ENGLISH VR CASE STUDY: Comprehension Skills (Student Age 9-11)
“A key focus within our school is to ensure children are given the right tools to become successful readers and are able to fully comprehend high-level texts independently.”
“Inference was a clear domain children struggled with across the school when analysing assessment data.”
Age 9 – 11 Primary School Teacher
While strategies such as use of a dictionary, morphology and context can be taught, we needed to stimulate the knowledge already there and build on it. At the start of our ‘War and Peace’ topic, we worked with a group of children and gave them a poetry comprehension about a topic they knew little of – World War One. We then integrated the World War One trenches experience to provide a visually-immersive and audio-enhanced learning opportunity, so the children had virtually explored, first-hand, the conditions and living arrangements of that era. This really supported the work we went on to do based around the text ‘War Horse’. We spent a lesson focused on figurative writing and understanding the deeper meanings of text, asking key questions, such as “Why does the poet choose to look up?” and “How did the poet/character feel?” This led on nicely to a number of VR-based lessons we undertook, which explored: questioning, clarifying, making connections and inferential thinking skills – all of which underpinned our drive to improve reading and comprehension skills.
IMPACT ON LEARNING
Giving children an ownership of discovering word meanings would allow them to be able to use their growing understanding of vocabulary to make accurate and valid inferences. Some of the pupils said, “The VR experience helped me imagine the scene” and “I didn’t realise how much could be going on in a trench or battlefield.” Having experienced the trenches and understood the conditions, one pupil recalled that the poet chose to look up in one of the poems studied to “get away from the guns and dead bodies and see his family in heaven.” As such, the use of ClassVR stimulated talk, which is vital for children to articulate themselves and communicate their thinking.