iPads in the classroom?


Posted by Sarah | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on March 29, 2013

The use of iPads in the classroom is becoming more common in many of our schools. There has been much debate about the amount of time are children are spending in front of screen, and whether by digitalising our classrooms we are preventing children from learning fundanemtal skills such as writing. I believe in moderation iPads can be a great tool to support learning. Many teachers feel they are becoming an invaluable tool thanks to the ease of using them, the functions of them and the apps that can support many areas of learning. For children they are exciting and engaging and may support the learning of children reluctant to pick up a pencil.

This little guy seems intrigued by the iPad, more so than by the books on the nearby shelves at a recent German book fair. Could it be that technology and tykes are a perfect mix for learning?


A whole host of apps are available and I thought I mention three thhatt I have come across thatwould be good  for supporting learning in the classroom when used on an iPad.

The first app I came across was called Pocket Zoo. This app allows children to view real animals in real zoos via webcams from the comfort of the classroom. This is great fun and could be used to support learning in many areas for example, Understanding the World in the Early Years or Science and Geography in Key Stages 1 and 2. Children can also see virtual zoos and learn many facts about animals and their care. This is a fairly easy app to use and would be great for children who have never been to the zoo before. This is only available from the App store and there is a charge for downloading, but I feel it is an App that could be useful and lots of fun.

Garage Band is an app that allows children to play instruments by touching the screen. There are a wide a variety of instruments to choose fro, but I did feel this was an app better suited to older children. It is quite fiddly and may be quite difficukt for little learners. Again there is a small charge to download this app from the App store. A more suitable app for younger children is Easy Beats. This is a more basic app and allows cildren to create a four bar piece of music. It also teaches them how to create a music loop. This could be a good way of teaching music using ICT. It has some quite good reviews on the internet and is a recommended app from the music module of the Early Years Eucation course.


Another positive for using iPads in the classroom is that it may reduce the amount of paper used in the classrrom making it a little more environmentally friendly. iPads are also great for being inclusive. Children with a physical disability may find these easier to use than traditional pencil and paper, and with the additon of a voice recording app or video recording app work can be completed in a variety of ways.

I got to experience using an iPad in an art lesson and it was fantastic! So good I blogged about it! It was great to be able to create a piece of art through sound, photos, vidoe or simple drawing. One of the nicest parts is that if you get it wrong or want to make changes, it doesn’t neccesarily mean you have to completely start again! Just erase the part you need to without ruining your whole piece of work.

I have seen many children using iPads and they are often excited and very engaged by using them. It is something different for them to try and produces very different results to thise they normally achieve. Many schools are now introducing this into schools and providing one iPad per pupil.I read about a school in Bolton who are providing an iPad to each of their 800 pupils. Whilst this may appear to be a good idea I was surprised the children will be allowed to take them home allowing them to communicate with teachers outside of school hours. I would also worry about the potential for them to become lost or broken. Read the full article here: http://www.bee-it.co.uk/blogslink/932-bolton-school-replaces-pens-and-paper-with-an-ipad-per-pupil.html This is however a secondary school, so I am not sure whether this would be the same circumstances if it was a primary school.

I found another article online discussing a primary school that had given every pupil an iPad. I totally agree with the issue it means more children can have access to the Internet or computers at the same time than previously, but I am slightly concerned by the admission that they are used in almost every lesson. I would think this may start to take away the excitement of being told to get an iPad to use if it is an everyday occurrence. To read the full article follow this link: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6069357

I think there are positives and negatives for using iPads in the classroom, but I really believe the key is moderation and management of the amount of time children use them so that other learning skills and play skills are also allowed to fully develop.



Popplet and creating mind maps.


Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Early Years, Uncategorized | Posted on March 29, 2013


A Popplet I created to show the links between ICT and the Early Years.

