iPhotography Competition 2019

Once again our students have blown us away with their creativity!

We held an iPhotography (iPad and iPhone) competition again this term. The last time we held a similar competition was in 2017. The theme of #MySA was chosen specifically to be in line with the theme for ThinkAhead’s Excellence in Education competition, as the winning photos in each grade have been entered into this competition. The winners of the Excellence in Education competition will be announced on 23 October 2019.

You decide for yourself – I think they are absolutely STUNNING!

[Click on the image below to access the photos].

Screen Shot 2019-09-24 at 12.15.56 PM

Restrictions in iOS 12

iOS 12 brought about a number of changes to the iPad, an important one being the moving and renaming of the Restrictions, which used to be easily accessible under Settings/General. In iOS 12 you can still set restrictions on an iPad, but you will now find them under Settings/Screen Time. There are a number of ways in which you could limit your child’s screen time and access to specific apps if you wish to do so. Screen Time especially is a really a nifty feature for parents. It also allows you to switch off features that you do not want your child to use such as FaceTime or Message. Take note that Screen Time is not an app, it is a setting or a selection of settings.

There should be a differentiation between school screen time and free screen time for fun. School screen time is directed and led by the teachers and results in the child moving away from the iPad screen to interact with others, write or apply themselves elsewhere during an activity. It does not comprise endless hours of looking at a screen without activity. School screen time encourages engagement with the screen, written work (possibly), specific apps and peers. It serves a definite purpose. Screen time for fun is the activity that needs to be monitored and this is left to the parents’ discretion.

To find out exactly how to set up Parental Controls on your child’s iPad, take a look at this YouTube VIDEO and this explanatory Apple article.

iOS 12 – Some Features Parents Might Like

iOS 12 will be released later this month. I have looked at the new and improved features that are available and some of them look impressive. The one new feature that really caught my eye is the new Screen Time feature which will enable parents to monitor their children’s screen time. It can also give parents a breakdown of exactly which apps their children have been using and for how long. Parents can also set times for screen time and children can request more if necessary. Screen Time certainly looks useful for parents who are struggling to manage their children’s screen time at home.

For more information on the new features in iOS 12 and especially Screen Time, take a look HERE.

For a detailed explanation of how to set up Screen Time on your child’s iPad, take a look HERE.

 

Bring Out the Magnificence

I recently had the privilege of listening to Steve Sherman (@livingmaths) speak at our school at a workshop he hosted for our staff. One statement he made really resonated with me:

“If you dismiss a child you might be dismissing magnificence in your presence”.

I found this to be a profound statement. It made me stop and think. The students in our care are brimming with untapped talents, possibilities and potential brilliance. It is our duty as educators to spark their curiosity, to awaken their passions and to tap into their potential so that we may all experience that magnificence. Yesterday I witnessed a snippet of what I believe Steve was alluding to in his statement.

Our Grade 4s have been learning about the nine provinces of South Africa. One of our music teachers created a little song for them to sing in order to learn the names of the provinces. The teachers, however, were mulling over how to create a video using the song, to show the students where these provinces are situated within South Africa, and they had not yet come to a solution for the video. One of the teachers, Mrs Duminy, mentioned their dilemma to her students and she asked them for their ideas and suggestions and left it there. One of her students, Alon, took up the challenge. He went home and, with the help of his sister, he put together a simple but clever video.

Alon went away having listened very carefully to his teacher’s needs and while I think the video is great, for me the “magnificence” of this lies in the process behind it. Alon acted upon his own initiative, he made his own choices and decisions. This was not a teacher-driven activity. He problem-solved by brainstorming the possibilities and then carefully chose the tools he thought would work best and put together a video that works – simple but effective! Not only that, but once he had created the video, he created a QR code with a link to the video in his Google Drive, printed it out, stuck it on the wall in his classroom and shared the video with his peers in this manner. In other words, he considered the needs of his peers too as he carefully considered the best way to share the video with them. To top it all he roped in his equally talented sister, Daniella, to sing the song for the video backtrack with him and it sounds delightful. In doing all this, Alon created a video that his teacher can now use as a teaching aid in the classroom. I do know that Mrs Duminy was delighted with the result because she excitedly came to call me to her classroom to come and watch Alon’s video.

Teachers need to create more opportunities such as this to allow the magnificence of the children we work with to shine through. We must not underestimate them, they need the space and opportunities to bring out their  “magnificence”. Our students will surprise us every day.

Alon used the following apps and tools for his video:

Piccollage

iMovie

Phonto

Google Docs

Google Chrome

Google Drive

Dafont.com

Documents 5

Photos

https://createqrcode.appspot.com/ (to create the QR code).

Below is the video created by Alon (click on the image below). Well done, Alon. I am very proud of you!

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 2.07.13 PM

2017 iPad Photography Competition Winners

Last Friday we announced the winners of this year’s iPad Photography Competition. The judges had quite a task to judge the winning entries, there were so many stunning photos.

Miss Crous blogged about the winners on the Elkanah House Senior Primary Creative Arts blog. Read all about it HERE or click on the image below

We are very grateful to our sponsors Digicape, Think Ahead and Chrome Import & Distribution for their fantastic prize donations.

Three Years of 1:1 iPads

Penguins_ Inserting graphs into keynote

This July marked the three-year anniversary of the introduction of our 1:1 iPad program at the Senior Primary.

