Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Our Last Master Classes

The first day of our last master classes flew by in a blur as we discussed, analysed, shared, planned and collaborated. What an amazing amount of work we managed to get through by this process. We are all so much on the same wavelength and yet are looking at a diverse variety of research pathways in our e-Fellowships. Sadly due to health issues our mentors Vince and Michael were unable to spend the day with us, but Vince managed to spend part of the morning with us and Michael was with us through Skype and following the Google doc we were creating as we worked.

Alongside the discussion there was a sharing of practical knowledge happening as members of the group asked ‘how do you…?’ and were shown how. This natural flow on of skill sharing is one of the benefits of meeting as a group alongside the extensive professional dialogue that occurs both in and outside the Core offices environment.

Tuesday was another power packed day! We worked on creating a plan for the future and ways in which we can work collaboratively. Joel helped me with setting up my own website – watch this space – and I will be working on getting that up and running soon.

The list of planned projects I have set myself for the next 1 – 2 years is almost overwhelming in its range and load, but at the same time after arriving in Christchurch feeling sad about the end of the fellowship I have come away knowing that it is only the beginning and that we are all committed to continuing and growing as teachers within the fellowship and will be supporting each others future endeavours.

This is the stated group theme that evolved from our time workshopping together:

‘Collectively the 2010 e-Fellowship is developing new teaching practice and utilising current technology to develop student interaction and learning of the wider world through collaborative projects with other schools using real-time video conferencing platforms, and developing a new culture of independent self-directed learning using newly developed e-resources, both within the school environment and in the wider world.’

Dr Sugata Mitra

As we spent time revisiting Dr Sugata Mitra’s Hole in the Wall project during our time together in e-Fellow Master Classes, I could not help but reflect on how there are elements of his work in the way we approach some things in ECE. 

For example, when I make available a new IT component (e.g. software, peripheral etc) I tend to not give instruction but adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach. I have always found that through exploration the children discover far more about the programme and uses for the peripherals than I could ever have done exploring on my own. They work both individually and collaboratively and regularly astonish me with the discoveries they can make. Examples of this are – when we were shown by the children how to take photos on our Digital Microscope with a button on the front of the unit that we hadn’t found as teachers; the amazing elements there are in Garage Band that even with going to courses and exploring this software I hadn’t yet found; the list goes on and on. 

We need to relax and let children explore with the equipment we give them – we allow this to happen in other contexts, but so often I hear teachers say that they haven’t let the children use something in relation to ICT’s yet because they themselves don’t know how to. To that I say let the children play and then let them teach you how to use it. This will reinforce the learning that has happened for them, empower them as learning leaders and free your time up to do some of the other myriad of demands that all teachers have placed on their time. 

When I was first exposed to a computer it was a small group of 4 year olds who taught me how to use it. They taught me to try something and if it didn’t work try something else. They taught me I couldn’t break it, and through what they taught me then, I have become the confident explorer of ICT’s that I am today. A classic example of who leads who? Who was the teacher? Who gained the most from this process?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy


I want to share the creation of Lena’s animation and retelling of ‘Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy’. Lena decided she wanted to animate this story, one of her favourites, so we discussed how we would be able to do it.  She decided that she would draw the various characters in the story and then film them. This self -set drawing task took Lena two days to complete and then another day to film her movie. 

On the fourth day we recorded the voice over and then she was able to share her accomplishment with the other children at mat time. As usual I burnt the movie into a CD so that Lena could share her work with her extended family, at home.






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 Lena's Movie

I spent part of my time at Ulearn this year exploring the use of Ipads/Ipods in education and plan to make this part of our equipment for the children to interact with next year. Since attending the related breakouts at Ulearn I have spent some time thinking about how to apply what I learnt, and have since discovered through my own exploration, into my teaching practice with our children. One thing I have come up with is to create a folder of all the movies the children are making and having it available for the children to use. I am also going to do this on the Imac the children work on.


