Mr Finlayson

Education and Technology

Posts Tagged ‘Tim Rylands’

Session Two

Posted by alexfinlayson on June 10, 2009

So yesterday we were on strike (bring on equal pay!) and the students had a day to themselves. I had asked on the Monday for my guys to create a diary entry of their first experience on Myst Island. I was expecting some good work from some areas and sadly a distinct lack of effort from others… what I was not expecting was the enthusiasm with which most of my guys took to this task. Many were waiting at the classroom door in the morning eager to show me their new-look journals.

Many of which had dramatically aged over the course of 24hours through the liberal use of fire, vinegar and tea-bags (and gods-of-risk-assessment-be-good; permission) which was great but some of the entries were simply astounding.

In fact, I was so impressed with some of their work that I’m going to set up another folder on the website with the express intention of displaying some scanned pages from their journals – a good way to celebrate their work I think!

Anyway, on with the lesson – enthusiasm was high again. In fact, the class were so excitable that I had to take them out of the Myst Room and back into the classroom to calm things down – once thoroughly prepped on appropriate mechbehaviour; we began again.

This time we jumped straight into the linking book and entered The Mechanical Age – we used the same process as before to describe what we could see but this time we addressed more senses – what could we hear? What could we smell? What could we taste?

We created another Wordle document for our display wall and then, because they had performed exceptionally well throughout the day (with a brief talking-to) we played the game for the last 10 minutes – using my prior knowledge (ah, walkthroughs) and the kids directions we found the blue and red pages (the goal of the game – apparently) and then argued well after the 3 o’clock bell about which one to take back with us.

 NB There are two books in the library on Myst Island – one red, one blue – inside each is a trapped brother begging for you to find more colour-coded pages to free them.

The students are currently split as to which brother they would prefer to be helping – one page was found in a room full of vicious weapons and evil-looking devices (scared some girls, thrilled some boys) and the other in a room in a room filled with luxurious items but also a note describing the incredible greed of the owner… The students are torn – greed or viciousness? For homework they are making their decision and backing it up… mech map

Numeracy/Geography LinkThe main puzzle in The Mechanical Age requires a knowledge of the compass points – we drew a complete compass in our Myst Journals and referred to it to help us solve the problem – a great extra that I did not envisage in planning – this proves the benefit to Tim Ryland’s notion of ‘leaving space in the plans for children to fill’ We left the day with homework to write another journal entry and to analyse the Wordle pictures (gave each student a print-out) with the question in mind’ ‘which words can be improved?’… Tomorrow we will use VisuWords to help us write better description…

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Pre-Myst

Posted by alexfinlayson on June 10, 2009

I was recently introduced to the work of Tim Rylands and Mark Warner through a primary school teachers group on the popular website Facebook. Both are teachers from the UK and pioneers of the varying ways we can use our increased access to ICT’s to benefit the education of our children. Their common method was the use of the popular computer game Myst to enhance the literacy skills of primary school students. As a keen gamer, or at least, a keen ex-gamer (some things are sacrificed with age and responsibility) I became very interested in the amazing benefits they both testified to… some of the work samples they display on their websites are truly sensational (check the above links) So, assuring my wife that it was completely necessary for work, I bought a copy of realMyst and soon became thoroughly confused. Aside from a very cryptic introduction sequence there was little in the way of instruction… my character just appeared on the docks of a mysterious mist-shrouded island beside a half submerged boat and that was it… game on. I had no weapons, no means to get any weapons and seemingly, no need to get any weapons – very different from the norm. The game itself was beautifully rendered and soon I realised just how clever and unique the concept was… the game forced you to behave as though you were really there… you suddenly appear on an island with no knowledge of how you came to be there… all you can do is explore… And that is exactly what I did… the more I explored, the more the benefits and classroom potential struck me… the descriptions of the landscapes alone would make for an amazing series of literacy lessons… superb for similes, metaphors, personification and poetic onomatopae. It soon became obvious that I could waste a long time exploring and never get to a stage whereby I would be proficient enough to utilise this game for its intended purpose… to teach literacy. I was sure my wife wouldn’t believe me if I was still playing a year later. So I searched the web and with the use of a very handy walkthrough, sped my way through the rest of the game… On Monday 11th May I introduced the idea to the class… their response was amazing. Already in the first snippet of the game they were enthralled, and the language they used to describe the opening scene truely convinced me that this would be a worthwhile venture… and so it begins…

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