Throughout our last ever lecture we discussed innovation and the future surrounding technology. It’s so interesting to think about and see all the new technology which is available to use in schools at this very moment in time, and how different technology in schools is compared to when I was at school! I love the fact that children these days are given a greater opportunity to explore and be creative with different technologies, for example, being able to create and program their own game or App. However, I do believe that if technology is ever changing and developing, teachers must keep up with it!! I believe it should be a top priority for teachers to stay updated and trained on new technology in order to teach the new computing curriculum effectively and engagingly. Robinson (2011) backs up my statement by suggesting that innovation is putting new ideas into practice; how are teachers supposed to do this if they are not educated enough about how technology works or how to implement good use of technology within their classrooms?
It was also interesting to see what different things people predict for technology in classrooms in the future. In the future I would like to see more money being spent on technology training for teachers who need it, and more schools investing in mobile technology in their classroom. I think both of these things would have a huge impact on pupils and on schools. In my placement school I would have liked to of seen more technology being used by the children, for example, using digital cameras and floor robots, and these are things which I would like to be using when I start my job there. However, I did like the use of the VLE in that school; pupils and teachers actively used the school’s VLE to blog to each other, share homework and also share photos about things they have done in and out of school.
Facer (2011) suggests that working alongside machines and depending on them in the future will become a ‘normal’ thing, however I feel as though this is already happening now. The way we depend on machines to deliver our teaching, for example, Interactive whiteboards, have been around since I was in primary school and I wouldn’t know what to do without one in my classroom! I remember starting my placement and freaking out when the Interactive whiteboard was down for a week and had to resort to using a whiteboard and whiteboard pen to deliver my lessons; I didn’t realise how much I depended on it beforehand! However I do not believe that machines will ever take the place of a class teacher, it just would never work!
Today was the day I presented my ICT seminar to my group. I had a lot of fun doing this and I feel as though my points about LearnPads came across to the students who may even consider investing in them in their schools in the future! At the beginning of this session we thought about and discussed where we would like to see ourselves professionally in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years. I found this very difficult to think of as I am the type of person who lives life as it comes and generally doesn’t like to have a plan for the future (whether this is a good or a bad thing, I don’t know!). I wrote that in 1 year I would like to be fully qualified, in 5 years I would like to be an ICT coordinator in my second school, and for 10 and 20 years I didn’t write anything! However it was interesting to hear what everybody else’s plans were for the future and it was even more interesting to hear about how Miles has got to where he is now! This session was about professional development. Whilst reading Becta (2010) I found a checklist which I think would be really useful to give to teachers in my school so they can identify how they are currently using technology in school and what more they can do with technology to benefit pupils and also themselves. More information about reviewing the checklist can also be found on this website: http://schools.becta.org.uk/21cteacher
I agree with Gove (2010) (for once!), as he states that ‘teaching is a craft, and it is best learnt as an apprentice, observing a master craftsman or woman, watching others and being rigorously observed yourself as you develop, is the best route to acquiring mastery in the classroom’. The reasons I agree with this statement is because I, myself feel as though I have learnt most of the things about teaching whilst being on placement, watching the class teachers and receiving feedback about my own practice which I use to learn from and improve. One of the school’s I went to visit whilst I was looking for jobs was a newly built building with fantastic facilities. One of the things that stood out most for me in that school was the fact that there were cameras in some of the classrooms. The headteacher notified me that these cameras were to be used strictly for ‘professional development’, whereby teachers can choose to be either observed by a human being or have their lesson recorded by a video camera and a microphone. This is an interesting method of promoting professional development as it allows the teacher to look back on the lesson he/she has taught and see what went well and what could have been improved. I do think that is a good idea to implement in schools however I feel as though it would take a bit of time getting used to!
This website discusses how teachers can video record themselves in a classroom for professional development and highlight what to look for specifically when watching yourself back. I think this is useful if this is something which your school doesn’t already do; you can get teachers on board with this or just ask for permission to do it yourself for your own professional development. I definitely think I may implement this when I start my job as a class teacher to improve my teaching!
After reading ‘ICT buying advice for your school’ I have realised that a lot of time and thought needs to be put in to what to buy for a school; the products that are bought need to benefit the pupils and a lot of research must be done beforehand. This document will be very useful to me when I eventually (hopefully!) have responsibility as to what ICT provision will be bought for my school. If my school is on a strict budget, I have never thought about contacting local schools in the area to partner up with them on technology; this can be very cost effective and I will make sure I look into this in the future.
Luckin (2012) states that a large amount of money was spent on technology in schools in the last few years and there has been little evidence that this technology has improved teaching and learning. Therefore I believe that ICT coordinators and staff in schools really need to spend time to research about these technologies before spending money on them. I would make sure that I look into how they have been used in other schools previously and the impact they have had on pupils before buying to make sure that what I am buying will also have a positive influence on the pupils in my school. Additionally, another reason may be because teachers are unsure on how to use these technologies in the classroom to benefit pupils. This was definitely apparent in my last placement where LearnPads were bought for teachers to use in their classrooms, and only 3 out of 16 classes were using them! The reason for this being because the teachers were not confident to implement them into their lessons.
It was very interesting to look at the data about technology use and learning outcomes in primary schools. For example, the PISA, Spieza (2010) graph showed the impact technology had on science scores; pupils who used computers almost every day had a higher science score than the pupils who hardly ever used computers. This just goes to show how important it is to have technology in primary schools.
During this seminar we looked at good practice in computing teaching. We discussed how good practice in computing teaching involves giving children opportunities to tinker, make, discuss, connect, practise and debug. Bell, et al., (2010) suggest a range of activities to do with children to support good practice in computing teaching. Such activities include representing information, algorithms, representing procedures, intractability, cryptography, and interacting with computers. I think these are especially helpful for teachers who struggle with coming up with good lessons to teach computing.
Ofsted (2008) also highlight the key attributes to good practice in computing teaching. One of the things they found, which I thought was interesting, was that assessment in computing in all primary schools visited was a weakness; this is interesting to me as assessment in computing on my placement was not very apparent. I feel as though teachers leave pupils to carry out computing activities and move them onto the next activity without really focusing on what the pupils have achieved and what they still need more practise on. This may be because there is not much guidance on how to assess computing (I know that I would benefit from more guidance on how to assess pupil achievement and progression in computing!), so I believe more documents should be released on ways to assess computing in primary schools. How are teachers supposed to demonstrate good practice in computing teaching if they are not 100% confident on how to assess it?!
Brown (2014) suggests that teaching in computing is good or better when: teachers have efficient subject knowledge and understanding of computing; teachers have good technical skills; progression in computing is apparent; lessons address misconceptions; teachers communicate high expectations and enthusiasm about the subject; teachers use a wide range of innovative and imaginative resources. I am sure that I will be able to deliver good practice of computing when I start my job in September, but for those teachers who have not had the same training I have had, how are they supposed to deliver good practice to their students? Of course, it will be my duty to share my knowledge and expertise in this subject area to the staff in my school but whether or not they understand it all and take an interest in it is another story! Moreover, the use of imaginative and innovative resources will only be of good use if they are available in schools! A lot of schools do not have the budget to spend money on these types of resources, or they may not deem them to be important enough to even spend money on. The ICT Mark is a good strategy for school’s to follow to ensure they are delivering good practice and effective technology in schools, and I believe that every school should apply for ICT Mark assessment to improve computing standards.
This video from Holton Primary School shows how they have used the ICT Mark to improve teaching and enhance learning in their school.
As the new National Curriculum (2014) was published, I believe that many teachers find the aspect of computing quite daunting because I am sure a great number of teachers have not been as fortunate as I have to have had efficient training in this area. There is a variety of fun and interesting ways the new computing curriculum can be taught to pupils whilst using a wide range of technology. Berry (2013) suggests that teachers should use practical and creative approaches to the computing curriculum and allow pupils the opportunity to work individually, in pairs, or as part of a small group. I agree with this as I believe that pupils should be taught computing in practical lessons and it is not difficult or time consuming to do this with the amount of technology available at the moment! For example Bee-Bot floor robots and lego robotics are fun, practical ways of teaching computing, and software such as Scratch and Kodu are also engaging ways to teach this subject.
On placement, the only computing lessons I saw being taught, and which I followed were lessons on Espresso coding. Although this is effective in getting the learning objectives of computing across to children and enabling them to learn about coding, I believe there are many more enjoyable ways to teach this to children. I am not saying I would not use Espresso coding in school with my own class, but in the future, I would most probably like to introduce them to Scratch and allow children to create their own animation or game with a partner once they have learnt how to code on Espresso coding. Scratch has been viewed as an excellent way to teach children how to design, write, run, and debug code (Cambridge, 2012).
This seminar focused on the use of mobile technology in the classroom.
In many of my seminars at university iPads have been brought up and we have discussed the countless benefits they can have on pupils, especially those with SEN. iPads are exceptionally supportive for SEN pupils. Apps are available to download which specifically support pupils with SEN, especially in the Foundation Stage, and settings can be changed also to increase accessibility for these pupils. However, the range of support for pupils with SEN in KS2 is limited; I am unsure of why this may be (difficult to develop?), and I believe that more Apps should be developed for these older pupils. Although I have never been on placement in a school where iPads have been used, research does suggest that they motivate and engage students, and also enhance pupils’ learning in ways that were previously not easy to do so (Clark and Luckin, 2013). This theory is evident with the use of LearnPads which I was fortunate enough to use during my Year 3 placement. These are mobile technologies which are specifically designed for use in the classroom. Pupils in my class became more engaged in a lesson when they were using the LearnPads for multiple purposes, e.g. using them during guided reading sessions to read books from, conducting research, and using Apps such as SimpleMind (mind mapping app).
Additionally, Allen et al., (2012) highlight one of the main benefits of using mobile technologies is their use outside of the classroom. This is definitely something which I agree on as I used the LearnPads outside of the classroom on many occasions, e.g. to take images of ‘signs of Spring’ which linked to the pupils’ literacy topic about Spring poems. At the end of May 2015 I will be helping out on a school trip to the National History Museum with my old class. I would like to ask the class teacher if we can take a few LearnPads out on the trip with us so children can use them to take images and/or video of their trip, and even use them to conduct more research about things they have seen. The children would then be able to write blog posts about their trip to the museum and upload photos to the school’s learning environment for the rest of the school to see.
The LearnPads in my placement school were only introduced in February 2015 and it was interesting to see how difficult it was to get all staff on board to use these in their classrooms. Lai (2012) states that some teachers may have an ‘old-fashioned mind-set’ or they may not receive enough training to be able to use tablets effectively. However, the ICT coordinator in my school gave a very informative and beneficial inset about the use of LearnPads in school and also gave one-to-one training with teachers who asked for it; the use of LearnPads were only used in three out of sixteen classrooms throughout my time on placement which to me, is shocking! I was lucky to get a job at my placement school starting in September 2015 so I am really looking forward to using the LearnPads in my own classroom. I will definitely incorporate them into my lessons and hopefully be able to persuade other teachers to use them with their new classes in September also!
Some examples of how LearnPads were used in my classroom:
The National Curriculum (2013) states that children in KS1 should be able to ‘use technology safely and respectfully, keeping personal information private; identify where to go for help and support when they have concerns about content or contacts on the internet or other online technologies’. Whilst I was on placement I incorporated e-safety into my PSHCE lessons to ensure children in my Year 1 class were aware of the dangers of the internet and what to do if they encounter anything they are scared of, or unfamiliar with. I showed them the Lee and Kim video which proved to be effective as the children enjoyed watching this video and were able to pick up on the signs of ‘stranger danger’ and were also able to tell me what to do if such things were ever to happen to them when using technology online.
Children then made posters about ‘stranger danger’ to put up around the school to let the other children know what ‘stranger danger’ is and what to do if they are ever put into a position where they feel the person they are talking to is not being nice to them.
However, cyberbullying was the only e-safety topic my class covered whilst I was on placement with them. It would have been nice to see children learning about the content of the internet and what is acceptable to look at and what is not acceptable to look at. Ofsted (2003) suggest many different areas which are deemed as unacceptable content for children to be looking at and these include: online pornography, ignoring age ratings in games, substance abuse, lifestyle websites (e.g. anorexia and self-harm), and hate sites. I think these are definite unacceptable web contents for children to be looking at, especially children in primary schools and it is therefore highly important for teachers to understand how to monitor children’s actions on the internet when they are using them during school. It is also important for teachers to teach children about acceptable and unacceptable content to be looking at on the internet and what the dangers and risks that are exposed to children from this; therefore children will have more autonomy over the choices they make and are aware of the potential risks.
Moreover, Krotoski (2014) outlines what teachers should know about web consumption and what is acceptable or unacceptable to bring into the classroom. These include not assuming that children are knowledgeable about the content on the web; this is why teachers should incorporate these issues into their lessons so children become aware of them! Krotoski also highlights that teachers should not allow children to use particular technological systems that the teacher doesn’t understand, just because it is popular and a lot of other children are using them; I agree with this because if the teacher is unaware of the content and the context of the technological system, the teacher is openly allowing any potential risks to be exposed to children – always read up on the technological systems one brings into the classroom. He also expresses the importance of teaching children how to critically assess the assumptions made by a piece of software, and this is particularly important as children cannot always rely on others to validate the safety or importance of software.