Over the years I have developed a network with fellow Apple Distinguished Educators which brings the world to my early years classroom. I regularly receive positive feedback from parents who are amazed at the way their young ones connect with other children around
the world using software like FaceTime.
Monday 4th July marked another one of those moments in my career where my classroom became an international hub for collaboration between the children that I teach and classrooms around the world. It was such a pleasure to welcome Jason Milner from Sydney, Australia to Burton Joyce Primary School, Nottingham!
Monday 4th July was the day I had been waiting for since February. Apple Distinguished Educator, Jason Milner a Year 4 teacher from Sydney, visited my school to work with me on a MakerSpace project we had been planning for months.
What is a MakerSpace?
I was particularly interested in this concept of MakerSpaces because of the strong links to Foundation Stage style practice. It’s a place in your school or setting where children use open-ended resources or work on projects related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic skills. Children work on their own projects or respond to challenges set. I wanted to see how best practices and resources from Foundation can be extended to support learning in computing and programming skills. Jason also wanted to gain experience using our Dash robots with Foundation Stage children.
This month I am proud to announce the publication of free lessons that I have created in partnership with The Forestry Commission Learning Rangers.
In July 2015 I met with the education team from Sherwood Pines to talk about this potential project and how we can work together to bring technology and outdoor learning together.
Digital Citizenship and online safety is such an important part of the National Curriculum and confidence to teach this subject is growing amongst teachers in upper primary years. But what is happening lower down school?
In the early years we have always been good at providing children with opportunities to develop relationship skills and problem solve in their peer groups. We have access to many age appropriate resources to discuss stranger danger and bullying. Over the last year I’ve started to see good materials published to bring online safety in to our curriculum. I want to share some of these today.
Puppet Pals, a story-telling app created by two dads, has been around from the very beginning. The set of first generation iPads arrived in my classroom and it was the first app I downloaded that I thought ‘Yes, this is it!’ It was the app I used when Nottinghamshire County Council’s ICT specialist visited to see me teach with iPads and it changed her view on their potential for learning.
Download Puppet Pals from the App Store here.
That was 2010. Fast forward 6 years and Puppet Pals is probably one of the few apps that’s remained the same and remained strong.
Let’s take a look at how Puppet Pals has been used in my classes over the years.
What’s the best way to get Tim Peake to sing our song to us?
If you haven’t read the blog post about our Podcast to Tim Peake, take a look at that here. The class are so eager to have Tim Peake listen to their ‘Stars and The Moon’ song and are waiting with so much anticipation to hear back from the European Space Agency. So in the meantime I decided to have some fun with Tim Peake masks and find the best way to have Tim Peake sing ‘Stars and The Moon’.
We love making role play masks but this mask’s purpose is to make it seem like Tim is singing our song to us. It needs to be the most convincing mask!
I had forgotten about this little gem of an app but this week my class wanted to write a song for Tim Peake and tweet it to him. They’ve been fascinated by his story so far and we keep checking his Twitter feed and watching YouTube videos about the International Space Station. Singing him a song is a great compromise as they did ask to FaceTime him when he first arrived on the ISS. Now I can usually make a FaceTime link for them but that is very ambitious!
It is true!
But the truth is… it takes time.
Developing ICT skills follow a similar pattern as developing writing, phonic or number skills. It is like a dripping tap. Little and often goes a long way and eventually the cup fills up.
Last year I used Padlet as a collaborative tool for shape hunts around school. It was really effective to use a collaborative tool and create a shared document that displayed all of the 3D Shapes we found around school. You can read about that here.
This year Padlet released a free app for iPad making this resource much more stable on iOS, but it requires the latest iOS and we are using iPad 2 which I don’t want to update to iOS 9. So I had to rethink how I can make use of technology to enhance the traditional shape hunt.
“This adult led activity happens in so many foundation classes, and I have led shape walks many times. During these walks, we carry a bag of plastic shapes and we match the plastic pieces to real objects. This happens for 2D and 3D shapes. The children might even mark off on a clipboard the shapes they spotted, like bingo, or draw pictures of the shapes they have seen. By the end of the walk, they have all recorded the same shapes in the same places. I wanted to enhance this experience, to make it more personalised”
So this year we used the free app PicCollage. It makes use of children’s photography skills which they are all secure with when using iPad but creates a very simple and effective poster showing the shapes they noticed around school. They also like it because they get to take a selfie instead of writing their name!