A Blended Course for Children


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This is a course design in basic computer skills for children.

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A Blended Course for Children

  1. 1. Compiled by: Carmela Degabriele
  2. 2. Contents Page How eLearning Works in Malta ……………………………………………………………………………… 1 Course Overview………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 2 Why a Blended Course?.....………………………………………………………………………………………. 4 eLearning and Class Teacher Coordination ………………………………………………………… 5 Keyboard Skills …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 5 Critical and Analytical Skills …………………………………………………………………………………. 6 Groupwork ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7 Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning …………………………………………………………… 7 Surfing the Internet ……………………………………………………………………………………………… 8 MS Powerpoint …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 10 Digital Resources …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11 Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11 Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 12
  3. 3. A Blended Course for Children How eLearning Works in Malta Primary schools in Malta have a team of eLearning teachers, each of whom is assigned two schools, in order to deliver ICT lessons across the curriculum. Teachers deliver three double-period lessons every day, to different classes. We teach six different year groups, from Year 1 to Year 6. Although eLearning teachers are not bound with a fixed time table, and make changes according to the students’ needs, they try to give an equal number of lessons to each class. Each lesson period is ninety minutes long, and it includes a presentation. This may be a PowerPoint presentation, a video, a podcast, or a formal delivery. This is followed by some practice, where the students are divided into groups to work at their desks, while pairs of children take turns to work on the class computers. The third part of the lesson involves assessment. The eLearning teacher checks whether the children have learnt the skills taught through different methods in that particular lesson. The eLearning team consists of about twenty five members. We visit each class eight times throughout the whole scholastic year. This is not often enough for children to learn basic computer skills. Besides, each session is too far apart from the other, and if children do not practice what they have learned at school or at home, they would not assimilate it, and by the time the eLearning teacher visits again she will therefore have to present a resume` of the previous lesson to refresh the children’s memory. Another disadvantage is that teachers are not specifically trained in eLearning; that they only attend one professional development session in eLearning in every scholastic year, and sometimes this is not relevant to eLearning across the curriculum. Course Overview This course will be a blended one that will focus on eight-year-old children. The course will teach ICT skills through core subjects. I plan to focus on one class (approximately 20 children) at a time, and meet the children for face-to-face teaching, once a week for ninety minutes. During the lesson, I will teach one or two ICT skills embedded in one of the core subjects. The work suggested during this course design is only an example and can be
  4. 4. altered according to the needs of the children as individuals, and the classroom as a whole. ICT skills will be based on the new policy of Core Competencies being launched in Malta in 2009/2010. A copy of the benchmarks will be included as a resource. I propose that the course will be about ten weeks long, and I will meet the children once a week. By the time the children are eight years old, they would have learnt the basic ICT skills, including switching computers on and off, mouse handling, basic navigation skills and the use of programmes available on the classroom PCs, such as KidPix and Tux Paint. During the first few weeks of the course, pupils will learn more basic ICT skills, such as keyboard skills, using the internet, use of e-mail, web browsing and navigation. They will also learn how to search for specific sites using the Boolean search method and other surfing skills. They learn how to copy, paste and edit the information found. Through the information gathered, they will learn everyday comprehensive life-skills inclusive of critical, analytical and communication skills. They will also learn time-management and cooperative and collaborative skills through activities. Children will be encouraged to post their work and their queries in a specific folder created specifically for the course, with e-mail being the only medium of asynchronous communication. For synchronous communication, children will learn how to use Skype and communicate with the eLearning teacher. However, this will take place only during a pre-determined, specific time-frame. Skype was chosen because it is very easy to use, and free for users from other Skype accounts. Basic-use digital resources will be integrated as well. These include digital and video cameras. As part of their eventual presentation, they will work on a project that will be given to them. This will include pair- or group-work, as well as work to do on their own at home. The end product will be assessed, and the results will be sent to parents via e-mail using the excel sheets provided in the Core Competencies. Children who do not have a computer will not be assigned computer work for home, but will be given work that can be done in a different way,
  5. 5. Before the course begins, parents and children will have separate explanatory meetings, indicating what they ought to do. A handbook will be prepared, outlining the skills to be taught, how to download the programs being used, and how to use them. Why a Blended Course? A blended course is taught partly in the classroom and partly online. Blended courses allow the student to benefit from both methods of teaching; online and face-to-face. Primary school children are still very young to follow an online course without interaction with the teacher. To read for an online course, the student has to be an independent learner so that he can manage on his own. By eight years children have not yet mastered full independence; so in my opinion an online course is not ideal for them. Basic independent skills are taught during the early years and during the first three years of the primary school; yet there is still a lot to be learned before children reach full independence. For Maltese primary school children this is the first opportunity to learn online. However, because the eLearning teacher team is small, it will solve the problem of contact time. During a hybrid course, children receive the same amount of contact time with the eLearning teacher, practice and perform at home, work further on the computer and online, learn using the computer and its resources better, and gain knowledge of organizational skills and time management. As stated before, an eLearning teacher in Malta, at the maximum, delivers about three lessons each term to each class. During these three lessons she will teach a skill or two, and focuses on the content of the syllabus as well. Through a hybrid course, the teacher emphasizes the ICT skills and brushes up the course outline. The syllabus content will be emphasized by the class teacher during her contact time, to provide students with continuity. When planning for the course the eLearning teacher should focus on one class at a time, such that lessons will be close to one other, as stated in the overview. In my situation, there are three classes from each year group in the biggest school where I teach, so in approximately the first term, one course will be finished. The other two classes will read for the course during the second and third term. By the end of the scholastic year all three classes will have read for the course.
