Sunday 25 November 2012

Strip Designer: 10 easy ways to get started with iPads/iPods in the primary classroom

Context: Many schools are starting their own iPad journey and often teachers ask for ideas about which apps to use and how to use them. As a good starting point, Strip Designer is easy to use, powerful and versatile. There are countless ways in which it could be used to promote learning and to add quality and variety to presentation of work. Once teachers have started using it, the practical ideas keep on coming. There is nothing here that couldn’t be achieved with pencil and paper but in terms of speed of productivity, ability to edit content and quality of presentation this app can really enhance pupil output in a lesson. Here are some examples of things we have tried.

1: Title Page

One of the most simple but effective uses of Strip Designer is to create title pages for work done in other apps. Children of all ages can easily add a picture to a simple one frame comic strip and then use the tools to add text boxes, speech bubbles, captions and effects. Amongst other things we have used this to produce titles for books made in Creative Book Builder, titles for Keynote presentations and title pages for classroom wall displays. The basic function of Strip Designer remains the same when applied to other uses in terms of combining pictures and comic style effects. Internet pictures can easily be added to the camera roll for inclusion in comic strips.
Title Page for a Controllable Vehicle Project
2: Sequence of instructions (How to...)

An annotated picture sequence of instructions has so many applications. In mathematics pupils complete a “How to...” comic strip when they have discovered a new technique or mastered a particular skill. This can be applied to any other area of learning where step-by-step text/picture combinations can be used for pupils to demonstrate their learning, or to help with new learning. Sequenced pictures are included in comic strips with as many frames as required along with explanatory speech bubbles and captions. This can work both ways as teachers can prepare instructions in comic strip format for pupils.

How to work out 9 times tables
3: Story board

The APP is perfect for planning movies, adverts and other film sequences. Pictures can be inserted indicating planned scenes and film sections and annotations through notes can provide further details and give depth to the plan. Scenes and ideas can be easily reordered and changed as plans take shape.

The Edward Jenner Story

4: Historical timeline

A visual account of a historical sequence of events can be presented in detail using Strip Designer. Dates and summaries of key events can be added allowing the reader to follow the historical developments in sequence. Children really relate to this format and the comic strip features allow the pictures to show what key historical characters may have been saying/thinking at particular points in history.
The Road to World War 2

5: Diary of a visit/event

The portability of the iPod allows pictures to be taken and editing to take place in any location. A school visit or sporting event can be photographed to give a pictorial presentation which can be used back at school for follow up writing activities, spoken presentations to an audience or display on a website/blog.

Guest Speakers at 'We Can Be Champions!'

6: Report of a scientific investigation

If a child takes pictures of the various stages of a science experiment, Strip Designer is a useful APP to use to present them. If pupils are developing skills in explanation and reporting the language opportunities for time connectives “First I,..” “Next the,...” etc works very well in with the strong visual elements of the APP. Speaking and Listening progress is made when children use their comic strip style investigation record as a prompt when explaining their procedures and findings to others.

7: Vocabulary chart (MFL)

When learning Modern Foreign Languages, banks of vocabulary can be created by pupils easily with Strip Designer. In French dictionary lessons the pupils have selected themes such as sports/pets and copied images to the iPod’s camera roll before inserting them into comic strips. The children have added the correct English and French vocabulary and are building a collection of useful and relevant vocabulary.

Modern Foreign Languages - Pets
8: Planning prompt for writing
On way the APP can support writing, particularly for children with memory and sequencing difficulties, is that it can be used to prepare writing prompts for pupils in a visual format. Teaching assistants have worked with pupils talking through a plan for a story and recording the plan as a sequence of pictures in strip designer, either using internet images or drawings. These can easily be numbered and annotated allowing a child to write a carefully sequenced story with a visual plan.

Screenshots with caption, used as a writing prompt.

9: Weekly weather record

A weekly weather report can be compiled using Strip Designer. Each day a pupil needs to take a picture of the weather and add it to a comic strip. Notes can be easily added detailing temperature, wind speed, precipitation data etc. The completed comic strips can be used for data handling activities or could be a stimulus for report writing based on the weather.

10: Collecting opinions

Recently the children were preparing and planning to write a balanced argument on whether or not there should be a charge to visit art galleries. (This was part of our Guest Marker project and the marker was the curator of our local art gallery) In order to collect different points of view to include in their writing, the children asked each other (and staff members) what their initial thoughts were. Each person was photographed with the iPod using the Strip Designer APP, and the children summarised their views using speech bubbles.


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  2. Just discovered this site whilst studying an online course with the national College. Really useful - we have just introduced 40 iPads into our Primary School and are on the lookout for excellent examples like these!

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  4. I am training to be a primary school teacher and i have been looking for some music that i could use in a Primary Classroom in music or PE and i was wondering if anybody had any suggestions on songs or CDs that i could purchase. Thanks.