A review of Lightbot – An educational video game for the classroom

Lightbot is an educational video game for learning software-programming concepts, which was developed by Danny Yaroslavski. Lightbot is an online collaborative ICT game that can be accessed on computers, iPads, or any android device.

The goal of Lightbot is for the user/users to command a little ‘bot’ through a maze and along the way, there are blue squares in which you have to command the ‘bot’ to light up.

Image result for light-bot and maths

Players arrange symbols on the screen to command the ‘bot’ to walk, turn, jump, and switch on a light etc. The maze and the list of symbols become more complicated as the lessons progress. Players learn programming concepts like loops, procedures and more.

This ICT tool offers collaborative learning to students.

Below is the link to a video that provides an insight to how Lightbot works.

lightbot

CONTEXT

Lightbot can be used within the classroom, either collaboratively or individually to programme the ‘bot’. Students in primary school will be able use this exposure to programming and coding as a springboard to later ICT applications.

The game can be hooked up to the Interactive White Board (IWB) for the teacher to model and guide the students while they are on their own iPads. The IWB and Lightbox can also be used in a whole class setting to collaboratively program the instructions.

Lightbox can help introduce mathematical concepts such as patterns and sequencings in the classroom setting whilst promoting the use of using and apply technology.

WHY

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates says that: “Learning to write programs stretches your mind and helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains”. Many articles and blogs concur that coding is good for kids, this is an enlightening video to watch.

coding

Educators can use Lightbot when they are introducing their students to programming, coding and computer science.

Students will acquire programming concepts and terminology such as proceduresloops, and conditionals. Common

Common Sense Media reviewed Lightbot and reported that “students will learn that even though there’s often more than one way to solve a problem (or write a program), cleaner and more efficient solutions are preferred; here, those are rewarded with stars”.

In Math, patterns and sequences knowledge and skills will be reinforced through actively engaging in Lightbot using ITC. As it is an online game, students will be motivated and their attention will more likely be extended as they reinforce their thinking & reasoning skills. Logic, problem solving, strategy and thinking critically are lifelong skills that will be transferred to many different areas and contexts of their learning and lives.

These skills are essential, as recognised by The Australian Curriculum and The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (MCEETYA 2008) which states that critical and creative thinking are fundamental to students becoming successful learners. Furthermore, twenty-first century learning theories, such as Gardner’s five ‘minds’ for the future, highlight the significance of supporting authentic and ubiquitous learning, and ensuring students are provided with opportunities, resources and environments to enhance their creative and critical thinking skills.

Learners need to develop the skills to analyse and respond to authentic situations through inquiry, imagination and innovation such as those offered by ICT tools like Lightbot.

However, as Chin Wei, Chang states in her blog, the use of ICT in education depends on how teacher integrate their skills into the teaching and learning process and how they develop ICT in an interactive education environment.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Week 2 blog- Technology in the Classroom: Embrace the Bumpy Ride!

Week 2 blog- Technology in the Classroom: Embrace the Bumpy Ride!

I read an interesting blog the other night “Technology in the Classroom: Embrace the Bumpy Ride!” posted by Kathy Cassidy, the author of Connected From the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades. The title jumped out at me because this is where I feel I am at this moment……on a bumpy road!

Kathy describes that the first bump in the technology road involves a new way of thinking, that technology should help us to teach better, and in ways that are more meaningful.

Kathy also describes ICTs as “powerful tools to help students understand and learn in unique ways”. She stresses the importance of using technology to make learning new and different in your classroom. “Set your sights high and aim for activities that transform! Then, when you hit a bump, you will be more motivated to keep trying. Transformation is never smooth”.

speed bump sign

The most important requirements of any classroom Kathy states, is to have a backup plan because if the Internet goes down in the middle of our day, you have to be prepared to teach another way things a go. These are life skills that are important for our students to observe us developing and modelling.

Kathy02b             Kathy01

Kathy suggests that educators who are hesitant to use technology in significant ways is to just to include one technology-enhanced activity until you feel very comfortable with it. She provides examples of how to include ICTs into the classroom with links to helpful resources.

