Beaver Green School, Kent

| January 18, 2010 | 8 Comments 

beavergreenday1 001After a day off, recuperating from a remarkably busy BETT (more on that later), we are back down to Kent for a two day visit to Beaver Green Community Primary School, Ashford.

Thank you to Andrew Macey, headteacher, and Claire Beyzade, ICT Co-ordinator, for inviting us to their school, to work with such an enthusiastic group of teachers and teaching assistants.

Tomorrow, we are fortunate enough to spend time in their classes with their pupils.

beavergreenday1 021We had the pleasure today to also be joined at the school by Neil Adam,  an independent ICT educational consultant, introduced to us through the wonderful world of Twitter. Neil brought the tweeted to the Twitter communityabout his visit to the school using his phone!

(If none of this makes sense, look in to Twitter today and extend your Professional Learning Network. 🙂  )

Neil kindly recorded his thoughts on the day:

“What do a stick, a mug and standing room only on the Hogwarts Express have in common? Anticipation, curiosity and uncertainty expressed in laughter, giggles and gasps as 60 teachers and classroom assistants from Beaver Green Primary School see how Myst – a commercial game – can be used to inspire speaking and writing, even among the least confident or motivated. But the point is not the game, but the inspiration, interaction and communication.

“Who’s frustrated?” Two hands. “That’s not enough yet,” Tim says, as people wait to start their exploration. He wants to see people engaged with the narrative to the extent that the software seemingly becomes a barrier to progress. Once the group has had time to get to grips with the basic in-game navigation, the hands of almost everyone are raised when Tim repeats the question, as people want to move and explore, having been drawn into the problem-solving nature of the game. “Stop, look around, what do you see?” The lavish, intricate detail of each scene has great scope for descriptive writing, for observation and imagination.

The underlying message, though, is about removing barriers and drawing people into worlds they never knew they could enter. When I say “people”, that is not just the children in the videos on screen, but the adults in the audience. Hence Tim’s stick, fondly named “Mr Walker”, which has holes drilled in the handle. What are they for? Who made them? Simple questions, but posed to elicit comment, to get talk flowing. No game, no technology, just a carved wooden stick.

Tim’s pictures show us children from one of his classes sitting on a rollercoaster. Well, not so much a roller coaster, but a dozen chairs with children acting out their movements as though they were. What are they feeling? Imaging? Seeing?

What are people doing when they are holding an empty mug, talking to you? Keeping their hands warm? Hiding slight embarrassment as they wait for you to respond? Again, all opportunities to talk, to reflect. Tim uses Powerpoint, but you may not realise it, as it creates a scaffold for a presentation that integrates demonstration, drama and discussion. Techniques are modelled, not just described, so Tim gets us reflecting, writing and acting.

Many other contexts could be used to provide the stimulus, but Tim shows how Myst can be used to help pupils produce metaphors, develop vocabulary (through the “translator”), develop instructions and write scripts for their own mini-documentaries.

You want to know about the Hogwarts Express? Come to one of Tim’s sessions”!

Category: 1) Events and Training days

Comments (8)

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  1. Anna Sherman says:

    Really excited to see media being used in such imaginative ways. I hope the the education system soon catches up to the fact that this is how our children like to learn, and will put money into improving media resources (video/actors/ICT packages etc) that are available.

  2. Claire Beyzade says:

    Thank you so much for a great first day, your excitement and enthusiasm to learning is second to none and I know this has inspired the teachers today. I am looking forward to tomorrow, seeing what the children come up with!

  3. Sam Stevens says:

    I have been so inspired I have already played with some ideas and tried some things out. I have also been sharing with my husband who agreed the taggalaxy thing was cool. Looking forward to tomorrow!

  4. Michele Wheeler says:

    A truly magical couple of days. I didn’t realise how quickly this would have an effect on the children. Children who normally have to be constantly kept on task were so engrossed in the whole experience and couldn’t wait to get their ideas on paper. As one child said when asked how he found the experience….his reply ” I thought I was there”. As I say truly magical.

  5. Diane Moore says:

    Today was about the children!
    Having spent yesterday working with our staff and showing us how to use the magical world of Myst and other IT resources to improve involvement and the desire to write, today was the day that Tim went live with our children.
    It is a brave man that will stand in front of 80 children and 20 adults and model a 90 minute writing lesson, so do this three times in one day; he must have the courage of a superhero and the stamina of a herd of stampeding wildebeest! He encouraged the children to be creative with their thoughts as to why his wooden companion ‘Mr Walker’ was studded with holes. After tentative suggestions, the children began to get the idea, learnt that there was ‘no wrong answer’ and come up with more original ideas such as ‘a mobile air conditioner’, ‘a hotel for mini woodpeckers’ and ‘so the snake that lives inside the stick can breathe.’
    Once introduced to the world of Myst, the ‘video game generation’ were instantly captivated. Even though they spent the best part of an hour looking at the same scene, where all that moved were some birds circling in the sky, they were eager to participate in making up similes and metaphors.
    The teachers were in the privileged position of being able to watch an experienced teacher use a range of strategies with their children, which developed confidence, vocabulary and enjoyment. They saw that by giving the children time and space, they would develop their thinking and responses to a deeper level. They saw how by using a multi sensory approach, the children were able to recall technical language (although will now always say the word ‘simile’ in a deep manly voice!) and they saw how the adult paraphrasing and reflecting back a slightly polished version of some of the faltering responses, the children’s confidence and pride grew. They saw effort and quality work rewarded with praise and recognition. The golden moment of the day being when the children began, hesitantly at first, but with growing confidence to share the writing they had done earlier… without prompting, and without any involvement from the many adults present, one by one many of the children read out a range of metaphors and similes they had written about the scene in front of them with passion and pride.
    Tim is a showman; he knows how to capture children’s attention and how to hold it, but he was able to demonstrate techniques and strategies to our staff so that everyone of us will be able to re-create some of that magic we saw today, once back in the classroom.

    Diane Moore
    Deputy Head Teacher
    Beaver Green Community Primary School

  6. Margaret Watson says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed both days. Great inspiration for both adults and children. Sarah, loved the photographs that you took of the children, shows the concentration and enjoyment on their faces,wonderful!

  7. Mandy Matthews says:

    Thank-you for two inspiring days, full of ideas to motivate our pupils and of course ourselves. It is good to take a step back and explore other approaches to engaging children to write and discuss their thoughts and feelings.

  8. Catherine Booth says:

    Thank you for two amazing days. It was so inspiring and I really can’t wait to try it with my class, as I know they will be drawn into it and enjoy the whole experience. They will get so much out of it. Such a perfect way to engage and inspire the children. Thank you!

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