Computer Coding (KS2) – Task 8

In today’s session we looked at coding in the KS2 classroom.

Purple Mash

Firstly, we looked into purplemash.com which provided a range of coding resources that could be used in the classroom. Once logged in with a school/university login, you can explore many games within the ‘Tools’ section of the website that reinforce the learning of Computer Coding.

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The first one we looked at was ‘2Go’. This is a very simple piece of software that only includes the actions for up, down, left and right. Although there is not much to learn from ‘2Go’ in terms of programming, one advantage is that it shows the path in which the ‘bee’ has taken.

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The second tool we looked at was called ‘2Code’. This software provided tutorials to help develop the learning of computer coding. It also had a variety of games, such as, ‘Fun with Fish’ or ‘Snail Race’. In the game ‘Fun with Fish’, it gave you certain tasks to complete, all increasing in difficulty. This game was good fun and I found it very easy to use.

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The last one we looked at was called ‘Logo’. I believe this was the most useful and informative out of the three apps. It is able to teach children to use commands by using spelling and maths. For example, they must spell ‘forward’ correctly and then decide ‘how many units’ they want the arrow to move by.

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It draws on prior math knowledge, such as shape and geometry facts, including the understanding of angles. This was my favourite piece of software because I was able to experiment with different shapes and then I learnt how to use abbreviations in my commands which I also think would be very useful for children to learn.

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The next thing we were shown on ‘Logo’ was how to create a procedure. A procedure is when you make something in order to use it again. For instance, creating the commands for a square then being able to use this as a short cut or a tool for creating different shapes, like ‘flowers’ (seen below).

 

Hour of Code

The next website we looked at was code.org/learn or ‘Hour of Code’. There is no teaching or tutorials involved but instead the learning is obtained through practice.

I had a go at the ‘Frozen’ inspired Hour of Code. I really enjoyed this software because I believe the children will be more engaged if they are learning with movie or game characters that they adore. (There was also a ‘Minecraft’ version which may interest some children too.)

There were 20 set challenges that the pupil must complete in order to receive a certificate. These challenges became increasingly difficult throughout the task.

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I gained knowledge on the benefit of the ‘repeat’ block and how important it is to get the order of commands correct.

The software gave feedback after each challenge allowing the children to see where they went wrong and to receive information that may help them in the next challenge. As you can see (image above), the tasks became harder to complete and required concentration. I believe this level of knowledge needed would be more suited to a KS2 class rather than a KS1.

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I really enjoyed this piece of software because it was easy to learn from it and I liked making my own ‘ice art’ with the ‘Frozen’ characters.

Useful app related to Computer Coding

I discovered an app called Kids’n’Code on the App Store on my iPad. I downloaded it because it looked fun and it was free. I liked the design and layout of the app but I found it hard to begin with because there was not much help with what I was meant to do.

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I soon figured out how to work the app and I think it would be good to use an an extension task or maybe at ‘Golden Time’ in class to reinforce the learning of Computer Coding in the pupils. I especially liked the fact that it used the language of Coding such as ‘run’ and ‘program’.

KS1 Computing – Bee Bots

The national curriculum on programming says:

‘design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts’.

 

In this weeks ICT seminar, we began looking at computing in Key Stage 1. The curriculum aims to help pupils explore ICT and learn to use it confidently and with purpose to achieve specific outcomes. They start to use ICT to develop their ideas and record their creative work. They become familiar with hardware and software and this is the aim that we focussed on today. The session was built around using Bee Bots and what these can be used for in a lesson, they help children with debugging and programming. I think this technology is great for a classroom as it helps children through the visual aid of the Bee Bot to understand programming and the relationship between sequences of steps and what actually happens in real life.

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This activity will help children understand how technology works as you programme steps into the Bee Bot and then something happens; this is the same for all technologies even to the simple technology such as a keyboard.
In our group we named our Bee Bots Toby and Terrence and we decided to make them dance in “Strictly Come Bee Bots”. This involves programming a sequence of movements into each Bee Bot which proved challenging at first because either the Bee Bot went off the table or they bumped into each other, but it proved to be a lot of fun.

This is just what our group decided to do. Many groups decided to act like the Bee Bot was a car and you had to drive it around the roads that they had drawn on their pieces of paper. These are both activities that you could do in a classroom either at Key Stage 1 or Key Stage 2 level.

At the end of the session we tried out Scratch Jr as this is another piece of software that children will use in schools. I remember using it at Secondary School but when I went into school for my pre-course placement the children were using it then. It was a cross curricular project between ICT and maths and it was all based on algorithms and getting your scratch character to do a times table. The extension task was to then get the character to ask the user a question which they answered; if answered correctly they received a “Well Done!” message, if not they had to do the game again.

