Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘Animation’

Fun with Words

I thought over the next few blog posts I’d revisit a few old ideas that maybe some of you hadn’t seen before and I’m going to start with a few fun activities linked to words and spelling. Some of these activities would be simple to implement in the classroom and some take a little more time and effort but all of them would be useful to use in a literacy session. I’m also going to add some links to useful web activities you may not have seen before – hopefully there’ll be something for everyone.  And we’ll start with the picture above. This was created just by collecting lots of different styles of lettering from the internet – there’s plenty of it around and you could print out a whole load of different letters onto card (or use them digitally) to put a bit more pizazz into your letter cards. Let’s face it – they look a little bit more appealing than a set of plain cards with Sassoon Infant or Comic Sans letters on them. Of course their jazzy nature isn’t going to suit everyone (it’s possibly not the best idea for pupils with dyslexia) but it does look rather nice (might look good on displays too).  A similar idea can be found online at Iconscrabble: a simple but effective website that might appeal to older pupils.

Now one of the first ideas I ever posted on this blog was about creating pictures using the letters of what you wanted the picture to be of. It was inspired by the website Bembo’s Zoo and I focused on animals because I was trying it out with one of my grandchildren. I still think it’s a fabulous idea that could be used with pupils of all ages: the designs could be as simple or as complex as you wanted. If you want to make the images more interesting download a few cool fonts – there are plenty of free, funky ones available on the internet.

There’s lots of fun to be had with onomatopoeia, calligrams and mnemonics and it might be nice, particularly if you pupils are keeping spelling journals to help them remember words they have difficulty with, to let pupils make their own. Onomatopoeia pictures can easily be made digitally using clip art, or computer generated, art plus text and are especially useful if they are personal as this will help the child remember them. Calligrams, or tactile words as I’ve also heard them described, can be made really easily: you can either use a range of decorative fonts to help support the word meaning, as seen here, or try out the method explained here. I’m sure the children will enjoy it. When it comes to mnemonics I always think these work far better when they’re personal to the child, and they always come up with great ones. Once they’ve come up with their mnemonic they could try and illustrate it in the same way as with onomatopoeia: using clip art or computer generated graphics. After all – why not?

Pivot stick figure is another great tool to have at your disposal when having word fun as it includes all the letters in the alphabet so you can create words. If you click the above link you’ll see what I mean. Download the software and have a go yourself or, better still, ask the children to make some. They don’t have to be as colourful as the example above but it might be nice to load a background with some colour on it, especially if the animations are going to be used by pupils with dyslexia. If you’re feeling really creative you might like to make some more elaborate animations or videos for younger children, like the one below. Not really a spelling activity or anything to do with phonics: just something for when you’re possibly focussing on words starting or ending with a particular letter or sound. The video was created using the PowerPoint animation technique I talked about here. In fact, if you’ve got very young pupils you might also like to check out some of the word games available via Literactive’s Road to Reading section: it’s free to register and you can let them know you’re based in the UK (it will make a difference to certain things). Yes the website has an American voiceover but there are a number of fun activities to keep pupils occupied and I know a number of children (including some with PMLD) who absolutely adore the site.

 There a few more literacy based activities you might like to try here and, for a few ideas regarding spelling activities available online, take a look at this. I hope you’ve found something useful in today’s little bunch of ideas. As Barry Gibb so eloquently put it (or not): it’s only words…

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World in Cartoon Motion

Comic strips and animated cartoons have been around a long time. Everyone I know has, at some time in their life, bought a comic book or read a comic strip; be it a small 3 frame strip in their daily paper or a large graphic novel. The great thing about comics is their accessibility. the pictures tell the story. Written text is often kept at a minimum and often a single word is all you need to portray a ‘sound’ or a mood: and that’s great when you’ve got some reluctant writers. Cartoons are another item that have something for everyone: from simple cartoons for the very young up to more sophisticated Manga or full length features. During our lifetimes most of us will have sat and watched Scooby Doo, or something a little more edgy, and thought it would be fun to have a go. Unfortunately not all of us are artistically blessed but you just don’t have to be!  With that in mind I thought it was worth sharing a few online or downloadable comic strip or animation creators that could be useful in a classroom setting.

