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Just do it! Here’s how

| August 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Anthony Peters and Tiaan Lötter

ISASA member Parklands College in Cape Town in the Western Cape is an Apple One2One environment.1

This privileged position means every learner and teacher in the school either has a MacBook or an iPad. With access to high-speed internet connectivity, and enthusiastic educators and learners, the classroom now presents a plethora of learning possibilities that follow the widely acclaimed constructivist approach.2

As reflective educators, we acknowledge two vital facets of successful learning:

1. having fun

2. thorough holistic understanding. These two terms should not be mutually exclusive, but in our experience, once number one is achieved, number two follows closely (and very enthusiastically) behind. To this end, we shall describe a number of methods that we have used to captivate and engage our learners, as well as getting them to be actively excited for lessons!

The motto/philosophy we find that fits rather well with our attitude is quite simply: ‘Learner and educator alike should thoroughly enjoy every lesson and not simply endure it.’

Animation and movies

You can only be handed so many pieces of paper before the process becomes mundane and laborious. Yet, outside school, learners are exposed to exciting series, movies and cartoons. By simply using multimedia, technology and (recently) a variety of applications as tools, we can completely change the learning environment for the better, quickly and easily.

Puppet Pals (free) and Puppet Pals 2 (limited free) are two Apple apps that you can use to create just about any scene or setting that you need to introduce a section of work, explain a principle unique to your subject or just recapture the attention of learners with some wacky characters and voiceovers. Similarly, because students can also create their own free short animations using premade characters and settings, have them create their own character descriptions, examples of physics, or just silly videos that teach you one thing (e.g. a maths equation, information on a historical event, a scientific fact). Apps such as these are phenomenal tools for learners to use for explaining or presenting absolutely anything.

You can do it for free!

The power of putting a creative tool in a child’s hand and giving them a direction should not be underestimated. Try it with other free Apple animation apps such as Stop Motion Studio, Toontastic and Morfo, as well some paid apps such as iCanAnimate and Explain Everything. Or try PowToon, simply because of its ease of use and limitless imaginative potential ( and

iMovie, WeVideo and YouTube video editor are all free options to avoid being bound by what you can find on YouTube or in your school’s DVD/video archive. WeVideo is a connected app within Google Drive and you can stream and upload directly to both WeVideo and YouTube, so content never has to touch your hard drive. Again, placing this in the hands of learners may produce monumental movies, glorious disasters of music videos or experiments, newscasts, documentaries or talkshow/reality TV re-enactments!

We would like to share some projects that other teacher readers may wish to try out in their classrooms. Example 1: Shakespeare Project: combining TED-Ed, Morfo, QR, Pages/Word and iPhoto to excite learners by ‘Bringing the Bard Back’!


Learners sign up for free to TED-Ed ( and can then watch an animation on Shakespeare. They then answer a series of self-marked questions based on the animation, by simply clicking on the options on the right, labelled ‘Watch’, ‘Think’, ‘Dig Deeper’ and ‘Discuss’.)

Journal Writing

During the reading of Act 1 of Romeo and Juliet, learners select a character. After each English lesson, learners must write a short diary entry from the perspective of their chosen character.

Learners can manipulate the font, style and general appearance of their diary entries (using Pages or Word) to reflect the ‘old times’. All the journal entries can then be displayed and used for revision.

Learners can go on a Shakespearean treasure hunt by scanning QR codes3 on a worksheet, which shows them a photo location of where they need to go. Once at the various locations around the school, a second code has to be scanned to answer a question based on Romeo and Juliet.

Example 2: A YouTube video based on Parklands College’s version of Mission Impossible to teach learners visual literacy. Pupils must identify the shots and angles of each image in the video to ‘save’ the English teacher from a kidnapper (a fellow member of staff ). Numerous educators were photographed ‘searching’ for the missing academic, and iPhoto was used to combine them with a soundtrack. (Video link:

Example 3: Learners must report on an incident (actual or fictional). This incorporates transactional writing skills4 and oral and reading skills.

Being creative by adding a watery effect on the lens for the rain forecast is something we would never have expected – your students will surprise you!

Example 4: Learners must create their own five-minute documentaries on a topic of their choice, using iMovie or WeVideo, including a complete written transcript.

Example 5: In preparation for World Book Day,5 Parklands College learners were asked to create a digital book review of their favourite book. They were encouraged to use any apps such as iCanAnimate, Morfo, Powtoon, iPhoto or iMovie to capture their audience. These reviews were then utilised by the school’s Learning Resources Centre, to help other learners find books that would be of interest to them.

Augmented reality

Our world is not what it seems to be. When your learners have all tapped their fingers numb on iPad screens, all hope seems lost to keep them engaged. Augmented reality introduces us to a world – our world – with an added layer of awesome. Aurasma, Daqri and other augmented reality apps are the latest trend in making lessons magic. Make the front cover of a book play the trailer of the movie based on that book. Bring up a video that solves the maths problem as an added video layer on top of a textbook. Put the learners in a virtual 360 degree photo sphere outing to any destination on the planet. Create links to explanations, 3D models and watch animations crawl over the page!

Example:Daqri Elements 4D

Print out a paper template and, with Daqri’s free app, learners can explore human anatomy including the muscular, skeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular and reproductive systems.

Unlimited realms

As we have said, our firm belief is that lessons should be exciting. If this is achieved, learners will focus far more attention and energy onto the content matter of their various academic subjects. It is vital to remember that one should not simply use technology and apps just for the sake of trying to be ‘cutting edge’ or to ‘relate to the learner’. Instead, they should be used to increase lesson variety, enhance the unlimited realm of imagination and, finally, to create an environment that stimulates and engages learners and channels their creativity and energy towards achievement.

1. See, for example:
2. See, for example:
3. A Quick Response (QR) code is the trademark for a type of matrix or twodimensional barcode. (Source:
4. See, for example:
5. See, for example:


Category: Spring 2014

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