  6. 6. eLearning and Class Teacher Coordination Coordination for course design is a must; the eLearning teacher should help the class teacher with her work and not add to the existing load. The class teacher and eLearning teacher provide a syllabus, or, preferably, the scheme of work to be taught during the course period. Together they work a new scheme of work that will include a topic from the syllabus and an ICT skill in each lesson. The class teacher has to keep in mind that after the face-to-face lecture she has to continue to work on the skills taught, and that she ought to give the children the opportunity to practice what they have learnt. The precise number of lessons to complete the course and the sequence of the lessons will be established. The class teacher should bring up any personal queries about the programs being used, so that they will be solved by the eLearning teacher. A parents’ encounter will be organised, with a view to informing them how the course will work, and how they should help their children. An instruction booklet, including how to go about the work involved in the course, websites from where the programs can be downloaded, and installing instructions will be prepared and sent via e-mail to each child. A list of teachers’ and children’s e-mail addresses will also be published in the booklet. To keep expenses to the minimum, all programs chosen will be freeware. Keyboard Skills “Most research supports starting students on formal keyboarding around Grade 4. All kids do not have the eye-hand motor coordination to learn keyboarding skills earlier than that." says Theresa Tovey, occupational therapist in Region #4 (Chester, Deep River, and Essex) in Connecticut. As stated above, children are ready to learn keyboard skills when they are about eight years old (in Malta this would be in Grade 3). It is very important for a child to learn how to use the keyboard properly as early as possible. If instruction begins late, many students would already have been set in bad habits. A free program for children, available on the internet to teach typing skills, is RapidTyping TypingTutor 2.8.5. http://www.freewarefiles.com/downloads_counter.php?programid=27770 . The program will be downloaded and installed on the classroom computers so that the eLearning teacher will give face-to-face sessions how to position fingers for typing. Children are taught one row of keys in one session and practice must be limited to the use of these keys only. Children should be encouraged to look at the screen, and not at the keyboard, when typing. If the child finds it difficult not to look at the keys they may be covered with colour coded stickers. For
  7. 7. instance, keys to be pressed by the index finger should be in one colour while those pressed with the middle finger in a different colour. Another important thing to teach is that the keyboard is divided into two parts, and that both hands should be used. Start teaching the middle row then go to the top row and then bottom one. The program is very child-friendly and it offers feedback and assessment. Work that includes typing is given throughout the course so that children will practice the acquired skills. Critical and Analytical skills “A new report, commissioned by JISC and the British Library, counters the common assumption that the ‘Google Generation’ – young people born or brought up in the Internet age – is the most adept at using the web. The report by the CIBER research team at University College London claims that, although young people demonstrate an ease and familiarity with computers, they rely on the most basic search tools and do not possess the critical and analytical skills to assess the information that they find on the web.” Philip Pothen www.jisc.ac.uk/news/stories/2008/01/googlegen.aspx As stated above the Google Generation is missing everyday life skills, for instance, critical and analytical skills. These skills are a very important acquisition, because they are not only used to retrieve information from the internet, but in different fields too. Mastering these skills help children in decision making and taking. Through comprehension tests, storytelling, sequencing and data management, children learn to criticise and analyse information. When looking up information, it is crucial to read it, select what is relevant, copy what is needed and discard what is not. Text from the internet should never be copied and pasted without being edited. More often than not, the information will be above the children’s level of comprehension and intelligence, especially when the information is retrieved from generic websites that are not specifically designed for children. Comprehension tests should include direct questions where the reader answers from the given text, but they should also contain open-ended questions to motivate the learner to think, criticise and analyse before answering questions. During storytelling, learners can role play a character, therefore analysing it in order to perform better. For a sequencing exercise, children can be given a series of pictures to put in order. They would have to look at the picture, analyze it, and perhaps read some text before positioning it in its correct place. Managing data during a maths lesson also helps the children acquire critical and analysing skills. Data collecting, graph building and deriving conclusions help learners to acquire the necessary skills. This work can be done at school or at home, either on the
