Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking to Catherine Elliott, the training manager at Sheffield South City Learning Centre about all the wonderful ways she has been using technology to channel pupils' creativity in primary languages.
A former secondary MFL teacher herself, Catherine has been running a successful summer school for pupils aged 9-11 for the last two years and has been encouraging them to practise their beginners' Spanish and French by making animations, video clips, multimedia posters, cartoons and professional-looking slideshows, then publishing them on a blog.
This year, pupils were lucky enough to be able to trial a set of 10 iPads the CLC had recently purchased and test run apps such as Doodle Buddy, Strip Designer, Make a Martian, Moodboard Lite, Collins French Dictionary and i-Prompt Pro in small collaborative groups. Examples of what they produced can be found below.
During the recording, Catherine kindly explains how she structures each activity and the tools that she uses, most of which are free or inexpensive. Her tips on animation are particularly interesting such as keeping to the 12 frame per second rule and using onion-skinning to create a smooth movement effect.
If you haven't seen it already have a look at her great animation about how to animate on the South Sheffield CLC blog. It's a true delight! Check out too the recent Teacher's TV programme on the same topic for some more tips and tricks.
I liked the way Catherine expressed her pupils' enthusiasm for having their work published to a real audience and her suggestions on ensuring they do so safely by giving them Spanish or French names and changing the pitch of their voices in Audacity before publishing their Vokis.
Catherine is now investigating the potential of mindmapping app Idea Sketch and UNESCO photo sharing app Heritage for the iPad. She could have a look at History Pin too which is a nice site for comparing scenic photos from the past with their modern day equivalents. A good vehicule for practising tenses potentially.
If this isn't impressive enough, Catherine is going to run another three day summer school next year but in German this time which she does admit is her first foreign language. In the meantime, her plans include setting up a collaborative blog for two secondary schools taking part in a German exchange and letting them experiment with I-GotU GPS trackers on a field trip to York as part of a Google Maps project. GPS Mission could be worth exploring too for this.
It was fascinating talking to Catherine about all her innovative approaches towards language learning and I hope you enjoy listening back to her fabulous ideas too. Thank you.