When children are in Year 6, they tend to start to dip their toes into the waters of social media. Sometimes it can be through sites such as Facebook or Instagram. Although Facebook has an age restriction of 13, I am not sure we can wait until then to teach children about how to be safe when using such sites.
As a result, today I taught a lesson with Year 6 where I asked them to design a social media app aimed at 10-11 year olds. They had to create a logo or icon and give the app a name. It was obvious from this that eh vast majority were well aware of the social media apps that currently exist as some of them used parts of the names of these apps to create the name for their own app.
After a discussion about the types of rules that they would want users of the app to abide by, they came up with a set of rules for using their app.This, in turn, led to a discussion about what restrictions they would put into their app to ensure that users used it in a safe way.
I was impressed with maturity of the responses the children gave and they clearly took the task seriously. It was also a good way to engage them in the topic of E-Safety and to get some very important messages across in a relevant context. The discussion about the dangers and safeguards of such apps as the lesson progressed showed that the children were getting the message.
Below are links to a few of the apps ‘created’ by the children.
Sketch Nation is a fantastic free app where children can design their own games by drawing characters, backgrounds and platforms as well as adding sound effects, special effects and enemies. This app was first brought to my attention by Lee Parkinson. There are two modes – simple and advanced. As I was working with Year 5, I decided to use the advanced mode.
After a brief demonstration of the app, the children set to work creating their own games, using their art skills. It is possible to draw on paper and import photographs of your drawings into the game that you are designing.
The children had used the trailers feature of iMovie the week before to create flipped movie trailers (another Lee Parkinson idea) so they were very familiar with the app. As a result, the next step for them was to take screenshots of their game being played and of the characters created for their game. They used these screenshots to create a trailer for their game in order to persuade others to want to play it.
Follow the link to view some of the finished results.
A while ago, I decided to do some animation with Year 3. Many of the children in the class enjoyed playing with Lego at home and during break times. Therefore, I decided to use this as a stimulus for the animations. I also decided to use the iMotion app which is a free app and very easy to use which made it ideal for Year 3’s first attempt at animation.
First of all, we discussed how in the Lego video games, players often came across a pile of Lego bricks that could then be transformed into a useful object. This worked like an animation.
The children built things out of Lego then deconstructed them into a pile of pieces. Then they took photos of each small step of the construction process. When these were all put together, the children had an animated build sequence. Other tasks they animated included a race between two Lego constructions and animating movements of Lego-built creatures.
iMotion is a great app to use however now you could probably also use the time-lapse feature on the iPad camera.
The video below is a collection of some of the animations that the children created.
It seems obvious to me that, in the current age where children have access to all types of mobile internet-enabled devices, E Safety is possibly the most important aspect of the Computing curriculum. It is almost impossible these days to completely prevent a child from accessing the internet. Therefore, it is vital that we teach them how to behave safely and responsibly when online.
At the school where I teach, we provide regular teaching about E Safety as we recognise its importance as I am sure other schools do. There are some fantastic resources out there such as http://www.thinkunow.co.uk and http://www.childnet.com Both of these websites have a range of resources to help with the teaching of E Safety as well as presentations to help with parent sessions.
While working with Year 6, I decided to take a different slant on E Safety. Having discussed with the class some of the ways we should behave online (after using some of the resources mentioned above), I decided to ask them to think about E Safety from a parent’s perspective. I asked them to think about what advice they would give to a child of their’s about how to stay safe online. This really helped them to focus on the key issues and we decided to make posters that could be displayed in child’s bedroom as constant reminders for them. The children engaged with the task enthusiastically and the resulting discussions and outcomes reflected how seriously they had taken the task. This was very reassuring for me.
We then moved onto to discuss cyber bullying using this amazing resource from the Canadian government.
It is an interactive Youtube video where the girl in the video reacts to the responses that are typed in. For example, if something unkind is typed, she cries or retreats to the back of the room, This is avery powerful way of getting the message across that words can hurt. As a good friend of mine and an excellent teacher once said “If you wouldn’t shout it in the playground, don’t put it online.” Great advice!
Last week, the Year 5 teachers at school asked me to do some computing work based on the work they had carried out in Literacy based on metaphors in poetry. I am a fan of the idea of app smashing, which for those of you that don’t know, is combining different apps to achieve an outcome. In the case, I planned to app smash with Morfo and Book Creator. The new national curriculum for computing talks about combining software to achieve specific goals. App smashing is an ideal way of doing this.
Morfo is an app I have used for a while now and I thought it would be perfect for this task. The children’s poems contained metaphors they had written about the moon, sun, sky, rain etc. The first thing I asked them to do was import an image of the moon (or other object) into Morfo and create a Morfo of it.
They then recorded themselves reading aloud their metaphors from their poems. This really helped to bring the language to life.
The next step was to import the Morfos into books created using the Book Creator app. This allowed the children to create an anthology of their poems that included metaphors.
There are examples of some of the finished books on our school website.