Popplet is another website I have been introduce to in the process of the ICT module. It is a fantastic site which allows you to produce visual mind maps of thoughts and ideas using words and media such as photographs.  Popplet would be a great interactive way to produce a mind map in the classroom. Children can suggest their ideas and they can be added to the map. It can be used to produce a map of learning showing what the children have already learnt and what they would like to learn. It could also be used as a tool to gather information about what children know at the atsrt of a topic of learning, and to see what they have learnt by the end. By producing two Popplets, one at the beginning and one at the end the teacher can see progress of learning that has been made.

This is definitely something I can see me using in the classroom to enhance and support learning. To see the Popplet I created about using ICT in the Early Years click on the picture at the top of this post.

ICT in the Early Years Wordle


Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Early Years, Uncategorized | Posted on March 29, 2013

Wordle: ICT Early Years

I created a Wordle through an online site at Wordle.net. This is a site that allows you to create a piece of visual word art around any topic or theme. This is something that could be used with children in the classroom to create a visual display of the children’s thoughts or ideas, or to create displays in the classroom. It is something that children who are able to write could create themselves or the teaching staff could support the children in producing a Wordle. It is easy to use and the font, layout and colours can be edited to produce an interesting and visual piece of work.

Staying safe on the internet.


Posted by Sarah | Posted in Directed Tasks | Posted on March 28, 2013

We’ve all heard the horror stories about the Internet. The people pretending to be who they are not in order to hurt children. Internet safety is something that is an absolutely essential part of ICT teaching. It is vital we do all we can to protect ourselves and our children from those looking to do harm either physically or mentally. We need to ensure what we are viewing in front of our children is appropriate, and that they do not have access to anything harmful.

All schools will produce an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)  about appropriate Internet usage detailing what the school is doing to protect every member of staff and every pupil. It explains what is allowed, what cannot be accessed, what is forbidden and details of how incidents will be dealt with. It is designed to protect and safeguard everybody using the Internet at the school. It is also designed to help educate children about safe Internet usage in their personal time as this is also extremely important. Many schools  teach lessons around the idea of Internet safety. From personal experience, my children have a lesson at the start of each year regarding safe Internet use. Children have the clear rules about what is and isn’t allowed explained to them. They are also taught what to do in the event they gain access to something that is inappropriate or that they find offensive. The children are then asked to bring home a letter for parents to read through with the child which the parent must then sign to say they have explained Internet safety to their children, and giving permission for the children to access the Internet. The schools policy on Internet usage ids available for parents to view at any time in the school office or on the schools website. The school have also created a page on their website for parents and children regarding Internet safety, showing some sites they deem safe for children to use and some links to sites to educate adults on Internet safety.

Link to the school Internet security page for pupils and parents.

Parents are also frequently reminded that they are not allowed to post any pictures showing any children other than their own onto the Internet for example on Facebook. This is to help safeguard all children and families in the school. Parents must also sign a permission slip regarding photographs being used on the schools website and Twitter page, before the school are allowed to publish any photographs of children online.

During the session we looked at some of the websites available to educate about and promote safety on the Internet. The first of these sites I explored was Think You Know. This was a great website with the information split into sections for different aged children, teenagers, parent and professionals. I found this helped to still get the importance of staying safe on the Internet across, but it used appropriate language and content for the age of the intended audience. It was bright and visually pleasing and easy to navigate. I feel this could be a very useful site for anybody of any age who is looking to be educated about Internet safety. It is provided by CEOP and provides the information and ability to report any suspicious activity or harmful content on the Internet. 







Another site I explored was Safe Search for Kids provided by Google. This is a search engine designed to allow children to search the Internet in a more controlled and safe environment. With built in filters it should prevent inappropriate information being displayed to the children. Sometimes even the most innocent of searches can produce harmful results.


Another site we were introduced to during the session was Yahoo! Kids. This site provides access to child friendly games, videos and information which is all deemed suitable for children. It is bright and visually pleasing and uses lots of characters from TV and films that children are familiar with. There is a facility to ask questions to get information using a character called Earl. However as an adult I found this feature a little disappointing as your question was not immediately answered, and after asking your question nothing appears to happen. I feel this could be a little confusing for children and disappointing of they are unable to get the answer they are looking for. I feel this site is probably of more use to Key stage 2 children and above as some of the content is a little grown up and I personally wouldn’t use this site with younger children.


