Week 11: A Final Reflection

11 weeks have gone by and the digital technologies module has sadly finished. After visiting the various technologies over the last few weeks, I am going to give an overall reflection surrounding the module, my own skills and what I wish to take from the module as a whole.

In the introductory class to the module, we were given a self-assessment success wheel which we were to pinpoint our levels of knowledge before researching any of the digital technologies. Now in week 11, I have decided to revisit this wheel and fill in where I think I have made progress.

The Success Wheel where I have shown progress.

As you can see in the image above, I have made progress in all but one section of the wheel. For ActiveInspire, I have gone from very little knowledge to having a good knowledge of the programme. There is definitely further reading and practice required before I can say that I have excellent knowledge.  I know I need to practice with ActivInspire as it was probably the section of digital technologies I had the most difficulties with. I think it’s a good programme for the classroom so I will defiantly be changing my level of knowledge.  For me, I only feel confident saying I have excellent knowledge of programmable toys and the iPads. The module let me explore the world of programmable toys further and I am now successfully able to plan using the experiences and outcomes of CFE as well as being able to create my own resources. I already have many ideas of how I will use these toys within my future classroom. As for the iPads, I have had the realisation of the number of activities that can be planned within the classroom using the technology. The possibilities are endless and I look forward to exploring it further in my own classroom. In terms of games based learning, outdoor learning, glow, coding and easy speak microphones, I feel that yes I did see some progress in these sections however I haven’t reached the potential of my knowledge. I know that this is because I just need more practice with the technology involved and I will gain these experiences in future placements and in my teaching career. I do feel however that I could use all of the technologies mentioned successfully and confidently in the classroom and I am quite excited to be able to test out this technology with children but also explore further technologies which may not be relevant in this day and age.

A section which we explored which wasn’t mentioned in the above wheel was animation. I just want to say that my idea of animation has changed and I can see where it would be relevant in the modern day classroom. I definitely think I need practice in this area before teaching it in the future as I am still having flashbacks to that lecture! I think this leads me on to a further reflection I have made over the past few weeks and that is teamwork. I usually would say that I am a good team player and that I work well in a team but this module made it evident to me that I prefer to work in teams with 3 people rather than a larger group because I felt it was harder to take everyone’s ideas into consideration and also voice my own opinions as I can be quite a quiet character at times. However, I think I need to mention my levels of confidence which have dramatically changed throughout this module. I have surprised myself at how much I have been able to talk out in front of the class and give answers as I usually keep my opinions to myself. I also was able to present in my group and has made me realise that preparation is key as I stumbled through that presentation and with the help of a plan, it could be made better.

As I wrote these reflections, I thought about Scotlands Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy (Scottish Government, 2016) and where I could see connections being made. The aims of this strategy are:

  • Develop the skills and confidence of educators in the appropriate and effective use of digital technology to support learning and teaching.
  • Improve access to digital technology for all learners.
  • Ensure that digital technology is a central consideration in all areas of curriculum and assessment delivery.
  • Empower leaders of change to drive innovation and investment in digital technology for learning and teaching.

I would say that through the use of technology, I was able to develop my skills and my confidence and with this new knowledge I would be able to improve the access to the “digitally native” classroom in my future career (Prensky, 2001).  I also think this module helped me to see how technology can be used in a cross-curricular context and how technologies could become the central aim of teaching. I also think that by using the technology the last few weeks, it has empowered me to want to teach it but to also have the ability to one day being able to teach it successfully and innovate it within the classroom.

There is definitely a lot that I am going to take from studying this module. This module has emphasised to me the importance of technology within a primary school classroom and why it is vital for us to open up the opportunities created by technology to all members of the class. It has also allowed me to think creatively about what I could do within my own classroom in the near future. I cannot wait to use the Beebots again as well as programmes like Scratch to allow growth not only in the children’s digital skills but also in all other curricular levels. I also think this module has proven to me the importance of critical thinking and reflections. By reflecting and critically thinking, I have been able to see what I need to improve on but also give my own opinion not influenced by others thoughts and feelings. These are skills which I will take into my teaching career are it is important for teachers to think critically and also reflect on their lessons.

To conclude,  the digital technologies module provided me with practice and examples of the technology used within today’s classrooms. It also showed me the importance of reflection and allowed me to see where my skills need improvement for the future. It also allowed me to further my learning of Scotlands policies and allowed me insight on others professional opinions of technology being used in the classroom. I have enjoyed this module and will take all that I’ve learned into my own career.

References used within this blog:

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants MCB University Press.

Scottish Government (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Government [Online] Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00505855.pdf [Accessed: 30 March 2019].

 

Week 10 – QR Codes and Outdoor Learning

Digital Technologies allow children to explore many different skills and explore various environments. This week we focussed on QR Codes and the outdoor learning environment. A QR code is “a pattern of black and white squares that can be read by a smartphone, allowing the phone user to get more information about something. QR Code is an abbreviation for quick response code”(Collins, 2019). Before attending this class, I had never really explored QR codes and their use as I had never needed to use them. However, I quickly found out that QR codes are becoming more popular in the primary classroom.  This week I was able to learn about their usage, how to create my own and also trying to create a child-friendly activity which could be used in my own future classroom. We also had a focus surrounding outdoor learning and its positive impact on the children learning. This also allowed me to reflect on my own activities in the past which I had conducted outside.

QR codes are useful in a variety of ways. They enable a link between the code and the device providing additional information on a subject. By scanning QR codes, the person or people viewing the device can see images, web links or messages which could give instructions, ideas or facts surrounding a particular topic. You may see QR codes on company billboards which will provide people with further information about the companies job or how they can be of service to the individual. Now you may be thinking “how can this be used within a classroom environment?” Well, it can be used for a variety of activities or reasons such as

  • Book Reviews
  • Treasure Hunts
  • Facts on Class Topics
  • Interactive Activities
  • Questions for the Class
  • Youtube Links
  • Databases

I think one of my favourite ideas for these QR codes are for providing extra activities for those learners who finish early (Mauk, 2017). This would be useful as it allows the class teacher to continue helping the other children with the class activities while stimulating the brains of the other learners giving them a further understanding of the topic. I see why QR codes are useful in education, however, reflecting on the knowledge that I know, I do not think this would be the first method I would use in my classroom. I think that they take too much time to create using the online QR generators as the activity may only take a couple of minutes. However, I do think it would support the ‘digitally native’ classroom so maybe I just need to try and have a better understanding of the technology behind QR codes and continue to practice planning my own activities (Prensky, 2001).

Another aspect looked at us this week was the importance of outdoor learning in a school environment. It is thought that when a child has a learning experience outside, it will remain relevant to them in later memories. This is because the child can see topics learned relating to their own real-life context (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010). Learning outside can also be seen as fun and motivational encouraging the children to partake in the activities. It’s also thought that the outdoor environment allows children to roam more freely exploring their surroundings and its a more natural setting for children than the classroom (Maynard and Waters, 2007). Outdoor Learning is a subject which I have been aware of the last 3 years due to my NC and HNC in Childhood Practice. I have been able to conduct activities in the outdoor setting in both the nursery and primary school setting. Thinking back now, I can say that these activities were more engaging for the children as they loved to be outside and enjoyed a new setting from the day to day classroom. All the children that I have worked with have always preferred the outdoor learning sessions that I held and I think that it is important to cater to the child’s needs. This is an area which I will continue to support in my future classroom.

