Spent a brilliant half week with the new Year 7s at St Peters RC the week before last. The school runs a Summer fortnight of activities including visits, speakers, workshops and so on. They came and used the Inspire2Learn Centre for most of the last three days. We had a range of activities set up using the skydrive to host images for the students to use on whichever device they wanted. Unfortunately the internet provider switchover coincided with their attendance so that plan went out of the window!
The children had borrowed a set of iPods for their visits to Kirkleatham museum earlier in the week and it was hoped that we would build work around that. The whole idea of the fortnight is to plug that six week gap between leaving primary school and entering secondary. It gives the teachers an opportunity to work with the students and the students an opportunity to build relationships with staff and other children who are likely to be from different feeder primary schools.
As it happened we began the sessions with an iMovie Trailer activity (that didn’t involve use of the intermittent internet!) to get them used to working in groups and with the iPads. Across the next three days we developed use of Puppet Pals (as a response to an safety session that they attended), more iMovie (the children loved the different themes) and Morfo.
To be honest the two teachers were as much inspired by the possibilities as the children were. Dave and Nicola spent much of the first day creating talking heads of historical figures (they are humanities teachers) that they will use in their lessons in the coming term. They were then trying to come up with ways that they could integrate these tools into their planned tasks. This was massively helped by the fact that they have got a loan set of iPads booked out from the Centre until half term. It will allow them to build on the fact that the teachers can make great resources for the children to “see” but much of the power of the device is when the students actually get to create. Certainly the children were inspired to work hard on all of the projects that we gave them. They moaned when we told them it was time to go home and they agreed to meet directly at the centre on the following days so they could get more time working. As it turned out many of them turned up half an hour early so that they could get a bit more done.
So what are the lessons learned to take from this?
The children spent very little time learning the software; when they did need help they were as likely to ask each other as a member of staff.
The range of processes and media that the small selection of apps could produce appealed to all of the children somewhere along the line. We did not see children demotivated by the tasks in hand (even though they sometimes wanted to do something different).
The teachers could immediately see how a) they could produce quality, focussed materials in minutes and b) given the kit, the children could be given meaningful, interesting tasks that would engage and motivate them beyond what is traditionally possible
We hope to see more visits from the students over the next few years as they are only a short walk down the road!