Comic Strip Creators

  1. Make Beliefs Comix: This site was one of the first comic strip creators I used with pupils, quite a few years ago. I like it because it’s really simply presented and the children could work out how to use it really quickly. There are a selection of characters included (new ones have been added) but,  and this is a disappointment if you want to create an epic, you can only create four panels at a time. The site doesn’t have a save facility (a bit of a downside) although you can send a copy to your email address. I used to get children to hit the Print Screen key and paste it into PowerPoint (so they could crop it and add more if they wanted to) – a small step that children pick up quickly and are quite happy to do in order to preserve their work. Obviously, comic strips don’t have to be in English, so why not use them to support work in other languages?
  2. Bitstrips: I have never used Bitstrips but thought I’d include it here as some of you might find it useful. You seem to be able to have a go without registering if you want to try it out (although that appears to be free). Like Make Beliefs Comix,  it includes a selection of characters (and a separate activity where you can design your own) and looks to work in the same way. You are able to save your creations although I think this is to an online gallery – you might be better off using Print Screen! There is a Bitstrips for Schools option, which offers additional ideas support and features, but this service is not free.
  3. Super Hero Squad: I can easily see this site appealing to children as it includes recognisable characters from Marvel comics and is very bright and eye catching. On the negative side, the emphasis on the Marvel universe could limit the usability and flexibility of it within the classroom but it still a useful thing to have access to. It allows users to create small comic strips (with 1-4 panels) or a longer comic book story and does include lots of nice features, including a selection of fonts, and artwork. Completed work can be printed or downloaded to your own computer in pdf format.
  4. Lego Comics: Similar to the Marvel website in options and settings, this Lego style comic creator  is worth a look. It’s not one of my favourites as I think it is too heavily weighted towards boys character wise (girls like Lego too!!!!!) but it’s still worth checking out.
  5. Comic Life: Not an online creator or a free download but still the most complete comic strip creating tool for schools. Comic Life allows you to use your own photos and has a whole load of layouts and options available. It’s available for Windows and Macs and there’s even an app for your ipad. To get truly inspired check out some examples from Porchester Junior School in Nottingham.
  6. Stage’d: Another one I haven’t tried out properly but thought was worth including, Stage’d combines comic strip creation with animation. To try it out you need to install the Unity Web player to get it running online but once it is running you’ll that you have two choices of character: one called TS and another called Robot (they look like little wooden men). Once you’ve got started there is a little question mark in the bottom right of the screen – click this and up pop a selection of handy hints to get you started. the panel on the left shows you a selection of options for ‘dressing up’ the characters and allows you to select their actions. This tool is probably best for pupils in UKS2 and beyond – have a go and see what you think. Now time to look at…
Tools for Animation
  1. Domo Animate: Domo might not be to everyone’s taste but it’s a cool little thing from the people at Go animate (another one you might like to look at). Simple characters, lots of options, free to register (once you’ve registered content can be saved) and pupils I’ve shown it too have absolutely loved it. I’m pleased to see they’ve got rid of the word ‘fart’ in the sound effects section as this had the potential to send some children into fits of giggles!
  2. Shidonni: Simple, Foundation Phase/KS1 friendly website. Needs Microsoft Silverlight to run properly. Children design and draw a little character and bring it to life. The hand drawn quality makes it a little different to other animation websites and it certainly is cute. I can see this appealing to girls more than some of the other websites listed here but boys would have fun with it too.
  3. Zimmer Twins: Another animation creator that looks appealing and is free to register. I haven’t used this in school but have shown pupils in UKS2 what it can do and they’ve gone home and tried it out for themselves. There’s a great video showing how to create you movies included and the set up is quite similar in look and feel to Domo Animate.  There are lots of completed movies to look at, including this one on Cyberbullying. I like the way that you can rate completed animations and make comments and there is a teacher area if you are interested in using it within the classroom.
  4. DoInk: I’m not entirely convinced about this site as some of the recently created videos you can access are not suitable for sharing in school. It also needs a little more artistic flair and mouse control than the others featured here so might not be accessible or suitable for everyone. that said, some of the animations are beautiful to look at and I’m sure, with time and patience, good results could be achieved.
  5. Kerpoof: Make a Movie: Another activity available via the Kerpoof site: this has similar themes to the story creating activity shared yesterday. Each theme includes a selection of backgrounds and animated characters along side other options like your own doodles, text etc. Items have to be dragged onto a timeline to animate the movie, making it a little tricky for younger pupils, and there is no guidance included – you would have to have a go before sharing it with any students. Some of the characters included in the menus have to be bought in the Kerpoof store and this is not made clear until you choose them! I’m sure some pupils would find that frustrating! You might still like to give it a go though (or, as I did with Zimmer Twins – mention the site to pupils so they can show their parents and use it at home).
Obviously this list is incomplete. There are lots of other activities available online, or to download, so I thought it best to focus on those I have used or already knew about. Considering the animation element; there is plenty of information available regarding animation software that can be used in school (Scratch, Pivot Stick Figure, Anithings to name but a few) and I have previously blogged about creating stop motion animation and using mobile apps.  If you would prefer to use something you already have available in school, like PowerPoint, you could look at some of the activities I’ve created here. Just remember: animations and comic strips can be used across the curriculum in all kinds of ways. And, what’s more, children seem to love them.