My favourite safety tool we were shown was Hector the dolphin. This is a down loadable programme that allows a child to click on a picture of Hector causing a scene of Hector under the water to appear. This is designed to cover the screen if a child gains access to anything that they find harmful or upsetting and to alert the teacher discreetly to the issue. Covering the screen allows the screen data to be hidden from the child concerned but also the others around, as it may not be immediately possible for the teacher to get to the child and other children could be exposed too the data. As a parent this is something I would consider also downloading onto my laptop, for when my children use it at home.


Using Blogs To Support Boys Learning


Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning | Posted on March 28, 2013

I read a very interesting article in between session which suggested getting boys to write blogs could enhance their literacy and writing skills. Many boys enjoy using ICT and may find it more stimulating to use a computer to create a written piece of work, rather than writing with pen and paper. It may keep them more engaged and on task if they have an enjoyment of ICT.
It also suggests blogging is a great way for children to interact with other pupils from around the world. David Mitchell the author of the article explains how his year 6 class have been blogging for a while and have received numerous hits from many different countries. For a child I can only imagine how exciting to think that a child on the other side of the world has read what you have written and left you a comment.

Although this obviously takes some work in setting up a blog and getting yourself an audience it would appear there are many benefits to be had. Children need to be shown how to firstly write and present their blog, but also how to leave feedback in a manner that will not cause harm or offence. As suggested by David Mitchell, this could be done over a few lessons before the children are unleashed on the world wide web.

Not only does writing the blog posts allow the children to practise grammar, spelling and writing creatively, it would also allow them the opportunity to use other types of media for example video or photographs to share their work with their audience.

I think writing a blog would be fantastic for girls and those reluctant to pick up a pencil, but I believe for boys this may be an even more beneficial activity and learning opportunity.


Death by Power Point?


Posted by Sarah | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on March 28, 2013

It is often suggested that too much learning that takes place is done through Power Point. It’s a case of sit down, look at this and learn. It’s repetitive, unengaging in many cases and really boring if used all the time. Yes Power Point is a great resource for learning. It can be a good way to display pictures, information or work in a visual way, but this isn’t the only way to do these things.

Many adults find Power Point overused and dull, yet often children are expected to use it as a learning tool frequently in the classroom. With this in mind I thought I would post a funny video to my blog to share the thoughts about death by Power Point.

Getting creative!


Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Directed Tasks, Early Years | Posted on March 22, 2013

Working together as a staff team to use ICT is a fantastic opportunity to not only share ICT learning ideas, but also the opportunity to share knowledge and learn ICT skills from others.

In a small group we  chose the story of Peace at Last to create some ICT based learning resources around. We chose this story as we felt it was engaging, would support learning in a wide range of curriculum areas and was a story many children and teachers are familiar with. It is important when working in a group to brainstorm ideas before going off to create the resources.

After our brainstorming session we looked through the variety of ideas we had written down, and we decided to divide the resource creating so that people were using ICT equipment and programmes they were comfortable with as we felt this would be a way of making best use of our limited time. We tried to create a range of resources that would use different senses and that would be visual pleasing and engaging. We also wanted to have a wide range of learning opportunities demonstrated in our resources so we chose some interactive games, for example the sounds game and some visual learning for example the pictures of the bear around the world. We tried to create resources that would also stimulate discussions using questioning and thinking skills for example the photographs of the bear hiding around the building, or the use of foreign languages.

As a group we used a variety of ICT software including Smart board software to create interactive learning on the smart board, PowerPoint to create some pictures relating to the book and the pictures of the bear around the world with the languages. We also used an ipad to take the photographs of the bear hiding around the building, which we connected to the smart board to display them on a larger scale.

