Sharing ideas and all things ICT… I am a Y2 teacher, AHT, ICT subject leader and mum

Posts tagged ‘Games based learning’

Night at the Museum (Wii) Part 2

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Having researched and snowballed information regarding the eight audiotours in the Natural History Museum, New York, the children now have all the information they need to begin writing a Tour Guide (non-chronolgical report).  A selection of photographs and hand drawn illustrations will accompany the writing to make an attractive guide to provide additional information for those that visit.  I will post photographs once they have been completed.

As part of our persuasive unit, the children have compared and contrasted a variety of museum posters advertising exhibitions in order to identify persuasive devices with the hope of replicating them for their own posters.  This was very successful and the children were also able to identify who the intended audience was for each of them which was great!  Once the conventions of persuasive writing were understood, the next task of our unit was to design a poster to attract visitors.  Some very ingenious designs were undertaken, ranging from dinosaur, torch, key and Gum Gum head shaped posters.  Most had eye catching colours, slogans, imaginative lettering and important information.  I decided that a little experiment would be called for.  Instead of me providing the children with a marking ladder setting out success criteria, I wanted to challenge the children to write their own and critically evaluate against it.  Having marked their efforts I was very surprised at the quality of their evaluations.  Memo to self – I need to do more of this!!!


Art this week has involved (among other things) making Akmenrah’s Tablet complete with ingots as featured in the game.  As well as being fun, it will form an interesting centrepiece to my display!  There was a slot this morning to play the game, complete with ‘night watchman’ hats to help the children become ‘Larry’!  This met with some hilarity but no refusals, they really do love this topic!!!  I have the photographs to prove it and will post them  too!

So much completed already and it’s only Monday!  Part 3 coming soon…

(Images courtesy of

Night at the Museum (Wii) Part 1

New year, new term, new topic!  A non-fiction unit that would encompass a big history focus as well as incorporating more games based learning incentives to encourage writing??  Night at the Museum film fits the bill perfectly.  Much of my Christmas holiday was spent getting used to the game and all that it involved (with the great help of my 16yr old son, who was far more adept than I could ever be on the Wii!)  Total immersion into the environment that the game creates lots of possibilities that tick lots of non-fiction boxes.  After a couple of planning sessions with my fellow Yr5 colleague, we came up with persuasive adverts, tour guides (non-chron. reports), job adverts for a night watchman like Larry and infomercials to persuade visitors to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum which involves using ‘greenscreen’ technology!

We began the adventure by flying to New York using Google Earth (much like we did to the Serengeti National Park when using the African Safari Wii game).  This sets a context and gives the children a sense of travelling to the USA to begin their new adventure.  Let the immersion begin….

The organisation of 30 children was such that for the first 15  minutes or so, I picked 5 children from the hat to play the game while everyone watched.  Although they have had experience in games based learning previously, I wanted them to get the story and set up of this great environment BEFORE having tasks to complete.  Then the class were divided into groups which have a rotation of tasks to complete over the next few days or so.  One group would be ‘Larry’ and play the game, another group would be writing down what it feels like to be left in a museum on their own for a night, another group had A3 copies of the floor plan to plot where the audiotours for the exhibits were and the last group took notes once the audiotours were activated.  The information on these audio tours just gave a taster which the children wanted to explore more so, our ICT slot was spent researching the Easter Island statues, Aztec temples, California redwood trees, Grand Canyon, Theodore Roosevelt, T-Rex and Nautilus’.  They got in their pairs and researched one aspect and then we ‘snowballed’ the information to ensure that everybody has notes on each aspect of the audiotour.

In order to keep the level of concentration and involvement as high as possible, we have about 20 minutes playing the game and the 20 minutes writing.  This way they are keen to get back to the game but are also aware of the need to get as much information written in note form to enable them to produce a tourguide (non-chron report).  Needless to say the children are keen to continue the process.  That’s the story so far, more as and when it happens…

Teachmeet – Bath Spa 7.2.11

With encouragement from my fellow tweeters I have signed up for my first Teachmeet presentation which is being hosted at Bath Spa University on 7th February 2011 (5:30 – 8:30). It’s an opportunity for teachers to share ideas and insights using technology with other teachers. The informality of the event simply allows the time for teachers to talk to other teachers about what they are doing, about to do or would like to do. The collaboration aspect of the event is what I am most looking forward to and perhaps the opportunity to visit the university where I studied for my degree and PGCE.

Given what I have been doing in class for the last term, it didn’t take long to decide what to talk about – games based learning!! It will be a challenge to keep it to five minutes but a challenge I am willing to take on. I have had lots of positive comments from visitors to this blog and on Twitter about what has been happening in Bowood Class over the past eight weeks or so. Hopefully, the intention is to continue using games in my classroom, notably Night at the Museum 2 on the Wii and Just Dance, again using the Wii. I intend to post how I and my class get on with it all, so watch this space!

I am currently part of a LA project initiated by the Literacy and ICT advisory teams, that aim to inspire children to write using games as the driver in this aim. By using familiar games and gaming equipment in a different context – the classroom, children will then connect with the games and become immersed in an environment that inspires them to want to write. I have certainly found this to be the case with my class – they have simply loved Wild Earth African Safari and My Word Coach!

My enthusiasm for this way of learning has been inspired by three people in particular @dawnhallybone, @tombarrett and @primarypete_ who have all shared their expertise with me in this area of learning – thank you!