World in Union

Well, the 2011 rugby World Cup has started and I, for one, am pretty excited about it. Maybe it’s because I’m Welsh but I’m pretty sure others feel the same so I thought I’d share some resources and ideas you could use with your class. And I’m going to start with those super people at Purple Mash who are yet again ‘on the ball’ (excuse the pun) when it comes to current and relevant content to use in the classroom. There are a few resources to choose from here, including a great template for writing a match report , and all of the activities include fantastic themed clip art in addition to word banks or writing prompts. There are also other resources that would fit into this theme. There’s a Welsh Celebrity Profile writing frame which includes rugby themed clip art (great for writing about Shane Williams or your favourite Welsh player) and a Sports Star Profile (no rugby themed clip art but you could use the drawing tools). There’s a writing frame for describing the rules of a sport (rugby clip art included) and, if you visit the creative tools section, there are some useful writing frame templates available via 2Publish and 2PublishExtra. Make a rugby themed word wheel! Or a poster! Or a leaflet about one of the counties involved! Loads of lovely possibilities all in one handy online space. You could even use 2Investigate to create a graph about the top players. If you’ve not used PurpleMash before and would like to know more then get in touch with the bods at 2Simple or send them a message online (via Facebook or Twitter).

Of course the statistical information involved in any sporting event makes it obvious to link this topic to Maths and there are lots of possibilities. There is plenty of statistical information available on the official site but it might be nice to follow the event and come up with activities of your own. During the last Rugby World Cup a friend of mine used the pools as a sort of mini competition between the groups in his class. 4 pools – 4 groups. Pupils were in charge of keeping a note of all the scores recorded by teams in their pool and using little numbered rugby balls to keep their total updated every day. A bit of a competition with a smattering of basic number skills and place value thrown in – the winner being the table with the most points scored. There are also plenty of investigations that could be done based on the rugby field itself: area, perimeter, measuring etc. and a bit of fun to be had with angles (linked to goal kicking). There are also fantastic opportunities to link the topic to DT/Art (flag, kit or mascot design, build a stadium), Science (investigations of fabrics used in sports kits, forces), Geography (pick any of the countries involved) – you name it!