Outdoor learning also relates to the Scottish Governments Policy of Getting It Right For Every Child (G.I.R.F.E.C). This policy includes the Shanarri Wheel which states aims which schools should try to achieve [The Scottish Government, 2018).

When in relation to outdoor learning, the segment of active can be achieved as  we can encourage exercise in the outdoors, respected can be achieved as outdoor learning includes cooperation, responsible can be achieved as responsibilities can be given out in leadership games, safe needs to be achieved as we must ensure the outdoor environment cooperates with the schools health and safety policies, healthy will be achieved as the children again are gaining time to exercise and use the outdoor area, achieving will be achieved as games including technology can be used where the children must aim to achieve the final answer or goal and nurtured can be achieved by ensuring that we are catering to the child’s individual needs. This is incredibly important to achieve as this is how we as teachers can show that we understand that every individuals needs matter and we need to ensure that we understand the importance of getting it right for all.

So where can we relate QR codes and outdoor learning? That was our task for today’s class as we all had to create a digital QR treasure hunt! Using an online QR generator, we created a variety of QR codes which all conveyed different questions, hints and answers. We began by planning out our locations and questions and what topics we should be using.

This was our planning sheet for the activity!

As you can see in the image, we decided to focus on a maths revision game. This allowed our peers to search the university while gaining the educational benefit of maths questions. A critique we got about our activity was that it was very broad and if we had focused on one area of maths it may have had made more of an impact. Creating the QR codes was a challenge as we quickly learned that long messages do not show up properly and we would need to reduce the number of characters we had been using. Also, this was very time consuming so in the future, I would like to find a program which may create these at a faster speed. However, I was impressed by how easily we could generate a new code. Our activity consisted of our peers having to scan our codes to answer questions to receive a letter to create a mystery word at the final destination. The word was ‘Calculator’ to ensure we were focusing on the main theme of maths.

Here we are placing our QR code and testing that it operates with the mobile device.

The other group provided us with some positive feedback which I would like to reflect on. They said they enjoyed the challenge of finding each new code. This to me was important as challenge and enjoyment are 2 of the 7 design principles (Education Scotland, 2010).  By giving the children a challenge, it can help to stimulate their minds and provide a more beneficial experience. They also said that the time was good as it would probably take the children slightly longer. On reflection, this would work well as you do not want to create an activity which you have spent an hour on for it to last around 2 minutes. This is why I will ensure that I will create activities which last for a good period of time. My personal opinion is that I would use this idea within my classroom and I am leaving today’s class with a more open mind about the use of QR codes in an educational setting. I think I would take the other groups advice by focusing on one area of maths rather than expanding it to many other topics. I also feel this activity could be used with many other parts of the curriculum.

The CFE code that was used for this activity was:

  • ” I can use digital technologies to search, access and retrieve information and am aware that not all of this information will be credible” – TCH 2-02A

There was also many maths experiences and outcomes which could be achieved due to several topics our group focused on. As mentioned above, in the future I will be choosing one topic to help children have a better understanding.

After these further reflections and the creation of our activity, my mind has been changed slightly and I will be trying to incorporate QR codes into my classroom. I think the book review idea is my favourite as an avid reader, this would be helpful for the children to see another child’s point of view. I think outdoor learning is important in today’s society and I will support it within my own practice. I cannot wait to implement all of the above ideas into my own teaching career.

References within this blog: 

Collins. (2019) Definition of ‘QR code.’[Online] Available: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/qr-code [Accessed: 20 March 2019].

Learning and Teaching Scotland. (2010) Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning. [Online] Available: https://education.gov.scot/improvement/documents/hwb24-ol-support.pdf [Accessed: 20 March 2019]

Maynard, T, Waters, J (2007) Learning in the outdoor environment: a missed opportunity?. Early Years.[Online] Volume 27(3) pp 255-265. Available: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/09575140701594400?needAccess=true [Accessed: 20 March 2019].

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants MCB University Press.

The Scottish Government. (2018) Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC).[Online] Available: https://www2.gov.scot/gettingitright[Accessed: 20 March 2019].

Week 9 – Game Based Learning

With 86% of 5-7 year-olds and 90% of 8-11 year-olds playing games on a regular basis, it is important for teachers to understand the basics and how they can enhance their lessons through game-based learning (Ofcom, 2011). This week is all about the games that children play on their devices, consoles and laptops which contribute to their own learning. As well as discussing these games, I had the chance to explore the world of Minecraft to see its educational benefits and also see from my own perspective what skills could be acquired through playing a game. I also focussed on answering and speaking out in front of the class and now have many personal reflections to share with you.

So firstly, I need to explain what game-based learning is and also how can it enhance the classroom. I would define game-based learning as games on an interactive device which provide the children with educational benefits.  An important point is that we need to ensure any games that we chose to use are age appropriate for the classroom and that they truly can teach children something meaningful which can continue to help them through their school career. Marc Prensky (2003) states that game-based learning can be ‘motivational’ and can also help our learners to be interested in school. This is because these games can be cooperative and result-oriented. This helps to support their digitally native needs (Prensky, 2001). It is also thought that if we use the games properly within the educational setting and have good teaching and learning, the child can be impacted greatly. However, in many primary school settings, technology is used for reward and entertainment, we must remember to use them for learning and to make our classroom more interactive. (Bray, 2012) Games based learning also has many benefits for the child. These include:

  • Increasing the child’s mental capacity
  • Increasing strategic thinking and problem solving
  • Developing hand-eye coordination
  • Helping children to concentrate especially those with additional support needs
  • General skill reading (TeachThought, 2017).

These benefits are excellent, especially for cross-curricular subject areas. We could combine a problem-solving game with mathematics which could help the child have faster strategic thinking. I think we also need to remember that as time goes on, authorities are putting a large emphasis on play-based learning. These games would support their aims. We could allow children to use these games in class as long as we remember to tell them the aim of our lessons so that they don’t go off on a tangent (Beauchamp, 2012). I think this appeals to me as I quite enjoy playing games such as the Sims (which could be argued to be educational) and I do see where there could be benefits in the classroom environment. My only worry is in previous placements I have seen children whose behaviour was not at best receive “computer time” when it should not have rewarded and I hope that I never fall into that trap. I cannot wait to use games in my classroom as it will be more interesting for the children.

This weeks task allowed us to explore Minecraft: Education Edition as we had to use the game to see how we could use it for educational benefits within the classroom. I was able to have more knowledge on this subject compared to others in the classroom as I have played it in my previous years and knew a lot of the controls. I had never played the education edition though, however, I have heard a lot of good feedback surrounding it. Recently, they have created a 30-hour curriculum called coding with Minecraft (Mojang, 2019) This allows children to take 30-45 minute lessons in coding which would tie in with the CFE technologies curriculum. I thought this was so clever as it also shows how game-based learning can unify a group of individuals. I was actually shocked at how much more was available in this edition as it had many educational benefits. However, before I started to explore these educational inputs, I had to play a game and decided to make a house while having 2 dogs to keep me company!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To name a few, children could explore the periodic table as all elements were available to construct in the game. The children can access a lab table, element constructer and compound creator. In the element constructer, it lets the child explore the making of an element. They input the electrons, protons and neutrons needed and an element will appear. Once they have made these elements they can put them in the compound creator to combine them. They can then use the lab table to explore what happens when they combine compounds. I think this is genius! This makes chemistry fun!

Here I have combined 2 hydrogens and an oxygen to make H20! 
Here I am making Sodium Acetate from 3x hydrogen, 2x oxygen, 2x carbon and a Sodium!
All elements can be explored!

