Computer Coding

In todays session we were looking at the different types of online games and software that are easily accessible to help teach children the theory behind programming. The way to explain to children what coding is, is by describing it as a language that a computer uses to complete the commands that we give it.

Today we looked at various websites including 2Go which is an online website with lots of resources and games that are free to use to help children understand different concepts such as coding. This website is a very simple use of coding much like the bee-bots that I discussed about in a previous blog. You have a character and using the arrow keys, you choose which decoration to move the bee-bot in and also using the number keys which determine how far the character will move in that direction. When you tell the character to move a line will appear behind the character so that the children can see the journey that they’ve made the character go on. A feature of this website is that the children would be able to change the background they are playing in which gives them an extra sense for of ownership over the coding programme.

The next coding programme we explored was Purple Mash and within that Logo. I would argue that is a more sophisticated level of coding so is much more suited to KS2. You use the arrow as the sprite and using coding or Logo language as the commands you can make detailed patterns or tiles as you can see below!

The ‘Hour of Code’ website advocates and supports a lot of learning that covers a lot of the curriculum for ICT and it can be found at this link; https://code.org/ . The advantage of this website is that on a page you can click a button called “show code” which shows you how the computer is coded and what different moves require similar or different types of commands. Another advantage of this website is it slowly builds up the children’s knowledge of programming with small steps by using games or films that they will have heard of. This includes Angry Birds, Frozen and the latest Star Wars film.

As you can see in the above pictures of the Star Wars game, the coding progressively gets harder and builds upon what the children learn in earlier stages so that they learn about more complex coding than they would in the game on 2Go.

Thank you for reading!

Miriam

Scorecard

Blog Task Description of Task Points Point tally
1. Initial thoughts on ICT 200 200
2. The use of iPads in the classroom 200 400
3. Animation 200 600
4. Digital Citizenship and

E-Safety

200 800
5. The use of interactive whiteboards in the classroom 200 1000
6. Online Task – Website Review 200 1200
7. Key Stage 1 Computing 200 1400
8. Key Stage 2 Computing 200 1600
9. Scratch 200 1800
10.
Badge Tasks      
· Pinterest Badge 100 1900
· Twitter Badge 100 2000
· Apps in Education Badge 100 2100
· E-Safety Awareness Badge 100 2200

Apps in Education Badge

This badge encourages us to look at educational apps that we may or may not use in our own teaching practice.

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Scratch Jr.

This app would be used in ICT when encouraging the children to look at coding. It would require the children to enter in different controls in a sequence so that their character does things. For example you could get the character to walk to another one and have a conversation with it.

  • One advantage of this is that as iPads are becoming a regular feature of a classroom, it doesn’t mean you need to book out the computer room.
  • Another positive is that the app is very easy to navigate yourself around and very child friendly.
  • A negative aspect of this app is that it does limit how far children could get with the app, for more advanced coding sequences you would need to get the appropriate software for the computers

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Duolingo.

This app would be appropriate for Key Stage 2 as it helps children to develop their language skills for other languages. It has gradual steps to build them up to saying a whole sentence. With prompts and different sections such as animal and clothing and food, the children could gain a lot of expertise and help with key words during and in between lessons.

  • A positive aspect of this app is as I’ve said before, the difficulty levels is gradual so it builds upon previous knowledge
  • Another positive aspect is that once you’ve finished a section on the app then you can have little tests and refresher input so you don’t forget it
  • A positive aspect can also be the fact that you can track your progress and your strong sections with the bar along the bottom of the app
  • A negative aspect of this app is that there is no way for their to be individual pages on the app so there is no way for a teacher to track individual progress

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First Step Country. 

This app will help develop children’s knowledge of the outside world including (as you can see in the picture to the right) different flags, currencies, where places are on the map and famous monuments around the world. This will be an invaluable app for teachers in the classroom because it will add extra information to what the children will be learning in the classroom.

  • A positive aspect of this app is that it is very easy to navigate yourself around
  • Another positive aspect is that the app is based around games within the 4 different sections, so there is no pressure on the child. It is a fun way to gain new information
  • A negative aspect is that there are no good alternatives for Key Stage 2 aged children as this amazing app is focussed on Key Stage 1

 

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First News Newspaper.

This is an award winning, weekly British newspaper written for children and young people aged between 7-14. The newspaper covers lots of topics such as; UK and international news, sport reports, stories about animals, facts and puzzles and games.

