Posted in Cross-Curricular Computing Links, Uncategorized

Music Technology: My own band in my hand…

Music and the appreciation of music can be enhanced by the use of technology. This blog will focus on the GarageBand app: A free music creation app that is pre downloaded onto all iPads – what a bonus!

GarageBand is great to utilise within schools that don’t have access to a multitude and variety of instruments as it still allows children to explore a diverse range of instruments and their sounds.

GarageBand offers the perfect opportunity to learn and have fun with music technology. 

Children can delve into their musical learning as this app offers the opportunity to explore and focus upon:

  • Singing
  • Playing
  • Improvising
  • Composing
  • Listening

These are key aspects of not only music but learning on a wider scale.

SING UP music created a document to support teachers when using GarageBand within music lessons. They stated 3 easy steps to assess children’s musical development within the app. Can children:

  1. Make and explain their choices about their preferred drum and bass?
  2. Play a repeating improvised rhythmic pattern?
  3. Sing along to the chorus with correct timing, pitch and articulation?

My Experience: 

I found GarageBand really easy to navigate around and use. I feel that the app will add huge benefits to a music lesson and can be incorporated through free exploration sessions or through a structured lesson in which the teacher outlines specific outcomes.

I managed to loop some pre recorded tracks to a beat I improvised to create a latin samba style track. I was impressed with the track quality and number of differing options available on the app. It could easily engage and occupy children within paired of individual work. As songs can be saved, children could create a song, pass it on the next pair and they could peer assess the music.

This is without doubt a favourite app of mine!

Guide to iPad GarageBand:

garage-band-guide

  1. My songs (click here to save work and find other files)
  2. Instruments (click here to find instruments)
  3. Current instrument
  4. Click to go to arrange window
  5. Transport controls
  6. Master volume
  7. Loops (Very handy. A collection of short music excerpts that when dragged into the arrange area automatically work together in speed but not necessarily in tonality)
  8. Volume controls
  9. Settings
  10. Arrange area (The blocks are called regions or building blocks. They can be edited by clicking on them or lengthening/cropping from the edges)
  11. Track instruments with individual volumes when mixing.

Below are some links to youtube clips regarding the app.

GarageBand Tutorial 1 – Getting Started in GarageBand on the iMac and iPad version.

Extensive GarageBand iPad tutorial

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Debugging

‘Bugs’ in computing terms, refer to errors in algorithms and code. Therefore, ‘debugging’ refers to the process of finding and fixing the bugs.

Debugging within computing and the curriculum shouldn’t be seen as an error but more so as a learning opportunity and a way to promote characteristics of learning such as perseverance and problem solving skills.

There are a number of ways in which pupils can approach debugging, however it simple terms debugging consists of (Barefoot Computing):

  1. Plan and predict what should happen or what you want to happen (e.g. The ‘sprite should move across the screen and grow within Scratch).
  2. Test it to find out what actually happens (e.g. Press the green flag button within Scratch).
  3. Decipher the mistake/where something has not gone to plan (e.g. The ‘sprite’ did not grow, why?).
  4. Debug (fix) it (e.g. recode the script within Scratch).

Then this basic process is repeated until it goes to plan. This assists children in their knowledge of programming as well as developing their computational thinking skills.

Debugging within the National Curriculum: 

KS1: pupils are taught to create and debug simple programs.

KS2: pupils learn to use logical reasoning to detect and correct errors in algorithms and programs. Logical reasoning is important as pupils should be able to explain why their program didn’t work, and why their fix worked. Additionally, pupils need to become self reliant in their computing and debugging, they are not likely to learn and persevere if help is always readily available from other pupils or adults. Pupils also learn to design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals. This can easily be modelled by the teacher creating ‘failed’ codes and in which the pupils must debug in order to achieve a specific goal or similarly, it can be done by peer assessing or creating problems for a partner to debug using their logical reasoning skills.

Rubber-ducking – a strategy to help debug: 

I read about a strategy to help students debug on a blog post titled Debugging and the growth mindset. The technique was called rubber ducking. Each child is given a rubber duck within computing lessons. If their program goes wrong, the chilrubber-duckd should explain to their rubber duck what their program was meant to do, and what it actually does. By articulating their plan and results, children reflect on what they have inputted and often spot the mistake and fix the bug whilst explaining. I would use this within my computing lessons, as personally I often talk myself through problems and it really helps in spotting where the issue has risen from and how to fix it. I think it is a great strategy that helps children to realise that randomly changing aspects of the code and programming might not always fix the bug. Logical reasoning is key to computing.

The blog post Debugging and the growth mindset details many other additional techniques to help children develop as debuggers and how to take advantage of the cross curricular links debugging can offer.

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SEND and the supportive technological world that awaits…

‘Inclusion’ as used in this briefing means the efforts made to include students with a range of physical, sensory, communication or cognitive disabilities in both learning and wider social opportunities. ICT can be vital for these students (Becta ICT Research, 2003).

Becta ICT Research, which summaries research surrounding the supportive and inclusive nature of ICT to aid within SEND, found that there are many benefits of technologies being utilised within schools. Not only does technology help some children communicate more easily but the programs and technologies allow tasks to be personalised to suit the needs of the individual child. Therefore, these children can complete tasks at their own pace enabling a greater learner autonomy.

Recently, I completed the Pick’n’Mix module on ‘Professional issues’, in particular regarding the inclusion of SEND and how computers can enhance the learning of children with SEND.  This is an area that greatly interests me as I believe inclusion is paramount to successful learning and every child reaching their full potential.