  8. 8. computer or not; feedback or assessment can be given face-to-face or via e- mail. Children who do not own a computer can still learn the skills; information can be retrieved from books borrowed from the school or local council library. Group Work “Young pupils who work in groups learn how to compromise and resolve petty arguments as well as making rapid progress in maths, science and reading, a new study reveals…… Pupils became more focused on their work and the amount of thoughtful discussion between children more than doubled in many classes, the study found.” Alexandra Smith guardian.co.uk, Friday 31 March 2006 16.11 BST. Group work not only teaches the skills described above, but also helps children to make rapid progress, it also teaches cooperative and collaborative skills, depending upon the work being done. Groups should be composed of children of different abilities, and each member is assigned a different role so that they will help each other through peer-to-peer teaching. Group work can be done during most of the lessons. When preparing group activities, the teacher has to take into consideration the needs and abilities of all the learners in the group such that each one will have a role and benefit from the activity being carried out. During cooperative group activities, members are assigned different tasks that they complete on their own and then all tasks are amalgamated into one single piece of work. A round-robin strategy works very well in a creative writing lesson. Children can work on the computer and from their desks to build up a story. Cooperation is also ideal when handling data in a maths lessons. When working in collaboration, all group members work in a team and together they make and take decisions. It may happen that when working in collaboration, not all group members provide their share of work to the group. Some members leave whole or parts of tasks to the leaders of the group. The class teacher should draw the attention of these children to this, and help them realise that the group needs their share. If group work skills are not instilled in children from a very young age, they will get set in bad habits and will not be able to work in a team later. Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning E-mail is the only communication tool being used along this course for asynchronous learning. All content, practice and finished work will be sent via e-
  9. 9. mail in the form of documents, presentations, video clips and podcasts. Assessment and feedback will be given face-to-face and results will be sent home using the prepared Excel workbook for Core Competencies. Sending e-mails is free of charge; although the user has to pay for the internet connection, it is part and parcel of the internet package. Children get acquainted with the e-mail interface during a face-to-face session. They learn how access mail, download and send attachments and save important e-mail messages for later use. They will also learn how to send their finished work or queries to the teacher. One disadvantage of asynchronous learning is that mail takes some time to be answered. On the other hand audio-conferencing or video-conferencing is an ideal tool for synchronous learning. The systems resemble the physical classroom and learning and discussion take place in real time. Participants are time- synchronised so that they will all be present for the organised session. A weekly session of synchronised learning will be organised for discussion from when the application is taught onwards. Most modern computers are furnished with an in-built camera and microphone which are used for video conferencing but if the computer does not have the peripherals, they can be bought separately and installed. For this course Skype has been chosen because it is easy and free to use between Skype users. Children will learn how to sign up for an account, download the Skype setup and then repeat the same procedure on their home computers. At school, a video-conferencing session will be organised so that children experience synchronous discussion. The class will be divided into two groups and settle in two different rooms, preferably far apart, and a conferencing session will be held. This is to show how it works and how participants can discuss issues online. Through the course a session of conferencing will be organised each week (starting after the lesson is delivered and continuing till the end of the course) to discuss a topic from the syllabus, or discuss queries about the course with their peers and eLearning teacher. A synchronous conferencing class resembles a physical class where the participants can interact with the eLearning teachers and their peers so children acquire and enhance communication skills. Surfing the Internet Classroom and home computers come with a web browser to make it easy to access the internet. Double clicking on the web browser icon gives access to the internet, and an appealing interface welcomes you. Users are given the opportunity to get acquainted with the interface and then the teacher explains how it is used. The
