Saturday, December 3, 2011

Buying an iPad for Education?

Technology fundamentals for Educators

I was recently providing ICT professional development to a cluster of kindergartens. I was inspired by their desire and passion to learn, and to approach technology in early childhood education in a new way. As a final summary we concluded the following:

1. ICT is a tool. Use it to engage children with yourselves, each other and learning opportunities.

2. Technology for a purpose. ICT should be used throughout the curriculum. Scatter technology (computers, laptops, cameras, ipads) where it will be used for a purpose - digital microscope near a collection of bugs, natural resources, science specimens or close to the outdoors. Laptops with typing programmes in an area promoting literacy, cameras where children can easily access, take a photo of their name, and download photos when returned.

3. Start with one thing and do it well. The latest technology on the block can be cool, exciting, trendy to start with (like the ipad) - consider its long term appeal. Choose the thing that you think you can move forward on and commit to it. Make sure its achieveable.

4. Technology is not a babysitter - its a tool that should encourage collaborative learning and teaching. Engage in technology WITH the children.

5. Encourage children/students to be the teacher. You can learn a lot from them. Technology shouldn't be stored until YOU have mastered it - open it with the children and learn together. Encourage children to push buttons. Its unlikely to blow up. Learn from their desire to explore.

Friday, September 2, 2011

National Standards: Assessment vs Education

Need one say more:

Thanks to Karen Boyes for sharing this on Facebook. Facebook is a great way to share educational ideas, theories and practices and a brilliant way to advocate for children everyday.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sir Ken Robinson - Changing Educational Paradigms

How did the current education system develop?
Why do some thrive and some fail in this system?
How do we improve the current educational system?
How do we encourage all children to thrive?

Ken Robinson, illustrated by RSAnimate, answers...
(persevere thru the first 45sec - its well worth it)
Click the four arrows on the bottom right of the video to fill your screen with the illustrations.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Aspirations for children

What is the most important thing you want your children to learn before going to school?
What skills and knowledge do you want them to gain through the school system?
What do you hope they will become when they are adults?

I'm sure you have thought of this many times. Watching desperately, making sure they don't fall behind their age group, that they pass their assignments, test and exams.

What do you want for your children?

You may wish for your child to graduate from high school, go to university, gain an impressive qualification and enter a well paying job - to be a doctor, a lawyer, an architect.

What do YOU want for your children?
IF they achieve the above -

Do you want them to love what they are doing?
Do you want them to be able to communicate well with bosses, colleagues, employees?
Do you want them to have friends?
Do you want them to be kind hearted?
Do you want them to be generous?
Do you want them to like themselves? To be fit and healthy?
Do you want them to continue to explore new ideas and initiatives?
Do you want them to be happy?

Taking care of ourselves. Having friends and good relationships with colleagues. Confidently contributing and communicating our ideas. Researching and learning, exploring new concepts and ways of doing things.

THESE are the building blocks of a great citizen, a confident healthy happy person.
THESE are the people we want to work and play with.
THESE are the skills that children FIRST need to learn. Without them 'academic achievement is a long hard lonely slog. With these skills children develop a passion for learning, communicating, sharing ideas.

The building blocks begin in our young children - fit and healthy, surrounded by friends, variety of communication skills, ability to contribute, and a desire and passion to explore and continue learning. These are the goals of the New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum.

I suggest they be YOUR goals for your children.

We remind ourselves of these things for ourselves through romantic, heartwarming youtube videos. Watch this one, and remember to nurture these things for children too.

Santé et beauté pour tous!! The Meaning of Life !!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Making the Virtual - Real!! The iPad2

One day - mark my words - One day it'll be true.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I have a Goal - I want to write ipad apps

Ok - I thought I should just put this out there and see where it takes me.

I would like to write educational apps for young children.

I would like those apps to fit my teaching style and philosophy - so I figure, I should probably just write them. I have some programming skills. They are fairly old school programming skills, but I believe my skills are upgradable.

Where do I go to learn to write apps? Any advice welcome.

Free 2 B U - Caroline Casey

This woman speaks to my heart. What a powerful personal story.

