September and the start of school came and we all survived again. Settling in to routines, finding our feet in a new classroom and figuring out where to start building those blocks for this year’s learning. It’s an exciting time as the weeks unfold and we get to know our new class, finding out what they already know and what they need next.
Every year it amazes me the skills the children have when using iPads, and other technology in their classroom. This year’s highlight for me was during the introduction of the class iPads and basic skills of navigating the home screen, dock and the camera. One of the children had this to say:
“I know another skill. You have to close the apps too so that it doesn’t waste the battery charge”. Yes that’s right! And this skill was even demonstrated correctly. I hadn’t come across this skill at the beginning of the year before!
However, there is one skill that I am yet to be met with in September, and that is using the camera efficiently. How often do you see this on your camera rolls and you don’t find out about it until your iPad memory is full:
We always start the year with photography skills. It takes a long time, it’s a whole half term (and for some the whole year) but it is a skill which underpins the very basics of using an iPad to create authentic content. It’s a skill you return to every time you use an iPad to make a movie, book or presentation.
So here are a few activities we have planned this September…
iOS Skills: Using the photos app, using the camera, using the home button, using the sleep/wake button, holding the iPad securely.
“Children, children, what do you see?”
Earlier in September we read a range of stories about looking around a place to get to know it:
Brown Bear, Brown Bear.
Polar Bear, Polar Bear.
I Went Walking.
We use these stories as a starting point for our own class book “Children, Children, What Do You See?”
With the iPads, children learn a strong grip on the iPad (thumbs on the front, fingers on the back, tuck your elbows in).
Using this grip, children learn to open the camera (which is positioned on the dock) and how to hold steady to take a photograph of a place in their new setting. They return to the adult and join in with the repeated refrain “Children, children, what do you see…” and reply with a description of the place they found and the photograph they took of it. The children navigate from camera app to the photo app and back to the camera for the next round.
We evaluate the photographs taken: How many times did you press to take? Is it clear? Is it blurry? Do we need to delete any?
The photographs taken are used to make our class book – either on the iPad or printed for a physical book.
We return to photograph skills the following week for selfies in the style of Andy Warhol. We are using bright paints to represent our faces and making use of Photo Booth on the iPads too.
There a range of filters and styles to pick from in Photo Booth and it comes preinstalled on your iPads so there’s installation worries before the activity! It’s another chance to cover those basic skills: Holding the iPad, pressing the capture button just once and evaluating what you’ve taken.
This activity links to a non-fiction text about bodies and bones. We read two of these books over the week and set up the usual doctor/nurse experiences (we even got to FaceTime 2 doctors from our local hospital to ask them questions the books didn’t answer!)
Photo Booth ties in to this theme well as there is an X-Ray style filter perfect for taking these kinds of photographs in role play. It’s a great opportunity to leave the iPads out and observe their use in a role play context, reminding the children that the doctors don’t need hundreds of the same X-Ray!! They made a great display in the role play area too.
These three activities came one after the other, one week at a time. And photography will continue to happen as these skills are mastered. These skills we continue to be practised as we begin to make books on the iPad, document our work using the iPads and using a suite of animation apps.
We always start September with photography and taking the ‘One Best Image’ continues every time we are using the iPad to create authentic content in the classroom.