Today I’m speaking at the Leicester University PGCE ICT conference instead of being back with my year 4 class for the beginning of the summer term. As a 2012 Leicester University PGCE graduate, two-thirds of my way through my NQT year, the opportunity to share how I am using ICT in my classroom was a great chance to reflect on how I am teaching ICT.
As I was speaking at the Leicester University PGCE ICT day today, I took advantage of the free CPD on offer by sitting in on all the other talks and workshops during the day. These are just my notes and jottings to remind me of a really great day. It was lovely to see tutors and other friends from last year, a great time to reflect on my own practice too.
new programme of study for computing
Started by discussing the learning environment, the principles suggested by Frobel . Physical manipulation, rich environment important to influence deep learning. Scratch was developed as a building block to understand some of the fundamentals of the building blocks of life, through experience.
Mile’s vision is for us to take charge of the technology, not have the tech take charge of us or our children. Would like to see new curriculum with children as creators, collaborators, digitally critical, responsible and understanding adults. Survey of PGCE students at Roehampton shows very few have programming experience. New curriculum promotes an understanding of the world through skills, knowledge and understanding. New draft curriculum online.
Miles asks us with the question of what the curriculum is for. Of course there is legislation to tell us – it is to prepare children for their future.
Looking at the new computing curriculum, beebots covers the KS1 part, scratch covers first three main parts of the KS2 , need to add difference between Internet and web. Describing how web search engines work and store data could be tricky, but collaborating online and analysing and presenting data is fine
Julia Skinner @theheadsoffice
100 word challenge
http://6d2012.highlawnprimary.net/ as example from @cherise_duxbury
The use of globes to show where visitors are coming from excites the children to see where their audience is from. Julia urged the students to join twitter and advertise their class blogs to get feedback. Can take part if you don’t have a class blog in 100 word challenge. Team 100 ensure that constructive comments are left on all posts, but peer commenting works best.
Simon Widdowson @xannov
Suggested apps for programming, especially KS1:
Move the turtle (like LOGO)
Hopscotch – basic intro to a scratch like system
Alex – control a robot
Dynamic art – programme coloured shapes a little like Spirograph …
KODU free software from Microsoft for a graphic interface to write instructions.
Scratch comes in two flavours, one downloaded on runs on PC, the other is browser based Scratch 2
Use scratch with code club to get self-run activities.
ICT coordinator, Eastfield school
Great demonstration of using 2Simple 2Build app for EFYS assessment. Very powerful. Eastfield trialling a version on iPads for other key stages.
Twinkl phonics, blobblewritel, hairy letters, naughty pony, dyslexia quest
Numeracy pit droids (control), king of maths, bobble match, mathboard
Other recommended apps:
Wordfoto, sodasnap, book creator, comic life, photopeep
John Sutton @hgjohn
Primary blogger and a good strong message about esafety
Importance of tagging on blog posts for search engine optimisation.
Potential for using blogs for children to write reflective posts about their learning, hyperlinking back to different posts they have written to evidence their development.
Head at Ecton Brook in Northamptonshire
Specialist ICT teacher provides instruction every week to all children in key ICT skills. Includes teaching children to touch type from early age. Lovely demonstration of the use of action movie to make a short video of a meteorite falling on the school to use as a writing stimulus for journalistic writing.
Dull and boring collaborative project across 5 schools – children fought to get their tech back when dull and boring invaded and turned their schools into a boring place.
Whilst on my second teaching practice as a student my mentor and I used to joke about me wanting to teach every lesson I did twice. I always felt that I had learned so much from the children that I could see that teaching the lesson again it would be easier to see more quickly what the children needed to move them on. Of course this never happened with only obe class and 6 weeks practice!
This week however, I finally got my wish and adapted a numeracy on angles lesson I had used on my second teaching practice for my own class. It was a revealation. I was much more confident in knowing what misconceptions the children may have and how to deal with them, I moved children between activities because I could see quickly if the work was at the right level for them.
