ICT can be defined as anything that enable us to receive information, to interact with each other or to bring impact on the environment using electronic or digital device (Bolstad, 2004). There are many devices and equipment that can be use in an early years setting to encourage the usage of ICT such as cameras, computers, programmable toys and many more. ICT had brought an impact to the children learning and development, remarkably in their literacy development as children nowadays are living in a challenging and advance environment (Roney, 2008). Children should be provided with opportunities, for instance, through creating digital stories to develop ‘technological literacy’ to ensure their activeness and competence in their environment (Shah and Godiyal, 2000). Significantly in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), involving technology in children’s learning and development can support the progression of the children and also achieving the learning goals (DfE, 2012a).
The synthesis report by Hatherly et al (2010) had shown the positive implication of ICTs for children’s literacy development. The report stated that children’s activities that are based on ICTs could develop children’s literacy, language and communication skill. Other than that, the use of ICTs can motivate children to speak and engage themselves in conversation and to tell and share their experiences through various ways, for example, through digital story-telling that would facilitate children’s literacy development.
Through observation, I chose a child who love to draw because I wanted to develop her literacy skill by supporting her through her interest in drawing using story-telling as making connection with drawing to writing can allow children to understand how writing can relate to their images and also their visual imagery (NYSUT, 2008). Before I started doing anything with the child, I asked for the willingness of the child to participate in this assignment as her opinions and views are to be considered first according to UNCRC Article 12 (UNICEF, n.d). I met her parents where we discussed about the resource plan and how this will help her learning and development. The discussion lead me to the understanding that the child was not exposed much to electronic devices at home. However, they allowed me to work with their child and also agreed in helping the child to familiarise herself with the device after the discussion. I understand that this could be advantageous for the child’s learning as involving parents in children’s education can bring many benefits including improvements in children’s educational achievement and also increasing parents’ confidence in helping their child at home (DCSF, 2008). Through the discussion also, I decided to make the resource with tablet and audio recorder as it will allow the child to navigate the device better than by operating a mouse that might be hard for new learners (Pierangelo and Giuliani, 2008).
I started telling different types of stories to give the child a better understanding on how a story should be. Telling stories to children can enhance their language learning by introducing them to different languages and narrative styles such as the stories’ prologue, climax and epilogue (Whitehead, 2010). I gave the child the freedom to choose what kind of story she wanted to write and we both agreed on writing an imaginary story inspired by the movie ‘Frozen’ according to the child’s interest as practitioners should support children to write about things that interest them (DfE, 2012a). She was able to start planning her story without much difficulties but she faced problem in using the tablet. At the beginning, the child had a hard time trying to use the application in the tablet but I did not help her immediately. I gave her the time to explore the device herself and after a few trial and error and some guidance, she managed to navigate the device successful. As accordance to the Montessori Method ‘control of error’, children learning from their mistake themselves can help them to develop a skill and knowledge more proficiently as their confidence and self-esteem increased (Lawrence, 1998).
Throughout the process of illustrating the story, I took up the role as a facilitator. When the child had difficulties in continuing the story, I used open ended question like “What should you say if someone gave you something?” and “How did the girl felt?” According to Piaget, the role of an educator is to aid the children to come to their own understanding and asking questions instead of telling the answers and this could improve children’s comprehension and vocabulary (Chamberlin, 2014; Teachnology Inc, n,d). The child wanted to incorporate fantasy element in her story where the snowman has the ability to talk and I strongly agreed. Encouraging children’s imagination can develop their social skills and improve their confidence in learning or acquiring literacy skill (The Reader’s Digest Association, 2014).
