More recently, there has been a new tool that seems to have dominated every social media platform and that is GIFs. To define a GIF:
An animated GIF is an image encoded in graphics interchange format (GIF), which contains a number of images or frames in a single file and is described by its own graphic control extension. The frames are presented in a specific order in order to convey animation. An animated GIF can loop endlessly or stop after a few sequences.
GIFs seem to be everywhere and for the past few months, I have been using GIFs in the classroom. Here I want to share a few ideas.
First, the app GIPHY is the app I use to access a library of GIFs. PLEASE BE AWARE, THIS APP IS ONLY ON MY TEACHER DEVICE. THERE ARE A LOT OF GIFS INAPPROPRIATE FOR THE CLASSROOM SO IT IS ONLY A TOOL THAT I ACCESS AND SHARE THE GIFS FROM MY DEVICE USING AIRDROP.
Within the app, once you have selected a GIF there is the option to export it and save it as a video. This can be a great way of enhancing projects in class. For example, if my class were creating some content in Adobe Spark Video, I can find a GIF, export it as a video and then share it via airdrop to their device so they can add it to their presentation.
We also did a project where we used GIFs to help with vocabulary. I had found a range of GIFs that link to different emotions. Pupils created short videos on Shadow Puppets Edu using these GIFs alongside words to describe those feelings. We then use Augmented Reality to link these videos to this sheet using HP Reveal:
If you follow the Davyhulme channel on HP reveal, you should be able to scan each emoji which will reveal the student's vocab videos.
Using AR for Vocabulary development - YouTube
Matching the words with the short animations give children the opportunity to consider actions which link to these emotions - Delighted = skipping gleefully. This can be a great way of developing and making links to Alan Peat's 'show not tell' techniques. Even making links to his and Mat Sullivan's exciting sentences. In particular, sentence types like Tell: Show 3; Examples.
He was delighted: skipping gleefully; twinkling his fingers; smiling broadly.
A further way to develop 'Show not tell' through GIFs, would be to use them within a sentence. For example, if I created this and share it on the board:
, he left the classroom straight away.
First, ask the children to identify the tell in this sentence. You will probably get - angry.
Therefore, we can start by rewriting the sentence as:
Angry, he left the classroom straight away.
However, this would be a tell sentence. To engage the reader in our story we want to play to the reader's intelligence. Remember one of the golden rules of storytelling from the brilliant minds at Pixar:
So, using the above GIF, you can ask your pupils, "How is Spongebob showing us he is angry?" Allow the pupils to create some action phrases:
Rocking back and forth,
Clenching his fists,
Gritting his teeth,
Snarling his face,
Encourage the pupils to then replace their tell opener with one of their show phrases and discuss why this is more effective. This can be developed with a whole range of GIFs to create that animated visual to help with action phrases to encourage that show not tell.
Another useful idea is to use an app to create your own GIF. If you are a blogging school and want to share a few images from a particular lesson or trip, you can put a number of images together and create a GIF that you can then embed in your blog or website. The apps Lively and GifToaster are worth a look for this.
I hope you find this post useful. Please do share in the comments if you use these ideas and how they work for you.
The feature in the app which I was immediately drawn to was the portals feature. This allows you to place a portal within your world. This portal allows you to travel to any 360° image. There are a couple of pictures included but you can also add your own. Straight away I knew this would be something that would inspire some amazing writing in my class and today I finally got the chance to have a go with our brilliant Year 3 pupils. But as I always discuss on my CPD and INSET the big hook was what they were going to do with their writing which was to bring it to life and create their own movie!
As their topic is linked to space, we decided to use a 360° image of space. The pupils had a go with the app and stepping through the portal and exploring outer space. The look of awe and wonder and that sound of the collective 'wow' was one of those special moments. After that, we worked on writing a story. The idea would be that the children would write in first person about finding the portal in class and stepping into it. We discussed different techniques to make our story interesting, these included:
An effective opening sentence to hook and intrigue our reader.
Describing the weather to set the mood.
Describing the silence when realising they were all alone.
Finding the portal and describing our reaction
Multisensory description after stepping in the portal.
A cliff hanger ending.