Other benefits include being able to use a compass properly, survival skills and also how plants are grown to be made into the food that we eat today. This is also a collaborative game as multiplayer mode is available which is a great idea for a class activity as children will be able to play together to work on the same task.

Our task was to get into groups and make a mind map of ideas and then put our ideas into a lesson planner where we would explore the cross-curricular activities available in the game. To create our mind map, we all just put our suggestions onto the paper and then further discussed where this could be seen in the Curriculum for Excellence. We divided our ideas into the curricular areas and began to look at the principles of learning and tried to make some connections.

Our Mind Map.

Once ready, we went onto our lesson planner where we decided to choose 4 different activities which we were willing to talk to the rest of the class about. We decided to focus on Maths, Social Studies, Language and Science. For Maths, we decided on an activity that deals with fractions. The children would be given questions such as “Give 3/5 of the sunflowers to your friend” and they would have to collect 3 of the 5 sunflowers from the garden and give them over. This could be done with any Minecraft item and as fractions is a hard concept to grasp, this could make it slightly more interesting. For social studies, we decided that the class could be studying Scottish histories such as Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle. They would then need to go into Minecraft and build their own castles and implement features from their topic to show their understanding. This could be really creative for some children and you would receive a variety of work. The language was next and we decided that it could be a basic storytelling activity. The children would have to play some Minecraft and then do some story writing on what they achieved or what they wanted to do next. This again would get a variety of responses which allows the children’s imaginations to flow. Finally, we did science. I really liked the chemistry equipment that I found in the game and thought about how players in Minecraft have to dig to find the elements to help them progress. We thought that the children could find the ore and then they would need to use the new science materials to enter the protons, neutrons and electrons, create a new compound and show their creations. This would help them to have a better understanding of where elements such as iron come from and it would be fascinating to see which children have sufficient problem-solving skills. These are activities I will definitely use in my classroom and will adapt as the game develops.

In terms of CFE outcomes and experiences, I think it’s fair to say that there are many that could be used for the game as a whole. I think the outcome that emphasis’s Minecraft is ” 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. This is appropriate as there are many subject areas to explore within the game. I hope I get to use this game in my future career.

The presentation was a moment of realisation for myself. I usually don’t like to speak in front of the cohort due to how shy I am and how I usually stumble my words. When our group went up to present, we decided I was doing the talking. Of course my mind went into overload and I began to panic as we were first. I was so happy with myself as I was able to talk about our entire lesson plan and explain my concepts well enough for the class to understand. I need to improve my confidence when speaking but I think this can be worked on. I also want to mention that in the future, I will prepare what I am saying in advance as trying to work it out while at the front was not the best strategy. I also proved myself wrong about speaking out as I was able to offer feedback to my peers without worrying about panicking. Trust me, this is progress since September where I usually don’t give a lot of answers. This is not the class that  I thought I would develop this skill but I am pleased that I have made this progress. I also want to comment on the teamwork this week. After last weeks stressful animation session, I can conclude that smaller groups are definitely better for myself to concentrate but to also give my own thoughts and opinions. I will continue to work on all of the above.

I really enjoyed this weeks session as it opened my eyes to game-based learning. Before I finish this blog, I would like to provide a link to some lesson plans which Minecraft have published themselves which dive into many different subject areas for their education edition. This is: https://education.minecraft.net/class-resources/lessons/ (Mojang, 2019). I really cannot wait to be qualified as this is a resource which I will definitely be using in my own classroom to make lessons more motivational and interesting.

References within this blog:

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

Bray, O. (2012) Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education. [Online] https://www.slideshare.net/Microsofteduk/playful-learning-computer-games-in-education [Accessed: 6 March 2019].

Mojang. (2019) Download the Computer Science curriculum from Minecraft: Education Edition today. [Online] Available: https://education.minecraft.net/class-resources/coding-with-minecraft/[Accessed: 6 March 2019].

Mojang. (2019) Subject Kits. [Online] Available: https://education.minecraft.net/class-resources/lessons/[Accessed: 6 March 2019].

Ofcom. (2011) Children and parents: media use and attitudes 2011. [Online] Available: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/media-literacy-research/childrens/childrens-parents-media-use-attitudes-report [Accessed: 6 March 2019].

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants MCB University Press.

Prensky, M. (2003) Digital Game-Based Learning. ACM Computers in Entertainment.[Online] Volume 1(1) pp1-4. Available: http://www-cgi.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/Web/People/smrobert/SAMpapers/game_learning/gamebased_learning.pdf[Accessed: 6 March 2019].

TeachTought. (2017) 6 Basic Benefits of Game-Based Learning. [Online] Available: https://www.teachthought.com/technology/6-basic-benefits-of-game-based-learning/ [Accessed: 6 March 2019].

Week 8 – Animation Part 2

A week has passed since I first explored animation and its use in a primary school setting and this week, it was time for my group and I to try create our own animation using the technique of stop motion. This week we also evaluated our skills while working in a team and continued to learn how animation can develop the children’s skills in the classroom.

Toward’s the end of last weeks session, my group and I began to plan our own animation by creating a storyboard and constructing a list of ideas and materials which we would use when filming. Our idea was to create an animation which features the natural disaster of a tsunami and also teaches the children some facts about tsunamis and what they are, when they occur etc. Our storyboard shows what we want to try and create and the main features of our short film. We took some inspiration from ‘The Impossible’ (The movie which surrounds the Boxing Day tsunami) and then developed our own storyline. We decided to create a nice beach setting where our characters will be playing in the sand with a beach ball when suddenly we have a change in weather which progressively turns the beach dull. We then decided that we would need to show the effects of a tsunami and try and get some warnings put across. At the time, this plan looked great and I was on board with the team and I couldn’t wait to try it out. At this point, we also planned which materials would be vital for our animation to work. We decided that we would need to get tissue paper, Lego figures, skewers, cotton wool, pens, pencils, card, paper and sellotape. This sounded like we were on track and that it would run smoothly on the day. Throughout the week, I purchased some resources and tried to think of further ideas I could offer. Safe to say, I definitely need to use my time more wisely. I only thought of the ideas the night before and they weren’t well developed. This is a skill I will work on throughout my course at UWS.

Our Storyboard!

Animation day arrived and we thought we very prepared. Turns out, an animation is much harder than the videos make it look. Firstly, trying to get the camera placed in the correct position so that the background fit in perfectly was causing some problems. The camera just wouldn’t stay in the same place and it was extremely frustrating. Secondly, trying to make the lego figures look like they were walking was difficult as I had not thought about how much to move them and that if you move them a centimetre too far, it looked like the lego figure had jumped forward suddenly. I think we thought this task was going to be easier than it was. The storyline we had created was also quite hard to move from the storyboard to our actual scene. This meant that some changes had to be made as it just wasn’t possible for us to create the scenes we had planned as amateur animators. I think when we reached an hour and a half into the lesson, I had the realisation that we definitely needed more preparation if we were ever to do it again. I also had the realisation that animation is a very difficult task and I commend any individuals who can do it successfully. So as time went on, we finally got to a stage where it seemed to be going well as we were able to float clouds across the screen, have the lego figures throwing a beach ball and have the waves of the tsunami hit the village. It then came to our attention that we had only pressed the camera once for each movement and that it all went at quite a fast pace. This is when we decided to go back and duplicate frames so our lego figures moved at a more realistic pace. We then had some more technical difficulties as after we finished photographing our final scene, that specific scene wasn’t showing up when pressing play. This is why I will be looking at any future apps we need to use in the class. To top it off, we added some sound effects to ensure that our short film had some more depth but to also show another feature of the iStop Motion app. Below you can watch our finished product. Apologies that it is not landscape, my laptop is not allowing me to change this.

