Connecting Classes Across Continents is a collaboration I began with Apple Distinguished Educators who teach in the early years. We met in San Diego in July 2014 and began planning how we could use FaceTime and social media to build a personal learning network for our young learners, In the beginning we had classes connecting between South Carolina, Maine, Ireland and my class in England. The process is simple, we looked at what we taught throughout the year and found topics which overlapped or linked so that our classes could exchange knowledge over a video call.
Over the last two years my classes have made short video calls to these classes to talk about their place in the world, ask questions about the different places and share stories or festivals from their home country. We have shared Bonfire Night, Thanksgiving, Christmas food similarities and differences and Chinese New Year. Connecting with real children celebrating these festivals made the learning so much more real as we could have genuine discussions with real people involved in these celebrations.
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!
This time last year we discussed a move towards using an assessment app in our Foundation 2 Unit. Up until September 2013 I had always gathered my photographic evidence using a digital camera and organised them easily using iTag software. I wrote a post about this a few years back here. So much has changed with the way photographs and cameras are used in Foundation settings since that, so here is an update.
Using ICT has always reduced the time it takes me to organise my assessments and by having a note taking and photo gathering app, which creates a learning journey, the time it takes us to file has been reduced considerably. Our workflow has also been significantly streamlined as observations no longer need to be collected and then manually filed in date order. You cannot deny it is much easier to put your finger on ‘that piece of evidence’ when 30 learning journeys are on one iPad screen!
Earlier this month I blogged about the upcoming International Dot Day on September 15th. The day finally arrived today and it has been fantastic!
A lot of preparation went in to the day. We actually began Dot Day on the Thursday before. Our children got to know the text well before the day came, and we had finished our individual dots by close of play on Friday. For the actual day, we enhanced our continuous provision areas with dotty resources which the children had access to indoors and outdoors all day long – an exciting blog post about this has been published on Alistair Bryce-Clegg’s blog here.
After Reception’s assessment was moderated in June, September gave an opportunity for the Foundation Team to give our assessment strategies a make over.
Amongst the staff we decided that photographic evidence provides excellent opportunities for assessment. The problem we found was the management and recalling of the hundreds of photographs we would be taking each week.
I began to investigate hardware and software options.