As a group we put together a short presentation of our ideas to show how our resources that we had created could be used in cross curricular learning. We suggested the idea of time could be used to support maths learning, bedtime routines to support Personal, Social and Emotional development, the languages and the photographs from around the world to support Geography.

This was a particularly engaging session which showed just how important it is to work together with other staff to create good qulaity resources, but also how easy it is to use ICT to create resources to use in the classroom. It was a good opportunity to review learning from previous sessions, and get to try some of the ICT soft wares and hard wares again. I feel I really reinforced learning from previous sessions as some of the technology used I was not particularly familiar with at the start of the course. It was great to see the ideas that other groups had  created and I felt there were ideas that they had come up with that were very engaging and that I could use to develop my own ICT resources.  It was also brilliant to receive feedback from the rest of the class, as this allows you to see from others perspectives what works, what could be better and how some of the ideas we had created could be developed further.

both ppts together Peace at last sound game

Lights, Camera, Action!


Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Early Years | Posted on March 17, 2013

We often talk as teachers about a hook into the lesson for the children. That ‘wow’ moment that captures their imagination and fires their interest in a topic. A video is a great way to bring a subject to life for children and a great way to grab the attention of the children at the beginning of the lesson.

There are many websites with videos that can be used to educate children about a theme or topic. Probably the most well known video streaming site is YouTube, however due to the high security settings in  many schools teachers are not always able to access this resource. The BBC have some fantastic resources available on their various websites for example the Bytesize learning sites. These cover a huge variety of subjects and learning for all ages.

But, why not create a video yourself to create that ‘wow’ moment? Why not join with other teaching staff to create a short clip to introduce a theme to your children, to tell a story or bring a subject to life.  This can be fun for both the teaching staff and the children and can be a great way to assist the learning of EAL children or children who have a preference for visual learning. We recently created a short video as a hook into a presentation and received a good response from our audience as we had immediately caught the audiences attention. This demonstrated to me how a similar principle could be used with children.

Making a video with the children in the class can also be a great learning tool, as well as a way of creating a record of assessment. Children could retell a story, record themselves during an activity and have a go at creating a video around their theme of learning. It could be a fun way of the children demonstrating to their peers their ideas or what they have learnt. Videos do not have to be really technical or well edited for the children to enjoy them especially if they have produced them themselves. Many children may not have had the opportunity to use a video camera and may really enjoy using this form of ICT. With careful guidance of the teaching staff children can become film makers and could produce a cinema style session for parents to come into school to see what heir children have been learning.

There are many ways in which videos either on websites or that the teaching staff and children produce themselves can be used to bring ICT learning into the classroom to support children’s learning.

Game on!


Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Directed Tasks, Early Years | Posted on March 8, 2013

Today’s ICT session was about the use of gaming in teaching. This is an area some people may not be quite as open to. People believe that gaming has no educational value or that children spend enough time playing games without taking up valuable teaching time by using them in class.

I feel there are many benefits to using gaming in the classroom as long as it is something that is not relied upon all the time and is time limited. Many of the games consoles offer opportunities for children to develop their fine and gross motor skills. For example the Wii. This is a really effective tool to get children moving and improving gross motor skills. It may get children who are not particularly active up and moving their bodies, and due to the nature of some of the actions required to pay it may aid development of gross motor skills through throwing motions for example. It can also be of benefit to fine motor skills with having to grip the controller and press the buttons. The Wii could also be used to develop communication and team work skills. Some games allow children to work together in teams  to play the game. This would mean they would need to develop the communication skills to work together properly and this would also develop language and vocabulary skills. It would also reinforce the idea of working together to achieve, and turn taking. My only fault with the Wii, is that some f the instructions for playing the game may be a little complicated for some of the younger children, but this could be solved by adult support.

Bowling on the Wii

This is also applicable to the X Box which works on a similar concept of your body being the controller. Again this would offer opportunities to work on movement and physical skills. I however am not a huge fan of the  X Box. I found this quite difficult to control using body movements and found it quite hard to get the game to do what I wanted to and this could be an issue with young children.