I am happy with the final product that my team created and I am pleased that after all our troubles that it finally worked out. Working in a team and collaborating is a main focus of the Curriculum for Excellence and is a set of skills which needs to be developed within the classroom. (The Scottish Government, 2009).  Upon reflection, it’s safe to say that I think this was a task where teamwork was vital, however, I cannot lie and say it was what I thought it would be. I think our group was too big and overpowered with ideas and I felt frustrated throughout as there were not enough jobs for us all to partake in at once. As a teacher, you will need to have good collaborative working skills in the school environment as you will need to work with other teachers on projects and you may even share your class with someone else. I think teamwork is a skill that I would like to work on as I do class myself as a team player but in times where everyone gives their thoughts and ideas, I tend to be quiet (which may be surprising for some of you) and not put in as many thoughts as I would like too. This is something I can work on over the next few years on the course.

When looking at the Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes, I feel this task can be interpreted in a variety of ways. At first level, the outcome I would use is ” I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts” – TCH 1-1a. At Second Level I would use “I can recognise basic properties and uses for a variety go materials and can discuss which ones are most suitable for a given task” – TCH 2-10a and also “I can extend and enhance my design skills to solve problems and can construct models” – TCH 2-09a. I feel these fit the task as the child needs to work with a variety of materials to achieve a good background and image to ensure that the scene is made clear but they also need to construct this scenery to ensure they can solve the problem of how it will move and look once put in a sequence.

I think what I enjoy about this module is that when you are doing these tasks which could be given to your class of children, it allows you to see the skills needed to succeed and what barriers and difficulties may be in your way. In this task a few skills and qualities which are developed are the child’s patience as animation can be frustrating (I can support this) and the children need to learn those good ideas take time, they will also improve their digital skills as they will learn work the iStop Motion app and once again improve their skills on a mobile device. They will also have the chance to improve their collaborative skills and ensure that they will be able to work in a team. I also feel like the child would be able to improve their creative thinking skills as while creating the animation, the team and I had to be able to think out of the box and create ideas which would work when transferred over to the iPad after being a basic sequence of photos. This also includes the background and any objects involved in the animation. Finally, I also think the children will improve their own reflecting skills as animation provides them with challenge and they will be able to see where they’ve gone wrong and how it can be improved in the future. I think this is excellent to develop from a young age.

When recapping the task this week, I identified many links to the Digital Learning Strategy and where animation would help it to achieve its aims. I believe that animation helps to achieve the goal of enhancing teaching and learning as this activity could make lessons fun and also promotes a new challenge to the children in which they can display their work. I think an animation task could also empower leaders as I feel each team needs a member to be in the role of leader to ensure that tasks are completed on time and successfully especially with the complexity of this task (The Scottish Government, 2016). This also helps to improve access to this ‘digitally native’ generation of children (Prensky,  2001).

Animation is a task which I may explore when I am teaching my own class. I think I will ensure that I am more prepared if I am ever to do it again in the future and also prepare myself for the challenge. I have enjoyed learning about it and will continue to do further reading to broaden my knowledge.

References used within this blog: 

The Scottish Government. (2009) curriculum for excellence building the curriculum 4 skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government [Online] Available at: https://www2.gov.scot/resource/doc/288517/0088239.pdf [Accessed: 27 February 2019]

The Scottish Government. (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Government [Online] Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00505855.pdf [Accessed: 7 January 2019]

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants MCB University Press.

 

Week 7- Animation Part 1

The Oxford Dictionary defines animation as “The technique of photographing successive drawings or positions of puppets or models to create an illusion of movement when the film is shown as a sequence” (2019). This week within the class, we were able to explore the world of animation and see where it could be used within the modern day classroom. This included us looking at 2 fantastic apps for children and adults while thinking creatively to make some short videos showcasing our new skills.

It never clicked with me until today’s session that animation in the classroom can actually be an excellent task for children to explore as it can link many different areas of the curriculum as well as changing up their lessons from the basic worksheet.  Animation can be used to support the inclusion of children within and out with the classroom environment. An example is allowing children to express themselves with their own animation projects so that any insecurities are taken away.  This is also good for the e-inclusion of the classroom as it can take away the difficulties of those with additional support needs. However, we cannot forget about how animation skills are connected to the confidence of teachers. A teacher must be skilled to teach these ICT methods without projecting their nerves or opinions onto the children who are ready to learn. (Beauchamp, 2012). This is something that I will need to personally practice as I want my teaching to be of a high standard so that the children are able to explore their new skills without any previous judgement or fears which I have passed onto them.

So how does animation enhance the learning of the children you ask? Well, it can be used to enhance children’s visual representations. This can be useful for those children who are shy and are also too nervous to tell you any worries face to face. This could also help us to understand how children learn more efficiently. It can also be used to illustrate the processes. This can be as simple as baking a cake or creating an amazing piece of art. Through animation, we can see the step to step guides of how the children have achieved their final products (Education Scotland, 2018). The final way it can enhance the learning of the child is that animation provides an interactive element to the basic subjects. This could be using a stop motion lego figure movie to tell the class how to do their 3 times tables or even a stop motion cut out story to enhance the languages.  Animation is a great method for learning within the ‘digitally native’ classroom (Prensky, 2001).

Children engage with animation on a day to day basis as they may watch cartoons which require drawings to develop. This means that by using animation it provides children with a visual impact and lessons can be taught to them through an animated character(s). It also brings along the idea of new life to inanimate objects as through animation we can allow them to become a character and move due to the sequence of photographs (Jarvis, 2015). The best way to start in the classroom is cut out animation due to the demands which are required with the other types. It is also good to start in groups within the classroom as an animated short film can be a lot of work for an individual child.

The 5 types of animation are:

  • Cutout Animation – This is quick and easy to create as children can move around paper images to create a story.
  • Stop-motion Animation – This could be through the use of plasticine, however lego figures are a much easier option.
  • Pixelation – The use of humans as the puppets in the animation. This is still using stop motion technology however, the humans can show expression and give a real-life sense to the movies.
  • Drawn Animation – This is what you see in cartoons. The most common example would be films such as Disneys Snow White or Cinderella.
  • Computer Animation – Also known as CGI which is where people can create animation through many magnificent profiles. Of course, this is the hardest and will take many years of practice.

During the class, we had the chance to explore some apps that allow animation within the classroom. These were Puppet Pals and iStop Motion. I started with Puppet Pals to begin with as we had been told it was the simpler app of the two. This app allows children to recreate some of their favourite fairytales with the choice of characters and scenes. It has to be said, without payment, the choice is very limited and children would only be able to create a few of their favourite tales. At first, I found it quite difficult to use as I wasn’t grasping the concept of how the app records the tale and also trying to resize characters as they move. Of course, I overcame this hurdle quickly and was able to play with the app and create a fairytale. Below is an example of my creation.

Overall, I thought the app was very good if it was to be used with the children who are perhaps in the early and first levels as I could imagine a second level child wouldn’t have much interest as their ICT skills will have been more developed by this stage.  As it is very limited, if I had to use it in my classroom I would need to upgrade the app as I want to allow the child to have full creativity. However, it did show me that animation could be used in the classroom settings as children could film these fairytales to convey their own emotions which could bring in the health and wellbeing of the child as it could be used if the child doesn’t want to tell you their feelings face to face. I also felt the app was inclusive of those with additional needs and that the full class could use this app. I will definitely keep it in mind for my own classroom.

