Session 2 was focused on the use of iPads in the Early Years and Primary classroom…
Overview of the session:
We began the session by looking at iPads in general terms – How have we seen them being used? What are our opinions? How do we think they can benenfit and aid children’s learning and development?
My own thoughts:
I am of the opinion that without a doubt, iPads can be a fantastic learning tool across the Early Years and Primary curriculum…from cross curricular learning to children leading their own learning, the opportunities really are endless! However, I feel that some considerations need to be made…
On the majority of my placements, I have seen iPads used with children of all ages. From the very earliest stages within Nursery, iPads were used during both structured and free-flow play sessions. The children loved being able to access the iPads independently, choosing their own games and apps to explore. I feel that considerations need to be made at this point to ensure that children are being productive and are able to relate to what they are doing, or learning about. Even if a practitioner sits with the children to oversee, question and comment on children’s learning, this would be beneficial.
When nursery workers and myself led the children’s learning, opportunities for children to develop independence with the iPads was kept a priority. One activity that I led involved all children, across the nursery sessions. The children had recently had a new garden installed, which created much excitement! I helped the children to use the iPads to capture photographs of the garden – these were then used to create a photo album of the children’s pictures, alongside their comments and captions, which I scribed.
Developing the skills to take the photographs and helping the children to follow simple instructions was an achievement for the children that I worked with. There seemed to be an air of excitement and enjoyment around the use of the iPads and the children quickly created their own ‘waiting list’ for use!
With older children, in both Reception and Key Stage One, iPads were used with children across the classroom. Particular instances stand out in my mind; the use of iPads seen in Reception with a child with Special Educational Needs was fantastic! The child, who had Down Syndrome, was able to use the iPad as not only a means for communication and expression, but also as a way to develop her learning across the Early Years curriculum. The child was able to take ownership of her learning and seemed to show a great deal of excitement and enjoyment when she used the equipment. A downside of such a positive experience was that other children in the classroom seemed to feel that they had less access to the iPads and voiced this regularly. Establishing a clear and fair classroom routine with regard to the iPads must be a consideration for all practitioners; on other placements, the use of sandtimers and a ‘waiting list’ card helped to deal with such situations.
(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Points from the group discussion:
- iPads can be used in a vast number of ways, across the different areas of the curriculum
- iPads are a great way of producing digital stories
- Children are able to take ownership of their learning
- Children with Special Educational Needs are able to access learning in different forms
- iPads can be used in the indoor and outdoor classroom
- Learning on iPads can be differentiated for different ages and abilities
(Image courtesty of Wikimedia Commons)
Below is a photocollage that I created using Photovisi. It shows a selection of snapshots and screenshots from my explorations on the iPads during the session…
For the rest of the session, we had time to explore the iPads for ourselves. This was an ideal opportunity to explore some of the new apps that have recently been put onto the iPads, that we had not got access to last year. It also gave me time to consolidate my knowledge of apps that have been out for longer, but that I did not get a chance to explore last year.
For instance: Last year I really wanted to explore Morfo (an app where you are able to digitally manipulate and create animated characters) but did not have time during the session…it’s times like those when I wished I had an iPad!
In light of this, I spent some time during the session dedicated to exploring Morfo and what it has to offer. Below is an image of Chloe, who kindly let me use an image of her face to create a Morfo!
Morfo is an ideal way to create an animated character using photos of real people, or those from the past. When I first heard of the idea, one of my first thoughts was of how this app could be a great link to History in Key Stage One…why not recreate a character from the past for children to hotseat and ask questions to? This opportunity could be both adult and/or child led. If children were to create their own Morfo, adult support, modelling and instruction would be needed. Personally, I feel that this app would be too complicated for younger children, in Reception for instance. However, this is not to say that practitioners could not use the app to add excitement and stimulation to an Early Years Foundation Stage session!
Once your Morfo animation face is created, you are able to record your a voice to go with the animation…this is where the fun starts! The app synchronises your Morfo’s mouth movements to the words in the voice recording, creating a life-like talking animation!
During our ICT sessions, there is sometimes a focus to work in groups, or pairs. During this session, I worked with Chloe to create an Early Years teaching resource using the Sock Puppets app.
Our group resource can be found here on the ICT Resource Bank.
After some deliberating about which app to explore, Chloe and I opted for the Sock Puppets app, which we had great fun with!
We enjoyed being able to control the puppets ourselves, adding voiceovers and making them move around the screen.
These are some of the points that Chloe and I felt were most beneficial from the app…
Firstly, children are able to manipulate the puppets using the touch screen interface. We thought that this would be a perfect way of developing fine motor skills with younger children.
Being able to add your own sound effects and voice overs to the puppets adds a sense of individuality, where children can be creative.
This sort of project also promotes links with the role play area. Children can learn how to interact with one another, sharing screen space and developing social skills.