Scorecard

My Score Card

 

Blog Task Description of Task Points Point tally
1.       Session Blog Post 1 Initial thoughts on Computing and Computational Thinking 200 200
2.       Session Blog Post 2 iPads in the Classroom 200 400
3.       Session Blog Post 3 Animating 200 600
4.       Session Blog Post 4 E-Safety 200 800
5.       Session Blog Post 5 Interactive Whiteboards 200 1000
6.       Session Blog Post 6 Purple Mash Website Review 200 1200
7.       Session Blog Post 7 BeeBots 200 1400
8.       Session Blog Post 8 PurpleMash coding & Logo 200 1600
9.       Session Blog Post 9 Scratch 200 1800
10.   Paperwork 200 2000
Badge Tasks
·         Pinterest Create multiple education themed Pinterest boards. 100 2100
·         Twitter Create a professional Twitter account 100 2200
·         Facebook Review school FB pages 100 2300
·         Apps in Education Review free educational apps 100 2400

Apps in Education Badge

I’ve had a look at multiple free apps that could be used in classrooms and I am going to briefly run through the uses of these apps here.

GarageBand

I love this app and I love the possibilities that it can give children to be creative. You can use it to easily create pieces of music by layering tracks. There are lots of options, you can use LiveLoops and be like a DJ, actually play a keyboard/guitar and layer these tracks, or use presets to layer chords. You can then export these pieces of music to iMovie to be used alongside videos. I think this could be used across the curriculum, linking music to other subjects, for example writing historical music, writing music to accompany written poetry, or looking at art and composing based on that.

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Maths, age 4-6

This imaginatively entitled app contains a wealth of simple and activities and games to stimulate interest in maths and develop maths knowledge. They start with some spoken knowledge and then instructions in the activity. For example the activity below started with a woman describing a heart shape as symetrical and explaining why that is. Then the user would have to click the shape that was symmetrical. This app would be good to set up on iPads during discovery time/free flow time in KS1.

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Pic Collage

This app is good for presenting ideas. It would be best used in KS2 to present work and arrange images and labels, however it could be used in a much simpler capacity with KS1. It would be a good way to present research for more fact based subjects or create a mood board for subjects like art and D&T. Below is an example of a usage for the app in maths, showing different forms of creating one number. Because the app is on the iPad images can be taken using the device and put straight into the app, making observations in science or evaluations of artwork/group work very easy.

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ScratchJr

This app is a simplified version of Scratch to be used for KS1. This app version is very simple, with less commands and al the commands being displayed in symbol form. The options are mainly in terms of animating the sprite to move around the screen, change size and speak. There are also elements of inserting timings, e.g. waiting for 2 seconds. This would be a good way to introduce visual computing before getting into the complex nature of Scratch, however I feel that there could be some more actions so that more could be done.

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Bee-Bot

This app is a great substitute for physical BeeBots, with the programming buttons in the corner. The bee doesn’t move as you press the buttons which is really good, as it works in the same way as the physical Bots. There are challenges to follow, for example getting the bee to the flower. This makes the process seem more like a game and less like a task.

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Socrative

Apologies that I don’t have images of this app, but it’s not a very exciting looking interface and I need a quiz code to get on there! The app is a quiz app, the teacher sets up a set of questions and the app generates a code. This code is given to students who log in, the questions are done one at a time on an IWb/screen, and the children answer. Class statistics are put up at the end of each question. I really like this app because it incentivises a form of assessment, almost making it a competition. The only downside is the lack of communication so it might be worth pairing children up ocassionally. This app can be used with any curriculum subject.

Thanks for reading,

Jack

Facebook Badge

I looked on the Facebook pages of four different schools to evaluate their usage of social media as a means of communicating with parents of their pupils and the local community.

One school uploaded a lot of statuses about what different classes were doing, especially the more exciting areas of the curriculum, for example basket weaving, bollywood dancing, school trips, visits etc. Any photos with children in were of the backs of heads etc, most likely to keep in line with any privacy policy. There were lots of images of teachers however in World Book Day costumes.

