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.
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.
Friday 17th June
This is the day my class waited for! Our hero Major Tim Peake spent his last day on the International Space Station and preparations began for his journey home.
It has been such a buzz following this mission. Since the launch, children in my class have been fascinated and asked so many questions about space. From the launch through to today they have followed this mission and been inspired by this journey. As I look back to December 15th when I heard about the launch on the news on my drive to work I was excited! I could not wait to talk about this with my class and watch the footage on our Smart TV. Back then though, I would never have guessed how involved we would become in space exploration!
Toward the end of the summer term 2014, I presented at the Nottinghamshire County Council ICT Subject Leader’s network. The focus of my presentation was on the successes of our school blogs and social media presence, and the road ahead. The network meeting had a wider theme of e-safety and I discussed how a blogging system and social media presence that is embedded in a school models acceptable use of the internet to pupils on a daily basis. You can read more about the launch of our school blogs and social media tools here. There are parents who regularly tweet and use Instagram with us, which models acceptable use at home.
As I prepare to return to school for the new academic year and welcome my new Foundation class to our school, I can’t help but feel excited. Usually September focuses on establishing routines, settling in to school life and base-line assessments, but this year will be slightly different for us.
My Early Years group of Apple Distinguished Educators in America are already a few weeks in to their school year and we are about to embark on a year of collaboration and projects between our classes. The first of these projects, which is a great ‘getting to know you’ exercise for my own class but also for all of our classes, is called ‘International Dot Day’.
This year I applied to attend the Apple Distinguished Educator Global Institute, held in San Diego. My application was successful and I joined 9 other UK Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) on a trip to America which would change my life. Not only would this be a week to meet ADEs from 31 countries, it would be a chance to become a learner again, change perspectives, develop new skills and collaborate on a projects for the next school year.
When starting my new school in September, the mission was to turn the school around and promote the great things that happen inside our school. We are half way through the school year now and the work that we done so far has been incredible. Rapid progress is being made and the school feels like a completely different place than it did when I went to look around nearly a year ago.
We are very proud of what we have achieved so far.
Back in November I shared my vision for developing class blogs with head teachers and deputies at a school leadership conference in Nottinghamshire. My presentation was all about what could be achieved by blogging- I had only just started when I ran this workshop. I explained the upcoming requirements of the new computing curriculum and that e-safety and responsible internet use needs to be taught from Year 1. I suggested that blogs embeds this in the school ethos and regular blogging promotes responsible online behaviour.
This week everything fell in to place neatly, and the impact blogs have had on our learning environment and parental involvement has been phenomenal. It has only been 5 days.
Today was such an exciting day.
Over the half term I organised a Skype call with a K class at Avenues School in New York City.
It was the first time that I had planned a video call with any class, let alone Foundation children, and I didn’t know what to expect at all.
The call was an incredible experience and surprised me on so many levels. I was amazed at how confident the children were (both my class and the Eagles class at Avenues). They very quickly understood the concept of the link and listened so attentively to the speakers so that they could answer the questions.