I started to involve myself more in the making of digital story when the child started to write text on each drawing as practitioners should “support and scaffold individual children’s writing as opportunities arise” (DfE, 2012a:31). I wanted to know the child’s writing skill so that I can support her to reach her maximum potential in literacy within her Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). ZPD refers to the distance between what a child can do independently and what they could potentially do with the support of more knowledgeable adults and peers (Tools of the Mind, 2014). For example, I provided the child with short stories and few words’ flashcards related to her story that she can use. From the few options, she was able to choose which words she wanted to use, for instance, the word ‘build’ instead of ‘make’. There were a few spelling error where she invented herself through the sounds of the words but I encourage the child to continue without correcting her because children’s invented spelling can reflects their attempts in connecting the relationships of language’s sounds to the alphabetic system (Whitehead, 2010). I could see the child’s confidence in writing increased when she write without looking hesitant. Through this, I realised the child is developing positively in literacy as the child’s writing skill matched the early learning goals in EYFS where she could write simple sentences that can be read and could spell some words correctly and some phonetically reasonable (DfE, 2012b).
Subsequently, I put all her completed drawings together using PowerPoint because it is an easy and accessible software where users can create and design their slides without much difficulties and it is suitable for new learners (Boundless, n.d). The child was very excited as it was her first time seeing a story in a digital form, moreover, she was involved in creating it. PowerPoint has the function where the child can easily choose the animation/effect that allowed her to portray her story better. For example, the child chose the curtain opening effect to display the starting of her story. The software effects that are used in a digital story enable children to link their story effectively and demonstrate understanding of their own story where children get to improve their reading comprehension (Vogel, 2007). Through the attractive and interactive way of presenting the story telling using the effects, I believe it will support the child’s literacy learning through the linking of words to image as according to Bruner, children from the age 1-6 years in his second mode of representation, iconic, the information that children had learned is stored in the form of images (McLeod, 2008). I also chose to use voice recorder to record the child’s voice because “writing with real voice has the power to make you pay attention and understand” (Elbow, 1981:299 cited in Nilsson, 2010). Voice recording had allow the child to express things she cannot write in words (Nilsson, 2010), therefore the child felt no barrier to explore her own vocabulary and I can see this when she said words that she did not write in her story. The child wanted to put music alongside with her voice and I agreed as it will display her emotions and expressions when she was creating the story. After completing the editing, I played the slides and praised her for her great work as treating her story interesting and reread it again can show the child that her effort was worth it (Lawrence, 1998).
Reflecting on this experience, I felt that the making and the usage of this resource alongside with the theories and approaches that I followed brought a positive result in enhancing the child’s language and emergent literacies and also allowing the child to understand better about ICTs. Through reflecting, I realised I should include more children in creating the resource as the children’s collaboration could encourage the exchange of knowledge in literacy happen during the discussion and planning to create the digital story. I also understand that digital storytelling is a fun yet effective way to support children’s learning because it enable the child to create stories that interest her and expanding her scope of learning in a modernized way. Now that I understand the impact of ICT in children’s learning, I will continue to incorporate ICT in my future activities with the children but with larger group of children so that children from diverse background can also have the opportunity to experience and learn from the usage of the technology.
List of References
Bolstad, R. (2004) The role and potential of ICT in early childhood education. Available at: http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/ict/4983 (Accessed: 29 November 2014).
Boundless (n.d) The Advantages and Disadvantages of Powerpoint. Available at: https://www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/preparing-and-using-visual-aids-16/using-powerpoint-and-alternatives-successfully-85/the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-powerpoint-323-5654/ (Accessed: 2 December 2014).
Chamberlin, J. (2014) Bringing books to life. Available at: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/10/books.aspx (Accessed: 29 November 2014).
Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) (2008) The Impact of Parental Involvement on Children’s Education. Nottingham: Crown.
Department for Education (DfE) (2012a) Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage. London: Crown.
Department for Education (DfE) (2012b) Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. London: Crown.
Green, S., Peterson, R., Lewis, J. (2006) ‘Language and Literacy Promotion in Early Childhood Settings: A survey of Center-Based Practices.’ Early Childhood Research and Practice, 8(1), 27-47.
Hatherly, A., Ham, V., Evans, L. (2010) Effective Learning in Early Childhood Education? The Impact of the ECE ICT PL Programme: A Synthesis Report. Available at: http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/ECE/79138/1.-childrens-learning (Accessed: 30 November 2014).
Kazakoff, E. (2012) Toward Defining Digital Literacy in Early Childhood. Available at: www.eetcconference.org/wp…/Digital_Literacy_Early_Childhood.pdf (Accessed: 2 December 2014).
