Big feelings, little humans. 

Sometimes the children in my class experience big feelings that they can’t contain or regulate by themselves. This may be over excitement, or anxiety or sometimes it’s anger. I try to teach them, when they are calm, that it’s ok to have big feelings. That feelings aren’t right or wrong, good or bad but they aren’t in charge of us and we have to be in control of our actions, even when we have big feelings. 
Sometimes though when the feelings are too big, too much, too present and overwhelming a child can go into crisis. A crisis is when they can’t maintain their regular behaviour because of the big emotions, usually anxiety or anger. 
One of the things I’ve learnt is how to phrase what’s happening in my room. If I say a child has lost control, having a tantrum or is kicking off it puts the onus on the child. It sounds negative. It sounds like the child is choosing to do this. However that is not the case, no child wants to be out of control, no child chooses to be so angry that they can’t behave well or to be so upset that they physically can’t stop crying. 

Children in crisis need help. They need adults to support them, which at times means giving them a safe space and time without adding extra pressure. They need adults who will teach them strategies, when they are calm, to help them settle and regulate themselves. They need adults who will be consistent and non judging, who are resilient enough and level enough to contain the big emotions,  adults who know that all behaviour is communication. Adults who will not match anger with shouting or tears with an attitude of snap out of it. Adults who are the same in crisis moments as they are in sunny playtimes, who do not allow their concept of the child to be determined by the child’s behaviour. 

I am learning to be that adult. Some days are easier than others, but that’s my aim. To be an adult who makes a difference for little humans when their emotions get too big. 

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Snow safari feedback

I said I’d blog and say how the snow safari went. It went fantastically. 

To date the snow safari has been used, with differing learning outcomes, in my nurture class, two primary one classes, the learning support unit, two primary three classes and a small group literacy support class. 

The lovely thing about the resources is their flexibility. The qr codes link to one minute videos of polar animals, but there is no set way to use them. I intended with my class that we would watch, listen and discuss the videos as a way into our new topic. P3 used them in relation to their winter topic, with animals that live in cold places. 

The learning was definitely there but that is only part of the story, for me an equally important part is how the pupils responded. Firstly they were very excited for a slightly different learning activity, they loved using the QR codes and moving around the school, taking learning out of the classroom. They were motivated to be using iPads and seeing what animal the QR code would lead them to. They enjoyed watching the videos, finding out about the animals and identifying them on their animal spotter sheets. After the activity they were chatting about it when our Ict coordinator came into my classroom and they told her all about it in a very engaged and animated way. They all said they really loved it. 

Some of the other staff in school have also requested to be taught to how use QR codes in their classes and one has specifically requested I make an Easter egg hunt for March. All in all I think it was a success! 

#seesawlinkup project

One of the things that my nurture class have as a specific target is to show more awareness and curiosity about the world around them. We do this in a range of ways, watching the seasons, planting and growing things, going to trips to the farm or the park or the forest and talking about other countries in the world through stories, photos and songs. All great ways but not the most personally engaging. 

Last summer I was thinking about developing my classes understanding and curiosity about the wider world and I thought seesaw might work as a platform for this. 

I’m a big fan of Seesaw, to the point that I’m a seesaw ambassador. I have set up seesaw with co-teachers from within my school before, for example when I team teach ICT lessons it’s me and the class teacher in the seesaw class. So I knew the potential was there in-app to have multiple teachers, this got me to thinking well what if the teachers were from different countries? Exciting! 

In August I contacted Angela Gadtke, kindergarten teacher  in Minnesota and Seesaw Ambassador extraordinaire to ask if she’d like to partner in this with me. It would mean getting our students to create and upload content to a real global audience who would be able to ask questions, leave comments and respond with their own content all within the safe and teacher monitored environment of seesaw. I was so glad that she caught my vision and said yes to joining in. We planned together and through a google hangout and some shared google docs we got a plan for the project together. 

Our #seesawlinkup project was born and we have been joined by some other teachers too, Miss Kim from Canada and Ms Batra from India. Its only the second day of our four week project but it’s already making waves in my classroom. My pupils are very excited to hear and see messages from their new friends and send them photos and things that we have made. Today we made a book creator book to introduce ourselves to our new global classmates. My class can now find the USA, Canada and India on the globe and tell me if its a warm or cold place because of where it is (and the fact that Mrs Gadtke’s video features snow)

Each week has a focus that is shared eg our class, food we like to eat, our school and playground etc. Im excited to see how it all pans out. After day two I can already say it’s one of the most exciting projects I’ve been involved in as a teacher! 