So what about activities linked to ICT? Well, in addition to the great stuff available via Purple Mash it would also be worth searching through resources available via TES Connect (there is bound to be something useful) and seeing what the teaching resource section on the official site has to offer. You could get pupils to make adverts, publicising the games ,using Windows Movie Maker, Photo Story or iMovie or use Pivot Stick Figure to make some rugby themed animations  I’ve put together made an ICT challenge pack aimed at KS2 (but you could adapt the idea) if you want to have a go. I’ve also added a selection of clip art to my posterous blog (it’s already included in the challenge pack) if you felt like creating top trump cards or something similar – in fact, why not get the children to do it. That’s far much more fun!

 

Appy Together

Yesterday I spent a few pleasant hours with two of my grandchildren. The weather wasn’t great so I came armed with a plethora of techy stuff that I know would amuse them and keep them busy: a laptop loaded with software, and ipad full of apps and my phone. The boys, aged 4 and 6, are really typical boys: they love trains, cars, the Wii, Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Ben 10, Lego (well, anything construction based really), hand held gaming, rugby, football, swimming, the park and pretending to battle each other. They have an old laptop at home and use it for half an hour each per day and to help them with any homework. Although they’re close in age, and get on really well together, the younger one is always trying to do what his older sibling can, with varying degrees of success (and often a bit of frustration!).

Lots of fun with Misty Island Rescue

The first thing they actually asked as I came through the door was ‘have you got the ipad?’ I brought it the last time I visited and they’ve been waiting to get their mitts back on it ever since. The last time they used it the app that had fascinated them most (especially the younger one) was Talking Tom, but this was old hat now. They’ve seen Talking Tom on the phones of quite a few family members now so it didn’t hold the same appeal. The same could be said of Angry Birds: both still had a go but were more impressed by the fact I now had it on the laptop!  It was pleasing to see that the apps they had remembered from last time and wanted to revisit were mostly story based apps: Misty Island Rescue, Rumble in the Jungle and Toy Story 3. Although these apps are not free I do think they are good value: you get the story (read aloud or self read) and a number of supporting activities (colouring, matching, puzzles etc.) to go along with them. As the boys (and other grandchildren) have enjoyed them so much I had supplemented them with a few more, some of which would be great to use in the classroom. I particularly like Elmer’s Special Day but my grandsons really went for Cars 2 (‘it’s like the movie…but a story!!!’ commented the older one) but then they are mildly obsessed with Lightning McQueen, so that was pretty much expected.

Puppet Pals is always popular

Another app they revisited was Puppet Pals, which I’ve mentioned before and is my favourite app to use with youngsters: from EY to Year 6, they all seem to get something out of it. This time I got the boys to use ‘cut-out’ versions of themselves in their stories, which were strangely surreal but still entertaining. I’ll pop some links up to some of them later on (I would do it now but haven’t bothered to export them yet and OH has taken the ipad to work today). The older brother tends to base his stories around things he already knows: he made a cowboy story where all the characters were named after characters in Super Mario Bros and a couple of others where he borrowed quite liberally from Handa’s Surprise and Ben 10. Lovely. The younger brother likes to use the monster characters and pretend they’re eating or killing each other. He loves how he can make the characters really big or small and work this into the story. Not that there is a lot of narrative going on in these: he is HI and has articulation difficulties. His sound effects are spot on though and you can easily get the gist of what he’s trying to say! They even had a few joint attempts at creating stories: these made me laugh the most as every so often one or the other would say ‘no’ or ‘I don’t want that to happen’ and it all ends up on the soundtrack – priceless.

Collaboration between brothers using Puppet Pals

So, onto some new apps that we tried out for the first time yesterday. Clicky Sticky is an app that allows you to add bits of clip art to a background scene. You can add your own backgrounds and make adjustments to the clip art provided. You can save what you create. So far, so average. What really grabbed the boys attention was the addition of sound effects as you created your scene: simple but very effective and the clip art provided was really colourful and appealing to both boys. The themes were good too: all the usual things that little ones are interested in (dinosaurs being the boys top pick) – great! The boys also loved Lego Creationary (let’s face it: most boys, young and old, do love Lego) and the free Kid Blocks (the older brother loved this but found it tricky starting off) , Cars Painting and Simon Says Cars (see above re: Lightning McQueen), Photo Speak (like a basic version of Crazy Talk), My Very First App (gorgeous if you’re a fan of Eric Carle) and Create a Car. Yes – the majority of these apps are probably ones that are aiming to engage boys rather than ones that would be used equally by both genders but to balance it out there are plenty of ‘girl focussed’ apps available too (Peppa Pig Stars anyone?) and I have many of them installed. The boys just didn’t choose them…