My rationale for this is that any time the movies are played on, or through, my laptop there is instantly a large audience of very interested children. There is something about the animations that totally engages the children’s interest and enthusiasm. I am still pondering on why this is. Is it that they have observed the creation of the movies; is it that they see a lot of ‘cartoon’ type television; is it something about the simplicity of the animated stories; is it the fact they have been created by someone they know? I plan to explore this further and see what I can discover.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Some of the ICT's our children use





I have been thinking that I should share some of the ICT’s the children at our Kindergarten are interacting with. We have worked hard over the years to fund raise and purchase a relevant and effective range of equipment for the children to use.  Every item we have has only been purchased after much forethought and discussion to its relevancy.
 


We have two Apple computers for the children to use, an Emac running OS10.4 because it supports the classic environment that we need to run some of our software. The other computer is an Imac running OS10.6 that we use for a multitude of purposes with the children including a Digital Blue microscope, Bamboo Touch tablet, an Akai Professional Keyboard and a variety of software including Kidpix and Comic Life. 

 The children have several digital cameras available for them to use and they download their photos and create learning stories using Comic Life for their portfolios. 

 

We have a lot of peer tutoring supporting this as the ‘experts’ help those still learning. When the Imac is connected to the internet the children have several favourite sites they like to visit like lego.com and Disney.com, amongst others.
 


For group work we have a projector and visualiser with a ceiling mounted screen we can pull down. The visualiser is invaluable to use for sharing photos, small books, using as a microscope and looking closer at small objects. We also use our laptops with the projector to share movies we have made with the children, research on the internet, etc.





At Ulearn I purchased, for the Kindergarten, some 'Logi-Blocks', a set that helps develop an understanding of circuits. The children on exploring these have quickly grasped the way that they work and the meaning of the symbols that are on the blocks.  There is a robot that links to these blocks and I  plan to introduce this soon.  I am looking forward to seeing how they work with this extension, building on their understanding of robotics in another format, rather than just the Lego version. 

For the past few weeks we have been very busy at Greenhithe Kindergarten getting ready for our major fundraiser for the year - The Great Greenhithe Garden Tour, on  the 14th November - this this be the 17th year for our annual garden tour. It is thanks to the generosity of our local gardeners in opening their gardens to the public for one day a year in support of the Kindergarten that we have been able to provide these fabulous resources for our children to explore and learn with.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Isla at work

During the last week of last term I had the opportunity to film Isla creating her animation. She was so focused and intent on her work and despite it being a very wet and noisy day she retained that focus throughout her animation project.

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And this is the movie she created:

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Ulearn10


For the fifth year in a row, I was fortunate enough to attend Ulearn, the conference held in Christchurch annually, that informs and inspires teachers, during the October term break.

I started the week with e-Fellow Master Classes. Monday we shared our journeys so far, with each other, as we shared the presentations we had created for conference delegates later in the week. We gave and received feedback to help make our presentations even more effective.

On Tuesday we had the first e-Fellow ‘group session’ working together with e-Fellows from the past 8 years alongside a team from the Galileo Network who are based in Canada. It was wonderful to meet and share stories with previous e-Fellows and to be part of an inspirational group of teachers. One of the highlights for me was to talk with Carol Marks from Selwyn Kindergarten in Tauranga. Carol was the last Early Childhood e-Fellow in 2006 and I was so impressed by her presentation at Ulearn that year, that I had decided to be an e-Fellow myself one day there and then! Here I am 4 years later following that dream.

And onto the conference itself, three days full of inspiring keynotes and wonderful breakouts combining to create a mass of information to process, interaction with great teachers from all sectors and all seen this year from the perspective of being part of an amazing group of e-Fellow as we bounced our thoughts, ideas and passions off each other. And, we even managed to fit in a late night visit to the Christchurch Art Gallery to see the Ron Meuk exhibition; sculptures that made us all feel emotional in some way or another.

