Posted in Apps, Cross-Curricular Computing Links, EYFS

Computing Carousel in EYFS

What another busy day in EYFS!

I taught my first phonics lesson, and I must admit, I actually really enjoyed it. The children were so attentive and tried super hard to write the letter ‘w’ individually and within the word ‘web’! It was extremely rewarding and I am looking forward to introducing ‘x’ tomorrow!

The afternoon consisted of a computing carousel incorporating 3 different activities:

  1. Bee-Bots on a special Bee-Bot map! Children were exploring how to make the Bee-Bot move forwards to reach their friend at the other side of the map. They all picked up the skill very quickly and managed to successfully reach their friends. They had not done much work on this beforehand so they were still getting used to the equipment. street-scene-bee-bot
  2. Turtle Math on the i-pads! The children were very excited to use the i-pads and one even asked if it was for him to take home! Once again, using the i-pads in school is relatively new to the children so a simple app like Turtle Math allowed them to get used to school rules when using the i-pads. Naturally they were all very competent and the animations on the app were extremely positive which helped with their self-esteem if they were not confident in the maths on the app. turtle-math
  3. TTS Rugged Racers! This looked s0 much fun. The children were controlling these cars around a set course that had been laid out. It helped them to develop directional language and it was a definite hit with the children. They had to verbalise the language they used as well as controlling the car which for some was quite a challenge. It also helped them think about basic algorithms by only being able to input forward, backward, left and right. Once the children have mastered the basic, a competition could be set up. The children could each have a turn completing the course and there could be multiple awards for the quickest time, least bumps and best directional language use. ruggedracers

Overall I thought the teaching of computing was amazing considering I haven’t seen it implemented by class teachers within schools. It was useful to see the basics being taught at such a young age so their skills can be built upon and continue to develop all through school. I will definitely be stealing some ideas to use within my teaching practice.

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Posted in Apps, KS1, KS2

Favourite Apps

Below are a selection of my favourite apps:

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GarageBand                        Hopscotch                             Morfo
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Decide now!                     Google Earth                       Class Dojo
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Bee Bot                       Jolly Phonics                  Daisy the Dinosaur

Posted in Apps, Cross-Curricular Computing Links, KS1, KS2

Decide Now! The involvement wheel…

Decide now!  is an app that acts as a spinning wheel and is an alternative to the common hands up approach. Eradicating the hands up approach within some lessons may improve students engagement as a class. By using this ‘Decide now!’ wheel, the students never know when they are going to be chosen and therefore, will hopefully constantly be paying attention in case they are.

Once downloaded (although it cost 49p), the teacher can input in each section the names of individual pupils or groups of pupils, the wheel is then spun and whoever it lands on will carry out the task outlined or contribute accordingly. For example, the next student to present a poster or show their artwork, explain how they answered a question or present their science findings.

As this is an app, it can be taken to PE lessons too, in which children could then perform a routine in dance or gymnastics or show their peers a paired balance.

This would be useful if the class are reluctant to volunteer or conversely, if every child is always super eager to volunteer. I would always make sure that if children really didn’t want to come to the front or contribute once chosen that they don’t have to.

I would incorporate this into my teaching as I believe it is a subtle yet powerful tool to improve class engagement and give an alternative system to the hands up approach.

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An example of a class Decide now! wheel demonstrating a child’s name in each segment.
Posted in Apps, KS1, KS2, Uncategorized

The Magical and Monsterous world of Class Dojo

www.classdojo.com It’s FREE! 

Class Dojo: Getting Started Video  This video is a great way to explain the ins and outs of ClassDojo if you have never come across it before. Basically, it’s an online tool for behaviour management which encourages positive behaviour such as good manners, trying hard, being kind, setting a good example and discouraging negative behaviours such as talking, pushing, being rude and not following instructions.

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The ClassDojo screen allowing the teacher to award and deduct points for each student, multiple students or groups of children. 

Fortunately, I have had the opportunity, whilst working as a TA in a Y4 class, to use ClassDojo and manage behaviour accordingly. It was an integral aspect of the class’s daily routine, with points awarded before home time that had been accumulated during the day. Children could keep an eye on how many they had and tried really hard to achieve the top three spots. The teacher I worked with had also set up her guided reading groups on ClassDojo and rewarded the groups for team effort and trying hard.

