Otley All Saints CE Primary School – Myst Experiences

| June 6, 2010 | 2 Comments 

During our Leeds ICT To Inspire, Wii Project, it was a great pleasure to meet up with Phil Robertson, teacher from Otley All Saints CE Primary School. Phil was involved in our initial Leeds training, and the day of lessons, using Myst and many, many other techniques, to motivate and inspire writers of all abilities.

Phil was a star and sent us some of the results he has achieved with his class.

Phil says: We had just finished an ‘imaginary settings unit’ in my Year 4 class so I have decided to get stuck straight in and do a one week ‘enrichment’ topic based around Myst III.

We had our first lesson, which I basically copied from your training and the lesson at Bramhope (minus Mr Walker etc!). I started kids off on the desert scene, and they produced some awesome writing. I then took them on a journey to the study, where I had two boys prepped to be, as you put it, “up for a challenge!”

Boy did they rise to that challenge! They presented themselves as scientists in a quest to uncover the secrets of dragon fire.

They were lightning fast with their responses and we all really bought into it.

I had a translator (like you had modelled on the training days) too and watched as the children hung on her every words, as if they couldn’t understand the initial response!

The kids lapped it up and I couldn’t stop them writing.

The next day I asked them to do a similar piece of setting writing based on a beach scene, then move as far as “the granny flat” where there was a recorded message for them to listen to.

I produced this using your suggestion of ‘Read The Words’ and Audacity) The plan: to get the children to do some letter writing for a real purpose.

Here is the message, atmospheric white noise and all:

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Phil started immediately after the training and wrote:

“I am planning this all based on the events of the day and I am not sure where we are heading. It’s maybe all a bit impulsive, but I like to strike while the iron’s hot and all that!

The “not knowing where we’re going” bit is actually quite exciting for all of us. What I do know is that the kids are so excited and are producing great stuff across the board”.

You can read some of the children’s writing on the Otley All Saints blog.

After the children received the message from Atrus, they were hooked! They logged their position each day, by writing a short narrative setting description.  After moving on a little way through the landscape, they replied to Atrus’ message by writing some quality letters.

Next, I started them off next to the lift. We logged our position in the room next door and then did some speaking and listening (conscience alley) to decide whether to go into the lift or not. I was amazed at how into it they were!

We eventually went up the lift and entered the room at the top, where I gave them the opportunity to write  an imagined dialogue between Atrus and themselves. To overcome the ‘language barrier’ I gave each of them a ‘translator chip’.

They wrote some amazing dialogues and gave me the perfect next steps for our adventure. One boy wrote that the planet was dying and that “we must help to stop the erosion of this once great land”!

The next day we began the adventure at the foot of the spiral plant. We ventured to the top and saw the bird. Children wrote about this experience, with great enthusiasm.

After this, I had two of the children from class go to the main office and await my phone call. They only knew that they should act as biologists. We talked about what the children would like to know about the ecology of the island. I told them I could phone some resident biologists and that they could ask some questions. I put the two stooges on speakerphone and let the kids go for it. You wouldn’t (well actually you probably would!) believe the information they spouted! I must stop trusting them in class so much!

We then received another envelope from Atrus with a runic CD inside (message attached (below) for comedy value – again ignore the white noise).

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We then did some searching for the stingray and the notes on the floor but rather than clicking on the notes, I got the kids to write their versions of them.

All produced magical writing and we all love it, (my TA won’t leave the classroom!)

The final installment of this first foray into Myst territory, began on the lantern lit pier.

Logging our progress, we moved through the landscape. I left a letter in class from Atrus for the children to find, which talked about the sphere.

I then needed a ‘bang’ ending, so while the children set up their chairs in a virtual “Xariolator carriage”, I switched to the rollercoaster scene.

Watching them go down the track was amazing – and so funny! The writing they produced afterwards was again first class.

I finished with another one of Atrus’ dodgy transmissions!

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks again. This was all inspired by your course and it has been one of the best weeks I’ve had teaching Literacy. Hard work, but lots of fun!  I think my wife will be keen to see me again this weekend!

It’s all been blogged (well the edited highlights anyway!) Read it HERE

Cheers for now,

Phil Robertson
Otley All Saints CE Primary School

P.S. Something funny (I hope you find it funny too – you seem like you have a good sense of humour!) –

I wanted to find a link from your site the other day and had it on my whiteboard. When my Year 4s saw your photo, one of them said, “Hey! Mr Robertson’s on a Harry Hill site!” then the one next to him said, “Don’t be stupid! It’s that bloke off of Masterchef!”

Superb stuff Phil. Congratulations to your excellent writers too.

We look forward to what you are going to get up to after our Wii adventures! Well done.

P.S. I spend hours doing my hair. I just forget to take it with me! 🙂

Category: 1) Events and Training days, 2) Useful n Interesting

Comments (2)

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  1. Ivan Lister says:

    Absolutely fantastic Phil, a real inspiration to all of us who are mad keen on the use of this type of imaginative teaching in Leeds Schools.

  2. Aygoscopic says:

    This is a fantastic post as it really gives a good example of how to proceed. I am going to start my Myst Exile journey with Year 6 ina week’s time after getting over the dreaded sitting donw tests etc. Been excited ever since seeing Tim’s presentation at Exeter Rugby Club.

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