Today my class concluded their work using Endless Ocean a commercial off the shelf Wii Game. Like others before us we used this as a stimulus for writing. The children were given time both within literacy and outside of the lesson to play the game/dive, while I acted as a guide and commentator on the action. Children also stepped up to this role too, once I had demonstrated it first.
For me this is the first time that I have really dabbled in games based learning, and I really am standing on the shoulders of former colleagues and the work of the Scots. I am not sure I had always got the idea of using a game in the class before, so this week has been an eye opener. I can really see the value of using a game as a way to both to kick-start a lot of talk for writing and to give context for a whole host of new vocabulary.
I had seen what others had done with the game and I wanted to try something a bit different, particularly as I am working with post Sats Year six. As they are into blogging I gave the opportunity to blog/write diaries as if they were divers, but of course we needed to dive first.
So over a number of days we spent some time diving and guiding our diver through the awe-inspiring depths of the ocean. As we moved around the children made notes and we talked about what we felt and saw. They and I found it hard to contain our excitement,when by chance we met dolphins at the Blue Hall cave formation and later at the lagoon. The class used all of their notes, ideas and excitement to help them write a blog pieces as if they were divers. Later in the week they also wrote poems or a genre of their choice.
What has really surprised me and struck me about working in this way is this:
None of the children struggled to write anything – they all wanted to get something down on paper
Both myself and my TA were quite shocked by the high quality content of many of the written pieces.
There is a breadth and depth to a game like this which means it really could spawn a whole half term of work, rather than the week we had.
I would recommend trying out a game like Endless Ocean or similar with your class, you will be surprised and heartened by their writing.
Here is one piece of work from our day writing the divers blog:
Today had made diving pure genius! Discovery after discovery, I started seeing all sorts of multicolored things and creatures.It was like being in a new dimension; surrounded by irregular and flashy looking fish. I felt like I was being led to new discoveries every second; there was no way I would miss a chance like this! Blue, then green, yellow to purple it was like a brightly colored paradise! Fishes swimming by, and dolphins zooming out from nowhere I was in the right place! As I swam, gently swaying with the sea, I saw different fishes all different shapes and sizes. I felt the delicate leaves of the seaweed and totally lost my mind.
I managed to remember some of the names of creatures. A crayhall sea-fish is a bright yellow fish which only has one fin! Professor Payton said they were only found in North America– well not anymore! Then, there is the Greek butterfly fish which is a lovely colored fuchsia pink, gently blended with purple, fish which I had found sleeping on a seaweed bed. I was told that the fish I had discovered is the treasured fish of the Greek gods that they receive when they have ruled over 58 years.
But, that wasn’t it because I managed to capture a sea turtle floating slowly, touching the tip of my hand with its wrinkly paw. Then out of the blue, there was a school of dolphins playing and swimming quietly in the far end of the ocean.
I finally felt excited and ready for action.
With even all the best adjectives, I don’t think they will add up to the amazing day I had diving in the clear deep, blue ocean.