During my time as a 1:1 TA, I often utilised iPads and a laptop to engage the student and enhance learning though educational software and games. I found that my student was often more focussed and engaged within learning if the task included a computational aspect as sitting and writing frequently resulted in frustration and refusal to do the work required.

notetalker_blog_post_header
Notetalker: an example of a program that records speech allowing for easy access to lessons at a later time to help pupils learn and take in information at their own pace.

There is a plethora visual-timetableof apps, programs, software and accessories that are often used to support children with special educational needs and/or disabilities. During my time in various schools, I have seen certain technologies utilised such as large font keyboards, speech to text computers, recording devices and adapted iPads with specialised apps. However, the module also introduced me to software I had never encountered before such as eye trackers, visual timetables and converters which large-print-keyboardlower the reading age of a text type.

I found the Understood website particularly useful and informative. They have included sections on how assistive technology can help within multiple subjects including reading, writing and maths and sections on speech to text technology.

In addition, the article titled ‘8 Examples of Assistive Technology and Adaptive Tools’ was extremely informative. Not only did it outline the technologies that could be of use, but also explained why they are useful and aid in children’s learning within education.

The links below offer extra information in reference to ICT as a supportive tool:

Planet PDA: http://planetpda.net/blog/using-ict-to-support-pupils-with-send/

  • Explores and explains a range of technologies that can be used within the everyday classroom to support students with SEND. They include:
    • Visual timetable makers
    • QR codes to allow easy access to internet links
    • Screen magnification with Dophin
    • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ACC)

Inclusive: http://www.inclusive.co.uk/

  • Inclusive is jam packed with information about software, resources and products that assist in the inclusion of and support for children with SEND. IT even includes explanations on how to use the technologies and how/why they are useful. A few worth mentioning include:
    • iPad apps; there are over 40 apps reviewed which are available to download on android and apple products.
    • A plethora of software to support communication and produce communication and symbol based resources.
    • Apps and software which aids those with visual impairments and complex needs.

The ICT service: http://www.theictservice.org.uk/uploads/RenHPSE8kbfDWQrq.pdf

  • A one-page document produced by Cambridgeshire County Council that outlines what they do to help support children with SEND within ICT.
  • They state that ‘Schools are recognising the benefits of using technology to support learning and promote independence for children with special educational needs.’

Barefoot CAS: http://barefootcas.org.uk/activities/sen/

  • This showcases an extensive list of activities to assist pupils with SEND within computing. Some activities include:
    • SEND Scratch Tinkering Activity: In this activity pupils will tinker with the program Scratch through guided questioning to find out how it works and then adapt to make their own activity. Support and extension worksheets are provided to differentiate within your class along with exemplar Scratch files for your pupils to explore, before having a go at their own!
    • Sorting Objects Activity: In this lesson pupils sort objects according to their features and develop their ability to spot patterns. Some pupils may also create rules for their patterns and in doing so work with This activity is supported by a picture cards, a ready-made Scratch project and Communicate:In Print resources.

However, as each child is different, it is best to find out what works best for them and I will adopt that mindset during my teaching practice.

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Assessment in Computing

Computing, like every other subject, is assessed by class teachers.

The screenshot below (from the CAS booklet) outlines the program of study statements broken down into Computer Science, Digital Literacy and Information Technology. They have been arranged so that a progression in each strand is easy to follow and then teachers, by gathering evidence of pupils work, can make judgements as to where pupils sit on the scale. It is therefore easy to identify a pupils capabilities within Computing and where the gaps in their learning appear. Teachers can gather evidence of pupils work through screenshots, saving work in specific folders, audio and video files and through observations during lessons.

assessment-of-computing

 

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Computational Thinking

‘A high-quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world.’ DfE (2013)

Computational Thinkings refers to the way in which we teach the computing curriculum. In order to tackle problems whereby computers can help us, we need to think like a computer, therefore computational thinkings describes approaches and concepts to do so (Computing Handbook, 2016-2017). Computational thinking allows children to become better problem solvers and an easy way to do so is to use a programmable device such as a Bee-Bot and a map to create a simple set of instructions (algorithms).

The featured image above was created by the DfE funded Barefoot Computing Project. The model outlines the development of computational thinking approaches and concepts.

It is widely recognised that computational thinking compromises of the following (Pick and Mix 4: Computer Science):

Decomposition: This is the ability to break a problem down into task to make it more manageable. For example, the task of putting on the school’s Christmas play can be decomposed into auditioning pupils, learning lines, building sets, creating costumes etc.

Algorithms: An algorithm is a sequence set of instructions or rules for performing a task. An algorithm is written for humans to follow.  Typically, we create an algorithm following decomposition. For example, having identified all the movements of a simple dance motif we can then sequence the movements. For example, Full turn clockwise  > clap hands above head > squat down > touch floor etc. Correctly sequencing an algorithm is very often, though not always, important.

Abstraction: Abstraction is just simplifying things. When we abstract we hide or ignore unnecessary detail. A great example of an abstraction is the London underground tube map. This hides the unnecessary detail of the actual track routes and distance between stops, as it is not needed for its purpose.

detail-tube-map.jpg
A map of the London Underground which hides unnecessary detail, thus simplifying the map.

Pattern: This is about identifying and using similarities. For example, when writing the algorithm for a task – say drawing a square – we might spot that we have the same steps repeated 4 times. Identifying this pattern would lead us to use a repetition command when programming leading to a more efficient program.

The Barefoot project can be access further at www.barefootcas.org.uk.

Similarly, the BBC has create some great materials on computational thinking. They can be viewed following this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/topics/z7tp34j

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.

class-dojoscreenshot
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.