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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My Journey to Brazil

Today I head out to Recife, Brazil and it feels like the beginning of a great adventure. But whilst I wait for my connecting flight to Sao Paulo from Amsterdam, I look back at the 18 months which lead up to this moment.

 

Unlocking Talent Through Tablet Technology

Unlocking Talent is a research project supported by VSO and Norweigian Government. Lead by the University of Nottingham, the project evaluates the use of onebillion apps in closing the gap in maths. Beginning in Milawi, this research found that from 8 weeks of using the apps, children made 18 months learning gains in maths skills.

As this research continued, the University and onebillion questioned whether or not this way of working could be replicated beyond Milawi. This is where I joined the team and together we ran a pilot a study across the schools in the federation that I work for. We found similar learning gains here, as well as in other small scale pilot studies from UK schools. So in June, we launched the UK’s first ever large scale evaluation of tablet technology and maths attainment.

The apps are used with Early Years children that have been identified as working below age-related expectations. They work on activities set by the teacher in the app for up to 30 minutes a day. The learning is 1:1, personalised and self-paced. These children access this app as well as normal teaching practices and traditional interventions. When combined like this, the learning gains have been huge.

The findings from the initial UK pilot studies can be found here.

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The Language of Maths

Last year I introduced Maths Journals in my classroom after seeing the success of them on Kristi’s blog. Maths Journals have become the most effective way of capturing the language the children use in maths and a great way for them to show what they know.

Book Creator.

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This year I have used Book Creator for our Maths Journals. Book Creator does exactly that. It creates books on iPads. When we think about book creating we always jump in to English and making multi-modal texts. So to use Book Creator to journal in Maths is a great way to use the app in a different context! Download Book Creator from the AppStore here.

Journals.

Children create their own Maths Journal book on an iPad in Book Creator. They make the front cover of their book a photograph of them and write their name with the pen tool. This means that they can easily find their book from the scrolling menu when they next open Book Creator on that iPad. The books do not sync across all of the iPads so they need to use the same iPad every time they journal.

Children journal once a week in their independent maths time when we have the iPads in the classroom. This is during our maths focus time in the week. Children have their maths input, a maths activity planned for them by an adult and adults observe them with a maths focus too.

When I introduce Maths Journals in January, it is to around 16 children who are showing good skills in using Book Creator already. Other children more time to learn the Book Creator skills necessary to independently journal so they will use Pic Collage in other adult led activities to help develop these skills. They will journal later in the year when these skills are secure.

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An Early Years Shape Book about Bonfire Night

We are getting ready to teach the children how to make Maths Journals again this year, but before we hand children their own iPads, we need to model book creating in maths first. You can read more about Maths Journals here.

Bonfire Night is a British festival remembering The Gunpowder Plot from over 400 years ago. Guy Fawkes attempted to murder King James who would be in The Houses of Parliament on November 5th 1605 (I hope I have that date right?). Guy Fawkes obviously failed as The Houses of Parliament still stand today and every year on November 5th our children visit a bonfire and watch fireworks which depict what could have happened should Guy Fawkes have been successful.

This festival, like many others, lends itself well to cross-curricular learning. However, it also lends itself well to my connected classes project as our friends across Europe and America will not be celebrating Bonfire Night. Therefore it is a great opportunity to use technology to share this festival with them.

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Independent Early Maths with Padlet for iPad.

I first wrote about Padlet in the spring term when I used it in an adult directed, 3D shape hunt around school. It enhanced our shape hunt because children could work more independently, whilst reviewing their peers work and then photographing other 3D shapes their peers hadn’t spotted. You can read about this activity here because you will probably need to teach the skills before the children will do them independently.

This post is all about independent maths.

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When I wrote this post it was late in the summer term and like all teachers around the world, I was busy gathering evidence for end of year assessments. This outdoor activity gave evidence for so many areas of learning. First up, I left just 1 iPad outdoors and the brief to photograph the shapes around the outdoor area (three skills observed right there, maths, technology and sharing!).

The 1 iPad was dominated by 1 child though and the activity needed more collaboration. So I intervened and introduced Padlet.

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Enhancing Practical Maths with Math Journals and MyStory app.

I have been reading Kristi Meeuwse’s blog, iTeachWithiPads, for a while now and a recent post of hers on Maths Journals stood out for me. I am always asked about maths apps for iPads, but I have never considered myself a maths expert. What I usually see are maths games being played on the iPad, which can engage certain leaners but the level of enhancement is not as great as what I have seen with literacy and authoring apps. The work Kristi’s kindergartener’s engage with on iPad is the best example of maths enhancement with technology that I have seen.

What are Maths Journals?

We use MyStory book creating app to photograph practical maths activities and record our maths understanding with marks or voice on the pages of the book. This means that the practical activity is captured, making the experience more meaningful rather than disposable play that is packed away at tidy up time. The child can reflect further on their learning by recording their mathematical understanding using the built-in microphone or with physical marks on the page.

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Enhance Early Understanding of Shape with iPad and Animation Apps

Animating with iStopMotion

iStopMotion brings stop frame animation to early years for the first time. The app allows the children to see their last taken frame on top of the live view of the next image they need to take. This shows them where to place the object they are animating for the next shot. This feature is known as an onion skin. Here is an example of this feature from teachwithvideo.com.

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At first glance, this app lends itself perfectly to story telling, language and literacy. This year though, I had an opportunity to enhance shape, space and measure with iStopMotion.

Apps to use – click the app names to take you to the AppStore

Free: iMotion – this app does not have an ‘onion skin’ feature.

Paid (lower price point ): iCanAnimate – this app does have ‘onion skin’ but does not record sound/voice of the animation

Paid (higher price point): iStopMotion – this app has both ‘onion skin’ and sound/voice record.

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Enhance Early Understanding of Shape with iPad and Padlet

Shape Hunting around School.

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 collaborative. To do this I used Padlet.

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