Using DS in Literacy Rotations – First session.

We’ve had a very exciting week in 5/6B! For the first time, students were allowed to bring their Nintendo DS to school for use in Literacy.

We’ve laid down a few rules:

1. DSs are for use before school, during class for specific activities, and for wet day timetables.

2. No DSs outside.

3. Students bring DSs at own risk but the DSs are locked away by the teacher until they are needed, to minimise risk to them.

4. We use the DSs for playing to learn.

5. No inappropriate (for school) games.

6. If you do not have a DS you do not have to go out and buy one! (I have a DS and 3DS that I lend to students).


Our first session using the DSs was very experimental. I made a table that students needed to fill out while they played different games so that we could compare and contrast them later. Students were required to record the title, main characters and object of the game. Some where able to complete this section before getting into the game play as they had played it many times before, or because they characters were so well known (eg Mario Kart). Others took quite some time to get the names of the characters as they were playing an unfamiliar game and needed time to explore the narrative of the game a bit.

Next, students were asked to list the Literacy and Numeracy skills they discovered they were using during gameplay. Our grade does reflections on our learning as an everyday part of our Literacy Rotations and are able to identify their learning in a number of activities, but I found that they struggled to do this when playing DS, even with their experiences with using Lure of the Labyrinth in Maths. With a little bit of questioning from me, students had ‘aha’ moments as they connected their actions with a Literacy or Numeracy concept.

With about 20 minutes to go in the session, I asked students to put down the DSs and move onto the design section of their table. They were asked to design a new cover for the game, using some of the features we learned about when creating persuasive texts. They then had to write a 4 sentence blurb suitable for the back cover of the game. Students got their novels out of their tubs to have a look at how a blurb is constructed and what language would capture the interest of a potential buyer in a store.

This was a great way to introduce DSs to our Literacy Rotations, as students immediately began linking gameplay with their learning. The table they had to fill out provide them with guidelines for their thinking and gave them a goal to achieve within the time restrictions. They located sources of ideas and examples from around them, borrowed my iPad to check their spelling or find a word definition, and grabbed the netbooks if they needed some background on the game for their back cover.

A great start to this trial at our school. I’m not sure where to head to next though – I want to stay away from level design at this stage as I would like to do that activity with the whole class at once. At this stage I will repeat the same activity but students must choose another game to ‘review’, and then the following activity will involve comparing and contrasting the two games.

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7 Responses to Using DS in Literacy Rotations – First session.

  1. Great Post! Very interesting stuff Lynette. We’re currently conducting, via DEECD, a contemporary literacy research and are looking at doing similar things as above but with iPod Touches. Will be keen to see where this takes you and your class!

  2. Rob says:

    Fantastic idea, Lynette. I like your reflection proforma too.
    I’m challenged by what you’ve done here.
    Is this part of a unit on reviews or narratives, or a bit of a one-off?
    I’m also wondering how many of your students have their own DS that they can bring in? How many does that leave using your two spares?

    • lynettebarr says:

      At this stage we are just experimenting with activities without a specific focus, for several reasons:
      * we don’t have class sets of games, the kids bring their own
      * some games have much stronger narrative features than others
      * I’m figuring out how to link specific games to specific concepts in Literacy.
      We’ll get there!
      With my 2 DSs included, every student in my grade has a DS! That’s 25 kids!

  3. Interesting post Lynette. Aleways good to se how people use such resources to support teaching and learning. Don’t know if you know much about what we have been doing Scotland with computer games? Hope you don’t mind if I share some of our work…we’ve been looking at this for a quite a few years now and have had some research published:

    Dr Kawashinma in class

    Nintendogs in Class

    Professor Layton in class

    My French Coach

    You might wantvto check out our blog to if you have time

    All the best with your work in this area šŸ™‚

    • lynettebarr says:

      Hi Derek, yes I have been having a look at what’s happening with GBL in Scotland for 2 years now. I read the research 2 years ago but have only recently been able to have a go at it over here.
      I’ll be heading to Scotland in early Jan next year for a research trip, so hoping to find out lots more about the Consolarium.

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