Lawrence, L. (1998) Montessori Read
Lesson Planning For Inclusive Classroom
I found three lesson plans for elementary school kindergarten, middle school grade 7-8, and high school grade 9-10. The first lesson plan is “The Four Seasons on Earth” by Kimberlee McElroy on teachnology.com. I found this lesson plan to be useful in accommodating children with learning disabilities (LD). The objective of this lesson plan is “for students to be able to name all the four seasons and to be able to describe how the weather of the seasons and to also be able to determine what should be wore and what activities are fitting for the different seasons” (McElroy, 2012). This lesson plan was designed for students who have a language impairment and to help them be able to increase their knowledge of vocabulary and their usage related to the four seasons. “Vocabulary is critical to reading success for three reasons: comprehension improves when you know what the words mean, words are the currency of communication and a robust vocabulary improves all areas of communication such as listening, speaking, reading and writing, and when children and adolescents improve their vocabulary, their academic and social confidence and competence improve, too” (Alexander, n.d. ). This lesson plan is made especially for students with LD. It will help to increase a child’s vocabulary and can also be adjusted to meet the needs of each child who has an IEP. It accommodates all types of learners and not just one type of learner.
Some adaptations that could be made to the lesson plan include visual aides for the students such as real pictures of the different seasons. Different clothing items can be brought in to show what appropriate clothing is for that time of year. Also, different foods can be brought in for each of the seasons such as vegetable soup or vegetable beef soup for winter. The students can create a book of their own on each of the seasons and draw pictures or bring in pictures or items for the different seasons. Students can also write a few words that relate to the particular season such as cold, snow, and white. Those can be vocabulary words as well. Graphic organizers can be used to help a students to be able to organize the words for each season. “Graphic organizers may greatly assist students with learning disabilities in connecting new material to prior knowledge, identifying main ideas and supporting details, drawing inferences, and creating effective problem-solving strategies” (Wayne, 2011, para. 10).
The lesson plan that I am using already has accommodations for special needs students such as visual sentence starters and verbal prompts. I believe I could pair students who have a learning disability with a non disabled child and have them work to help each other with their books by giving suggestions and helping to say the vocabulary words. For a child with LD, they may not be able to write a word such as snow very well so I would create a worksheet for them to be able to trace the letters.
The second lesson plan is “The Pearl” by John Blackwell on teachnology.com. This is a lesson plan for grades 7-8. The objective for this lesson plan is to “Facilitate understanding of the importance of rules in society, relate decision-making skills to each students own personal experiences, foster an appreciation for reading, and help students develop an understanding for what the author’s point of view and what they are trying to convey” (Blackwell, 2012). This lesson plan is tailored to meet the needs of special education students. This lesson plan was designed to help students in middle school grades to be able to enhance their reading comprehension, read novels, and to learn appropriate decision making skills (Blackwell, 2012). Reading comprehension is important for students to learn in order to be able to understand what is it that they are reading and the words that they are reading. “Without comprehension, reading is simply following words on a page from left to right while sounding them out and the words on the page have no meaning and while people read for many different reasons, the chief goal is to derive some understanding of what the writer is trying to convey and make use of that information – whether for fact gathering, learning a new skill, or for pleasure” (Marshall, 2014, para. 2).
Some adaptations that could be used are allowing the students to read aloud to the class if they are comfortable enough to do so. Also, the students could get in groups and act out parts of the book that way students can visually see what the story is about. A research-based strategy that can be used is a concept map and it works just like graphic organizers. They can help a child to brainstorm and map out ideas. A concept map can be used before reading begins and students can share what they already know about a concept. Then, when the reading begins, students can add to the map as a group as the story progresses. Students can also draw pictures to help them remember or understand or even use pictures form the internet or cut out to help them (Reading Rockets, 2015).
This lesson plan has accommodations already but some accommodations I could recommend is allowing a students to use a text to speech program to have the book read to them if they have difficulty with reading or communication disorder. For the particular book in the lesson plan, there is an audible version of the book for students to be able to listen to the story and follow along. For a final report, accommodations such as being able to use speak to text software can help a students to be able to write their report if they have a hard time typing or writing. That way the can see what is being typed out instead of having errors throughout their paper. They also can be paired up with a partner that can help them to write their paper and get in it on time.