 Lee Crockett from Canada, spoke about the ‘Digital Generation’ and how that brains of children today are wired differently – they are ‘neuroplastic brains’ – as they are changing physically and digitally as their eyes process information 60,000 times faster than text. The digital learners prefer to process pictures, sound and video before text and his catch phrase was “It’s not about hardware, it’s about headware.” We need to be teaching ‘just in case, not just in time’ as we have in the past as the children of today and tomorrow need higher order thinking skills to cope with the world they will be working in.

Steve Wheeler from the U.K., also talked about the trend in education moving from just in case to just in time and he feels it needs to move to just for me – more personalised learning for the future (Te Whariki kept ringing in my ears at this point). He discussed personalised learning and how we can make it interactive and interpersonal.  He also discussed Digital Wisdom and how we need to show children what the dangers are and then they will avoid them – a different scenario from a break out I attended presented by Brett Lee from Australia, who has set himself up as a teenage girl on chat rooms to catch paedophiles online, to arrest.

Lane Clark from Canada, discussed what she calls ‘Learning Smarts’ and how we need to check each stage of the way that children have taken on board the learning and rechecking to see where the learning they have achieved takes them next on their learning journeys. As I sat in her Keynote I could not help but reflect that much of what she was saying is the way we work in ECE, as we follow and build on children’s interests, and follow those interests down some amazing paths.

The final keynote was very entertaining and given by Stephen Heppell who stated we should not be discussing 21st Century learning we should be calling it 3rd Millennium teaching. You can see and listen to this presentation here.

As well as the keynotes I learnt about using IPod Touch and/or Ipads in the teaching environment, enviro-ethical teaching and the availability of open source material on the web, the power of reflection by children using video and even gave an interview for Edtalks (a scary moment) alongside presenting the research I have done so far in my e-Fellowship.

My mind has fizzed and buzzed ever since and I would like to thank Core Education, and especially Vince and Michael, for the opportunity to again attend Ulearn, the professional learning at this conference has to be the best anywhere as we learn from fellow teachers and leading international educators in the beautiful, if still slightly shaky, city of Christchurch. Thank you also to the other e-Fellows who are the most amazing and inspirational teachers, and whenever we get together I come away feeling so privileged to be included in this group. They are also so much fun to be with as we all have the same sense of fun alongside the passion to be the best educators we can for the children we work with.  I really do not want this journey to end!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rethinking

When I started my eFellowship I had the preconception that I would be exploring the extension of literacy skills with children through using animation.  Well, I am coming more and more to the conclusion that although there are some literacy skills being developed, there is far more happening than that. There is so much creativity and planning happening it is blowing me away. And the way in which children learn through observation of their peers is being strongly demonstrated.

On Friday (17th September) I decided to just set up the camera and lap top, in front of my newly created green screen, and see what happened. I had said to the children at mat time that anyone who wanted to try it out could. Toby immediately came up to me with a handful of small cars and said he was ready to start. I showed him how he needed to look at the screen to see where the cars were and showed him the key to push on the keyboard to take his photos. I stood back and watched as he carefully placed the cars and then proceeded to create his animation independently. He knew exactly how far to move his models between shots and worked with confidence and demonstrating an understanding of the entire process. When he said he was finished, and after I exported his animation to Imovie,  I asked him if he wanted to narrate his story or just find some sound effects. He opted for the sound effects and once these and his titles were completed I burned his movie to a CD to take home.

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Toby's Movie

As soon as Toby had finished Lola stepped forward and said she was ready to have a go. I had seen Lola watching the other children who have made animations, as they worked, and she just got straight into things with our model fairies and quickly completed her animation. I was very impressed by the animation she created and the way she worked - I felt she had a concept in mind before she began and worked to create it as she worked so quickly and confidently.  By the time she had finished it was the end of the session and we agreed she would complete her movie today. When I asked her this morning if she was ready to complete her movie she was keen to start, but really wasn't very interested in the process to finish the movie. I could see that for her the creation of the animation was what engaged her interest and she was not really interested in the other elements whereas the other children have been engaged by the entire process. She decided just to add some music and was very happy with the finished movie when we had added the music.  I wonder if she had been able to complete her project in one session, or without a weekend between, she may have been more engaged in the process. It will be interesting to revisit the entire process with her, in one session, to see if it makes a difference.

