Issuu on Google+

ISSN 2053-5104

ICT in Practice Transforming education through sharing knowledge and practice Created by educators from around the world ISSUE 4

SUMMER EDITION JULY 2013

Learning through Collaboration P4 / MINECRAFT The Curricular Connections of Minecraft

P8 / MATH EVOLVE Teachers as the creators of the technology

P16 / TEACHERS The changing role of the teacher in a Technology enhanced learning environment

P19 / LEGO Lego WeDo: Computing in Bricks

www.ictinpractice.com


www.ictinpractice.com

2


In this issue Welcome to the Summer 2013 issue of ICT in Practice. Another very busy academic year has almost come to an end. In my words, another year of the learning marathon completed. How amazing to look back and see not just how much you have learned but also how many new people you have conencted with via online communities. I don’t know if anybody else does, but I always analyse my year in-terms of what has been achieved and which targets need to be re-arranged or new ones need to be set. I set myself a target at the beginning of the year to encourage more people to share their knowledge and

experience of using technology in teaching and learning. I can’t say that I have the whole world involved, but more people are contrubuting than ever before. What makes us want to share is a different story. Maybe some of us are very enthusiastic about something we have tried out, or maybe some of us are very creative and we can’t wait to tell the world about our product/ design. The reason is not what I focus on, but the action itself. When you share, the idea is no longer in one’s mind anymore; it becomes alive in a sentence or design. There are so many platforms, so many opportunities for teachers to

share their experiences both online and also in person in events such as Teachmeet. In this issue we are sharing a wide range of articles; From the use of iPads in the classroom to the educational value of forums. There are many interesting insights. I hope you will find them useful and spread the word around. ‘Sharing’ is the new ‘Learning in Action’. The more you share the more you learn! Yasemin Allsop Editor

yallsop@msn.com

Contents ‘The Curricular Connections of Minecraft’ by Timothy G. Weih page 4-7

‘Maths Evolve’ by Adam Coccari page 8-12

‘Using IPads to Support SEN’ by Lucy Fisher page 13-15

‘The changing role of the teacher in a Technology enhanced learning environment’ by Yasemin Allsop page 16-18

‘Lego WeDo: Computing in Bricks’ by Vicky Moore page 19-20

‘A forum for Discussion?’ by Chris Carter page 21-27

‘Making Maths APPier!’ by Des Hegarty page 28-33

‘Learning collaboratively through the Global Partners Junior Project’ by Yasemin Allsop page 34-36

3


The Curricular Connections of Minecraft By Timothy G. Weih Associate professor of education at the University of Northern Iowa

What is the Problem?

read, but print books no longer hold his

The problem is that home literacy is

interest; they can’t compete with the trans-

changing faster than school-based literacy.

literature available through multimedia

There is a widening gap between the literacy

interactions that involve all of his senses.

that children are experiencing at school and what they are engaging with at home. For

What is Minecraft?

example, my ten-year-old son Connor was

Minecraft is a video game originally created

reading the novel Cabin on Trouble Creek

by Swedish programmer and designer

(Van Leeuwen, 2008) at school and doing

Markus “Notch� Persson and fully published

homework assignments related to this novel,

in 2011. The game illustrates a virtual world

but as soon as he was done, he was either on

or an online community that takes the form

a smartphone, IPod, or IPad engaged in

of a computer-based simulated environment.

digital literacies using digital technologies.

Players create and take the form of avatars

Not too long ago, school-based literacies

which are visible, that can interact with each

and home-based literacies were more

other and use and create objects.

similar. Students were reading books in print

Communication between players include

at school and at home with the difference

text, graphical icons, visual gestures, and

being mostly the selection of reading

sounds. Some communication may also

material. With the ever growing availability

include using touch, voice command, and

of new literacies for children, books in print

balance senses, depending on the version

are quickly becoming boring and obsolete.

and technology being used by the players.

Our family has book shelves at home filled

Because of the interplay of senses being

with a huge array of print literature

provided, players experience the sensations

representing various genres and topics that

of telepresence or the feeling of actually

Connor is able to read, including many

being present within the imaginary, fantasy

graphic novels and comic books, but they

world.

are beginning to gather dust. He loves to

4


The creation of the world.

technologies such as weblogs, social

Minecraft is a three dimensional,

blogs, podcasts, and wikis, to name a few.

procedurally generated audiovisual world

Through engagement with Minecraft,

meaning that the computer graphics and

students can learn technological skills.

sound, including speech and music, are

Minecraft can be played on desktop

automatically created by the computer

computers, IPods, IPads, laptops, and

program with seemingly infinite variation.

smartphones, and is filled with an ever

In the beginning, players are given a seed

changing array of items through updates

or a number that is used to initialize the

that students can read about and look

creation of the world. Multimedia

forward to. Students enjoy competition

including the combination of text, audio,

and challenges. Minecraft has various

animation, video, and interactivity come

means for players to achieve or complete

into play to fully enhance the fantasy

certain tasks, but there is no end-game

experience for the players.

involved, so players have infinite choices

The Appeal and Benefits

and experiences. Minecraft encourages exploration and invention on the part of

The information content of Minecraft is relative to the literature genre of high

the player, something students appreciate,

fantasy in which a highly complex

therefore, the challenges are not required in order to participate in the game, but

imaginary world is created by the author.

rather are present in case players want to

Even though this world could not exist in

try them.

reality, it is so effectively developed that the world seems real and believable to the

Instructional Applications

reader, but in the format of a trans-

of Minecraft

literature game, the reader is known as the

The instructional applications of

player. The genre of high fantasy appeals

Minecraft range through all subject areas

to both boys and girls, and Minecraft is

studied in the classroom and include the

also played by both. Just as in high quality

following topics and themes: farming

fantasy, players are able to transcend

(animals and crops), natural resources,

everyday experiences. Minecraft engages

adventure, survival, hunting, exploration,

the players in battles, danger, fearful

mining, smelting, crafting, building, and

creatures, weapons, and real things and

trading or bartering. Below, I have

places that they can learn more about and

explained curricular relationships of the

talk about with friends. These discussions

game to the main subject areas typically

can take place through social media

taught in the classroom.

5


Reading and Writing. Players learn about

electrical systems using switches, circuits, and magnetism.

each of the content elements and how to participate in Minecraft through reading

Social Studies. Players in the world of

written text within the game itself, however;

Minecraft learn about the primitive tools and

reading about how to engage in Minecraft

resources that were used by people for

does not stop there. Players can also

survival. Students learn to craft their own

participate and learn through collaborative

tools consisting of such things as axes,

trans-literacy projects available within

shovels, and pickaxes from natural resources

Wikipedia, blogs, micro-blogs, and wiki

that they gather from the different biomes.

pages. Players can read and write through

They use the tools that they craft to chop

content communities such as YouTube and

down trees, dig soil, build shelters, and mine

DailyMotion, and social networking sites

and smelter ores and learn that tools made

such as Facebook. Students can engage in

out of stronger resources, such as iron and

the participatory culture of creating and

stone, will perform their tasks more

publishing their own multimedia projects

effectively. Although the overall setting of

based upon their responses to Minecraft.

the world of Minecraft draws from the Medieval period of history in Europe, it

Science. The world of Minecraft lends itself

also, through fantasy, integrates concepts and elements from today’s world and

to the study of the Earth sciences. The

popular culture.

