Archive for Game Based Learning

Today I have finished marking my assessed writing from the end of last term. Most of my class have made a minimum of 3 pts progress since I baselined them in September. This isn’t that remarkable as most of them had dipped after the summer so many of them are just back on track. However a vast majority of them have made 4-6pts.
Some of this success I can attribute to having a 1:1 device. Their language has improved from having a dictionary and thesaurus to hand. The language they find and use from is more varied than what they would find in our standard issue thesaurus’s.
The children have also been engaged by using more digital means of accessing the learning objective. We have used Myst. Previously I have used this later in the year, but we’ve rolled it out earlier this year and it has reaped benefits. Some of my harder to grab boys have been far more engaged. Inadvertently we used a different version to the one I had planned as I loaded the wrong DVD but it took us to worlds none of us had been. This brought enthusiasm on our part and a role reversal on the children’s as we all battled to solve clues to move on.
Anything we did as a whole class in a traditional way with Myst, was supplemented with sharing close ups and screen shots to the children’s iPads. This meant they were then able to explore at their own pace and zoom in to get more detail. It also allowed choice and self differentiation . We covered sentence structure, setting and character descriptions and time connectives this way.
The assessed write was the children’s opportunity to apply all they had learnt independently. I gave them the Epic Citadel App and a free 20mins to explore it.  They were also allowed to take three screen shots to use and given a further 15 mins to plan and write notes. They were allowed to use the screenshots in the writing session, but not the dictionary or any other functionality of the iPad. The assessed write is a 45 minute silent independent write.

Here is where one of my 3a writers ended up –

A huge grey brick castle stood silently as coloured stripy tents blue calmly in the soft breeze. Fluffy white clouds slowly floated across the dark sky, peering over the red spiky turrets of the castle while small orange trees waved at the brown dead grass. Flags blew wildly clinging to the top of turrets yet the blue birds carried on singing their beautiful songs.

Further down the alley a murky brown stream flowed hurringly towards the royal blue sea. Ginormous rocks towered over a skinny path which flooded the splashing steam. A great study bridge arched of the brown stream transporting visitors over.

A strange girl stood talking, her hair was black and covered in card beads which crawled down her spindly neck. Her top was a beautiful turquoise but unfortunately it was covered by a light brown rough jacket. A fine learner brown collar rested upon her small shoulders, it was patterned with stripes and a peculiar animal. Her thin bony hands gestured complicatedly as she spoke hopingly.

This was not by far the only good example. My previous 1a writers made 4 points, expanding nouns and using connectives. As for using the prompt (images) in an assessed write. I love Pie Corbets flute analogy, moving one step on, we wouldn’t not allow a child to take sheet music into a music exam or expect them to compose their own piece on the spot, so why rely solely on the imagination for a writing assessment.


In Literacy we are focusing on how writers create tension in their writing. Our main stimulus is a Chinese story written in poetry form to link in with our topic, but on the success of the recent Wii lesson, I wanted to use Myst to build on the idea of magpie-ing words and phrases to use in writing. I then wanted to help children apply these to a structured format to have a better understanding of how using paragraphs can organise their writing.

I used a section of Myst V I have used before for setting descriptions, but the fact it starts in a room, then goes down a corridor before you are faced with glowing bubble form, linked well with the idea of a trapped/escape/surprise structure. So the focus was to build tension with a descriptive setting, before using the corridor to have a fast paced escape and then a sudden surprise/question which had the possibility of moving to a climax.





I created a magpie sheet with three columns, one for each section. We used the game as a structured word/phrase collection exercise with lots of speaking, listening and note-taking. I had children who were genuinely frightened of the rumbling and shaking effects within the game, so we ended up turning the volume down for the the last half of the session. However enough had been heard to influence their writing. Following the initial slow walk through with note-taking we reversed back to the beginning and did it in real time. Slowly walking around the first room before running frantically down the corridor and stopping still at the vision before us.

The class then helped me to ‘box’ up the sequence and we co-wrote some paragraph openers for each section, before leaving them with and independent write of  25 minutes with their notes. We ran through assembly time (with permission!) as they were working so well. Here is an example of the work of one of my 2A SEN writers – all completely independent…

Myst Build Up – Katie (mp3)

and she left the last sentence off her recording which was fab. ..Then I turned and frantically ran….

I think the combination of pace-altering action, sound and visual effects as well as the ability to give children ownership over where they look/visit and then be able to replay the whole event really inspired them. As inconvenient as it is to change the tables and sit them all facing the front as Tim Rylands suggests is worth it, everyone was focused and engaged.

The fact we did this on Thursday and went on to apply the skill (magpie-ing/note-taking/boxing up and then orally retelling) before writing a completely different build up on Friday was evident in this subsequent writing. Marking this weekend, I have had children using language we discussed in Thursday’s session in their writing on Friday. The general standard of the writing has definitely improved this term through using a variety of mediums to inspire children.

As an aside, I am really enjoying teaching my whole class ‘unset’ this year. The ability to share good language and examples sets higher expectations for those less able, as shown in the Boo above. There is more spark in the class and I think it amplifies progress for all.