I’ll keep blogging about it as we go and you can follow the hashtag on Twitter #seesawlinkup to get a wider view! 

#AppShareLive 2

This morning I got to join in with AppShareLive, a fantastic idea from ICT Evangelist, Mark Anderson.    A group of educators with 5 minutes each to share an app that they use in their classrooms or with teachers they work with.

I have watched Mark’s other projects like this (AppSmashLive) with interest, so when I saw that people could offer to present I jumped at the opportunity.  Its just like an online Teachmeet.

I chose to present on Seesaw.  Probably my most used app on a daily basis. I’ve presented on it before at Teachmeet at #NIEDCAMP but I keep finding new ways to use it and new things you can do with it.

I have two special projects in Seesaw at the moment:

Global link up class: where I have invited teachers from around the world to join me in a virtual classroom.  Over 4 weeks our pupils will share about what their schoollife is like so that they can learn about how children their age live in other countries.

Snow Safari: I made videos in iMovie on polar animals, uploaded them to my own seesaw folder, logged in to seesaw via my browser, got a shareable link for each video, made each link into a QR code and made posters to put up round the school.  Pupils will go on a snow safari finding the posters, scanning the codes, watching the videos and identifying the animals on safari spotter sheets.  The children from my class, both our P1 classes and our Learning Support Unit will be using this too so it is learning across our key stage.

My ancient 2008 Macbook, is now officially vintage in the U.S. and obsolete in Europe.  I prefer calling in vintage though, obsolete makes me sad.  I had a fair few technical difficulties during the Google Hangout, but everyone was very patient and my screenshare worked eventually.  For anyone wanting to have a look at it, you can see it here: SeesawAppShare

The appshare was also recorded so you can watch it on ICT Evangelist’s youtube channel here.

Snow Safari

My topic for the next while in school is Brrrrr! Cold Places.  The element the children always seem to enjoy most about this topic is learning about the animals that live in Cold Places.

I have animal playsets for the tough spot to go alongside junk material to create a polar landscape, water tray animals with bits of polystyrene to create ice bergs and the light table is the perfect place to build igloos with plastic cups. I have a lovely wooden Polar Playset as well that is always a favourite.  Normally we learn a little bit about different animals from powerpoints/keynotes or from books.

This year I decided to do things a little bit differently.  This post is how I used iMovie, Seesaw and QR codes to create a virtual snow safari for my class.

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I searched for images that were free to use on photos for class and pixabay.  I used these to make a set of 1 minute videos in iMovie on Penguins, Seals, Polar Bears, Walruses and Orcas.

I uploaded these to my own Seesaw journal ( I have a folder set up as a student – this allows me to put modelled work, worked examples and teaching content for the children to access independently). In my Seesaw account, logged in as the teacher, I got a shareable link for each of these videos.  I then made QR codes for each of these videos using this website.

I’m going to print these QR codes out on posters (here) and put them around the school ready for my class to go on a Snow Safari! We will walk round the school looking for the QR code posters to scan and watch the videos.  As we find each animal the children can then identify it on this page and circle it.  If they ever want to rewatch an animal video they can do it easily in the class feed view in Seesaw.  Perhaps when they are making their own video about a polar animal or uploading what they’ve found out to their own Seesaw portfolio.

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Now the way I’ve done this has a few more steps that it absolutely had to have. It might have been easier to use AR or Youtube or even link my QR codes to my google drive directly but I engineered this way on purpose.

I deliberately chose Seesaw to put the photos on because the children are familiar with it, it works in school and its a totally safe environment.  QR codes are easy to scan and my 4-6 year old pupils can work them well, sometimes with Aurasma they found it hard to get the screen in just the right place to trigger the aura.  Also we had a few filtering issues with Aurasma in school.  The QR codes also make it easier to share with colleagues in other schools – they can copy the lesson by printing out the Snow Safari posters here, if they want to.  The QR codes themselves could always be turned into auras for display boards at a later stage if I really wanted to use AR in this too.

I let you know how it goes once I’ve used it!