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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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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Technology in the new Early Years Foundation Stage: What do you need to prepare?

The new EYFS is on the way in September and the Development Matters document is bringing exciting changes across all of areas of learning, but for me, the greatest acknowledgement is in the Technology strand of ‘Understanding the World’.
 
During the Summer Term I have been working in a variety of counties discussing my use of iPad and how I believe this tool has a strong place within the new Technologies strand.So what is happening in Development Matters?
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Creating Content
  
It seems that the use of a BeeBot, or other programmable toys, is now part of a much wider vision for ICT learning and assessment. The emphasis on using technology in the new curriculum is on children creating their own content. This content creation is embedded in the other areas of learning, using technology to enhance communication, language, arts, maths and literacy. Therefore, the skills of the specific area of learning ‘Understanding the World’ can be practised through prime area strands such as speaking, listening and social development.
 
By using an app like Puppet Pals, children are creating and saving their own content on iPad but are also working in a group, taking turns and talking about the story they are retelling.
Age Approriate Software and Hardware
The new strand also mentions the need for selecting age appropriate ICT devices. Many settings and schools use NetBooks, PCs and/or ICT Suites but more settings are turning to mobile devices as age-appropriate solutions. The iPad is an age appropriate device as it promotes sharing and group work as several children can work around one device. It’s touch screen access means that children interact directly with the software and they are learning how to get a response from an animation or display on screen by touching exactly what they want. The fewer transition points in an activity, the faster the pace of learning. With a mouse or keyboard, children need to look down at them and then back up at the screen, this can cause some confusion depending on the task! They do need to learn these skills, but we need to be selective in when this is appropriate to the task at hand. What do we want the children to do when learning a story? I want them to retell the story. How am I going to do? Story maps, story walks, role play masks and costumes, small world play and now, Puppet Pals App can retell the story digitally. My proudest moment came from this app this year, where 3 children retold The Gruffalo using this App, a skill I was waiting to see from them.
iPad, compared to other tablets and devices, looks age appropriate in the layout and organisation. iPad doesn’t have any menus, minimising features, exit crosses, dates, times, calendars etc on the home screen. Therefore children look for the software they want using the large icons. 
The security settings also allow children to access the apps which are appropriate to them, and apps like a web browser, AppStore, iTunes can be disabled for classroom use. The latest version of iOS brings Guided Access in the Accessibility settings. This means that in an early years setting, the teacher can set Guided Access so that one particular app is used in that session, and at other times can have free choice of what apps to use. 
Final Thoughts

The new technologies strand is still very limited in what you are assessing, and this is probably is probably due to the digital divide between settings and homes. With an upcoming review of the National Curriculum, it may be useful to look at skills that can be taught in Year 1 and bring these in to planning for the foundation stage too.

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Enabling_Environments_Curriculum.600x600-75Enabling Environments: A Computing Curriculum Beginning in Early Years

This book has been written for the Early Years practitioner or Computing Coordinator of a school looking to further embed the use of technology in their Foundation 1 and Foundation 2 settings. Marc Faulder, an Early Years teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator, provides a complete skills curriculum from 30 months to the Early Learning Goal in this book. Chapters introduce a skills curriculum, the assessment and progression of the skills and a thorough planning document to show how technology enhances learning in all Early Learning Goals.

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iPad Apps for Early Years: a few ideas to get you started.

 Staple Apps for your iPad

My Story

This app is a simple book creator app and is great for making multi-modal texts. Children can insert photographs, clipart, saved images. They can also record their voice and there are a range of mark making tools for them to write and record their ideas. Read more about introducing My Story on this post here.

Puppet Pals

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This is a puppet show app and children can quickly create a story with characters and backgrounds in 3 simple steps. The app records their voice and playback is instant. Puppet shows export as videos to the iPad’s camera roll.

Here is a good YouTube video which demonstrates the Puppet Pals App
Here is an example of children’s work from my class:

Puppet Pals is so versatile and can be used beyond story telling. It can support non-fiction, instruction texts, science and mathematics. Find out more about using Puppet Pals beyond story telling here.

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