For a number of years, I’ve been running after-school Computing clubs with our children. During these clubs, my aim has been to give children the opportunity to use technology in ways that they might not be able to during their regular ICT lessons in class.
When planning my ICT clubs previously, I had a number of activities in mind, and my original intention was to have a very small group of pupils working on these focussed ICT tasks. I then wanted to add the children’s work to our school website. However, after sending out invitations to the children, I received a huge number of responses. Lots of children were keen to join, and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone by turning them away. So, I had to rethink the practical arrangements for the club.
My main concern was how to teach the number of activities that I had prepared to such a large number of children when I was the only adult in the room! In the end, I decided to create a wiki which would be the children’s main source of information during the clubs, enabling them to work more independently. A wiki is a website which allows people to add and edit pages from any computer connected to the Internet. The wiki was set up using a free service and it was very quick and easy to create the necessary pages. Each page gave instructions for completing one of the ICT challenges that I wanted the children to try. The wiki had step-by-step instructions using text and screenshot images, which the children could then follow during the club. This allowed them to learn how to complete the activities by themselves. It also eased the pressure on me during the club, allowing me to act in a supporting role rather than trying to teach lots of different skills to large numbers of children at once.
The wiki was a fantastic resource, and many of the children went home and used it to try some of the online activities. During the club, the children were also asked to edit the wiki for themselves. When they completed one of the activities, they recorded their achievements on a ‘Register’ page (which I’d also set up previously) to show others what they had completed during their time. They also saved their work (taking their own screenshot images where appropriate) so that I could upload their creations to the school website.
Some of the children’s activities during the club included:
- Musical composition – we have a range of composition software available to us, but the children particularly enjoyed using Garageband on our Apple computers. By combining the musical loops and building up layers of sounds, they created some songs which sounded quite professional!
- Avatar creation – I found a number of websites which allowed the children to create their own avatars (an avatar is a picture which can be used to represent yourself online). I added links to these sites on the wiki and the children were able to explore them from there. Creating avatars was an extremely popular activity!
- Web generators – Various websites were used to generate logos and other images. The children particularly enjoyed using the graffiti creator to make their own graffiti-style pictures.
- Chatterboxes – the children used software called ‘Crazytalk‘ to turn a still image of a person / animal into a talking character. By highlighting the facial features on the picture, and recording their speech, the photograph was brought to life and made to talk!
- Stick animation – using freely downloadable software (Pivot Stick Animator), the children animated some stick characters. This was particularly enjoyable and many of the children also downloaded the software at home so that they could make animations in their free time.
- One of the sessions in each set of clubs was also devoted to the creation of a ‘big’ project, where everyone worked together on a single task. In the first of these, the children gathered every ball that we could find in school. We then gathered lots of video cameras and filmed our own ‘bouncing ball’ style advert, just like the one used to promote a popular brand of television! In the second of these projects, we travelled around the school with digital cameras taking hundreds of photographs. These were then uploaded to the free Animoto service, where the children made music videos showing off different parts of our school!
Later, we experimented with 2Simple’s 2Do It Yourself software. The program allows children to make their own games and interactive activities. The children really enjoyed making their own platform games using characters of their own creation, or based upon games that they actually play at home. It’s also possible to make your own on screen jigsaw puzzles, quizzes and labelling activities. These could be used to make educational resources for other children, but I gave the children a free choice of what they could do with their games.
Have you tried an ICT club? What activities do your children take part in?