So whether you are giving a five minute presentation, a one minute – one tool idea, or being part of the enthusiastic audience, the chance to get involved in learning conversations seems to me to be a valuable aspect of cpd that promises to be worth the effort.

End of our African adventure (for now)

The last few weeks have been hectic to say the least but after dipping our toe into the world of games based learning with My Word Coach, we proceeded onto Wild African Safari. As mentioned in previous posts, we have covered a lot of ground (not just across the Serengeti National Park) but also with our literacy and ICT. At the beginning I was hoping to get the more reluctant writers engaged but as I have just finished marking their writing, I have found that my class has really enjoyed this topic and produced some lovely pieces of writing (I just wish I had begun earlier in order to have expanded even further across the curriculum). I will definitely do this again next year!! Even though this particular game has come to an end, I am looking forward to sharing my conclusions and ideas with colleagues in the project and beyond. I look forward to being involved in using Wild Earth African Safari and Another Code R with Year 6 after Christmas. If you have used any of the Wii games in your classrooms, I would love to hear from you, either comment below or tweet me at @nickynewbury.

African Safari continued…

The children have been writing diary entries about their very first day on safari.  We have already experienced five assignments through the Serengeti National Park (read earlier posts to find out what happened) and now as a result of all the excitement, came the writing.  There were some great descriptive phrases and feelings about their new adventure. Together with their diary entries, the children also wrote non-chronological reports on their chosen animal using the notes they made whilst ‘watching’ the safari.  The information given throughout the Wii game was interesting,  unusual and funny – which kept the children engaged.  Their note taking skills were tested though as they were so immersed in the game at times, I had to signal when a note taking opportunity arose.  The children this week have also created a Switcheroozoo creature and devised a brand new habitat for it.  These can be viewed on their class blog (see Bowood’s Class blog button).  Finally, (phew), a Wordle was made of their initial thought on viewing the Wii game.  These must have impressed the children as they have gone home and made Switcheroozoo animals and Wordles in their own time – brilliant!  Overall a productive few days…

Wild Earth African Safari – Day 3

Up in a helicopter, rising above the Serengeti National Park!  It’s great to have a completely different perspective of the savannah and its animals.  The children are learning about new animals and ask to go and look them up so they know what to look for – the hydrax is a tricky one to find…  Note taking skills are being used to great effect so far.  We recap at the beginning of the session by looking at the previous assignment and the photographs we took.  This ensures that no vital facts are missed.  The hope is to complete a fact file on some of the animals and a diary entry of their first day ‘on safari’.   Positional and directional language has improved due to the fact that other children are helping those using the controls.

‘This is SO cool…’ was the response of a reluctant writer who grabbed a pen and a dictionary (to find out about the animals) and wrote right to the very end!!

Wild Earth African Safari – Day 2

The excitement continued and all the tasks were assigned to the different groups.  The sense of urgency was more today because the children realised that they had to get ALL the primary photographs or they would fail the assignment.  Today was definitely better regarding the Wii controls, no motion sickness from anyone today!!!!  However. there was one bone of contention – the frog!  The children spent ages looking for one frog and the compass took them in the direction of the grazing giraffe herd and rhino.  Perhaps the funniest part was when they were looking along the ground and water’s edge for the elusive frog when somebody called out to look up and in doing so came face to face with the rhino.  We all jumped back together then collapsed into fits of laughter at what we had done.  Finally all 30 photographs that were required had been taken and another assignment was completed – phew!  Not sure what animals will be in focus tomorrow??  But, I can’t wait…

Wild Earth African Safari

After a big build up yesterday, today was the launch of our new adventure into the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania via the Wii game Wild Earth African Safari.  The children had viewed some YouTube videos yesterday to which they wrote an accompanying persuasive blurb.  It was somewhat ironic that as we ventured into the African landscape, it began sleeting outside!!  We talked about the landscape and  animals that would live there and why which built up nicely to today’s exciting safari.  All was going really well but unfortunately one of the children felt sick (and then was promptly sick – not sure if it was the motion sickness from the game or a bug??)  Once that was sorted, onwards we went, exploring the landscape and taking notes from the information given on the screen.  The children did a valiant job of taking the required photographs in their role of photojournalist/jeep driver.  Much excitement was had by way of children calling out instructions,  directions and whilst taking notes about the elephants together with operating the controller and num chuck!  They have learnt several things from today, to use more subtle movements regarding the controller, teamwork and co-operation and how to jump a mile when faced with a lion!!!!!  (It was almost like watching a 3D film as they all jumped backwards….)  Assignment 2 awaits us tomorrow where the focussed animals are giraffes.  Fingers crossed that there are no more dashes to the sink!!!!

Games Based Learning

Over the past few weeks my class (Year 5) have been playing My Word Coach on the Wii during Guided Reading and writing sessions.  They have worked in their guided groups at improving their vocabulary and spelling.  By getting more proficient at the game (i.e. more successes) this unlocks further games for them to play.  The game cleverly picks up that they are improving and makes the words a little more challenging.  I have to say that my children are really enjoying it! (Only two don’t have a Wii at home!!)  They are learning and improving their word skills without really knowing that they are doing it because it is in a format they recognise – a game!!  One of the best things that has come from this has been the collaboration and team work that the children have had to employ in order to become more successful.  This is only the beginning for Bowood Class as we plan to use other games across various areas of the curriculum to reinforce and consolidate  learning.  Watch this space…