Before the Chinese New Year holiday I sent home a quick email (below) to ask our Year 4 and 5 children to complete their homework and for Year 5 to have a bit of fun and do something extra.
What returned was brilliant. Nicholas, a boy from Year 5 who tries his best at all times but not exactly a high flyer produced this:
Nicholas Year 5
I am writing to you to ask if you could either assist you child in working on a mini project over the holiday for fun and for honing their ICT skills. It will also give you the chance to share the learning your child is doing in ICT as well.
I have made 7 short video clips on my channel at: Youtube.com/user/edtechlounge. These videos range between 1 minute and 4 minutes showing your child what to do (and you if you want try it too!).
WHAT YOU NEED:
1.A computer with Windows OS. The program Paint.Net. This is a free program we are using in school. You can download and install from here: www.getpaint.net
2.(Mac Users can try to do this on Splashup.com – click on the link but do not worry if you can’t).
2. Children, download your Paint.net work that you have already done and open it. This is either saved on the USB drives that the children have saved at school or emailed to themselves as an attachment.
3. Open the photo inside Paint.net.
4. Follow the tutorials on YouTube.
N.B. If you haven’t got your files from school then take a photo of yourself or friend without smiling or showing teeth. An open mouth does not work so well.
This term (February 2011) we are running a school wide control and programming topic that I feel is missing and entirely necessary to boost the attainment of ICT skills across the age range. Why am I doing this? The cohort I have inherited has such a wide ranging set of skills and inthe most part, poorly attaining children that we need to boost their awareness of what they can create with ICT. The way I envisage in doing this with Scratch from Year 1 to Year 6.
In the break between Christmas and Chinese New Year there is short half term that has seen the Year 3 children (who are my lowest achievers) realy take their learning into their own hands for te first time this academic year - and has prompted me to re-evaluate the path of the attainment for the rest of my year groups.
So this is ths plan:
To integrate scratch projects across the school from Year 1 to Year 6 with video accompaniment which should allow me to support the less confident children in my classes.
The project that kicked off a long time back (I think 2001-2?) was heralded as a large and complex operation that would encompass many governments, organisations and operatives. Since the many newspaper, blog and newsfeed stories that have chronicled the progress of the project it seems as though the OLPC has taken a slightly different track in it’s approach and direction. This sidestep is part and parcel due to Walter Bender leading a team with the OS rather than the hardware.
Sugar, the name for the OS that OLPC uses is a flavour of the Fedora Linux family and is also available through Debian, Ubuntu and, as I’m about to chat about, the live USB version. Although, I’m cheating a little, as I’ve actually got it through VirtualBox as as a separate installer. The idea is that I would like to use it in class as a live USB for the smaller children in another computing environment that windows for various reasons that i’ll come to ina moment. The live USB version, I would assume, is very similar in use as the main with some elements missing – but for this post I’m sure this won’t matter as the crux of the issue is classroom use.
So far, this OS (the Strawberry Sugar on a stick but not on a stick!) is working very well for me. i really like the interface, the simplicity and the ready robustness of the feel I played around with it and tried to think like a 5 or 6 year old would when they are presented with something new. The whole wow factor followed by the frantic clicking and then followed by the stop and look. I did this without precautiuon and ened up opening the turtle application. Now, my students (age from 4 to 11) are pretty familiar with windows and they see a changing desktop appearance week in week out but not the operation. The circular dial would, I feel, entice them to click on the picture. I mean, after all I set up icon shortcuts for them to “click-click” on daily and this seems kid centric to me. The circle of apps surrounds them too which is what I like also. So far, so good.
We have been using the Windows version of Gcompris for a while now as it has games and quizzes that are colourful and easy to follow and differentiate for the more computer savvy 5 year old. Also, Gcompris is open source (resticted for Windows users) but the full set up available for your school should you run EdUbuntu or similar (or if your site manager allows you to run VirtualBox) coupled with Sebran and you have quite a setup for the bebinner ICT class for children (or OAPs getting used to a computer and keyboard).
