I remember when I first explained on Twitter we were doing Sealife as our next topic I was sent a link to this beautiful footage of the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan. Put down what you were doing, take your shoes off and watch this for four and half minutes.
This main tank, the ‘Kuroshio Sea’, holds 7,500-cubic meters (1,981,290 gallons) of water and is the largest in the world. Beautiful footage.
After a few weeks of working with the Wii game Endless Ocean in our literacy unit I planned for a descriptive writing task using an “Aquarium View” of one species. Here is what I did to set it up.
(I have the Wii projected onto our SMARTBoard, audio through speakers etc)
- When the children discover a new or interesting species that would make a good written piece of description, make a note of where it is on your map. Press 1 on the remote to call up the map. I used the Lionfish and the Red Stingray.
- For your writing task move the boat back to the exact spot of the species you are interested in and dive down.
- Set up the task by swimming to the creature, highlighting and selecting it using the A button. In Endless Ocean when you selected a creature in this way you zoom into a first person view and focus on it wherever it moves. You don’t have to control the view it will stay locked on until you manually move away by pressing B on the remote.
- This is our “Aquarium View” the fish moves around and we can remain watching and exploring everything to do with it, without the distraction of moving the diver or trying to follow it.
- Once we had our “Aquarium View” ready I worked with a small literacy group and spent some time encouraging to the children to just quietly watch the creature move and begin to think of words that might describe it’s behaviour. “Ripples” was a lovely one for the Red Stingray. We gathered these ideas on small pieces of card and had them scattered on the carpet in front of the IWB.
- In addition to the creature’s movement we described the general physical appearance and also more descriptive words for it’s movement – so the Red Stingray “elegantly ripples“. Reading the factfile for the creature in the game also allowed us to glean some more ideas. (Click on the name once in “Aquarium View”)
- After some teacher led vocabulary work I set the children off to independently create some short sentences describing the creature. I supported some individuals in this small group at the point of writing.
The children enjoyed writing in this way, they were regularly looking up at the creature in front of them and then returning to their description. It is not surprising really because we saw the same reaction to writing when we used Google Earth to offer children a visual map for their writing.
Controlling the diver and playing the game has been a great motivator and way to engage the children, but this more passive use of the media is equally effective. Due to the accurate, high quality representation of the sealife in the game we were able to just sit back and watch – our very own class aquarium.