I then had the chance to explore iStop motion, which I have to admit, was my preferred choice of the apps. This app lets the child have a fully personalised choice of what they want to create. This app can be used with any inanimate objects or even humans to create pixelation.  It basically allows you to take a series of photographs of the objects/people where you can move them about in each photo so it seems like the object/person is moving. I used the “stretchy people” in the class to test it out and see if I was any good at animation! It was harder than it looked! The inanimate objects don’t always want to do what you want them to do… especially this stretchy person! He just wouldn’t stand up for me and I ended up having to use some plasticine to try and stick him to the desk. Below is my example.

This was fun to use and I can see where it would benefit the children in the classroom as it would allow them to use anything they wanted to create a story, their feelings, historical events or even just explaining what happened at the weekend. Next week, we will be creating our own iStop Animation with lego (hopefully) to create a tsunami scene! We have already planned our storyboards and I look forward to the challenge.

A CFE outcome which I feel represents animation in the classroom is ” I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts” – TCH 1-1a. This would allow children to produce short films and clips to represent how they are feeling or to even give an answer to a question.

Already I can tell that animation is a section of digital technologies which will provide me with many lesson plans and ideas for my classroom in the near future. By practising my ICT skills, I will be able to enhance both the teaching and learning within the classroom which is the main focus of the Digital Learning Strategy ().  I am looking forward to creating out animation next week.

References within this blog:

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

Education Scotland. (2018) Animation in the classroom – Developing skills in animation.[Online] Available: https://education.gov.scot/improvement/practice-exemplars/Animation%20in%20the%20classroom%20-%20Developing%20skills%20in%20animation[Accessed: 21 February 2019]

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

Oxford Living Dictionaries. (2019) animation.[Online] Available: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/animation[Accessed: 21 February 2019]

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants MCB University Press.

 

Week 6 – Movie Making

Movie Making is the aspect of digital technologies that we were looking at this week within the class which also included an assessment task. To be more specific, we mainly focused on the use of the iMovie app for Apple devices to create our own films and to also discuss how it would be used within the modern day classroom. We also had a look at internet safety.

Now you may be thinking, how can we use apps such as iMovie in the classroom? Well, the answer is… the possibilities are endless! This could be for recording a research project where children pretend they are giving a news report on a particular event within the area or they could create their own films giving tips on how to make recipes! iMovie is a great resource for children as it provides many learning opportunities. These include:

  • Learning how to use a camera.
  • Planning out their scenes.
  • How to add music and effects.
  • How to create different moods within the scenes.
  • To present their information.
  • To practice their acting.

Of course there are many more opportunities which can be explored, however, iMovie can also help us to look at Blooms Taxonomy. Using iMovie within the modern day classroom can help us achieve each of the levels. The examples I have come up with are:

  • Remembering – Use iMovie to save memories from the classroom which can also help children recall previous memories or lessons.
  • Understanding– The children can use iMovie which shows their understanding of the learning intentions and prove that they have achieved all the lessons aims.
  • Applying – The children can apply iMovie clips into their presentations to give more depth and to be more creative.
  • Analysing– The children can use iMovie to film their environment and analyse what 3D objects and 2D shapes can be found in the rooms, the playground etc.
  • Evaluating – The children could film an experiment in science on the iMovie app and then afterwards sit down in front of the camera explaining to the viewer what they have done wrong or right and how it can be improved in the future.
  • Creating– The children can be given freedom on iMovie to explore their creative side to create a new song or story and record the process of making it.

( Gibson, 2019).

I will definitely take some of these ideas for my own classroom and will be using this app to explore all aspects of the Curriculum for Excellence. This offers variety in the classroom and allows children to explore new technology.

In today’s modern society, it is incredibly important that we teach children about the sensitive topic of internet safety. On the 5th of February 2019, it was Safer Internet Day. On this day, children are taught all about internet safety and the current issues which they need to be aware of. In our classes, there will be children (of all ages) who will have their own social media profiles which is something that we cannot stop. Although these apps guidelines state the child must be 13 years old, children still manage to secure these accounts. As a teacher, I must ensure that I do not put forward my personal opinion of a child having these accounts (Beauchamp, 2012). Even though I had an account at a young age, as I have grown older, I have realised how dangerous these profiles can be to the younger members of society. So what can we do for these children? We can provide safety tips. The UK Safer Internet Safety Centre (2019) provides the following tips for those aged 7-11:

  • Be aware of the dangers and how to turn off sensitive content.
  • Make sensible choices.
  • Always ask others permission online.
  • Be an online role model.
  • Ask for help from an adult if you are ever worried.

As the issues grow online with many more harmful issues surfacing on the web, these tips can help the children to ensure that they stay out of any dangerous situations. Of course, these tips will need to be updated all the time due to an increase of danger but by having these talks with the children, we can ensure they have the basics to ensure when using the internet at home or within the school they are always in the safest situation possible. The Scottish Government (2019) also provides help and guidelines for the parents and/or guardians of the children regarding the use of the internet. This includes how to deal with cyberbullying and also how to protect your family and in particular your child’s passwords. This is a great webpage to help the adults especially since the internet evolves more every day.

As mentioned above, the topic of internet safety is a hard subject to teach to children and we can not force our opinions on particular social media platforms which we may deem unsafe for their use as the child may already have it or have their own separate opinion on the matter. The task this week was to create a movie in a small group about the dangers of the internet while giving them some safety tips for if or when they choose to use it. My group decided we would develop a storyline surrounding the relevant topic of “cat-fishing” profiles on the likes of apps like Facebook and Instagram. As the Washington Post puts it, social media is allowing people a ‘cloak of technology’ (2016) where they can hide behind another users identity to manipulate others thoughts and get them to meet where they could be hurt or taken. We felt like this was an important topic that has to be discussed with children so that they are able to identify what harm it can cause them but also to help them identify these fake profiles.

Before beginning to create our movie, we constructed a quick plan of action to help us with a storyline but to also help us make sure that it was child-friendly. In all honesty, we should have talked more before we went into the class that day as we spent a lot of time discussing what we should do. Below is our plan and our line of thought for our movie.

The Plan of Action!

In our movie, we showed the viewer that Chloe was adding a new Instagram photo which showed her location. We then showed me (the stranger) screen shooting the photos and then adding them to a new profile and setting up a catfish account. The stranger then messaged Chloe’s friend claiming that she had made a new profile. They then agreed to meet up. However, when meeting up Chloe’s friend quickly found out that she had agreed to meet a stranger! We then went on to showcase the tips in which we believe would avoid this situation. This was hard to film for many reasons. It made me realise that it actually very easy for someone to become a catfish and how easy a target children are and without any advice, the situation we filmed could eventually happen! It made me realise the importance of teaching internet safety within the classroom and it will definitely be an area which I will focus on within my lessons.

This could relate to the Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes in many different subject areas. We chose “I can explore online communities demonstrating an understanding of responsible behaviour and I’m aware of how to keep myself safe and secure” – TCH 2-03a. This fits our movie as it shows that we can demonstrate these safety skills and then also show our understanding. This could easily be done by a group of children where they could all showcase their films to the class and discuss all of their individual tips for online safety.

My thoughts on iMovie are that if you don’t have a prior understanding of the app it can be really hard to try and pick up the skills in one sitting. My group did find the app difficult to work as we couldn’t find some of the buttons such as putting in text or changing the colours of backgrounds. Again, this could be avoided by trying out the app before the class and trying to prepare more in advance.

