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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Light and Dark Exploration with iPad Controlled Toys.

This term our learning has been investigating “what happens when the sun goes down”. One of the earliest observations is that it gets dark much earlier and the moon comes up. With this comes the need for light to see in the dark so out comes our tents, black bed sheets and den building. In our dark spaces we play with torches and light sources. In terms of technology learning in Early Years Outcomes, this play links to the switching on and off of light sources & looking at batteries.

We wanted to take this early technological learning a little deeper, and closer to a modern home. We made use of two different Bluetooth controlled devices in our dark spaces. This activity is all about controlling light sources as a connected device, getting a device to respond to instructions on an app.

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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 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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A Local Area Study with iPads in Early Years

Last half term our investigations were all around our local area. The outcomes of this project would focus on children talking about their home, community, school and their place in the world. As well as the regular practise involved in this kind of learning in the early years, technology enabled us to share this learning in a purposeful way.

First up in the project came International Dot Day which put a spot light on children from other parts of the world who shared the same interests as us. You can read more about International Dot Day here. It’s a great festival that shows children how they are connected to the rest of the world. This initiated conversations about our place in the world, where we live and what it is like here.

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Introducing Foundation 2 to their iPads

September and the start of school came and we all survived again. Settling in to routines, finding our feet in a new classroom and figuring out where to start building those blocks for this year’s learning. It’s an exciting time as the weeks unfold and we get to know our new class, finding out what they already know and what they need next.

Every year it amazes me the skills the children have when using iPads, and other technology in their classroom. This year’s highlight for me was during the introduction of the class iPads and basic skills of navigating the home screen, dock and the camera. One of the children had this to say:

“I know another skill. You have to close the apps too so that it doesn’t waste the battery charge”. Yes that’s right! And this skill was even demonstrated correctly. I hadn’t come across this skill at the beginning of the year before!

However, there is one skill that I am yet to be met with in September, and that is using the camera efficiently. How often do you see this on your camera rolls and you don’t find out about it until your iPad memory is full:

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We always start the year with photography skills. It takes a long time, it’s a whole half term (and for some the whole year) but it is a skill which underpins the very basics of using an iPad to create authentic content. It’s a skill you return to every time you use an iPad to make a movie, book or presentation.

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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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