HOW CAN WE TEACH CODING THROUGHOUT THE PRIMARY SCHOOL?

According to Ian Livingstone (and any teacher who teaches ICT) there are all manner of abilities, experiences and modes of technology that children bring to school. They know how all the peripherals work and if they don't they soon learn from their peers of it's basic operation. They are expert consumers of technology as we once were. But this is the key aspect isn't it? They use technology but they don't know why or even how it really works.

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Sound Uncovered - iPad App for Science/ Topic in Year 3

Sound Uncovered is a great, free app from here that is made by Exploratorium.com. We're beginning to use it in science and topic work where we're continuing using an ICT lab-free environment.

The Prompt sheet below is for the children who prefer a very structured way of going about things. The other children will have white boards etc to explore and revisit the prompts on the IWB.

You're free to edit the sheets and the presentation as you see fit.

Integrated, Creative Educational Technology: A Fresh ICT Development

Integrated, creative educational technology means learning to use technology as the joint driving force for the lesson or project in hand. This is the mantra and ethos behind all of the changes we're putting in place at our school. It's a tall order. We have a very mixed set of abilites from both students and teachers alike - new students when they arrive seem to be off the pace and, by contrast, new staff seem to be right on. You can see, then, it's also very difficult to manage training for such a large number of teachers that is both meaningful and has an end skill they can use in the classroom.

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Making Art Galleries in SketchUp and Google Earth

The Year 5 Children have been following up on their work we began at the beginning of the year in our Image Manipulation strand. The children loosely follow the lessons set out by the Newham ICT scheme and the art work done by Patrick Caulfield. The images are good and have a clear use in the learning of layering. I suppose you could do this in regular MS Paint, Tux or MS Word but Paint.Net is our Favourite.

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Julian Opie Style Portraits - Paint.Net Follow-up

Before the Chinese New Year holiday I sent home a quick email (below) to ask our Year 4 and 5 children to complete their homework and for Year 5 to have a bit of fun and do something extra.

What returned was brilliant. Nicholas, a boy from Year 5 who tries his best at all times but not exactly a high flyer produced this:

 Nicholas Year 5

 

Dear Parents,

I am writing to you to ask if you could either assist you child in working on a mini project over the holiday for fun and for honing their ICT skills. It will also give you the chance to share the learning your child is doing in ICT as well.

I have made 7 short video clips on my channel at: Youtube.com/user/edtechlounge. These videos range between 1 minute and 4 minutes showing your child what to do (and you if you want try it too!).

WHAT YOU NEED:

 

1.       A computer with Windows OS. The program Paint.Net. This is a free program we are using in school. You can download and install from here: www.getpaint.net

2.       (Mac Users can try to do this on Splashup.com – click on the link but do not worry if you can’t).

2. Children, download your Paint.net work that you have already done and open it. This is either saved on the USB drives that the children have saved at school or emailed to themselves as an attachment.

3. Open the photo inside Paint.net.

4. Follow the tutorials on YouTube.

N.B. If you haven’t got your files from school then take a photo of yourself or friend without smiling or showing teeth. An open mouth does not work so well.  

Scratch and Bee-bots for Primary ICT - Year 1 Intro to Programming

Scratch and control as an ICT skills boost.

This term (February 2011) we are running a school wide control and programming topic that I feel is missing and entirely necessary to boost the attainment of ICT skills across the age range. Why am I doing this? The cohort I have inherited has such a wide ranging set of skills and inthe most part, poorly attaining children that we need to boost their awareness of what they can create with ICT. The way I envisage in doing this with Scratch from Year 1 to Year 6.

In the break between Christmas and Chinese New Year there is short half term that has seen the Year 3 children (who are my lowest achievers) realy take their learning into their own hands for te first time this academic year - and has prompted me to re-evaluate the path of the attainment for the rest of my year groups.

So this is ths plan:

To integrate scratch projects across the school from Year 1 to Year 6 with video accompaniment which should allow me to support the less confident children in my classes.

The first of the resources are as follows

 

Downloadable Scratch resources.