The effort from the students was brilliant and we got some really good writing from them, here are a few examples:
Once the children had finished their writing, they could transform it into their own movie. Using the app iMovie, the children narrated their writing over a video of the Figment app in action. Within iMovie, they could change the pace of the video to match their narration, add sound effects, filters and as an extension use Garageband to create a soundtrack. It was a brilliant afternoon and the pupils worked exceptionally hard knowing that their hard work would be shared with you! So please make their day by leaving them a comment!
Here are some of their examples:
Just to make you aware, Figment AR will only work on newer devices running on iOS 11.
One of my favourite new discoveries at BETT was the app Seeing AI. My good friend, Julian Woods (@Ideas_Factory) shared this with me and I am really impressed by how accuarate and quick it is.
The app is described as a free app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the blind and low vision community, this ongoing research project harnesses the power of AI to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text and objects.
An app which has is considered a talking camera for the blind, it has the potential to support pupils in lots of ways in the classroom.
This short little video gives a quick demonstration to how the app works. The app is free and just click the app icon above to download it.
I have blogged about the power of music in the classroom and have previously shared a number of songs which can be used in the classroom, especially for reading comprehension. You can read them here.
The song currently at Number 1 in the charts - These Days by Rudimental feat. Macklemore, Jess Glyne and Dan Caplen - is another great song which can be used in class. Here is a link to the music video:
Rudimental - These Days feat. Jess Glynne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen [Official Video] - YouTube
Here are the lyrics with some suggested questions:
I know you moved onto someone new Hope life is beautiful You were the light for me to find my truth I just wanna say, thank you
Who is the rapper speaking about?
Are the couple still together? How do you know? No - moved onto someone new.
How does he feel towards his old girlfriend? He still likes her - wishes her well
Is this always the case when people split up? Open to discussion
Do you think he regrets breaking up with her? No, the relationship helped him grow.
Why is he thanking her? He recognises that she helped him on his journey to reach his goal.
Do you think he is speaking straight after the relationship has ended or is this a long time after?
Leaving to find my soul Told her I had to go And I know it ain't pretty When our hearts get broke Too young to feel this old Watching us both turn cold Oh, I know it ain't pretty When two hearts get broke Yeah, I know it ain't pretty When two hearts get broke
Why did they break up? He wanted to leave to find himself, maybe travel
Why might this have been a hard decision? As it will have hurt the other person (hearts get broke)
What does he mean by 'too young to feel this old'? It shows the experience has really matured him, as we get older we tend to learn from our experiences and sometimes mistakes.
Is the last line grammatically correct? How should it read?
Why is it repeated? For emphasis
I hope someday We'll sit down together And laugh with each other About these days, these days All our troubles We'll lay to rest And we'll wish we could come back to these days, these days These days, these days These days, these days
How does the singer feel about her ex-boyfriend? She seems to have moved on and looks back fondly on their time together
Do you think this was always the case? Possibly not, at the start, she may have felt angry and sad and blamed him but time is a great healer.
Do you think they still like each other? Yes
How do you know? She hopes they can sit down and reminisce.
How would you describe their relationship? Fun, she wants to laugh at the times they had.
Do you think she is happier now than she was in the relationship? Open for discussion, yes as she has moved on or no as she wishes she could go back to the old days.
Three years of ups and downs Nothing to show for it now And I know it ain't pretty when the fire burns out Calling me when I'm drunk, remind me of what I've done And I know it ain't pretty when you're trying to move on, yeah
How long did the relationship last?
What is the perfect relationship? Why/Why not?
How did he feel when the relationship initially ended? Sad maybe angry that once it had ended, there is nothing to show for it.
Why does the singer reference fire? Fire can link to romance and passion. Usually, a fire will start from two materials coming together. When a fire burns out it signifies the end and also darkness.
You may want to dismiss the line that mentions being drunk
Do you think she was happy when they first split up? No, she was phoning him late at night.
Was it easy to move on?
I hope someday We'll sit down together And laugh with each other About these days, these days All our troubles We'll lay to rest And we'll wish we could come back to these days, these days Oh I know, I know Oh I know, I know Oh I know, I know These days, these days Oh I know, I know Oh I know, I know Oh I know, I know To these days, these days
Cigarettes in the ashtray Reminiscing on those past days I thought you’d end up with my last name But that changed And I travelled around the world Think where you living at now? I heard you moved to Oxford Got an apartment and settled down And every once in a while I start texting Write a paragraph But then I delete the message Think 'bout you like a pastime I could cry you a river Get you baptised or I wasn't ready to act right Used to always think I'd get you back, right They say that things fall apart (yeah) We were gonna move to Brooklyn You were gonna study Art (oh no, oh) Love is just a tool To remind us who we are And that we are not alone When we're walking in the dark
Again, you may want to leave the line about cigarettes. Or you can discuss it being a symbol of the end, as a cigarrette in the ashtray is usually once it has been finished.
