The iPad revolution: Transforming extra-curricular clubs

Poppy Gibson

Poppy Gibson is a lecturer in Primary Education in the Teacher Education Department, coming into HE after over a decade working in several London Primary schools. Poppy currently works on the University of Greenwich's Accelerated degree programme in Primary Education, and is the Modern Foreign Language coordinator, teaching MFL on the PGCE and BA QTS programmes. Key research interests include identity, motivation, and the integration of technology into our lives.

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Tablets are becoming more popular in schools as each term goes by, and it’s handy for teachers to share tips on the technology. London-based primary teacher Poppy Gibson has a bevy of experience when it comes to tablets in the classroom, and gives her best pointers on the matter.

[As seen in the February 2014 edition of our magazine]

Many teachers have explored and established effective ways of using iPads within a range of subjects. This article shares ideas of inspiring extra-curricular clubs that could be offered to pupils outside of timetabled lessons, during lunchtimes or after school, with simple set-ups but powerful results.

Digital Photography Club

The aim of running a Digital Photography Club is to provide a creative, interesting and fun way for pupils to learn how to take interesting and memorable photos. Themes I have found particularly successful have included ‘Natural versus Man Made’, ‘Friendship’, and ‘Seasons’.

Pupils will enjoy taking photographs with the iPad, which, unlike some digital cameras, allows for instant editing and even pre-set modes on apps such as ‘Photobooth’ (adding mirror effects, for example). As the physical management and easy use of mobile devices saves essential minutes of the club, I often find there is still time for pupils to enjoy digital editing, showing and discussing their and their peers’ photographs. At the end of each club, all pupils upload their favourite chosen one or two photographs to DropBox, which is very simple to do straight from the iPad without the need for cables or camera cards.

You may choose to print the images out for a digital photography portfolio, or you could share some of the best images on the school website or wiki page. At the end of term, you could even hold a small exhibition for teachers and other pupils to be invited to view the photographs, which can be quickly printed straight from DropBox and mounted onto card for a professional touch.

Weekly Podcast Club

I spent the start of term widely researching the pros, cons and workload of setting up a school weekly podcast, and came to the conclusion that the easiest way to integrate this into school would be through a Weekly Podcast Club. Setting up a podcast is relatively easy, using software such as Garage Band and recording audio clips on the iPad.

The podcast doesn’t have to be long, maybe between three to five minutes. You could use the radio podcast to share school news, pupils’ work, interviews, jokes, competitions etc, and there are even some artists that allow their music to be played copyright free on podcasts - found on sites such as Special sections such as brief discussions of national news headlines, apps / books of the week, and even pupils’ birthday mentions add appealing elements to the podcast.

Cartoon Club

Creating cartoons, or animations, requires imagination, patience and perseverance. Running a Cartoon Club is a great way to get pupils’ creative juices flowing, allowing them to explore their imaginative ideas without the structures needed in story writing or poetry. There is a wide range of animation apps available for the iPad, varying in reputation and notability. By searching the internet, talking to other teachers, and playing around with these apps, you will be sure to find an animation app that you feel is the right fit for your students. Pupils could share their animations on the school website or on a club wiki page, and viewers could leave reviews or feedback if desired.

You could even have end of term screenings with cardboard cups of popcorn, or share the animation videos in a whole school assembly.

Art Club

Recently, David Hockney, one of Britain’s most celebrated living artists, was praised for his innovative use of the iPad to create his latest pieces of art. There are many art apps that you might select for your art club. Ways that you could structure the club are either by using one app in great detail over the half term or term, and changing the topic that the pupils are drawing, or by keeping the same still life and changing the app each week instead. These alternative binaries can provide very different experiences and build on different skills in the club.

The term could end with an exhibition of pupils’ iPad artwork - maybe on the iPad screens themselves!

In summary, iPads help to develop pupils’ digital literacy and computing confidence. Using iPads outside of the classroom within the structured environment of extra-curricular clubs provides open-ended activities to increase both of these areas even further.

How have tablets transformed your school clubs? Let us know in the comments.

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