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Lola's Movie
 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ICT Supporting Learning

At our Kindergarten we use our computers to extend children's learning on an almost daily basis through (just a few examples) -
  • sourcing information on the internet that we cannot find in our book libraries 
  • watching You Tube clips to further extend our learning (e.g. insect metamorphosis etc) 
  • exploring small things through our digital microscope or with our visualiser and projector
  • revisiting events through slideshows and movies
  • creating documentation for portfolios using digital cameras and Comic Life software
The list could go on and on.  As an aside I also often get children to record things as they are happening for me with the cameras and we have several fantastic photographers amongst them.  On excursions out of Kindergarten we always choose several 'official photographers' as having the 'child's view' of where we are visiting gives us a different perspective and helps in our understanding of the learning that has taken place.  Our children love being able to take photographs of their achievements at Kindergarten and then creating their own learning stories to add to their portfolios using Comic Life software, which is very user friendly.  (To download a free trial of Comic Life go here.)

I have recently recorded two examples of children using ICT to extend and support learning.  Firstly we have a group of budding architects who spend part of their time with us, every day, creating some stunning and amazing buildings.  To extend on this interest, the children and I used Google Images to find photographs of some wonderful and exciting buildings from around the world.  Since printing out, laminating and binding the photographs into a book, the children have been using this resource tool as a stimuli to create even more wonderful buildings. They choose buildings from the images to try and recreate or to recreate elements they can see to enhance their creations.  Here is a slide show of some of their wonderful buildings.

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Another example is what happened after a recent concert the children attended at our local school.  The Polkadots invited our children to the concert and on their return to Kindergarten I created a slide show of the photographs I had taken of them and the performers.  I put my lap top onto the table the children were working on, with the slide show running, and the depth of detail in the drawings was amazing (I felt). The discussion happening as they worked was pretty amazing too as they used the slide show as a prompt to sharing their thoughts and ideas about what they had experienced during the performance.


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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Something to think about...

I saw this last night and thought how it applies to all levels of education, and it related to a discussion we had at our Kindergarten today. It is great to have a resource like Ed Talks available - thanks Core!



Sunday, September 5, 2010

An Interview With Leo

I spent some time thinking about how I could get a reflection from Leo on his animation and decided to use our 'Easy-Speak' microphone to record what he said. He was a little unsure about the process, but I managed to get him to share some thoughts about making his animation with me. I am hoping that both my interview technique and the children's understanding of the interview process will improve with experience!

