HISTORY VR CASE STUDY: Experiencing the Trenches (Student Age 10 -11)
Crowlands Primary School, London
“This year marked the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War One, and Year 6 pupils at Crowlands Primary School marked the occasion by writing a piece from the point of view of those brave soldiers in the cold, unforgiving trenches. The anniversary is a hugely symbolic time and as such, we wanted this topic to be made even more personal, immersive and experiential. Most children started the unit of work with a limited conceptual understanding about life in the trenches and how a typical day would be; we therefore wanted to provide a learning experience to broaden and deepen their understanding and appreciation of the conditions and expectations which soldiers endured.”
Age 10 -11 Primary School Teacher (UK)
Firstly, the children had to come up with emotions of the soldiers and an outline of the settings using all five senses. To provide the most real, tangible experience possible, the children were given the headsets with the WW1 Trenches Experience loaded up; they then explored the 360 video, focusing on the grime, mud, rain and sobering surroundings. As the video has background audio projecting distant battlefield cries and warzone explosions, the children were given further food for thought and this fed nicely into expanding their choice of language and vocabulary. Whilst viewing the video, pupils were able to ask and pose questions to each other and raise further points to explore in groups and as a class. To codify and bring together this experiential learning, the pupils then removed the headsets and decorated a silhouette of a soldier with words and phrases that could describe what it might have been like to fight in the trenches.
IMPACT ON LEARNING
As 10-11 year olds, they really struggled to step into the footsteps of people that lived over 100 years ago. ClassVR helped the children to engage with the task and gave them inspiration for how to describe the sights, sounds and smells of the trenches. The children were astonished at what the soldiers had to go through even though we had already covered trench life as part of our World War Topic and had a brand new understanding and empathy for the millions of courageous soldiers that gave their lives to fight for this country. This immersive nature of VR helped them think more creatively and their work was imaginative and detailed.
- To understand and explain some of the major events during World War One.
- To write in first person from the perspective of a soldier.