What about Early Years Foundation Stage?

So, in my previous post, I outlined the approach we’ve been taking with Years 1-6 and utilising Showbie (and the school website) to encourage home learning during the school closure. But what have we re we doing for children in Nursery and Reception classes?

For many years now, we have been using Tapestry as an online tool for creating children’s profiles. Teachers and Early Years Practitioners take their observations of children’s learning using photos, videos and notes and then upload this to the site, either on the webpage or using the companion iPad app. When compared to the old regime of writing post-it notes, taking and printing off digital photos, followed by sticking them into individual paper profiles and highlighting off different ‘Development Matters‘ statements, the digital route has been a HUGE time-saver! Go digital!

Tapestry also offers parent access, which allows parents/carers to see all of the observations of their offspring, as well as giving them the ability to leave ‘likes’, comments and even upload photos/videos of learning that’s happening at home. Parents love it, as do teachers.

So, when it came to considering how to communicate about home learning tasks during school closure, Tapestry was already part of the thinking. The original plan was to post learning activities on the school website, and then invite parents to upload outcomes from the different tasks. For example:

Our topic is ‘Crazy about creatures’ so we would like you to design your own crazy creature! You could draw, make, build your creature. 

Can you add write some labels or tell an adult:

– What colour is your creature?

– How many arms, legs, eyes does it have?

– Where does it live?

– What does it eat?

Please take a picture or make a video describing your creature and upload to your Tapestry account for us to see.

We look forward to seeing your designs!

http://www.heronsgate.greenwich.sch.uk/school-closure/eyfs/eyfs-week-1-23-3-20/

Tapestry closes that feedback loop, giving teachers/EYPs an insight into what’s actually happening at home that can then inform future planning, as well as giving the opportunity for feedback to parents. So far, so good – particularly as many parents were already signed up to Tapestry and using it regularly.

One question remained: was there a way we could share the learning activities within Tapestry itself, rather than directing parents to the school website? Well, it turns out there was, in the form of ‘Memos‘.

Memos is a new feature in Tapestry, which allows staff to post text (including web links), documents and media directly to parents within the website. Initially I used this to post the daily learning activities, mirroring what was on the school website. However, it also seemed like a great way for teachers to share a bespoke greeting every day to their individual classes, helping keep that connection with children and sense of the school community going.

Orbit.so

Many moons ago, I used to be a Nursery teacher.  This was fun, but the only downside was spending days of my holidays sticking little post-it notes and photos as evidence of what the children in my class had been doing into their respective profiles. Surely computers could make this all easier?

Yes indeed! This year, we’ve bitten the bullet and got a set of iPod Touches for the Foundation Stage staff to use for taking photos and writing observations on children.  We’ve looked at a couple of options for the database at the back end, but decided upon using a service called Orbit .  The advantages of it are that it:

  • Is free
  • Has an iOS app and a website which can be accessed from anywhere
  • Seems pretty straight forward but quite powerful too
  • Did I mention that it’s free?

The only niggling question I’ve had about it is how it’s going to make it’s money whilst being free and still be around in a few years’ time. They say that it’s through putting advertising on the parents’ section of the site.  They’ve only been around for less than a year but already have 1,700 providers registered and 10,000 registered users, so I’m hoping this works for them.  However, there is another catch: to make use of the evaluations and tracking part of the service, you have to have at least 50% of your children’s parents signed up in order for that part to be free, otherwise you have to pay £40 a year.  Which isn’t so bad.

We had the fun job last week of typing in all the children’s details and setting up the iPod Touches, and then today we did some training with the Foundation Stage staff.  Children start back this week so we’ll soon see how it all works out.