Minecraft world is divided into biomes or

Throughout the course of the game, players

the world’s major habitats that range from

encounter various non-player characters

deserts, grasslands, rainforests, and tundra.

known as mobs (short for mobile character),

The biomes contain land features such as

including animals, villagers, and hostile

mountains, caves, plains, valleys, and

creatures. During the daytime, non-hostile

various bodies of water. Players can lean

animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, and

about each of these biomes through

chickens are generated or spawned, and

exploration and interacting with the natural

players can craft tools such as swords, bows

materials located in each biome.

and arrows, and axes from wood, stone,

Students can learn about the concepts of

iron, gold and diamonds for hunting the

physics. Players in Minecraft are able to

animals for food and clothing. Players also

virtually move matter through time and

have the ability to craft swords and shields

space with energy and force. Complex

from resources that they gather from the

systems can be constructed by the players

biomes that they can use for protection and

using primitive mechanical devices, but

defense against hostile creatures.

students can also learn more complicated

6


During the nighttime and in dark areas,

affordable and accessible to schools. In

hostile creatures spawn; including large

September 2012, the organization reported

spiders, skeletons, zombies, and unique to

that approximately 250,000 students around

Minecraft, an exploding creature called a

the world have access to Minecraft through

Creeper, and a creature called an Enderman

the organization. Besides offering

that has the ability to teleport, or disappear

educational discounts, they offer customised

and reappear in a different location. Players

versions of the game, simplified multiplayer

can protect themselves from the hostile

software, tools for teachers to use for

creatures by building shelters made from

integrating their own content, a free library

gathering resources in the environments

of activities that teachers can use to teach

such as dirt and wood, and mining and

various subject areas, and they offer on-site

smeltering cobble stones.

workshops and inservice training.

Math and Engineering. Players in

Conclusion

Minecraft learn about maths and engineering

We can prepare our students for being

concepts through building constructions out

competent in today’s rapidly changing

of textured three dimensional cubes. This

global mainstream by incorporating new

activity is related to the use of computer-

literacies into our curriculum and

aided geometric design (CAGD), in which

instruction. It’s important that schools keep

shapes are designed and used for creating

pace with how technology is being used in

objects and space. Students are able to

the world for getting things done. It may be

visualize their building ideas and realize

difficult to set aside novels that are

their functionality through their own virtual

sentimental to us, and replace them with

designs.

trans-literature, but if we don’t, we run the risk of increasing the divide between the

Bringing Minecraft to Your Classroom Minecraft can be integrated into your curriculum. MinecraftEDu http://minecraftedu.com/ is an educational organization that was formed in 2011 with the goal of introducing Minecraft into schools. The group works with the publisher to make the video game

literacies taught in school and the literacies that students engage with at home, and thereby causing students to become even more disenchanted with their education. References Leeuwen, J. V. (2008). Cabin on Trouble Creek. London, UK: Puffin. Persson, M. (2011). Minecraft [Video game]. Stockholm, Sweden: Mojang.

7


Teachers as the creators of the technology The time where teachers just modelled or facilitated learning using new technologies has long passed. Recently, their interest in new technologies started to shift from ‘user’ profile to ‘creator’. Today, there are fantastic apps and softwares designed directly by teachers. The story behind each creators interest in making an app or software is going to vary. I tried out Math Evolve for iPads and I had to say I was very impressed not only with the design features of the app, but also with its content. Looking at how the progression of mathematical concepts were created. I wondered if the designer had talked to a maths teacher. I was neither right nor wrong as the designer was a teacher. So this is the story behind the creation of MATH EVOLVE by ADAM COCCARI, Founder of InterAction Education and an Elementary school teacher.

to start. The school quickly saw my interest and ability to teach maths concepts, so I was put in charge of the maths classes and curriculum for 4th grade. As you probably remember, in 3rd and 4th grade you are forced to memorize your multiplication facts (times tables), usually through a mixture of flash cards, verbal recitation, and speed

The Concept

drills. Some children take to this naturally

The origins of Math Evolve began long ago,

and learn them quickly, but for others it is

when I was a child growing up in the 80's

painful. Unlike some subjects, knowing the

and 90's, enchanted by the thrill and

multiplication facts is absolutely because

creativity of playing video games. However,

they are the foundation of all maths that

like most inventions, the idea to create a

comes afterwards (fractions, percentages,

maths game came from practical challenges

ratios, ect). So, it became my task to get my

in my daily life. I started teaching 4th grade

students to reach automaticity with the facts

in a small independent school with no formal

through any means necessary. I would use

training or education degree. I knew that I

every tool in my arsenal: flash cards, visual

loved working with kids and helping people

aids, physical toys, and long speeches to

learn, so I thought it would be a great place

teach them about how important it was.

8


I would have them play games, jump around

games that were available were very basic

the room like a madman, and even have

and cheaply made, so the kids would tire of

them do relay races involving multiplication,

them quickly and never choose to play them

all with the hopes of getting them excited

in their own time.

about maths. It was around this time that the iPad was first It was a tough battle, because at the core of

released, and I bought the first version.

I

it, memorizing these facts is really boring for

brought it over to a student's house for a

most kids. The flash cards and quizzes can

tutoring session, because I knew this

feel like torture, and it becomes even harder

particular student was obsessed with video

when they get home. They need to practice

games but had a deep aversion to maths. I

in the evenings, but the kids loathe it and the

found a few maths games for him to play,

parents don't want to get in fights every night

and I watched as his fear and anger toward

about it. It becomes a source of tension for a

maths practice melted away as he tried to

lot of parents, and most would rather give up

defeat some robot dogs in an app called

and enjoy the time with their kids than get in

Maths Ninja. I saw how well the touch

a fight every night about flash cards.

screen worked as a device for educational content, and his anxiety about maths was

It was in this context that I realized that both

alleviated when presented in a game context.

teachers and parents needed better ways to

Although I found a few good apps for my

make maths. We used a computer lab for an

students to play, I was surprised by the

hour a week, and I started using a lot of free

general lack of truly fun and high-quality

educational games on the Internet to

educational games available for the iPad and

reinforce the maths facts. I grew up loving

iPhone (this was 2010). Most apps merely

video games as a kid, so I knew first hand

presented the facts in flash card format,

how engrossing and rewarding games could

requiring you to simply type in or touch the

be. The kids loved the games because they

correct answer. These apps usually had the

provided a fun change of pace, instant

maths separate from the game, thus the game

feedback, and competition amongst each

became a thinly-veiled way to get children to

other. I saw the power of educational games

practice maths facts in the traditional format.

and the potential they held, but most of the

9


After surveying the app market, I knew that I

to play and feel like a classic video game,

could do better. With my understanding of

with multiple levels, weapon upgrades,

video games and the wacky tastes of 4th

bosses, and an engaging narrative. At the

graders, I felt confident that I could create a

same time, I wanted the app to function

game that would be fun and entertaining for

effectively in a classroom setting and

anyone, regardless of the fact that it was

provide valuable feedback for teachers. From

'educational'. My goal was to create a maths

the beginning I knew that I wanted to

game that would be so fun that children

support multiple student profiles and include

would choose to play it on their own, thus

a Practice Mode that was highly

turning maths practice into something that

customizable and tracked student

students would want to engage in happily

performance. Once I had a good idea of what

instead of being a battle.

I wanted, I started looking for people to help me bring it to life.

The Creation After deciding that I would invest my life savings into creating a maths game, I started coming up with game concepts that could match my vision. I would draw designs on paper, and thought of many different styles of games that could be integrated with maths. A friend of mine suggested a game in which you flew through the sky in three dimensions, hitting numbers to solve equations. I really liked the idea, but I had been enjoying a few top-down shooter games on the iPad and decided to make it a 2-d reminiscent of old games I grew up loving.

