To Infinity, and Beyond! Meeting Major Tim Peake.

We are more connected than ever and the children we teach are more connected than ever. So how are we making the most of social media in our classrooms? It’s a part of children’s life that schools are increasingly aware of or frightened by. Some schools might be tackling issues head on, others might be running from it. But what happens when you use in for the good of learning?

Twitter connected my class to British Astronaut Tim Peake whilst he was on board the International Space Station. We had wrote a song for him, performed it in guided reading and recorded it as a podcast in GarageBand. We uploaded our recording to Audiboom and the European Space Agency shared it with Tim Peake. A few weeks later, Tim Peake listened to our song and tweeted back his own verse. You can read more about this experience here.

The journey didn’t end there though.

Today was a date in my calendar that I never dreamed of saving when we first recorded this podcast.

It wasn’t even a date I dreamed of saving when I watched Tim Peake return to earth and wrote this blog entry.

It wasn’t even a date I dreamed of saving when Tim Peake wrote about that entry on his social media sites!

But the dream did come true…

Continue reading

Advertisements

Oh, Brazil, about what good things will you make me tell?

recife-banner

fullsizerender-6Our time in Brazil wrapped up with a visit at the Mayor’s Office and a meeting with University of Pernambuco at the British Consulate. At both of these meetings planning for the future took place. Great progress has been made with local schools and partners here over the last 13 days and moving forwards with the onebillion maths intervention seems likely. On my final visit to ABA Global school I was presented with a gift from peace linguist, and President of the Board at ABA Global Education, Francisco Gomes de Matos:

“Oh, Brazil, about you what can I foresee well? You will be internationally admired. You will be educationally developed. You will be scientifically and technologically advanced. You will be interculturally comprehended.”

This resonates with me and our trip here. This articulates the aims we have for working with Brazil and assures me that Brazil makes a perfect partner in our projects and research.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Face to Face with the Experts

Introducing video conferencing software as a way of connecting my class and extending our reach is my one best thing. FaceTime calls are the back bone to the Connecting Classes Across Continents project that I collaborate on with a group of early learning Apple Distinguished Educators. We use the software to share learning and exchange knowledge between our classes.

I’ve been using FaceTime beyond this project though. Video conferencing can bring many more experts in to our classrooms. Those days when the fire engine visits schools and the police officers join us for question and answer are so valuable. There are many more experts that we can learn from who aren’t in our local area though. That’s where softwares like FaceTime extend our reach for knowledge exchange.

Continue reading

Who wouldn’t want their art work to sing?

Physical to digital work is transforming our art area this year, thanks to Cathy Hunt. It’s a simple idea which builds cameras in to your art area. Children move between the iPad and their physical art work to develop their ideas. Cathy has a host of lesson ideas for all ages on her website, and it’s been great fun building this way of working in to our art activities.

Continue reading

Our first week with iPad – Mastering the Basics!

I came away from the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute brimming with ideas about photography and why we need to enhance learning by giving children a camera.

FullSizeRender-2-300x300.jpgCathy Hunt, of the iPad Art Room, shared the idea that “it all starts with the camera, because from this launching point we can support students to develop their ability to communicate”. In her classroom she sees how cameras help children ‘see their world differently’ and that their ‘connected cameras are always collecting’.

 

dave-profile.jpgDave Caleb, a digital literacy coach in South East Asia, explains “images are an incredible medium. They transcend language barriers. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, you can read a photograph”. He reflects that ‘your camera roll is your story’ and now that students have access to devices, they have a powerful story telling device at their finger tips. He concluded that ‘We need to teach our students to capture powerful images. It is a literacy we need to teach. It is tied to what it means to be human’.

Both of these presentations at the ADE Institute support the reasons why I start and end with photography each year my Foundation Stage classes. At the end of last year I published the ‘One Best Photo’ resources with The Forestry Commission but each September I wonder how I will progress my new class of 4 year olds to this level of creativity on their iPads. And each September, the 4 year olds amaze me!

Continue reading

Kaleidoscope Art

At the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute in Berlin I got to meet Cathy Hunt, an extraordinary art teacher from Australia. Cathy must have shared 30 or more inspiring art lessons with us in just a 3 minutes. She passionately demonstrating how we need to ‘pull down the barriers between technology, traditional tools and tactile materials’. And to this effectively, Cathy says that it all starts with the camera.

FullSizeRender-2-300x300.jpgCathy is a well-known advocate for the creative integration of technology in education, developing ground-breaking programs for students around the world that combine hands-on, tactile and collaborative ways of working with mobile devices. Cathy is probably best known for her work on iPadartroom.com, a home base for educators to engage with innovative ideas, resources and technology for learning in that combines paint and pixels. Her site has grown to become the ‘go-to’ resource for teachers leveraging mobile devices for creativity.

 

This year I’ve packed my creative toolkit full to the top with Cathy’s ideas and giving it a go. At the beginning of the year I plan a variety of activities where my new cohort of 4 year olds can get to grips using the camera on our iPads and mastering the basics. I love this start because it gets them mobile with the devices from the get-go. They practise holding the iPad securely and moving between the camera app and photos app to find their images. Thanks to Cathy, I’ve now found a way to link their digital creativity to physical art work.

Continue reading

Making Our Mark on the World

International Dot Day falls perfectly at the beginning of the school year. September 15th. We have been in school for just over a week and we are getting to know each other and our school routines. Dot Day is a festival which extends the message of the brilliant book, The Dot. In this story, Vashti doesn’t like art class. She has an encouraging teacher who tells her to sign her name and she frames Vashti’s art work. This gives Vashti a beginners mindset and she starts to explore other ways of making her mark in art class. The story ends with a showcase of Vashti’s dots and a chat with another unconfident young learner. She helps him make his mark and tells him to sign it. And the story begins again!

Screen Shot 2016-09-17 at 19.17.55.png

International Dot Day takes the idea of dot art work and how through art work you can show how unique you are. Children make their own art work to represent themselves. In group and class discussions we unpick what it means to be you. What are you proud of? What makes your unique? How will you make your mark?

Continue reading

One page at a time: Introducing Book Creator.

September comes around again and our rooms are full of energy. A ‘beginners mindset’ can be seen everywhere around school. It’s a positive place to be as we all look towards a new year ahead. In Foundation, we are busy establishing routines and learning what skills our youngest learners in school have. Each year I see a step forward in the confidence, and maturity, that children have when using technology. Skip back a couple of years and the excitement to be on an iPad meant snatching it from someone’s hands and running it to the corner of the room. With teachers in professional learning discussions, I had conversations about turn-taking and rule setting when introducing iPad to young learners. But this week, with my new cohort of 4 year olds, I am seeing a much more mature approach to technology and how they know it is readily available in their world. It is embedded in their life and expected to be a part of their learning environment. This doesn’t mean they know how to use apps like Book Creator, but they are a little more skilled in navigating and handling these devices.

Continue reading