An inspirational talk by a woman my age, Caroline Casey. At the age of 17 she discovered she was, and had been since birth, legally blind. She didn't let that stop her. She wasn't about to admit it. She climbed to the top of her game. She wasn't going to let labels get in the way. Then 17 years on, it caught up with her, it smacked her in the face. And when she had to acknowledge it, she found she was released to be who she wanted to be...
Her continued success, different from her initial success is again the result of rejecting labels/barriers. Hear her story....

We should be free to acknowledge our hurdles and use them to conquer barriers, not build them. We ALL have hurdles. Those that are big are only big because of the way an individual sees and copes with their own hurdles. When we are free 2 b - we can be anything. Any policy I'm involved in writing, talks about differing abilities because we all have weaknesses and we all have strengths.

Thank you JakiGT for sharing this TED story on your podcasts.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

iPad experiences with young children at Manaia Kindergarten

At Manaia Kindergarten we bought out the ipad for the first time on Thursday to explore the universe and find the Matariki stars in the sun lit sky through the iris of the ipad. (See blogpost about SKYVIEW app). This was a little tricky with a group of 30 eager children. Each child wanted a closer look. The Sun and the planets proving a big hit over the small stars.

THE 1st QUESTION raised from my first experience of the ipad with young children is:
"How can I connect the ipad (with apps running such as SKYVIEW) to our digital projector?

A Boy's Experience
Later in the morning I noticed one of our quiet boys looking a little lost and struggling to connect with other children. As I talked to him he asked me if he could see the stars again. When I handed him the PRECIOUS ipad, he confidently took it from my hands and swung it up to the sky. We were sitting at outside tables, on a slab of concrete. I HELD MY BREATH, .... AND .... trusted him.

Immediately others came over to him and they began to talk about the stars, the sun and the planets - swinging the ipad above their heads as they talked.

They wanted to explore more!!

So we tried out SMULE together. WOW - the music they played - tapping on the screen together, trying to catch the glowing green balls - then swirling the balls to make patterns in the music. I have been considering purchasing a MAC keyboard - but this was much more fun. SMULE combines music and art. It is all about process and experience, and not about an end product. GREAT!!

I really thought they would stick with the music - but we only had the one free song - Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (which btw we had learnt in Te Reo (Maori) that morning). However there was obviously only so much of that song and the art they could handle.

What budget does a school/early childhood centre set for ipad apps? And how would you prevent children deleting them accidentally?

The Watermelon Dog
by an ipad Sculptor
The children wanted to explore more. By now J had one boy buddy and five girls hanging over his shoulders. But he was beaming with his new found magic and the ipad.

So he began his first role play as a SCULPTOR.

This app provides children with choices of wood or vegetables to sculp. They are probably American woods - it would be nice to apply different names and grains to the wood, to represent New Zealand indigenous woods - but hey - it is a start.

J choose to sculpt a watermelon. As he tapped he talked about the bit flying off the watermelon and it took a few moments for him to realise that by tapping he was changing the shape of the melon. He quickly learnt that by holding his finger down on the screen and moving it, he could rotate his sculpture in 3D. He did this regularly, seemingly assessing his work. Four other children created sculptures that morning. And it made me think.....

Questions no.3
WHY am I encouraging children to sculp in 3D on a virtual cold screen?
WHY am I not rather giving them a piece of REAL wood?
We do of course provide woodwork opportunities for children. WAS I today encouraging them to sculp on a screen rather than risk injury with REAL tools?

And then again....
I had fun sculpting on the screen - so WHY should I deprive children of that similiar experience?
AND more importantly top designers usually design on a screen first (these days) before investing time and money on real resources.
WHAT would this virtual experience do for young children's REAL life experiences?

The Great thing about the ipad
After the children had completed their virtual sculptures - we emailed the images straight from the SCULPTOR app to their parents. No cameras, no downloading, no uploading, no exporting or converting. I look forward to hearing their parents responses.

The Snow Princess
by an ipad SCULPTOR

The OTHER Great thing about the ipad.
It is a tool, integrated into a programme that provides children with a range of experiences.

After two of the girls, who didn't really know eachother, had completed their virtual sculptures, chatted about their designs, giggled as they moved the image in 3D, and emailed their final images to their parents..... I saw them 10 minutes later - at the wood work table - earmuffs on, goggles over their eyes, drills rotating, and wood in their hands - SCULPTING!!!