ArualH log on ‘Schools and ICTechnology’ is a very interesting read and discusses the importance of having a set of tools to assist them to tackle problems. ArualH is discussing the Toolbelt Theory, which is simple and applicable to a most situations in life life educators utilising ICTs into the classroom.

Reflecting upon what Kathy had to write about expecting bumps and unexpected hiccups like the internet going down made me a little less anxious about the use of ICTs in the classroom.  This is because she highlighted the fact that whether you are using ICTs or not, you will always have hiccups in a classroom, for example the library session is cancelled or the kids breaking and loosing pencils and resources. This blog comforted me because it reinforced that all learning journeys are bumpy, but that once we get over those bumps, we will be more knowledgeable, resourceful and willing to give new a go.

For those interested in reading the blog here is the link:

http://plpnetwork.com/2014/01/09/technology-classroom-embrace-bumpy-ride/

Where have ICTs been used in my university studies to transform my learning experience?

I had to sit down with my USQ transcript and really think about which courses really developed and scaffolded my knowledge and interactions with ICTs.  It definitely has been a transformation over time, but ECE4023 Science and Technology, definitely exposed me to new ICTs. I was introduced to Prezi and after many late nights, I completed a presentation that incorporated images, music and text. Before this assignment, I had never created PowerPoint slides let alone a presentation. My learning journey continued to develop over the years and my thinking is continuing to transform towards ICTs and pedagogy.

After reflecting upon the question some more, I became aware that my engagement with ICTs during my university studies have changed my perspective of how ICTs can be utilised in the classroom. I have been able to incorporate some ICTs into the pre-prep room on my last prac, for example, I created a PowerPoint slide show and used the IWB. I have been able to engage with fellow uni students and teachers via private Facebook groups, YouTube videos and online Blackboard collaborative session.

Emily Leschke’s blog, which can be found at https://ylime77.wordpress.com/ provides a wonderful link to a resource ‘Roles of ICTs in Education and Development’. I would highly recommend that you have a read and reflect upon this wonderful world of ICTs.

An important fact to remember though is the rapid changing world of technology and   operating systems. Corporations like Apple, Google, and Microsoft create new and enhanced operating systems regularly to stay ahead of the competition and to improve the user experience. Change is inevitable and it is important that educators adapt and stay up to date with these new advances, as this is what the students are most likely being exposed to on a daily basis.

Have a look at this very interesting image about Facts About The 21st Century Classroom

The link can be found at http://edudemic.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/21st_century_classroom.jpg

Thanks for reading

Tracey

EDC3100: ICT AND PEDAGOGY

Hello fellow EDC3100 students!

I have created this blog to document and reflect upon my learning journey, as I collaborate with fellow EDC3100 participants and engage in the weekly modules. I honestly feel very overwhelmed and out of my depth as my experience with ICT tools is limited to the most common everyday social and Google search applications. In addition to feeling anxious regarding my capabilities in this area, I am also excited to learn how to engage and utilise the plethora of innovative digital tools that are readily available to all. I know that this knowledge and competency will support me in my everyday life, and more importantly, my future teaching and professional life.

I wish everyone the best of luck during this exciting and at times daunting journey of innovative learning. 

Regards

Tracey Travis

Are your theories silly……….My reflection on Constructivism in action

24/07/2015

Whilst deliberating over which theory to reflect upon, I was overwhelmed with how many theories are overarching. However, I finally decided to explore the Constructivism Theory based upon the works of Piaget and Vygotsky, as it is highly incorporated into early childhood education in which I am specialising. I believed that I incorporated most elements of Constructivism into my lessons whilst on practical experience last semester.

DESCRIPTION OF AN EXPERIENCE

An experience of constructivism that I am going to reflect upon is an opportunity I had to embrace a child’s interest into a learning experience during the lesson. The class had been actively learning about plants and seeds and eagerly watching their sunflowers growing outside in the garden. We had planted a variety of seeds to observe their growth and reflect upon what all living things need to grow.