The noises made when points are awarded and deducted are soon either loved or hated by the children. They know the noise of an awarded point and deducted point and these noises can simply and quickly refocus and silence a class. It is quite amusing to watch but also very impressive that this simple app can have such a huge affect on the behaviour of all the children. For example, during a silent reading activity, after a practice SATS paper which some children were still completing in the small room next to classroom, some children were chatting and giggling loudly. I put Class Dojo on the interactive whiteboard and awarded one child, who was silent, a point for ‘setting a good example’. Instantaneously, all the children turned their head as they had heard the point awarded noise and wanted to find out who it was. The children who were chatting immediately stopped in the hope they would receive a point as well.

However, as it is a competitive reward system, it can be easy to forget the ‘invisible children’, over award a child who needs lots of praise and encouragement and subsequently over award children with SEND. Similarly, children sometimes begin to ask for points for just pushing their chair under and holding the door open; gestures which should be done without the need for a reward but instead a simple ‘thank you’.

I believe this is a great resource for KS1 and KS2 classes, particularly if they are quite boisterous. I would adopt this in my classroom if the school permits it as I have seen first hand the benefits of this system.

 

Posted in Apps, Cross-Curricular Computing Links, KS1, KS2

Aurasma: Revolutionising the classroom

When we observed the science lesson mentioned in my ‘From Manchester to Cornwall, Over and Out; Science Lesson Observation Via Skype’, I noticed the teacher constantly taking photos of the groups and their work. He explained that he was going to stick the photos in the children’s books and then they could use an app on the iPad called Aurasma to scan the photo and watch a video/listen to an audio clip of the lesson and what they found. This was amazing and so I downloaded the app and gave it a go.

It was tricky to navigate and set up initially however once I had mastered the app there was no stopping me. And it is true…it’s amazing! This could be useful within many lessons, especially those that are practical.

I found a video titled ‘Quick Aurasma Demo for Teachers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYm3DRHRuzs‘ which I found very helpful when opening the app for the first time.

One idea I had was to create class books for each foundation subject such as PE, DT, Music, Drama etc. and each double page spread in these books represents one lesson using pictures and small written explanations summarising the lesson. Then when children hover the iPad, whilst on Aurasma, over the pictures, a video/audio clip of the children or teacher appears, explaining the lesson content, what they did etc. It is a super way to evidence lessons and work that are more practical and it could even be a class project on a Friday afternoon to update the app/make it work. Children would then be tapping into their digital literacy and information technology.

I will definitely be using this app within my own class, or on FPP if I have chance to. It is fantastic, simply aurasome!

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Posted in Apps, Cross-Curricular Computing Links, KS1

Phonics: It’s so jolly

jolly-phonics-screenshots/a/- /a/! Apps on the iPad

/a/- /a/! Apps on the iPad

/a/- /a/! Apps on the iPad

It’s simply amazing!

Jolly phonics are great; an interactive way of teaching children sounds and words, along with letter formation. What’s even better is that children can access the app containing all the phonetical sounds and songs on iPads all the time on a free Jolly Phonics app (for teachers). There is one for children with interactive games but it costs £5.

I downloaded the Jolly Phonics app for teachers and had a little browse. It is so easy to use and full of ideas to incorporate phonics into each day.

You simply click on the sound you want to work on and then an array of options appear as you scroll down. You can hear the sound, practice the letter formation, sing the song that matches the sound (with instructions for the actions) and there is also a revise section, outlining all the sounds to recap and revise that are previous to the current one.

Children could use this app and work in pairs or small groups, practicing the song and letter formation if the teacher is working with a different group. This allows children to really take ownership of their learning as the app is super child friendly as well! The teacher could even have this app up on the interactive whiteboard as a whole class activity.

Other phonics interactive websites and resources I like are:

www.phonicsplay.co.uk

Phonics dice

Splat game (with fly swats)

 

 

 

Posted in Apps, Cross-Curricular Computing Links, KS2

Sound and Computing: It’s a match

Computing devices have the ability to aid our understanding in many science topics. Having just completed the sound seminar, in which we were exposed to an array of computing devices that allowed us to measure sound accurately (kind of), their usefulness within the topic of sound will be outlined below.

The best (and most common) method of measuring sound is by using our ears, however it’s not the most universal method as everyone ears are unique and thus, we hear sounds slightly differently. During some classroom experiments, I believe data loggers and the app Decibel 10th would be very functional and aid the children’s understanding immensely.

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One type of data logger found in Primary Schools
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A screenshot of Decibel 10th app after some rather interesting singing…

If children are measuring the loudness of an instrument or noise using their ears, they will all record different results, however, if they have access to data loggers and the app Decibel 10th, they should hopefully all record the same amplitude, whilst having the ability to view the maximum and minimum level and also view some sonograms that appear on the app. The sonograms would greatly improve the children’s learning potential and may even instil curiosity to research further into the topic of sound.

