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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Introducing Jason Milner: A visit from an Australian Teacher!

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 IMG_4834parents 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!

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Connecting Classes Across Continents… 2 years on!

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.

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My Lessons From Major Tim Peake

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!

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Podcasting in Early Years: Singing with Major Tim Peake!

AudioBoom.

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!

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Maily! e-mail that’s possible in early years.

This year the national Anti-Bullying Week in the UK challenged teachers to bring an e-safety focus to their classroom. As an early years teacher, talking about safety online is quite tricky and modelling good practise online has always been my focus. My class regular experience positive uses of the internet and our Connected Classes are an important part of our classroom life. As a class we make FaceTime calls to other early years children around the world, we share books that we have written on the iPads with them and we often help each other out with answering questions about our localities.

For Anti-Bullying Week though, I wanted to make these experiences more personal for the children. This is how I found Maily on the App Store.

Maily.

This is a free app and it is free to set up an account and to use the service. There are no adverts or in app purchases either. Maily is designed for the travelling or far reaching family though. It’s there for the kids to be able to send a special message to mum when she’s working away, or the grandparents that live in Spain.

FullSizeRender 17It’s perfect for early years though. Maily has very little reading involved, it’s all pictorial and within a couple of taps your children have opened their inbox, scrolled their contact lists to find a friend, wrote an e-mail and sent it. All within the app, inside one secure account.

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An Outdoors Photography Project for Early Years: Taking Your “One Best Image”.

In the summer term we take our Foundation Unit to Sherwood Pines, a Forestry Commission park here in Nottinghamshire. As the name suggests, it’s a large woodland with tall pine trees and a great outdoor education team and facilities for all ages. During the day we did all of the outdoor education activities you could think of in a forest: mini beast hunts, woodland art (Andy Goldsworthy), story trails (The Gruffalo) and for the purpose of this blog post, photography.

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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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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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