What is really good about Sugar though is the potential of the site and the community that runs it. The model of the Mozilla extensions that has made web browsing sans IE has been used here too. The Activities menu is growing all the time and there are some reasonable addons here too. As any self respecting ICT teacher will know music is a brilliant factor in the attention grabbing eyes-on-the-screen activity where and hour zips by without a word said (headphones permitting). Tamtam Jam activities provide this with an easy download.
I am sure that I will hit stumbling blocks along the way and the fact I have to try and persuade my Principal to give me money for 25 2Gb USB drives so that I can operate this for my classroom is one of them. What I would then like to do is test and post up the pitfalls and the successes – especially the neighbourhood tool and see the reaction.
From the beginning of this month we have running a month's worth of internet safety lessons from Year 1 to Year 6. At first I was a little apprehensive about going as young as Year 1 due to the general abstractness of the Internet as a whole. Sometimes I think that the children don't really understand how this all works. I know that they see things in a different light to us adults and that sometimes these kind of boundaries are simply eschewed but, the idea of chatting, gaming, SMS-ing, chatting in games, Facebook, Skype and that thiscomputer is the portal to an ethereal life also, sometimes, escapes them.
When we discuss the handing out of personal information online many children still think this is acceptable. Why? Because they see it as making friends in a truly honest type of way. The conversations with children as young as 5 (because they Facebook their friends usually with an older sibling) they think that adding a friend is simply just that. What we have to do now is kind of unravel this honesty and make them stop and think.
The videos posted below and the image right (from a series of animations for 5-7 yr olds ) are from the CEOP Think You Know? Campaign from the UK Police force. The noce way this taps into young minds is the general feel of the animation. It's not like the help videos of old where some minor sporting celebrity would tell the kids to stay safe, instead it's a lot more in tune with both age group and context. The website, you think you know is well stocked with catchy ideas for age groups 5-7, 8-10 and 11-16 and games to keep the younger ones thinking about how to behave in a responsible way.
There is an element to a child's online life that is often over looked because sometimes adults either feel that they don't know enough or that using a computer is embarrassing in front of their children. The issue is the sharing of information with the child and vice versa. The fact that many parents don't know what their children are doing online is a serious cause for condern. As an ICT teacher I have access to the lives of many children and their computing habits. It interesting to find out just how many children of 9 and under have a computer in their bedrooms. Many, though don't but the content they're viewing is also borderlining a worry.
I mentioned above the 5 year old users of Facebook and what they do on there. They told me that they play games on there. Fine. But, I would hazzard a gues that the people they invite are people that they don't know. This was the key element of the beginning of the internet safety month: Sharing information online. BrainPop gladly shares their online safety for free. Thank you Brainpop.
The knock on from this is chat based element of Facebook is chatting during an online bout of Call of Duty MW2 (Mature 17+ and kids as young at 9 playing it) or similar Xbox 360/ PS3 type game. What was difficult again for the kids to understand is that they could be playing some 30Yr old man from Colorado while we're here in Asia. The discussion went further with children telling me that they don't chat with them during gaming time as it's too difficult. Again, they miss the point of befriending someone that they wouldn't in real life.Would male friends with a bunch of men playing football on the field because they like football? "No!" they cried. So..
There is some kind of synaptic element to it all where the understanding of the internet is perceived as an extension to everyday life. Was TV the same as this? I don't think so. Could it be the video site revolutionthat allows every body into your living/bed/study room (as the video below suggests) that makes it more like real life.
As the kids get nearer Year 6 (10 ro 11Yrs) they're already versed in commenting on YouTube (one of the more immediate ways to gain an angle on cyberbullying) so the CEOP have made a set of rather poignant videos similar in impact to the recent drink-drive campaigns.The video at the bottom is for parents.
For those parents who've got teenage children or your're reading this and Year 6 and over.
A final video. The key part of this is that you should find out the options of privacy first. Can you only allow friends, friends of friends or the whole world to view your profile? Children should be allowed online as long as they know how to change the settings and only befriend those they know in real life.
This video is from the same agency in the UK. It is very hard hitting.
Moshi Monsters is a realatively new version of the Tamagotchi craze. The kids in school have gone nuts for this and TutPup (more on tutup later). The great thing about Moshi Monsters is that there is a community of other children here to converse with in a safe environment. The whole site allows quizzes and all manner of interactivity to share with other Monsters. Go here for Moshi fun!