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…