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.
This time last year we discussed a move towards using an assessment app in our Foundation 2 Unit. Up until September 2013 I had always gathered my photographic evidence using a digital camera and organised them easily using iTag software. I wrote a post about this a few years back here. So much has changed with the way photographs and cameras are used in Foundation settings since that, so here is an update.
Using ICT has always reduced the time it takes me to organise my assessments and by having a note taking and photo gathering app, which creates a learning journey, the time it takes us to file has been reduced considerably. Our workflow has also been significantly streamlined as observations no longer need to be collected and then manually filed in date order. You cannot deny it is much easier to put your finger on ‘that piece of evidence’ when 30 learning journeys are on one iPad screen!
This year we want to develop our project and research skills with our children. We want to offer our children learning opportunities beyond what the curriculum suggests. We want to give them enrichment opportunities which promote a thirst for learning and a chance to find out more about something they are passionate about.
Creating content on our iPads is an important part of our new computing curriculum and it begins in the foundation stage. The app I introduced was My Story and the skill was to import photographs on to pages.
Last week we worked on the basics on the iPads- switching them on/off, handling them safely, making videos and taking photographs. These basics are still being covered as part of our review each time we start working on the iPads.
I have had just over a week settling our new Foundation 2 children in to school. As well as the usual rules and routines of a new setting, I have introduced them to iPads and how they can be used at school.
Some children are more confident than others, which challenges the perception that “the kids already know how to use them” and “they will end up teaching you to use them”. Some of the children didn’t know how to turn them on and off, and most children have had to learn new vocabulary involved with using the iPads (sleep/wake button, home button, home screen). This language was introduced as we were using the iPads, as well as correct ways to hold and carry them around school; “two hands, fingers on the back, thumbs on the front”.
Earlier this month I blogged about the upcoming International Dot Day on September 15th. The day finally arrived today and it has been fantastic!
A lot of preparation went in to the day. We actually began Dot Day on the Thursday before. Our children got to know the text well before the day came, and we had finished our individual dots by close of play on Friday. For the actual day, we enhanced our continuous provision areas with dotty resources which the children had access to indoors and outdoors all day long – an exciting blog post about this has been published on Alistair Bryce-Clegg’s blog here.
Today, as I made my final preparations for starting the new school year, I couldn’t ignore the social media coverage of the new computing curriculum. The BBC have written a lot about the new primary curriculum today, from the computing perspective. They also announced a whole host of new projects to promote computer science in their children’s entertainment offerings and in their supporting educational websites.
This summer at the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in San Diego our theme for the week was ‘Life On Earth’. To kick start the week we had a fantastic keynote from famed biologist E.O. Wilson, author of the new Life on Earth multi-touch textbooks available for free from the iBook Store.
As I prepare to return to school for the new academic year and welcome my new Foundation class to our school, I can’t help but feel excited. Usually September focuses on establishing routines, settling in to school life and base-line assessments, but this year will be slightly different for us.
My Early Years group of Apple Distinguished Educators in America are already a few weeks in to their school year and we are about to embark on a year of collaboration and projects between our classes. The first of these projects, which is a great ‘getting to know you’ exercise for my own class but also for all of our classes, is called ‘International Dot Day’.
I have been working with a local nursery who use iPads with their SEN children.
The nursery manager had a vision to use apps to help children make choices. There are apps designed to do this, but most are expensive or present many small symbols for the child to choose from.
My suggestion was Puppet Pals. Even though this app is designed for story telling, it is so versatile and can be used beyond story telling.