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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Back to Blogging – sharing the vision and seeing the impact.

When starting my new school in September, the mission was to turn the school around and promote the great things that happen inside our school. We are half way through the school year now and the work that we done so far has been incredible. Rapid progress is being made and the school feels like a completely different place than it did when I went to look around nearly a year ago.

We are very proud of what we have achieved so far.

Back in November I shared my vision for developing class blogs with head teachers and deputies at a school leadership conference in Nottinghamshire. My presentation was all about what could be achieved by blogging- I had only just started when I ran this workshop. I explained the upcoming requirements of the new computing curriculum and that e-safety and responsible internet use needs to be taught from Year 1. I suggested that blogs embeds this in the school ethos and regular blogging promotes responsible online behaviour.

This week everything fell in to place neatly, and the impact blogs have had on our learning environment and parental involvement has been phenomenal. It has only been 5 days.

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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.

Download Now:

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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How to organise apps and set restrictions for a primary or early years iPad

Please note that images on this blog reflect iOS 5, however the processes remain the same.

For the Summer Term I am planning to support staff at the primary school I work at with understanding the basics of using an iPad in a primary classroom. This blog post is going to act as a base for all of my advice, so it will probably change over the coming weeks.

For information on managing multiple devices and purchasing app licenses, see my blog post here: https://enablingenvironments.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=728&action=edit

I saw a blog post at EdTechLoung.com this Easter holiday which gave a huge bank of recommended Apps for Early Years and Primary Education. The blog post also provided information on how to group these Apps into folders to make the iPad more accessible for primary aged pupils. This reminded me of a very early blog post I wrote when I first launched ‘Enabling Environments’. I shared the challenges and solutions to using 1 iPad in a class of 30 children, and now I feel I have so much more to say about it. If you want to read about deploying multiple iPads in a classroom or school, read this blog post about the Volume Purchase Program and mobile device management.

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TeachMeet Nottingham has launched! #tmnott

Following the success of Tom Barrett’s TeachMeets for the Midlands and Nottingham, I am pleased to be hosting a follow up TeachMeet event for Nottingham and the East Midlands.

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Sign up for Tickets here

Tom Barrett has been working hard to secure a new home for TeachMeet Nottingham, and has found a venue at The University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus (Learning Sciences Research Institute). Tom’s vision for TeachMeet Nottingham is a smaller scale, more manageable event which doesn’t rely on sponsorship or equipment hire. This partnership with LSRI is perfect, and the venue is resourced with state of the art facilities, such as the capability to stream online coverage of the event.

Pete and I are very excited about organising this event and we look forward to welcoming as many teachers and students as possible on the night. If you are a TeachMeet regular, we are challenging you to bring a TeachMeet Newbie with you. This will help to promote TeachMeet as an alternative to Continual Professional Development. Those of you will be attending for the first time will be overwhelmed by the variety of resources, ideas and strategies shared by real teachers in classrooms around the Midlands.

We advise you to bring your smart phone, iPad, tablet, NetBook or laptop along in order to record all of the ideas shared. TeachMeets are rapid and topics move fast with the 7 minute and 2 minute presentations from attendees, so be ready to take lots of notes. If you are on Twitter, you can follow our TeachMeet hashtag before, during and after the event (#tmnott). As the event is streamed live online, you can interact with viewers from around the world and also those in the room with you! Lots of interesting discussion occurs during and after the event so will want to be involved in this, it’s when the best learning happens!

Both Pete and myself understand that in our profession there is a blurred line between work/life balance, and we are aware that this event takes place on a Friday night until 9pm. Please, don’t let this put you off! TeachMeets are now are crucial aspect of our continual professional development and with challenges faced with budgets and workload in school, it is essential that we build our own professional learning networks so that best practises can be shared outside of our Local Authorities and schools.

“After attending, and being inspired at, a number of TeachMeets over the past year, I’ve decided to take part in the organising and running of TeachMeet Nottingham. TeachMeet offers ‘those in the field’ chance to share and evaluate ideas with like minded people in a friendly and relaxed environment. The content of peoples’ presentations are so varied that there will always be something relevant to your own practice. I’ve never left a TeachMeet without my head being filled with ideas and resources to try out with my class.”

 Peter Bevington (@PeteBevington)

Tom Barrett also started the first TeachMeet 100 at the last TeachMeet Nottingham. We will continue this format of sharing. During the event you will be asked to write down simple ideas, advice or resources which have been successful to you as a teacher. This can be anything you have enjoyed using in your class!  These will be gathered on post-it notes and displayed in the room for us all to share at the end (it’s like Twitter, but with paper and pen!)

Please visit our TeachMeet Nottingham wiki to sign up for tickets and we will see you on the night!

Jan Dubiel’s Lecture "A New Landscape? Exploring the Implications of the Early Years Review

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On Saturday 10th March, the same day as the NAACE TeachMeet in Leicester, Derbyshire County Council also held a big event for their Derbyshire Early Years settings at the University of Derby. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend this with Tiny Tots Day Nursery to showcase a range of ICT equipment and demonstrate the appropriateness of Games Based Learning in Early Years settings. This blog post is one of two, here I will reflect on the Keynote Lecture given by Jan Dubiel which focuses on Curriculum change in Early Years. My second blog will provide links and advice based on the discusses I had with visitors to the workshop I featured in.

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Thinking Outside of the X Box

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My partnership with European Electronique has encouraged a lot discussion and research in to the possibilities of using game console hardware beyond the box they come in. I have seen Raymond Chambers (@lanky_boi_ray) speak and followed his blog for a year or so. Ray uses the Kinect Camera with a laptop and creates his own apps for secondary students to use in his ICT lessons. After many chats with Ray he has kindly produced a spelling app based on Letters and Sounds for my class.

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Poster: Starting a Twitter Account

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Using Twitter has become one of the most valuable tools I use for planning and learning. I have ‘met’ so many inspirational teachers through Twitter who have impacted on my classroom by debating educational issues with me, providing other strategies for teaching and through commenting on my Class Blog.

Teachers on Twitter have given me confidence in my NQT year when I’ve had those moments that start with a thought like ‘Am I doing this right…?’.

What has also been brillliant about Twitter and networking is it’s usefulness in promoting TeachMeet. Before and after a TeachMeet, teachers on Twitter share their ideas and reflections. TeachMeet has also allowed me to meet up with the teachers who I tweet with.

Twitter has also filled that gap that university and teacher training left behind. I have missed those conversations with lecturers and other students about what they are doing in school. Twitter has provided me with even richer debates and discussions through #ukedchat. There are so many people who I could have added to the ‘Folks to Follow First’ text on the poster, there just isn’t enough space!

(@ideas_factory, @peter_obrien1, @kvnmcl, @johnmclear, @NoTosh should all be on the poster too)

For me, the question isn’t ‘Why do I need to be on Twitter?’. It’s more like ‘Why are you not on Twitter?’.

Sent from my iPad