  10. 10. use of search engines, Uniform Resource Locator (URL), search bar, adding to favourites are explained. Time will be given for hands on practice and queries will be solved through a face-to-face session. For this part of the lesson children are asked to look up information about a given topic, select, copy and paste the information into a Word file and then it is read, criticised and analysed and the edited version will be kept, while the original version is discarded. For more practice at home, children are asked to perform the same process and retrieve information, edit it and send it via e-mail to the teacher or to their peers if they are working on a co-operative project. Learners will also be taught how to find images using the images tab on the browser and save them in the My Pictures folder. When a PowerPoint presentation is being created, images are retrieved from the My Pictures folder which will be displayed by default. They will also be taught how to select them, copy and paste them in their projects. Some searches need phrases so that accurate information will be retrieved, so children are taught how to use inverted commas at the beginning and end of a phrase. This is called a Boolean search because the computer searches for the whole exact phrase. It should also be explained that when a search is carried out without inverted commas the computer searches for every word in the phrase independently. Surfing the internet encourages students to become independent and self- taught individuals, because the internet is full of information in different forms such as video clips, podcasts, live conferences, forums etc… where the learner can participate and besides learning what he needs or wants, he will also enhance communication skills and become more fluent in language. They will also be learning in a different, subconscious and at the same time interesting way. Independent search
  11. 11. Boolean search MS Powerpoint Classroom computers are furnished with MS Office software suite. One of the most powerful tools of the suite is MS PowerPoint, used for presentations in different fields of life. “Teaching children around ages 9-12 to use Microsoft PowerPoint to create simple presentations is a great way to help them learn to organise their thoughts and use an important software program. Introducing children to technology helps prepare them for the workforce, as well as college.” E. Harmon, Teaching Children to Create Simple PowerPoint Presentations. As stated above, children can be taught how to create a presentation from a very young age. MS PowerPoint is used for presentations as part of projects in primary school. Teaching children to create simple PowerPoint presentations is therefore an asset to their learning, and a new way to present their project work. At this age only the basics of PowerPoint will be taught, so that children will not find it difficult to create presentations on their own. Through the course they will learn how to access the PowerPoint application from the Start menu.
  12. 12. Opening a new presentation and choosing a blank slide are the very basic skills. Further on they will learn how to insert an image which has been saved in the My Pictures, and how to insert text using WordArt or a textbox. With the basic skills at hand children can create simple presentations that include visuals. When projects are created with MS PowerPoint, users save time because most presentations can be used and reused with minimal editing. They save printing materials too, as the project can be presented from a computer or sent via e- mail for assessment and feedback. Children are used to seeing presentations in their classrooms, since many teachers use them in everyday teaching, therefore acting as models, stimulating and motivating pupils to produce their own. When creating and delivering presentations, children use and enhance their research and communication skills. Digital Resources The use of digital resources starts from a very early age. It does not surprise us in the least to see a toddler fully mastering how to use the television or DVD remote control. As soon as children start recognizing the alphabet they will explore their parents’ mobile keyboard, and through trial and error learn how to use it. The use of the digital- and video-camera in the classroom motivates the children to shoot photographs of their peers at work or at play, as well as step- by-step snapshots of activities and projects. They can use their personal cameras to shoot photos on an outing, for use in projects and presentations. A hands-on activity in the use of a digital camera is planned, and children are given the opportunity to take pictures. Further on, students are taught how to connect a camera to a computer, and transfer the photos to a prepared folder. They can also send their photos as attachments to their peers or teacher via e- mail. Using the video camera during a class activity is also an interesting activity for the children. Conclusion On following and finishing this course, participants will have reached the basic steps of independent learning. Further on they will learn to become completely independent learners if the modules (enclosed in Appendix) are utilised and edited in an age- and competency-appropriate manner. Bibliography
  13. 13. ‘Google Generation’ is a myth, says new research Philip Pothen http://www.jisc.ac.uk/news/stories/2008/googlegan.aspx Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future Gary Hopkins Education World® Editor-in-Chief Copyright © 1998 Education World Group work benefits pupils, study finds Alexandra Smith (guardian.co.uk, Friday 31 March 2006 16.11 BST) Teaching Children to Create Simple PowerPoint Presentations October 26, 2007 by E Harmon National Policy and Strategy for the Attainment of Core Competences in Primary Education DQSC January 2009 Appendices Core Competences benchmarks Core competences Workbook.xls Scheme of work for blended course PPT Musical Instrument Lesson plan of Musical Instruments Worksheets for classroom use Worksheets for homework Books for further reading Theme: Musical Instruments
