So, I survived!

If you had read the previous post, you will have seen that I ‘volunteered’ to teach a literacy lesson in Primary 1 using an iPad for inspiration.

I must say that I am glad that this was a short ‘one-off’ and it is obvious that the role of the P1 teacher is incredibly valuable and varied. I saw more in my 40 minutes than I usually see in my full day with P7!

However, how did it go?

I feel that it lived up to my expectations. It was a good literacy lesson – with the focus on rhyming sounds and actions to poetry. The children were naturally excited and interested in the idea and that caused excitement throughout.

The Tech

The iPad app, ‘Tesla’ worked very well. I needed the keep the room dark for the patterns to be seen, but that seemed to add to the sense of excitement. The children invited up to work with the App were nervous and needed encouragement though they were really interested. However, it was obvious that they were still very intuitive with the touch interface and, as they should, they wanted to experiment. We discussed the colours created, the shapes, the effects of different interactions, etc.

As an introduction to the ‘Fireworks’ poem, I felt that this was a great stimulus and gave the children the chance to see and create the ‘fireworks’ on the screen.

PowerPoint in P1?

As a ‘Big Book’ the PowerPoint was excellent for working through the poem with the children. They enjoyed the animations and sound effects and certainly brought the poem to life a lot more than me simply reading it from the book. I don’t feel that it was too much of a distraction, though I am very conscious that it was a novelty for the class and, as such, would have quite an unsettling effect to usual reading / literacy time.

We read through the poem together with the rhyming words highlighted to reflect the rhyme partner. This made it easier for the children to identify rhymes in quite complicated words (Marigold, anyone?).

The main learning point, identifying rhymes, worked by using animation on the words in isolation. I had mixed up the rhyming words and asked the children to find words that sounded the same. When one of the children had found the partner word, an animation path in the PowerPoint sent it to the partner. Nothing fantastically technical but awe-inspiring for those at this age! Also, it created a sense of being interactive without the need for an Interactive Whiteboard.

We finished up by revisiting the first verse and acted out the fireworks exploding in the sky and falling to earth again!

I hope that you can appreciate the time that I had – being ‘observed’ by their teacher and three classroom assistants was daunting enough but enjoyable enough to make me feel that this should be a regular thing. Moving around the younger classes, helping staff with ideas or giving them some inspiration to embed ICT within the fabric of the lesson. The tech wasn’t complicated, it was a novelty, and I feel that this ‘hook’ should catch the drive to learn and become interested.

If our children are now used to a high-stimulus environment where they need to have their attention ‘hooked’ to get them started, then tech can do that. It can provide the stimulus to learn and, then, the teacher can manage this in a way to enhance the learning process – to be seen as a conduit to technology in learning as opposed to a barrier. My own experience is that children become more interested in learning if you show an interest in what they like. If you can put the two together…

Moving On?

While preparing and sharing the lesson with my OH, she was interested in my ideas. So, as a consequence, I have been invited to speak to the staff in her Nursery school about using technology in that context! This will be interesting!

Fireworks PowerPoint Fireworks lesson plan and follow-up ideas


2 thoughts on “So, I survived!

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post and I think you made some very valuable points.
    As part of my HT ‘monitoring’ role, I teach the P.1-3 class each week. The excitement that very quickly erupts in the class when using the most simple tech can be quite daunting (my P.6/7 class are SO much more difficult to impress!) and there is always the danger of this bubbling over!
    However, they are a delight to teach – if somewhat exhausting – and makes me really appreciate the work my early years teacher does for the rest of the week!
    I do think that schools need to ensure that tech is integrated into early years as well as the upper school. The way it is introduced might be different but children have an in-built understanding of our digital world and have no fears!
    I’ll be interested to find out what you do in nursery! That will make P.1 feel like a breeze!

    1. Thanks for your kind comments, Fiona.
      I got a very positive response from the principal and assistants in my wife’s class. I took them through the lesson I taught with the Primary 1 class and discussed ways in which this could then be interpreted for the Nursery school.
      What really helped was letting the staff loose on the iPad for a while and letting them suggest ways in which they could use it as an opportunity for group work as well as a resource for teaching ‘big books’ and story-telling through PowerPoint.
      What was interesting was the intuition that they seemed to exhibit when using the touch medium – in much the same way as their children would be curious about using the tech. It also cleared away the fear of the computer ‘going wrong’ and not being able to fix it! I have found theiPad to be very reliable and this would also make it more attractive to those staff working with young children who are not confident with the technology available. Through it all, however, I found myself turning into an Apple rep!! Certainly not what I wanted to do!

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