Barry Island Primary School uses virtual reality creatively to promote story writing and increase student engagement
My name is Dominic Broad and I’m a Year 6 teacher at Barry Island Primary School in South Wales. Our school has a strong history of using innovative teaching tools and methods to ensure we provide our children with the very best opportunities and experiences.
Over the past few months we’ve been experimenting with some new and creative methods to engage our children within the classroom. Through using our recently acquired ClassVR headsets, we’ve found a vast improvement not only in children’s engagement with learning, but in their motivation to both plan and write a story.
Using Emotive Language & Adventurous Vocabulary
Children are quite often expected to compose adventurous tales or stories using a range of exciting vocabulary and descriptive words – but how can they realistically be expected to describe a scene if they’ve not experienced it? In the majority of cases, we rely on their imagination or photographs that the children may have seen from a film or book.
We decided to experiment with exposing the children to these various experiences, by using our virtual reality headsets as a stimulus to the writing. From the very first lesson, we found that it really helped the children with using descriptive and emotive language – they found it much easier to use a diverse range of adventurous vocabulary when setting a scene in their stories, once they can understand what a particular place actually feels like to them.
The short descriptive text exercise shown here initially uses word banks and a shark photograph as a stimulus. Although the work seen in the first photograph shows that the child selects vocabulary in keeping with their expected age, they are not writing emotively. They cannot relate to the situation as they’ve never experienced it first-hand.
Immediately after using the virtual reality headsets, we see an impact in the child’s writing.
They now ‘swim nervously’ instead of ‘happily’ and the entire encounter with the shark is far more ‘up close and personal’ due to their freshly gained experience.
Having been initially a little sceptical about the impact this may have on the students work, we soon realised that teaching the children to relate their writing to a scene, and providing stimulating experiences for this, is just as important as teaching the skills of storytelling and writing.
Improved Engagement and Enjoyment
In summary, we’ve seen a big impact in the diversity and quality of written work when our students are using ClassVR to inspire their writing. We endeavour to provide learning experiences for our children, and are convinced that ClassVR is a fast and easy way to provide rich experiences to students of all ages.
The key to unlocking any child’s success during school can be measured in their engagement and enjoyment – the children of Barry Island Primary School certainly enjoyed this lesson!