Children's Scratch introduction template

Children's Scratch template

Teacher's Scratch Template

Children who need help to make the ICT Challenge - Basic grid game with several backgrounds

IPC ICT How Big is the Internet? (International Primary Curriculum)

From my old blog on Wordpress....

How Big is the Internet?

This article has raised some questions I would like to bring to ICT lessons in Augustwhen we start back at school. The amount of users globally and the percentages. I think it would make a nice one lesson intro to the price of progress (an IPC topic for year 6) on a global scale. What implications does this have? The children could then brainstorm the after effects of the impact this has on the local and wider international environments with an ecological angle as well as the socio-economic (not that we’d use this language!).

If your local area has access to computers and the internet (here in Vietnam it’s booming with an estimated 5 million in the southern area [HCMC]) then what does this mean? There are other factors to take into account; in Asia there is a darker side to internet use. The Gold farming from sites like WOW and the Linden doallars being transferred as real life dollars for characters and popular virtual niceties. But that’s another story.

In addition, I would hasten to add the impact of Internet cafes here in HCMC as a local factor to price of  progress that affects the social aspect of children. Many of the Internet cafes house children of the same age as those in my studentship who are studying this topic late into the night. What further implications does this have? Is there a gender issue attached? Is there a knock-on effect to the content they view? Is there a difference to the content they view/ interact with and the content they view – some may say no. It could also be a good grounding for my international students who are slightly detached from their surroundings due to their family’s wealth. It is startling sometimes as to how they are oblivious to the world outside of school. The more I think about this the more I want to kick this off in the new term.

Sugar OS - Linux for EYFS and Key Stage 1 ICT

Sugar OS and OLPC

OLPC

The project that kicked off a long time back (I think 2001-2?) was heralded as a large and complex operation that would encompass many governments, organisations and operatives. Since the many newspaper, blog and newsfeed stories that have chronicled the progress of the project it seems as though the OLPC has taken a slightly different track in it’s approach and direction. This sidestep is part and parcel due to Walter Bender leading a team with the OS rather than the hardware.

Sugar, the name for the OS that OLPC uses is a flavour of the Fedora Linux family and is also available through Debian, Ubuntu and, as I’m about to chat about, the live USB version. Although, I’m cheating a little, as I’ve actually got it through VirtualBox as as a separate installer. The idea is that I would like to use it in class as a live USB for the smaller children in another computing environment that windows for various reasons that i’ll come to ina moment. The live USB version, I would assume, is very similar in use as the main with some elements missing – but for this post I’m sure this won’t matter as the crux of the issue is classroom use.

So far, this OS (the Strawberry Sugar on a stick but not on a stick!) is working very well for me. i really like the interface, the simplicity and the ready robustness of the feel I played around with it and tried to think like a 5 or 6 year old would when they are presented with something new. The whole wow factor followed by the frantic clicking and then followed by the stop and look. I did this without precautiuon and ened up opening the turtle application. Now, my students (age from 4 to 11) are pretty familiar with windows and they see a changing desktop appearance week in week out but not the operation. The circular dial would, I feel, entice them to click on the picture. I mean, after all I set up icon shortcuts for them to “click-click” on daily and this seems kid centric to me. The circle of apps surrounds them too which is what I like also. So far, so good.

We have been using the Windows version of Gcompris for a while now as it has games and quizzes that are colourful and easy to follow and differentiate for  the more computer savvy 5 year old. Also, Gcompris is open source (resticted for Windows users) but the full set up available for your school should you run EdUbuntu or similar (or if your site manager allows you to run VirtualBox) coupled with Sebran and you have quite a setup for the bebinner ICT class for children (or OAPs getting used to a computer and keyboard).

What is really good about Sugar though is the potential of the site and the community that runs it. The model of the Mozilla extensions that has made web browsing sans IE has been used here too. The Activities menu is growing all the time and there are some reasonable addons here too. As any self respecting ICT teacher will know music is a brilliant factor in the attention grabbing eyes-on-the-screen activity where and hour zips by without a word said (headphones permitting). Tamtam Jam activities provide this with an easy download.