I’ve written before about struggling to adapt to being a novice, but I feel that I’ve begun to turn a corner, accept that I am still learning (an always will be). A discussion on twitter tonight with Cherryl and James about how long it takes to become a good teacher made me reflect on how impatient I am. Teaching the same lesson twice has given me faith that as my experience of teaching and of children grows over time, so my practice will improve.
Repetition is something I need to focus on to develop in other ways too. I am slowly learning to change my mindset to think about how to improve my teaching by trying new things and then to keep trying them until they become part of my practice rather than trying something once, deciding it didn’t work and getting depressed about it!
My mentor as been trying to tell me this for months but I have only just begun to have the head space and self control to listen to her words of wisdom. I can feel I’m turning a corner thanks to her support and from friends and family who keep me smiling too.
I have used Scoopit as a quick way of putting a page of links for children to use for research before. Here are two examples for years 3/4:
Vikings : Vicious Vikings (used last term for our Invaders and settlers theme)
I have also started collecting ideas on Pinterest when a fellow student showed me her collection. These tend to be much more image based and as Pinterest is blocked in school, are usually for my own ideas. I started using it to gather ideas for my classroom, but it is particularly good for art (ideas for arts week themed around Diwali) and any sort of poster or display resource you could ever want!
For curriculum ideas, I collected pictures of maps and resources for our Around the World theme this term.
Yawning koala bear by National Media Museum
No known copyright restrictions
I’m not going to apologise for the lack of posts over the last two months, my first term as an NQT has been pretty overwhelming. The TES New Teachers supplement this week struck a resounding chord this morning. Phil Beadle has one of the best descriptions I’ve read of what the teaching workload entails:
“You are trying to do a job in which the amount of work you have to do is obviously not possible in a normal person’s waking hours… There is no other job that routinely and blithely expects you to run yourself so far past the point of exhaustion that you look back on exhaustion with overly fond eyes.”
So, here I am. I had a proper break at Christmas and managed to spend a considerable block of time planning and thinking. This has bought me some time in the rush of the first week back and I have resolved to keep ahead of myself. I’ve mapped out when I should do the rest of my planning for the rest of this (very short!) half-term and so my diary popped up this morning and told me what I needed to do.
There is little time to stop and think, let alone reflect in the week. I used to enjoy writing weekly reflections on teaching practice and realised how they improved my teaching. So, I’m back here, thinking aloud.
My two main targets for myself this half term are:
- Improve my maths planning (and hopefully become more comfortable with it, it is a very painful process at the moment!).
- A focus on behaviour and raising expectations for quality and quantity of work.
So this week:
1. Maths – I have been very slow to work with groups of children in a focussed way, this is finally kicking in properly this week and it has made a massive difference to my understanding of what the children need. I can see that I overcomplicate my planning, teaching and activities. For example, on Thursday, I was teaching written addition methods, the middle attaining children used a Google maths map I made to find sums to do (based on Tom Barrett’s collaborative maps). Whilst they loved exploring the map, they struggled with maneuvering effectively to be able to read the questions, and only one pair managed to do more than two sums in the time we had which clearly didn’t make for much time for learning the written method. In contrast, yesterday I was teaching written methods for subtraction and used a simple table of distances of cities from Leicester with a few questions where the children had to subtract on distance from another, then write a question of their own and swap to try someone else’s question. This worked much better, there was more work completed and when marking I could see which children had understood the method (counting on) and which needed more help. It is slowly sinking in that I need to narrow my learning objectives and the narrow the task to fit it (something my mentor has been trying to tell me for some time, but now I’ve finally seen what she means in action it will hopefully click).