 
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dear Zoo

This week I have been working with Leo who decided last week that he wanted to recreate his favourite book, 'Dear Zoo' by Rod Campbell, as an animation. He discussed with me his plans before I went to Christchurch last week so we planned to do it this week.
On Monday, he arrived ready to set to work with a huge smile. He quickly assembled his characters and was really pleased when I produced a copy of the book as a reference and he checked he had everything ready by reading through it after he had assembled his animals. Suddenly he realised we don't have a model camel at Kindergarten but came up with a solution to this by finding a zebra and deciding that it was too "runny".
We set to work and I showed Leo how the process works, and how he needed to move his model only a short space to create the impression of movement and after two sets of photos with his first model, the elephant, he took control and did the rest of the animation himself. Before each movement he planned where he would place the model carefully before moving it. He made the 'monkey' model do somersaults because "he was too naughty" and told me the frog would be doing big moves between photos because "he's very jumpy so has to do big jumps."
I was impressed with the forethought and planning Leo undertook in his animation and the way he quickly and successfully grasped the process and created his animation.
One thing that has become obvious through this work (and using a smaller table this time to make moving the models easier) was the need for a defined work area for the animator. It is very easy for the camera to be bumped and moved, or the models, by an over enthusiastic audience during the filming. To overcome this I taped off an area around the table and camera with masking tape and a number of children chose to sit behind this and offer their thoughts and own excitement in the process. Leo was much happier with this defined area to work in as well.
We only had enough time to complete filming (he took 632 frames) so the next morning a very excited Leo walked in the door - "we can finish my movie today and I can choose the music and talk."
When we sat down to edit and create the movie in iMovie Leo was so excited it took him some time to really stop and think about the choice of title music but he immediately wanted green for the background of his title page.
He just loved wearing the headphone/mic and after several takes the job was finished. He was so happy and proud of his work. At the end of the session he shared the movie with everyone (including his mum) at mat time, with immense and justifiable pride, and he took home a CD of his movie in Quicktime to share with the rest of his family.
I was impressed with the way Leo worked on his project, the understanding he had of the animation process and the forethought he put into every move he made of his models. I again learnt more about the process and am creating a green background as the blue is really not very successful. I have had a number of children helping me paint a piece of card flouro green to replace the blue screen and it will be interesting to see if it is easier to add the background picture next time.
I had a child approach me today to tell me he wants to make a movie and had brought a toy from home to do it with. He has even decided on a story about his toy to create with. it. I was surprised and delighted as he was not one of the children I anticipated would show an interest in this process and I am looking forward to seeing what he will create.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

A Busy Few Days In Christchurch





I spent last Thursday and Friday (26 and 27th August) in Christchurch with my fellow E-Fellows for an extremely busy and jam packed session of learning, skill sharing, laughter and great company. What an amazing group to work with!
We shared 5 slides of what is currently grabbing and interesting us in E-learning and Florence shared how she is using solo taxonomy with her classes. I found this very interesting and want to explore this further to see how I can apply it to my own teaching.
Something from Nathan's sharing that grabbed me was how in his community in Warrington there is a bus shelter where residents can leave unwanted items for others to use and recycle. If the item is still there after a week the original owner must remove it. As we currently have our annual inorganic collection happening here in Greenhithe and I observe the number of people 'recycling' items I cannot help but think how practical Nathan's community's recycling system is.
Tara shared how to use Prezi and I plan to explore this further as I can think of ways I could use it with the children I am working with.
We spent time working with Matt Tippen from Core Ed looking at how to create a presentation (to help us as we plan what we will share at this year's Ulearn Conference) and later had to create several speeches in 5 minutes on ourselves and something we are passionate about as we learnt how to deliver a speech. It was a little out of the comfort zone for us all as we created, delivered and then were critiqued on these short speeches.
Matt shared his own E-Fellowship research (very interesting) and then shared with us two projects he has been working on - Booktalks and EdTalks.
I have a huge list of other things to explore over the next while as so much of interest was shared within the group and it amazes me how these things can apply across all levels of education, not just to the area each of us is working in.
On Friday one thing that I found amazingly interesting was when Michael Winter of Core shared with us a Ted.com video by Prof. Sugata Mitra about his Hole In The Wall project - it shows so well how children can self direct their own learning without any adult intervention.
By the time I returned home on Friday night my mind was spinning, in fact I don't think I was much company for Tara on the plane as I was struggling with 'brain overload' as I tried to process the information I had gained. I have spent the weekend processing and following up and feel it is going to take me weeks to work through it all fully.
Thank you to everyone - the other E-fellows and Core - for such an amazingly fantastic couple of days, full of laughter and wonderful learning!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Creativity Killed In Schools?