Thanks for reading,

Miriam

Interactive Whiteboards in the Classroom

Interactive whiteboards have been in the classroom for 10 years and they have gradually become a bigger part of a lesson. However, the impact of the whiteboard on a lesson is totally dependent on the confidence that the teacher has in the technology and how he or she can use it. A teacher who isn’t particularly confident in their ability won’t use the whiteboard to its full extent. A teacher like this shouldn’t impact the childrens confidence in technology which admittedly is becoming less of a problem as technology is more accessible and children are exposed to it at a much younger age.

There are lots of ways that you can use a whiteboard in a classroom and these pictures offer a snap shot of the opportunities available to teachers if they knew how to access and use the technology.

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Pam then gave us the opportunity to explore what an interactive whiteboard could offer in a classroom. We made a resource based on a killer whale, but the tools on the interactive whiteboard offer various options for what you would do with it. For example you could label the different parts of the animal, you could insert other pictures of sea creatures for story time or an art lesson. This would be achieved by using the clip art tool or if you want other pictures by clicking on the clip art button you can also access Google which will give other options for pictures.

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The possibilities with an interactive whiteboard and how to use them are endless and should not be limited at any point. As a teacher creating exciting resources that support and extend the learning of the children can be challenging as you may not feel comfortable in your own ability and also may not feel that the time it takes to create a useful resource undermines the effect that the resource may have on the children. However, there is a whole internet full of resources for teachers to use.

Here’s one that I found: http://www.topmarks.co.uk/Interactive.aspx – with this website you can be very particular with what you are looking for i.e. the age group you are focusing on and the subject. If you click on a subject it will give you an opportunity to look on which key stage you are focusing on. This opportunity for a teacher is immense as for those children who’s intelligence and ability is maybe above the other pupils in your classroom, you could easily download something that will challenge them so that they are still actively learning in the classroom.

The following websites either contain helpful links to websites or are full of resources themselves:

  1. http://www.teachhub.com/free-interactive-whiteboard-resources
  2. http://www.whiteboardblog.co.uk/2009/07/20-interactive-whiteboard-resources-for-teachers/
  3. http://www.crickweb.co.uk

Thanks for reading,

Miriam

Animation – Task 3

In week 3, we learnt about the use of animation in the classroom. I have used the app ‘I Can Animate’ on my iPad before and have found it to be a really easy piece of software to use. Allowing the children to use animation in their lessons can add depth to their understanding of using technology.

We experimented with the software called ‘Animate It’ and used a camera connected to the computer. The camera faced down towards the table to create a birds-eye-view and we modeled our scene below the lens.

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My group decided to do an animation called Under The Sea and we created our story from plasticine, tinsel, paper and feathers. We had to move the pieces bit by bit and make sure to take pictures each time without any hands or unwanted items in the screen.

This is our completed animation:
[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsWEGrtTSes]

This website describes the benefits of using animation in the classroom:
http://www.fractuslearning.com/2013/12/06/animation-in-the-classroom/

The resources I would use in the classroom are:
Animate It
I Can Animate

Neve

The Use of iPads and Apps in the Classroom – Task 2

In our Week 4 lesson, we learnt the use of iPads in the classroom can develop children’s learning in new and exciting ways. We looked at Padlet, an app that involves everyone in the classroom and encourages them to post their questions or answers to the lesson on one screen for the teacher to assess.

Group 3's experiment with Padlet
Group 3’s experiment with Padlet

We then looked at Pinterest and learnt how we can organize and collect ideas for lessons in the classroom by pinning other posts related to Education on our boards.

Next, we experimented with ‘iMovie’, where we went outside and took pictures around the university to feature in a trailer created on the app.
My group focused on the theme of ‘textures’:

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I found this task really fun and would definitely try it in my own class. During my pre-course experience in schools, I witnessed a P7 (Year 6) class use iMovie to advertise their own theme park and they absolutely loved using the app and experimenting with different animations and transitions.

I researched into the use of iPads in the classroom and came across Amy Heimerl’s story: http://www.apple.com/uk/education/real-stories/amy-heimerl/#video-amy-heimerl

She explains how her kindergarten children benefit from the use of iPads and why she uses them in her classroom. According to her, every child has different learning needs and it is difficult to come up with one lesson that is suitable to all of her pupils. Therefore, one iPad to each child with apps that are appropriate to their individual needs makes a big difference in the student’s learning. She believes the use of iPads have made her a better and more deliberate teacher and that by using these resources in her classroom, her children have a wider range of opportunities presented to them.

