When I was training to be a teacher back in 2007, I originally thought that I would teach Year 6. After all, I had done A-Level maths and so it would be fun to teach 11-year-olds algebra, right?
However, when I began my initial placements in school I was shocked by how boring this education business was for children: lots of sitting on the carpet staring at a whiteboard, then lots of pencil and paper work in books. There obviously is room for this approach, but it depressed me that children didn’t have much opportunity for independent exploration and discovery, working with rather than against the in-built curiosity of childhood.
I then spent a couple of days in a Reception classroom where I could see children showing independence and genuine agency in their learning, learning through play and exploration and in a way that matches the way that children learn. I then switched to the Early Years route in my PGCE and ended up getting my first teaching job in Nursery.
Fast forward to today and I now lead a 1:1 iPad deployment in a primary school. Is there a connection?
It stuck me, as I sat in some professional development from Apple about the ‘5 Elements of Learning‘, that there is a link! Those 5 elements are as follows:
- Teamwork – working together on learning
- Communication and Creation – expressing your ideas to a real audience
- Personalisation of Learning – students have a choice about the approach to learning
- Critical Thinking – students creating solutions to problems
- Real-World Engagement – engaging in tasks that serve a genuine purpose outside the classroom
These elements make up effective learning, and iPad can be used effectively as a tool for learning in all of those elements. But actually, those quite nicely describe a decent early years classroom.
So why iPad? Used well, it allows children to learn in a more creative and meaningful way, not just when they’re in Early Years!