Nottinghamshire County Council iPad Networks

This academic year is already shaping up to be a great one with many exciting projects planned for my class already. Some of these I have blogged about already but today I want to write about the iPad Networks for Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) schools.

During the Summer Term last year I began talks with consultants at NCC about the possibility of running a specific training program for schools in the district with iPads. I have worked closely with the ICT team over the last 2 years, delivering workshops, presentations and drop-in sessions around my use of iPad in school.

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Apple Distinguished Educators Global Institute reflection and call to action.

This year I applied to attend the Apple Distinguished Educator Global Institute, held in San Diego. My application was successful and I joined 9 other UK Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) on a trip to America which would change my life. Not only would this be a week to meet ADEs from 31 countries, it would be a chance to become a learner again, change perspectives, develop new skills and collaborate on a projects for the next school year.

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Using Puppet Pals to support choice making and SEN provision.

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.

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TeachMeet Midlands: What was it all about?

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TeachMeet Midlands was a huge success. This time our TeachMeet was part of National TeachMeet Day in the UK, which helped raise the profile of the event in Nottingham and across the Midlands. With sponsorship from the Nottingham Learning Trust (@NottmLT) and The National College (@the_college), as well as the companies behind TeachMeet UK, Pete (@PeteBevington) and I (@MarcWithersey) were able to promote this event through many channels beyond Twitter and we introduced so many more teachers to the TeachMeet format of CPD.

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Including Early Years and ELGs in a computing curriculum (UPDATED September 2014)

The autumn term has been a long but rewarding one for me. A new job has been the challenge that I was looking for and I am settled in to a new school and a new role. Each week has passed with a new set of achievements and the role has been fast paced, but progress is being made at an astonishing rate!

One focus for me, as for many of us, is implementing a new computing curriculum for the school. As an early years teacher I am keen to include the foundation stage within the primary curriculum planning phase and make stronger links between the two curriculums.

This may be an easier process for other curriculum areas, but within the ‘technology’ strand in Early Years Outcomes and the new computing curriculum for key stage 1, it seems to be a little more vague.

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Changing Schools. Changing Visions. Changing Spaces [updated]

Changing Schools.

On Tuesday I will start work at my new school. This is the first move I have made since graduating 3 years ago, so I’m looking forward to that exciting new start again. I recently saw a letter from the school listing the teaching staff and I was referred to as an experienced teacher. At my last school I sometimes felt like the ‘new kid’ as I started as an NQT and the only one that stayed on as permanent member of staff. I’m pleased to be moving forward and progressing but I still feel like I have so much to learn before I am ‘experienced’. I guess that’s one of the reasons I wanted to come in to teaching in the first place, we are always learning.

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Programming Apps for Early Years and Key Stage 1

This has been a busy week to say the least! Not only am I preparing to move schools, I have been at 3 CPD events in two days and the new primary curriculum has been released (almost).

The 3 events were Computing at Schools (NTU Hub), TeachMeet Nottingham and The Festival of Innovation. At all 3 events I was involved in running workshops, but it was good to spend time listening to others and finding about about computing and programming. My good friend Peter Bevington (@PeteBevington) has great ideas for a new primary curriculum which he has already started embedding so do get in touch with him for your long term ICT plans!

Meeting other teachers is also great and that’s how I pick up new ideas. So here’s my favourite three Apps for programming on the iPad (the 4th being BeeBot which we all know and love). By the way, these are all FREE on AppStore!

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The Festival of Innovation

Friday 12th July was Nottinghamshire’s Festival of Innovation and I was invited to run four 45 minute workshops. The whole event had such a good feeling about it, and it was attended by teachers, ICT leaders and head teachers. A real good mix of people all wanting to learn something new and look for innovative ideas.

The Keynote came from John Davitt @JohnDavitt who was very entertaining. His presentation was very interactive with a jargon busting bingo card and many jokes along the way. I’d love to summarise what he talked about but it ranges from accents, hyperlinks, talking sheep and using QuickTime and buttering toast. What he did do though, which is a refreshing to see, is encourage the use of Twitter during the event so that we can all share ideas during the day. As so few teachers are using Twitter, John directed us to http://www.todaysmeet.com which sets up a private timeline on their site for participants to post to without having an account. Take a look at it for your next event! Also check out his website and follow him on twitter.

Ok… On to my workshops.

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Using Puppet Pals beyond story telling.

I have always been a fan of the Puppet Pals and it was one of the first apps I came across when my journey with iPad began. At BETT 2013 I worked with Ian Wilson ADE again and we had a lot of time to chat about new apps. During the week the Puppet Pals 2 app was released and that was one of the apps we talked about. This addition to the Puppet Pals series makes further use of animation and has some very cool characters which interact with other objects on the set… But we agreed that the simple charm of the original app was what we liked. I have always enjoyed putting in my own characters straight from books, and Ian talked about using the app beyond the obvious story telling purpose.

He explained how he has used Puppet Pals to discuss physics, moving objects (put in as characters) around a plain white background and recording the conversation in the app. Straight away I thought this was a great idea and I knew that when the opportunity came for me to adapt this to an early years context I would pull it out of my bag of tricks…

And the time came to use it…

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Transformation in Education: Can iPad help to transform learning?

This has been a very busy half term, as it always is at the end of the year, so I feel that I have neglected my blog. It’s time to update you on what I’ve been doing and how my thinking has been enhanced by the people I’ve been working with recently.
I am very lucky to have a headteacher who values my continual professional development and allows me to work at, and attend, ICT conferences on a regular basis. This half term I feel like I’ve been on tour. I’ve spoken at several events in various counties about iPad and it’s potential in Early Years and Primary education. Bedfordshire, Birmingham, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire have welcomed me to their events and the feedback I’ve had has been overwhelming.
At an ICT Subject Leaders conference I had the chance to listen to Craig Wilkie who speaks passionately about Transformation in Education. I really valued his honesty, and almost his vulnerability, in promoting this thinking in schools (Transformation sounds like a big deal, and a scary concept!) However, as his presentation went on, I realised that my school and other settings I have worked with are transforming the learning culture.
Wilkie provoked discussion on ICT and how it is playing a part in transforming learning but ICT is only ‘one spoke of the bicycle wheel’. He wanted me to unpick the steps to transforming my classroom and gave me 3 labels to place in order along a line: “Transformation” “Replacement” “Enhancement”.

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