Murderous Learning With iPads in Y7

Murder in Y7

You forget how much work you have to put in with your students in order to get them working well on the iPads.  In my classroom we use them pretty much every lesson.  In the first half term I just get the students used to workflow.  Accessing content from iTunes U or My Big Campus, uploading work to cloud storage etc.  However, after that I like to get my students involved in a bigger project using the iPads so that they can hone their tech skills and their language skills. 

Those of you who have read other posts on this blog will be aware that I am not a huge fan of the text book instead I prefer to create projects and themes to get my students stuck into their learning.  This half term Y7 have been learning all about describing people in French and I decided to exploit this learning by staging a fake murder in the classroom. The aim was that students would practice the 4 language skills of reading, listening, speaking and writing as well as having to decipher texts and pick out the salient/most important pieces of information whilst at the same time honing their skills in the use of tech.

To begin the project students were greeted with the news that the previous evening there had been a murder in our very own classroom, the police had asked for our help.  Students accessed content via iTunes U. In their “lesson” they found 4 witness statements. The students’ job was to find out how many suspects there were and what they looked like.  Obviously, each witness saw a slightly different thing so the students had to not only understand the texts but compare one to another in order to establish how many suspects there were, what they wore and what they looked like.  The students actually struggled with this and needed lots of support, which really surprised me. Many thought there were 4 suspects because they had 4 witness statements.  If you want to try this in your classroom I would suggest you so the same as this element of the task provided real stretch and challenge.

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Once students had established how many suspects they had and what they looked like they then had to use the Face it lite app (free) to create a “photo fit” picture of each of the suspects.  This was then saved to camera roll and then imported into the app Pic Collage (free)

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I like Pic Collage for younger students it’s pretty straight forward to use and gives a nice final result. I digress; in this app students had to create a wanted poster for the suspects in   French stating what they looked like and what they were wearing.  Many students tried to simply copy and paste information from the witness statements however, this didn’t work as the witness statements were written in the imperfect tense and the wanted poster had to be written in the present tense.  Once again this provided stretch and challenge and it resulted in many students having to rewrite their work – working on the maxim if it ‘aint perfect it ‘aint done!

Our next task was to create a newsreel – students needed support with this so I provided key phrases for them. I also gave them these phrases spelt phonetically in order to help them with pronunciation.  Students worked in pairs to video each other.  Once the videos were done they then imported them into the Newsbooth App (free) this gave their videos a professional news room look which the students liked.

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Our final task was to introduce some awe and wonder into the task by using Aurasma to bring the videos and the posters together into a magic talking picture @ipadwells has a great help sheet here which tells you exactly how to produce an Aura as they are known.  I  used it with my classes and it worked perfectly.

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What did my classes get out of this project?

They had to work together to decipher texts this is aided by my seating plan in my classroom where students sit in groups of 4

They got practice the vocabulary to describe people.

They had to read in the imperfect tense but write and speak in the present which provided challenge

They got to hone their tech skills

They had to stick at this project, it would be fair to say that not all students found it a walk in the park which is good.  They got annoyed that they had to redo work or that they actually had to figure something out for themselves which frankly was a revelation. 

They are very proud of their work and loved it when our new Headteacher came into our classroom to see the fruits of their labour.

This project took much longer than I expected 5 – 6 lessons, which is a lot of time. Was it worth it? Of course it was, it achieved the aims and much more besides.

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