Another school’s FB page seemed to be more in usage to send reminders, for example reminders of own clothes day, parents evening, swimming costumes etc. Other posts were asking questions, for example “For World Book Day teachers will be reading extracts from some books, which would you choose?”. I liked that some of the posts from this school’s page were more community based, such as a notice saying that the local library is being closed for refurbishment, I feel that this makes the school feel like a hub for the community. Pictures of events are also uploaded and resources.

The third FB page I looked at was very aimed at parents, reminding them of events and thanking them for involvement. This one is much less active but lots of parents seem to comment on the posts.

The fourth FB page I looked at is very active, notifying parents of every event and happening. After school clubs and rehearsal schedules are all heavily publicised. The use of ICT is very good, with a live camera of eggs that are being kept in Early Years being linked to on the FB page. I think this is a very good idea and very exciting for children to keep an eye on at home and stimulate discussion. Multiple teachers have access to the page and sign off with things like ‘Year 6 Team’ – for example when Yr6 went on a residential there were regular updates. I am very impressed with the activity and many parents use it as a means of communication with the school.

I think FB can be a very good means of communication with the local community but I think you have to be very careful about what is uploaded, especially images of children. I think it is best used if all teachers have access and can post about individual classes, or even if each class had a page then more personalised messages can be sent.A negative of using social media is that anybody can put a public message on the wall that could present a negative view of the school, such as a complaint about a certain teacher or activity. Despite any negatives I feel the convenience of it as a medium to send reminders to parents is second to none, especially when paired with text alerts, newsletters, and other forms of social media.

 

Thanks for reading,

Jack

Using Scratch

Scratch is  a free programmable toolkit that enables pupils to create animations, games, quizzes, etc. The eventual creations can be shared over the internet. The knowledge builds on the language used in Logo, but also uses new ideas and capabilities to make things easier for children to programme: it is much easier for children to move blocks of code than typing lines of code.

I started by choosing a sprite and background, then looking at using arrow keys to control a sprite, using controls to turn the sprite and move 10 steps, as shown below. This worked okay, however it looked strange with the rocket sprite because it registered turning left in relation to the side of the sprite not the top. This made the movement look strange and so I chose to start again and use a different sprite.

Scratch 1

Below is an image of my attempt to create a background. I was determined to make a simple maze that a sprite would have to go around without bumping into the walls. Below is the screen used when drawing the background and the image below is my coding to make the penguin move around the screen.

Scratch 2

Scratch 3

Below is the coding I created to ensure that the penguin would start in the middle when the start button was clicked. The image below that shows that the maze was just a background and the penguin sprite could actually just walk over it – defeating the object of the game!

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Above is my final game, the penguin can no longer hit a wall without being taken back to the start. In my next project I discovered that if you programmed the sprite  to go in the opposite direction when hitting a colour that does the same thing as having solid walls. For example if the sprite goes forward 10 and hits a coloured wall: if you programme the sprite to move back 10 when touching that colour the outline will stop the sprite from moving through, creating a ‘wall’. Below is my coding for sprites in a new maze game, however this one has an aim. I wanted to make the two fish sprites go around the square, circulating like guards and for the starfish to move around with the aim to collect treasure.

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I continued with this game when I got home so that I could share it on here, I altered the design of the ‘ball’ sprite so that it appeared like a gold coin. I programmed the starfish to do multiple things when hitting the fish, it will say ‘Oh no!’ and change appearance to a sad starfish before returning back to the start. It is quite challenging to move around the screen because the rocky maze is harder to get past due to the irregular edges. When the starfish hits a coin the coin has been programmed to move to a new spot. Below is the coding for the starfish and the coin.

Scratch2Scratch

Feel free to have a go at my finished game. I didn’t spend too much time on it at home so there are some improvements that could be made! I feel like I really understand the basics of Scratch and could debug the processes easily (with only some confusion!).

