We are more connected than ever and the children we teach are more connected than ever. So how are we making the most of social media in our classrooms? It’s a part of children’s life that schools are increasingly aware of or frightened by. Some schools might be tackling issues head on, others might be running from it. But what happens when you use in for the good of learning?
Twitter connected my class to British Astronaut Tim Peake whilst he was on board the International Space Station. We had wrote a song for him, performed it in guided reading and recorded it as a podcast in GarageBand. We uploaded our recording to Audiboom and the European Space Agency shared it with Tim Peake. A few weeks later, Tim Peake listened to our song and tweeted back his own verse. You can read more about this experience here.
The journey didn’t end there though.
Today was a date in my calendar that I never dreamed of saving when we first recorded this podcast.
It wasn’t even a date I dreamed of saving when I watched Tim Peake return to earth and wrote this blog entry.
It wasn’t even a date I dreamed of saving when Tim Peake wrote about that entry on his social media sites!
But the dream did come true…
The UK Space Agency invited my class and I to the Principia Schools Conference in York on Saturday 5th November. We would be meeting British Astronaut, Major Tim Peake.
Tim opened the conference with a view in to his time on board the International Space Station, the research he worked on and what life is like on board. What I enjoyed most about his keynote, to an audience of school children aged between 4 and 19 years old, was the way he spoke passionately about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. He reflected on his time at school, his passions and his drive for learning. I sat there, as an adult (and teacher) thinking about my time in school. I remembered being in Year 5, going to the library and checking out space book after space book after space book. It was my passion then, it still is now, but it wasn’t ever turned in to a driving force by my teachers. I was told ‘you should read something other than space’. And that was the last space book I checked out of the library in primary school.
I was sat with 6 of the young children that I teach, who had taken an interest in the Principia mission and brought it in to school. Together, it was our driving force for learning. We did everything we could do about space and as 4 year olds, we made sense of what space is.
Meeting Major Tim Peake.
Tim spent 15 minutes with each school group throughout the day. As he walked in the room, my class froze (and so did I). What a moment it was! Tim knew who we were. He remembered our song and he talked about it to the children. He asked them what inspired the words and each of them got to ask him a question.
The real highlight was meeting Tim Peake, but the UK Space Agency organised so many activities for our young learners included experiments with gravity and rocket fuel. It was a day where we could ask questions, think of answers and be inspired by space science. We also got to visit an exhibition of school work and see what other primary schools had worked on during the Principia mission. My class learned from the lessons of other classes.
Technology is the driving force that brought us all together at this once in a lifetime conference. The big picture of technology here is that it made the advances in Science possible so that astronauts can go to space. The little picture, technology is the driving force to connect us and bring us together in person to celebrate our passion for science, engineering and maths. Make the most of technology in your classrooms, it breaks down the walls of your school and it opens the minds of learners. It gave my young children a voice and an opportunity to do something so different. We never would have imagined this possible but technology took our learning ‘to infinity, and beyond.’