I began designing the game through a mixture of mock-ups, written specifications, crudely made demos. I knew that i wanted it

10


It was around this time I had the incredible

"Genius," I replied, and that became the

fortune of partnering with the person that

boss for level 8. It was very satisfying having

would give Math Evolve its visual style and

the students at school involved, because they

personality. Clinton Bopp, the art teacher at

loved seeing some of their ideas come to life

my school, was an incredible painter and

and it kept us true to the zany and original

illustrator pursuing a separate career as an

style that appeals to kids. We originally had an

artist. I mentioned my project to him one day,

orca whale as a main character, but we

and he instantly offered to help, no questions

discovered that the girls much preferred a

asked. We started by brainstorming the theme

dolphin. They helped us select and shape our

and setting for the game; should it be set

designs until we had a final set of enemies and

underwater? In Outer space? In the jungle?

characters that would be included in Math

Our creative sessions were loose and

Evolve.

freewheeling, and would always involve us drawing ideas and throwing concepts on the

Finding the right team to create the app was

wall.

difficult, but I settled on a video game studio

In the end, we ended up with a variety of

in Colombia and partnered with a publisher in

different themes but couldn't decide which one

New York called Zephyr Games. I wanted a

we liked the best. This is why we decided to

company that was experienced with creating

use just a few of them, and have the main

games, not just apps, because if Math Evolve

character 'evolve' through the different

was going to stand out among the thousands of

environments. When I mentioned the concept

other maths apps on the store, I knew that it

to my students, they responded positively and

was going to have to be a truly premium

excitedly started adding their twist on it. My

experience that was as good as the apps kids

students became an amazing source of

played on their own for fun. I managed the

inspiration and a critical part of the creative

development process on the side, often coming

process. We would bring in the new drawings

home from work and staying up late at night to

and ask for their input, and they would come

test the latest version and send feedback to

up to me at recess and tell me about ideas they

Colombia.

had for the game. One of my students came to me in class one one day said, "You should have one of those crazy fishes with the lightbulb on their head, but have it shoot lasers!"

11


As the app developed, I would bring it in to

We have also seen lots of educational sales

school and have my students and friends test it

from schools and districts around the world. I

and provide feedback. As in all projects like

think the best way to use Math Evolve in a

this, we made lots of changes along the way in

classroom setting is as a change-of-pace

response to input from our testers. The most

activity to reinforce the facts that students are

important insight was that some kids were very

learning through other methods, or as a station

good at video games but struggled with the

through which groups of students rotate. Other

maths, whilst others were very good at the

teachers use it as a reward (which I love), for

maths elements but had no experience playing

successfully completing other maths

a game like Math Evolve. This caused me to

assignments. I don't know exactly where and

separate the game difficulty and the maths

how it is being used everywhere, but It's great

difficulty options, which is the feature that

to occasionally see things about Math Evolve

makes Math Evolve suitable for a very wide

being used in education. Just last week the

range of skills and abilities.

New York Times published an article about the use of iPads in Dutch schools, and opened the

Math Evolve

piece by saying that Math Evolve has been incorporated into the curriculum of the

In The Wild

Netherlands. A teacher sent me a video once

Now that Math Evolve has been out for 18

on twitter of her entire classroom in England

months, I couldn't be happier with the response

playing Math Evolve together, and all the kids

it has received from both parents, teachers, and

were cheering and celebrating as they

students around the world. It has received

destroyed the enemies. These moments make

many wonderful reviews and rewards, and is

me feel like we have truly succeeded and also

now available on every platform. I have had

incredibly proud, knowing that an idea that

many parents write to me and leave reviews

started as a dream and sketches on paper has

saying that Math Evolve is their child's

touched thousands of students across the

favorite app, or that it is the only way they can

world.

get their child to practice maths. This let me know that we were successful in realizing my

Please visit http://mathevolve.com/

initial goals, and that Math Evolve has given

for more information.

parents a fun way to improve and reinforce maths facts at home without a battle.

12


Using IPads to Support SEN by Lucy Fisher Wilbury Primary School, London, UK

Just before Christmas 2012, I

and 'Bubble Bobble'. Over a

travelling around the world

was presented with an iPad. I

number of Christmas's my

for seven months.

was told to take it home over

sister's and I received Game

I know you must be thinking,

the holidays and practice

Boys, a Sega Mega Drive and

why is she telling us about her

using it because next term I

a Nintendo 64 and I remember

life experiences when what I

would be using it to support

playing 'Super Mario'. I have

want to know is about how I

some of the children in

could use iPads within the

my class. At first I was

classroom, but I shall

extremely excited and it

reach my point shortly. For

resulted in me going out

me each piece of

the very next day and

technology was a fad,

purchasing a little

something I wanted

Christmas present to

because it was what

myself...... the iPhone 5.

everyone wanted, the latest

That evening whilst

craze. My knowledge of

attempting to set up and

how they all worked was

get to grips with my new

very limited and often my

phone it dawned upon me

use of these products was

that my ICT skills left much

bought myself a laptop, a Wii

for a very limited time. I lost

to be desired.

(which only comes out at

interest very quickly whereas

Christmas, New Year and

my sisters persevered. I had to

This led me to reflect upon

whenever the family get

ask myself why this had

my own experiences with

together), a Play Station and a

become a repetitive pattern in

technology. My parents

baby pink DS Lite. My

my life. The answers were

always wanted me to be

thoughts then spread to the

because I often became

technology lingual. I

mobile phones that I had used

confused, I didn't give myself

remember when my father

and the development from

time to experiment with new

brought home our very first

personal tape player to

things and I was a little bit

computer a Commodore

personal CD player and most

scared of breaking it by

Amiga 500. I spent hours

recently the iPod that was my

pressing the wrong button.

playing 'Back to the Future'

daily companion whilst

13


The iPad that was sat in my handbag suddenly

to express her opinions about them. Also, she is

became quite a daunting piece of equipment,

now able to explain and identify what is similar

something that I had been given that I would

and different about the animals. The 'Toca

have to learn how to use effectively and most

Monsters' app helps to encourage discussions

importantly become confident with. It dawned

about food and helps you to address issues with

upon me that receiving this iPad would change

food that children may have; for example why

my whole way of thinking about technology,

people like or dislike certain types of food, how

both within my professional and personal life.

to cook food and why it is important to eat our lunches etc. This was particularly supportive

However, here I am over six months later

tool when covering the Science topic 'Healthy

typing this very article on that ever so

Eating' and next year I will be using it to

worrisome iPad that has changed the way I

support EAL learners within the class to

teach, plan and assess. Initially I was given the

introduce key vocabulary for the unit.

iPad to support SEN children within my class and I have focused upon this area within this

To support children with weak writing skills I

article.

have recently used the 'Toontastic' app. This is an app that allows you to create a cartoon

Initially I looked for books that were child

following a very simple set of instructions

friendly and would encourage children to read

which are both written and spoken. The

on a regular basis. We now have a number of

children have a choice of characters and

books available for children where they can

settings which I then encouraged them to plan

have the story read to them, or read with the

and create a story about. To create their story

iPad, they are also able to record their own

the children then manipulated the characters

voices reading the story. These books allow the

around the screen and recorded their voices for

children to read independently but still have

each character. This app was particularly

support when they feel they need it.

supportive for children who are EAL as it took away the 'writing' aspect of story writing and

For one child an IEP Target related to her use

allowed them be creative orally, which lead to

of vocabulary and ability to discuss objects and

spontaneous creativity. What I found using this

pictures. I downloaded an app called 'WIld

app is that even though I had used and

Friends' created by Fotopedia which allows you

practiced using this app prior to the lesson, the

access to thousands of beautiful pictures of

children's

animals. It has lead to many interesting

experiment meant that they soon exceeded my

discussions about the pictures she does and

knowledge.

does not like and importantly she is encouraged

14

inhibitions

and

willingness

to


There are a number of games that support and

In any lesson I can quickly take pictures of

help develop key skills for learners. I have

what the children are doing or have achieved.

used simple matching games such as 'Touch

I am able to record group and class

then Match’ and simple puzzles that are aimed

discussions quickly and can reflect upon them

at young children and were ideal for particular

when evaluating my lessons. Particularly

children within my class. I have also found

within PE and Music sessions you can record

that playing games and just using the iPads

the children and have them immediately

regularly has helped to develop the children's

evaluate their own work and identify their

fine motor skills. Having to manoeuvre and

own next steps to make an impact upon their

manipulate images on the screen has resulted

progression. Stories, cartoons, films etc that

in better pencil grip and neater handwriting.

the children create can be downloaded and watched by all, giving them a greater purpose

Having had regular sessions with iPads I have

for the work that they are generating. The

also noticed a boost in confidence for many of

TA's and other adults who support during

my children. A dyslexic child in my class

lessons are also able to use this technology,

found it very difficult to begin any task

which ensures I can assess my class’s

independently

progress more thoroughly.

and

needed

reassurance

throughout every lesson. When they were first introduced to the iPads he reacted in the same

“My class thoroughly enjoys

way. However, a few weeks later he was happy to try any new activity on the iPad independently and now feels confident to

using the iPads and I love being

experiment and find out solutions for himself.

confident enough to give them these

Last week he taught me how to use

opportunities. I am now looking at

'Minecraft' a complex building game, and was extremely

supportive

when

I

how we can use the iPads effectively

became

throughout the curriculum and

confused and needed help. This has had a positive effect upon him in other lessons too

support other teacher's in my year

where he now enjoys the challenge of

group because I honestly feel that if I

working independently.

can do it anyone can.”

