Archive for the ‘Games Based Learning’ Category

School’s Rockin At Gavinburn
April 21, 2010

This is the write up from the Scotsman on the games-based learning project that’s rockin Gavinburn primary in West Dumbrtonshire.

PRETENDING to be a rock star on a computer console is not how most parents imagine their children spend their time at school.

But at Gavinburn Primary in Old Kilpatrick, West Dunbartonshire, such a game has seen youngsters dramatically improve in subjects ranging from French to geography.

Headteacher Gillian Penny said: “All kids want to be rock stars but once you’re into it the game doesn’t have a huge impact apart from being the hook.”

It is an example of what is described as contextual hub learning, in other words, using something that interests children to sneak in some education – without them realising.

Mrs Penny added: “The learning that goes on after that is all very firmly based on literacy and numeracy, and ICT (information and communication technology].”

The project has been running at the primary for two years and this year all 40 primary sevens took part. Pupils were split into ten “bands” and had to use literacy skills to create alter-ego characters and a band history. They then had to use their music and technological skills to write and record a song, digitally, and make a video. After that they were “invited” on a tour and so had to research it, finding a venue in France and, finally, had to do a radio interview in French.

“They have to create the whole conversation in French, which is huge,” said Mrs Penny: “It’s probably one of the biggest results of the project – the improvement in their French – which is not what we expected.”

The project has been highlighted by the school inspectorate as excellent practice in promoting literacy and numeracy.

Additional topics, such as drugs awareness, are also taught by creating a storyline involving one of the band members.

Mrs Penny said: “There’s a huge amount of writing – they have to write a band profile, character, respond to letters, write news articles, lyrics, and speeches for our Gavin awards – our version of the Brits. And when going on tour, they have to work out flight connections, prices, currency conversions and, space for staging. There’s a huge amount.”

It is a programme which is now firmly on the school calendar. Mrs Penny added: “Because it finishes with this huge event at the end, which is a black-tie do, it’s something the rest of the school are very aware of so they are looking forward to it when they are in primary two.

“It’s become a rite of passage almost, it’s a very good fun topic but they also work very hard.”

Ollie Bray, a depute head of Musselburgh Grammar School, now seconded as a national adviser for emerging technologies in learning at Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) – the body responsible for the curriculum – was the first to innovate with Guitar Hero in the classroom.

He said Scotland is leading the way in the use of computer games in schools. He added: “Guitar Hero has now been used all over Scotland as a context for learning and social interaction.”


Touch Physics
October 4, 2009

Lately I’ve been playing Touch Physics again…I blogged a while back about this great app and only recently rediscovered it’s childish yet scientific fascination.

Great game for the scientific mind.

Great game for the scientific mind.

Touch Physics is a fantastic little game that allows the player to manipulate a given environment using the basic laws of Physics:


Combining Science with the most basic Art skills the aim of the game is to get your Ball to the Star and complete the level.

Throughout the full fifty levels your ball starts in any and every kind of scenario. It may be static, at the top or bottom of a hill, trapped in a box, on top of a triangle, inside another shape, on a see-saw and so many more. From here your job is to create shapes and actions that will allow your ball to travel around the screen and reach the star.

Get the ball uphill if you can...

Solutions include building walls to protect the ball from falling off screen, constructing a see-saw on which a larger shape can be dropped sending your ball towards the star (if you’re lucky!), creating shapes that will push your ball out of a hole or off a ledge and creating slides and /or hills to navigate varying heights.

Using very attractive artwork that emulates crude chalk marks on backgrounds of crumpled paper, polystyrene and wood this will appeal immediately to your pupil’s as well as your own inner child while challenging the natural scientist in all of us.

You can download a Lite version of TouchPhysics for free in the App store for the first 5 levels. The full version has 50 levels with the promise of more to come.

Ideas for use:

• (Individual) Pupils tackle levels, working their way through the levels to the end.
• (Group) Pupils work in groups to tackle each level, taking shots in turn.
• (Group) Pupils complete each level then discuss each element of Physics involved.
• (Group) Pupils recreate levels using physical objects in class/school.
• (Class) Pupils tackle levels on paper first, planning their solution then attempting each in turn.
• (Class) Teacher tackles each level following Pupils instructions.

Ideas for application:

• Try projecting your iPhone to the White board using Honlai’s QingBar MP101 iPhone projector.
• Use multiple iPhones for individual/group learning
Collate screenshots from your iPhone then project them to the White Board and invite pupils to solve the levels using the pens.

We hope you enjoy this iPhone app and find many ways to enrich the learning in the Physics classroom. To finish we’ve included a neat video of the game in action.

Well Done Ollie Bray
June 3, 2009

Ollie Bray

Micorsoft Teacher of the Year - Ollie Bray (right)

The last couple of months have been…… can I describe them……remember that game ‘Heads Down, Thumbs Up’ at school? Well it’s been a bit like that! We’ve been working hard on our latest pack and have failed to say congratulations to the award winning teacher, Mr Ollie Bray.

Ollie recently won a prestigious Microsoft European Innovative Teachers Forum Awards in Vienna because of his Guitar Hero Transition project which he designed to help improve pupils’ transition from primary to secondary school.

In this project, students work in groups using Guitar Hero as a context for learning across the curriculum. The project has been such a success that it’s now being implemented across other schools in East Lothian. It will soon be carried out in schools as far away as Hong Kong and Australia.

Ollie is truly inspirational and works with such incredible drive and passion that I often wonder if he ever sleeps and if I can have some of whatever he’s had.

We were completely behind something Ollie said at the Forum when he was presenting this work to other teachers. He said he initially received some resistance when he wanted to purchase so many XBoxes and copies of the game for the schools. People were concerned that he wanted to spend so much money on technology. Ollie’s response was great and I plan on stealing it for forthcoming sales meetings for the pack…… that first of all, “Xboxes are far less expensive than computers”. And secondly, “we are investing in children, not in technology…Nuf said.

Ollie, we wish you every success at the Worldwide Innovative Teachers Awards in Brazil in November 2009. You couldn’t squeeze some of us (me) into your suitcase could you?

More about Ollie’s Guitar Hero

Schools and students were able to develop their own learning activities around Guitar Hero, which ranged from creative writing and character studies around fictional bands, design of t-shirts and animations, marketing merchandise, learning and performing music and dance, and more.
Bringing together all of the primary classes – pupils who would be attending the secondary schools in the autumn- for a “Battle of the Bands.” Throughout the day, children had the opportunity to work together in workshops that allowed them to develop a band (logo, name, and jingle), compete against each other using Guitar Hero, and participate in several dance, music and drama activities
Continuing to work on Guitar Hero activities in the context of secondary subjects up to and during the pupils’ transition to secondary school. This allowed children to have connections with other pupils when they arrived at their new schools in the autumn and to continue a project they had already started on in primary school. They designed a Guitar Hero postcard about their work, which they sent back to their old teachers in the primary schools.