Enhancing Learning in Geography through Technology Lesson 1

For the past few weeks, I have been working with Year 2 in my school. I have been team teaching with the staff to help build their confidence in using technology more in class. Along with English and Maths, we have been looking at ways in which technology can enhance learning in Geography. The topic is all about learning about their local area, but to start with, we look at the world and gradually work in.

Around 4/5 years ago now, we did the same topic in Year 2 and I blogged about the tools we used then. You can read that blog post here - Using iPad to give children a better understanding of the World. 

This time, we have used some different creative apps. As I discuss a lot on my training, this is how we should be focusing our use of technology in schools: allowing students to use tools to creatively demonstrate their knowledge and understanding about the chosen topic.

I understand the pressures teachers are under, especially in Year 2 when SATs are looming. English and Maths take priority and so we don't necessarily devote as much planning time to the wider curriculum. A shame I know, but that is the reality. Many teachers will look online for planning and grab something that has everything done and run with it. So when I received the planning for the geography topic from the teacher I was surprised at how poor some of it was. This is nothing against the teacher, who is awesome but can only do so much. But I get so frustrated with companies pushing resources to schools that simply save teachers time rather than making learning engaging and purposeful.

In the first lesson for this geography unit downloaded from one of these planning sites, it was looking at the different continents. There was a powerpoint to talk through, followed by the suggested activity. The activity was for the teacher to print out a world map, cut it up into jigsaw pieces and ask the pupils to stick the pieces in the correct place in their book. My reaction:

Here's my problem with an activity like that:
  • Unnecessary printing - time and cost
  • Teacher or TA wasting time cutting it all out - time
  • Glue sticks (which we know are like gold dust) being wasted - cost
  • No real depth of learning
Instead, we decided to allow pupils to share what they had learned about the different continents by using a simple tool on Seesaw. There is nothing special or flashy about this tool, but it is just a simple way for teachers to save time and children to demonstrate their knowledge whilst embedding simple digital literacy skills.

I shared a World Map image into everyone's profile in Seesaw. The pupils logged into seesaw, found the image and tapped ... to copy and edit:

Along the bottom of the screen are a number of options, one being the label option. Here, they can label all the different continents. As an extension, they could also label the different oceans. Here are some finished examples:

Within the label option, the pupils can also change the font and style. For me, the children are getting so much more from completing the activity in this way compared to the original jigsaw idea. They are able to embed simple digital literacy skills, improve spelling and practice typing skills

The week after, to consolidate the learning we used the same idea when focusing on the UK. Here, we looked at improving the style and having the same style for countries and a different style for capital cities. Again here are some examples:

There is nothing flashy about this idea but it is an example of where the technology can enhance learning and save teachers time. Seesaw has so many benefits and this is just one example of how powerful it can be as a tool in the classroom. Stay tuned for the next lesson in this topic where pupils find out more about each country in the UK.


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