This July I travelled to my third Apple Distinguished Educator Institute. It has been two years since I was invited to join this global community of innovative educators and it still stands as my most valued CPD experience. Being a part of this community is so important to me, it is a place that I can take time for myself and my professional growth.
After the Institute I stayed in Amsterdam with a few of my ADE friends and we visited Bodyworlds. An exhibition about the human body and the role happiness plays on your body. It was during this exhibition, 2 days after the Institute, where I began to draw up my reflections on the week. This post is punctuated with a few photographs of collages from Bodyworlds, ones that helped me knit those special moments at Institute together.
Being part of the Apple Distinguished Educator community and attending the Institutes I can reflect on my teaching highs and lows, explore new ideas in a safe environment and seek new paths by making connections with other educators who are just as passionate about education technology. There are few safe places where teachers can gather to share their ideas and take time out to gather their thoughts about their time in the classroom. Another example of this kind of community is TeachMeet and those of you reading this who are part of this community will relate to my reflections in this post. These communities are such meaningful times in our working lives and we need more of these moments to punctuate our academic years.
So back to the this year’s ADE Institute… It was all about story telling. The whole week was packed with showcases from fellow ADEs who stepped up to tell their story to an excited crowd of around 500 educators from Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa. It’s so great to hear teachers speak both passionately and honestly about their success and struggles. Again, similar to the presentations we hear at TeachMeets.
But for those who didn’t get on stage, the Institute gave everyone a voice through workshops, challenges and project work with peers. It is in these Learning Community times where the magic really happened. When groups of teachers of similar interests can get together to discuss ideas they encourage each another to share these stories with the wider education community beyond the Apple Distinguished Educator cohort. I am a much more confident teacher and leader because of my Apple Distinguished Educator peers.
I worked in a team of Early Learning and Elementary teachers from England, Ireland, Spain, France and The Netherlands. There were many more teachers from this age group but they pursued other projects and interests (I can’t wait to see what their stories look like when they are published!) It was such a powerful time listening to the ways in which we made use of Apple technology in our classrooms and hearing the real-life ways it has enhanced learning for our children.
The outcomes of this Institute have been great! Each of us have had the opportunity to publish our stories through the iBooks Store or iTunes U. We spent time working on our ‘One Best Thing’ from the past year or curating resources from a ‘Lesson from the Classroom’ we have taught and seen the impact it has had on learning in our classrooms. All of these stories and projects are authentic and from first hand experience and expertise in classrooms from across the planet.
It was during this time that I curated resources from a series of shape and space lessons that I taught this year. I have blogged about many of these lessons this year. I told my story of how iStop Motion, Maths Learning Centre apps, Book Creator and My Story came together to create Maths Journals with my early years children. This is a story that started after the San Diego ADE Institute last year where I met Kristi Meeuwse and listened to her story which has inspired my own. I began to put my content together in our Learning Community time and my ADE peers reviewed and refined it.
On Thursday 6th August, 2 weeks after my Institute and on the closing ceremony of the ADE Institute in Singapore, my Lesson for the Classroom was published by Apple. I am so grateful for the support and encouragement to put my content together to share with the world, but I am also proud that my project became a spotlight at the Singapore Institute. My Lesson for the Classroom is the first project to be published from this year’s Institutes. I am so honoured! However, I am most excited that this lesson can empower teachers and children across the globe and support those beginning on their journey with iPads in the early years classroom.
This is not just my achievement though, it belongs to all of my ADE peers. There are so many projects, lessons, books and resources coming over the next few weeks and months. It is so exciting to see all of these stories being told to the world. These guys are doing incredible things and changing the lives our learners of all ages. The Apple Distinguished Educator community continue to inspire and amaze me!
Thank you Apple Distinguished Educators! And Thank You to Amsterdam for hosting us!
To download to my Lesson for the Classroom “We’re Going on a Shape Hunt” and begin using these tools in your classroom.