  • A positive side to the newspaper is that it gets children interested in the events that are going on around the world which is something that as teachers we need to encourage
  • Another positive aspect is the fact that it has won awards! Obviously people in education and parents recognise the greatness of the app which can’t be ignored
  • A negative aspect is that you get to a point where you need to pay to download the different issues, but you can subscribe and the cost for subscribing is cheaper than buying other magazines once a week that don’t have the same educational input

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Cooking fun for Kids. 

This app offers up healthy recipes that children can easily follow. As many schools are healthy schools and offer dinners to children, its surely a good thing for teachers to offer opportunities to learn key skills for cooking as well as learning about eating healthily.

  • A positive aspect to this app is that the recipes are very clear with lots of lovely pictures for the children to look at and understand what they are aiming for in their cooking
  • The app also includes videos for the children to watch so that they can learn key skills for cooking
  • A negative aspect of this app is that it is very limited on the audience that it is appropriate for

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BrainPOP Jr.

This app offers up a weekly movie for children to watch and then there is an opportunity to  look at related quizzes and activities. There are two main characters who go through everything with the children, Annie and Moby.

  • One positive view on this app is that the app is engaging and colourful which makes the children interested in the different things that the app offers
  • There are different levels of difficulty for the apps so the child has more control over what they are being tested on, as can be seen in the picture below

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  • A negative aspect of this app is that it is aimed at KS1 and there isn’t a KS2 alternative

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Drawing Lessons 

This app is simply an app that will help children develop their drawing skills. The lessons take form in careful, simple steps that will help the child to build up a beautiful and complex picture. There are lots of key and helpful features that the child will need such as undo/redo, edit, modify and erase.

  • A positive aspect of this app is that because the drawings are on the iPad they can not only be saved but you can directly print from the iPad so that the child has a copy of their work
  • Another positive point to the app is jay there are 216 lessons available for the children that focus on different things from transport and robots to animals and dinosaurs
  • A negative aspect of this is that it is very time consuming so wouldn’t be something that you would offer in an art lesson or a quick 10 minutes before lunch time

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Little Story Creator. 

As the title explains, this app allows children to put together an app. It uses pictures and videos and you can add text, borders, audio and drawings to develop and make a story.

  • This is a great app as it allows children to be creative in a different way than the opportunities in the classroom perhaps offer
  • Its also good because it mixes different subjects together such as English, Art and ICT
  • A negative aspect of this is that because of the nature of the app, the stories, if left to be completed at a different point, can be opened and then edited by anyone. But the beauty of this is also that it can be an excellent opportunity to make group work such as writing stories interesting and exciting

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Weird but True!

This is a fantastic science app that holds lots, in fact 625, facts that are presented in a fun, colourful and interactive way that will grab children’s attention! It is put together by the National Geographic Society which makes it a more reliable source that teachers can trust.

  • A good aspect of this app is that you can bookmark or save the weird and wonderful facts, so if as a teacher you came across an interesting and relevant fact for a lesson you can easily access it and put it up on the interactive whiteboard for all the children to see
  • Another good thing about this app is that you can select which topic you want to hear facts on such as animals, weather, space, science
  • A negative aspect of this is that the free aspect of the app doesn’t last for long and to access more facts you have to buy the bundles

The beauty of having these apps and others like it on an iPad in a classroom is that the children can not only learn from them at school but also download the apps if they have iPads at home so that the learning can continue outside of the classroom.

Thanks for reading!

Miriam

 

E-safety Awareness badge

For this badge we were asked to look up posters that help us and children to be “digital citizens”.

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E-safety is a growing concern as it is more readily available to children of young ages. The growing field of social media opportunities such as Facebook  Twitter are allowing children access to the outside world without leaving their room and exposing themselves to whatever is on the internet. The growing interest in another social media app is Yik Yak. This is an anonymous account where you can post anything and anyone in your local area can see it. This has the potential to be dangerous as there is no accountability to anything that you may post because of the anonymous nature of the app.

Some key ideas that come across in these posters are:

  1. Don’t share your personal information (such as your number, address) with anyone online
  2. If you see anything that makes you feel uncomfortable then tell an adult like your parent or teacher
  3. Don’t send a message that you wouldn’t say to the persons face
  4. Think carefully before you post anything, is it appropriate? Is it necessary to share that about yourself?

