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Primary Education News
News iPads in the classroom: embedding technology in the primary curriculum
iPads and iPods are influencing all areas of learning in David Andrews' classroom. He reveals how he's using technology to teach writing, reading, maths and science
Last year David Andrews wrote for us about how he was using one-to-one devices in the classroom in the hugely popular blog post: An Apple for the teacher: are iPads the future in class? Here, he updates us on his progress and shares some of his favourite technology-led learning ideas.
Since the start of September 2012 myself and a colleague, Chris Williams, have been trying to maximise the use of handheld technology (iPads and iPods) in year 6 in all areas of the curriculum. The potential for enhancing teaching and learning through technology has been particularly interesting: we've developed a range of apps using both iPads and iPods to engage, motivate and inspire pupils' learning in the classroom.
The school's 'Apple journey' began in June 2012. Once the year 6 SATs were finished, we gave both our year 6 classes a two-week project to build a controllable vehicle. Working in groups of four (60 children in total), with one iPad per group, the children followed an instructional video, which myself and my colleague developed. We used the Strip Designer app to create the front cover, and the Creative Book Builder app to create an ebook with written instructions and accompanying videos to guide the pupils through the construction of their vehicles.
Allowing the children to work in this manner shifted the learning from teacher-centred to child-centred. Children could work at their own pace without having to wait for further instructions from the teacher. They could tackle problems themselves by rewinding the videos and reading additional written instructions, and clearly see what equipment was needed for the next chapter in the ebook.
Once the vehicles were built, the pupils planned, filmed and edited a car advert in iMovie. They composed a jingle using the Garageband app, took close-up pictures of their completed vehicle using the iPad's camera and added these to a persuasive and informative car brochure (ebook) using the Creative Book Builder app, which could then be be viewed in iBooks. They used the Number app to create a spreadsheet to calculate the cost of the components of the vehicle and hire of the equipment. To conclude our controllable vehicle iPad project, the pupils prepared and delivered a showcase presentation to parents/carers and pupils in key stage 2.
The pupils' interest and effort was evidently higher than myself or Mr Williams had seen before, especially post-SATs when motivation of pupils in year 6 can take a dip. The pupils produced high-quality car designs, there was an increase in writing levels in their brochures and outstanding video adverts. When the children spoke to their audience, they demonstrated an astounding depth of knowledge, understanding and confidence. The attendance from parents was also staggering: pupils had made sure they were there because they cared and valued their work.
Central to all of our work in year 6 has been the use of a class blog space for each pupil, which gives them a real audience and an incentive to raise the standards of their work. Using the Posterous app, pupils can post iMovies, pictures from their camera roll and add text to their space. Each pupil has their own unique QR Code created in an app called QRafter, which links to their blog space on the year 6 blog. This code can be printed off, so whenever a pupil posts digital work to their blog space they can use this QR Code in their book or on a display to direct the reader. Our local library has displayed some of the children's writing alongside QR codes taking library users to pupil-created multimedia content on the class blog spaces.
In literacy, we have used the devices in a variety of ways, most notably as a stimulus for writing. Take the popular game Bike Baron, for instance. The player controls a stunt motorcyclist, rolling, flipping and tumbling through a sequence of ramps and loops. The graphics and sound are lively and the levels short: a few minutes of play is sufficient to provide enough material for a project. The pupils played through one or two levels on their iPods and took screen shots as they went. The screenshots were imported into the Strip Designer app to create a sequence of comic strips, with captions describing the Bike Baron's thoughts and feelings at various stages of the course. The pupils then used their comic strips to write a recount from the Bike Baron's perspective.
The pupils have also used iPads to write their own description for an app they designed using the App Store as stimulus for persuasive writing. The children chose a category of app they were interested in and visited the App Store to investigate the persuasive language used. They took a screenshot of the app description and opened these in the Skitch app. The pupils used the tools in Skitch to highlight and identify language features of advertisements, such as persuasive words, phrases and rhetorical questions. A template was created in Pages, with an area for the app logo, a 5-star review and an area for the writing task to write a persuasive advertisement for an app. For this particular task, standards of writing exceeded expected writing levels for the children involved.
We have been in the fortunate position of having both the technology and the freedom to explore and experiment to innovate and justify the school's investment. At this stage of the school year, observations suggest that all pupils are becoming more independent, able to direct their own learning at their own pace and use the functions of handheld devices to manage themselves a lot more in determining what they they will learn and how.
The central issue, of course, is impact and progress. We have technology-led projects ongoing in writing, reading, maths and science where progress will be measurable and comparable to rates in the same subjects in previous years when a more traditional approach was employed. At present, because everything is new and with very little published material relating to the use of 1:1 devices we continue to develop ideas, with the aims of increased productivity, independence and impact.
David is a year 6 teacher who has been investigating how mobile technology can be used across the curriculum to enhance the teaching and learning in the classroom. His blog iPads in Primary Education provides practical ideas on how iPads and iPods can impact pupils' progress and independence across the curriculum. You can follow David on twitter @dmandrews15.