Maximize Learning with iPads

Last September, I walked into my new primary school as KS2 Leader. As a member of SLT, I was asked to lead one area that was high priority for the school. Maths?…English?…I pondered what could it be? It didn’t take long before the Head blurted out, “We need to join the twenty first century!” So I was assigned a task of helping the school develop its technology.

Although my father was an ICT teacher, I never seemed to pick up those genes. My older brothers were naturals when it came to coding and excel. I even marveled at how quickly they could type. Nevertheless, at my last school, I was getting the iPads out the most when they sat dormant in the technicians cupboard. I began to get into it more and more, and inspire others to do likewise. I mentioned this in my interview- which is probably why I’m doing this job now.

The school had a couple of class-sets of laptops (the slow-type which leaves ten minutes to the lesson after they have booted) and not much else. Fortnuately, the School Business Manager had the foresight to upgrade our wireless reuters so it is NEVER a problem!

When I arrived in September, everyone kept asking me, “What are we going to buy?” or “When do we get all our new fancy laptops?” However, Teachers were patient as I explored the various options. iPads were a clear winner for us, and the school bought a class set of 32.

The journey began.

Since November, I decided to use Twitter to build up my PLN (Personal Learning Network) and began to read blogs and tweets from Mark Anderson, Martin Burret and Mr Parkinson. Then I went to TeachMeet Oxford which was led by Amjad Ali. It was an eye opener and I decided that I wanted to take technology to the next level at our school.

My vision for ICT, which I presented to the governors, is:

To equip children to change the world through their understanding and application of Computing, and to become a training base for the Witney and Oxfordshire area.[1]

I believe that having an outward-looking vision will help a school rapidly improve. I learnt a lot in a short space of time and was given plenty of staff meetings to share this with other teachers. If you want to share good practice with others, you need to be adventurous and know what works and what doesn’t work. Also, the school’s motto is ‘Be the best you can’. I felt that this could be reflected in our ICT vision, too.

In January,  something began to change. I suddenly had a surge of teachers, heads of computing and head teachers observing me teach with iPads- most of these enjoyed learning from our Digital Leaders too! It was a fun challenge and I learnt very quickly that the majority of schools have tablets and iPads but these are sadly tucked away and rarely used (only as a web-browser or camera).

Although I enjoy having lots of adults observe me throughout the week, it isn’t always the best way to share useful apps and ideas with other teachers. Therefore, through Oxfordshire Teaching Schools Alliance(OTSA), I will be running iPad training on 8th and 22nd June. The 8th June will focus on Apps for animation and 22nd June will for focus on Apps for Assessing. Both sessions will run between 4pm and 5.30pm at Tower Hill Primary School, Witney. They will be completely free for OTSA schools or £30 per person (nevertheless, it is free to sign up to OTSA!).

Click on this link here to sign up and complete the form. The course name is Maximize Learning through iPads.

[1] The opening remarks in the new DFE (2013) document states “A high-quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world.” 

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