  14. 14. (This lesson will be given after week 9 when children have learnt to analyze, criticize, use a search engine, copy out text, find an image, compose and reply to an email.) Objectives: To introduce knowledge about musical instruments. To learn related language (string, percussion etc..) To encourage further read about musicians and music. Children use good language during discussions. Use of commas in a list. To create a musical instrument following instructions (maracas) ICT Objectives Encourage children to search the internet using a search engine (Google) for information about famous musicians. Children learn how to criticize and analyze information, keep what is relevant and discard what is not. (Look for information about Bach, Mozart & Beethoven.) To find images from internet, copy and paste in My Pictures. To access a given website and play educational games relevant to theme. http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/schools/4_11/music/mm/ http://www.learnenglish.org.uk/kids/games/musicmaze/index.htm Resources: PPT of Musical Instruments Worksheets and Activities No More Bad tunes Musical Instruments F2F Strategy • Elicit from the children names of musical instruments. • Show PPT Musical Instruments and explain different kinds of instruments and listen to their sound. • Children are divided into groups and play online games. The rest of the children are asked to work out activities from their desks. • Musical instrument will be created during a craft lesson with class teacher. Online Strategy
  15. 15. • After the lesson, post to children’s email PPT Musical Instruments, website links, worksheets, hard copies of books and instructions of tasks so children will review and workout. • Children are given a deadline when to post finished work. • Work is corrected by eLearning teacher and feedback is given f2f during the next session. • Charts or booklets will be prepared with class teacher in groups. A Blended Course for Children in Basic ICT Skills
  16. 16. Scheme of Work Week Academic Academic ICT Skill Program/Apps Activity Goal Week Comprehension Reading & Keyboard RapidTypingTyping 1 Test criticizing skills Tutor 2.8.5 text Week Vocabulary Correct Keyboard RapidTypingTyping 2 spelling skills Tutor 2.8.5 Week Story Analyzing skill Keyboard RapidTypingTyping 3 Sequence skills Tutor 2.8.5 Week e-mail writing Understanding Accessing & Outlook Express 4 & following Using instructions Outlook Express Week Participating Good use of Using Skype Skype 5 in a discussion language Video/audio conferencin g Week Looking up Defining & Using a Internet Explorer 7 information narrowing a search search engine (Boolean Using search) Google Week Reading & Finding, Copying, Internet Explorer 8 understanding reading, pasting & text choosing editing text. Using Google Week Creative Writing good, Looking up Google 9 writing simple and (image tab) sentences saving image about an image Week Creative Writing Creating a MS Powerpoint 10 writing sentences presentation about an image Week Show & tell Watching & Shooting (no apps used) 10 (use of digital understanding photos Hands on activity camera) a eHow video
  17. 17. Resources for Sample Lesson The Tube that Toots By Beth A. Beutler 1 Mum toots a tube. It is silver. It has three parts. The parts fit together. They look like a long tube. She says it is a flute. 2 I think it is cute! 3 She blows across a hole. She presses keys. The keys block holes. They block the air. The flute makes sounds. The sounds are new each time she moves her fingers. 4 She looks at notes on a paper. Then she moves her fingers to match the notes. A tune comes out. She plays a song! I dance to the song. 5 Mum loves to play the flute. It sounds so nice. It sounds like birds singing. Wonderful music! Copyright © 2007 edHelper The Tube that Toots 1. What does the flute look like? (mark with an X) Circle Box Bag Tube 2. The child's mother across a hole to make sounds.
  18. 18. 3. The child thinks the flute is . 4. How does the mother change the sounds? 5. The keys the holes and the air. 6. What did the child do when the sounds came out? The music sounds like: (mark with an X) Dogs barking Cats purring People screaming Birds singing 8. The mother has made . Paper Plate Maracas Craft A maracas is a Latin American and Tupi rattle. The original maracas were made from hollow gourds filled with pebbles or seeds. You can make simple maracas from one or two paper plates stapled together, containing dried beans or popcorn. These are fun to make at a party for preschoolers - you can then make a lot of noise!
  19. 19. Supplies needed: • One or two paper plates • Dried beans, rice, or popcorn • Stapler • Paint, markers, or crayons • Optional: crepe paper streamers Put a handful or two of dried beans, rice, or popcorn in a paper plate. Staple a paper plate securely on top of it. [You can use a single plate for each maraca by folding a paper plate in half , adding the beans, then stapling the rim to itself.] Decorate the maracas with crayons, markers, or paint. Matching Musical Instruments (Use the line tool at bottom of screen)
  20. 20. Xylophone Harp Triangle Cymbals Guitar Drum Violin Maracas Tambourine Trumpet Hjjjh