The iPad has also become a key assessment tool within my classroom and practice.

15


The changing role of the teacher in a Technology enhanced learning environment by Yasemin Allsop, ICT Coordinator, Wilbury Primary School

New technologies are continuing to make

introduction of innovation makes major

their way into our classrooms. It is

demands upon teachers' pedagogical,

evident that this is transforming how we

professional and managerial skills.” What

design the learning space, the role of

this tells us is that by using only the

technology, the role of the learners and

traditional teaching will not help teachers

also the other centrepiece of education,

to integrate technology into their

‘teachers’. My recent experience of

teaching. As the new technologies

online discussions shows that the

constantly evolve, maybe the focus has

changing role of the teacher in

been too long on the technology, rather

technology-enhanced learning is

than training teachers to learn to evaluate

becoming a very popular topic. What is

each medium in terms of what can be

interesting is that on many occasions

achieved in practice and which strategies

teachers are blamed for not adapting and

needs to be adopted.

incorporating technology into their

I would also like to point your attention to

teaching. What I haven’t seen is anyone

the word ‘pedagogy’. We do need to

talking about how the role of the teacher

understand this term in the context of

has altered. In every single discussion,

education. Hanks et al (1986) describe

educators have talked about what needs to

pedagogy as the ‘principles, practice or

be done to support teachers to use

profession of teaching’. Therefore we

technology better in the classroom, but no

could say that pedagogy includes

one has discussed about what has

‘teaching’, ‘learning space’, ‘content’

changed.

and ‘methods’. What we also need to remember is there is a very strong

I think it is very appropriate to mention

relationship between ‘pedagogy’ and

Dr. Jessel’s point on this topic. Jessel

‘practice’. In other words how learning

(2012) suggests that, “Innovation arising

content manifests into knowledge, mainly

from new technologies makes a variety of

shaped by how it has been taught in

demands upon the role of the teacher”. He

practice.

continues, “At another level, the

16


This brings more questions, as the pedagogical

outcome. This communication breakage

approaches to education are not necessarily

causes other problems, which can be seen as

detached from cultural traditions and beliefs,

the reasons why some teachers are having

therefore embedding technology into teaching

difficulties with embedding technology into

and learning is a more complex task than just

their teaching. These can be listed as:

re-arranging a classroom space. • Lack of resources According to Pepin (2010) the cultural

• Not having enough time to get familiar

traditions and philosophical beliefs of countries

with the tools

determine the principles upon which that

• Being unsure of what can be achieved with

national curriculum is designed and the

which technology

pedagogies adopted in schools. As a result, the

• No training in pedagogy and strategies that

content and aim of the curriculum itself, places

works well with specific technologies

expectations on teachers. If the curriculum is

• Uncertainty in assessing and evaluating the

designed to evaluate learning through test

learning that has been gained using

scores, surely teachers will use pedagogy to

technology

serve and meet this purpose rather than

• Issues around managing behaviour and

focusing on how to develop learning. This not

classroom

only limits the teacher’s methods to lead

• Demands on meeting specific learning

teaching, but also impacts on their meeting the

objectives-as technology doesn’t always fit

different learning needs of students, which in

in to meet these.

most cases results as a failure in education.

There were also comments about some teachers being reluctant to change. I have to

I believe that teachers are very confused about

admit, in my role as an ICT Coordinator for

their role and their direction in the learning

many years, I haven’t come across teachers

cycle that employs new technologies. Surely,

that did not want to try any of the new

where a curriculum has been designed by policy

technologies that I have suggested or

makers and theories have been discussed by

discussed. What is important is having a

scholars, confusion is certain. The break in

shared vision in school for the

communication between the main stakeholders

implementation of technology, from the

of education; policy makers, scholars, teachers

senior managers at the top to the staff

and learners is the main reason for this

involved in teaching and learning.

17


This shared vision is what enthuses educators to not only use new technologies but also provides

References

a well-designed constant training opportunity.

Hanks, P., McLeod, W. and Urdang, L. (Eds)

A flexible project based learning approach is

(1986) Collins dictionary of the English

also a must for utilising the full power of

language, Collins, London & Glasgow.

technology in education. If we are to focus on

Jessel, J. (2012) “Social, cultural and cognitive

just subject related learning objectives and miss

processes and new technologies in education”

the bigger picture of learning behind the scenes,

in Miglino, O., Nigrelli, M. L., & Sica, L. S.

we will provide children with limited learning

Role-games, computer simulations, robots and

experiences. However adopting a PBL approach

augmented reality as new learning technologies:

will provide children with the opportunity to

A guide for teacher educators and trainers,

master their skills and knowledge which then

Liguori Editore, Napoli.

make it possible to transfer them to other

Mortimore, P. (Ed.) (1999) Understanding

learning areas. Another important point is

Pedagogy and its Impact on Learning, Paul

involving teachers and learners in the research

Chapman Publishing, London

process. Understanding the value of technology

Pepin, B. (2010) “How educational systems and

in the classroom requires constant monitoring

cultures mediate teacher knowledge: teacher

and evaluating, which will feed back into

'listening' in English, French and German

developing new models of implementation.

classrooms” (p. 119-138), in Ruthven, K. and

Who could be the better resource than the

Rowlands, T. (eds) Mathematical knowledge in

teachers and learners that are the main part of

teaching, Springer, Dordrecht.

the learning cycle?

Perrotta, C., Featherstone, G., Aston, H. and Houghton, E. (2013) “Game-based Learning:

So in summary, a shared vision within the

Latest Evidence and Future Directions” NFER

school, two-way communication between the

(FUTURELAB), Slough, [online],

stakeholders of education, a curriculum that

http://www.nfer.ac.uk/nfer/publications/

allows a flexible project based learning

GAME01/GAME01.pdf

approach will make a difference. Without these qualities, teachers understanding of their changing role in education will still be clouded and as a consequence of this, integrating technology into education will remain a hazy concept.

18


Lego WeDo: Computing in Bricks Vicky Moore, Wilbury Primary School, London, UK

As a child I spent many hours sitting and

software on the system. Then I let them play.

building creations out of Lego. As a parent

At first it was clear that many were not regular

I have spent hours helping build or just

Lego builders. As I observed and assisted in

watching my children play. Lego can

building, I was able to assess skills in

bring out the inner child in us, it is often

transferring a two dimensional image into an

the one toy as adults we have the urge to pick up and start to play. So when looking at planning ICT to be told we have Lego WeDo sets (not only Lego but it also connects to the computer!), I have to say my inner child was a little excited. After a trial run at home, I managed to build a crocodile and use the software to control movements of the mouth. The software came with the set and could print off a large document with instructions. After several attempt to read and follow, I discovered that plug it in and play around was much more fun. I was ready to go and unleash 30 year 4 children on the sets. We have enough sets that the children

actual three dimensional model. At first there

could work in pairs. Sets were handed out

were questions, “Is this the right bit?” or “Does

and children shown how to locate the

it go there?” This got the response “I don’t

instructions to build, and command

know. How we can check?”