And J made new friends today!!

In just one morning session - I see a whole lot of potential for this little screen.

Related reading from ICT in ECE

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Friday, May 27, 2011

ipad for Manaia Kindergarten

Wow - thanks to all five people who responded to my last post. You all encouraged me to think and I DO intend to respond. Please watch this space.

In the meantime - we have bought an ipad for Manaia Kindergarten. I picked it up on Friday and am currently setting it up. I continue to advocate that technology - including the ipad - should be integrated into the kindergarten curriculum and not a 'study' on its own. I also believe that technology should help us to teach differently. In one comment from my latest post, it was suggested that 'real' flashcards provide the tactile real experience for young children. Well - I'm not really an advocate for flashcards be they 'real' or virtual. I believe in using experiences and opportunities, interests and strengths, to teach children about real life problem solving techniques, skills and knowledge.

My most FAVOURITE app for young children - Skyview
With the Skyview camera open, and capturing images of the environment around you - it also graphically shows you the placements of the planets, sun and star constellations, satelites, hubble telescope, and international spacestation. What amazing conversations this should encourage? What vastly different learning journey's this single app could take us on? (I will hopefully keep you up-dated). Information about each are recorded at the bottom of the screen and when you touch a planet, you are shown its trajectory. Children - even on cloudy days - can watch the rise and set of the sun and moon. For NZers - we can watch Matariki (pleiades) rise above the horizon - even though it is first viewable at a time when our Kindergarten children are fast asleep. They will be able to watch it on the ipad with their friends.
I look forward to sharing other inspirational,interactive, real learning opportunities that the ipad will offer the children at Manaia Kindergarten. If you have any apps that fit our purpose - please share in the comments below.
See other iPad experiences @ Manaia Kindergarten
iPad Apps @ Manaia

Friday, February 18, 2011

An ipad and Apps for Early Childhood Education

Other posts you might find interesting.

Well wouldn't you know it!!. My modern brick phone DIED!!! Missing a few important dates as a result of an aging and unreliable battery, ensured its fate. If you read my post on Adaptable technologies & Global issues you will understand - I BOUGHT AN IPHONE!!

Yip I succumbed - with a spring in my step on the precipice of a new learning adventure.

What an adventure it has been. I have loved the iphone4's ability to record quality videos and to quickly and easily share these videos with family and friends. It was an excellent tool to record the birth of our puppies and invite the world to watch them grow. More exciting than that - my sister bought an iphone4 - and with WhatsApp has begun to share videos of my niece and nephew growing up on the other side of the world.

Sitting at work, the videos drop into my pocket, and I am able to share them with children and colleagues instantly.

Can I use my iphone in my Kindergarten?
No doubt about it. I haven't as yet. But that has more to do with personal issues - such as "I use and spend a lot of time and money on the kindergarten, when the kindergarten should purchase its own technologies". I am sure MANY other ECE teachers experience similar domestic discussions on the same topic.

So Manaia Kindergarten is filling in the paper work to justify the purchase of its own ipad. A bigger version of the iphone, I assume it provides similar benefits. I have searched iphone apps for Early Childhood education and been bombarded with Flash Card apps. SURELY there is more to this technology than perpetuating ancient learning techniques such as flash cards. I don't want to teach the Manaia Kindergarten children how to trace letters on the ipad with their fingers. And we have plenty of technologies that offer them games.

Kindergartens need more from iPad apps
So I am in the hunt for apps that will support children's explorations.
• Bug, plant, animal identification apps,
• Video recording
• Picture txting apps (using pics rather than text)
• Voice to text txting app
• Instant blogging apps
• Google Doc editing
• Fundamental movement apps - showing best practice for sport movements, and side by side photo comparisons for children to self assess.

Apps we should be using with young:
• Google maps on excursions
• Skype or Face-to-Face calls

What are your experiences of iphone/ipad Apps for young children?
What apps have you found that support 21C teaching and learning theories and skills?
Maybe some of the above already exist - if so please tell me in the comments.

I look forward to hearing your app reviews and to learning from your experiences.