As part of the badge we were then encouraged to make out own internet safety poster, the image below is mine.

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Thanks for reading!

Miriam

Using Scratch

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 15.10.49In this weeks seminar we looked at the advantages of using the programme Scratch. This is a free kit that allows children to practice more complex coding skills like the ones I talked about in my last blog. It gives children the opportunity to create animations, games, quizzes and much more. These creations can then be shared on the internet.

One advantage that it has over other programmes that I explored last week such as Logo, is that it’s a lot easier for children to put together a sequence of code. This is because you drag different tiles together to create a sequence of coding rather than having to type the code in. It’s also in a language that the children will understand, this being English! As can be seen below.

Scratch 1

I remember using scratch when I was at primary school. But I had the priviledge when doing my pre-course experience of working with children when they were doing a scratch project. The project was a cross curricular one between maths and ICT. The project was for the children in pairs to produce a game where their character would ask the user mathematical questions such as “What is 12 x 5?” Then the children had to make it where the programme would ask the user what the answer was. Then the coding would bring up a box in which the user had to write the answer but under timed conditions. The outcomes would then be the following;

a) Correct answer would lead to a congratulations screen followed by the next question

b) If the question wasn’t answered in the time limits then they would be taken back to the beginning

c) If an incorrect answer was given then they would be told what the correct answer was and then taken back to the beginning

As an adult in that lesson I was asked a lot of lessons and I realised a key part of it was letting the children know that if they got the coding wrong then it didn’t matter! To actually work out where they went wrong and try again. Once this message had got around the class I noticed that the children enjoyed the project a lot more as they were experimenting with the different instructions without worrying about the outcome.

It was a challenging project but one that was immensely enjoyed by both teachers and students and I would recommend it to all who may be teaching or wanting to look into programming or coding. Simply because of its basic screens yet advanced coding opportunities, its east for children to navigate and teachers who may not be in touch with ICT or done coding before.

Thanks for reading!

Miriam

Pinterest

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As a teacher you want to keep up to date and constantly trying to make lessons different and engaging for your students. Pinterest is a perfect way of doing this as you have access to so many creative ideas that you can use in your classroom or take inspiration from. As I have done, you can look up anything from Classroom Ideas such as displays and classroom arrangement, to activities that you can do with children in art and science.

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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

Online Task- is the website good?

For this weeks task we were asked to evaluate the usefulness and effectiveness of a website and the one that I chose to do can be found on the following link: http://www.interactive-resources.co.uk/resources

At first glance this website looks like a very useful one. It is entirely dedicated to producing and offering online maths resources got teachers and schools. You do need to subscribe and pay but you are offered a 14 day free trial to test whether it is worth getting the full subscription.

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This is the home page and it is clearly laid out with easy tabs and links to other options and resources that are open to you as a consumer. So I decided to test out one of the resources that are open to you as a teacher to use in a lesson! One of them was based on developing a quick recall of times tables.

 

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This is the screen that you are shown at the end. This gives the child an opportunity to track their progress but also allows the teacher to see which times table needs to be worked on, whether that be for an individual or a whole class activity.

This activity amongst many of the other activities that I tried are perfectly clear and easily accessible enough for children to access and complete during a lesson if it is open. The activity that is shown above is perfect for a plenary activity as a way of rounding off the lesson but also keeping their brains thinking and practicing key skills that they need to develop from a young age.

Things that I really like about this website:

  1. How easy it is to get around and find things. This is achieved through the clear and no nonsense labels and tabs taking you on through the website to further features that the website offers.
  2. I like the colours and the way that no page is very cluttered. It is using clear font that a child can easily read meaning that if a maths lesson was do various activities around the classroom; a child would easily be able to work their way around the website and find different activities that they may want to complete.
  3. That you can save and download the activities on your computer but also simply open them up through the website. Meaning that you can have the activity easily accessible during a lesson and are able to look up different activities when planning a scheme of work.
  4. I like that it has a key features page, so if as a teacher you were truing to sell the website and subscription to the school you can easily show them that page which perfectly and simply lays out the benefits that come from using the website.

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Things that could be improved about the website:

  1. If the website had a feature where you could track data that the children gather through the different activities then I think that would make it a more superior site to the others that are out there. This is because it offers a superior way of tracking the change in a child’s ability as well as making the activities and time that a child spends on there not entirely useless or fruitless.

Thanks so much 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