by getting them to be active in the lesson. Completing this task really made me understand how an interactive flipchart is so much more captivating for children, as opposed to regular PowerPoint presentations.


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

Education Scotland

YouTube ActivInspire series of support videos: