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Session 7 – HTML

During this session we looked at Hyper Text Mark-up Language (HTML). I found out that this is used to describe the content and layout of a webpage. Throughout the session we looked at two different tools which could be used to teach HTML to children: these were X-Ray goggles and Mozilla Thimble. From my experience in trying these tools out, I would definitely use Mozilla Thimble with upper KS2 students and I would use X-Ray Goggles with lower KS2 students; or I would use it in a series of lessons to teach HTML whereby I would get children to use X-Ray Goggles first to edit a webpage, and then get the children to use Mozilla Thimble to create their own webpage.xray goggles pic

Whilst working with X-Ray Goggles I decided to edit a BBC webpage. I firstly included my name on the website and then I changed a picture of David Cameron.

xray goggles pic2

I found using X-Ray Goggles really easy as you did not have to enter code to edit the webpage. This is why I would use this before using Mozilla Thimble. I found using Mozilla Thimble quite challenging as you need to know the HTML code to be able to create and edit a webpage. Whilst using Mozilla Thimble I was able to create and edit text in various ways, and add images using code.

mozilla thimble

mozilla thimble2

mozilla thimble3

Mozilla’s Webmaker Whitepaper was an interesting read as it gave me more insight as to what Mozilla Thimble aims for and wants people to learn. Their aim is to help people to build on their web literacy by editing and creating technology, media and information which makes up the web. They have created a ‘Web Literacy Map’ which is a descriptive source for guidance on how to use the web made up of three main uses of the web: exploring, building and connecting. Teachers could use this as a guide whilst teaching pupils about the web and tick off the particular aspects they want children to work on and understand. I also agree with Mozilla whereby they believe that we learn through ‘doing’ and ‘creating’. For children to learn about the web, they should be able to create it, therefore using Mozilla Thimble is an efficient way of teaching children how to use HTML to create web pages.

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Session 6 – Binary

During this session we looked at binary. At first, this was a confusing aspect to comprehend but after we had done a practical activity the concept became much clearer. Miles asked a few students to come to the front of the class and each hold up the numbers 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32. CS unplugged demonstrates the activity we done and this was what allowed binary to become more understandable to me.

I have used BBC Bitesize  to recap my knowledge about binary and found that all data that a computer processes has to be converted into the binary format and is represented as a sequence of 1s and 0s (on and off). The binary system is also known as the ‘base 2’ system (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc.) because there are only 2 digits to choose from (1 and 0), and when using the binary system, data is converted using the power of 2. Teaching children about binary can have an effective cross-curricular link with maths so it is worth including this within the teaching of ICT. However, I believe it may be difficult to teach children as there are many different rules to remember, for example, 1+1 = 10; therefore I would only attempt to teach it to children in upper KS2 as it will most probably be confusing!

We also looked at the Russian Peasants rule for multiplication during the lecture and I was unable to understand this! Therefore I have looked at the BBC website to gain an understanding of it. I have learnt that this is a method to multiply two numbers together and requires only the abilities to double or halve a number, and to add up. So if you were multiplying 68 and 42 for example, you would write the two numbers beside each other – halve the first number and double the second number. You would carry on this process until the number on the left is reduced to 1.

68   42

34   84

17   168

8     336

4     672

2    1344

1     2688

You then have to cross out all the rows where the numbers on the left hand side are even:

68   42

34   84

17   168

8     336

4     672

2     1344

1     2688

Then add up all the numbers left on the right hand side to give you the total to the multiplication 68×42. So 168 + 2688 = 2856.

After doing further research about the Russian Peasants system I fully understand how it works now. I think this is a very interesting multiplication method but I would never teach it as a separate maths lesson for a method to working out multiplication. However I would teach it within an ICT lesson as it would be interesting for pupils to be able to see how a computer uses this process.

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Session 5 – Programming Languages

Alice, Greenfoot, and Scratch – A Discussion

Firstly, I agree with this article (Cooper, et al.,) when it states that children should be able to start programming as soon as they are interested, and I believe that an effective way to do this would be to have programming available for children to play around with in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). For example, there are many different iPad apps which children in the EYFS can use, including Scratch Junior, the Beebot App, and Daisy the Dinosaur. Having these out in the classroom for children to use if they wish may enable them to become interested in programming. If there are not any iPads available to use in school then normal Beebots are good to just have in the classroom for children to play around with if they like.

I also believe that using Beebots in KS1 however, should be enjoyable and interesting for children – there should be a purpose for why they are using and programming the Beebots. This would hopefully ensure children become interested in programming.

During the lecture we discussed the transition of computer science from EYFS/KS1 up to KS2 and found that teachers should be using concrete programming tools such as Beebots with younger children to get the familiar with programming and looking at code (a set of instructions). Teachers can move onto virtual programming, for example, Scratch, by using the same concept of Beebots on the Scratch programme. Children can then move onto abstract programming by actually creating and typing out their own code by using, Trinket, for example.

Reading about, and looking at the Alice website, I have concluded that Alice can be used for children in KS2. To me, it seems like quite a complicated programme as one is dealing with 3D animation – Cooper et al. suggest that more errors and complications will arise when using Alice so pupils must be able to understand how to find a solution to these problems.

Greenfoot and Scratch seem like the most convenient programmes to use with children in upper KS1 and in KS2 as it allows them to create something simpler and it is easier to navigate around.

The article further suggests that using programmes which allow children to incorporate their own interests and be able to relate to them will enable a more enjoyable and motivating experience; this can easily be done in Scratch whereby the user can create anything they desire – there are not any set sprites or backgrounds, for example, children can create their own. The article also states that Scratch attracts a broader range of users to computer science.

During this session Sara and I went onto Trinket and changed a set of written code from asking addition questions to multiplication questions. This way of programming through written text seems difficult if you do not understand how to do it or what it all means! It is definitely something children should only begin working on in upper KS2 if they are 100% confident with programming using virtual programmes.

https://trinket.io/python/e6f95b7d5b

scratch2

It was also interesting to see what happened when you added a variable into Scratch with the question 5/0 as it came up with “infinity”.

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Session 4 – Computational Thinking

Brennan and Reswick (2012)

Brennan and Reswick (2012) believe that programming with Scratch allows users to engage in active conversations about computational thinking. This was evident in Year 1 whilst my partner and I were creating out Scratch project; we actively engaged in conversations with one another about what we were doing, why we were doing it and how we were going to do it. We also discussed how we would overcome the problems that occurred. What my partner and I engaged in was ‘computational thinking practices’ which enabled us to create and design our game.

We were incremental and iterative by conversing with one another about what we wanted to include in our game, trying it out, and then adding further elements to it as we went along. We also tested and debugged our game many times; we had to find the root of the problem to be able to fix it and this consisted of taking apart the sequence and putting it back together in different ways we assumed would work until we were able to figure it out. I believe testing and debugging a Scratch project will also allow children to use this approach in other aspects of their school, and external school, life; children will start to think computationally about a problem and try to solve it in a similar way they would solve a problem on Scratch. My partner and I reused and remixed code we had seen Miles use for a game he had shown us during a lecture. This allowed us to build upon that sequence and develop it into something of our own. We also abstracted and modularized our code for particular sprites by separating the code into different parts so it would be easier to debug the script and so it was also easier for Miles and ourselves to read.

Therefore it may be effective to plan for children to work with a partner when they create their first major Scratch project in school. This enables children to bounce off each other and create something greater than what they could be able to create individually. Moreover, it allows children to engage in computational discussion with a partner who is engaging in the same experience.

Furthermore, I think Scrape is a good tool to use for assessing what a child has used, or not used, whilst making a project in Scratch. This enables the assessor to be able to identify areas of strength and areas which can be developed to help the learner improve their project, and more importantly, their computational thinking. If this can be used in schools, I don’t know, but it would be a beneficial tool to use.

I think I would find assessing children’s computational thinking whilst working on a Scratch project quite difficult, as realistically a teacher will be unable to listen to, and observe every conversation and action the learners are taking part in. For example, a child may create an amazing project but may not have contributed in any of the computational thinking discussions or been a part of the debugging process. Selby (2013) also believes that without a common definition of computational thinking, it will be difficult to assess appropriately; therefore if it is not included in the curriculum, it should be agreed on by all staff teaching computing in a school.

However, I believe Scratch to be an excellent programme for developing computational thinking in young people. Not only do people develop computational thinking for developing interactive media, they will be able to use these skills and transfer them to various other programming (and non-programming) contexts. Moreover, the attitudes and skills children acquire whilst engaging in computational thinking include making mistakes, perseverance, imagination, collaboration, pattern recognition, decomposition, algorithm design, and abstraction and generalisation (Briggs, 2013); these can also all be transferable to other various contexts.

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During this session we also looked at how a marble run can be used to support the learning and understanding of algorithms. We were given three challenges to complete with our groups. We used different computational thinking skills to complete these tasks, including: discussing with our group how we were going to create the marble run, trying it out and changing things if we needed to, and trying it out again. We also ‘debugged’ our marble runs if they were not working by trying to find the problem and then finding a solution. I believe this activity to be great to do with children in a primary school as it starts them off with the skills needed to be a computational thinker when creating a project on Scratch, for example.

CHALLENGE 1 – create a marble run that has 2 inputs and 1 output.

CHALLENGE 2 – create a marble run that has 1 input and 2 outputs.

CHALLENGE 3 – create a marble run which resembles the pattern shown on the interactive whiteboard.

IMG_4044

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Session 3 – Computers

During this session we looked at computers and the different types which have been created and used over the years. What I found most interesting from the seminar was the information and discussion about ‘input > process > output’. To think that a PlayStation uses those three components means that it is technically a computer also, and I have never thought of my PlayStation 3 being a computer?! We also researched the advantages of using ‘old school’ computers, laptops, chrome books and iPads in school and discussed them amongst one another. From this I have decided that if I could choose which out of those 4 technologies I would want to use with my class it would probably be the laptops! This is because I believe they are the most convenient, for example, they are portable, they have keyboards, you can connect them to the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) and they have recording facilities (and those are just a few of the benefits!).

Computing at School, (2012) The Raspberry Pi Education Manual

If the Raspberry Pi is very similar to a normal computer, why do most schools not use one?! I have never been into a school which has used a Raspberry Pi before and I doubt I ever will be in a school where they do. This is something which I do not understand because schools complain about their budget and not being able to afford technology – the Raspberry Pi is ‘affordable’, ‘easy to use’ and ‘powerful’, according to the Raspberry Pi Education Manual. Is this because most teachers are unaware of them or unaware of how to use them effectively in class?

With the new computing curriculum out now, I think a Raspberry Pi is an easy and cost-effective way to teach it, seeing as you are able to access Scratch and other software to support the teaching of computing, such as Python. Python is something which I would not use with children in my class as I think it is very dull and boring! Yes, children are learning how to programme but in a very boring way! I also think it may be confusing for the children and could even be too difficult to understand (I am even having a difficult time reading about it!).

Moreover, I have come across teaching resources used with the Raspberry Pi which teachers can use in school. I found these on the Raspberry Pi website and it is something I can look into on placement or in the future when teaching computing to children.

http://www.raspberrypi.org/resources/teach/

There are also guides on the Raspberry Pi website on how to set up a Raspberry Pi and how to use it. This website is something I will definitely refer to in the future if I use a Raspberry Pi in my class.

Computing at School, (2012) The Raspberry Pi Education Manual

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Session 2 – The Education/Technology Ecosystem

Does ICT change how we learn (as distinct from providing new strategies for supporting learners)?

