ICT to Inspire in Somer-Settings – Julia Briggs E-learning Curriculum Adviser ELIM (e-learning and Information Management Group) Somerset
Children became engrossed in a scene from Myst III: Exile game whilst the teachers became absorbed in the integration between Tim Rylands and the two different age groups he worked with through the morning.
The management of the Myst game provided inspiration, excitement and determination to write. The gems of language used by Tim, both verbal and non-verbal, ensured two groups of 60 children, and the twenty-four adults attending, were engrossed, contributing and enjoying themselves.
An intriguing image from Myst III was displayed as the lesson began for the Year 1s and 2s. The sound was increased for moments as a reference was made to the wind that could be heard. Small movements such as insects fluttering could be observed as most eyes focussed on the strange plant-like spiral staircase. Open questions encouraged paired talk, “What is up there? Who put it there? How are you going to go up?”
The reactions were managed through: expectations that were set … “I’ve been up here before but I made so much noise I scared it off”, enabled children to go on a noisy and exciting roller coaster ride as part of exploring the game, then to quieten themselves as the approached the top of the mysterious plant to discover the creature lurking there. “It’s challenging, it’s you that’s got to stop yourself.”
… and expectations that were established in a response to actions of the children, “Keeping still stops teachers getting grumpy and leaning on your ideas,” was the explanation to stop children fiddling with their ‘scribbly sticks’.
Movement on through the game encouraged the children to try out pairs of words, verb and adverb, to describe their journey. The pace of the lesson was maintained as children were encouraged to, “Hold on to that idea, put it away, come up with another one.” Tim encouraged them away from ums or ers in responses, “Well done you chewed up the ums.”
Having reached the top of the tower on their ‘automatic spiral escalator’ (an idea from one of the girls), the children were taken through an argument.
“Do you want to stay at the top or go back down?” Tim modelled the expression of different points of view, “I would like to go down because … I can see why Amelie wants to stay up here … but I would like to go down …”
The Year 5s and 6s were absorbed in a single moving image (birds flying, smoke floating from a chimney) for the majority of their session, exploring similes and metaphors, using extravagant ‘posh’ gestures to rehearse and remember the difference. Ambitious sentences were then constructed as they put ‘scribble stick’ to paper. We moved on to a mysterious, intriguing room where a boy and a girl, that were up for a challenge, role played the owner and the gardener in response to questioning from Tim and astounded us with their inventiveness.
The spine tingling moment of the day came when the older children were asked to share their writing. Children chose when they wanted to read out one of their sentences. Nineteen of them contributed without Tim intervening, with his eyes closed as he maintained a heart beat. A magic experience, difficult to describe, that entranced us all.
The afternoon provided the opportunity for the teachers to explore the Myst game, considering the possibilities for using different parts of it to support learning and discovering new ways to use Powerpoint to encourage writing. The children’s teachers provided feedback on the impact of the experience on the quality and quantity of their writing. The year 2 class had returned to their classroom and continued to complete their descriptions of the world they had experienced.
An after school staff meeting for all the teachers from all the schools involved provided many examples of ICT to transform learning and set out the data which demonstrated the impact it can have on the achievements of our learners.
ICT was the magic wand but it was the magician that worked the spell to create the writers. We learnt the mechanics of using a resource but were inspired by the strategies and communication skills that wove through the learning that took place.
An investment Four ‘ICT to Inspire’ days will make a difference to our teaching. Invite a group of schools from your area and share the experience together.
Anyone attending sessions run by Tim should watch out for the use of the empty coffee mug though! A technique I will be using in the classroom and during training sessions in the future.
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