As a 21st Century educator, I embrace the responsibility to teach 21st Century skills. Based on extensive classroom experience, I demonstrate how technology can be used creatively and can instil a culture of raising standards, independent learning and a real passion for excellence. Through working with students, delivering hands-on training, and providing consultancy on curriculum development, I am able to provide training to teachers which can be immediately applied to their own work. I share an achievable vision where technology is a vehicle to direct learning to somewhere that matters, not just somewhere that glitters.
This article originally appeared in the September 2012 Innovate My School magazine.
The iPad is perhaps the most talked-about piece of technology in teaching. Enthralled by tales of educational potential and egged-on by technophile staff, head teachers might be forgiven for investing in the trendy tablets without fully considering how they should be used.
Google Earth is certainly good for familiarising children with foreign geography. Socrative provides a quick way to gauge a class’s progress. The Numbers app enables pupils to produce spreadsheets and graphs, and the Math Bingo game can help them learn arithmetic.
But these programs (or very similar ones) are available on any computer with internet access.
The point is that for many tasks - including essay writing and accessing information - iPads are probably no better than desktops or laptops. Lacking a keyboard, they may even be considered inferior for some purposes. And are the mathematical benefits of Math Bingo really best realised when every pupil in the class is playing the game on a separate device?
As part of the proposed new draft primary curriculum for ICT, there is a significant emphasis on computer science. Below I've included a selection of apps which can be used in both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. The apps included range from basic skills in coding a Beebot to more advanced skills in coding games and simulations in apps such as Hopscotch and Codea.
I've also included some other useful 'ICT' apps, which can be used to develop a pupil's typing skills and spreadsheet skills.
Since I began teaching over seven ago, I have always taught the Topic of World War 2. It's a subject I thoroughly enjoy teaching and always an area that the pupils show a real interest. The topic has developed from a stand alone 'History' topic loosely based on a scheme of work, to a topic which encompasses all areas of the curriculum - a creative curriculum.
With the introduction of 1:1 iPods in year 6 in September, myself and my colleague Mr Williams began to plan a scheme of work for the World War 2 topic, looking in particular at how using technology could enhance an already engaging topic. Initially the aim was to build up the pupils' ICT skills and confidence using the iPods, and in particular the creative apps such as iMovie, Sonic Pics, Pages, Strip Designer, Creative Book Builder, Keynote, etc (examples of pupils work using these apps can be found below). If we felt that using the iPods would enhance the learning process then we planned to use them. Ultimately, we wanted to develop the pupils' skills on a variety of apps, so as the topic progressed the pupils would become as independent as possible. We could then make informed decisions on which apps to use to aid them, and demonstrate their learning for a particular area of study.
Since the beginning of September, we have been trying to maximise the use of 1:1 iPods in year 6 in all areas of the curriculum. The potential of enhancing teaching and learning in mathematics through the use of this technology has been particularly interesting. We have been developing the creative use of a range of apps to support progress, engage childrena and add relevance to maths teaching with positive outcomes. We have also explored a wide range of maths specific apps which have helped pupils mainly in the areas of number fact and tables recall. Recently, we have extended the use of the iPods to allow them to support independent learning, and play a central role in effective formative assessment.
Each week the children complete regular short assessment tasks based on assessment criteria appropriate to the level of maths they are working towards. We have adapted the assessment resources provided by Andrell Education as part of the Big Maths approach developed by Ben Harding. For those unfamiliar with Big Maths, the assessment feature uses a 10-step checklist to identify the specific steps a pupil needs to secure before achieving a level and moving on to the next. As teachers, we have found this element of Big Maths extremely powerful and it is central to our developments with the iPods in terms of formative assessment and independent learning.
This year, all the pupils in year 6 are using their own iPod in lessons, and they all have their own blog space as part of our class blog. In order to make the most of this technology and potential audience, we have introduced several new features to the way we teach. One of these developments is the introduction of a weekly “Guest Marker” project, where their blog is used to share written work with people from varied and specialist backgrounds who have agreed to provide feedback for the pupils. This is based on an idea discussed in Jim Smith’s excellent Lazy Teacher’s Handbook.
The idea of teaching persuasive writing using the App Store was designed to be part of the Guest Marker Project - and the “guest” who had kindly agreed to mark the work was Katie Hart, Head of External Sales at 2Simple Software.
Using Apple TV and an iPad, the App Store was mirrored onto the interactive whiteboard. A screenshot of FIFA 2013 and The Room was opened in Skitch. The pupils were asked to highlight and identify language features of persuasive advertisements as the iPad was passed around the children, who then used the 'highlight tool' in Skitch to identify persuasive words, phrases and rhetorical questions.
The 'iPad Journey' continues at Spring Cottage Primary School with the introduction of 16 iPads in Key Stage 1, 16 iPads in Key Stage 2, both with a syncing/charging trolley, and 63 iPod touches for children in Year 6.
With the iPod touches, iPads for both Key Stages set up, and Apple TV installed in each classroom, it was time for another staff training session, this time focusing on meeting the needs of a 21st century classroom. I began the staff training session by looking at the skills needed to be 21st century learners and the skills they would need to be successful in the future.
This post examines a selection of apps, which can be used creatively in primary schools. These apps can be applied to any subject in the school curriculum, it just requires a bit of imagination and creativity. The apps are categoriesed as follows: drawing, editing photos, creating movies, photo stories, animation, graphic novels and ebooks, composing music, and other useful creative apps.
Many of the apps listed have the option to publish work to larger audiences online, thereby increasing the incentive for the children to produce quality pieces of work. Others can be used with other apps to improve children's work. Here's the list:
Photo credit: http://appsforipads.net
In recent literacy lessons I have been exploring the potential of the iPad to motivate children to write for different purposes. One ongoing target in our school is the emphasis on boys’ writing, so the theme here is going to be how one app has been used to encourage boys to write with confidence, in an appropriate style, and with a strong level of knowledge.
Having collaborated with David Andrews on the controllable vehicle project, it struck me how confident and knowledgable the children were in terms of speaking about their work, and this clarity and depth had a direct and hugely positive impact on the children’s writing. I wanted to see if using a popular gaming app would be able to make an impact on the writing of the children I teach.
Since I started blogging about iPads in education, I've been getting carried away with the positives that this handheld technology can bring to the classroom. However, there's been one major area of concern that I keep encountering during this 'iPad journey': the school's wireless network!
As ICT coordinator, one of my biggest headaches over the last year has been our wireless networking. The downsides are the notoriously unpredictable wireless technology and its performance, which can lead to high levels of frustration for both teachers and pupils. The wireless is going to be central, especially when there could be anything up to 30+ iPads and/or iPods that all need wireless access at the same time and all expecting a fast connection to the internet. A powerful wireless network is therefore essential to a successful implementation of handheld devices in the classroom.
This blog post is going to examine how the iPad was used to improve the pedagogy of a Design & Technology project, and allow child initiated learning by motivating the children to discover new skills and knowledge through project based learning.
The ultimate aim of the controllable vehicle project, and use of the iPads, was to get the children to become more responsible for their own learning and not rely on the step by step instructions that I used to provide at the start of each lesson in previous years.