Firstly, according to Buckingham (2007), the use of ICT in primary schools has lasting effects on children’s motivation and willingness to learn. This is because children look forward to using technology during class time, for example using the laptops or iPads. From my experiences in schools, when children are given technology to use during a lesson they usually become more motivated to complete the activity that has been set, even if it is just using Microsoft Word to write sentences about a book they have been reading in class. Becta (2003, cited in Condie and Munro, 2007) believes that the use of word processing enhances writing development when combined with high-quality teacher guidance or when given a purpose or a context for the piece of writing.

However, what I have also noticed is that there is a big divide between the qualities of work which is produced from the children who are more capable of using technology and those who are less capable. I have read some brilliant sentences from children which includes all the criteria I have asked for and then read really bad sentences which hardly includes any of the criteria which I asked for – these children are in the same English group so should be producing similar pieces of work. I cannot help but question if it is because some of those children are not ICT literate? Children need the skills to use ICT to at least be able to produce satisfactory work!

A new strategy for supporting learners which cannot be used without technology includes the online educational games. I believe that these educational games are a good strategy to support learners – not only do they motivate children and provide a more enjoyable experience, they also teach children to think: they enable children to develop reasoning, problem-solving and decision-making skills which are generalizable to real life situations (Prensky, 2006, cited in Buckingham, 2007). I believe that providing children with technology based educational games is beneficial for children, although I think some teachers may become lazy and plan for children to play these games when they cannot be bothered to plan a more creative activity for children which may be more effective.

It has surprised me to find out that only 26% of teachers believe that the use of ICT makes learning more effective for children (Becta, 2009). I believe this may be because the knowledge and skills teachers have of ICT themselves may not be to a high standard; therefore what they are providing for children may not be effective. Thus, teachers need training and support for the different uses of ICT and how it can be beneficial for children (hopefully this can be something I teach staff at schools in the future!).

Becta graph

Becta, (2009) Harnessing Technology Review 2009: The role of technology in education and skills, Coventry: Becta

Buckingham, D. (2010) Beyond Technology: children’s learning in the age of digital culture, Cambridge: Polity Press

Condie, R., and B. Munro, (2007) The Impact of ICT in Schools – a Landscape Review, Coventry: Becta

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Session 1 – Technology in Primary Education

During our first session of ICT specialism, we discussed how technology impacts the primary classroom and we also reflected on the use of technology during our BSE in Year 2.

Whilst on my BSE in Year 2 I was quick to realise that the use of ICT in the Year 1 classroom was not a regular activity. The class teacher would only usually give the laptops to a maximum of two groups during a lesson, and this was to use a programme to support writing sentences. I believe it did enhance pupils’ ability to write sentences, especially for the lower ability groups; Condie et al. (2007) believe that children’s attainment increases with the use of ICT in lessons as it can motivate and engage children with the activity they have been set. However I thought this was used too frequently and there was not enough variety in the use of technology for the children to encounter.

ICT in my classroom was not taught on a weekly basis which is what I presumed would have occurred. However, I was able to teach two consecutive ICT lessons which proved to be a success and I believe the children enjoyed them. The purpose of both lessons was to produce a multimedia story using ‘2Create A Superstory’. I planned a cross-curricular activity whereby children chose a scene from the story they were focusing on in literacy and created this on the software. From this, children practised creating settings, animating characters, giving those characters voices and sounds, and making them move using the action buttons to control the character.

2create

I planned for children to work in pairs as I was aware that a lot of the children in my class would not understand how to use the software. Therefore I paired those children who were less able, with ones who I thought were more capable of using the software and were able to support their partner. If those children had more beneficial ICT lessons, I am sure the majority would have been capable to work individually. Furthermore, in my third year BSE I will make sure that I teach more ICT lessons to the pupils in my class to benefit their knowledge and understanding of using technology and the software that accompany it. Selwyn (2011) backs up my statement by suggesting that the use of ICT in the classroom is essential for children to learn the skills needed to become successful and employable in the future.