SCIENCE - Sense the Scene (Student Age 8-10)
Trevilians Elementary School, Louisa, Virginia, USA
Using virtual reality, students were able to explore and describe locations that most students will never get the opportunity to see in person. This in-class vacation helped students to easily describe a setting using sensory words. Students learned the importance of describing a setting in their writing, so that readers could better visualize their story.
Lower School Teacher
On the day prior to this lesson, students explored sensory bins and we created an anchor chart of sensory words from their experience, words they could use in the activity. I started off the VR lesson by reviewing what sensory words are, referring back to the anchor chart and we discussed why these words were important. Once students were separated into partners, the partner who would start wearing the headset first (partner 1) randomly selected a VR location card from a pile. They were not to share the location with their partner, since the partner would later guess the location from their description. I gave the first teammate three minutes to put the headset on and describe the location using sensory words. The partner that was not in the virtual reality (partner 2), wrote down those descriptions on a graphic organizer. The graphic organizer also included questions that would help to prompt more ideas for senses that were difficult to describe. When the three minutes was up, partner 2 had three more minutes to draw a picture of the location using the description from partner 1. Before switching jobs, partner 2 shared their picture with partner 1 and guessed the location. Then, partner 2 explored the VR location, while partner 1 added new notes to the graphic organizer. When partner 2’s time was up, the students reflected on the experience and how they did. They looked at the picture that partner 2 drew and discussed what descriptions could have been added or changed to improve the representation of the location, if they were not correct. Teams also shared their experience with the rest of the class. As an extension, students worked with their partner to create a narrative story with their setting and they had to include sensory words from their graphic organizer.
IMPACT ON LEARNING
The students were engaged and highly interested in exploring and learning. This also helped my students to be more supportive of each other because they were working toward a common goal. Students also worked on their communication skills as they collaborated with their partner. The virtual reality experience provided an authentic opportunity to describe a setting using new vocabulary words. Since students were “wowed” by the scenery, they were eager to share their description of the setting and the words came easily. In addition, there was a much higher level of participation and focus during this lesson than what I had seen on previous lessons.
To identify sensory words that identify sights, smells, sounds and tastes.
To describe how sensory words contribute to text.
To create visual/oral representations of the text identifying specific descriptions.