For the last lesson plan, I chose “My Country” by Donna Lewis on teachnology.com. This lesson plan is for grades 9-10 and the objective of this lesson plan is for students to be able to apply the theories of the government, economics, and also sociology and they will be able to create their own country and do research to gather information. They will design their own government, pick a location, and create their own flag (Lewis, 2014). This lesson plan is designed to accommodate special needs students and they will be working in teams to create their own country and government. It also teaches the students about the government and also how to do research. It helps students to be able to create their own country and to see what it takes to run it. It teaches them to be able to apply concepts to real world situations they will face. Civic education means explicit and continuing study of the basic concepts and values underlying our democratic political community and constitutional order and civic education also involves development of skills in making decisions about public issues and participating in public affairs” (Hoge, 1988, para. 2). Even students with special needs has to be able to understand how government works and how to handle public issues and to make decisions. I see this lesson plan helping a students with LD or CD to be able to use critical thinking, learn concepts to use in the real world, and to also learn how to use public speaking to their advantage. It can help to build up their confidence.
Some adaptations that could be made is possibly taking a field trip to a government building such as the state capital to learn and see how the government functions on a daily basis. They can take notes and they can have a classmate help them take notes and help to translate anything a special needs students may not understand. Also, it could be arranged for the students to act out certain types of the government to help them understand how it works and hat they would like to use to develop their country. They could act out the signing of the declaration of independence and develop ideas on how to create their own. If the students is not comfortable n acting out in front of the class, then the students and team members can do it in front of the teacher only. If they are not comfortable speaking then they can use a text to speech program to speak for them and also if they have trouble with communication. A research-based strategy I really feel that works with this lesson plan is a graphic organizer. “Graphic organizers help students to visually display, interpret, and understand complex topics” (Ketcham, 2010). I feel a graphic organizer can help students with LD and CD and even non disabled students to be able to organize their thoughts and the information they find for their design of their own country.
This lesson plan has some accommodations already for it such as talking software and spelling and writing software to help students who have reading issues and difficulty writing and spelling. A speech to text software such as Dragon can be used to help students write their paper for their final project. Assigning someone from another class to help a student who may be struggling to understand the work or the assignments and reading material. Allowing the students to be assessed verbally daily can help them to be able to say what they have learned rather than type it or write it. Questions can be asked and they can answer verbally.
Some ways I feel that a teacher could leverage learning strategies is by cooperative learning groups which can help students to be able to help one another. Putting non disabled students who have a firm understanding of the lesson plan can help the students with LD and CD. This goes for all of the grade level lesson plans I chose. Also, setting objectives and providing feedback can help the students to set goals at the beginning of the lesson and to set a time frame to meet those goals. Daily goals can be set by the teacher and the student. “Setting objectives establishes directions for learning and student benefit when they personalize goals set by teachers”(Pennsylvania Department of Education [PDE], 2009). Allowing students to summarize and take notes can help them along in the lesson plan to write down important information needed for an assignment. Some social interaction for all the grade level lesson plans is having the students to introduce themselves at the beginning of the year or the beginning of a new semester or quarter. The students can write down information about themselves or they can be paired up with another students and let them introduce each other to the class. Class discussions can be done in the beginning of class about the lesson plan and also after the lesson. It is a great way to get the students to give their input on the assignment and to interact with one another. Have the students do group presentations. It can help to divide up the workload on big assignments such as the lesson plan for high school and can help students with LD and CD to have less of a burden and to also help to keep their stress level down. Some behavior supports that would work within these lesson plans are making sure the classroom environment is accommodated for students with special needs. An example is a students with ADHD. They should not be seated where there is high traffic or loud areas and away from anything that may distract them from learning. Having a set class schedule or routine can help students to know what is going to happen during that class period. It can help to reduce the anxiety and keep frustrations down. “A classroom schedule that is well-designed and is implemented consistently may be the single most important factor in preventing challenging behaviors” (Ruef, Higgins, Glaeser,