I recently chatted to my colleague, Steve Hawke, our music coordinator who has been inspiring me with his work with our iPads. He has been using an app called Figure to teach his Year 4 children aspects of music covered in Switched on ICT along with other aspects of the Music curriculum.
The app he mentions is Figure, which is available on the app store and is very popular with our Key Stage 2 pupils.
I discovered this app a few weeks ago when I was looking for something to use with Foundation Stage for an Early Years Switched On ICT lesson. The lesson “We have Confidence” outlined creating and playing a game using a Power-point slideshow. This would feature images of the class and associated sound files. Essentially - click on a picture of a child – listen and identify who is speaking. I knew there must be an app that would help us to do this in a more efficient and enjoyable way. The Powerpoint creation would essentially involve photographing, sound recording and formatting it all good but a bit of a pain.
At this point I discovered by Custom Soundboard – an app for combining pictures and short audio recordings to create a soundboard. The app works as follows:
Tap an empty square
Take a photograph or choose from the library
Record a short audio clip
Play back your audio
Redo or move to the next box
I tried this with our Foundation pupils a couple of weeks ago and by play timewe had worked together and created a class sound board which we then plugged into the AV system. The pupils loved tapping on their picture and hearing the playback of their little speeches, mostly “My name is and I want to be ….”. Unlike the same task using Powerpoint we could very easily edit or retry the parts of the board that needed rerecording or sharper photographs. I am hoping the children will now begin creating some of their own boards.
The other win in using this app is that you are actually hitting a greater number of ICT skills. We can sometimes forget about skills teaching or assume they are there innately, when we use iPads with young children. However just because Foundation Stage pupils can easily play games and progress through Learning apps, it does not always mean that they have some of the necessary ICT skills needed to create and/ edit their own media effectively. Consider the skills the children learned in this unit and with this app, versus the digital baby sitting / just playing that can sometimes be the diet of Foundation Stage pupils.
Gain familiarity with the function and buttons of a new and unfamiliar app
Taking a Photograph
Reviewing the photograph to ensure the full head was present and having the confidence to reject and retake the picture if necessary
Recording sound and editing/rerecording if necessary
Create a pictorial wordbank to aid spelling use images of words ( perhaps created in Keynote first)and speak/record the accompanying words. This would be very useful for children with English as an additional langauge or children with communication difficulties.
PSHE – ask children to collect positive and supportive comments about themselves from their classmates
Develop a personal set of alphabet Flash Cards
Collect views about an issue and present these to the class
Make notes about a science investigation or other problem solving exercise and use this digital record to aid in writing up
Use the app to create a mystery with each photo revealing a clue or part of a story – this could lead into story writing or perhaps Maths with clues being related to properties of shapes or even coordinates.
Though this is a great app it would be even better if there were some way to export the boards or add more than one.
Just the other day, myself and my brilliant colleague in Year 2 came up with a fantastic project idea. We knew we wanted to do some animation to link with their Switched on ICT unit: Animating History and we knew we wanted to stretch both the children and ourselves.
Jo’s idea was to create an animation around the people leaving the scene of the fire by boat. This can be seen in paintings such as the one below:
We recreated that scene using some foil for the Thames, fairy lights for fire and various bits of Lego to signify the escaping hoards, their boats and floating debris in the river. The children made boats and little cardboard sets and backdrops, though some boats needed scaling down a bit they were very impressive! When everything was built the class had a short intro to the app and animation processes and off they went. The app we used was iStopMotion, which due to its onion skinning tool and simplicity of operation worked fantastically. The only thing that I would change next time, would be to look at some cheap mounting for the iPads or iPod touches in order to achieve a more fluid series of shots.
Here is my “one I prepared earlier” example that I used to give the children some idea of where we were heading.
Today I have been busy planning lessons and gathering resources and ideas for Year 6 in their final summer term. In our school we have recently bought the “Switched on ICT” scheme of work for ICT, and so part of this afternoon was spent getting to grips with the stuff you see in the box below. I am not a great scheme of work person when it comes to ICT, I prefer to write my own plans, but I am also open to other methods, very busy! and I had heard some good things about Switched On.