Focussing on writing

Had an interesting day today with Year 2 groups from two schools across the borough. We run learning days which schools sign up to attend. Today’s theme unsurprisingly was the Olympics. For my part I found useful 5 minute clip on Youtube called Birth of the Olympics. The children watched the video with a view to creating a short presentation based around three facts that they had found interesting while watching. Armed with three facts they were asked to use Puppet Pals to create a short presentation with their picture in it. Now the sessions were only 40 minutes long and the children were around seven years of age…so how to structure it. I will describe below the effect structuring it in two different ways had on the outcome, I hope it will help people think about how the devices are best used.

Group A

I showed the children the video clip and talked to them for about five minutes about what they had seen. I then showed them the iPad (most had used one at home I think but one or two told me they hadn’t seen one before). I took  the decision to demo how to make a quick movie using the provided characters and backdrops. This took about 2 minutes and then I released the children to work in pairs to make their own. They did this very easily within five minutes. I then gathered them back together and asked them to focus on three screen shots (of the 27 I had provided from the video) to talk about. I quickly demoed how to ad themselves as a character and add the three photos as backdrops. They were given paper and pencils to jot down key words to talk about. One pair wrote in sentences, three groups did notes and two groups needed persuading that something to work from when speaking would be useful (I had already stressed that spelling, punctuation and so on was not important, content was as the audience would hear the content, not read it). The results were clear at the end, all children produced something technically correct but the content was maybe a bit thin.

Group B

I changed the task slightly in that I showed the video then gave the children the iPads to look at the camera roll to make them decide on three pictures. They were then asked to jot down what they would say about each picture (again I stressed how spelling etc was not important as that was not part of the purpose). All groups wrote down some ideas, one group in sentences. Only once this task had been done did I show them Puppet Pals. This time I whizzed through the app from pressing Start to the complete production with children as actors and pics about the olympics as backdrops. It only took maybe three minutes and I kept asking the children if they were “keeping up” and they all seemed fine with that. Result? All children produced a finished product but they took longer within this task adding themselves as actors and actually recording themselves (mainly through giggling). However, the overall quality of the sentences was better.

Conclusions

Puppet Pals is a great way to allow children to look like they are on the scene of something that they’re talking about. Working in this way gives them a clear purpose and audience. All children were very keen to come up with facts and produce their movie. Time  was a big factor in rushing through but from what I saw, focussing on the literacy of the outcome BEFORE looking at the app made a difference. The children took more time over getting their ideas down and practising what they would say with their partners. Unfortunately the children didn’t have permission slips today to have their faces on the web so I can’t post any but I will chase this up with the school tomorrow and hopefully post some examples.

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