References used within this blog:

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

Gibson, Katy. (2019) Bloom’s Taxonomy. [Graphic, Online] Available: https://sites.google.com/site/kgibsondigitalportfolio1/danielson-framework/danielson-domain-1/1c-setting-instructional-outcomes/bloom-s-taxonomy[Accessed: 19 February 2019]

McCarthy, Ellen (2016) What is catfishing? A brief (and sordid) history. The Washington Post. [Online] 09 January, nonpaginated. Available: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2016/01/09/what-is-catfishing-a-brief-and-sordid-history/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.21d6dabe5eaf[Accessed: 19 February 2019].

The Scottish Government. (2019) Internet Safety[Online] Available: https://education.gov.scot/parentzone/my-child/Internet%20safety[Accessed: 19 February 2019].

UK Safer Internet Centre. (2019) Safer Internet Day 2019 Top Tips for 7-11s. [Online] Available: https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/safer-internet-day-2019/safer-internet-day-2019-top-tips-7-11s[Accessed: February 2019]

 

Week 5 – eBooks and Mobile Devices

As an avid reader, I already had a great understanding of eBook technology and what features are available on multiple mobile devices. “An e-book is a book which is produced for reading on a computer screen. An e-book is an abbreviation for ‘electronic book’ (Collins, 2019). The most popular form which you may have heard of is the Kindle which thrived in popularity a few years ago as it allowed both adults and children to take many books with them wherever they went without having to carry along a bulky paperback. However, e-readers and devices have evolved further with many educational apps and functions which can help teach the curriculum and can also help children at home with their own learning.

So what devices can come under the term “educational device?” Beauchamp identified the 7 general principles for determining the effectiveness of an ICT application in the early years. These are:

  • ensure an educational purpose
  • encourage collaboration
  • integrate with other aspects of the curriculum
  • ensure that the child is in control
  • choose applications that are transparent
  • avoid application which contains violence and stereotyping
  • be aware of health and safety issues. (2012)

Now, the device used the most in Scottish schools is the iPad. An I agree to an extent that it has these attributes however, when looking at the health and safety of the iPad and avoiding violence and stereotyping, we need to be extremely careful with its use. iPads are not automatically on a safety mode and many don’t have banned websites which could cause harm to the child. When receiving the iPad, schools must ensure that they check that their system blocks out the violence and protects the child from the internet. Also, on the topic of stereotyping, many apps are aimed towards one gender, so schools must ensure that they choose apps which respect all genders and that anyone can use.

In 2012, a few pilot schemes were established within the Scottish councils where teachers were given iPads as well as others receiving a full class set which would be used in class and for some, even at home. Education Secretary Mike Russell said, “I want to drive forward a culture change in Scottish Education” (BBC News, 2012) and I believe that he achieved this as now when you walk into a primary school, you automatically see the use of iPads in all the classrooms around you. The University of Hull did an investigation into the use of the iPads in Scottish education and they found many positives on the subject. The found that it changes the nature of the classroom environment which allows student-centred learning as well as ensuring independence, group work and full class activities. The iPad was also found to be useful for the homework as it provided parents with support and also showed the progress of their child and it generally helped children to complete work within the classroom (2012). I think this study has provided us with more information about the use of these iPads and further makes me feel confident in their use in the primary setting.

David Andrews (2012) highlighted the positives and negatives of iPad use in an education setting. He was able to show that iPads provide ease and speed to the user, they are good for audio and visual purposes, reading is available and of a high standard and they provide the creativity. However, the negatives include the use of adobe flash which is a program which always seems to be faulty, it’s hard to multitask as you aren’t able to open more than 1 project at a time and that word processing can be a difficult task. These are all very good points which I agree with but due to its educational benefits, I still believe that iPads are a great idea for the classroom setting.

This week, we had the chance to explore the book creator app which basically allows the teacher or child to create an interactive text which can benefit language and all other aspects of our curriculum. I had a great time trying to work this app and can say that it was much easier than the previous 2 weeks. The Book Created app has many tools such as audio where you can record sounds to enhance the book as well as text, images, colours etc. We had to create a summary of a popular children’s book and make it interactive for the child using these tools and I have to say, I had a lot of fun with this. I chose the book ‘Giraffes Can’t Dance’ by Giles Andreae which illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees. Firstly, I wrote down a quick plan of what features I wanted on my pages and how they would be made interactive. This was a good idea as it allowed me to create my book quickly as I didn’t have to use a great deal of time thinking about how I would achieve this. Below are some images of my eBook.

The Front Cover.
As you can see in this photograph, I took photos from the book and then wrote my own text. The audio button you see there is a recording of myself asking the children a question which they will reply to me using their own audio effect.

 

A consolidation page to ensure that the child had a sound understanding of the text.

The Final Product:

The Experiences and Outcomes, I believe that are achieved in this eBook experience are:

  • ” As I listen or watch, I can identify and discuss the purpose, keywords and main ideas of the text, and use this information for a specific purpose. – LIT 1-04a
  • I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn yo disport and enhance my learning in different contexts. – TCH 1-01a

In terms of the Book Creator app, I have to say that I really enjoyed using it and I think it is a brilliant resource to be used within the classroom. Whether its the child creating the book or its the adult creating a book with questions, the possibilities are endless. I think this a great method to recognise digital literacy and how it can be effective and I also think it’s good that it allows the child to have fun while reading especially in terms of independence.

When I looked at The Digital Learning Strategy, I easily identified that the use of mobile devices such as iPads improves the access of technology to all children which is an objective of the Scottish government. I also realised it ensures that digital technology id a central consideration as it can be used in all aspects of our curriculum. The iPads also enhance the use of collaboration within the classroom which promotes the enhancement of teaching and learning as well as engagement and motivation to partake in subjects such as languages (The Scottish Government, 2016). I think iPads are a great resource for schools to have as apps such as Book Creator allow the children to explore their own learning and have all the creativity that they want and I cannot wait to use this while on placement and throughout my future career.

References used within this blog:

Andrews, David. (2012) An Apple for the teacher: are iPads the future in class? [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2012/aug/13/schools-secondary-schools [Accessed: 6 February 2019]

BBC News. (2012) Education Scotland looks to expand use of tablets computers in schools.[Online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-18081005[Accessed: 6 February 2019]

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

Collins. (2019) Definition of ‘e-Book.’[Online] Available: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/e-book [Accessed: 6 February 2019].

Scottish Government. (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Government [Online] Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00505855.pdf [Accessed: 6 February 2019]

University of Hull. (2012) iPad Scotland Evaluation.[Online] Available at: http://moodle1819.uws.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/39914/mod_resource/content/2/Scotland-iPad-Evaluation.pdf[Accessed: 6 February 2019]

Week 4 – Coding

According to the Collins English Dictionary, coding is “The practice of writing computer programs” (2019) and is a vital skill which must be acquired by all children in today’s modern age.  This week in Digital Technologies we explored coding programs and their impact on children. This was informative and also gave an idea of how coding will be used to help us teach children throughout our future careers. Coding is seen as the new literacy of the world as more children are becoming ‘digitally native’ (Prensky, 2001) and understanding the language of computers rather than the English language. Personally, I have never had any experience with the world of coding, so this week was my first time hearing about the benefits and also trying to create my own interactive story while using some basic coding.