19


Lesson 1 only two pairs completed an

the software (scratch) was almost the

activity, and that was just building.

same as the Lego. The skills I had built

However, over the weeks their building

up with the class were transferable to

skills rapidly improved and they

another programme. As the ICT

developed ways of describing which

curriculum is moving towards computing

bricks they needed. Some of the tasks

and ensuring children have skills in

were more complicated than others.

programming. Why not start them off

Some had a series of cogs and belts to

just playing with Lego?

control movement, which meant that one slight error and their model would not work. We discussed the need for cogs to link together. The children rapidly dismantled and rebuilt their models to solve these engineering issues. The software which I initially found baffling, but the children were able to play with just a basic instruction. They quickly became able to complete a series of commands. As they continued to try different commands they could create a series of movements. The children were not only supportive with their partner but would quickly support other pairs to teach their new found skills. The class worked collaboratively with each other and simply enjoyed ‘playing with Lego’. Last week I attended a training session on coding. A little nervous, as I have never experienced coding before (not sure I knew what coding was). Yet my initially worries were soon diminished as

20


A forum for Discussion by Chris Carter, A Team Leader, Tech Coach, and Teacher using tech as a tool to guide kids through higher-order thinking, project-based learning experiences at Concordia International School Shanghai, China

Summary

instructors to communicate free from time and

Threaded discussions, or forums, or discussion

space constraints, and due to the fact that

boards, are becoming a common means of

students prefer discussion boards over

communication both in wholly on-line and

synchronous communication (Shin Yi &

hybrid high school classes. Whilst they are

Overbaugh, 2007; Mayfield, 2010). The

used to promote both healthy social academic

2009-10 academic year saw over 1 million

environments and to promote critical thinking,

K-12 students take wholly online courses in the

some researchers question if threaded

United States alone, and this with a projected

discussions actually accomplish either task.

growth rate of 30% for the foreseeable future

Recent quantitative and qualitative research

(Thomson, 2010). In addition, 4 million 4-year

indicates that threaded discussions do at least

college students, and half of all community

as well as in-class discussions, and have the

college students in the United States take on-

potential to achieve higher levels of success, in

line courses (Batts et al., 2010). When the

both areas. Research indicates that systemic

(currently unknown) number of hybrid K-12

change is necessary both in how teachers are

classes is included, the scale of discussion

trained to use the technology, and in how

board use in academia becomes apparent.

educators perceive their roles in the online

To clarify what a threaded discussion is,

environment.

perhaps it is best to address what it is not. As

Threaded Discussions

an asynchronous form of communication, it is

Threaded discussions are asynchronous,

not an instant messaging system, such as

computer-assisted communication that

twitter, chat rooms and text messages are.

graphically represent posts and replies, thus

Discussion boards are not email, in that they

allowing participants to track the progression of

are viewable by all members of a course and

conversations around a common theme or

are threaded, or stacked, so that viewers can

prompt (Business, n.d.). They make up the

follow the flows of separate sub-discussions

heart of communication for most on-line and

that develop from a common prompt, rather

hybrid courses around the globe, due in a large

than having to scroll through every reply to

part to their allowing both students and

every post.

21


This allows for greater clarity in the formulation of arguments and responses. Also, threaded discussions are persistent, remaining viewable from the initial prompt to the latest post for the duration of the course, and beyond should the instructor so choose. For these reasons, and also for their perceived benefits in building social learning communities and developing critical thinking skills, discussion boards are the communication form of choice in hybrid and wholly online courses (Cox & Cox, 2008).

Voices of dissent. Despite the ubiquity of discussion boards and their general acceptance as excellent forms of communication (or perhaps because of it), some scholars raise serious questions as to their educational efficacy. These researchers are troubled by the relatively few large-scale qualitative studies on the subject, and particularly that those studies that do exist tend to examine graduate students, and not the typical user of online courses. In her synthesis of 37 studies, Looking for Critical Thinking in Online Threaded Discussions, professor Paula Maurino makes this concern explicit (Maurino, 2007). The objections strike at the perceived twin strengths of threaded discussions, the community building and critical thinking aspects (Chen & Hung, 2002; Maurino, 2007; Maurino, Federman & Greenwald, 2007). Issues with building social learning communities. Most researchers see the building of social networks through discussion boards as a positive benefit, or even necessary prerequisite, both for increased student interest and participation, and for the deeper learning that is presumed to result (Beckett, 2010; Cox & Cox, 2008; Grisham & Wolsey, 2006; Shin Yi & Overbaugh, 2007). In quantitative studies, instructors and professors see achieving social and cognitive goals through discussion boards as inseparable (Maurino, Federman & Greenwald, 2007). Yet this goal is questioned in that some researchers believe building community may actually inhibit the kinds of discussions that build critical thinking. Essentially, the argument runs, if students are more concerned with maintaining positive relationships than with arguing issues, then they may not disagree or offer counterarguments to those positions posed by classmates. As Maurino points out, though students in the studies under her examination did create social relationships, these relationships did not appear to foster critical thinking. “Expansive or deep learning requires conflict or contradiction” (Maurino, 2007, p. 50). Researchers Der-Thanq Chen and David Hung expand this argument by indicating that students using threaded discussions are successful creators of “idea artifacts” based on collective knowledge, but do not internalize and subjectivize these artifacts into “knowledge objects” of personalized understanding (Chen & Hung, 2002, p. 280). In other words, students quickly reach common understandings that are not debated or internalized.

22


Tellingly, several researchers who are more enthusiastic toward the present use of threaded discussions also reflect concerns for the need for respectful argument. Doctor Sarah Prestridge, after an exhaustive study of 8 Australian primary schools, concluded that there are collegial conversations and critical conversations evidenced in threaded discussions, and that these two types are mutual exclusive (Prestidge, 2009). Researcher T. Solhaug, in developing his elements of discursive democratic practice, includes the importance of presenting differing viewpoints and questioning authority as two of the five essentials (Solhaug, 2009). More broadly, open-ended prompts are seen as key in encouraging differences of opinion and building nuanced arguments, as identified by several researchers (Guzdial & Turns, 2000; Jeong, 2003; Rizopoulus & McCarthy, 2008).

Issues with building critical thinking skills. Not surprisingly, given their concerns over the impact of social community, the above researchers find the development of critical thinking through the tool of discussion boards to be lacking (Maurino, 2007; Chen & Hung, 2002). Again, the issue of lack of large-scale qualitative studies is raised (Maurino, 2007). Yet at this point a measure of balance must be addressed. None of the researchers reject outright the use of discussion boards as a useful learning tool. Chen and Hung offer a solution to critical thinking development through the implementation of visualizations to assist in the creation of “knowledge objects� (Chen & Hung, 2002, p. 280). In all three of Maurino’s studies the researcher finds the instructor to be the key component, and raises several suggestions to improve threaded discussions that will be incorporated into the professional development piece following (Maurino 2007; Maurino, 2007; Maurino, Federman & Greenwald, 2007). That the threaded discussion is not living up to its presumed capacity to develop deeper, more critical thinking, and that this shortfall may be due to current instructor practices, is strongly suggested by the conclusions of many studies which specifically call for modifying instructor practices (Archambault et al., 2010; Batts et al., 2010; Mayfield, 2010; Rosenthal, 2010; Thomson, 2010). These findings clearly point to a need for ongoing professional development, both in pre-service and in-service settings, to equip pedagogues in the most effective uses of this primary means of communication for on-line and hybrid courses. Insight: threaded discussion versus face-to-face discussion. While wholly on-line courses are somewhat limited in their communication options, and thus default to threads, face-to-face classroom settings do not have the same pressure to include asynchronous discussions, thus becoming de facto hybrid courses. While anecdotal evidence from several research efforts

