French Summer School 2010

September 1, 2010

Following on from the success of our Spanish Summer School last year, we ran a French one for 3 days in August, aimed at Year 5 and 6 students with no or little prior knowledge of the language – although there were a few who had already learnt much of what we covered.

Day 1

We covered Greetings, How you are and Names in the morning. Each pair of attendees had the use of an iPad, which we used initially as an expensive mini-whiteboard using the free app Doodle Buddy, to write answers on. Having used mini-whiteboards as a teacher, it soon became clear that the iPads have the advantage of being much cleaner and avoiding the problem of pens running out of ink all the time.

At the end of the morning, students then created a comic strip using all the language learnt, using the Strip Designer app on the iPad (which we called Pow! due to the icon used). This costs £1.79 but is worth it, as creating comic strips is really easy to do, using images from My Photos. The students used aliens for the characters in their strip, created using the Martian app. This is another free app to create your own alien, choosing colour, body shape, number of legs etc (ideal for teaching body parts!)

You can then take a screen shot of the finished martian (hold down the home and power button) which automatically goes into My Photos. I also used this app to create a unique lock screen for each iPad so the students knew which was theirs for the week.

Once these had been finished the attendees recorded a short piece of French on mp3 recorders to add to a Voki, using French names picked from a list rather than their own. Some of them used Audacity to edit their voice. Unfortunately I’ve not managed to embed the results here.

After lunch we looked at some French-speaking countries and how to say where you lived. Everyone then used Animoto to create a short slideshow about a country.

Cameroon culture


Unfortunately this was quite a frustrating day with regard to the technology, as our broadband connection was running very slowly and some Vokis were lost when the website froze. Other computers wouldn’t connect to the network or kept crashing, and by the end of the day I remembered why a lot of teachers don’t use computers in the classroom. Still it was worth it in the end.

Day 2

In the morning we did colours and because some students had already learnt them I did a bit on adjectival agreement too, in order for them to create a poster using the Moodboard Lite app (free) with French sentences describing images found on the internet. The Moodboard app was created for designers, artists etc but I liked it for the colours posters because one of the features was the ability to create a colour palette. The students used the Collins French dictionary app to look up any words they didn’t know. This was the £5.99 version, and although there was a cheaper one, this had a good balance of detail in the entries whilst still being simple enough for learners of this age.
I’ve always noticed that children find it difficult to use a dictionary properly for a foreign language and so I spent a little time talking them through the process and explaining what some of the abbreviations meant. The novelty of the iPads certainly seemed to motivate them more than using a paper version.

The rest of the morning was spent learning numbers 1-20, and we used the noughts and crosses background in Doodle Buddy to play bingo. Each child then planned a short stop-motion animation using some of the language learnt so far, using plasticine for characters and I Can Animate software.

Day 3

The students spent the morning editing their animations using Windows Movie Maker, adding voiceovers and titles.

We then covered some basic weather vocabulary with the aim of creating weather forecasts in front of the green screen. Unfortunately we were running out of time so I gave the attendees the choice of how to create their weather-based presentations – using Voki, Animoto, Strip Designer, or filming it and editing in Windows Movie Maker. The groups that filmed their weather forecast used the free app iPrompt Pro as a scrolling script to read from on the iPads. It is a little complicated to use, as you have to fiddle with the settings to get the script to scroll slowly enough, but worth it to avoid the children clutching a bits of paper, and typing in the script reinforced the language.


All of the work created over the 3 days was eventually uploaded to our French Summer School blog, which was set up using Posterous. I still really like this platform as it is so simple to use, and presents the work really nicely (for example multiple photos get put into a gallery).

In all it was a very successful 3 days. I was really pleased with how well the iPads worked aspart of the classroom-type activities. Originally I had seen them very much as something students would use for reference and for passive skills (i.e. reading/listening), but there are enough free/cheap apps out there for creating work too, although we didn’t do any audio recording directly on the iPads. I shall try to do a separate post detailing all of the useful apps I found for MFL work.

One last issue presented itself with the iPads, and that was transferring all of the images of the work the students did onto my computer. The photos don’t get synched through iTunes, but when you plug the iPad in, the PC sees it as a camera, and if you double click on the icon that appears in My Computer you can see all of the photos saved on the device and transfer them as you wish.

You can hear me talk about the French and last year’s Spanish summer school in a podcast published on Joe Dale’s Integrating ICT into the Modern Languages Classroom blog.

Animation – Beyond Plasticine: Summer School

August 18, 2010

This is my second animation summer school at the CLC and I decided I wanted to push the participants a bit further, away from the 20 second claymation towards a more creative animation, hence the name “Beyond Plasticine”. Unfortunately we only had two attendees on the summer school, possibly due to the higher age limit this year (12+), but it was still a worthwhile 3 days.

I began by showing them some examples of animation using photos, people, post it notes, t-shirt etcs, to get them thinking. Examples:

T-Shirt War


Skateboard Animation

Stopmotion with Wolf and Pig

The two lads then spent the rest of the morning talking about what kind of animation they wanted to do and planning the storyline. They came up with a really good idea to animate a Nintendo DS game and have the characters escape the console and chase after them both. At this point it became clear that plasticine was the best way to go for the characters, so I allowed a bit of modelling.