Do you think this verse is from when they have just split up or long after?
What did the singer hope from the relationship? They would get married (end up with my last name)
Why did they split up? He wanted to travel the world.
Does he miss her? Yes
What evidence from the text tells us this? He thinks where she is living, he asks about her which is why he heard she lives in Oxford. He sometimes writes texts but then deletes it.
What does he write in the text message do you think? Perhaps he writes something in an attempt to reunite, or apologise.
Why does he delete the message? He might delete it out of shame or maybe just as an attempt to try and get over her.
Consider the line 'think 'bout you like a past time' - Why is this grammatically incorrect?
What does the rapper use here? A simile
Why? Our pastimes are hobbies we do and are fond of. When we are older and usually stop them, we look back with fond memories.
On a scale of 1-5 how much does he regret ending the relationship? 5, he has cried a river, so much he could baptise her.
When they split up, did he think that was the end? He thought he could get her back.
What word could be used to describe his attitude? Naive
What were their relationship plans? Move to America
What has the rapper learned from this relationship? Love is not the answer, it helps us and brings us light and helps us to learn about ourselves.
I hope someday We'll sit down together And laugh with each other About these days, these days All our troubles We'll lay to rest And we'll wish we could come back to these days, these days We'll wish we could come back to these days, these days (these days, these days, these days)
What do you think the overall message of the song is?
The next step was to focus in on our local area of Manchester and Urmston where our school is.
We listed some of the famous landmarks and interesting places to visit. We also discussed other reasons why people should visit or even live here.
The children were then challenged to create their own eBooks about why people should live in Urmston, Manchester.
The students worked in pairs using the app Book Creator to create their eBooks. Book Creator has always been one of my favourite apps to use in class. As a creative tool, it is up there as one of the best apps/tools for the classroom and is a must for any primary and secondary school. The app allows pupils to create eBooks and comics where they can add text, images, videos and audio recordings. It gives the students the opportunity to creatively demonstrate their knowledge and understanding about anything.
To help the children with their ebooks, they used the app Google Earth to look at some of these famous landmarks through the bird's-eye view or the Google street view. The students could then take screenshots to use in their eBooks.
The students could choose which landmarks they wanted to choose and most went for ones they were familiar with and have visited themselves. They explored through different media - adding text and audio recordings to share their knowledge about different places. Here is one of their finished efforts:
Why you should live in Urmston, Manchester - YouTube
What made this project even better was that we shared some of the eBooks on our school twitter account and had this reply from the Mayor of Manchester:
It is awards season! We've had the BAFTAs and BRITS and will soon have the Oscars. But what about teachers and other school staff? What about celebrating them? Well, I've decided to do something about that!
This video, which I posted on Facebook, has all of Mr P's nominations for this year's School Staff Oscars. The winners? That's up to you! You can tag your winners in the comments!
After the students had labelled the continents on a world map:
The next step was to focus in on the UK. The first step was to create a similar labelled map through Seesaw. However, this time we discussed improving the formatting and style:
The next step was to look at finding out about each country in the UK. First, we generated a series of questions to help us with our research, some of the suggested questions:
Where is it?
How many people live there? (Population)
What is the Capital City?
What does the flag look like?
What is the national anthem?
What famous landmarks are there to visit?
Who is the patron saint?
The pupils were then given some time to research online and try and find the answers to these questions. After writing a script using their facts, they created a short video about their country using Adobe Spark Video. This tool has to be one of my favourites as it is the perfect example of a creative app which allows students to creatively share their knowledge and understanding about any topic. For Year 2 especially, it is a great app which removes certain barriers for children. Some of the students who might not yet be fluent writers are still able to show what they know.
Within their tables, they came together to then create an interactive map. Using the app Thinglink, the pupils linked their videos with their maps created in the previous lesson. Once all the videos have been linked, the interactive image can be shared online. Here is one of their efforts:
In the next lesson, children will be looking at their city of Manchester and local town of Manchester.
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