A Deputy Head Teachers Perspective On Using Spy Quest For Transition and Alignment To Curriculum For Excellence
On first receiving information on ‘Spy Quest’ I was immediately interested in exploring the opportunity that it provided for game-based learning. I was convinced upon reading the design brief, that if it genuinely was an immersive learning experience the student’s primary-secondary transition programme would be enhanced through the inclusion of ‘Spy Quest’ in the learning activities planned for the first week of term. I hoped to use ‘Spy Quest’ as a motivational catalyst to support our new students in building relationships and in exploring their new school. Coming to terms with its layout and design by ‘osmosis’ rather than the traditional guided tour.
As it turned out the game did all of this and more. The range of missions required that the young people deployed their inter-personal skills – communication, team working, negotiation, decision making and also their cross cutting skills in ICT, numeracy and problem solving.
Curriculum for excellence aims to ensure that our young people develop the attributes, knowledge and skills needed for life, learning and work. The first year students were quick to recognise the teambuilding aspect of the game but the review materials provided were invaluable in supporting the students to reflect on the skills used during the game and allowed them to recognise their own personal strengths and those of their team.
Although St Thomas Aquinas RC Secondary School used this with first year students to support their transition to secondary school the scope for using this with other year groups to develop teamwork and analyse core skills is clear to see.
An excellent resource. Fun, engaging and great value for money.
Eileen Kennedy (Depute Head Teacher, St Thomas Aquinas RC Secondary School)
Periods 5 and 6 on a Friday usually seem to be the most anticipated of the week as, to students, they mean freedom. But on the afternoon of 17th August the first year students in St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School were in for a treat. All S1 students took part in a learning activity called the ”Super Spy challenge’ which aimed to help the new pupils develop their core skills not only needed for school but for life. It encouraged them to get to know the people in their team by pulling them together and exercising how well they could work with each other. Some people in the group had strengths which could aid the others’ weaknesses, as they may have a different way of doing things. Each group was led by S3 students, enabling them to get to know one another.
The spy camp challenge began above the water cooler in the social area, with a sign hung above it indicating that a code had to be cracked. This then led the students to go to various different parts of the school to gather envelopes which would help them crack their code. Not only was it a challenge, but it was also a competition and this led to the first years rushing to get to their next destination, cracking all the necessary codes. Adam in 1R1 said, “I enjoyed the afternoon and really got to know where some of the rooms were.”
I spoke to one of our third year students – who were also involved in the project as actors, playing out various roles – who identified himself as ‘Bond, James Bond.’ Clearly he was taking his role very seriously! Two other female aspiring actresses portrayed roles in the science department, one as a crazed scientist and the other as a granny with a convincing Irish accent. A science technician sat in the back of the classroom brewing chemicals to add to the mysterious mood. When the clues had been spoken aloud from the characters, the spies had then at some point managed to get to a computer either located in the library or the IT department to type in a code and then receive information for where there should look next. It was a race against the clock, as they were given a limited amount of time to do so.
In the end, only one group could be pronounced as victorious and the winners were awarded with a glass trophy and certificates. One of the successful winners, Kieran (also in 1R1) said, “It was a great feeling to win. I really hope there will be more things to do like this.” All the students really enjoyed this active learning opportunity and have not stopped talking about it. They can’t wait to help out with the event next year!
Alisa Wylie, S5 student.
Glasgow Life in conjunction with NHSGCC and SWCHCP working in partnership with internal and external organisations such as Sports Development, PlayServices, Club Coach and Volunteer Officers, Active Schools, Education and NHS to create a programme that incorporates a “Whole School Approach” to health and well being for primary aged children in the South West of Glasgow
Our aim is to support Educators by providing opportunities for pupils to discover that learning in health and wellbeing will ensure that they develop the knowledge and understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes which they need for mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing now and into the future. Learning through health and wellbeing enables children and young people to:
- make informed decisions in order to improve their mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing
- experience challenge and enjoyment
- experience positive aspects of healthy living and activity for themselves
- apply their mental, emotional, social and physical skills to pursue a healthy lifestyle by giving them the opportunity to further their abilities out with school hours
I felt it was important to include technologies as part of our learning outcomes. In a world that is becoming increasingly reliant on technology, young people need to be given the opportunity to learn ICT skills in an interesting, challenging and relevant way. With Spy Quest, young people were given the opportunity to learn, have fun, be challenged and work together, whilst finding their own strengths within a team.
Working with the lower primary age groups – P1, 2, 3 & 4. I considered what learning outcomes I would hope to achieve, I gave the Polybius team a topic “The Olympics” and whilst keeping the theme in mind, they tailored their programme to involve the main outcomes I hoped to achieve;
- Developing core interpersonal skills
- Active Learning
- Problem solving
- Developing relationships
- Challenge and Enjoyment
Children were engaged in the Spy Quest workshops for the start, their imaginations were captured and the Polybius team held their attention throughout the workshop. It was great to watch children as young as 5, concentrate on solving the clues, work as a team encouraging their peers, as well as taking the lead and having the confidence to voice their opinions. The workshops also gave children to opportunity to be trusted to find clues unsupervised that where hidden around the school, This gave them responsibility, whilst showing them key areas in the school eg Janitors office and the first aid room. Further to this the exit strategy used by Polybius allowed the schools to use the programme throughout the school year and compete with other local schools.
I would not only give David and his team, my full recommendation but I would definitely use the programme again and I am currently considering the workshops as part of my Transitional programme for P7 entering S1.
Through evaluation teachers and pupils from all 4 schools, reported that they felt the team were professional, approachable and the programme was a fabulous way to give children the opportunity to work with others and use other aspects of ICT transferring their ICT skills across the curriculum.