This month I am proud to announce the publication of free lessons that I have created in partnership with The Forestry Commission Learning Rangers.
In July 2015 I met with the education team from Sherwood Pines to talk about this potential project and how we can work together to bring technology and outdoor learning together.
This year we have been running Woodland Workshops for our Foundation children. They visit the nearby woodland for a morning session every fortnight. It’s a great opportunity to get outdoors, no matter the weather, to investigate seasonal changes and take a closer look at this environment.
There have been stacks of learning outside and I wanted to share one way in which technology enhanced outdoor learning. Yes, iPads, outside, away from school.
I’ve talked with teachers for many years about the advantages of mobile technology in the hands of our youngest learners. But taking devices outdoors still seems like a big deal, yet it is very possible and brings great benefits. We use other tools outdoors so technology, when planned for carefully, also enhances play. Furthermore, there are many jobs out there which rely on the use of mobile technology and the outdoors. Take Network Rail for example, who maintain the railway with a workflow supported by a suite of custom made apps. See the story here.
September and the start of school came and we all survived again. Settling in to routines, finding our feet in a new classroom and figuring out where to start building those blocks for this year’s learning. It’s an exciting time as the weeks unfold and we get to know our new class, finding out what they already know and what they need next.
Every year it amazes me the skills the children have when using iPads, and other technology in their classroom. This year’s highlight for me was during the introduction of the class iPads and basic skills of navigating the home screen, dock and the camera. One of the children had this to say:
“I know another skill. You have to close the apps too so that it doesn’t waste the battery charge”. Yes that’s right! And this skill was even demonstrated correctly. I hadn’t come across this skill at the beginning of the year before!
However, there is one skill that I am yet to be met with in September, and that is using the camera efficiently. How often do you see this on your camera rolls and you don’t find out about it until your iPad memory is full:
We always start the year with photography skills. It takes a long time, it’s a whole half term (and for some the whole year) but it is a skill which underpins the very basics of using an iPad to create authentic content. It’s a skill you return to every time you use an iPad to make a movie, book or presentation.
I first wrote about Padlet in the spring term when I used it in an adult directed, 3D shape hunt around school. It enhanced our shape hunt because children could work more independently, whilst reviewing their peers work and then photographing other 3D shapes their peers hadn’t spotted. You can read about this activity here because you will probably need to teach the skills before the children will do them independently.
This post is all about independent maths.
When I wrote this post it was late in the summer term and like all teachers around the world, I was busy gathering evidence for end of year assessments. This outdoor activity gave evidence for so many areas of learning. First up, I left just 1 iPad outdoors and the brief to photograph the shapes around the outdoor area (three skills observed right there, maths, technology and sharing!).
The 1 iPad was dominated by 1 child though and the activity needed more collaboration. So I intervened and introduced Padlet.
In the summer term we take our Foundation Unit to Sherwood Pines, a Forestry Commission park here in Nottinghamshire. As the name suggests, it’s a large woodland with tall pine trees and a great outdoor education team and facilities for all ages. During the day we did all of the outdoor education activities you could think of in a forest: mini beast hunts, woodland art (Andy Goldsworthy), story trails (The Gruffalo) and for the purpose of this blog post, photography.
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.
When working with the staff at Tiny Tots Day Nursery over the Easter Holiday, one of the themes we investigated was how staff working with under 2s could use iPad with their children. We started by talking about what under 2s enjoy and what the staff already provide that is good quality first experiences. This lead the discussion to think about how iPad can be integrated in to a multi-sensory activity with elements of investigation.