Glow Meet with a dragon!- Early Years Fairyland topic
Please note that this cookbook refers to Glow Meet using Marratech. Glow Meet is now delivered over Adobe Connect which offers enhanced functionality. To find out more about Glow Meet using Adobe Connect click here. The principles around the benefits of Glow Meet are the same regardless of the technology used for Glow Meet.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (well, in Bathgate, West Lothian) the Primary 1 and 2 teachers in Windyknowe Primary School set themselves a huge task. They embarked upon a ‘Joining the Learning’ Fairyland activity that involved every one of the 100 Primary 1 and 2 pupils taking part in an Enchanted Forest project which culminated in them having a Glow Meet with a dragon!
The teachers were keen to provide an engaging and enjoyable learning experience for the pupils and so did a lot of preparation and planning in advance of embarking on the 6-week project. Firstly, they visited other schools who had already been involved in the project to get advice and ideas from them. This allowed them to clarify the things they would like to do themselves.
They decided then that they would like to mix up the children from the P1 and P2 classes to enable them to select the activities they would like to take part in and so provide opportunities for personalisation and choice.
A letter from a Dragon!
The project started after the Easter holidays with a letter arriving from a dragon! This was accompanied by dragon dust (which strangely resembled glitter!), footprints on the floor and scorch marks on the letter itself. All of the 100 children were gathered together to be read the letter from the dragon. Immediately they were captivated. In his letter, the dragon asked the pupils to turn the rooms into an Enchanted Forest. He left articles for the children and these were then used as a basis for the themes that the classrooms were given.
Initially the children went away and thought about the items that the dragon had left. They were asked to consider why he might have chosen these things. Each group of items was linked to a different classroom and each classroom had a different theme and colour scheme, so the pupils had to think about how the rooms and the items were linked. After learning more about the items, the pupils selected which room they would like to work in to find out more about that theme. They picked names for their chosen room, to reflect its theme. The rooms were then named The Armoury Room, The Waterfall Room, The Cottage, The Royal Room and the Great Hall.
The entrance to the area where the P1 and P2 classrooms are was transformed into an Enchanted Forest, just as the dragon had requested. In addition, the pupils then decorated their chosen room to reflect its theme. They undertook different activities in their groups within their chosen room throughout the week and in addition there was always one joint community activity each week.
Hear the pupils talk about the dragon and some of the different rooms in the following video clips:
Signs of the dragon (1:39)
Which rooms were there? (2:19)
The Armoury Room (0:43)
The Royal Room (1:21)
The Waterfall Room (0:36)
Making Cinderella’s cake (1:01)
Being a knight (1:01)
Each week, a new letter arrived from the dragon and this letter introduced a new fairytale to the children. The first was “The Princess and the Pea” by Hans Christian Andersen. To link with this, every pupil made a fabric square which the staff then lovingly sewed together to form a patchwork quilt. Each story that the pupils read was accompanied by a joint activity. For example, when they read “Snow White and the seven dwarfs” by the Brothers Grimm, they made a woodland freeze for the Cottage Room; for “Cinderella”, each group made one tier of a cake which they then assembled to form one giant cake.
Other activities were also undertaken and used to embed learning from all curricular areas. For example
- The children wrote stories. The teachers were amazed at the length of the stories and the level of vocabulary that the children were using. It was clear that they had picked up language from the fairytales that they had read.
- Spelling included words from fairytales – such as beanstalk!
- There was a huge amount of ICT usage incorporated throughout the range of activities – the children took photos and filmed what they were doing, as well as using the internet for research. They also became familiar with video conferencing and web cams through using Glow Meet.
- They learned about castles and in particular looked at Edinburgh and Stirling castles.
- In the Waterfall room, the children learned about the lifecycle of frogs
- The 7 dwarfs were used to help pupils learn number bonds as part of their numeracy learning.
- Outdoors, the pupils worked together in groups to build castles
- There was a lot of drama and role-play, with the children frequently dressing up as knights or princesses
There were some large-scale activities planned for the children too. There was
- a ‘Ball in the Hall’ where the children learned to dance
- a Knights challenge where the pupils who had chosen to work within the Knights room took part in tasks to becomes a knight. This then led to a knighting ceremony.
- a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Assembly presented to the rest of the school
- an open day, when parents were invited in, by Royal Decree, to visit the enchanted forest. Over 200 parents and siblings visited.
Who is this dragon?
Throughout the weeks, the dragon mysteriously visited the school and the children frequently spotted signs that he had been there. Tell-tale signs were seeing dragon dust, or footprints in the enchanted forest, or scorch marks in the playground!
The children were extremely intrigued by the dragon and whilst there were initially a couple of sceptics, after a while all of the children were hugely engaged in trying to discover more about him. They used books and the internet to research different types of dragons and the Primary 2’s even interviewed the staff to try to find out more. They were desperate to know if the dragon was a boy or a girl (as dragon dust had been spotted in both the girls and boys toilets!).
The pupils regularly declared that they had caught a glimpse of the dragon, either at the window or flying up in the sky. However, during the Ball in the Hall, the dragon finally did in fact make a real appearance! For just a second, he peeked in through the hall window. He was spotted by a few of the children, and the excitement that this generated amongst the entire P1 and P2 cohort was tangible. The teachers had carefully arranged it so that it was clear to the pupils that the dragon was not one of the teachers, as they were all present at the time he was spotted, and traces of dragon dust were placed outside by the support staff to confirm his presence.
Meeting the dragon
Another letter arrived from the dragon, suggesting that he would like to speak with the children. He explained that he was very familiar with Glow and that he would therefore like to use Glow Meet to see and speak with them.
One of the teachers arranged for her son to play the part of the dragon.
