First Look at Switched On ICT for Early Years – App of the Day

   Today’s app is actually a scheme of work, which is so good it is worthy of mention here. Last week Switched On ICT Early Years arrived at our school. We have been using the Primary units from this scheme for some time and I have been really happy with the depth, rigor and flexibility of these plans. And as they are just a few months old they are still relevant in terms of the online tools they mention. A real answer to prayer in a post QCA scheme of work era.

But up until recently, there had not been a set of plans for Foundation Stage and from experience this can often be a neglected or forgotten area of Primary ICT.

There can also be a good deal of confusion over what makes good ICT for this age group. One popular misconception centres on the advanced skills of these youngsters. Some schools believe that as these children are confident users of electronic devices and that they have a penchant for computers. Then they should experience ICT lessons in the same  spirit and style as Key stage 1. This can involve trooping younger children across the school into an ICT room to work at computer stations, which sometimes are too big for them.

My eyes were opened to what effective and age appropriate  EYFS IT should look like after a talk at a NAACE conference some years ago from Rachel Ager. Rachel, who is one of the main authors of this set of plans shared about her work with early years practitioners in Northampton. She showed a collection of video clips where children were using technologies within a meaningful and topic driven context. I remember watching children sending an email using the office computer, contacting the elves from the Elves and the Shoemaker. A further example showed children taking digital pictures within the photographic studio role play area. The images were edited using simple accessible software and printed out. think of all those skills yet gained in a meaningful and enjoyable dimension.There were many more examples like this and out of it emerged a number of key points. With each example she gave a context  and grounded it in theory, mentioning the work of for example, John and Iram Siraj Blatchford.

ICT was meaningful and relevant and part of what happened naturally within the setting, rather than being decontextualized and taking place in another  room.

The spirit of the IT that took place was emergent, experimental and playful.  Rachel Ager pointed to the link she and her teachers had made between emergent writing; in that at foundation stage writing skills were facilitated and developed through playful, contextual mark making. I think of Charlie my younger son, who as a keen reception pupil loves to experiment with letters ,  attempt lists for Santa and write names on Christmas cards. I would not dream of formerly sitting him down for forty minutes to write at a desk. And here is the parallel with ICT and ICT lessons at this age.

It is with this background and bias, that I opened the zip lock folder of Switched On ICT Early Years.  As with the scheme for the rest of Primary, there are thoroughly written plans which give you an appropriately pitched set of activities, along with the flexibility to slot the units into your curriculum. Activities are not just based on computer s either and they take into account the full breadth of electronic devices and peripherals you would hope to find in a setting.  The software mentioned is that which many schools have already got, such as 2Paint a Picture , Powerpoint or Tizzy’s Tools, though the inclusion of appropriate iPad apps like Beebot brings this scheme right up to date. I also really liked all the posters that the pack has, these depict children and technology and can also be found on the accompanying CD room, so teachers could show them on their whiteboards. Alongside the plans, posters and PDFS you will also find a whole host of digital resources and tutorials for software, which may well, be new to some teachers. I think they have thought of it all with this package and the response from colleagues I have introduced it to has been universally positive and welcoming.

Well done t to the team behind this scheme of work, it should help to raise the expectations for these younger learners, while also enabling them to experience a wide diet of ICT experiences.

I must also mention Tricia Neal who co wrote the publication.  I have long since admired her creative ideas stream and her determination to try out the new and innovate and remix ideas. Her influence on this scheme comes through when you read it.

So after that ramble I would say buy this scheme of work and then you will be helping your EYFS colleagues to plan effective and relevant ICT.

 

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