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!
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?
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.
In June 2016, I published a community engagement project, One Best Photo, with the Forestry Commission in England. In the first 3 months this free outdoor learning and technology resource has been downloaded across the UK, America, Canada and Australia. At the launch event held in Nottingham with Sherwood Pines, Early Years teacher Tanya Leadbeater downloaded the pack and took it back to her nursery. Church Vale Primary School say in their vision statement that they want their children to be life-long learners. Tanya helps to achieve this in her role as the Computing Co-ordinator by introducing new ways of teaching and learning across her school which motivates and engages their children. I am amazed by the quality of work the 3 year olds have produced from using One Best Photo and it is a pleasure to showcase their work here today. Thank you for sharing this Tanya!
Tanya Leadbeater. Church Vale Primary School, Nottinghamshire.
I have been teaching for 14 years and during this time have worked in two Nottinghamshire Primary schools and have taught classes in each Key Stage. In 2014, I began teaching in the Foundation Stage and have been teaching Foundation 1 children since. I work part-time and have two children of my own. As well as being class teacher, I am the Computing Coordinator which I have been for almost 10 years now.
Visit Church Vale Primary School website here.
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!
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 parents 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!
What is a MakerSpace.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
This month I am proud to announce the publication of free lessons that I have created in partnership with The Forestry Commission Learning Rangers.
In July 2015 I met with the education team from Sherwood Pines to talk about this potential project and how we can work together to bring technology and outdoor learning together.