LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Enter the classroom of the future
School isn’t what it used to be. But that’s a good thing.
Depending on your age, your memories of school will include either a blackboard and chalk, overhead projector or a whiteboard. But things have changed.
With iPad becoming increasingly commonplace in the classroom, apps are replacing tired textbooks as the latest teaching tool of choice.
And as Cassey Williams, assistant headteacher at London’s Woodberry Down school tells us, this “isn’t about change for the sake of change.”
Instead, apps are helping improve grades, retain students’ focus and even build the confidence of many children.
“The children are becoming more engaged with their classes. Because the content and the learning that’s happening is not as passive, they have more ownership over what they are doing,” says Williams.
“Through creating their own content they are applying their learning, better understanding the teaching and learning from one another. That, in turn, is having an impact on our grades.”
Supporting pupils between the ages of two and 11, Woodberry Down uses apps with all age groups.
Children have more ownership over what they’re doing.
While younger students go on dinosaur hunts and create their own puppet shows with DinosAR and Puppet Pals, older pupils learn to create in Keynote and explore audio from the moon landing and create their own music in GarageBand.
And it’s not just in the classroom that students are able to use these education-enhancing apps.
“We’ve now got children who submit homework via a YouTube channel,” Williams says. “We have an eight-year-old student who was learning about sound in science so made his own music video.”
“He wrote and recorded a song on GarageBand, used different camera shots learned through his filming projects to record his video and then uploaded it to YouTube as his homework. That’s not what I did when I was eight years old.”
As well as offering children better creative outlets for their learning, app-enhanced lessons are enabling teachers to better serve individual students.
“Teachers are no longer restricted to what they can print out that morning to meet the needs of all their learners,” Williams explains.
“On the surface it looks like all the students have got an iPad out and are all working on the same thing, but actually any one of them could be working on something completely different. It’s not affecting their confidence to know that the three maths questions they have are very different from the three, more challenging, maths questions the pupil across the room has.”
Things are even starting to come full circle. Since coding joined the curriculum, students don’t just use apps in the classroom – they’ve started creating their own.
Looking at how drones are used in the real world in archaeological and natural disaster zones, they code their own makeshift earthquake and archaeological sites.
“Our brightest coders are beginning to look at ways to create their own apps,” says Williams, an Apple Distinguished Educator. “We want them to create times tables apps to help with the new tests that are being introduced by the government.”
“Teaching the children coding with Swift Playgrounds and Tinkerblocks, they are becoming very good at problem solving,” she adds. “It really does transcend traditional stereotypes.”
“Children in our schools don’t realise that coding is stereotypically for a certain type of boy. They’re not aware of those stereotypes because all of our teachers are positive role-models, and they all love coding.”
“It’s more like play. Once they have learnt how to use Swift they can code Drone Pilot courses. Looking at how drones are used in the real world in archaeological and natural disaster zones, they code their own makeshift earthquake and archaeological sites.”
“I have also been working with a group of children to code a LEGO Mindstorms robot to solve a Rubik’s Cube which is harder than you think.”