I am sure that I will hit stumbling blocks along the way and the fact I have to try and persuade my Principal to give me money for 25 2Gb USB drives so that I can operate this for my classroom is one of them. What I would then like to do is test and post up the pitfalls and the successes – especially the neighbourhood tool and see the reaction.

QR codes for School Newsletters and Google Chrome Web App Store for Schools and Educators

Tis post is from the most recent newsletter sent out to teachers at my school, The Taipei European School.
You might be here from the QR code in the newsletter - if you are then great! If not then why not check out the links below to see how the QR code can help you out.
A QR code is a type of bar code without the bars. Instead they are squares and allow text and other data to be interpreted where a object needs to access digital data. Google Goggles (Android), Pic2shop, Red Laser (iPhone) or Shopsavvy (both) are good applications to use to access other QR codes and bar codes on packaging. The bar codes can then give a slew of information appearing on your phone's browser.
So, the Newsletter info that can't be linked directly is below.

Reception

The Reception children have been enjoying using  games to learn about control and logical thinking in a program we use at school. They have also been using paint to control shapes and tools that are the basis for transferrable skills.

Year 1

The children have been making books as part of their typing and word processing. To make this a fun way to type and with purpose we use ArtisanCam.co.uk to make books. This time we tied it in with their trips to the Temple and the Museum. To make a book go to: goo.gl/Np6Z

Year 2

The Children have been making comics as part of their word processing and transferable skills—copying and pasting. They too used Artisancam.co.uk to make an online comic. Want to make a comic too? Go here: goo.gl/g2TMf

What you can do at home

Install the Google Chrome Browser (that we are using in Primary instead of Internet Explorer) now has a Web App Store. What this means is it allows other web-based applications to be installed directly to the browser and run from inside it. How does this benefit students? There are lots of Educational applications, books and tools either free or to buy—a little bit like you do on your phones. Go to

Reception and Nursery Children

Sesame Street ‘Sounds Around Town’ application gets children to use the keyboard and control the mouse in any way they want. goo.gl/GE4Gq 
The PBS app for kids. Find this at goo.gl/9CQau 

Year 1 and Year 2 Children

Meegenius is a great place to listen and interact with books. Use it at the Chrome store too go here to enjoy them with your child. chrome.meegenius.com/
ICT in the Juniors has been as busy as ever with lots of projects taking place. Most notably the introduction of two laptop trolleys each with 25 laptops. The second has just arrived 

Year 3

In Year 3 the children have been loading, editing and creating sound using the laptops and the portable microphones. They have been making melodies on thing called a ’Tone Matrix’ then recording them through the headphones, editing them in Audacity. Tone matrix online here: goo.gl/meHr or the iPhone/ iPodTouch app here using this QR Code:

Year 4

More great work in Year 4 this coming month in the style of Julian Opie; a famous artist in the UK. He draws in a cartoon style. So we’re using Artisancam.co.uk, print screen on the keyboard and editing in Paint.Net.

Year 5

Year 5 have begun their Word Processing topic combined with a DTP project. They are writing stories in the style of Paul Jennings at www.storybird.com and using the new DTP (creately) web apps on Google Chrome. To make their book covers. Eventually they’ll read them aloud and we’ll post them to the Vimeo.com/taipeieuropeanschool channel.

Year 6

Year 6 are working on Scratch from MIT. It’s a free programming program for kids. Instead on controlling stuff we’re using it slightly differently this time. We’re making animations of explorers and adventurers past and present. 

What you can do at home

You’ll need Google Chrome for these applications. Very good and fun! Parents read this: 20thingsilearned.com/
Year 3: To help your children further understand that they can make music online: goo.gl/L63oW
Year 4: go to www.psykopaint.com to turn photos into art
Year 5: Online Museum only in Google Chrome: chrome.fraboom.com/
Year 6: Kodu from Microsoft. Possibly the greatest game maker ever made. goo.gl/L85b (need xbox controller)