We were delighted to welcome Katie Hart from 2Simple to our meeting on 15th November. Katie gave us a hands-on guided tour of some of the best features of Purple Mash for supporting writing and learning through drawing, designing and making.
We were all taken with the bank of hundreds of themed writing templates. Each starts with a stimulus using sound, images or video, followed by a ready-made page with space to add text, photos drawings and clip art.
You can click to insert vocabulary or sentence starters in your writing and respond to question prompts on the screen. This example based on the Three Little Pigs has sentence starters to help retell the story and supports editing by suggesting connectives, and prompting checks for tense, capitals and full stops. All of these features help to increase writing independence.
Activities are grouped by theme, making it easy to differentiate learning. We loved this simpler version of the Three Little Pigs task, and thought our children would enjoy drawinging straw, sticks and bricks houses with the textured pens. Other art activities have all kinds of fantastic pens: snakeskin, lizard scales, animal fur, zebra stripes, baked beans, peas or chocolate, you name it!
Another activity that grabbed our attention was Purple Mashcams. You can use a webcam to put your own face in a picture and write from the point of view of one of 42 different characters. It would be hard to resist writing once you see yourself as a viking, zookeeper, android or chef, for example.
Next we played with 2Design & Make in the Creative Tools section. Here you can design, print and make vehicles, buildings, masks, crowns, and 3D shapes, as well as open-ended models of your own. When you alter the shape and use the drawing tools to customise your model, you can watch your ideas appear on a spinning 3D representation. Katie shared some super models of Tudor-style houses.
Katie also had some printed examples of open-ended writing frames, using templates for leaflets, postcards, posters, newsletters, letters and envelopes from the 2Publish and 2PublishExtra within Creative Tools. You can add your own photos to these or use the huge collection of clipart. We particularly liked the 3D leaflets:
We also loved having the whole of Simple City and Maths City available for the Early Years, both of which have choices of activities at a number of difficulty levels. And we thought older children would be blown away by the opportunity to design, play and share their own 3D maze games in 2DIY3D. Here you can design your own environment, by importing patterns for walls and floors, and creating characters or objects to collect and avoid. Each object can have sound and animation, and you can set the number of lives and points awarded within your game.
Games can be shared via a weblink or embedded in a blog or webpage, meaning that anyone can play, not just those with logins to Purple Mash. This adds up to an outstanding tool which lends itself to use on any curricular theme. Here’s a game on George and the Dragon from Summerbank Primary School. Click to follow the link and use the arrow keys to navigate:
Katie finished with demonstrations of the 2Simple software 2Create a Story and 2Do It Yourself (2DIY). 2Create a Story lets you make ebooks with animated illustrations, and 2DIY has many options for creating flash activities and games. Here’s a link to a film I helped to make at Sonning Common Primary School with Matt Lovegrove whose Year 4 children created learning games for Year 2 children. These children thought hard about designing games to meet Year 2 learning objectives and refined their games as a result of audience testing:
Making Games at Sonning Common Primary School.
As I’m sure you know, all schools in Milton Keynes currently have a free subscription to Purple Mash. Contact Katie if you’d like some more logins for your students. (firstname.lastname@example.org/020 8203 1781). Longmeadow School have offered to coordinate continuing this subscription as a schools cluster after Feb 2013 when it is due for renewal. The more schools join in the bigger the discount so let them know if you are interested (email@example.com/01908 508678).
We agreed to meet again on 17th January. Tina will use this meeting to launch an online ICT Mark Network Group sharing ideas, problems, lesson materials and practical tips on how to make best use of ICT. Please come and join in whether or not you’re aiming for the ICT Mark. Contact Tina for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sway, Emma and I are organising a Milton Keynes Teachmeet. Do let me know if you’d like to help plan this. (email@example.com).
It was good to see you all! I hope the run up to Christmas is fun, and we’ll look forward to more ideas sharing next term.