2. Behaviour – this has been along hard slog for me and will continue to be for the rest of the year. I am trying to accept this and steel myself to the relentlessness of it. Over the holidays I thought a lot about how I have much higher expectations of my own children than I do of the children in my class. Having twins meant that I quickly had to learn to make rules and stick to them. I realised I had fallen into the trap of thinking that it is too hard to expect the children to do X or Y and I would work up gradually to it. I would fix it later, it would do ‘for now’. I never did that with my own children, they were expected to behave in the way I wanted and there was never any compromise, I did it there and then, I didn’t put it off. Why have I been different with my class? I’m not sure, but something clicked over the holidays and I tried to start the new term as I meant to go on, with high expectations and no excuses. I know it will be difficult to stick to, but I also know that they have improved already and we can only keep getting better. I am responsible for how they behave.
(I should perhaps say that I am not dealing with any severe behaviour problems, and I am well aware that behaviour is very subjective, and as NQT I realise that I will be learning about this for years to come. My class have a lot of low-level disruption, are very good at talking and very noisy during transitions. Standards for behaviour in my school are high and when I compare my class to those around the school I can see we have a lot of work to do.)
In terms of surviving to Easter, I’ve booked the first night of half term away with my family visit Stratford on Avon and take the girls to their first RSC production (The Winter’s tale). We have our oldest friends coming for lunch next Sunday and my parents are coming to watch our daughter in her ballet show the weekend after. My mum is retired teacher and even though she lives 120 miles away, has regularly booked herself in to visit us. She turns up, cleans the house, does all the ironing and puts a week’s worth of delicious home cooked meals in the freezer just at the points when I thought I couldn’t go on. She is amazing. My husband deserves a mention too, he has taken over the large majority of the child care, all the grocery shopping and most of the washing with out a fuss and without complaint. He is beyond amazing. So, I have lovely treats to look forward to, a great support network at home, purposeful days that I can take ‘off’ and spend time with my family, allowing me to work the rest of the time knowing I will get a proper break at least once a week.
Finally, I think the time has come for me to admit that I find being a novice incredibly hard. Much harder than I was prepared for. I was very good at my job before, I was used to praise and thanks on a daily basis. Teaching is an incredibly lonely profession and there is something that doesn’t go well or right every day, or many times a day. I am very slowly learning how to be resilient and cope with this, and while my ability to be self-critical is essential to my improvement and development as a teacher, I have a tendency to dwell on my failures too long instead of learning from them, moving on and trying again. Blogging is a way for me to try to record my successes, and exorcise the problems in public so they don’t eat away at me. I’ve been conscious that I have felt I should spend my time working on other things at the weekends and not blogging. This has been an hour spent thinking about my teaching this week. I think it is worth it. Time will tell.
I read a great post about how to make the most out of using one iPad with a whole class of children. I have 36 year 4 children and my own iPad, so I wanted to make the best use of it that I can. I started by introducing it in guided reading, and this week is book week, so it was an ideal time to try some new things. Over half term I had the chance to do some research on how to use the iPad with our interactive whiteboard (or any PC/ dataprojector combination!) having had some problems connecting using a VGA cable directly to the whiteboard. Inspired by David Andrews to try a wireless solution (also called ‘mirroring’ as whatever happens on the iPad is shown on the whiteboard), I starting looking at the options.
There are two wireless solutions to be able to connect the iPad to a dataprojector. Reflection and AirServer. There is a really useful comparison of the functionality of the two, which I only discovered after I had got reflection installed. We will soon be rolling out iPads into all our classes, so AirServer may be a better choice across the school network, but for now I’m using a single license of Reflection. Both work out cheaper than the other option of buying individual Apple TV units to connect to your whiteboard and work on Mac or PC.
Reflection worked really well, and the mirroring is easy to work over airplay. Just double click the home button and scroll across to find the mirroring icon, select it and turn mirroring on. That’s it, the ipad appears on the whiteboard to gasps from the children and you are good to go. It carries sound and video as well, so you can listen to recordings that children have made, or watch videos with sound which plays directly through your whiteboard speakers.
