Coding – Week 4

Children are growing up in an ever-increasing digital world with advancements happening daily. With this in mind, our curriculum and the way we teach must change to best support the future generations of society. Many people are starting to argue that coding is quickly becoming an important language and believe that all children must experience and have some knowledge of it from an early age.

The English Government believe strongly in that children should learn coding and have implemented it into their curriculum. In England children start learning coding from Year 1 and will do every year up until they sit their GCSE’s. Through the different stages their coding skills will progress so that they have a firm basic knowledge on coding (Curtis, 2003). The English Government firmly believe by children getting these experiences that they will be in the best position to compete in the global market once leaving school. Furthermore, it is believed that children should have a better understanding of coding and how companies may use this against them. If they grow up without the understanding of some basic algorithims and codes they may be naieve towards technology giants and how they may be exploiting them (Naughton, 2012).

In today’s workshop we were looking at coding. Before going to the workshop, I was slightly nervous as I had never coded before in my life and could only hear my friends from high school moaning about how hard their computing coding tasks were! However, I looked at the programme we were going to use the night before and my nerves were calmed as it seemed user friendly.

The programme we were using was called Scratch Jr. Scratch Jr is an “an introductory programming language that enables young children (ages 5-7) to create their own interactive stories and games. Children snap together graphical programming blocks to make characters move, jump, dance, and sing.” (Scratch, Online). The programme can help develop and build skills for example, creativity, problem solving, logical reasoning and collaboration skills.

In today’s workshop we were to explore Scratch Jr. and use it to create a story to enhance literacy skills. The literacy outcome I chose to focus on was:

By considering the type of text I am creating, I can select ideas and relevant information, organise these in a logical sequence and use words which will be interesting and/or useful for others.

LIT 1-26a

I decided to keep the story simple and only used two main characters. I also left the story open and unfinished as the children were to develop and finish the story I had created. This would help children develop their creative thinking and writing. I had decided to start the story as some children can struggle with finding a starting point. Furthermore, the children could even finish the story by creating their own Scratch Jr programme.

Once I had time to discover what different blocks done and with the trial and error method, I easily managed to create my story. I believe that this is a great programme to introduce coding to young children. The programme is very simple, and children can explore and discover how to code characters to move, speak and run, just to name a few. The programme is also very appealing and uses bright colours making it seem more like a game to engage and encourage children to have a go. It also holds many different backgrounds and characters to explore, allowing children to think creatively as they have so many different options.

Overall, I really enjoyed working with Scratch Jr and can see myself using it in future placements if the situation allows.

Sophie


Curtis, S. (2013) Teaching our children to code: a quiet revolutionAvailable: http://moodle1819.uws.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/39846/mod_resource/content/1/Teaching%20our%20children%20to%20code%20a%20quiet%20revolution%20-%20Telegraph.pdf[Accessed 02 February 2019]

Naughton, J. (2012) Why all our kids should be taught how to code Available: http://moodle1819.uws.ac.uk/pluginfile.php/39847/mod_resource/content/2/Why%20all%20our%20kids%20should%20be%20taught%20how%20to%20code%20%20Education%20%20The%20Observer.pdf[Accessed 02 February 2019]

Scratch Jr. About ScratchJr Available:https://www.scratchjr.org/about/info[Accessed 04 February 2019]

 

Multimodality – Week 3

This week we were looking at multimodal technologies and how they can be used in a classroom setting. For something to be described as multimodal it must contain two or more semiotic systems. In total there are five semiotic systems:

  • Linguistic
  • Visual
  • Audio
  • Gestural
  • Spatial

With children now entering our education as “Digital Natives” (Prensky, 2001)there has been an emphasis on newer styles of texts, as it states in Curriculum for Excellence:

“The Literacy and English 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.”(Curriculum for Excellence – Literacy and English Principles and Practice paper)

 The piece of technology we looked at this week was called ActivInspire. ActivInspire is a multimodal programme which helps to brighten lessons as it allows students to interact and work together on the classroom interactive whiteboards. The programme offers many features, for example adding drawings, highlighting texts and tools to use for demonstrations, for example a clock.

The version of the programme that we were using was the primary version which meant some options were limited however, we still had many functions to explore. Working in partners we took around an hour to explore and see how many different functions we could discover. As my partner and I had never used this programme before we took great advantage of exploring what features Active Inspire had to offer.

For our activity we were to work in pairs to display how active inspire can enhance a lesson. My partner and I decided to focus on maths and numeracy. The experience and outcome we chose was:

I have investigated how different combinations of coins and notes can be used to pay for goods or be given in change.

MNU 1-09b

We started off by adding a coloured background to make the overall look more appealing and eye catching. In our first flipchart we included a title and the learning intention to inform the children on what they would be learning in the lesson. To ensure that all the writing was clear we used yellow font on a blue background to stand out.

After we had introduced the lesson, we used one of the features that allowed us to add in pictures of coins that could be moved around for interaction. For each question we added a new slide. An example of a question can be seen below. The children would then have to drag the coins to the other side to show what coins would be needed or what change a person would receive.

Before starting the workshop, I thought that the programme looked simple and easy to use as I had seen many teachers use it whilst out on placement however, I soon discovered my initial thought was wrong. The programme was difficult to navigate as my partner and I had never used it before, and we were not sure where to find the different tools. This meant it was quite time consuming to find tools and then find them later if needed. Furthermore, you could not copy a full slide across to the next page, so you had to go through the process for every page you created. This displays the need for an educator to have a firm understanding of technologies like the Scottish Government wants (Education Scotland, 2016). Beauchamp states that:

“The ability of ICT to present ideas in a variety of ways can help to structure new experiences but only if you as the teacher have sufficient understanding on the area yourself.” (Beauchamp, 2012, p.100)

This once again highlights that multimodal technologies, like ActivInspire, can be a fantastic way of introducing new concepts to children, but also the fact that if our educators aren’t secure enough with the technology the lesson may not be fulfilling and reach the intended outcome.

Although the programme is a little time consuming there are many advantages to using Active Inspire. The programme offers many pre-made flipcharts meaning that teachers can use them without taking extra time to create their own. Also, the flipcharts can be highly interactive allowing the children to engage in the work more as it is not the traditional way of learning. The interactive aspect also focuses children for longer as they are actively involved in the learning and can be introduced to new challenges after each page, meaning they are constantly being challenged.

Overall I really enjoyed working with ActivInpsire and feel it could be a useful skill to have for placements in the coming years.

Sophie


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

Curriculum for Excellence – Literacy and English Principles and Practice paper

Prensky, M. (2001)Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants[Online] Available: https://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf[Accessed 24 January 2019]

Scottish Government. (2016) Enhancing Learning And Teaching Through The Use of Digital Technology: A Digital Learning And Teaching Strategy For Scotland.Edinburgh: Scottish Government