Everyone Can Code Light Shows

During code week students coded light shows using a mix of Sphero EDU, SPRK+ and Swift Playgrounds. Over the past couple of years I had students create individual light shows but this year students did them in groups of 2 or 3. This actually worked a lot better although the discussions over which song to choose often took a little longer.

The main benefit of this is if a group felt challenged I did have spare SPRK+ to give them so they could use more than one for their videos.

Below are a couple of the results of using multiple SPRK+

Everyone Can Code App Prototypes on Keynote

This year we celebrated code week as we have in previous years. The focus was still on Swift Playgrounds and introducing all students to code.

In past years I would have asked students to list their favourite apps and then put a few app ideas on a post-it before discussing. This year started out pretty much the same but students progressed to sketch out their app ideas on Keynote templates (that I was lucky to gather at the Berlin Swift Summit)

Below are a few of the results. This activity helped students question what features are most important and what features from their favourites apps they would like to bring in to their own apps.

Everyone Can Create Logos

Inspired by the logo activity in Everyone Can Create: Drawing students created logos using Keynote.

In learning about logo design students discussed colours and each choose three different colour palettes from Adobe Color. They were able to copy these colours into Keynote using the color picker tool in Keynote.

Next up they discussed font types and used inspiration from DaFont. They were able to bring these into Keynote and create their own variations.

Finally they added Keynote shapes to complete the mix. Below are a couple of examples.


Everyone Can Create Hybrid Animals

Students this year have been very interested in using shapes in Keynote and drawing in Keynote and so when I saw a tweet mentioning combining animal shapes I knew it was something we had to try.

For this activity the idea is that students will combine two or more animal shapes in Keynote. They can group them, lower the opacity and draw around the silhouette before filling it in with their own colours or patterns.

A simple activity overall but one that helps to improve students proficiency and competence in Keynote. Below are some student created examples.

Some students took the activity one step further and created worlds for their animals to live in like this one.

Creating green screen animations with Keynote

Last year I used to keep my magic move Keynote lesson and the green screen lesson separately but this year I saw some potential to merge them.

Students created two copies of an animation using shapes in Keynote. The first version would have a picture or coloured background. The second version would have a green background. The idea behind this is that students would export both animations as movies before importing them into Green Screen by Do Ink. 

When using Do Ink the first version of the animation would be on the base layer, the green background version would be the top layer and the student would position themselves in between. This allows students to step inside their animations.

Below is an example of how this works.

Everyone Can Create Environmental Awareness.

Environmental awareness has been an interest of mine for quite a while and over the summer I remembered some of the photography activities I did back in college.

A really old blog post detailing my work as a student can be found here. 

With this in mind and the launch of the Everyone Can Create curriculum I decided it was time to integrate this into my classroom. I used this activity to highlight the city we live in whilst also using it as an introduction to photo editing with Snapseed App. 

First off I sent students on a mission to use their cameras to capture some photos from around the city and college. I didn’t specify types of photos or whether they should capture positive or negative pictures. This was one of their first experiences using the iPad camera so I was interested in what they would come back with.

Once they had their selection of photos I introduced them to some key features in Snapseed (filters, cropping, adding text) before allowing them some time to explore and create their own photos. Below are some of the results.

Before editing

After Editing


Everyone Can Create Photo Silhouettes

About a year ago we used the All About Me template from the Apple Teacher Platform to create some customised silhouettes filled with student’s hobbies and interests.

You can find the old blog post from that activity here 

Fast forward a year and thanks to Everyone Can Create we are now doing the same but with customised silhouettes. This addition allows students to learn about lighting and photography basics.

Students start off with taking their silhouette against a well lit background. We found that doorways and windows worked well for this.

Next up students would edit the photo in photos to increase/ decease the contrast and use markup to draw in any spots that needed lightening or darkening. Once the silhouette was complete they brought it into Keynote and added shapes.

With one class we used this method for all photos and got the following results.

For the second group we took a different approach and instead of working with photos and markup students instead brought their photos directly into keynote and lowered the opacity of the silhouette before drawing around it with Apple Pencil and filling with a colour of their choice. This gave a different type of look to the silhouettes.

While the first method was slightly more tedious for students to do there are lessons to be learned from both methods.

You can find more guidance in the Everyone Can Create Photo Book which can be downloaded for free here

Logitech Crayon. Hands-on review.

When the Logitech Crayon was announced back in March I was excited to get my hands on it. I didn’t think it would take this long but it finally arrived.

I am a big fan of the Apple Pencil so was interested to see how this would compare.

Charging and syncing 

So this was a nice experience. The orange cap lifts off (but is still attached) so you can insert your lightning cable in to charge it. Interestingly there wasn’t a lightning cable included but sure if you have an iPad you will have one of those. I did like how you could just plug the cable directly into it like you do your devices or Beats whereas the Apple Pencil either has to be plugged into a device or charged via the lightning adaptor. The fact that the tip doesn’t pop off also means less likelihood of losing it (I am always afraid of losing the one from my Pencil)

Synching was simple. All I had to do was open up Notes/ Pages and my iPad responded to it.

The feel 

So the shape is the one thing that got me. It is quite a bit heavier but also doesn’t have the same rounded shape as the Apple Pencil. It reminds me more of the Paper 53 stylus I had a few years back. My initial reaction to this was ‘wow I don’t like it’ but within a couple of minutes, I got used to it.

The price

The price ended up being a lot steeper than I initially expected working out at £65 from Logitech or £60 from Apple. I had hoped somewhere around the £40-£50 mark. However, if you are a staff or a student at an institute you might like to take advantage of their 30% student discount which brings it in at £45 including delivery. You can get that discount here. 


While I think my own personal go-to stylus will be the Apple Pencil I  think the lack of having to synch the Crayon makes it the perfect classroom companion and I cannot wait to use mine.



Shadow Draw App Review

I have seen the @shadowdrawapp Twitter handle appear quite a bit over recent weeks and finally took some time to sit down and try it out. Well, I wasn’t disappointed.

The regular app contains a mix of free tutorials and in-app purchases. A year ago this kind of app wouldn’t have appealed to me but Keynote line drawings and Apple Pencil have converted me.
As a leftie I found some of the tutorials a little tricky but after 4 or 5 I got the hang of it and learned to adjust my lines and hand accordingly.
I think this is a great intro to drawing and will be adding it to my curriculum this year. The ShadowDraw Academy app is just for schools and features subject specific drawings like maps for Geography.

Below are a couple of my first (and very rough!) drawings. You can download the apps from ShadowDraw here

Don’t forget to share your creations on social media.