To start us off, we read a from a free eBook using the iBook app (see our class blog post). I gave one of the children on the carpet the iPad and the rest could watch on the screen. I explained that as we were reading the child could click on words to find out what they meant. We read aloud together and the child with the iPad immediately decided which words he didn’t understand and started to click on them. We then decided on a definition we understood and the child wrote a note explaining it in their own words. Other children offered advice on how to use the iPad, how to correct spelling and use the autocorrect. It was brilliant to see them working together and leading the pace of what we were doing, a great experience for me to step back and let the children take control.
The notes from the iBook can be emailed, but I found that only the comments the children had written would be included in the emailed notes, not the underlined words from the text, so instead I have taken a screenshot. I had made a link to the blog post using a QR code and add it to our reading display, so the children can use the iPad and a QR code scanning app to take them directly back to the original post to remember what else we did that day when we were reading the book (a great idea adapted from John Sutton’s post about supercharging your class blog) . As David Mitchell points our, this is a brilliant way to link any digital work the children do to the physical environment of the classroom through displays or in their books and I’ll be adding QR codes to our displays whenever we have digital content to enhance it.
I made the QR code by using a neat trick on the the goo.gl link shortener to make the short link http://goo.gl/jy6h2 I then just added .qr to the end http://goo.gl/jy6h2.qr which makes generates the QR code image, right clicked and saved the image to a file for printing.
I saw the Strip Designer App (£1.99 on app store) on the iPad used in a post I was reading by Mr Andrews this morning. I was keen to try it out, thinking that some of my less willing writers may be able to use it when we write newspaper reports next half term.
It was really easy to use, I didn’t tell my daughter (year 5) how to use the app at all. With some scaffolding and planning this will be a great tool for writing!
I used an ‘alien invasion’ scenario with my children towards the end of our literacy unit on newspapers, to give them an event to report on. It seemed to make a big impact on them at the time and I was interested to see how this was reflected in their writing.
We had made a shared plan and I modelled how to write the article (just keeping it to four paragraphs). I used some success criteria I my teacher mentor had generated when I taught this unit on my second student placement to help define my writing. I had observed my colleague’s modelled write in a KS1 class and saw how she skillfully worked through her success criteria, dealing with each one in each sentence she wrote. I tried to apply the same method, and I felt much more confident with the process and what I had written than the first time I tried to model. I have published the children’s articles on our class blog. Many have got all the features we talked about, and I can see where they picked up my modelled writing (using the same time connective that I did, or perhaps changing it to a time connective of their own).
So, what will I keep the same?
- Thinking through not what I will write, but the success criteria and how I can apply them in different parts of the writing I model. This was really valuable and much better than just writing myself a dummy copy the night before. I could never remember what I had written and referring to notes didn’t work or feel authentic as a way of showing the children how I work as a writer.
- Using a writing stimulus was brilliant and I’ll definitely do that again.
What will I change?
- I realised when marking their initial drafts that I hadn’t included writing in the third person as a success criteria. The children were so involved in the story because it had happened to them, much of their writing was in the first person.
- Generating success criteria with the children. I need to work on my skills for knowing what success criteria I want to have included, but generating them with the children before we write. Less control for me, so that will take some practice, but ultimately I can see that the children will understand and apply them better than ones I impose.
Practice makes perfect and the children will get a chance to apply these skills again when I ask them to write a newspaper report when the Vikings come to visit us for our next theme after half term! This will give me another chance to practice too
My iPad2 was my constant companion throughout my PGCE course, much to the amusement of my peers. I found it a great way to take notes an pictures, and of course to use social media to keep up with colleagues and news.
I spoke to my Head Teacher and she was happy for me to use it in the classroom, even though it is a personal device. Obviously there are risks to this, in particular that my iPad may be damaged or broken, but I felt it was a risk worth taking. I have not made anywhere near the use of it in the classroom as I would like, mainly as I still haven’t figured out how to connect it to my Interactive Whiteboard (I have a VGA connector, and two AV inputs on my board, but I can’t get the board to ‘see’ the iPad as a source on the second input when I cycle through the input sources. Any tips would be appreciated!!). However, I am starting to increase the times I factor it in and started slowly with the children using it in free choice during guided reading to read comics, books and now to listen to podcast stories.