23


suggest the utility of discussion boards in principle, six studies under review specifically examined threaded- versus face-to-face discussions for their academic efficacy (Brown & Green, 2009; Kamin et al., 2001; Larson, 2003; Miller & Benz, 2008; Prestridge, 2009; Zacharis, 2010). First, the question of equity is addressed by Brown and Green’s research into how much time students in both settings spend actually participating in discussions. The study concludes that the formats foster roughly equal amounts of participation (Brown & Green, 2009). Another study examines threaded- versus fishbowl discussions. The researchers conclude that both threadedand fishbowl discussions increase academic performance, but go on to state that discussion boards are usable with both small and large groups, and benefit from not having time and place restrictions (Miller & Benz, 2008). The Zacharis study concludes that students of multiple learning styles are just as successful with on-line classes as with the classroom setting (Zacharis, 2010). The remaining three studies conflict somewhat in outcomes. The Prestridge research effort concludes that face-to-face discussions are more collegial, while threads develop more critical thinking (Prestridge, 2009), in direct contradiction to Maurino’s findings (Maurino, 2007). The Kamin and Glicken study supports the Prestridge conclusion, but only in a quantitative, not qualitative, way, thus leaving room for argument (Kamin & Glicken, 2001). Larson reports that threads allow for a more egalitarian exchange (Larson, 2003). All of the reports support threads in hybrid and on-line settings, yet their varied findings are troubling. Clearly, other variables are at work. The next insight addresses one possibility. Insight: the silent student. Threads have long been thought to give voice to the silent students. To begin, author and researcher Mary Reda takes issue with the presumption that the introverted, reflective student is disadvantaged in face-to-face discussions (Reda, 2010). Reda argues that many silent students simply process differently, learning at least as well as more verbose students while quietly forming complete arguments in their minds. Reda does state, however, that these students often see in-class discussions as high-stakes verbal testing rather than knowledge construction, and thus opt out of the exercise (Reda, 2010). This position seems a confirmation that quiet students may be choosing not to participate at some cost to their intellectual development. Other researchers take this more traditional view that silence is somehow detrimental to the student, and comment on the egalitarian nature of threads versus face-to-face discussions, where the most extroverted dominate, with Larson noting, “Several “quiet” students shared extensively in the threaded discussions,” (Larson, 2003, p. 363; Grisham & Wolsey, 2006; Solhaug, 2009). Solhaug goes so far as to refer to silent students as “empty shells” (Solhaug, 2009, p. 417).

24


But drilling down into the numbers reveals a more subtle reality. Researchers JeongMin Lee and Youngmin Lee used the Myers-Briggs type indicator to measure introvert-extrovert personalities, and then divided 96 undergraduate students into a homogeneous extrovert group, an introvert group, and a heterogeneous group, to find the quantitative and qualitative results of the threads these three groups produced. After careful analysis, the research reveals that the extrovert grouping consistently produces the most posts, but the least depth of thought, while the introvert group consistently posts the least (JeongMin & Youngmin, 2006). The greatest depth of thought, however, is being generated in the heterogeneous groups, where extroverts take the lead in initiating discussions but introverts successfully deflect and defeat these initial offerings through carefully thought out and reasoned rebuttals.

The resultant threads are rich in cognitive

development and collegial exchanges and challenges (JeongMin & Youngmin, 2006). hus, the silent, “empty shells” are always learning, but learn best when paired with the traditionally vocal students, who dominate in-class discussions, but typically fail to fully form their arguments, and thus fail to maximize their critical thinking potential. If this research holds true, then threads are potentially more beneficial for both extroverts and introverts than in-class discussions, provided the groups and discussions are structured in ways that allow the time necessary for all students to participate. Insight: labeling the thread. A key benefit of threaded discussions that make them attractive when compared to other forms of communication is the structure of the thread itself. By allowing participants to view posts and responses that spread like roots from the common “tree” of a given prompt, threads facilitate understanding and, presumably, lead to deeper learning. That being said, scholars are concluding that additional structure, in the form of labeling of responses to both the prompt and posts, leads to more frequent argumentation and greater depth of thought (Guzdial & Turns, 2000; Chen & Hung, 2002; Jeong, 2003; Brooks & Jeong, 2006). The earliest study under review focuses on the use of the CaMILE (Collaborative and Multimedia Interactive Learning Environment) system for labeling threaded discussion posts and responses between rebuttals, clarifications, explanations, and other forms of communication (Guzdial & Turns, 2000). The later pieces examine other systems of labeling, but the core goal of increasing participation and depth of thought through additional structure remains. The Chen and Hung piece takes labeling to the level of symbols (“!” for ideas, “?” for questions, “+” for strong argument, “-” for weak argument, etc.), yet the fact remains that these symbols serve to further clarify the structure of the threads (Chen & Hung, 2002). In their 2006 study, Brooks and Jeong achieve impressive results by comparing pre-structured threads using labels versus a control group using unsupported threads.

25


The labeled threads show a 64% increase in challenges per argument, thus strongly supporting the understanding that the addition of labels contributes to increased debate, and thus increasing critical thinking (Brooks & Jeong, 2006). Taken together, the research pieces all indicate that increased structure results in increased discourse and more critical thinking.

The specific

structure appears less important than that there be the added structural support. That being the case, Brooks’ and Jeong’s labels of claims, challenges, supporting evidence and explanation are particularly suitable for their brevity and utility (Brooks & Jeong, 2006). Yet, increased structuring of threads alone will not maximize the benefit of discussion boards. The single most consistent finding in the available research is the need for effective instructor training. Insight: it is all about the instructor. Of the studies and examinations under review, 10 overtly identify either the lack or need of teacher participation in the use of threads. Dr. Maurino is the most direct in stating, “teachers need to become more involved as experts in classroom discussion.” (Maurino, 2007, p. 50) Again, Maurino identifies the most common failings of threads as being the lack of teacher effort and unclear goals (Maurino, 2007).

Though

uncharitable, perhaps, her assessment is not unique. A recent study, though praising the efficacy of threads, does make clear that professors must participate more in them as monitors and guides in order to enhance thread effectiveness (Becket, 2010). The remaining 7 studies do more to fix the problem than to fix the blame, either identifying the lack of instructor preparation, or offering concrete steps to remedying the deficit. Maurino herself calls for teacher remediation (Maurino, Federman & Greenwald, 2007), and studies from recent months echo this conclusion. Researcher David Batts sees teachers as being chronically undertrained, concluding “… nearly two-thirds of the faculty taught themselves how to create and deliver online courses.” (Batts, et al., 2010, p. 28) Researchers Gronseth and Brush flatly conclude that teacher technical proficiency is not sufficient to integrate technological best practices into their courses (Gronseth et al., 2010). Though every teacher training program they evaluate contains a technology component, the technology instructors themselves, they conclude, are like the blind leading the blind in that they do not have the time nor the training to keep pace with the latest research and technological innovations (Gronseth et al., 2010). A successful professional development program as described by Dr. Leanna Archambault is unique in the studies under review in that it pulls teachers out of regular duties specifically to create planning time and provides a stipend, while also demanding proof of redesigned and implemented units that incorporate use of technology (Archambault et al., 2010).

26


Not surprisingly, the results are impressive, as teachers transform their styles from sages on stages to guides on the side, a necessary perspective shift echoed anecdotally by Professor Irene Rosenthal, and supported by a massive examination of over 2400 gifted K-12 students (Rosenthal, 2010; Thomson, 2010). Need for Service Learning Projects. Taken together, these studies make a profound case for improved teacher pre-service and in-service training. The old saw of there being insufficient funds for technology integration cannot withstand the near ubiquity of student access to the internet. Scores of free or extremely low cost options for threads and other technologies abound (Singh, Mangalaraj & Taneja, 2010). Nor can the argument fairly be made that teachers do not wish to learn these skills, when nearly two-thirds of college level instructors are teaching themselves, however imperfectly, how to implement these technologies (Batts et al., 2010). Clearly, there is demand, and there is will among the faculty. Resolve at the administrative level is needed to turn these resources into effective pedagogy. As Goethe said, “We always have time enough if we will but use it aright.� Lessons Learned. Synthesizing several research findings, a picture of effective teacher training in threaded discussions emerges. First, overt, clear guidelines for what is expected of student interactions must be used (Solhaug, 2009; Rosenthal, 2010; Mayfield, 2010).

