The best practices for bee bots in preschool activities today

By Michael Hilkemeijer

 

The benefits of technology on childhood development has been widely recognised by many and includes:

  • Improved visual-spatial development;
  • Improved problem solving and decision-making;
  • Helping children learn in the classroom;
  • Improved multitasking and;
  • Understanding the use of technology as a tool.

 

In this article, we will examine just one example of technology in early childhood education – bee bot – and discuss the best way as to how to use technology in preschool classrooms such as this.

While there are many good bee bot activities that we will list later, in my view you can add further benefits of its to the teacher. For example, in any of the technology activities for kindergarten that you may have it is also possible to develop ICT capability.

 

This involves employing sound instructional decisions that will ensure that many of these benefits of using digital technology in early childhood education are achieved.

 

Bee bots, of course, is just one example of early childhood technology but you can use it for other such as Dot robots or any other DAP programmable toys etc.

 

 

Strategies For Using Bee Bots

The following teaching methods in early childhood education I implemented myself a number of years ago while I was teaching a Year 1 class at a state school. What is interesting to know about them is that they were derived from studies conducted at schools and centres that had a high level of ICT capability and I wanted to understand its effectiveness in the classroom more.

Before I continue any further, you will need to note that ICT capability is not just ICT techniques. So when we are referring to how to use technology in preschool classrooms like programmable toys like bee bots I am not just looking at whether or not they can push a button.

In early childhood education, dispositions in learning are significant and when you are integrating technology in preschool activities you will need to consider in your planning the current level of ICT capability of each individual child.

You will also need to understand that a child who is ICT capable has the disposition to construct ICT solutions to problem situations that are relevant and appropriate to the context and are based on the knowledge of the opportunities and limitations of the technology available.

“ICT capability, therefore, involves an interaction between technical facts and process, strategic knowledge, meta-cognitive self-knowledge and affect aspects of mind including self-confidence and a disposition to use technology.” (Kennewell, Parkinson, & Tanner, 2000, p. 38)

 

Other teaching approaches in early childhood education includes:

 

Determine the current level of ICT capability prior to the lesson

This supports planning as you can take this into consideration for the following intentional moments that you may have.

You could set a pre-lesson to allow young children to play and experiment with bee bots. By doing this, you could monitor what they children know already and this aids in learning progression.

Additionally, by determining current capabilities in bee bots you will be a more responsive educator and will you to make informed decisions in your curriculum planning.

 

Stimulate and structure learning

Past studies have indicated a good way of achieving this is applying these successful strategies such as setting clear objectives as to what you the children to achieve with the bee bot, structure the activity and have high expectations of the children.

It also suggests that you follow the following sequence effectively:

  • Whole class briefing on the context and activity;
  • A detailed explanation to each group when they are ready to work on the activity;
  • A careful choice on pairs to work with the bee bot in turn;
  • A review of the key points with group afterwards.

 

Before any bee bot lesson you would need to clarify your expectations with the group or whole class beforehand and focus their attention on what they are going to do.

Bee bots can be integrated into meaningful contexts such as literacy and numeracy so it is important that any learning activities are introduced by explanation and questioning of the children. Conclude with further questioning and a clear summary of what has been learned.

 

Teach the use of bee bots effectively

Bee bots like other programmable robot is an ICT resource that children can use as a tool for learning. Therefore, you need to plan and seek to develop all components of ICT capability in the following ways:

For routines with bee bots, if they don’t meet the important ICT techniques sufficiently, they will need to be given focused practiced tasks;

For each ICT technique that children use for the bee bot, give each of the ICT techniques a name or effect that would communicate and help children think about the action and its effect;

Processes are a series of ICT techniques that a child might use to achieve an outcome. It is important that wherever possible, discuss with children what it is they are doing at the process level rather than just identifying the next ICT technique.

 

 

Monitor and intervene appropriately when needed

If children struggle with any routines with the bee bots then extra practice is needed. Practice in specifically designed activities should be supplemented by opportunities to apply the ICT techniques concerned to worthwhile tasks which involve other areas of the curriculum.

 

For children needing support when using ICT techniques give them the minimum amount of support. They can often work out the next ICT technique themselves. You should then withdraw the support as soon as possible.

 

As children work on a number of ICT techniques in a series (processes) ensure that the minimum amount of support is given. Each activity should NOT be set out step-by-step and the support should be withdrawn as soon as possible. Structure the bee bot activity by questioning, prompting and showing if necessary.

 

 

Assess the capabilities in bee bot use

For every ICT technique that you demonstrate to a whole class or group you need to determine if a child could perform it after seeing the demonstration. A checklist of ICT techniques would be needed to keep track of their progress.

 

Routines performed with bee bots would need to be assessed similarly to ICT techniques. For example, you would need to know and be able to describe, how ICT techniques were being executed. Was a child hesitant, steady or fluent in instructing the bee bot to do something? This can be carried through your observation.

At times, children may misunderstand or demonstrate some misconceptions about the use of bee bots. These are the things that you would want to know and record. Children’s conceptual understanding can also be assessed by the use of effective questioning and discussion.

 

Processes can only be judged by whether they can make decisions. Additionally, higher order skills are assessed by the extent to which scaffolding is necessary. In terms of bee bots or the use of any robotics in early childhood education then you need to ensure that children have the opportunity to make decisions such which way a bee bot should go. For example, which ICT technique to use in order for the bee bot to get to a pre-determined destination.

 

 

Integrating technology in early childhood education should never be about just using bee bots, for example, as a add on to a learning activity. They should always be about enhancing the subject learning and developing ICT capability in technology activities for kindergarten and preschool classrooms.

 

ACTIVITIES IDEAS

All the above teaching approaches in early childhood education can be used to support the learning of meaningful contexts such as the activities that will follow. These have been derived from other sources throughout the web to give you the opportunity to enable young children to benefit from ICT in early childhood education.

 

5 Bee Bot mathematics lesson activities;

Buzzing with bee bots (Digital Technologies Hub);

9 bee bot activities (plus planning, making resources etc.);

Sequencing and decision making with bee bots;

Introduction to programming (F-2);

Bee bot basic activity;

A teacher’s guide to bee bots;

6 lessons in a unit of work;

 

 

Further examples of ICT in ECE

 

The use of bee bots as an early childhood technology so in this section, I will look further at what is technology in early childhood education so that you will gain the expertise you need in order to meet your professional learning goals and enable young children to develop ICT capability.

 

It is important to note that you don’t need to use digital technology in early childhood education in order to achieve this.

 

First, it is significant to understand why is technology important in early childhood education? To summarise some main points that I have outlined earlier:

  1. Young children are beginning their education with varying degrees of technology literacy due to the increasing presence of ICT in their lives and of those people around them.
  2. Countries such as Australia, for example, have embedded technology literacy learning outcomes in both the EYLF and the Australian Curriculum.
  3. Young children need to find out and identify the uses of technology in their everyday lives.
  4. Lastly, because most are familiar with technology use when they enter your learning environment it is your responsibility as an early childhood teacher to build on their ‘technology literacy’ or ICT capability.

 

There are various types of resources that are DATEC:

  • Real items of digital technology that work such as digital cameras;
  • Real items of digital technology that don’t work;
  • Toy technologies that stimulate the working of the real technology;
  • Toy technologies such as wooden washing machines;
  • Technologies that the children have made.

 

So as you have seen, there many reasons and many ways to overcome key issues to do with integrating digital technology in early childhood education. You can achieve this through intentional teaching strategies or through digital play.