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!
I had an interesting discussion last night with a friend about 1:1 iPad deployment in a primary school. She was horrified at the thought of every child getting an iPad which they could use all day long. She has an iPad at home that she lets her kids use, but she is always concerned to limit the amount of screen time her children are having, even if they are playing educational games. Life is bigger and wider than staring at and tapping on a glass screen all day. Maybe she has a point?
Now that the first full week of school has finished, here are some observations on how the iPad experiment is going.
- Reception children love the iPads! Each class only got 3 each, but already the teachers are asking when we’re getting some more. The GripCase cases also seem to be doing the job, protecting the iPads but also giving handy handles for the kids to grasp.
- The upper KS2 iPads seem to be getting some use, although only for some Internet research at the moment. But I’ve been told that teachers have planned in more iPad activities for next week, so I’m excited about that.
- iFiles + WebDAV = joy! One of the features of iFiles is that you can easily browse the files on a WebDAV share, which is what we’ve done with our shared ‘school’ drive. I think it might need a step-by-step guide for the teachers though.
- One of the Assistant Heads wanted to showcase some of the children’s maths learning in an assembly and asked me how it could be done using an iPad mirrored onto the hall’s big screen. I found the Educreations app, which lets you type, write and manipulate objects on a blank ‘whiteboard’ area. Apparently it went down a treat!
- We had to do an ICT audit today to make sure all the new equipment had been included in our inventory, and using an iPad to assist us was invaluable. We did use a paper copy to highlight off what was there, but used a copy of the spreadsheet in Numbers to search for serial numbers for items that had moved or we could t find. An enormous time-saver!
I’m sure there will be more, but I’m really pleased with how iPads are already being used across the school.
Our school’s new website is now live – hurrah! I’m pretty impressed with how it’s turned out, mainly due to the elegant and powerful wonder that is WordPress. It hopefully should be easy to update as well, particularly once I’ve shown the senior leaders how to add posts and edit pages.
For those who know which school I go to, the website is www…sch.uk. For those who don’t, post me a comment and I’ll email you the link!
I was wondering if anyone out there has had experience of…
- Using Apple’s ‘smart covers’ for the iPad. Any good?
- Finding a good case to use with iPads in a school setting?
- Both of the above?
Answers on a postcard. Or just in the comment box below. Either is fine. Thanks!
Over the last year or so, I’ve had the fantastic opportunity of introducing Apple Macs to our Primary school. It’s been good fun, but it’s not been entirely straightforward so I thought I would share some of the highs and lows with anyone out there who might be interested.