Solhaug’s five

elements of democratic discursive practice serve as a useful resource here (Solhaug, 2009, p. 419). Second, a robust rubric, an excellent example being found in the Rizopoulos and McCarthy piece, backed by a significant grade, facilitates active participation (Maurino, Federman & Greenwald, 2007; Rizopoulos & McCarthy, 2008; Mayfield, 2010; Rosenthal, 2010). Third, in addition to the inherent structure of threads, increased structure in the form of labels results in more frequent academic arguments, thus promoting deeper thinking, with Brooks and Jeong offering a simple four-category model that is a good starting point (Guzdial & Turns, 2000; Chen & Hung, 2002; Jeong, 2003; Brooks & Jeong, 2006, p. 372; Rosenthal, 2010). Fourth, teachers must see themselves as highly participative guides in the learning process, rather than aloof towers of knowledge (Maurino, 2007; Maurino, Federman & Greenwald, 2007; Solhaug, 2009; Archambault, et al., 2010; Mayfield, 2010; Rosenthal, 2010). Fifth, the prompts themselves must be open ended and interesting, inviting discussion and debate (Guzdial & Turns, 2000; Jeong, 2003; Larson, 2003; Maurino, 2007; Maurino, Federman & Greenwald, 2007; Rizopoulos & McCarthy, 2008; Mayfield, 2010; Rosenthal, 2010). Please click here to view the Bibliography page.

27


Making Maths APPier! by Des Hegarty them thinking even more. I tend to target the observer as they are watching patiently (sometimes, not so patiently but we’ll gloss over that for the purpose of this article.) As the class are slip-sliding away across their tablets there is always an enthusiastic Back again for more ‘APP’-tastic apps – this

energy and it’s that energy you want your

time I’ve selected a few of the best Maths

class to feel about maths and their learning

(or ‘Math’ for our American cousins) Apps

as a whole. So, calling all Primary Teachers

on the market. I’ve been trying these out in

– let’s App-reciate maths together with these

class and again some are ideal for early

maths Apps!

morning work or to be fitted in as a starter or to be used as an investigative opportunity or

Graphs (Free – KS1/2)

a way to consolidate what they have already learnt. However you mean to use them they will totally engage the class and can add another exciting layer to lessons. We’re also looking for different opportunities for children to talk about maths too and I would always follow up any tablet work with a

Pie charts, Line graphs and bar charts are all

discussion of terms and what was achieved.

part of this free APP. As well Q&A on data

With my Year 1 class I always get them to

interpretation you can also learn about

share their i-pads in pairs and they swap

mean, mode and median. I actually made a

every few minutes. In this way they get to

pie chart detailing how much I thought you

talk to each other about what they are doing

were going to like this App. An

and instinctively they narrate about the APP

overwhelming 100% of you liked it.

they are using to their partner. In my teacher role I will descend upon them with quick consolidatory or next step questioning to get

28


Making Maths APPier! What time is it Mr Wolf? (0.69p KS1/2)

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/what-time-is-itmr.-wolf/id517204551?mt=8

Maths facts: number bond & fact families (0.69p – KS1)

This is another award winner for ‘Best App Ever’ 2013 for children under 9 and I agree (even as a teacher over 39!) As a player, you get to choose what times you want displayed and also whether you would like the time digitally shown or in words. Mr Wolf uses the full moon to display his times which he then spins to show different times. As a generous wolf at heart, he gives the player up to 8 answers tochoose from (though you can select less in the menu.) It’s particularly good for revising those tricky ‘to’ times on an analogue display. It’s a howling success – Ha! Get it? It’s a HOWLING success!....never mind...! https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/what-time-is-itmr.-wolf-by/id514350448?mt=8

Here’s a very useful App for KS1 classes getting to grips with addition and subtraction facts and the relationships with numbers in number sentences. Lots of fun and easy to play games incorporating missing numbers and inverse operations, and the like. It is simply set out and a great maths way to start a learning day. Pizza Fractions (0.69p KS1/2)

What Time is it, Mr Wolf? (£1.49 – KS1/2)

Learning fractions is as simple as ordering pizza! The pizza chef ensures it’s not just mozzarella and pepperoni on your mind, but how to share your slices out too. You can compare, create and check your answers. This has simple graphics and an easy to play game format to build confidence in fractions. Guaranteed to make you feel quite hungry after all that maths! Your class will end up asking whether there could be a delivery after break time. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/pizza-fractionscomparing/id372978173?mt=8

This is a little bit cuter than our previous wolf and has features to demonstrate time which is particularly good to help students to bring them to an understanding of how time passes. There’s more teaching in this App, so there’s good points to discussThere’s even a screen shot which invites you to ‘Click to feel the time’. Darn clever, I say.

29


Making Maths APPier! Math Bingo (0.69p – KS1/2)

Numeracy Nibbles (0.69p – KS1)

I just like the title of this one – hilarious!’Numeracy Nibbles’ – handy maths bites for hungry kids. Again, this App has a strong emphasis on KS1 SATs and national testing so is a great preparatory tool to try out. This has 300 questions and each test consists ten randomly selected questions. It gives you a total score of the ones you got right giving the student an indication of their success rate. This type of App needs specific focus for each of the set of questions to get the students into the ‘test’ mindset. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/numeracy-nibblesks1/id502140638?mt=8

This has been a featured App in several noted publications. Choose your player to answer and select your operation to answer questions to match on your bingo grid. Students can even have a mixture of questions to answer to get them thinking quickly between signs. An award winner, and a thoroughly decent app! https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/abc-pocketphonicsletter-sounds/id299342927?mt=8

Splash Math Grades 1 & 2 & 3 (Free! Though it is a ‘lite’ version...- KS1/2)

KS2 SATs Maths (£2.99 – KS2)

Oh I do like a free App and this is ideal for Key Stage 1 and 2. It’s fun, friendly cartoon format has 13 chapters and covers over 185 maths skills. It covers a myriad of things from calculation, measures, place value, probability etc. Ideal for early morning work to get their maths brains into gear. (There are some American touches - like counting money – that the British children will have to skip. However overall, it is a thoroughly decent App!) https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/1st-grade-mathssplash-math/id463469532?mt=8 https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/2nd-grade-mathsplash-math/id463471155?mt=8

As a revision tool this is something your students can be advised to upload on their devices at home. There’s over 500 SATs questions given here and Year ^ students can take a test in each of the specified areas. It’s a great App for finding out the gaps in their knowledge in preparation for the BIG Test itself. After each series of questions, it gives you a summary and an approximate NC level too. This is an App you can advise for parents to invest in. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/ks2-sats-maths/ id625887685?mt=8

30


Making Maths APPier! Bee Bot (Free–Bot! KS1)

Actually the title is a little misleading as you can just as easily become a ‘Queen’ of maths if you so prefer through this rather fast paced mathematics game. It delivers diverse problems in different areas and manages to challenge you throughout. It has a distinctly medieval theme and the aim is to progress from your lowly farmer peasant status to

A lot of you will have used the real BeeBots in

become a King (or Queen for that matter) of your

class and this is the perfect short cut to allow a

own maths realm! It has ten levels and students can

whole class the opportunity to investigate direction

compare their score with each other. Prithee sire, tis

language. Direct the inquisitive BeeBot around the garden by programming a safe path. As a follow up

a noble App indeed! Minstrels – play on!

get the children to make pathways for each other.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/king-of-maths/

Then in pairs get them to demonstrate their

id473904402?mt=8

directional vocabulary to instruct the other to find their destination.

