Sunday, 4 July 2010

The National Curriculum - ICT at KS2

Well it seems that we are stuck with the 2000 version of the National Curriculum so I am revisiting to have a fresh look at how it fits the needs of KS 2 children today. The National Curriculum text is black, digital literacy text green and my text blue!
The ICT Curriculum for KS2 opens with a general statement:

During key stage 2 pupils use a wider range of ICT tools and information sources to support their work in other subjects. They develop their research skills and decide what information is appropriate for their work. They begin to question the plausibility and quality of information. They learn how to amend their work and present it in a way that suits its audience.

Okay – that general statement gives plenty of scope for the newer technologies, much of the research can be done with iPod Touches or mobile phones, games machines can easily support work in other subjects – no problem there.
Thinking of Digital Literacy which is something that we all agree all children need to be taught, and take Becta’s http://schools.becta.org.uk/upload-dir/downloads/digital_literacy_publication.pdf definition of what that it:

The term ‘digital literacy’ relates to:

•    the functional skills of knowing about and using digital technology effectively
•    the ability to analyse and evaluate digital information
•    knowing how to act sensibly, safely and appropriately online
•    understanding how, when, why and with whom to use technology.

Then we can see that that first NC statement gives the scope for the first bullet about Digital Literacy: “knowing about and using digital technology effectively.”

Knowledge, skills and understanding

Finding things out

1.Pupils should be taught:
  1. to talk about what information they need and how they can find and use it [for example, searching the internet or a CD-ROM, using printed material, asking people] 
  2. how to prepare information for development using ICT, including selecting suitable sources, finding information, classifying it and checking it for accuracy [for example, finding information from books or newspapers, creating a class database, classifying by characteristics and purposes, checking the spelling of names is consistent] 
  3. to interpret information, to check it is relevant and reasonable and to think about what might happen if there were any errors or omissions.

The Finding Things Out section reads a bit out of date, mainly due to the reference to CD Roms but gives plenty of scope for making branching data bases, normal data bases and the interrogation of both. This gives opportunities for the higher order thinking skills, questioning, hypothesising, testing the hypothesis, classifying, analysing and interpreting the information. NB the second bullet point in the definition of Digital Literacy is present in this section – see “the ability to analyse and evaluate digital information.” Think about using Word Clouds made with tools such as Wordle to analyse a text, to find key messages from a speech after watching a video recording of a speech. ICT add so much more scope here now than when the statements were written, there was no YouTube bank of videos and Web 2.0 tools that we now take for granted. Think about using Wallwisher or Voicethread to meet the "asking people" bit, the NC is not restricting here but it needs think about a bit more broadly than was intended originally and use other tools as well as database software to enhance it.

Developing ideas and making things happen


2. Pupils should be taught:

1.    how to develop and refine ideas by bringing together, organising and reorganising text, tables, images and sound as appropriate [for example, desktop publishing, multimedia presentations]
2.    how to create, test, improve and refine sequences of instructions to make things happen and to monitor events and respond to them [for example, monitoring changes in temperature, detecting light levels and turning on a light]
3.    to use simulations and explore models in order to answer 'What if ... ?' questions, to investigate and evaluate the effect of changing values and to identify patterns and relationships [for example, simulation software, spreadsheet models].

Developing ideas and making things happen – how many presentations do I see children creating each week?
Statement 1 is covered fairly well in all schools by the use of PowerPoint, brochures, newspapers etc.
Statement 2 relating specifically to control technology is covered well by younger children with bee-bots and various software control simulations, some schools using Lego NXT and robots do it well, but the majority of our school's coverage of this is poor. Many schools seem to have abandoned using Logo - sad, some use Scratch which is fine, Go and Flowol contribute towards coverage but there is still loads of scope here for our schools.Control technology is such a big part of our lives pupils do really need to have some idea of how it works. Data logging is so easy and can be great fun, still many schools shy away from getting data loggers and doing it!
Statement 3 Spreadsheets – some schools do this section well but it is not sound across the board. Computer simulations are improving by the year and there are games galore to introduce to pupils to meet the needs of this statement.

Exchanging and sharing information

3. Pupils should be taught:

1.    how to share and exchange information in a variety of forms, including e-mail [for example, displays, posters, animations, musical compositions]
2.    to be sensitive to the needs of the audience and think carefully about the content and quality when communicating information [for example, work for presentation to other pupils, writing for parents, publishing on the internet].

The examples here are old, but they are only examples, if we replace them with EduGlogster posters, stop motion animations, photostories, podcasts, wikis, blogs, forums and videos with sound track and narration added where appropriate then it would seem more up to date and maybe more exciting. Thinking of the digital literacy aspect 3rd bullet - knowing how to act sensibly, safely and appropriately,  - then knowing how to share and exchange information may take on a slightly expanded meaning, it probably needs the word “safely” added to update it for current times. The last Digital Literacy bullet also understanding how, when, why and with whom to use technology is relevant here as well as in the last section!

Reviewing, modifying and evaluating work as it progresses
4. Pupils should be taught to:

1.    review what they and others have done to help them develop their ideas
2.    describe and talk about the effectiveness of their work with ICT, comparing it with other methods and considering the effect it has on others [for example, the impact made by a desktop-published newsletter or poster]
3.    talk about how they could improve future work.  

Think forums, voicethread, post it type notes added by each other and teachers as well as e-portfolios and showcases (if you have the same learing platform as us).

Breadth of study

5. During the key stage, pupils should be taught the Knowledge, skills and understanding through:

1.    working with a range of information to consider its characteristics and purposes [for example, collecting factual data from the internet and a class survey to compare the findings]
2.    working with others to explore a variety of information sources and ICT tools [for example, searching the internet for information about a different part of the world, designing textile patterns using graphics software, using ICT tools to capture and change sounds]
3.    investigating and comparing the uses of ICT inside and outside school.

There is so much scope here if we think more broadly about the words and add web 2.0 tools and newer software such as wikis, blogs, forums, polls, quizzes and game making resources into the range of software that it was actually designed for that is should pose no restrictions whatsoever on what people want to do in the classroom today. Still the ICT curriculum is not covered well in all schools, some bits of it are done brilliantly, and some are barely looked at!

It does not matter which topic are being covered in a class, ICT can be used to enhance the learning, almost anything imaginable will fit the National Curriculum expectations and the Digital Literacy agenda, as with any subject it just needs a planned structure to cover all aspects and all learning objectives for all children.