Blog 8:Using Google Apps and iPads in Big Writing

This week I have been using iPads in my Literacy lessons, planning for writing suspense over two lessons.
The writing task was based around our recent visit to Soplao Caves in Northern Spain. The task was to imagine that you a trapped in the caves, a bit like that episode of Father Ted, but minus Graham Norton.

To start with I created a project using Explain Everything, containing all of the materials for the weeks work.

The children were split into mixed ability pairs using the Team Picker app (saves a lot of time and hassle).

Each pair had an iPad and downloaded the project to Explain Everything using Dropbox.
To begin with we recorded our memories and feelings, sharing our ideas on the Smart board using the Reflection App to mirror our screens.

Once our initial ideas were recorded, we watched a video on You Tube, taking us on a virtual tour of the caves. This stimulated more ideas.

We then looked at an example text, containing all of the elements of suspense. The children identified the elements of suspense, and annotated using the pen tools whilst recording their voices, explaining why they have chosen certain elements. Certain groups had their work shared on the board reinforcing good examples. They then had the rest of the time to plan their writing. The whole class' iPad screens were displayed on the board whilst they planned.

The following day we were ready to write. We decided as a class to do this using Google Apps word processor. Each child made a document and shared it with me. My document list was on the board for the entire lesson, anbling me to display excellent examples throughout.

The children were sat in their pairs with a laptop each, with their iPad in between them. This enabled the childen to access their plans at anythime in the lesson.

I was able to comment both verbally and electronically throughout the lesson.
As a plenary/ peer assessment activity, which was set as a homework task, the children shared their work with their talking partner on Google Apps. Their partner highlighted the elements of suspense with the highlighter tool, adding a constructive comment. I was also able to do the same.

This was our maiden voyage using Google Apps and it was a great success. In terms of motivation and speed of planning for writing, the use of ICT was very effective. As a peer assessment tool it was extremely quick and easy.

I look forward to exploring the other collaborative tools on Google Apps.


  1. Nice system!
    I have the app "Pick Me" - do you know if it's better or worse than the team one you used? Maybe you could use one student's paper as an example of how to highlight various things for students to notice in their writing, too. (Save now and take names off for use next year.) Thanks for the post!

  2. Thanks for feedback. I will create some screen shots or a video next week and add it to the blog. I am not aware of Pick Me. I will look into it. I like Team Picker because you can add as many different classes as you wish and split them into groups of 2, 3, 4 or 5.
    Thank you for commenting and your suggestions :-)

  3. This looks like a fabulous activity. I am really keen to get into google apps as well as using Ipads within school.

    I would love to know what Laptops you have? Are they fizzbooks?

    1. The best thing I did was I gave the children time to play on Google Apps. It's amazing how quickly they picked it up.

      We have 30 Fizzbooks, which are great for Internet based work and research, and 30 Samsung netbooks, which have better processors. These are more useful for audio/ visual work.