Here is the game link: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/100605533/

Thanks for reading (and playing!)

Jack

Programming

Today we looked at different ways of simple programming. We started off by looking at Purple Mash, the website I reviewed last year. There are three different forms of programming on Purple Mash: 2Go, 2Code and Logo.

2Go is a very simple version of coding, almost like the beebots. I would suggest setting it to use the more advanced settings of arrows so that when you click left/right it programmes the sprite to turn, not move left/right. You have a selection of potential backgrounds and it draws a line to show where it has been. You have to click the arrow and a number to write how far the sprite should travel.

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I have already explored 2Code on my blog before and so I won’t write much about it, however it is simply a way of programming by attaching ‘blocks’ of commands together. See my blog from before Christmas to see more about how it works. This can be as simple as moving a fish when clicking, or setting a firework to fire into the sky, explode and make a noise.

Logo is an app on Purple Mash that is much more suited to KS2, using an arrow as the sprite and using Logo language as the commands, e.g. repeat 4 [ fd 5 rt 90] meaning repeat x4 the sequence go forward 5 times and turn right 90 degrees. You can make more complex sequences and programme them to be procedures with titles, as seen below. This ties in well to Maths as you could challenge children to try and make hexagons and other polygons using their knowledge of angles. As you can see below I made hexagons and then attempted to make circles!

We then looked at SuperLogo,  a much more mature piece of software to programme. It uses the same commands as Logo on PurpleMash, however to add a procedure you have to add an object from a drop down menu. Here is an image of my procedure ‘Jack’ repeated and turned to make a geometric shape.

Jack

On ‘Hour of Code’ children can follow challenges to code things. There are activities that  should fill an hour of coding themed around different themes, such as Frozen and Star Wars. As well as simple coding such as putting together commands almost like a jigsaw sequence (shown below in the BB8 image), you can attach commands to buttons, such as when the down arrow button is clicked the sprite goes down 1 (shown in the R2D2 image below).

As you can see you can even add commands to incorporate a points system, when you find a ‘good guy’ you get 100 pts, when you get a ‘bad guy’ you minus 100 pts. Sound is also now incorporated.

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The software becomes more advanced by allowing us to add our own creatures, and even when ‘catching creatures’ they can degrade into two other creatures.

After you have completed all the challenges you are given free roam of ALL the commands and events to try and make your own game. This is a fantastic software and below is an example of a selection of codes to make a simple cat and mouse game.

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Children also get a certificate when they are finished with the activities.

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Thank you for reading and I hope you feel inspired to have a go at coding!!

 

Jack

Programming BeeBots

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In this week’s Computing session we looked at using Beebots to teach programming and debugging. I think this is a really good activity to show children how sequences of commands can be used to programme movement, and it means that children can visually see when the sequence has gone wrong and make appropriate changes. We tried to use the iPads to programme a sequence however we found it hard to connect. I think it would be easier to use the app because you can see images of your sequence, however when programming using just the arrows it can get confusing because you have to remember where you are in the sequence. We programmed two BlueBots to dance around each other, on the image below you can see we attempted to draw arrows to show the sequence, however it was confusing as we had to remember that the bots had to be programmed from their POV, not from our view of the sheet of paper. Giving the children to think of a theme/map gives them a chance to be individual and have ownership of their idea. We created a ‘Strictly Come BeeBots’ board to show that the bots were meant to be dancing! Below is an image of the sheet.

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If you look at the following link you can have a look at an online BeeBot Emulator, showing the basics of programming them. You can select different mats to use and again it is easy to see when your sequence has gone wrong and debug it.

https://www.bee-bot.us/emu/beebot.html?Farm%20Mat

We ended the session by having a quick go on Scratch Jr. I have never used Scratch before, however I found it easy to see the basics. I have used a software called GameMaker before in my high school ICT sessions which was similar, designing sprites and programming them to move around when using arrow keys and pick up items etc to complete the game. I have never used the main version of Scratch so I am looking forward to that and hoping it is similar to what I have done before!!