This is what I did to get set up for classroom use.
1. Deleted most of the apps I had on there, including all social media. Re-organised the apps so that the first page shows the apps I want children to look at for guided reading.
2. Enabled the restrictions in settings and locked everything down, particularly apps and mail.
3. Linked the iPad to our school wifi and set up the proxy (Mike McSharry’s guide is helpful for embc but you may need to ask your local school administrator for help). Of course, once this is done, it has remembered the network and settings for ever.
4. Set up my work email on the iPad but then locked it off so children can’t use it. If I need to email files out, I can by turning off the restrictions. Over half term I plan to change this and make a generic class email account that we can use for blogging.
5. Synced a bunch of storynory podcasts for children to listen to. Created a ‘guided reading’ playlist by sorting by time and just adding those under 15 minutes in length (some of them are really long which is great, but not helpful in the classroom!).
6. Bought a TeckNet case and earphone doubler so two children can listen at once to stories. The case was recommended by @elsweb and has been brilliant. I tend to remove it for taking photos, as the back flap gets in the way.
7. Loaded some free iBooks – Gulliver’s travels, Alice in Wonderland. Added the Wallace and Gromit free comic app I have had for ages when it was on free offer!
8. Loaded the Beano Comic app in the newsstand, which is fabulous and has plenty of free editions. I tried a few other newstand children’s comics out, but all the ones I tried seemed very complicated for the children to access easily and only have one free edition. So I’m going to take them off.
The children use lollipop sticks to draw at random who goes on the iPad in free choice time. I intended to keep a list of who had been on, but they have been very good at remembering. I may set up a logging system on the iPad itself over half term, but we probably don’t need it.
I told the children that this is MY iPad and I expect them to look after it. They only ever carry it with two hands, always sit down when using it and work in pairs. One using the home button, the other swiping or touching. They have ben fantastic with it and in fact were appalled when it was found out of its case during our alien invasion this week!!
The iPad has been used a lot as a camera, it is easy to plug it into my PC with a USB cable and it is recognised as a ‘camera’ and I can transfer photos to ‘my pictures’ really quickly. We have used it as a dictionary to look up words (google is great for suggesting spellings, though obviously you need to be careful what they look up when autocomplete is on!). After half term I will increase the use of the iPad in lessons if I can and perhaps add some more apps for children to use. As an NQT it often falls off my radar! Using it in guided reading has been a quick way for the children to use it regularly with little input from me.
I can’t believe that only 6 months have passed since I attend the Google Teacher Academy in London in April earlier this year. Since then, I have visited Slovakia on a European Teacher Trainee exchange, qualified as a primary school teacher and started my first teaching position with a class of 36 energetic and inspiring year 4 children (8-9 years old).
As I am just starting as a newly qualified teacher, the technology I love has had to take a back seat while I establish classroom routines, conquer a myriad of behaviour management techniques and generally cope with the 1001 things that you need to do as a classroom teacher that never occurred to you as a student. However, I have been very fortunate to find a position where the Senior Leadership not only support my interest in technology but actively encourage it and slowly I’ve started to have time to get our Google Apps account up and running. We have started three class blogs this week and have made blogs to share learning logs (homework) and the marvellous moments we have in school. One of the blogs is for my class, the other two are for the classes taught by the senior leadership team (foundation and year 6). It has been wonderfully inspiring to help them get started on this journey.
We will be publicising the blogs to our parents soon, having first built up a few teacher-written posts. Once permissions are sorted out from parents, we can start to give the children accounts and they will be able to write blog posts and comments themselves. So far we are on track for developing blogging at the school over the coming year.
Without attending GTAUK, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to set up the Google Apps for Education account myself. The Google Certified Teachers I met in London have been an amazing source of wisdom, help and advice. I hope that with this support and the encouragement of my senior leadership team, our use of technology in school will be transformed by the end of the school year to be relevant to children, practical and easy to update, child-led and reach out beyond the physical school and into the wider community beyond.