Just in case any of you have not seen this - it is a classic I feel!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Animated Fun

Before embarking on my E-Fellowship I had developed an interest in exploring to a deeper level the use of animation with our children after using it during our participation in the ECE ICT PL Programme. I had only used it a handful of times, with great pleasure for myself and the children I was working with. To introduce animation to a group of children who had not previously participated in the process I decided we would try creating the frog life cycle using animation. This was a group activity with around 6 children helping, each taking on a separate role in the filming process and problem solving together. The trickiest part was the creation of the frog spawn and one of the children found the solution, using our 'googly' eyes that we put on puppets etc. A very successful outcome. There were a few problems, the first being that I have changed my operating system since last using I Can Animate and the software I was using did not work properly in OSX.6 and would not export to IMovie. Disaster I thought, after all the work the children had done. Luckily I attended an AKA ICT cluster meeting soon after and discovered the change and once I downloaded the new version everything worked. I was so relieved and was then able to edit and finish the movie to share with the children.


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Shortly after completing the frog animation I was awarded my E-Fellowship and was now inspired to explore animation and its relationship to literacy to a deeper level. This is proving to be very interesting as I work on inspiring children to start creating their own movies. The first step is discussing with them what makes a story - how we need to have a beginning, a middle section and an ending. We have been looking at books and how every story in them contains these elements. Some children have said "I want to make a movie" but are still finding the story element difficult. I am therefore looking at recreating some of their favourite stories with them to further enhance this.
However two of our children understood the process from the beginning and have created wonderful animations in recent weeks, both of which have come from their own imaginations and using models they decided on themselves.


First is Cade's animation and when he decided he wanted to make it he came to me with the dinosaur models already in his hands and the story ready to dictate to me. We filmed it very quickly as he had planned it all out before he started. He chose his background in KidPix and after we edited everything in IMovie, he dictated his narration and it was done in one take as he was very happy with what he had done. We shared it with all the other children, and his mother and grandmother who came along especially, at mat time and the children have regularly asked me to replay it ever since. This was a great start for me for my current research and has provided the stimuli for the children to start discussing and thinking about what they could create.

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The second animation is Ryan's. He was very keen to create an animation too and decided it had to be about his favourite Superhero - Spiderman. We discussed what models he could use and he had a look at the block area people and found a model of a surgeon to use as the Green Goblin. He then found a wooden man to use as Peter Parker back in his 'normal' clothes and we decided it would be best if he brought one of his Spiderman models from home to use for his movie. Ryan decided that he needed two Spidermen for his movie, for different elements he had planned. When we started filming he quickly 'acted out' each part before setting it up for the photography elements.

His story had developed somewhat from that he initially dictated and it appeared that he had every part of it planned out ready for the filming session. I was impressed with the thought he had put into planning his movie and the way he worked confidently and with each element already thought out. The only glitch for him was how he would get his Spiderman to climb up the wall (a piece of blue paper for the 'blue screen' to Chroma out with his chosen background) and we solved this with some handy 'Blutack'. He had thought that because his model had 'sticky pads' on his hands and it worked on windows etc it would work on the paper - another learning process for him.



Once filmed he chose his background in KidPix and then we exported his animation to IMovie to edit. Ryan told me what sort of music he wanted for his titles and of course the background of the title page had to be red. He dictated his story and it took two takes as he had trouble fitting all his story in with the first take. I love using the microphone headset when doing this with the children as they seem to be so much more focused on what they are doing than if I use just a microphone.

At the mat time at the end of the session when we finished Ryan's animation he shared it with all the other children and the final confirmation of his success was the spontaneous applause when it ended from everyone. The pride on Ryan's face was wonderful and he later shared his movie with his grandfather and his parents. I have made a Quicktime Movie copy on CD for the children of their movies for them to take home and keep as well. One interesting comment from a child was when I was asked if it was the real Spiderman - how wonderful children's imaginations are and it also shows just how visual images can affect children and how careful we must be in what we expose them to!