I would recommend having a look at the Scratch Jr app and experiment to see how it could be used to programme simple actions and the possibilities in the classroom.

Thank you for reading,

Jack

Purple Mash – website review

Purple Mash is a website full of tools, resources and games for the classroom. The games and tools are all creative and musical. Here are some of the resources I looked at:

2Design and Make:

This app is used to display 3D shapes as nets and colour them in. There are multiple 3D shapes that children can create, including simple cubes and pyramids, up to vehicles and people. I enjoyed looking through these and experimenting with the different options. As well as simply filling the space with colour and drawing you can adapt the shape of one side and this will edit the whole net accordingly. This is really clever and in the case of this car shape you could get the children to edit the shape to make different types of cars.

2Beat

This is a good app for music, however it is simple and there are better options out there, especially using Garageband. This app uses simple notation, clicking a timeline to add rhythm. The options are bass, snare and hihat with another instrument (either clap, bongo, cowbell, shaker etc). There are multiple options for amount of beats and the tempo.

Purple Mash4

Simple City

This is an image of a city with hyperlinks to different sections. Each section has videos, drag and drop games etc. For example when you click the zoo you go to a page with multiple zoo themed videos and games. The drag and drop game pictured below lets you drag the animals and letters into the scene. When you click the animals/letters you hear the word/sound. I don’t really know what this ‘game’ would be used for, but it would be fun for KS1.

2Code

I had a look at this for a while, it contains simple drag and drop coding to manipulate sprites. The simplest one I looked at is screenshotted below. The tasks are presented as challenges, all in different scenarios – this one is an airport. The challenge is to get the plane to take off, thus the code is “When clicked>Plane>Up”. This is very simple, however it might take younger children a bit of time and I personally had to debug the sequence a few times to get it to work correctly.

Purple Mash

Overall this website is very good for children to explore as there are so many activities – I only brushed the surface above. It would be a good website to put on a screen for Golden Time in KS1, and for simple coding, art or music lessons. I liked the simple interface, however older children would find it patronising. The apps themselves sometimes have better alternative apps with more opportunities.

Thanks for reading,

Jack

 

Interactive Whiteboards

In our session today we looked at the use of interactive whiteboards in the classroom. There are three types of IWbs (Interactive Whiteboards), Promethean Board, SMARTBoard and RM Easitech. They can be used for the same things as regular display boards such as PowerPoints and videos however they can also be used for more engaging and interactive purposes. Children can come up and write and draw ideas on the board, & we can even use clip art and other features to make things more exciting. Children can highlight text or drag and drop words into sentences, and it makes learning more interactive and involves the children much more. It means that the teacher doesn’t just transmit information but the children are involved and are active participants in the lesson. Teachers need to be familiar with the technology and be competent enough to use it well so that children can get the most out of it, especially considering the expense of an interactive whiteboard and the technology needed.

We looked at a software called ‘ActivInspire’ and multiple ways of using it within the classroom. We learnt how to use simple things like the pen tool, erase tool and highlighter tool.

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We also looked at more complex things like drag and drop and creating shapes with specific colours and even making a flipboard where a magnifying glass will only show certain multiples of numbers by manipulating where the numbers are in relation to the magnifying glass (the equivalent of ‘send to back’ in a Microsoft package!).

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Topmarks.co.uk, literactive.com and iboard.co.uk both have a plethora of resources that can be used in the classroom. I personally really like the Topmarks and Literactive boards as they have a really good educational purpose, you can order numbers, sort letters etc. You could easily use the maths pages as a simple starter for the children to complete.

http://www.literactive.com/Download/live.asp?swf=story_files/Fishing_Bowl_US.swf

http://www.literactive.com/Download/live.asp?swf=story_files/letter_formation_US.swf

http://www.topmarks.co.uk/ordering-and-sequencing/caterpillar-ordering

http://www.topmarks.co.uk/Flash.aspx?f=HigherAndLower

Thanks for reading,

Jack