Review: Playschool Art Maker for iPad

Having looked at a few different movie making apps for the iPad, the playschool art maker app presents itself as a great and innovative app for primary students who are learning how to create their own digital texts. The app helps students to create a picture, story slideshow or animated movie, giving students the option of either using their own photos as backgrounds or using animations already provided. Students can also record their own audio, and the app allows them to save their creations, which they can replay or look at later.

The app is easy to use without the need for extensive scaffolding, and gives students a lot of free range in what they can create. This allows them to be creative and imaginative with what they create, which is a strong focus in the new English syllabus.

Students can use this app for many different purposes in literacy, such as learning how to create a story board, to plan out different elements in a story during the writing process; retell a story they have just read or heard; and of course it is a great foundational resource in showing students how to use digital technologies, and which teachers can build upon later when using other apps such as iMovie. The playschool content means that this app is perhaps more suited to younger primary students.

This is a great resource!

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The Final Product

Coming to the end of this course, it’s interesting to reflect on all the aspects of digital media that I’ve learnt about. Having experimented with so many different aspects of digital media, incorporating it into a lesson no longer seems as daunting as it did at the start of the course. I would encourage all teachers out there to continue exploring the vast range of digital resources that are available, and to not be afraid to try something new in your classroom.

This is a digital video I created as a final assessment. It is a recount of an event in my life, and can be used as a teaching tool across the stages for English. In particular, I would either use it with Stage 1, to develop the depth of their recount writing, or in Stage 2 or 3, to incorporate global perspectives in their recount writing. It is also a great tool to use to teach students about planning for their writing, as they plan and edit a video, and think about the sequential order of their writing. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjLuG4sza3U

Review: The Literacy Shed

http://www.literacyshed.com/

This is an excellent databank of visual stories and ideas for teaching literacy to students. I used this resource on my recent practicum, for the purpose of looking at the topic of stories, and different purposes of stories. I was able to show my students a range of examples of stories, each with a different purpose, and then use this as a basis for discussion. The website also includes ideas for teaching with each example, and visual literacy can be used in the classroom.

This would also be an excellent resource for showing students how to construct a story e.g. how to set the scene, develop characters, plotline etc, but also for thinking about things specific to visual literacy e.g. colour, animation, salience, different camera angles. There are a number of visual tutorials on the website which demonstrate how professionals consider all these elements in the creation of visual literacy.

Literacy and the iPad

These days, children are more literate with an iPad than most adults, and will arrive to school armed with the knowledge of how to work touch screens, navigate the hazards of technological difficulties and a sense that technology is already an important part of their learning (Jones, 2012, p. 33). Teachers are increasingly being encouraged to utilise a combination of this prior knowledge and technology to develop literacy practices, by building upon, and extending students’ literacy development within the context of their social and cultural practices.

Jones (2012, p. 33) argues that teachers need to step away from traditional forms of literacy extensions, to include new technologies which allow students to use the screen as they would other concrete manipulatives. The benefit of this is that students are still engaging with literacy, but in the contest of their own understanding (e.g. using new technologies that have already formed the contextual basis for their literacy practices). Making connections to prior learning will help familiarize students with the content, whilst emphasis on pre-reading activities builds field knowledge of topics and concepts, and encourages students to read for meaning (Jones, 2012, p. 33).

Looking at specific technology in particular, the iPad has enhanced the way teachers approach literacy, and has been proven to increase student engagement in the classroom (Jones, 2012, p. 37). Using apps such as the Playschool Art Maker app allows students to create retellings of stories, adding in music, sound effects and narrations to compliment visuals animations. Students move from using babble to recount stories, to being able to orally retell a story without prompting, and using appropriate language and vocabulary.

However, utilizing new technologies, such as the iPad, still need to be properly scaffolded, to ensure students develop literacy skills, and not just an ability to ‘play’ with the animations. Students need to learn how to formulate and organize their ideas and perceptions of the text, how to use appropriate vocabulary and language features, such as intonation and expression, and how to link their understanding in a way that cohesively recounts the story from beginning to end. Utilizing technology, therefore, still needs to be explicitly taught to students, regardless of how well they can master the screen.

Used appropriately in the classroom, technology offers a rich dynamic to enhancing literacy skills, and using prior knowledge as a gateway for connecting students’ social and cultural contexts to the classroom.

References:

Jones, M. (2012), ipads and kindergarten- students literacy development, SCAN31(4), 31-40.