As mentioned above, as time goes on, coding becomes more important in the education system as we now have a curriculum which includes the use of this technology but also its importance for the future lives of today’s children. In 2016 it was estimated that there was a shortage of 11000 digitally skilled workers within Scotland (Kennouche, 2016). One of the main purposes of teaching children coding is to make them highly employable in the future as many roles will have changed and working with a computer will be necessary (Goodwin, 2018). Another purpose is that children will gain many other life skills such as problem-solving, creative thinking and logical reasoning. These skills will help children in many situations in all curricular areas within and out-with the school environment. Personally, I think one of the biggest purposes for teaching coding to the children with Scotland’s primary schools is collaborative learning and communication among the class. As Vygotsky once believed, children who socially interact well will gain better results as they can gain more knowledge while working collaboratively with a more knowledgeable other. (Pound, 2006) For example, if a child is struggling to complete the coding task, they can socially interact with a member of the class who may already have acquired this skill which will further develop their knowledge. When older, children will need to be able to communicate with new staff members and within teams to allow them to do many of their jobs. This collaboration while coding allows meaningful dialogue to take place where children can share ideas and work together to create a final product of a high standard (Beauchamp, 2012). I believe that these benefits alone provide enough evidence of why this needs to be included in the everyday classroom. I also think that this could be motivating for the children as it brings a new perspective to subjects such as maths and English. The Scottish Book Trust also believe that coding is good for those who don’t feel at home with writing and reading as it allows them to work with a language which they may have a greater understanding of (2015).

The program we were exploring today was called Scratch Jr. I was lucky enough to use a family members iPad to explore its use before the class which definitely benefited while producing my own story. The Scottish Book trust says that Scratch Jr provides children with the building blocks of coding in a colourful and meaningful way (2015). To use Scratch Jr, the child can choose cartoon characters which they can code to move around, speak or even produce sound. They also have a choice of colourful backgrounds and other objects which can be used in their slides. Some of the tools which I personally like were the hide tool to enable easy transition and also the messenger tool which creates a link from one character to another. This app was also free which is another great benefit.

 

Today, I created a story where the children had to help the man with their phoneme of the week. I chose the sound ‘sh’ as scratch offered many objects and characters that incorporated it. The man went on an adventure from the shop, to the beach where he found a shell and a ship and to deep sea diving where he found a fish and a starfish which may help with the children vocabulary.

The CFE outcomes I used for my story were:

  • I can explore and 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
  • I can use my knowledge of sight vocabulary, phonics, context clues, punctuation and grammar to read with understanding and expression.                  –  ENG 1-12a

I was able to code the man to move around the characters as well as coding the objects to hide when pressed if their answer was correct. I also felt it was important to add a recap slide to the end of my story as I wanted to consolidate all the information that the children had learned. I was also able to insert my friend’s photo into my story as the deep sea diver which would also be something that the children may take interest in. I found the program easy to use and could see where the benefits of coding are vital in the classroom. I collaborated with friends as we shared new skills we had found out as we further investigated scratch and also it got me to think creatively. Of course, not every program is perfect but I could only see one negative to this app. Your story could only be 4 slides long which wasn’t the best as it required you to cram a lot of information onto each slide and made your stories short and sweet.

The start of our story which showcased our aim. This could be used to create learning intentions for the children and also to test previous knowledge.
Here is my friend Chloe as a scuba diver. This is one of the functions which I feel children will be pulled towards.

I really enjoyed using this app due to my lack of coding knowledge, it provided a fun and simple introduction to the digital world. Using this app made me appreciate what the Scottish government are doing as they want to provide the children with the best skills and knowledge which they will use in the many years to come. Coding is an area in which I am excited to learn more about in my own time through further readings and apps but also I am excited to use these apps to teach in my future career.

As far as this blog is going, I would like to say that I am enjoying writing down my weekly thoughts on the subject matter and doing further reading to help benefit my teaching career. I also am getting better as the weeks go on with grammar (I hope) and my vocabulary which will also benefit me in the future.

References used within this blog: 

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

Collins. (2019) Definition of ‘coding.’[Online] Available: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/coding[Accessed: 29 January 2019]

Goodwin, K. (2018) Coding is the new alphabet … but are your kids prepared? The Herald. [Online] 18 February, non-paginated.  Available: https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/16030509.coding-is-the-new-alphabet-but-are-your-kids-prepared/[Accessed: 29 January 2019]

Kennouche, S. (2016) Coding in Scotland: What is it, why you should learn and how to start. The Scotsman.[Online] 14 January, non- paginated. Available: https://www.scotsman.com/future-scotland/tech/coding-in-scotland-what-is-it-why-you-should-learn-and-how-to-start-1-4001065[Accessed: 29 January 2019]

Pound, L. (2006) How Children Learn.London: MA Education Ltd.

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants MCB University Press

Scottish Book Trust. (2015) Five Reasons to Get Kids (and Parents) Coding. [Online] Available: http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/blog/teachers-librarians/2015/12/five-reasons-to-get-kids-and-parents-coding[Accessed: 29 January 2019]

 

Week 3 – Multimodality

It is now the 3rd week of the Digital Technologies module and all I have to say is that I am really enjoying it so far. This week was all about Multimodality which is a subject I have previously learned about through the Literacy for Understanding module. At the time, I wasn’t very confident explaining a multimodal text but after yesterday’s tutorial, I have been able to further my knowledge which has given me a deeper understanding.

You may be asking “What make a multimodal text?” Well, I am here to tell you! For a text to be classed as multimodal, it must feature 2 of the semiotic systems. These are:

  • Linguistic
  • Visual
  • Audio
  • Gestural
  • Spatial

Texts can feature these in multiple different ways and individuals will have a variety of methods to create a multimodal text. Patricia Deubel (2010) says that using this technology should do one of three things. It should be a tutor to the teacher by helping them with their technology skills, a teaching aid for teachers to enhance the learning in their class of individuals and it should be a learning tool which provides children with a sound understanding of the subject they are focusing on.

The most common tool used to enhance children using a multimodal text is the interactive whiteboard which can be seen in most primary school classrooms in today’s society. They allow a hands-on approach to learning allowing children to touch the screen which allows an action to take place such as revealing the answer or moving a character or object to the correct position. These are very relevant due to the digital age that we are living in (Beauchamp, 2012). These devices are allowing classrooms to be more captivating, interactive, motivating, dynamic, personalised and memorable. Personally, I like the interactive whiteboards as they can make lessons fun through learning games and they are also very useful to highlight the main parts of a topic. However, they do have their consequences. They are extremely difficult to write as the pens don’t always match up with the screen and like all technology devices, they do have faults from time to time which may require professional assistance.

This week, I used the tool ActivInspire and I have many mixed feelings about this program!  Firstly, I have to say that I understand why it is used a lot in the primary schools and it allows teachers to create fun activities and slides for their topics which allows children to interact rather than just watching a powerpoint. Secondly, the mass of tools available is incredible especially for mathematics such as the protractor for the children to use for angles. I also really liked the clock tool as it would make learning the time fun and engaging. However, I had many troubles which will reduce through more practice. It took me a few minutes just trying to learn how to add text! Also, I just couldn’t work out how to add photographs and other media but I did work this out and was able to create a quick resource below. The CFE outcome that I used was “I use practical materials and can ‘count on and back’ to help me to understand addition and subtraction recording my ideas and solutions in different ways”. – MNU 0-03a

In my activity, the children have to help The Hungry Caterpillar to count the different fruits that he eats throughout the week and to help him collect more food. This used the semiotic systems of linguistic due to the test and visual due to the images used. It was also interactive as the children could move objects to help them to count. Below are some images…

This video shows how the source can be used for interactivity.