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Things I have learnt so far -
  • I need to change my backdrop from blue to chroma green asap as when trying to add a background (especially with so much blue on Spiderman) it is difficult to keep all the image with so much blue in the models. I plan to get my husband to create a screen I can use in different places rather than having to use a screen on rollers as my backdrop.
  • The table we used for our animation was too wide and the next one will be done on a narrower surface.

I have several other children working on what they want to create - I'm going to interpret a favourite story book with a child next (he has chosen it) and I have two boys working together on a story they are creating themselves - watch this space!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Working With Robotics



I have spent some time working with the children creating robots using Lego WeDo. This product comes with software that shows a story about a model starring two Lego children, Max and Mia, and then instructions, displayed on screen, to create the model. When the model is completed the software shows the components needed to create movement for the model. The motors for the model are attached to a computer via a usb cable and sounds can be added to the movements.

The children chose to create a two part project, a pair of goal kicking legs and the goal with keeper to stop the ball. This project took place over two days, a Wednesday and Friday. A largish (6-8 at a time) group of children worked together, taking turns, to complete each of the robot models. The majority of the children participating were involved on both days. At the end of building the goal keeper we then really enjoyed setting up the two models (using two laptops) and using them together. Many of the children came to enthuse and join this part of the activity and helped the modelers to celebrate their achievement.

I observed a lot of conceptual language being used during the robot making process –
beside, under, match to, longer, shorter, middle, end etc. The children were matching – one to one, using discriminatory skills and comparison. We were comparing sizes – small, medium, large. Counting the number of ‘bumps’ on the Lego bricks and matching the shape of the bricks on the contents card. The children had two different visual cues to follow using a card showing all the pieces in the set and the picture on the laptop screen. Some of the children found looking at the pieces they needed on the screen easy to follow and others found me pointing to the pieces on the card an easier visual cue. Some of the children reversed what they saw on the screen as they put pieces together and found it hard to see the difference.

I found as the teacher that I was using a lot of rich language and did not need to be directional – I offered prompts, but the children were exploring for themselves. They were engaged and excited by what they were doing. The children watching were also helping and making suggestions, so everyone was feeling included. One child, because of his physical disability needed assistance to push the pieces together – all the other children did it easily.

There was a definite blend of literacy and mathematical skills used in the process. I had initially thought that it was a mathematical skill developing process, but observed the use of much literacy and this excited me.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Peeling An Onion

Why 'Peeling An Onion'?

Well, to me ICT is like an onion - it has layers and as you peel off a layer and feel you have got a handle on what is happening, you discover there is another one underneath, it just keeps on going. And, like an onion it can be very sweet or give you tears.
I have spent the past few years on the most amazing learning curve with ICT. I was one of a group of fortunate Early Childhood teachers who participated in the Ministry of Education's ECE ICT Professional Learning Programme. We were able to undertake a fantastic range of professional learning experiences while doing action research within our centres. Our Kindergarten looked at how children can self assess their own learning while using ICT as a tool. Our children managed to blow us away with the way they were able to use ICT's and the understanding they had of the learning occuring for them.
At the end of the three years I was left wanting to explore to a deeper level some of the ICT tools we had used and enjoyed, especially animation and robotics and their impact on the development of literacy and maths skills for children. Fortunately I was selected as a Core Foundation 2010 E-Fellow and this has allowed me the opportunity to spend some time exploring these.
I remember when I went to my first Ulearn Conference in Christchurch (2006) and hearing people talking about things like blogging, wikis, Web 2.0, Skype, etc and thinking - how am I ever going to get a handle on this. Within months, I was Skyping friends, creating blogs and participating in a wiki. A year later, at the next ULearn, I arrived feeling such an expert until I was exposed to the latest technology and thinking and away I went again!
I keep wondering where I am going to go next with my journey down the ICT path and how it can impact on the learning of the children I am privileged to work with. This blog will contain reflections of what I do with the children and my observations during my time as an E-Fellow and beyond. I hope you enjoy reading it.