Looking at “What happens behind the screen?” by Garry Fallon, I have come to understand that iPads can improve the delivery of course content and that they provide a whole new range of resources. They play a vital part in learning, evidenced in the research done in over 100 schools in New Zealand, who now use the devices in almost every curriculum task. When combined with cloud-based apps such as ‘Google Drive’, they found that the students worked more collaboratively. Several trials have been taken to see how useful the iPads are when dealing with specific purposes, such as specialist learning needs, and have found the performance of apps to be outstanding.

Neve

The use of iPads in the classroom

In Monday’s ICT we were looking at how versatile iPads can be both inside and outside the classroom. In the session we looked at the different apps that can be used to extend and improve learning. For example, one that we focused on was Pinterest and how we as teachers can both use it to gain inspiration for teaching. I started an account and began my various boards which I’ve been adding to across this past week.

We then went on to look at the use of iMovie and I was surprised at how easy it was to use and if used in the classroom it could be affective in changing and making lessons more and more exciting. My group created a trailer using pictures of textures that we had found around campus.

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I did some more research into the use of iPads in the classroom and came across a helpful website (http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/iPadsintheClassroom.aspx)

It helped me to see why technology can be at the heart of lessons. The website talks about how using iPads makes learning more interactive and engaging and an example of this which we looked at in the seminar was the use of iMovie. On my pre-course placement I saw iPads being used in a french lesson. The task was that the children in groups of 2 or 3 had to record a conversation in french between a shop owner and a customer. The lesson incorporated and extended their skills in both french and ICT as the challenge was to explore using the iMovie app. They were given a couple of opportunities to work on this and then were presenting them to the rest of the class.

The website goes into further details about the multiple opportunities that iPads offer for making lessons more interactive. These include; internet research, making videos, live debates and discussion forums, blogs and opportunities for schools to get textbooks on the iPad which is becoming more and more possible.

On my explorations on Pinterest I found many websites which promoted the use of iPads in the teaching and working with children who have learning difficulties. One being “paths to literacy” which contained a blog titled “The iPad & Students with Visual and Multiple Disabilities: Apps for kids with CVI”. It lists app which can aid their development which I found very interesting as the teaching of children who have learning difficulties and disabilities has been something that has been on my mind since the beginning of the course. The blog opened my eyes to the opportunities that iPads offer for all students.

So far I have been enjoying the ICT seminars as its showing how much technology can impact teaching and the lessons in a classroom. I’m looking forward to the rest of the Hungry Games! May the odds be ever in your flavour!

Initial Thoughts on Computing – Task 1

I have always been competent with the use of computers as I grew up with a sister who was very good with technology and showed me the ropes, as it were. However, the thought of applying that knowledge across to my teaching was a scary thought.

I have an ECDL (European Computer Driving License) Qualification which allowed me to become more confident in using: Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Using the Internet, Security and Safety on Computers, Databases and much more. Also, in Art & Design GCSE, we seemed to use Photoshop quite a lot in order to edit our photos for a desired effect. During Music GCSE and A-Level, I used Sibelius which is a software where you can compose music for any type of piece. In my four years of studying Music, I wrote 4 compositions so I’m very confident in using this sofware. In Junior School Technology and Design, we learnt how to use SolidWorks which was so much fun and I found it really interesting and useful.

During the course of the ICT module, I hope to gain confidence in learning how to teach the subject to a classroom of children and how to make the subject fun and exciting. My aim is to engage every pupil in this subject in the hopes of them finding it enjoyable and that they will be able to transfer these skills into other subjects. I would like to be able to reflect on this practice in a positive and negative way and draw from my experiences to make my teaching more effective.

ICT is rapidly increasing in it’s importance in today’s education. Not only does it stand as a subject by itself, it links in with so many other subjects that I’ve already mentioned earlier, such as: Art & Design, Music, Technology & Design etc.
It also links in well with all of the STEM subjects as it contributes significantly to: research in the Science field; data collection and statistics in Mathematics; and the designing of products in Technology or Engineering.

I have considered the National Curriculum for Computing and what their aims are. I believe that pupils must ‘understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, logic, algorithms and data representation‘ is the most important aim because this means they can apply their knowledge to many aspects of computing which can be very useful in the classroom.

In conclusion, I hope that my ICT skills progress in order for me to confidently teach the subject in the classroom and to highlight significance that ICT has on our education today.

Neve