What a challenging, interesting and eventful three years it has been! It has been a steep learning curve for the teachers, as they adapted their teaching to include the use of the iPads. For some it was easier than others; some faced personal fears and technology inhibitions, but they all embraced the iPads and invited them into their classrooms, embarking on a journey of discovery, learning and innovation. It has not always been an easy journey and tough questions have been asked along the way, but after three years we can honestly say that we are not sorry that we made the decision to infuse the use of technology into our teaching practices and we certainly do not regret that the iPad was our device of choice. While there is much competition now from other tablet brands, it is still the leading tablet used in education around the world.

The implementation of Google’s  G Suite and Google Classroom has completely changed the way in which teaching and learning happen in our school. To assist our teachers we implemented Friday FaceTime sessions in which professional development around the use of technology in the classroom takes place. These sessions have been invaluable in informing the teachers about best practice and focusing mostly on pedagogy, not the technology. Most recently the teachers were introduced to HyperDocs, a Google platform to encourage deeper learning and ensure that sound pedagogy is at the centre of learning tasks. The teachers were enthused by HyperDocs and many of them jumped at the opportunity to create their own. It was wonderful to witness their excitement and it really drove home the point that teachers are lifelong learners.

Our school is considered to be a leader in the field of technology use in the classroom and we often get visiting teachers from other schools who pop in to come and talk about our approach and how we have implemented the use of iPads over the years. It is only when we have these conversations that we realise how far we have come since our pilot project was launched in 2012. We definitely do not profess to getting it right all the time, and our journey is far from over. As a school, we constantly reflect on our practices and question our methods and intentions. In a recent teacher survey, the teachers were asked to look back at the past three years and reflect on their learning and teaching with the iPads. Here are some of their comments:

  • The constant training and support available for the teachers are wonderful.
  • In my class technology is always used constructively. We have never just ‘played’ on it.
  • I think we have a lovely system is in place. The children use and look after their iPads as if they are part of them. They have become part of our learning day. The children understand when they are to be used as an educational tool and there is a very definite line when they can be used for other purposes.
  • The discipline and problems with games have improved over time. The pupils are more confident using technology and are in touch with using their devices on a daily basis.
  • We have a balance between iPads and working in books. iPads have become a necessity in our teaching. They make lessons interesting and enable children to create in different ways. Google Classroom is a great platform for sharing.
  • Looking at learners coming in from other schools, we expose our children to amazing technology usage and skills.
  • We are constantly improving and moving forward. Integrated Learning Tasks and Deeper Learning Tasks are wonderful. Having someone push us and keep on track is important.
  • The students coming up now are way more competent than in previous years. Reliable Wi-Fi has made the world of difference.
  • The Technology Superhero Stop Motion project is excellent!
  • The children understand that the iPad is a tool that must always be at school, and many of the tasks both teach the kids and make them excited to be involved.

Implications of iOS 10

small_logoWith the arrival of iOS 10 late last year, some of the older iPads were dealt what seemed to be a death knell, even if it was not an immediate one. Initially we thought it only applied to the iPad 2, but it later became clear that the iPad 3 and the iPad Mini (1st generation) were not included in the iOS 10 roll out because they simply do not have the processing power to run iOS 10 and they cannot keep up with the latest app requirements. As a school we were immediately faced with a problem – what would we now do with these devices? We have a bank of 25 iPad 2s in daily use and not all of our students have the latest devices either. In a school environment this could be very annoying. Would we have to replace our devices immediately?

Realistically one can understand this step taken by Apple. The iPad 2 was first launched in March 2011. At the rate that technology improves and rolls over these days the fact that it was still holding its own in 2016 as a five-year old device was impressive. At some point a device will go to technology heaven. The iPad 3 was launched in March 2012 with the same processor as the iPad 2, but with improved graphics. The first generation iPad Mini was launched late in 2012, also with the same processor, so now in 2017 these devices are by technology standards, “old”.

It is not all bad news, however. After doing a little research, it turns out that these devices will still work for the foreseeable future. How long exactly is not clear, but they will in all likelihood still receive app updates and be able to download older versions of most apps (the trend thus far has been two years). However, no apps requiring iOS 10 will be compatible. The latest iOS update for these devices is 9.3.5, but while these devices will need to be replaced eventually, this means that we can continue to use these devices as we were for a little longer, until planning and budgets allow for device upgrades. I believe there are still people using their old first generation iPads (2010), although the apps are now very limited. Typical issues displayed by an aging device are poor battery life, slow processing speed and inferior graphics.

Some of the latest, most current apps require serious processing power as only provided by the later iPads, the iPad Air and iPad Pro. One such app is the Apple Coding app, Swift Playgrounds which was launched in late 2016. We found out the hard way, unfortunately. After attending an Hour of Code workshop at a local Apple reseller in early December, a colleague and I were enthused and fired up to roll out Swift Playgrounds with our students in 2017 (our students used code.org last year). It soon became clear that the iPad 4 (Nov 2012), despite running iOS 10 with a faster processor and more RAM, would not run Swift Playgrounds either. We will now have to go back to the drawing board and come up with an alternative plan, as there are a fair number of our students still using the older devices, especially the iPad 4.

To find out what model iPad you have, look on the back of your device. It is written in microscopic lettering. Alternatively on your device, go to Settings/General/Regulatory and you will find your model number at the top. Below is a useful table from www.macworld.co.uk which will clarify which model of iPad you have:

ipads