September comes around again and our rooms are full of energy. A ‘beginners mindset’ can be seen everywhere around school. It’s a positive place to be as we all look towards a new year ahead. In Foundation, we are busy establishing routines and learning what skills our youngest learners in school have. Each year I see a step forward in the confidence, and maturity, that children have when using technology. Skip back a couple of years and the excitement to be on an iPad meant snatching it from someone’s hands and running it to the corner of the room. With teachers in professional learning discussions, I had conversations about turn-taking and rule setting when introducing iPad to young learners. But this week, with my new cohort of 4 year olds, I am seeing a much more mature approach to technology and how they know it is readily available in their world. It is embedded in their life and expected to be a part of their learning environment. This doesn’t mean they know how to use apps like Book Creator, but they are a little more skilled in navigating and handling these devices.
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!
What is a MakerSpace.
I was interested in MakerSpaces because of their strong links to Foundation Stage best practise. It’s a place in school where children use sets of resources to work on projects related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic skills. Children design on their own projects or respond to challenges. I wanted to see how best practises and resources from Foundation can be extended to support learning further up school. For the Year 4 teachers, they wanted to see how our new range of iPad compatible robots can be used in their coding curriculum.
For this MakerSpace I was joined by Jason Milner. Jason is an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) from Sydney, Australia. Throughout July he visited other ADE schools across Europe and today we collaborated on this project at my school. Jason wanted to gain experience using iPad compatible robots and also observe the impact that wrapping code around the curriculum may improve the way in which children apply mathematic skills.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Learn something new, be amazed, amused and enthused. This is an informal gathering of those curious about teaching and learning. Anyone can share great ideas they’ve trialled in their classrooms, ask important questions or simply sign up to take part in learning conversations. Education professionals from all sectors are welcome to take part.
The main part of TeachMeet is hearing stories about learning, from teachers. This is not an event to present about a product or theory – this is a chance for teachers from all types of establishments to hear ideas from each other. Real narratives of practice that make a difference. It is about being engaged and inspired by our immediate colleagues and a whole bucket load of networking to boot!
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!