I came away from the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute brimming with ideas about photography and why we need to enhance learning by giving children a camera.
Cathy Hunt, of the iPad Art Room, shared the idea that “it all starts with the camera, because from this launching point we can support students to develop their ability to communicate”. In her classroom she sees how cameras help children ‘see their world differently’ and that their ‘connected cameras are always collecting’.
Dave Caleb, a digital literacy coach in South East Asia, explains “images are an incredible medium. They transcend language barriers. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, you can read a photograph”. He reflects that ‘your camera roll is your story’ and now that students have access to devices, they have a powerful story telling device at their finger tips. He concluded that ‘We need to teach our students to capture powerful images. It is a literacy we need to teach. It is tied to what it means to be human’.
Both of these presentations at the ADE Institute support the reasons why I start and end with photography each year my Foundation Stage classes. At the end of last year I published the ‘One Best Photo’ resources with The Forestry Commission but each September I wonder how I will progress my new class of 4 year olds to this level of creativity on their iPads. And each September, the 4 year olds amaze me!
At the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute in Berlin I got to meet Cathy Hunt, an extraordinary art teacher from Australia. Cathy must have shared 30 or more inspiring art lessons with us in just a 3 minutes. She passionately demonstrating how we need to ‘pull down the barriers between technology, traditional tools and tactile materials’. And to this effectively, Cathy says that it all starts with the camera.
“Cathy is a well-known advocate for the creative integration of technology in education, developing ground-breaking programs for students around the world that combine hands-on, tactile and collaborative ways of working with mobile devices. Cathy is probably best known for her work on iPadartroom.com, a home base for educators to engage with innovative ideas, resources and technology for learning in that combines paint and pixels. Her site has grown to become the ‘go-to’ resource for teachers leveraging mobile devices for creativity.”
This year I’ve packed my creative toolkit full to the top with Cathy’s ideas and giving it a go. At the beginning of the year I plan a variety of activities where my new cohort of 4 year olds can get to grips using the camera on our iPads and mastering the basics. I love this start because it gets them mobile with the devices from the get-go. They practise holding the iPad securely and moving between the camera app and photos app to find their images. Thanks to Cathy, I’ve now found a way to link their digital creativity to physical art work.
September comes around again and our rooms are full of energy. A ‘beginners mindset’ can be seen everywhere around school. It’s a positive place to be as we all look towards a new year ahead. In Foundation, we are busy establishing routines and learning what skills our youngest learners in school have. Each year I see a step forward in the confidence, and maturity, that children have when using technology. Skip back a couple of years and the excitement to be on an iPad meant snatching it from someone’s hands and running it to the corner of the room. With teachers in professional learning discussions, I had conversations about turn-taking and rule setting when introducing iPad to young learners. But this week, with my new cohort of 4 year olds, I am seeing a much more mature approach to technology and how they know it is readily available in their world. It is embedded in their life and expected to be a part of their learning environment. This doesn’t mean they know how to use apps like Book Creator, but they are a little more skilled in navigating and handling these devices.
In June 2016, I published a community engagement project, One Best Photo, with Forestry England. In the first 3 months this free outdoor learning and technology resource has been downloaded across the UK, America, Canada and Australia. At the launch event held in Nottingham with Sherwood Pines, Early Years teacher Tanya Leadbeater downloaded the pack and took it back to her nursery. Church Vale Primary School say in their vision statement that they want their children to be life-long learners. Tanya helps to achieve this in her role as the Computing Co-ordinator by introducing new ways of teaching and learning across her school which motivates and engages their children. I am amazed by the quality of work the 3 year olds have produced from using One Best Photo and it is a pleasure to showcase their work here today. Thank you for sharing this Tanya!
Tanya Leadbeater. Church Vale Primary School, Nottinghamshire.
I have been teaching for 14 years and during this time have worked in two Nottinghamshire Primary schools and have taught classes in each Key Stage. In 2014, I began teaching in the Foundation Stage and have been teaching Foundation 1 children since. I work part-time and have two children of my own. As well as being class teacher, I am the Computing Coordinator which I have been for almost 10 years now.
Visit Church Vale Primary School website here.
This month I am proud to announce the publication of free lessons that I have created in partnership with Forestry England 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.