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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MakerSpaces: Foundation Stage Best Practice in Key Stage 2

What is a MakerSpace.

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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.

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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.

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The MakerSpace: A Foundation Stage Challenge

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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?

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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.

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Puppet Pals is still a staple app for Early Years!

Puppet-Pals-HD-Directors-p-Pass1Puppet 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.

Download Puppet Pals from the App Store here.

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.

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Physical and Digital Masks

What’s the best way to get Tim Peake to sing our song to us?

If you haven’t read the blog post about our Podcast to Tim Peake, take a look at that here. The class are so eager to have Tim Peake listen to their ‘Stars and The Moon’ song and are waiting with so much anticipation to hear back from the European Space Agency. So in the meantime I decided to have some fun with Tim Peake masks and find the best way to have Tim Peake sing ‘Stars and The Moon’.

We love making role play masks but this mask’s purpose is to make it seem like Tim is singing our song to us. It needs to be the most convincing mask!

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Podcasting in Early Years: Singing with Major Tim Peake!

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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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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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Shape Hunts with Pic Collage

Last year I used Padlet as a collaborative tool for shape hunts around school. It was really effective to use a collaborative tool and create a shared document that displayed all of the 3D Shapes we found around school. You can read about that here.

This year Padlet released a free app for iPad making this resource much more stable on iOS, but it requires the latest iOS and we are using iPad 2 which I don’t want to update to iOS 9. So I had to rethink how I can make use of technology to enhance the traditional shape hunt.

“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 personalised”

So this year we used the free app PicCollage. It makes use of children’s photography skills which they are all secure with when using iPad but creates a very simple and effective poster showing the shapes they noticed around school. They also like it because they get to take a selfie instead of writing their name!

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Kinectimals Inspiring Writing

This year was the forth time I have used Kinectimals with a class to inspire their writing. And this year staff in our unit said this was the best writing we have seen all year! So I thought I would share a few ways in which game play has inspired writing in my classroom.

Kinectimals

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This an X Box game and it is also an app game available for iPad. You adopt a tiger or a bear on an island called ‘Lumeria’ and meet a character called Bumble who has been looking after the animals since the explorers left many years ago. It is an adventure game where you lead your animals through different tasks and challenges, find treasures and discover new parts of the island. It’s also a virtual pet style game so it is self paced and children can navigate the island themselves, moving around the place instead of moving forward in game play. Graphically it’s stunning, very beautiful and the story is captivating.

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New Friendships

Over the years I have developed a network with fellow Apple Distinguished Educators that brings the world to our early years classrooms. I regularly receive positive feedback from parents who are amazed at the way their young ones connect with other early years children around the world by using iPads and Apple software.

Today, Tuesday 19th January, marked another one of those moments in my career where my classroom really does become an international hub for collaboration between early years settings and teachers.

It was such a pleasure to welcome Marie Neves and Flavia Nascimento from Recife, Brazil to Burton Joyce, Nottingham and my classroom.

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