A guest post from Jude Moir, Primary 7 teacher at Echline Primary School:
The Primary 7 class at Echline Primary were incredibly fortunate over term 3 to have access to 15 iPads on loan from the Digital Learning Team. I wanted to share some of the amazing things we were able to do as a result of having these iPads, with the aim of giving people some ideas for your own class. Over the course of the term there really was so much to write about so I have tried to condense it into a few of my favourite apps and uses.
I first started using the iPads without much structure. I knew I wanted to increase the creativity and choice in my class but didn’t have many ideas for how I was going to do this. My undergraduate degree was Film and Media so I was very comfortable with film making, which may be the reason that iMovie was used a lot in the first couple of weeks. I allowed the children a lot of choice for how they were going to use the iPads to respond to creative tasks. In no time at all, the children were making trailers for books, videos to demonstrate learning in maths and were recording their reflections in the style of a big brother diary room. There really are so many ways that this app can be used in class and having 15 iPads allowed everyone the chance to develop their skills in this area. I was really surprised with the independence that came from allowing the children freedom to use the app how they want. By the end of the term not a day would go by where the children hadn’t made an iMovie about something happening in class.
Hopscotch quickly became another favourite app in our class. We had a world of work project in partnership with Hopetoun house. The children had to plan a Wedding or a Horse trials event that would take place at Hopetoun. Several of the groups used Hopscotch to code their own website, they made animated adverts and an app that allowed you to choose a colour scheme for your wedding. This is a fantastic app that my class picked up very quickly because of their experience using Scratch. It is a very similar block-based approach to learning computer programming.
For me, Explain Everything is the best iPad app I have ever used. It is so versatile and can be used for almost any creative project you would like to do in class. The app is basically an interactive whiteboard that allows you to record your actions on screen. The children in my class used this for such a wide range of activities, and it became a running joke that if we didn’t know how to do something – Explain Everything would be a good place to start.
The class created an animation that was projected during their Primary 7 show. They also used this app to design tickets for this show. We used the app during maths lessons to record how children tackled certain problems, as well as an assessment tool to show levels of understanding. I also now use this exclusively as my presentation tool. I make up all my class slides and attach my iPad to the smart board every day. I love using it to take pictures and then highlight/annotate great examples of where children are being successful in certain lessons.
One of the main things I noticed about having the iPads in my classroom was how quickly they became embedded in our class. It was not a case of, “lets get the iPads out after lunch for a mess around”, we were using the iPads as a way of improving and developing the key learning taking place. The feedback from the children has been incredible. Children who were previously disengaged were motivated and inspired, showing high levels of creativity and passion. We didn’t use the iPads for every lesson, but the children knew that they were always available if they were needed. One of the main things I noticed was that the children were all very comfortable with exploring the functions of new apps. I did not have to be an expert at all, and the children were teaching me how to use the apps at the end. I think this is exactly how it should be! The learning was not about how to use a specific app, the key learning always came first and the children were given a choice about how they wanted to solve a problem or demonstrate their learning.
Thank you to Jude and all of P7 who contributed to this post for sharing their experiences and ideas with us.