Number bonds: addition and subtraction to 99 / multiplication and division to 99 (£1.49 per App – KS1/2)

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/bee-bot/ id500131639?mt=8

3D shapes and Nets (0.69p – KS1/2)

To sharpen up some mental maths then invest in

This explores properties of 3D shape and looks at

these. They can race against the clock, or with each

the relationship between them and their nets. There’s plenty of ‘Wow’ factor on offer here with

other or on their own and the beauty about it is they are developing their mathematical reasoning in a game format. There are plenty of these type of

its outer space theme and looks at not only the common 3D shapes but more complex constructs

Apps and it’s worth getting a selection to test their

like seven sided pyramids! It’s out of this world!

developing skills. Also they are so easy to facilitate

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/3d-shapes-andnets/id639476891?mt=8

and they keep the class engaged. Super stuff! https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/number-bonds-

King of Maths (Free! KS2)

addition-subtraction/id602002204?mt=8 https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/number-bondsmultiplication/id602022694?mt=8

31


Making Maths APPier! Achieve Level 4 Mathematics (£3.99 – KS2)

expound upon how important language is in maths making sure children know what they are doing and can tell each other about it. This is a very ‘andy APP for all sorts of reasons – for language acquisition , for concise definitions and visual examples to back everything up too. Perfect for KS2 and beyond

You are paying a bit more for this one so it

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/math-

had better be good – and thankfully it is too!

dictionary-for-kids/id454367958?mt=8

Linked in with the series of Achieve books, Speaking Times Tables (0.69p – KS1/2)

this offers hundreds of examples to plough your maths mind through. Students can choose their specified area of maths and within that, select an objective to look at. So they may want to choose ‘Shape, space and measures’ in order to look at ‘Angles’. Simples! They can click and drag to their

To be fair, I’m not too keen on the design of

hearts content and as the title suggests it is

the monkey in this App. I feel I could do a

aimed at trying to secure level 4 knowledge.

better job there. However, students can listen

Highly recommended.

and join in with the tables being chanted and it’s as good as any of the times table Apps out

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/achieve-

there, so I’m willing to forgive the rather

level-4-mathematics/id569898777?mt=8

cross-eyed monkey. You get a choice of voices too. Again, there are endless times

Math Dictionary (£1.99 – KS1/2)

tables Apps to be found. A lot of the free options do only cover only some of the times tables and then request that you upgrade (with a fee!) to unlock the rest. So you might as well pay get your school to pay small amount in the first place.

For those of you that know me (and for the

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/speaking-

benefit of those that don’t) I do tend to

times-tables/id379259894?mt=8

32


Making Maths APPier! Capacity Word Problems/Reading Scales/Balancing Calculations (All £1.49 each – KS1/2)

these programs. It’s a key opportunity for you to ask assessment questions. Use these Apps as discussion points and create a classroom culture of fun, wonder and discovery!

How APP-solutley wonderful! Des These three Apps are gems! Simplicity

(Des Hegarty is a teacher at Wilbury

holds the key once more with easy to decipher diagrams for ‘Capacity Word

Primary School. You can follow his

problems’ and ‘Reading Scales’ Apps.

book blog ‘Storysplat’ by clicking

Students can answer questions against the

here: www.storysplat.co.uk/

clock. ‘Balancing Calculations’ helps to reinforce the role of the equals sign, balancing between different types of calculations. Worth a purchase! https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/capacityword-problems/id584913823?mt=8 https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/readingscales/id584911275?mt=8 https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/balancingcalculations/id584916927?mt=8

APPy Solving! There are plenty of opportunities to weave in these Apps to suit the needs of your class. They are a terrific way to stimulate a buzz about maths. Just make sure you get involved with your students as they access

33


Learning collaboratively through the Global Partners Junior Project by Yasemin Allsop ICT Coordinator, Wilbury Primary School

At Wilbury we have always valued learning

The students began the project by introducing

through participating in International projects.

themselves in a few sentences; some of them

We believe that it provides children with very

got more creative and used a video or photo

valuable opportunities to develop their

messages. They shared information about the

understanding of worldwide issues such as

main facts about our own city and discussed

sustainability and also opens a window into

the theatre districts in the cities, such as

other cultures through online collaboration

Broadway in New York, The West End in

with children from other countries.

London. The children then moved onto storytelling and playwriting. After exploring

One of the projects that we are delighted to be

the basic elements of what makes a good story,

part of is called Global Partners Junior, which

they made their own storyboard for a story that

is a technology driven education program that

they liked.

connects urban middle schools from around the world. This program was developed by New York City Global Partners, the non-profit organization that connects the Mayor’s Office of the City of New York to cities around the world.

This year the focus of the project was Urban Stages, where the children investigated their own city, discovered how things were different in other cities around the world, by doing not just online research but also reading and replying to other children’s work in the online

GLOBAL PARTNERS JUNIOR

shared area.

34


They also looked at famous musicals such as;

posts are thoughtful and descriptive, providing

Mamma Mia, Wicked, The Lion King. They

relevant and interesting information. Students

identified the main roles in a theatre;

demonstrated a high level of excitement and

scriptwriter, director, set designer, costume

enthusiasm as they engaged with the

designer, etc. The children have written short

curriculum and showed interest in learning

play scripts which then they animated using ‘I

about cultures around the world”.

Can Animate’. We are now working on the final part of the The next focus of the project was sound and

project, where the children are designing an

music. The children started their project by just

open-air theatre to make better use of part of

listening to the sounds around our school, then

our playground. They came up with a script,

the sounds where they lived. They came up

designed costumes and created props. They

with an idea of expressing the best of London

also used the ‘Toontastic’ programme to share

by using sounds. They have written a rap to

their own individual scripts to decide the best

tell other children about the food, music and

ones to be performed on a stage. We are hoping

landmarks of London. They then used the

to complete our theatre design and perform our

‘GarageBand’ programme to create their sound

short stories about New York very soon.

files, and then used ‘iMovie’ to edit their videos. The schools that were the most active

I would like to share the reasons why this

during discussions and produced a final

project has been so successful in our school

product were given a prize. Wilbury team was

as a list:

awarded a certificate of excellence for their

Resources: The well-designed curriculum

outstanding work and presented with 3D

planning folder created by the Global Partners

puzzles of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue

Junior team, which has all the resources, web

of Liberty. The feedback we received was the

links, tool suggestions, and focus questions not

evidence for their hard work and excellent

only makes it easier to teach but also to

contributions. Their participation has been

evaluate. The children were given their own

described as exemplary throughout the project.

project book that they could take home when needed to extend their learning. Again their

As it stated on the assessment form; “Students

workbook had all the information they needed

demonstrated a good grasp of unit material and

to work on the various activities.

actively posted in most of the assignments. The

35


The layout of the workbook was very clear,

drama, art, design in a very creative way,

children from many different learning needs

which made learning more fun and also more

were able to access and accomplish the task

relevant to the children’s needs and interests.

easily. The topics studied were all about our lives. This enabled the children to understand

We are very privileged to be part of Global

the culture of the world they live in, which I

Partners Junior and are looking forward to

believe will lead to connecting with people in a

participating in the next project to learn more,

positive manner and also to work on shared

to share more and to collaborate more!

issues to make the world a better place for everyone.

Next year’s program will focus on digital storytelling in cities around the world. Students

Given time to learn: One of the main

will explore local and global fiction,

advantages of this project is, it runs for a whole

nonfiction, and poetry, and create multimedia

year which allows the children to master their

projects to bring their own stories to life. We

skills such as; research, design, discuss,

plan to add even more great international

collaborate online, organize ideas and many

schools to the program and welcome

more. It also gives them the scope for using

applications. Already we have schools

digital technologies which motivates them to

participating in Accra, Berlin, Bogotá, Buenos

learn and prepares them for more advanced use

Aires, Copenhagen, Cuernavaca, Delhi,

of technology for learning. It also enables

Dublin, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong,

them to use/improve other skills such as; team

Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Karachi, Lima,

work, decision-making and problem solving.

London, Melbourne, Mexico City, Mumbai, Paris, Prague, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo,

Dynamic and flexible learning: The

Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto,

activities planned were always hands on which

Vancouver, and Warsaw.

enabled us to carry our learning into spaces outside of the school. Sometimes in our local

For more information or to request an

area, sometimes via Skype, we had an

application, please contact:

opportunity to learn everywhere through

gpjunior@cityhall.nyc.gov.

interactions with our peers in London and around the world. The learning was not based only on pen and paper. It involved technology,

36


37


EDITOR IN CHIEF Yasemin Allsop

Š ictinpractice.com All materials are strictly copyrighted and all rights are reserved. Reproduction of any materials from this

yallsop@msn.com

magazine without permission is strictly forbidden. We accept no liability in respect of any material submitted by users and published by us and we are not

SUB EDITOR

responsible for its content and accuracy.

Des Hegarty Published by ictinpractice.com London, UK

38


ICT in Practice Issue 4