It was really hard work getting a finished storyboard from the pair, as they had ideas in their heads but preferred to talk through it than get it down on paper. In the end we compromised and they storyboarded sections, then animated those sections, to break up the process a bit.

They were also given plenty of breaks to help ensure they remained focussed up to the end of the day, as it is such painstaking work. One of the pair had previously done a lot of lego animation, using a still camera, so he was very good at envisaging the action and knowing how to move the characters, props and camera (though I helped with the latter).

Once all the animation was completed, they each created their own version of the film in Adobe Premiere Pro (required to get the DS game in the right place) and Windows Movie Maker.



Summer School 2010

June 4, 2010

Here’s what the CLC has planned for Summer School this year:

  • Music Summer School, 2nd-6th August – aimed at musicians between 12 and 16, attendees will look at performing, recording and editing their music. We’re pleased to announce that Jon Windle, formally of Little Man Tate, will be joining us for guitar and song-writing masterclasses.
  • French Summer School, 23rd-25th August – for pupils between 9 and 11 years of age. Participants will learn some basic French using a variety of technologies, for example green screen filming, animation, comic strips etc.
  • Animation – Beyond Plasticine,  16th-20th August – for young people between 13 and 16 years old. We wanted to move away from animating using plasticine figures and use different media instead, for example photographs, real people, drawings etc. For inspiration see the animations here and here.

To apply for the summer schools, please fill in the form here, and return to the CLC with £10 (cheques payable to Sheffield South CLC) per person per summer school.

Spanish Summer School – Part 2

August 19, 2009

A second Spanish Summer School ran last week, essentially a repeat of the first one with different children. Once again it was a great success, with feedback from parents that their children were really keen to come back each day as they were enjoying it so much.

Here are some of the comic strips and animations they created – the pronunciation is fantastic on the animations:

Comic 1Comic 2

Music Video Summer School 2009

August 11, 2009

The CLC recently completed its inaugural Music Video Summer School, inspired by having a number of bands using our music recording facilities this year. Fourteen students spent 5 days at the centre creating a music video in 4 different groups. We asked one of the bands from our partnership schools, The Ruze (website here), to record one of their tracks for groups to create a video for. One of the groups chose to record their own song which gave them a chance to use the recording facilities. The following days were spent planning, filming, animating and editing the films, with students learning how to film using with the green screen and edit in Adobe Premiere.

You can hear feedback from one of the groups here

The finished videos were all excellent and were judged by a panel made up of CLC staff:


Thanks to all the participants for their hard work, and particular thanks to The Ruze for the track and allowing the groups to film them playing.

Spanish Summer School #1

August 4, 2009

We have been running a number of summer schools at the CLC over the summer holidays, including a three day Spanish summer school. We had fourteen year 5 and 6 students learning the basics in Spanish, whilst using lots of ICT. They started with greetings, asking how you are and what your name is. They then used Comic Life to create short conversations illustrated with pictures of their choice:

comic1comic 2

Everyone then recorded their conversations using mp3 recorders and uploaded both comic strips and audio to Glogster.

On the second day the students learnt the numbers, how to say where you live and some simple weather. They then wrote and performed weather forecasts for a particular Spanish-speaking country in front of the green screen, so they could have a picture of the country in the background. They edited these in  Windows Movie Maker (once the backgrounds had been added in Adobe Premiere) and posted them onto their Glogs together with information they had found out about their country.

On day 3 they learnt the colours and pets, and in pairs created a short animation about animals – you can see all their efforts below.

In all it was a successful few days, and the use of ICT certainly seemed to be very effective in helping the participants learn their Spanish. Here is one parent’s feedback regarding her daughter’s experience:

“After her first day she came home and she had learnt more in one day than she had doing a year of Spanish at school! It has renewed her enthusiasm – combining technology/language and creativity has worked really well. Many thanks!”

Summer Schools Programme at the CLC

May 8, 2009

Summer School 2009

We have now finalised our Summer School Programme for 2009. We have three different Schools running:

1. Learn Spanish through the Creative Use of Technology:

This is aimed at current year 5 and 6 students, and will run for 3 days. There are two possible dates (with the same content running each time) – 22nd-24th July and 12th-14th August. Participants will learn some basic Spanish using different aspects of technology such as film-making, animation, comic strip making and digital poetry. (No prior knowledge of Spanish required). This summer school is now full.

2. Music Video Summer School:

Aimed at 12-16 year olds who are interested in creating a music video, and it will run from the 27th-31st July. Bands from local schools will record the music and we’re looking for young people interested in all aspects of film-making and animation to create the video. This summer school is now full.

3. Web Station Summer School:

This summer school is aimed at students between 9 and 14 years old and runs from 3rd-7th August. The aim is to design and maintain a simple web-site with local and national news content. The content may be in  the form of short films, animations, music, blogs, interviews, digital photography. This summer school is now full.

To apply for all of these Summer Schools, download an application form here and return to:

Sheffield South City Learning Centre, by Newfield School, Lees Hall Road, Sheffield S8 9JP. E-mail

Tel: (0114) 2587728 for more information.