Adapting Stories With Photography and Drawing

Having cameras in our mobile devices has changed the way we capture, edit and share photographs. Shooting an image outdoors now means we can crop it, adjust it and share it immediately afterwards. Whilst we are amazed at this as adults, the young children in our classrooms see this as normal and it’s a regular life for them. Children are exposed to cameras in almost every device they can put their hands on so we have a responsibility to teach children how to take and use photography for a particular purpose, otherwise their devices, and yours, become full of repeated, useless images like these:

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In a week themed around adapting the story of The Gingerbread Man, Reception children took their iPads to Woodland Workshop to capture and edit story scenes for their own runaway food stories. Previous learning has focused on taking close-up photographs outdoors or using the camera to capture story scenes of a naughty bus puppet misbehaving in the woodlands.

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The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Drawing

I’m always excited to hear from followers of my blog and connecting with readers through Twitter or by e-mail. Recently, teachers from Mere Green Primary have shared ways they have been using the Young Children Can Create books that I published with Kristi Meeuwse and Jason Milner in August 2018. This blog post has been written by Terri Coombs and Rebecca Murray from Mere Green Primary School and shares the impact that The Rich Potential of Young Children’s Drawing book has had on their early years practice.

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Terri Coombs is the IT Lead for Mere Green and SLE in Computing and IT across the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership. She has 20 years teaching experience which includes 10 years of leading IT and is passionate about using technologies to inspire creative teaching & learning and enable all children to engage.
Rebecca Murray is the IT Lead for EY at Mere Green, she has 5 years of teaching experience in Early Years and promotes the use of iPads to encourage levels of independence.
Mere Green Primary School is an outstanding two form, family orientated school. We are driven to ‘make a difference’ for all our children, through support, nurture and trust. In addition to our mainstream children, we also have 20 places for children with statements for speech, language and communication from North Birmingham, who have enhanced speech provision across the school day. We are a fully inclusive primary school, which reflects the society in which we live.  We have a whole school vision for embedded use of IT to enhance authentic learning opportunities.

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Young Children Can Create

In England we teach young children (Birth to 5 years old) from a non-statutory curriculum now known as Early Years Outcomes (formally Development Matters). The curriculum is structured around 7 areas of learning but themed on A Unique Child, Parent Partnerships, Enabling Environments and Learning & Development. Learning across these themes, principles and areas of learning are woven together through The Characteristics of Effective Learning.

Development Matters, and Early Years Outcomes, explain that theEE theme Enabling Environments theme should ‘value all people’ and all learning. Yet there is a division in the early years community about the role of technology in learning. Our young children have access to technology in the home and there are an abundance of reports and opinions claiming screen time is a contributing factor towards low attainment in physical, social and language development. For this reason, there are settings who switch off to technology provision.

Technology is the one strand in our early years curriculum, and throughout the National Curriculum, where the application in the learning environment is different to the application at home:

  • talking at home is similar to talking at school,
  • sharing at home is similar to sharing at school,
  • reading at home is similar to reading at school,
  • numbers at home is similar to numbers at school,
  • whereas technology at home is different to technology at school.

At home, children (and adults!) watch TV and video rather than film movies ourselves. We use the internet at home to browse and shop. We more often choose to listen to music rather than make it. We look at photographs at home rather than take them. We regularly relax in front of screens. 

At school and nursery, the Early Learning Goal for Technology states that children should ‘select and use technology for particular purposes’. In the National Curriculum for Key Stage 1 this extends to digital skills such as using images, video and sound for creative projects.

We should be teaching children how to create with technology, in meaningful ways that are cross-curricular where ‘experiences respond individual needs’ and interests.

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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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Genius Hour in Foundation.

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.

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Our second week using iPads in Foundation – Let’s be published authors!

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.

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Our first week using iPads in Foundation – mastering the basics!

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”.

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Today Is International #DotDay!!

Earlier this month I blogged about the upcoming International Dot Day on September 15th. The day finally arrived today and it has been fantastic!

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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.

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Coding Curriculum Began Today. Am I Prepared? Maybe but let’s have a good sing along anyway!

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.

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Teaching about Life on Earth in Early Years

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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.

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