And, just before anyone accuses me of getting ipad obsessed, we didn’t just do techy things all day. In dispersed between the ipad and laptop fun (Purple Mash! 2Paint an Picture! Red Fish! Help Kidz Learn! ICT Games! Incredibox!) we also managed to read some stories, build an array of models (Lego, Zoob, Techno Toolbox, Georello – you name it , they can build with it), played on the Scalectrix and did some painting and a bit of colouring in. We watched a bit of mindless children’s TV and cooked some bolognese. At one point we pretended to be pirates and finished off every sentence with ‘Arrrrrr’ (or a variation of it). Growing up is about having opportunities to try out different things and variety is the spice of life. They still think the ipad rocks though.

Shiver me Timbers!

This week I’ve had a lovely time using 2Create a Super Story  (or 2CASS) with pupils in Year 2. As I’ve said before, it’s a fantastic program to use with pupils as it’s so inclusive, lots of fun and can be used across age groups for all sorts of projects. This week the focus was a little different: Year 2 were recapping copying and pasting skills. I wanted to make this as much fun as possible so decided to link to their current pirate topic and use a program that they’re familiar with. As it happened I also wanted to improve their knowledge and usage of 2CASS as they move towards year 3: we’ve recently invested in a community license project with 2Simple and 2CASS is one of the programs pupils are now accessing at home. A perfect opportunity then to cover quite a few bases with one program.

Now one of my golden rules (in life generally) is to be as creative as possible and I have to say I’ve taken a few liberties with some of the tools and items in 2CASS as I’m using them in a different way to how they’re presented in the program. I don’t think it matters – if you can find more than one use for something then go for it! Here’s what we did…

  • Firstly we choose the scroll setting: I felt this was pretty much perfect for the topic we were covering as it gave it a pirate map feel. We did discuss the other options available but the children agreed that the scroll was our best choice.

  • We filled the picture area with a nice blue colour for the sky. We wanted a similar colour for the water as the other blues were a bit too dark (although some children were happy with them and were able to choose them). By double right clicking the one of the blue colours we brought up the full palette  – this gave us much more choice.

  • We chose the boat animation template from the transport section. We filled it with our base colour (brown) and then removed parts of it with the clear (or, as the children like to call it, magic) pen. This makes a huge difference to the look of the boat. We use the filled rectangle to colour the sail and used it again with the clear setting to give the ship three sails. We added a simple animation of the sails flapping and we used the path follow tool to draw the route of the ship on our background.

  • We then used the fire animation template to create seaweed. The fire movement was perfect for making the seaweed move under the water. We right clicked to select copy and then right clicked to paste the seaweed up to three times .

  • Choosing the shapes option from the animated templates; we used the square to add clip art. I always suggest using this square shape to the children to add any extras to their backgrounds: it means they can reposition and resize things and animate them if they want to – far better than something static on a background. We added suitable weather clip art which some of the children choose to animate. We again used copying and pasting skills to add additional clouds.

  • To add more interest some of the children added some fish, using the filled circle and the pens to make their little creatures as realistic as possible. There is more information on creating underwater animations that is worth checking out  on Simon Haughton’s blog . I also showed the pupils how to move things to the front or send them backwards: this gave them the option of having the fish swimming in front of or behind the seaweed and is a skill they will use in a number of other programs as they go through school.

  • To save pupils having to draw out their backgrounds a second time I showed them how to duplicate a page. This meant they could use the same page, complete with animations, for the next part of the story too – the example included at the end of this post shows how an island could be added with very little effort while making a big difference to the overall look.