One day as we were learning about ANZAC day and talking about poppies and what they symbolised, one of the little girls (M), on her own initiative, decided that she would like to paint a picture of a poppy because she thought they were beautiful and special. M expressed her interest to me, so I brought up several images of poppies on the interactive whiteboard and let her choose which poppy she would like to paint. We then went off to collect the materials that she though she may need. She carefully painted a beautiful poppy.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Even though I had already planned an art activity to create poppies from paper and other craft items, I sensed that M was not interested in doing craft today. I can say that I did try to persuade M to do the activity that I had planned, but she would not budge. My anxiety sharply increased, as I now I had to get one child set up for painting and the others for craft. This was in addition to supporting and supervising all the children, as my mentor and the assistant did their own thing while I taught. I felt stressed by the end of the activity as I felt overloaded with supervising, scaffolding, mediating etc. and could not give quality time to any one child.

Reflecting later upon M’s disinterest in the craft activity that I had planned, I realised that it may have been because she has trouble with her fine motor skills. I have observed M struggle to manipulate finer materials and scissors, and she often loses interest in these activities quickly. I really did not enjoy this session; however, I did learn a valuable lesson that day. I guess this is what David Jones referred to as ‘theory washing’, see link http://usqstudydesk.usq.edu.au/m2/mod/book/view.php?id=419268&chapterid=23409. I had already learnt all the theory about constructivism, multiple intelligences, catering to all learners needs, being flexible and child directed etc., however, I did not plan for this. I believe that from that session onwards, I was well aware of the importance of being well prepared and the need to have multiple ways available for children to engage and display their skills, knowledge and opinions in a way that is meaningful and achievable to them and their personal learning styles and abilities.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

At the time I was too busy to reflect upon M’s learning experience, however when I did have time, I recall that M was very pleased by her work and that she did access problem-solving skills, such as using a finer brush to draw the petals,  and prior knowledge to complete her painting. I could see the constructivism theory at work as I reflected upon M’s behaviour. For example, M was building knowledge as she made decisions about what and how to organise herself and the environment to paint her poppy. She used her creative talent and observational skills to paint her representation of a poppy on paper. M used language skills when she engaged in conversation with me, to describe what she was doing, and what she thought of her final product.

Constructivism theory suggests that learning is optimised through talk and co-operation. To facilitate this, educators need to create learning environments in which the learners feel encouraged and secure enough to be able to express and explore their thoughts, feelings and emotions. I believe that because M felt safe and secure, she had the confidence to communicate her desires to demonstrate her connections between what she already knows about ANZAC day and the new information in a way that she desired.  I believe that because I inspired an interest in M and supported her in her choice, M was extremely excited and motivated to learn more about poppies in the days to come.

However, on the other hand, constructivism theory directs the teacher to make decisions on the suitable level for a task or activity and that the teacher needs to ensure that this is as precise as possible to promote the development of learning. The Zone of Proximal Development, a theory developed by Vygotsky, theorises that ideal learning takes place when the learners are encouraged to develop skills that are just beyond their grasp. With this in mind, should I have tried harder to persuade M to have a go and provided additional scaffolding or place her next to a more capable peer?

TAKE PERSPECTIVE INTO ACCOUNT

I believe that this experience has solidified the importance to put into action the theories and professional practices that have been promoted during this bachelor. Furthermore, it has highlighted the significance of continual reflection upon my ideas, practices, assumptions, values and biases, as they will affect the practices that I will employ in the classroom and my interactions with others. Additionally, I made a conscious effort to spend one-on-one time with M to help her to develop and strengthen her fine motor skills.

AN OUTCOME

For future teaching experiences, I will ensure that I reflect upon the accommodations and the variety of ways that I offer to the children to participate and demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Additionally, I believe it is very beneficial to collaborate with fellow educators and professionals to gain others perspectives and experiences, as we are all continuing to learn and grow.

REFERENCES

Dymoke, S. & Harrison, J. (2008) Reflective Teaching & Learning, London: Sage.

Elliot, P. (2007). ‘Communication in the Classroom’ in Brooks, V. & Abbot, I. & Bills, L. (Eds.) Preparing to Teach in Secondary schools, Berkshire: McGraw Hill