Since he had been hearing all about the dragon and the adventures that had been happening in the Enchanted Forest at home, he enthusiastically agreed!
A leafy backdrop was created in an area of the school separate from where the P1 and P2 classrooms are, and ‘the dragon’ sat there to do the Glow Meet.
The pupils had prepared questions for the dragon beforehand and took turns to speak to him during the Glow Meet. They even sang ‘Puff the magic dragon’ to him!
At the end, the dragon explained that his Kingdom was now ready for him to return to and that he would be leaving the children to move back.
This brought the entire project to a fitting end.
(The children did add one more activity of their own though, by making Goodbye cards for the dragon!)
Question and Answer session with the Dragon (8:47)
Singing ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ to the Dragon (2:44)
One pupil tells us her thoughts about meeting the Dragon (0:19)
Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes
The topic enabled the teachers to cover an extensive range of Experiences and Outcomes with the children. Amongst many others, they covered:
Literacy and English
LIT 0-01b / LIT 0-11b I enjoy exploring and choosing stories and other texts to watch, read or listen to, and can share my likes and dislikes.
LIT 0-01c I enjoy exploring events and characters in stories and other texts, sharing my thoughts in different ways.
LIT 0-04a I listen or watch for useful or interesting information and I use this to make choices or learn new things.
LIT 1-20a / LIT 2-20a I enjoy creating texts of my choice and I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to suit the needs of my audience.
LIT 1-21a I can spell the most commonly-used words, using my knowledge of letter patterns and spelling rules and use resources to help me spell tricky or unfamiliar words.
Mathematics and Numeracy
MNU 0-03a I use practical materials and can ‘count on and back’ to help me to understand addition and subtraction, recording my ideas and solutions in different ways.
EXA 0-01a / EXA 1-01a / EXA 2-01a I have experienced the energy and excitement of presenting/performing for audiences and being part of an audience for other people’s presentations/
EXA 1-02a I have the opportunity to choose and explore a range of media and technoligies to create images and objects, discovering their effects and suitability for specific tasks
EXA 0-10a I have opportunities to enjoy taking part in dance experiences.
EXA 1-10a I am becoming aware of different features of dance and can practise and perform steps, formations and short dance.
EXA 0-12a I have the freedom to choose and explore how I can use my voice, movement, and expression in role play and drama.
EXA 0-16a I enjoy singing and playing along to music of different styles and cultures.
TCH 1-03b I can access, retrieve and use information from electronic sources to support, enrich or extend learning in different contexts.
TCH 0-04a I enjoy exploring and using technologies to communicate with others within and beyond my place of learning.
TCH 0-04b I enjoy taking photographs or recording sound and images to represent my experiences and the world around me.
TCH 1-04a / TCH 2-04a I explore and experiment with the features and functions of computer technology and I can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts.
The teachers used a school Glow Group called the Enchanted Forest to host their Glow Meet. Assisted by another teacher in the school, Laura Gingell, the Glow Meet web part was added to the Glow Group and a Meeting Room created within it.
In order to provide the experience of the Glow Meet with the Dragon, the teachers needed the following:
- A Glow Group
- A Glow Meet web part added to the Glow Group with a Meeting room created in it
- Web cams – for the dragon and for the room where the children were congregated
- The computer in the children’s room to be connected to a projector to display the Glow Meet on a whiteboard for all to see
- Microphones, for the dragon and for the children
- Speakers for the dragon and the children
In the following videos we will learn how to replicate some of the elements of the Enchanted Forest Glow Group, in particular, the Glow Meet elements:
How to set up a Glow Meet in a Glow Group (5:36)
How to join and take part in a Glow Meet (3:38)
How to use the video, audio and chat facility within a Glow Meet meeting room (6:19)
How to record a Glow Meet (2:09)
How to play back a previously recorded Glow Meet (3:22)
There were many benefits realised from this project, both for the pupils and the staff:
- The children developed in confidence, mixing easily with pupils from the other P1 and 2 classes. This was evident during the school concert when they performed in front of an audience with far more confidence than they had previously
- Their ability to work in groups and share was improved and they played together very well, as they had to get to know one another.
- They became more independent
- There was more of a community feeling within the P1 and P2 area in the school as they worked as one, rather than as separate classes
- The children had the benefit of regularly working with a range of teachers instead of just their own class teacher
- The pupils were very engaged in their learning
- The inclusion of the dragon was an extremely motivational element throughout the project. Any mention of the dragon sparked great interest and proved to be a great way to encourage the pupils to do things – they were happy to do it if the dragon asked them to!
- The language work that the pupils produced was incredible. The length of the stories they wrote and the vocabulary they used was far beyond what the teachers would normally see from P1/2 pupils.
- When a new letter arrived from the dragon, the pupils were very good at suggesting ideas about what they should do to meet his requests.
- Their interest in reading has been sustained and the children regularly choose to read a fairytale from their reading corner.
During the project the six P1 and P2 teachers all worked extremely well together. They all offered and shared their ideas and planned joint activities as a group. Through their discussions, the ideas evolved that were then implemented throughout the project. All of the staff loved the experience of the project and were completely enthused. This enthusiasm was most certainly passed on to the children. One of the teachers involved in the Fairyland topic, Michelle Skene, said of the project: “we’ve loved every minute of it, maybe even moreso than the children!”
The Glow Meet itself had a great impact on the project. It gave a way of bringing the topic to a conclusion and allowed the children to see the dragon that had consumed their thoughts for the previous six weeks.
The children still talk about the dragon now, weeks after the end of the topic. They also still incorporate other areas of their learning from the Enchanted Forest into their everyday work.
The staff and pupils all loved the project and having a Glow Meet with a dragon is something they would most definitely recommend!
Glow Meet with a dragon!- Early Years Fairyland topic