Monday, May 05, 2008

Be prepared...

Not only the motto of the scouts but also of the successful early years practitioner. Catalysts for early learning are often spontaneous, unexpected events which the practitioner is able to take advantage of. A spill of paint is not a problem but an opportunity to explore liquids flowing or the best thing to clean it up.
ICT has added a new dimension ...but like everything else in the foundation setting you have to be ready for it..

I've been working with the Early Years group within the PGCE course at Leicester University looking at ICT in the foundation stage and the we touched on the Intel QX Microscope and the importance of being prepared.

Every English Primary school was given one free during Science Year 2002. It was a bit of a surprise for some who either sent it back as an unwanted ‘gift’ or popped it in a cupboard somewhere unopened as yet another thing that had to be thought about. However many got to grips with it and used it well and continue to use it, by now having replaced the original.

While there are many microscope activities that can be planned and prepared for specifically it's added value is in having it set up ready for use on a handy classroom computer or teachers laptop preferably the computer attached to the classroom display, so it's there to use when a child brings something small and creepy, hard and shiny or tiny and flowery into the classroom and says proudly 'look at this'.

The practitioner after talking about what is there in the hand will then be able to say 'lets have a closer look' and using 10x magnification presented on the classroom display can begin to open another world.. the middle of a daisy begins to look a little like a cauliflower, the rings around a worm move together and apart, the sparkly stone has lots of colours in it and you can ask why is a daisy stem like a mans leg! Awe and wonder all around. And all for a few moments preparation.
For help in setting up the microscope look at the Kent NGfL site

An equally good tool for this is the visualiser which many schools are now investing in for display purposes. Many of these have good zoom facilities and being bigger are really useful for watching snails and other larger mini beasts move along.

Both of theses ICT tools have proved opportunities for every one to see life a around us in greater depth. No longer is a looking down a microscope a solitary occupation for those fortunate enough to have an expensive piece of equipment trying to work out what they are seeing and incidentally the eyesight to use it. Now but something for all ages that can be shared digitally and discussed. Equal access for all.

And the students.. well they've gone off to do their ICT hardware audits and find out where the microscope is in the school.

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