Struthers Primary School – Utilising Spy Quest for our SHANNARI Project
In March 2013 after attending a Spy Quest course I returned to my school extremely motivated and inspired. I viewed it as an ideal way to engage children in their learning with unlimited educational opportunities. The programme has the potential to cover every experience and outcome set out in the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence framework in an exciting and interesting fashion.
In August 2013, our aim was to start the academic year with a whole school project where the focus was linked to the Health and Wellbeing outcomes set out in the Curriculum for Excellence, known as SHANARRI (safety, health, active, nurtured, achieving, respect, responsibility and inclusion). The Spy Quest programme was an ideal way to kick off this project in order to inspire and engage the children in their learning right from the start of the year. When it came to introducing Spy Quest to the children at my school I wanted to ensure it was as exciting as possible. So we had a whole school assembly where we set up a scenario involving a mysterious briefcase being stealthily dropped in the hall. Contained within this briefcase, was a list of secret missions for the children to complete and a specific SHANARRI area for their class to focus on.
The first task for the children to complete was to play a Spy Quest game based on a stolen cursed diamond. This helped the children to understand the feeling of being a spy. But more importantly, from an educational point of view, this helped the children to realise the importance of reading instructions carefully and fully understanding precisely what it is you are being asked to do. Skills of perseverance and teamwork were other aspects that were developed through this task.
Once the first task was completed the children began work on their own mission linked to the SHANARRI outcome allocated to their class. Each class created their missions and these were all combined to create one Spy Quest game for all the children to play. The theme of the game was linked to the Commonwealth Games with the baton being stolen. The children’s challenge was to complete each mission in order to retrieve the baton.
Whilst creating their game the children were able to learn more about the Common Wealth Games and developed a wide range of other skills. These included improving comprehension skills, understanding ciphers and cracking codes. The children were highly motivated to write missions for an audience, providing them with a real purpose for writing.
After creating the Spy Quest game, the children carried out a digital literacy project based on their SHANARRI area; developing their skills in literacy and ICT. The children were able to transfer the skills they had learned through the Spy Quest games to this new project. The level of enthusiasm and motivation, which started with the Spy Quest games, was continued and further developed throughout this digital literacy project.
By participating in this project every single child in our school was fully involved in a whole school project. Children who previously been considered ‘reluctant writers’ were completely engaged in this task and understood the purpose of writing. Disengaged learners were focused and actually creating their own lesson ideas. Children with behavioural difficulties were excited and asking for extra work to complete. Children who were considered to be of average ability were suddenly eager to succeed resulting in them excelling in lessons. The more able children were being challenged and actively seeking ways to extend themselves further. This programme really did tick all the boxes!
Since playing the Spy Quest Game the children regularly request that it is included as an activity in any new topics that they cover. In one class, after studying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the children created another Spy Quest Game which they then charged people to play at the Christmas Fayre. They then used the proceeds to help pay for a class trip to visit a chocolate factory. For an end of year Christmas activity the children played a game where they had to complete missions to rescue Santa’s stolen reindeer and in the New Year we are hoping to carry out another whole school project based on different periods in history where the children will use Spy Quest as a stimulus to get them excited and enthusiastic about their topics.
I cannot recommend Spy Quest highly enough. The possibilities are endless and with all the new technological advancements and I am really excited to see where we can take it next. Spy Quest really is a sure fired wired motivate any learner.