Apps in Action: SketchParty TV for Starters and Plenaries

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This week, whilst trawling through the App Store I discovered a new game which I’ve been using in lessons to great effect. It’s called SketchPartyTV and is a Pictionary-style drawing game where players have to draw clues for a particular word, from which their team then has to work out what it is they’re trying to draw. Simple, but very effective!

How does it work?
Gamifying learning is becoming more popular these days and this app represents just one simple way to apply this in a lesson. When mirrored via AirPlay, SketchParty TV projects the drawing canvas on the display, along with the score and a countdown timer. This requires no setup as it just works, as long as your iPad is AirPlaying to a device. The same appears on the iPad as what is projected on the screen, however it also states the word to draw and buttons to mark an answer either correct or to pass on a word. If the drawer opts to pass, it will ask you to draw it again at the end of the round if time is remaining. The app also keeps track of the scores of each team automatically. Another cool feature is the variety of brushes and colours available to the drawer, meaning they can create detailed, accurate images, potentially making them easier for others to interpret. For example, when one of my classes was using this app the word they had to draw was “Beach” and it wasn’t until they added colour that it became more apparent.

To set up a game, you must first choose a word list. You can opt for one of the pre-installed ones, however it is more likely that you’ll want to create your own. You can also tinker the options to suit the class and the lesson. You can choose how many words you would like them to get through per round and also how much time you would like to allocate for each word. I generally set the words per round to half of the total word list and allow 10 seconds per word. So if there were 12 words and 10 seconds per word, the team would have to get as many of those as they could in 2 minutes. Alternatively, you could set the words per round to the number of words in the word list, however the next team to play is likely to be asked to draw words which have already come up (not that that’s always a bad thing).

Features
The greatest feature about this app from an educators perspective is the ability to add custom word lists. This enables the teacher to create a series of word lists in advance for a topic which are always available and on hand, ready to go. A created word list must contain a minimum of 16 words. I’ve used it in this way as a plenary with my Year 7 Humanities class this week who have been studying river processes and drainage basins. I split the class in half and put them in competition with each other. Being able to show how processes of erosion and transportation work in the form of a diagram is a challenge, but one they really enjoy. It also engages the rest who are not drawing as they are trying to work out the word as quickly as possible for their team. I did enforce a penalty for any wrong calls, otherwise I found they just shout out every word they can think of relating to the topic in the hope that they’ll say the answer, removing the challenge.

I have also used this app this week with my Year 11 class who are currently studying the coastline. However, rather than use a list of words created by myself, I made the class create their own list by taking the iPad around whilst they were on task and asking them adding a word to the list relating to the topic of study. Again I split them into two teams and put them in competition with each other. A number of those in the class pointed out that this would be a useful revision tool for them, particularly when looking at things like processes and landforms.

Conclusion
I believe SketchParty TV is a simple, yet effective way to gamify your lessons in a challenging way. It creates a great buzz amongst participants, especially when the element of competition is used. Although it is a paid app, it does only need to be installed on one iPad which I feel makes it good value for money. It could be argued that the same could be achieved using a standard whiteboard and marker pens, however that is nowhere near as engaging. In addition, the automation features like keeping score, timing and assigning words from the word list to the team make conducting the task a whole lot easier.

Fancy giving it a go? Let us know how you’ve used it in lesson and any success or failures in the comments section below.

Note: SketchParty TV only requires one iPad to play as a class, however it also needs an AirPlay mirroring device. The recommended tool is an Apple TV (2 or later) connected to a TV or projector. Alternatively, you can connect your device using an AV adapter or to a Mac/PC running an app like Reflector. Full requirements can be found here.

IMG_0836SketchParty TV by Magnate Interactive Ltd is available for £3.99 on the App Store.

*all prices and links correct at the time of publication and are subject to change

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4 thoughts on “Apps in Action: SketchParty TV for Starters and Plenaries

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