  • We created pirates using the same tools as we used on the pirate ship – this time on the human template. When one pirate was complete (animations included) we copied and pasted to create a second and then just edited the outfit. Using the clear pen allowed pupils to add things like peg legs and hooked hands – very effective!
Of course these projects are not finished yet and there are other things I’d like to mention. We talked during the session about which fonts might be appropriate, which led to many children using old fashioned looking fonts they felt were in keeping with the theme. We also had a nice long session to carry out the first part of the project: these things take time and if you want a piece of work to be worthwhile pupils have to be given time to try things out. An unfinished example of our work so far can be seen here and I’m hoping to add a few examples to the fantastic 2CASS Archive soon – a site well worth investigating if you’re using this software in school. Next week we’re going to be adding even more detail to our stories and I can hardly wait!

 

 

Little Children…

Little people…they’re a bit different to big people aren’t they? Always busy, always curious and they say what they think too (Miss…I like your dress, miss. It’s all swirly…). Trying to get them interested in ICT though – that’s pretty easy, especially as there’s lots of stuff available that’s just for them (it definitely helps). Recently I’ve had some very young children in the ICT suite: we’ve had fun with BeeBots (as we always do) and Easi-Speak Microphones. We’ve checked out some pretty cool websites and checked into Purple Mash’s online creative space (more of that on another day). We even did a little work and printed it out. But mostly we’ve been having fun – here’s just a few things we’ve been trying out.

Poisson Rouge is one of my favourite websites: it’s packed with great stuff, there are no instructions, it’s suitable to use with all sorts of pupils (especially great for pupils with SEN  – even the older pupils like to pop in occasionally) and it’s totally intuitive to use. Although I’ve only mentioned it in passing before it is a website I like to return to. For a start; it’s just great for mouse skills and screen scanning as it has lots of interactive dot to dot or follow on type activities. It’s also got some nice musical activities on it and some lovely simple language activities which could also be useful for EAL pupils. Best feature, by far, is just the sheer variety of things available via the website: I’ve seen pupils (and adults – yes I’m talking about you, Ian Addison) get lost in the activities. Definitely worth checking out.

Here’s a nice ‘(2)simple’ idea, that’s a little different from just playing keyboard games to get pupils familiar with the keys. The picture above was created using the ABC setting on 2Paint a Picture: pupils have to type in their name using the keyboard (voilà: keyboard skills) then alter the style of font and decorate it using the selection of pens (developing mouse skills and using tools). The printed out images make a nice colourful display and parents coming into the classroom can see exactly what their child created – lovely! This idea could be adapted to make a keywords or topic based vocab display, which could be extra special if you hunted around for some interesting fonts.

When I’m looking for ideas to use with younger pupils I often test things out on my grandchildren. Recently they’ve enjoyed a number of apps on the ipad which I think could be just as useful in a school setting, especially at this time of year, With a number of pupils looking at life cycles this term there is an obvious link available in Eric Carle’s My Very First App. As you would expect the graphics are gorgeous and it was definitely a hit with my younger grandchildren. They also enjoyed Rumble in the Jungle: an interactive version of the famous book; read by Hugh Laurie and, one for the boys, Misty Island Rescue: it’s a must have app for all young Thomas the Tank Engine Fans! The final app I’m going to share with you is not really aimed at the children – although it did allow them to access and use Purple Mash and a few other child centred websites over the Easter break. This app is called Puffin and it’s just a great browser if you want to access websites which have Flash content on your ipad – great stuff!

Moving on…if you want to undertake some animation projects with young children there’s a great program available called Anithings. Using a selection of shapes, that can be combined together to make different shapes, pupils can make simple moving pictures that are really cute and engaging. It’s not stop motion – it’s far easier than that! Pupils can record motion or use the timeline slider to get their images moving. Pupils can make adjustments to the size of objects to make it seem as though they’re are moving closer, or further away, with just a few mouse clicks, Different backgrounds can be imported, it allows pupils to use storyboard techniques and it’s good for cross curricular activities. But for those of us of a certain age (okay… me) there’s untold pleasure in the mere fact that the click of a mouse can make it look like it’s made of Fuzzy Felts. Makes me wish I was a little person all over again.