Gaming on the X Box

Another piece of hardware we got to experience today was the Sony Playstation with the Rock Band game. This was great fun especially as nobody wanted to the the mic! No wonder none of us could win this game. This would be a great tool to use to get children working together and communicating. It was however quite a difficult game for younger children due to lots of instructions and the songs not being very well known to them. However this console could be used with other similar games where the songs are more familiar, such as Singstar and with adult support.

The last piece of hardware I tried out was the Nintendo DS. This was a great little device and I can really see how this could be used along side some of the more educational games such as Maths Trainer to help the children learn. This offers the opportunity for individual or shared work whilst learning about a subject that is very often taught through writing sums down.

Maths training on the Nintendo DS

Me trying out the Nintendo DS

With all these consoles and devices they may allow the child opportunities to try new experiences as some of the children we teach may not have access to games consoles at home. They can be used as a tool to support children with communication delay as they are very visual and may engage children in the learning if they enjoy being more hands on rather than sitting down writing. The gaming also offers children the chance to develop their self-esteem, for example by being able to achieve the highest score in the class or teaching another child how to play the game correctly. A child who struggles with conventional maths teaching, may be more stimulated and achieve better results through using the DS for example.

It is something I would consider including in my teaching, but generally I think it would be kept as more of a treat for the children. For example if doing a topic on the seaside, allow the children at the end of the week to have a go on the Wii sports resort beach based games.  It is something that would need a degree of adult support and supervision but I think there are definite positives to using gaming. I’m sure the teachers would have as much fun as the children too!

Another aspect of the session involved looking at some games based websites which provide gaming as a learning tool. My favourite of these is the CBeebies website which can be accessed at www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies. This website provides lots of learning games using characters that many young children are familiar with. It is packed with a variety of learning games and activities, songs and is bright and very colourful in appearance.

All of the gaming consoles and websites offer opportunities for learning and development in an engaging, exciting manner and I feel as long as they are used for educational purposes and the children are receiving learning from using them why not have some gaming in the classroom. Game on!

Smartboards are really smart!


Posted by Sarah | Posted in Children's Learning, Directed Tasks, Early Years, Uncategorized | Posted on March 1, 2013

Today’s ICT session looked at how the use of Smart boards has developed in the classroom. Smart boards are a fairly new technology to me. I have had a little experience with them through my previous job, but they were not at any of my schools probably because the technology wasn’t available.

The smart board is a multi sensory learning aid that can be used by all the staff and the children in a class or setting. The smart board offers opportunities for whole class learning, small group learning or individual learning. It can be used in conjunction with a variety of software and other ICT hardware to enhance learning. Teachers are able to create and produce their own learning tools as well as providing opportunities for children to create their own work.

Smart boards can be an effect tool for showing video clips, creating spider diagrams of class ideas about topics or pictures for example or for playing education based games. However there is a theory that smart boards can be over used. Do the learning objectives need to be written on the board every day? Does the teacher need to demonstrate learning on the smart board or are there other ways to do this? Does it always have to be the teacher leading the learning on the smart board?

Creating an ICT based learning activity for the smart board was surprisingly easy. It was very interesting to see exactly how these games or learning activities can be created. I found the idea of showing a picture and revealing it bit by bit and writing the children’s ideas of what they thought they could see down on the board a really great idea.

The smart board can be used to help develop both fine and gross motor skills in children depending upon the activity. It could also be a great resource to use with children who need additional support with language and communication. It can be used as a visual aid to help the teaching staff or children understand what is happening in the day or in the learning.

I can see many ideas for using the smart board with even the youngest children. They could use it to view pictures and discuss, listen to sounds, play learning games and create their own artwork to name a few ideas. The smart board can definitely be used as a cross curricular resource and can be used to support the learning in any subject. I think it is definately important to ensure other resources are used to support the learning so that the excitement remains when the children get to access the smart board.

Click the link to voew some examples of smart board work that I created in the session on smart boards.smart-board-work-1k0xmj9