Writing Instructions: Instant Alpha

On Friday we had a lot of fun with the instant alpha feature in Pages.

The children produced some brilliant work – as they so often do they exceeded my expectations and came up with different ways of using the same tool within an app.

It was great to see them applying a range of skills to overcome problems with layering images.

Today the task was to produce an instruction sheet to help someone else use this feature.

I had already produced instructions for use on a Mac and we looked at this first and talked about the language of instruction.

They decided that the instructions needed would depend upon who was to use them.

A simple set using 4 screenshots would be appropriate for someone who was familiar with using an iPad. A more complex 8 image set of instructions would be required for a user who was unfamiliar with iPads.

In order to prevent time being wasted searching for, or setting up the ideal picture I had put 6 suitable images into their Dropbox.

The task was:

  • To take 4 (or 8) screenshots.
  • Place them into the InstaCollage app
  • Email them to me (we have no capacity to print from our iPads at present)
  • Print them out.
  • Use the images to create an instruction sheet

The lesson went well. Although it was meant to be an independent task there was some collaborative learning as they helped each other – they discovered that taking a screenshot of the tool in action required a high level of dexterity or an extra hand.

The biggest problem we encountered was unexpected – usually when they email from the iPads they use an address saved in contacts.

Today I was using a new email address so they needed to type it in themselves. At least one third of the class did this incorrectly leading to lots of conversations like this.

“Miss. I’ve sent my images”
“It’s not in my inbox…are you sure?”
“Yes, I definitely sent it”
“OK, go back and check the address – is it 100% correct?”

I foresee a lesson on the importance of accuracy…and the difference between a postman and a computer.

I haven’t finished marking the finished work, but I’ve been really please with the books I’ve looked at so far.

Some of the children tested out their instructions on unsuspecting adults in school, hopefully next week we’ll find some more willing guinea pigs.instantalpha

Rd ths plz

This week we’ve written descriptive stories and letters.

I decided to change things around by visiting http://ifaketext.com and creating the start of a text conversation between two characters in our story.



The first thing I learnt in my lesson today was that I’m not up to speed with the latest text conventions. Apparently my third text should have read *understand and my sorry autocorrect was extraneous. 

Once we’d got over my error it was fascinating to watch the children work.

One pupils who I know is a prolific tester wrote her first few entries in beautiful standard English.

When I asked her why she said ‘You’ve spent too long teaching me the right way miss’

Others really got into the spirit of things and I learnt a lot of new things.

The lesson led to a really interesting discussion on the use of ‘different voices’  both written and spoken.



Level 4: …writes appropriately for the purpose of the reader and in a range of forms
Level 5 …writes in a range of forms for different readers, using a more formal style where appropriate

Level 4: … talks and listens with confidence in an increasing range of contexts
Level 5: …talks and listens confidently in a wide range of contexts, including some that are of a formal nature