Connecting Classes across Continents: a collaborative book by two schools.

For the past 7 years our Executive Head Teacher has been the lead link between our schools here in Nottingham (Burton Joyce and Cropwell Bishop) and St. Francis Xavier school in Goa, India. For 2 weeks each year, Phil spends time at the school working with the staff and students of the schools. The project is funding by The British Council and supported by Nottingham Forest Football Club also.

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Last year, Phil’s visit supported the launch of our school blogs and kick started Skype Classroom projects. This year, he set out to make a multi-touch book on a single iPad and create a collaborative text about the two localities. My first attempt at creating  a teacher authored textbook using iBooksAuthor came about at the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) institute in San Diego (2014), and with a group of Early Years ADEs we authored a book about Rancho Cuyamaca. I shared this project with Phil and it shaped our vision for this project.

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“A Beginner’s Mindset”. My Reflections from the Apple Leadership Summit.

January saw the annual Apple Leadership Summit return to London and was attended by school leaders across Europe. Held at Kings Place alongside BETT in the same week, the event had a great buzz surrounding technology’s place in education, across all age groups and school types.

Primary schools were well represented this year, with guest speakers from the Stephen Perce Foundation and Flitch Green Academy. Apple Distinguished Educators gave spotlights, workshops and break-out sessions throughout the day, offering real examples of how iPad enhances the lessons and objectives that we all teach. Participation was key and workshops were practical.

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As well as teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator and school spotlights, the Summit included workshops and keynotes focusing on leading change, sharing vision and project management.

“Open Minds”

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E-Safety and the Foundation Stage.

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.

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Paperless Assessment in Early Years: apps and ideas to consider.

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!

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Genius Hour in Foundation.

This year we want to develop our project and research skills with our children. We want to offer our children learning opportunities beyond what the curriculum suggests. We want to give them enrichment opportunities which promote a thirst for learning and a chance to find out more about something they are passionate about.

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Coding Curriculum Began Today. Am I Prepared? Maybe but let’s have a good sing along anyway!

Today, as I made my final preparations for starting the new school year, I couldn’t ignore the social media coverage of the new computing curriculum. The BBC have written a lot about the new primary curriculum today, from the computing perspective. They also announced a whole host of new projects to promote computer science in their children’s entertainment offerings and in their supporting educational websites.

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Nottinghamshire County Council iPad Networks

This academic year is already shaping up to be a great one with many exciting projects planned for my class already. Some of these I have blogged about already but today I want to write about the iPad Networks for Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) schools.

During the Summer Term last year I began talks with consultants at NCC about the possibility of running a specific training program for schools in the district with iPads. I have worked closely with the ICT team over the last 2 years, delivering workshops, presentations and drop-in sessions around my use of iPad in school.

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Apple Distinguished Educators Global Institute reflection and call to action.

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.

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TeachMeet Midlands: What was it all about?

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TeachMeet Midlands was a huge success. This time our TeachMeet was part of National TeachMeet Day in the UK, which helped raise the profile of the event in Nottingham and across the Midlands. With sponsorship from the Nottingham Learning Trust (@NottmLT) and The National College (@the_college), as well as the companies behind TeachMeet UK, Pete (@PeteBevington) and I (@MarcWithersey) were able to promote this event through many channels beyond Twitter and we introduced so many more teachers to the TeachMeet format of CPD.

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Including Early Years and ELGs in a computing curriculum (UPDATED September 2014)

The autumn term has been a long but rewarding one for me. A new job has been the challenge that I was looking for and I am settled in to a new school and a new role. Each week has passed with a new set of achievements and the role has been fast paced, but progress is being made at an astonishing rate!

One focus for me, as for many of us, is implementing a new computing curriculum for the school. As an early years teacher I am keen to include the foundation stage within the primary curriculum planning phase and make stronger links between the two curriculums.

This may be an easier process for other curriculum areas, but within the ‘technology’ strand in Early Years Outcomes and the new computing curriculum for key stage 1, it seems to be a little more vague.

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