Apple Classroom Counts for Early Years

With the introduction of Apple Classroom this summer, our iPad deployment at school became a lot smoother and manageable for teachers.

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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

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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.
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To Infinity, and Beyond! Meeting Major Tim Peake.

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…

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Face to Face with the Experts

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.

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Who wouldn’t want their art work to sing?

Physical to digital work is transforming our art area this year, thanks to Cathy Hunt. It’s a simple idea which builds cameras in to your art area. Children move between the iPad and their physical art work to develop their ideas. Cathy has a host of lesson ideas for all ages on her website, and it’s been great fun building this way of working in to our art activities.

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Our first week with iPad – Mastering the Basics!

I came away from the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute brimming with ideas about photography and why we need to enhance learning by giving children a camera.

FullSizeRender-2-300x300.jpgCathy Hunt, of the iPad Art Room, shared the idea that “it all starts with the camera, because from this launching point we can support students to develop their ability to communicate”. In her classroom she sees how cameras help children ‘see their world differently’ and that their ‘connected cameras are always collecting’.

 

dave-profile.jpgDave Caleb, a digital literacy coach in South East Asia, explains “images are an incredible medium. They transcend language barriers. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, you can read a photograph”. He reflects that ‘your camera roll is your story’ and now that students have access to devices, they have a powerful story telling device at their finger tips. He concluded that ‘We need to teach our students to capture powerful images. It is a literacy we need to teach. It is tied to what it means to be human’.

Both of these presentations at the ADE Institute support the reasons why I start and end with photography each year my Foundation Stage classes. At the end of last year I published the ‘One Best Photo’ resources with The Forestry Commission but each September I wonder how I will progress my new class of 4 year olds to this level of creativity on their iPads. And each September, the 4 year olds amaze me!

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Kaleidoscope Art

At the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute in Berlin I got to meet Cathy Hunt, an extraordinary art teacher from Australia. Cathy must have shared 30 or more inspiring art lessons with us in just a 3 minutes. She passionately demonstrating how we need to ‘pull down the barriers between technology, traditional tools and tactile materials’. And to this effectively, Cathy says that it all starts with the camera.

FullSizeRender-2-300x300.jpgCathy is a well-known advocate for the creative integration of technology in education, developing ground-breaking programs for students around the world that combine hands-on, tactile and collaborative ways of working with mobile devices. Cathy is probably best known for her work on iPadartroom.com, a home base for educators to engage with innovative ideas, resources and technology for learning in that combines paint and pixels. Her site has grown to become the ‘go-to’ resource for teachers leveraging mobile devices for creativity.

 

This year I’ve packed my creative toolkit full to the top with Cathy’s ideas and giving it a go. At the beginning of the year I plan a variety of activities where my new cohort of 4 year olds can get to grips using the camera on our iPads and mastering the basics. I love this start because it gets them mobile with the devices from the get-go. They practise holding the iPad securely and moving between the camera app and photos app to find their images. Thanks to Cathy, I’ve now found a way to link their digital creativity to physical art work.

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Making Our Mark on the World

International Dot Day falls perfectly at the beginning of the school year. September 15th. We have been in school for just over a week and we are getting to know each other and our school routines. Dot Day is a festival which extends the message of the brilliant book, The Dot. In this story, Vashti doesn’t like art class. She has an encouraging teacher who tells her to sign her name and she frames Vashti’s art work. This gives Vashti a beginners mindset and she starts to explore other ways of making her mark in art class. The story ends with a showcase of Vashti’s dots and a chat with another unconfident young learner. She helps him make his mark and tells him to sign it. And the story begins again!

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International Dot Day takes the idea of dot art work and how through art work you can show how unique you are. Children make their own art work to represent themselves. In group and class discussions we unpick what it means to be you. What are you proud of? What makes your unique? How will you make your mark?

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One page at a time: Introducing Book Creator.

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.

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One Best Photo with Tanya Leadbeater

In June 2016, I published a community engagement project, One Best Photo, with the Forestry Commission in England. In the first 3 months this free outdoor learning and technology resource has been downloaded across the UK, America, Canada and Australia. At the launch event held in Nottingham with Sherwood Pines, Early Years teacher Tanya Leadbeater downloaded the pack and took it back to her nursery. Church Vale Primary School say in their vision statement that they want their children to be life-long learners. Tanya helps to achieve this in her role as the Computing Co-ordinator by introducing new ways of teaching and learning across her school which motivates and engages their children. I am amazed by the quality of work the 3 year olds have produced from using One Best Photo and it is a pleasure to showcase their work here today. Thank you for sharing this Tanya! 

Tanya Leadbeater. Church Vale Primary School, Nottinghamshire.

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I have been teaching for 14 years and during this time have worked in two Nottinghamshire Primary schools and have taught classes in each Key Stage. In 2014, I began teaching in the Foundation Stage and have been teaching Foundation 1 children since. I work part-time and have two children of my own. As well as being class teacher, I am the Computing Coordinator which I have been for almost 10 years now. 

Visit Church Vale Primary School website here.

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Many small people, who in many small places, do many small things, that can alter the world.

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East Side Gallery, Berlin.

Before heading to Berlin for the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) World Wide Institute, I watched ADE Michelle Cordy present a powerful idea in her closing keynote of ISTE.

“When teachers connect, they change the world.”

Now, more than ever, we need teachers to be together. We have a responsibility as a global community of educators to give children, from all over the world, the best start in life; socially and academically. To do that effectively, we should not stand still and we certainly should not stand alone!

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