Volume 1 Issue 1 - Summer 2001
|Gill Prosser shares her experience of keeping children focused whilst developing ICT skills in Reception.|
As a Reception Class teacher with 3 term entry I am very aware that those children starting in the summer require a lot of input to develop their skills before going into Year 1. In conversation with the Year 1 teacher I have found that these summer born children are developing good keyboard skills but their control of the mouse is less refined than the older children in the class.
In the Nursery they had free access to the computer as part of their curriculum, with a wide range of Early Years programs available to them they have developed a great deal of confidence. My role in the Reception Class is to build on that confidence and refine their skills, in particular, the use of the mouse.
Drawing on the computer is new to the children when they enter the class, but they enjoy it and see it as just another piece of equipment available to them.
As part of our topic ‘All About Me’ I use the drawing program Colour Magic as another form of art media with which to draw self portraits. In doing so they are developing their skill in using a mouse for drawing, learning what tools are available for editing and hopefully, having fun.
In line with the Borough’s scheme of work, which is based on the ACITT one, I teach the technique as a whole class, the children then have a short focused task to carry out to practise the technique just learnt. Finally it is introduced as an activity in the topic work to reinforce the skill and understanding.
At the beginning of this summer term, using Colour Magic I introduced the tools we were going to use, Brush and Fill, stressing quite clearly that for this activity it was just those 2 tools. (Some of the more adventurous have been known to go further into the program than I would like!) I demonstrated drawing a ‘happy face’ and then showed how to ‘fill’ with colour, following this with a demo of what happens when the circle is not joined properly. For the older children I demonstrated how to add a text box as an extension task. We then went through a simple prompt sheet and the computer ‘speaking’ the names of the tools before the children were left to carry out the task individually. I left a clipboard by the side of the computer for them to sign when they had finished, (linking it with Literacy).
I made a point of sitting with the 5 new children individually. This gave me an opportunity to assess what they had understood and to talk them through any difficulties. Everyone had a turn over the next 3 days. I had previously taught the older children how to use ‘undo’ and ‘clear all’ so they were very independent in this task.
I find it very useful if at least a few members of the class can clear the screen as it saves me having to rush across the class every time someone wants to start a new picture. It does have its pitfalls though as I have to be very clear when I intend work to be saved!
I was happy with the results of the task and impressed that the older children had remembered to use the shift key for capital letters.
The integrated task was to draw their own face, having looked at their features in the mirrors. I only wanted the face to be drawn so that the whole screen could be used, to include the body would have meant drawing a smaller circle or scrolling down the page for more space. The children were given time to draw their faces and the results were very pleasing, the older children were quite discerning about the colours and shades that they wanted to use. The look of concentration on each child’s face as they carefully joined up their circle, and their disappointment when the line unexpectedly shot off in an different direction as their hand moved, was a picture. They persevered and if they were not satisfied with the result they just cleared it and started again. The children had previously been shown the ‘spray can’ and many used this for their hair. What surprised me was that the 4 year olds included a text box with their name. They had really taken in a lot of instructions.
When each child was happy with their picture I saved and printed it. It was at this point that one of the youngest children decided to extend the task himself. Before I could safely put his picture to one side ready for display on the wall, he insisted that it wasn’t finished – it had no body. He took it from me and completed it with the colouring pencils, only then did he proudly present it to me for putting on the wall.
The drawing program is frequently available as part of the organized activities in the class and the children see it as useful tool. Sometimes they are given prompt sheets with pictures of the tools to be used, at other times they are free to experiment – changing size of brush etc…
Through this experimentation most of the children know that if they press the right hand mouse button accidentally and the drop down menu appears that they don’t shout loudly for help but just have to click the mouse somewhere on the empty screen. If anyone hits the icon buttons that cause a window to appear on screen, there are several children that know that the ‘little cross’ in the corner closes it, but this only really happens with each new intake of children and is not really a great problem.
When we were looking at fruit recently for an observational drawing activity several of the children drew with pencils, then went on to the computer and drew it on there, without any prompting from me. Some are becoming more adventurous, incorporating the use of the shape tools with their own free hand drawing to produce interesting pictures. The really ambitious are discovering that you can write your name freehand with the Brush.
As the computer is used more for drawing I thought that saving and printing would become a problem because they would want everything printed out, but they do understand that we can’t do that because of the cost of inks and it’s only the very special work that is selected to be printed. Fortunately no one has noticed the ‘print’ icon on the toolbar, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before an adventurous individual finds it. I feel a lesson coming on...
Rockliffe Manor Primary
Volume 1 Issue 1 - Summer 2001