My reflections for this week have seemed harder to come by than with other weeks. I don’t think this is down to a lack of using the iPads, or a lack of new ideas, but instead that they’re becoming ‘normal’ for classroom life for myself and the children I work with. This is undeniably a good thing, they are a tool to be used appropriate, just as a pen or a text book and should not be cause for unnecessary attentions but equally I do want to document our experiences clearly, accurately and fairly.
I began this academic year with a revelation about Guided Reading – I didn’t like teaching it. I love reading, as an adult I read whenever I can (although not as often as I’d like) but I did not like teaching Guided Reading! My previous school had a policy that all the children needed to complete 2 written comprehensions a week as well as reading book extracts (no complete books) and although I tried my best to inspire children through a variety of text types and authors the lessons were often very dry. Upon beginning a new school, and now having more freedom, I began to consider what I could do to inspire a love of reading. Alongside my quandaries I happened upon a question Ian Addison (@IanAddison) was asking on Twitter about whether children show progress during Guided Reading session.
My new school has worked very hard over the last few years to encourage a positive view of reading; buying a wider range of books to interest a wider range of children, ensuring they have easy access and opportunities to enjoy reading. This has had a great impact on the class, when I ask them to name favourite books/authors all can, they talk happily about books and are desperate not to miss their library day if they’re off sick! So again, there was even more pressure to continue this excitement for reading and I began exploring the realms of Twitter for a new approach.
I was going to include these thoughts as part of my weekly reflection about using iPads in the classroom but the further my mind delved the more distant I seemed to get from the basic pedagogy which I was trying to record in those weekly posts. Hence the post of its own. If you are interested in seeing how I used the iPads in class for week 4, please look here: 1:1 iPad â Week 4: Reflecting.
The iPads I have been given are as a trial, to ensure they are distributed, and implemented, in the best possible way to enhance learning opportunities. At the end of the trial (around Christmas time) I will feedback the best possible approach to managing them as a year 5/6 team. There are 33 in total and will be available across the 4 classes, however, we do not yet know in what form. Possible considerations:
This week was the first official week of beginning the Great R.E. Project. We began with the following learning objectives which will take us through the next 3 weeks (although the SC will change each week).
Focus 1 – To understand:
At the beginning of this week I was lucky enough to have time out with a colleague to visit another school and see their use of iPads and Apple TV. As I’m sure you know, having time out to visit other schools is always great as you see so many different ways of doing things and get loads of new ideas so I was excited. The class teacher had been using iPads in her class for a while, and again was piloting them, but with the new school year she had recently began training a new class of children to use the iPads competently.
The class were year 2 children and they had iPads on a 1:2 basis. Each iPad was assigned to a pair of children with a specific number and they used 2 iTunes accounts to install apps on them and the number labels are colour coded so the teacher knows which two to install any new apps on. This very organised approach makes using the iPads simple. Each morning the iPads are used for morning work, where the children can practise key words, spellings or maths targets, and this is done on a rota basis so in this circumstance they’re used 1:1. As the iPads are assigned to specific children, some of the games monitor their progress e.g. ‘how many key words do they already know and what’s next?’ so each time they can continue building on what they did the time before.
Week 3 of using the iPads, where necessary, in lessons and building their introduction gradually across the curriculum. My Maths class have now been regularly using the iPads for 3 weeks and have come accustomed to their integration. My class are most of the way through the desensitising process although I do still have to be quite firm about when and how they use them and my R.E. project is underway. I believe I am already seeing the positive impact of these devices in the classroom. As I said in my last post this week I wanted to begin introducing the iPads into Literacy lessons and by the end of this week we had been using them in most lessons – where directly planned to assist learning.
The week began, like all others, with a Maths lesson. This week’s topic: Division. My first lesson with methods is always a ‘see how they do it’ lesson so I had no plan to use the iPads this lesson, just the children working on whiteboards to show their understanding. After assessing their understanding I began giving the children almost impossible questions to see how they tackled them and what strategies they used. Probably around half way through the lesson I was asked by a group of children if they could use Padlet. Why? I asked, there is a room full of children doing the same question – what’s the point? They replied to me that they were finding the question challenging and wanted to see how others did it. With such a learning-focussed response how could I refuse? So I quickly threw together a wall and they set to it. Next something happened that I didn’t expect, especially after the first week where they all forgot how to talk (see week 1 post: here.) They started supporting each other by seeing what they uploaded and questioning each other. What have you done here? Why have you done that? They then started moving around the classroom to sit next to other people so they could talk each other through what they’d done!
Ok, so now we have reached the end of week 2 for our iPad exploits. This week has been a funny week in school as year 6 have been out on a residential and as we share some topics with year 6 we have had some topics on hold. We did not manage to get apps until Thursday this week, having had to set up individual IDs for the iPads and 4 separate iTunes accounts with a maximum of 10 devices on each. Up until then we pretty much followed on from last week.
During Maths we have spent the week working on our investigation skills, as year 6 are away, so each lesson we have been photographing our work, seeing each other’s on Padlet and discussing it in person.
I have been lucky enough to be given a 1:1 set of iPad minis for use within my class this half term(ish) for the purpose of trialling them and finding out what works and what doesn’t work. From here the school can then make an informed decision about how iPads impact on learning and whether to invest in more or look at other options. I thought I would try my best to blog about what we have been up to and how it is going.
The children were introduced to the iPads last Thursday for the first time, it was during this time that we discussed ‘rules’ and expectations. The list we came up with conveniently covered similar things to the Teacher’s Pet iPad rules poster so we have used these to display in the classroom and remind ourselves! Since then I left myself the weekend to plan effective ways they can assist my curriculum delivery over the next week.