“How might we keep local legends, myths and fables alive whilst also sharing our place in the world?”
Stories of a Lifetime came together after a project between my foundation class and Jason Milner’s year 4 class in Sydney. For World Book Day 2016, my class studied stories from Australia as part of a whole school worldwide story project. To bring story telling to life, Jason’s class wrote and retold the story of Tiddalic the Frog. They illustrated the story and pieced it together using iMovie. The impact this form story telling and knowledge exchange had on my early years class was huge! Hearing the story retold by children who care about the story was much more meaningful, giving them greater context and a purpose to retell and write this story themselves. Here you can see children in my class writing the story of Tiddalic the Frog…
“This is a boxed-up, ready to go, 1 week project I can use with my class. It’s a cross-curricular, local study my class work on and technology brings it together.”
We are so lucky in the Early Years. We have a passport for change: Enabling Environments. It’s been in print from Development Matters 2012 and it means we are allowed to make changes that enhance the learning in our settings. Here’s what Development Matters says about Enabling Environments:
It is an overarching principle which is still present in Early Years Outcomes, 2014, and we must hold on to this tightly with both hands because we are allowed to decide what an enabling environment looks like for the children that we teach every day! This post explores how I am using Future Work Skills 2020 to enable learning in my early years environment.
With the introduction of Apple Classroom this summer, our iPad deployment at school became a lot smoother and manageable for teachers.
For a long time we have relied on Guided Access in the Accessibility settings to manage learning in focus groups. Triple tapping the home button on each iPad was commonplace in our early years setting, locking in apps for particular tasks during the day. Now with Classroom, the whole process of teaching and learning is more robots. From the teacher iPad we are able to open, lock and view the screens of every iPad in our classroom.
This is really handy when using iPad 1:1 with our young learners. Even though our desirable outcome is for children to select and use apps for a purpose, when teaching a skill in Maths for example, Classroom really does count!
A Closer Look at Classroom
This is a view of my teacher iPad running the Classroom app. You can see I have 5 iPad devices locked in to the Number Frames app. Each of the 5 iPad devices has a live view of the iPad screen in real time. I can tap the Lock icon at any time to freeze the iPad devices and I can launch any other app, book or website I want the group to use.
You can also see that I am managing different groups of iPad devices. There are 29 iPad devices all using Number Frames in the class and I can tap this group to see what each child is doing on their iPad. I know where and when to intervene just from glancing at Classroom at any time.
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…
Our time in Brazil wrapped up with a visit at the Mayor’s Office and a meeting with University of Pernambuco at the British Consulate. At both of these meetings planning for the future took place. Great progress has been made with local schools and partners here over the last 13 days and moving forwards with the onebillion maths intervention seems likely. On my final visit to ABA Global school I was presented with a gift from peace linguist, and President of the Board at ABA Global Education, Francisco Gomes de Matos:
“Oh, Brazil, about you what can I foresee well? You will be internationally admired. You will be educationally developed. You will be scientifically and technologically advanced. You will be interculturally comprehended.”
This resonates with me and our trip here. This articulates the aims we have for working with Brazil and assures me that Brazil makes a perfect partner in our projects and research.
It was a successful first week in Recife and the agenda took new directions each day. As so much time was dedicated to observation and knowledge exchange, our time was flexible. Because of this we were able to follow the lead of our local partners which maximised the opportunities for this scoping visit.
Today I head out to Recife, Brazil and it feels like the beginning of a great adventure. But whilst I wait for my connecting flight to Sao Paulo from Amsterdam, I look back at the 18 months which lead up to this moment.
Unlocking Talent Through Tablet Technology
Unlocking Talent is a research project supported by VSO and Norweigian Government. Lead by the University of Nottingham, the project evaluates the use of onebillion apps in closing the gap in maths. Beginning in Milawi, this research found that from 8 weeks of using the apps, children made up to 18 months learning gains in maths skills.
As this research continued, the University and onebillion questioned whether or not this way of working could be replicated beyond Milawi. This is where I joined the team and together we ran a pilot a study across the schools in the federation that I work for. We found similar learning gains here, as well as in other small scale pilot studies from UK. So in June, we launched the UK’s first ever large scale evaluation of tablet technology and maths attainment.
The apps are used with Early Years children who have been identified as working below age-related expectations. They work on activities set by the teacher in the app for up to 30 minutes a day. The learning is 1:1, personalised and self-paced. These children access this app as well as normal teaching practices and traditional interventions. When combined like this, the learning gains have been huge.
The findings from the initial UK pilot studies can be found here.
Introducing video conferencing software as a way of connecting my class and extending our reach is my one best thing. FaceTime calls are the back bone to the Connecting Classes Across Continents project that I collaborate on with a group of early learning Apple Distinguished Educators. We use the software to share learning and exchange knowledge between our classes.
I’ve been using FaceTime beyond this project though. Video conferencing can bring many more experts in to our classrooms. Those days when the fire engine visits schools and the police officers join us for question and answer are so valuable. There are many more experts that we can learn from who aren’t in our local area though. That’s where softwares like FaceTime extend our reach for knowledge exchange.