Sunday 15 July 2012

Working with iPads to Create a School Leavers’ Assembly

Having worked closely all year with David Andrews in Year 6, particularly on the introduction of iPads to promote creative and effective teaching, we agreed several months ago that we wanted to apply some of the changes and developments to the traditional end of summer term Year 6 Leavers’ Assembly. This blog post describes the approach we took and explores the outcomes.


The controllable vehicle project ( showed us that the impact of the iPads could be wide ranging and that standards in many areas could be raised in an accelerated way. In addition, we established that the power of an audience was an additional trigger for effort, motivation and ultimately high quality outcomes.

We decided to allow the children complete free choice in what they wanted to present in the end of year assembly. They were told that the theme of the assembly was “A moment to shine” and that they would be expected to prepare a contribution based on their own talents, skills and interests. The idea was that iPads would be made available to everyone if required and that the assembly would be a combination of iMovies, iPad presentations, Garage band songs, iPad art/photography work along with traditional “live” presentations and performances.

An iMovie edit by one of the Rugby League Groups
Introduction to pupils:

This idea was explained to the pupils 4 weeks before the assembly. They were told they had complete freedom with their role in this and that they could form groups or contribute as individuals. Various questions were asked mainly I think to test the water and make sure we meant it “But I want to make a film about horse riding!”, and the response from the teachers was always that if the children wanted to do it, we had the technology, staff, “can do” attitude and energy to succeed.

Pupil Ownership/Mentors:

The children were given a weekend to make plans and discuss ideas and told their initial thoughts must be submitted on paper for the allocation of mentors. Complete pupil ownership was always a top priority, with minimal adult interference. However, individuals/groups were allocated adult mentors ( based on the ideas used on TV in the Voice and the X-Factor). The mentor’s role was to be a facilitator, critic and deadline pusher. Luckily this year in year 6, we have had three teachers and three teaching assistants alongside 2 dedicated volunteers although the role of the mentor was minimal throughout. Groups were allocated to the most suitable mentors and work began. Mentors had weekly feedback deadlines to allow me to make sure things were running according to plan.


Currently in school each of our teachers has an iPad. Classes can use any of the teacher iPads as required so the mentors arranged access for iPads for the groups that required them. Most of the contributions to the assembly required an iPad in one way or another. There were several iMovie projects, some photo slideshows and some keynote presentations. The use and availability of the iPad was a big motivator in terms of focusing the children as they worked towards their outcomes. Many children prepared work outside school on their own iPads, iPods, PCs, laptops, phones and cameras.

Children had created storyboards which acted as a plan for their project and transferred many of the skills developed in the controllable vehicle project.

Mr Andrews planned to create a Keynote presentation in which, all the iMovies, photos, pictures and other slides were all incorporated into one Keynote presentation and displayed on the big screen via a VGA cable. To do this each device was synced to iPhoto on the Macbook, then the required videos were imported and then synced from iTunes onto Mr Andrews' iPad. Once in the Camera Roll it could be then be compressed into a Keynote slide. The presentation was controlled using Keynote Remote app on his iPhone.

Screenshot of the Leavers' Assembly Keynote Presentation

Keynote Remote, iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand, Pic Collage & Comic Strip apps
were all incorporated into the final Keynote presentation.


The challenges the children perceived were quickly overcome either by parents stepping in to supervise out of school activities, such as the filming of the ice skating presentation. The group who wanted to create a skate park scooter edit ( were supervised by me one Saturday morning and all parents attended to provide support.

As all movies and presentations were made by children using iPads there was some difficulty converting video footage that had been filmed in different formats. I am sure there are other ways but we found it easy to upload windows media files from a PC to Vimeo and then download them to the iPad.


The concept of rehearsing a large scale production of 60 children had now changed and groups rehearsed any spoken/performing elements of their work separately with their mentors ( often at lunchtimes/breaktimes as all of the adult mentors had full teaching timetables with little flexibility. It was only at the very end of the preparation period, less than a week before the final assembly, that everything came together. At that point videos and photographs along with any keynote presentations were transferred to Mr Andrews’ iPad.

Running order and Performance:

To give an idea of the content of the assembly there were pupil filmed and edited iMovies on the themes of: Football, Horse Riding, Scooter Stunts, Writing books, Rugby, Magic, Ice Skating, Netball and eSafety. Keynote presentations were made on: Celebrity Gossip, Dancing, Singing and Musical performance. There was a live band who used Garage Band in rehearsing and arranging their song but chose not to use it in the assembly. As teachers we were very pleased with the high standard of every element of the assembly. 

Below is an example of a video edited in iMovie by Abbie.

Other examples of videos by the children can be found here:

The penultimate song at the Year 6 Leavers' Assembly

Technology using the iPad on the screen combined with live performances
When all of the work was combined the assembly lasted close to 90 minutes. It was presented in full twice. Once to the parents/carers and once to the rest of the school pupils.  Technically everything went very well. During the first show an amplifier failed which led to a relocation of audience/performers and technology but even this went surprisingly smoothly.

All of the children spoke confidently and with pride when introducing their element of the assembly. It was clear the complete sense of ownership along with the high presentation standards achieved with the iPads had enhanced this experience for them. It does seem the quality and standard of creative output is greatly enhanced impact by genuine pupil ownership/independence and high quality technology, coupled with a real and valued audience.

Feedback and Conclusions:

Reaction from everyone to the assembly has been very positive. Parents remarked upon the large scale involvement of all children. Also the amount of focused time and preparation on the project at home surprised some parents. Teachers commented on talents they didn’t realise children had and on the effective use of the technology.

It really seems that the children did all the work on this and reached a much higher standard than if they had been simply given a script or a tightly focused prompt. As teachers, we moved away from the stage and kept our role low key and supportive. The iPads and their capacity to create presentations of the highest quality were central to everything, and of course the pupils are getting so much better at using them with frequent opportunities for use in lessons since we did the Controllable Vehicle Project.

1 comment:

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