The front slide which introduces the lesson to the children.
The children have to help The Hungry Caterpillar collect more pears!

This was great fun to produce, however, for my future career I will definitely need to work on my ActivInspire skills as I was still having difficulties at the end of the class but this will come through practice. In terms of Scotland Digital Learning Strategy, I believe that this program can help with all 4 of the objectives to an extent. It helps to develop the skills of the educator while improving access of digital devices to the children as well as enhancing the curriculum delivery to the individuals while empowering the leaders of change as they show great investment in their lessons (Scottish Government, 2016).

I believe that multimodality is incredibly important for the engagement of pupils within the classroom and will be a subject area I will continue to focus on during my studies and when I have my own classroom.

References in this week’s blog:

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

Patricia Deubel. (2010) Interactive Whiteboards: Truths and Consequences.[Online] Available: https://thejournal.com/Articles/2010/08/04/Interactive-Whiteboards-Truths-and-Consequences.aspx?Page=1[Accessed: 27 January 2019]

Scottish Government. (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Government [Online] Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00505855.pdf [Accessed: 7 January 2019]

Week 2 – Programmable Toys

This week in the Digital Technologies module, we focussed on the use and benefits of programmable toys within the early years and the primary school classroom. With a strong link to curricula used within today’s schools, these pieces of digital equipment provide the learner with both fun, engagement but most importantly learning. I feel this is a topic which is extremely important for the modern day teacher as throughout the next few years, there will be plenty of choice for programmable toys and they will be used more frequently. Also due to our “digitally native” children, we need to ensure that we are providing a service which helps their digital needs (Prensky, 2001). In today’s blog, we will explore a brief history of programmable toys, the Bee-Bots and looking at a Bee-Bot mat which I created in this weeks class.

In terms of education, the first use of programming used to inform learners was Seymour Papert’s programming language “Logo” (Transum, 2019). This was a simple design of an arrow which moves after the children input commands. As it moves, a line appears allowing the children to create their own designs or even make symbols. After looking at this myself, I have to say that I found it quite difficult to understand at first but with more practice, I could probably understand the instructions. I can only imagine how difficult this must have been for the children when they first used it. Other programmable robots we have seen in the past include roamers which were also very difficult for a child to use (Lyndon, 2007). However, I cannot make a judgement on these robots as I have never had first-hand experience with them.

The National Centre for Technology in Education (2012) provide some benefits for programmable toys. These are:

  • They help introduce key concepts to children in terms of technology and also other curricular areas.
  • Help with direction and sequences.
  • Encourage Children to work together and communicate.
  • They have a large appeal to children
  • They have many benefits in Numeracy and Literacy.
  • Allows additional support needs children to feel included as they can be non-verbal and still take part.

I feel that these benefits show how programmable toys should be used in the classroom and that they really help with the education of our young learners.

The most popular programmable robot at the moment within our classrooms is the Bee-Bot which has received awards such as the ‘most impressive hardware for kindergarten and lower primary school children on the world educational technology market BETT 2006’ (Janka, 2008). Luckily, before the class, I have been able to use these robots within a primary classroom throughout a placement in my HNC Childhood Practice. I can say every time that I used the Bee-Bots, children seemed to love them. This brought excitement to our lessons and engaged some pupils who at times were quite difficult to work with due to being distracted and other needs. The Bee-Bots are robots which children can programme a sequence of movements and directions using the raised buttons. These are forwards, backwards, left and right. The Bee-Bots may sound like they are only capable of teaching directions but this is where you are wrong. The Bee-Bots can help to teach subjects all over the CFE curriculum and can have great benefits for the child. By using them on game mats, they can show the child how to do the alphabet, how to tell the time, learn French and help to tell a story. The possibilities are endless! Janka (2008) claims that the Bee-Bots require support at all times while Lyndon (2007) claims that they are more practical when the children are independent without teaching staff. I understand both points of view and believe that both are correct to an extent as some activities will need adult supervision due to difficulty but then again some children are ready for independence with particular tasks.

For this weeks workshop task, we had to create our own Bee-Bot mats. I decided to partner up with Chloe as we generally work well together and we both had ideas which worked for the task. We started by planning together in person and over text about what we were going to do, what outcome comes and experiences we would choose and how our idea would allow children to learn. I am so glad we had done this preparation beforehand as it allowed us more time to create the mat while in the class rather than spending time trying to work out what we were going to do. I believe that the preparation is the key to success as if you go in blind with no ideas, you will waste time which takes away from that day’s main purpose. Our idea was a mat themed by Julia Donaldson’s “The Gruffalo” (1999) which is a much-loved children’s book. We decided to use 2 ‘E’s and O’s’ for our mat and these were:

  • “I can show my understanding of what I listen to or watch by responding to and asking different kinds of questions” – LIT 1-O7a
  • “I can demonstrate a range of basic problem-solving skills by building simple programs to carry out a given task, using appropriate language.” – TCH 1-15a

To reach these ‘E’s and O’s’ the children would have to guide the Bee-Bot around the mat to meet the characters of the story, Fox, Owl, Snake and The Gruffalo, and answer some questions showing their knowledge of the book before moving on to the next character. The children would need to answer a question (which we provided with our question cards) when they had made the Bee-Bot go over a question mark square. Between me and you, the child would never be able to avoid these spaces as we ensured that every route possible had a question to allow learning to take place. I was really pleased with our end product as it looked good (to an extent) and it is a task which I would have used within the classroom. I am definitely going to use this idea when I go into my career.

This is me trying to draw a plan of the mat. The writing at the other end of this notebook is the preparation for our questions.
The start of the drawing stage. I quickly found out that drawing the characters was much harder than anticipated!
Before the touch of colour!
The end product!

However, I think it could be adapted in some ways to ensure extra learning. We could have made a Bee-Bot cover looking like the mouse so that children are aware that the robot was playing a role and also we could have made the mat slightly bigger to ensure that children can try to programme the Bee-Bot with more commands which allow more problem-solving skills to develop. I really enjoyed this task and aim to create more mats for the future of my career.

I really enjoyed learning more about programmable toys and it has further my knowledge of their use in the classroom environment. I believe that they can help to reach the aims of the Digital Learning Strategy as they can enhance the curriculum for both staff and children as they can make lessons exciting and fun and also it helps to improve the access of digital technologies to children who may not have access within their homes (The Scottish Government, 2016). I personally believe that programmable toys may be an area of strength in this module as I find them interesting and also can see the many benefits to their use. For the future, I would like to explore more of these toys to broaden my knowledge so that I can be an effective teacher in the modern-day classroom.

References within this post:

Janka, P. (2008) Using a Programmable Toy at Preschool Age: Why and How? [Online] Available: http://www.terecop.eu/downloads/simbar2008/pekarova.pdf [Accessed: 17 January 2019]

Lydon, A. ( 2007) Let’s Go With Bee-Bot: Using your Bee-Bot across the curriculum.TTS Group Ltd.

NCTE. (2012) NCTE Floor Robots – Focus on Literacy & Numeracy. [Online] Available: http://www.ncte.ie/media/NCTE_Floor_robots_focus_on_literacy_numeracy_primary_12-06.pdf [Accessed: 17 January 2019]

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. MCB University Press.

Scottish Government. (2016) A Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Government [Online] Available: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0050/00505855.pdf [Accessed: 17 January 2019]

Transum. (2019) Online Logo. [Online] Available: http://www.transum.org/Software/Logo/ [Accessed: 17 January 2019]