 

Furthermore, from a scientific point of view, it would reduce bias, create more accurate data and potential arguments over the results gained all whilst improving their computing and working scientifically skills….WIN WIN!

But (there’s always a but)…as data loggers are so sensitive, they would work best in a completely silent room (difficult with 30 primary children in a cramped room all making noise for an experiment I know)! Data loggers do pick up all the background noise – reducing the accuracy and validity of the results and increasing the number of variables the children must contend with.

They could be used in a comparative way; whilst doing an experiment on the best material for ear defenders, children could predict the results, try it out using their ears and the measuring device and then see what results the data loggers give. They could then compare all 3; predictions, ears and data loggers to see if there are any similarities or differences.

The use of data loggers is a KS2 area of learning and could be incorporated into the development of children’s own experiments.

Added bonus: Decibel 10th is a FREE app.

Posted in Apps, Coding, Cross-Curricular Computing Links, KS1

Scratch Jr: The baby brother of Scratch

Scratch Jr is an introductory programming language that caters for young children, mainly within KS1, by using drag and drop blocks. Children snap together the graphical programming blocks to make characters, or ‘sprites’, move, jump, turn, walk, dance and sing. The programming language used is developmentally appropriate for younger children and the features are designed to match young children’s cognitive, personal, social, and emotional development (Scratch Jr website). Children can then move onto the Scratch app when they are ready. At a glance, the content and language used is much more suite dot KS1 than Scratch, however, being relatively new to the world of code, it still took me a while to get to grips with it.

Why Scratch Jr for KS1?

Scratch Jr was created to allow young children to enter the world of code. It enables them to create and express themselves through computing rather than just interacting with it. Whilst enjoying Scratch Jr, children are developing as computational thinkers, solving problems and develop sequencing skills paramount to future academic success. In addition, early numeracy and literacy skills are developed due to the language used and the meaningful and motivating context Scratch displays.

Setting up Scratch Jr:

Scratch Jr is available as a FREE app for both iPad and Android devices. Once loaded and opened, clicking on the house icon allows you to create a project or access saved projects – great for assessing children’s work after the lesson. The coding world is then at your fingertips!

My Experience of Scratch Jr:

I first noticed that there are more pictures than words, making it easily accessible for all young learners. The icons pr block palette, number 14 in the screenshot below, indicate how the ‘sprite’ will move or the basic programming options.

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The functions are much simpler than Scratch and I easily managed to create a small walking safari scene using customised ‘sprites’. It is super easy to use as you  drag the blocks you would like into the programming area.

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My ‘safari walk’ created on Scratch Jr.

For children, I do feel a teacher would have to explain the green flag and how to group parts together but once informed, they could be fully independent in no time. I enjoyed the challenge of debugging sprites and making sure things worked exactly as I planned out and I am positive KS1 children would feel the same and become immersed in the world of coding that this app has to offer.

The teacher could create a simple project and ask children to add on or edit specific aspects to check and assess their debugging skills. This would aid in their computational thinking skills and problem solving whilst allowing them to explore coding and algorithms. Additionally, the teacher could set challenges for the higher achieving students and could write a set of instructions for lower achieving students to follow.

There are also step by step guides available on the website for how to create more complex aspects of Scratch Jr such as Meet and Greet and Conversations.

What do people think of Scratch Jr:

This ScratchJr Book Gets Younger Minds Creating with Code – GeekDad. January 7, 2016

Top 10 Tech | 2016 – School Library Journal. December 6, 2016

 

Posted in Apps, Cross-Curricular Computing Links, KS1, KS2, Programming Devices

The Bee-Bot app: My latest computing discovery uncovered

I downloaded the Bee-Bot App to further develop my knowledge and understanding of useful apps to use within the classroom for KS1 and this app is brilliant. A gem in fact.

The Bee-Bot App:

The Bee-Bot app is free and perfectly compliments the physical programming device, the popular Bee-Bot. A lesson idea could be to have a group of children working on the Bee-Bot app, whilst another group uses the physical programming device to keep every child busy.

Setting up the Bee-Bot App:

It was simple to download from the app store and once downloaded can be accessed straight away. It’s easy to use and very appealing to young children due to the cute animation and bright colours. There’s no log in or sign up details required so if parents have access to an iPad or iPhone at home, it’s a great app to download.

My Personal Experience of the Bee-Bot App:

Personally I LOVE this app.  I sat and played all the levels, admittedly some levels are a bit tricky if you try and programme the Bee-Bot to reach the flower all in one go but if you break the algorithm down into smaller chunks, levels can be achieved quite quickly.

