Computer time with senior classes can be a tough time slot to fill. The kids have used all the programmes already, they think they know more than you, and they don’t want to do anything that involves ‘learning’. *** face palms *** If they’re working on a project, you can get them to research that, but in my experience so far, there are plenty of weeks when you’re left wondering what you’re supposed to do with them for the next hour!
I ran an after school digital media class last year, and had to dig deep into the Internet to find activities and resources to keep them engaged and entertained. Below are some of the websites I’ve found that work best.
Canva is a fantastic free site that provides ready-made templates for birthday cards, posters, invitations, and even social media profiles. Kids can take the templates and personalise them, giving them the chance to work as graphic designers for a few weeks! Here’s a sample that I threw together to introduce the website to the kids in my after-school class:
Biteable is a website that lets you take pre-made animated videos, and edit them in whatever way you want. You can add in footage, and change the text, colours, and music. It’s completely free, and will keep a group busy for 3-4 weeks. Unfortunately, you need an expensive upgrade to download the videos, but here’s an example from YouTube:
This interactive-quiz site is gaining in popularity amongst teachers, but have you considered getting students to make their own quizzes? Create an account for your classroom, and assign topics for the kids to become experts on. Have them put together their quiz and try it out on the rest of the class. They’ll be begging you to choose theirs!
WordMint is a handy site that you can use to have kids invent their own crosswords and wordsearches, which they will love getting their friends to complete. It requires a one-off payment of €5.50, but then it’s yours for life!
Mangahigh is a great maths website which covers all areas, although it’s based on an English curriculum. You can sign up for a thirty-day trial, and get four weeks of computers without paying. If you find it really useful, you could always suggest to the principal that the school invest in the full programme.
Code.org is a great way to introduce your kids to coding. It takes a little bit of time to get set up, but once you create an account for the kids, it will keep them busy for weeks as they make their way through the various challenges and tasks.
Similar to Code.org, involves kids using code to programme their own games and stories. Not as user-friendly as Code.org, but great for more advanced kids who have a little bit of experience under their belts.
iPiccy is an online photo editor that you can use to teach your future Insta-models everything from cropping and filters to exposure and saturation. You can use the photos provided or have them bring in their own photos on a memory stick to work with. There’s an option to make collages too, and if you have access to a colour-printer in your school, it could make for a really nice lesson or two!
As much fun as editing videos and designing posters can be, kids really really really need to master Word and the basic internal geography of a computer. I’m amazed by how many of my kids spend several hours a day staring at a screen, and yet can’t copy and paste an image online, or find a file after they’ve saved it. Office have a whole range of video tutorials online – this can work best if you put two kids working together, so they can follow the tutorial on one computer, and carry out the tasks on the other.
Similar to the the Office tutorials, I’ve yet to meet a kid who can actually type correctly. Considering typing has already replaced handwriting in nearly all areas of life, I think it’s worth including this at the start or end of your lessons, or focusing on it for a six to eight week term. As someone who taught themselves to type, it’s a pain in the face to get there, but so worth it when you master it!