“We have just received Jack’s end of Foundation Stage report and would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to your fantastic Foundation Stage Team. The report itself is amazing – very informative, personal, a celebration of the children’s hard work throughout the year and something that we will treasure forever. We appreciate the amount of time that has been put into producing such a report for over 70 pupils and are certain the staff have invested a lot of their own time.”
This was the email that the Headteacher of Normanby Primary received from a parent at the end of Term. The report that they referred to was created by the FS team, personalised for every child, and reflected the development of the children throughout their time in the setting. FS teams are used to recording evidence of how the children interact and progress and increasingly the use of mobile devices like iPads are making the process easier in terms of dealing with the data. Apps like ‘2Build A Profile’ allow teachers to tag digital assets directly to children within a preset architecture of statements. Anybody who has ever taught an FS class knows only too well that the apparent playing and ‘messing about’ is actually a vey finely orchestrated series of learning opportunities where the environment sets the conditions for learning and adult intervention is targetted and often intentionally withdrawn, often to an observational, assessing role.
The teachers at Normanby decided several years ago that all of that data about the children was really useful for them but was also a priceless record of the children developing that parents would love to have access to. Previous reports have used Pages to create fabulous personalised reports with images alongside the more traditional text based element of a school report. This year however, the teachers had been on a training course here at Inspire2Learn to understand how iBooks Author could make a difference in their setting. One of the immediate things that struck the team was how the software could easily bring together many different pieces of media and form them into a consistent report. The result is the email above and also the book that you can view below (it is a big file so may take a while to download and then sometimes takes a few tries at “Open In” iBooks):
You can see how much work has gone into just one book….and then multiply that by 70 or so children. I put this point to Suzie May the FS team leader who agreed but said that the result outweighed the effort. She has learned from the experience though and plans to begin the books on day 1 of the next school year so that they are built gradually for each child over the course of a year. She also feels that this will allow staff to have a more shared approach to adding in their own interactions and observations of each child.
True, not every parent has an iPad but in those cases the books have been exported as PDFs and shared with the parent online to whatever device they have, they lose much of the richness of the book but it is still quite a step up from a few lines of text. Several did ask for print versions too.
Foundation Stage have previously created an iTunesu course for parents to keep them updated with what is happening in the setting, share the prospectus and link to other data that parents might want to be aware of (here).
The rest of the staff have been focussing on the the use of multitouch books for over a year now in different year groups for different purposes. Middle school and upper school now develop their curriculum materials through them as Y5/6 have 1:1 iPad deployment and Y3/4 have a large set of shared iPads. Sonia Herlingshaw, the ICT leader in the school trialled the idea of with her Y3 class over a year ago and her enthusiasm and leadership has brought other staff to the same conclusion. “You can put all your teaching materials, often that you already had, into one place that the children can work through at their own pace. It frees you up to work alongside the children, not just at the board in front of them.” With the implementation of the new curriculum the staff see it as an excellent opportunity to develop new materials and experiment with how the children can benefit most from them. Other schools we support are also beginning to develop their use of teacher created books as our in class support, using multitouch books, has shown them how this type of resource can be the basis for a huge range of classroom activities.