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The instructional page, detailing the aim of the level

The functions to programme the Bee-Bot character are identical to those on the physical Bee-Bot.

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Instructions on how to program the character

I love the fact that there are different games/challenges within the app. The Bee-Bot has to reach a flower on some levels, heard sheep into a pen and collect eggs from chickens in other levels. The variation definitely kept me interested. There is also a second Bee-Bot app; Bee-Bot Pyramid, in which you must programme the device around pyramid themed maps trying to avoid the moving mummies (a potential cross-curricular link to History there).

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Stealing the eggs from the chickens game
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Reaching the flower game

Another aspect of the app I love is the fact that it can be completed individually or as groups as the Bee-Bot character can be programmed in one go or by using step by step instructions. A competition between table groups within the classroom or year group could even be set up to try and get the quickest completion time on particular levels.

Potential Cross-Curricular Links:

The could be used in conjunction with a maths lesson in which the children measure and draw up routes for the physical Bee-Bots by using the app as a guide. This could be enhanced further during a geography lesson whereby children could draw a map of their local area (once again using the app as a guide) and programme the physical Bee-Bot to visit certain places such as the library, school and hospital etc.

Assessment for Learning:

The app automatically saves the time taken and level completed on the specific device. Therefore, as long as the children always use the same iPad when accessing the app, the teacher can assess a child’s individual or group progress on the iPads. However, the actual algorithms the child inputted are not saved once the clear button has been pressed or level achieved, so even if a child successfully completes all the levels they may have inputted each movement singularly and therefore are not building up their ability to programme larger algorithms. This would then be hard to compare against a child who may have only completed a few levels but tried really hard to programme the whole route in one go.

Furthermore, if a child did complete all the levels, the 3 star rating system could be used as a secondary extrinsic motivator by pushing the child to try and achieve 3 stars on every single level.

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An overview of the levels completed and the 3 star rating system

Overall, I LOVE this app as it links to the physical devices whilst incorporating the use of iPads into the programming knowledge of the child. It is easy to monitor when children are exploring the app, has many cross-curricular links and also can be integrated into many different teaching and learning styles within the classroom. Similarly, the game like challenge feature will engage the children alongside the amazing animations and graphics, hopefully giving children the determination to succeed.

My advice: Download it now. A potential KS1/lower KS2 iPad necessity.

 

Posted in Apps, Cross-Curricular Computing Links, KS1

Daisy the Dinosaur

I downloaded Daisy the Dinosaur to try, first hand, an app that can be used to teach and support KS1 computing. I had seen my year 4 1-1 student enjoy this app during their free i-pad time but hadn’t seen it utilised in a lesson context, so I had a vague idea about how it worked.

Setting up Daisy the Dinosaur:

Daisy the Dinosaur is an app thats only available on i-pads, but once downloaded, the access to all the features of the app is instantaneous. It loads quickly and the character ‘Daisy’ is cute and thus, attractive to children.

My Personal Experience of Daisy the Dinosaur:

The app itself is extremely easy to use and introduces algorithms and their effects in an inviting way for children. It informs the child/user that Daisy the Dinosaur will move/grow/shrink/turn as a result of the instructions given to her by the child/user and the sequence and number of these movements can be adjusted. The app as a whole is big and clear enough to work on in pairs and the challenge mode is set out like a game, in which children go through challenges and once completed successfully, can move onto the next challenge. Therefore, the children are learning through play, making it more enjoyable and engaging.

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Potential Cross-Curricular Links:

A potential cross curricular to PE could be made using this app. The teacher could use the app on an interactive whiteboard and children programme an algorithm, either in groups or individually. The rest of the class, watch Daisy the Dinosaur follow these instructions and then try and copy the pattern through memory as a way of discovering movements and their body. This could be also be done, dependent on the behaviour of the class, in pairs or small groups with the class activity used as an example. This could also be made into a class video by using another app such as iVideo. An augmented reality app could be used to further the computing knowledge and understanding. By saving the videos to a certain picture, and then scanning that picture using an i-pad, the activities the children completed during that particular lesson will come to life on the i-pad screen.

Assessment for Learning:

Assessment for learning is difficult with this app as there is not an option for the children to save their work, either remotely or to an accessible file. This means teachers will always need to keep an eye on the children’s progress, ability and understanding during the lesson before any potential progress is deleted. It might mean that the teacher may split the class whereby half work with a TA or other adult using the i-pads and the other children use the Bee-Bots. This could be beneficial as its likely KS1 children may get distracted or venture onto an app they enjoy playing in their own free time rather than concentrating on the task in hand.