Spring Hill Young Writers (SHYW) Workshop


Anne Weaver

All Hallows’ School, Brisbane Boys’ Grammar, Brisbane Girls’ Grammar And St Joseph’s, Gregory Terrace

From 2011 to 2103, the teacher librarians from four neighbouring schools, All Hallows’ School, Brisbane Boys’ Grammar, Brisbane Girls’ Grammar And St Joseph’s, Gregory Terrace, refined a creative writing workshop for 12 to 13 year old boys and girls, the Spring Hill Young Writers (SHYW) Workshop, which explored ways of enhancing creative writing with an author. Thirty-two students, 8 from each school, collaborated in groups of 4 to improve their writing, each year.

In 2015, it was decided to extend the workshop further by creating a simulated fantasy quest in Roma Street Gardens which was near to all schools, using immersive experiences, mobile and other technologies, and augmented reality.

Evidence-based practice involved monitoring student involvement and engagement, and seeking feedback from them and the author through the use of survey tools, observation and student writing on the wiki. This was presented as part of Australian Government and All Hallows’ Quality Teacher Programs, with input from lecturers from the Australian Catholic University. This was also showcased at Edutech 2015 in Brisbane and the International Association of School Libraries Conference in the Netherlands in 2015. It was concluded, based on the evidence available, that collaborative writing via a wiki and supported by an author, improved student writing compared to traditional teaching methods.

In 2015, it was decided to extend the workshop further by creating a simulated fantasy quest in Roma Street Gardens which was near to all schools, using immersive experiences, mobile and other technologies, and augmented reality.

The students progressed through 8 stations in teams of 4 heroes, one from each school, through 8 stations: Armoury, Field of Doom, Table, Epic Citadel, Cursed Quicksand, Fiendish Forest, Eerie Escarpment and Tunnel of Terror, which reflected the various parts of a fantasy quest.

Torrential rain caused the venue to be transferred to All Hallows, Potter Library, but the activities still achieved the desired outcomes of simulating a quest experience for students. The relocation reinforced the applicability of this process for normal classrooms.

The process was found to enhance student teamwork skills and students found this to be an engaging experience. Students previously had little experience with augmented reality as a stimulus for writing, but found this and other digital technologies to be highly relevant. The contextualized experiences maximized the learning impact on student writing. These immersive experiences improved narrative writing, especially character point of view, where students were able to develop greater empathy for the trials and tribulations of quests and character interactions.

Read more at https://springhillyoungwriters.wordpress.com/

Please see: https://readingpower.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/collaborative-writing-inquiry-2013/ for the earlier inquiries.

Videos of the event, data analysis and student feedback can be found at: https://readingpower.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/edutech-fantasy-quest-presentation/