Extend and Stretch

You all know I’m passionate about inclusion and that means including pupils who are more able in certain areas. It’s something that we all need to be aware of in the classroom as such pupils need to be challenged  there’s nothing worse than being bored. But how to do it? Where do you start? I have a number of things I like to use; some free, some not, but the trick is to keep them interested. Here are a few ideas that you might be able to use in your classroom.

  • The  Challenge Box…: I have two special boxes in my room. They are undeniably spangley and a little OTT. They are called challenge boxes: one small (for Foundation Phase challenges) and one large (for KS2). Inside there are a range of colour-coded cards (different colours for different skill levels) that have ‘one off’ challenges on them. I also have a couple of additional cards hanging up in poly-pockets, for quick challenges. Anyway, if a child finds a task too easy or finishes it quickly I always have a few meaningful extensions planned. If there is still time in the lesson and they have completed all tasks I will direct them to take a card of whatever colour from the box. The challenges will always relate to skills we have covered before – they are just independent tasks to get them thinking. For example…

 

  • It’s a mystery: Regularly, particularly if there is something happening in the world that I think needs investigating (like the World Cup, World Book Day etc), I will come up with a set of mystery challenges (usually 5 or 6) which I place in sealed envelopes. In each set there’s usually a challenge linked to Science, Geography, History, Literacy, Mathematics and local (i.e. Welsh or British) interest. There are some examples of these challenges here and one of the important things I feel is that I am sourcing a number of the resource – this cuts down on the children wasting time looking for relevant stuff. These sessions challenge all pupils and sometimes work better when pupils are split into pairs or small groups but that’s up to you.
  • Show them something cool: with younger pupils who are more able it’s nice sometimes to show them something extra a program can do and let them share it with their classmates (or other teachers) during a plenary session or back in class. It’s nice to feel special and kids love that you’re sharing a piece of added information just with them 🙂
  • Give them choices: let the pupils choose the best way to complete their task. I love planning activities for pupils as young as Year 1 where they can select what they want to use. In a recent session (recording factual information about the Antarctic gathered by using Zoom School) Y2 pupils chose to record their work using either 2Publish+, 2CASS or 2Publish Extra (via PurpleMash). They also chose their own template and the way they presented work, leading to work that ranged from fact sheets to reference books while all covering the same skills ( importing, copying, pasting, etc.) and the same topic. This also works with older children: asking them to make a multimedia presentation might lead to a selection of videos and animations fitting in alongside more traditional Powerpoints or items made using web based tools like Animoto or Prezi.
  • Use things that inspire and engage: if you can make room for a little gaming or game creation: it might take your lesson in unusual directions. I’ve recently brought in my ipad and shown pupils some of the great apps available – many of which could be used in the classroom. They are totally in love with it!  Bringing  in a console or something hand held (like a Nintendo DS) can have unexpected results – it just depends how you use it. Check out ideas from fantastic people like Tim Rylands and get technology working for you, and the pupils, in your classroom. On the flip side get pupils to create their own games or quizzes to challenge each other and link to topics or learning intentions. I’ve mentioned 2DIY recently (which I’ve just used with more able, younger pupils to create quizzes linked to their topic) but there are other things out there, includingScratch, which are equally useful especially with older pupils.
  • Buddy pupils up! Use your more able pupils to assist the ones that need a little extra support – not intrusively, just as a someone to encourage or chivvy them along. I also like using older pupils along side younger ones (in a sort of Yoda style mentor role). again this isn’t intrusive, just supportive, and the pupils really seem to get something out of it.

So there you go. Not rocket science but a few ideas to than can be used to extend and stretch your pupils. I’m sure you can think of loads I’ve missed but I’ll leave you to fill in the gaps. If you’re looking for a place to start (to get more ideas – technology wise) then this might be worth a look.