Tuesday March 7, 2017
This March, Night Zookeeper - an education technology website that gamifies writing (www.nightzookeeper.com), will host their third annual World Creative Writing Month. This is a global writing competition that invites classrooms of children from around the world to write as many stories as they can. It features a Blue Peter style totaliser where children can watch the number of words tick up!
Last year children wrote 7 million published words in March and the winning class from Harrow International School in Beijing, collectively wrote 300,000 words.
The gamified, creative writing website nightzookeeper.com gives children a variety of writing prompts and vocabulary targets and introduces them to 10 major writing styles including: poetry, letter writing and non-chronological reports.
When teachers join Night Zookeeper, they can also create their own digital lessons to send to their students. They do this using an online editor, which includes interactive modules for: drawing, writing and quiz activities. Importantly for schools, these lessons can be adapted to teach any subject, theme or topic and are linked to every curriculum around the world.
Once lessons are completed by students, their work is automatically sent back to their teacher for assessment. This means that all student progress is saved, and can be monitored and used to inform future lesson planning. And of course, there words count towards their classes total!
“By digitizing common classroom activities such as story writing, science reports and history assignments, teachers can learn a lot more about the progress their students are making.” enthuses Paul Hutson, Night Zookeeper’s Education Director.
“The Internet has transformed society in so many ways, but it is how it has brought us together and helped us to share our expertise and ideas with one another that has always amazed and excited me the most.” says Night Zookeeper CEO Joshua Davidson. Davidson, who is the author of the story book Night Zookeeper and the Spying Giraffes on which the company is based, continues; “We already have thousands of fantastic, interactive lessons that teachers can customise and send to their students. The database will just keep growing.”
The company was started in 2011 when the then teacher Hutson, and author Davidson, decided to team up with designer and developer friends to change digital play. “Three of us were living in the same bedroom for six months while we tried to raise the funds we needed.” explains Davidson. They did eventually receive funding from Telefonica’s Wayra Accelerator, who gave them £40k and office space for nine months. This was enough to set them on their way. “We wanted to make something that would inspire creativity in children.” Davidson says. “I felt that too many children’s websites offered kids preset choices, rather than a genuine opportunity for imaginative play.”
Night Zookeeper completely changes the way children learn. “On nightzookeeper.com we have focused on gamified rewards, creativity tools and parent engagement. With Lesson Hive, we are now able to combine our existing, highly motivating learning game with a catalogue of endless teaching possibilities.”
The characters children draw in Night Zookeeper, come alive and deliver lesson content to their creators on any subject. “A ‘Purple Octocow’ can teach a Japanese child English words or a ‘Teleporting Dragonlion’ can explain fractions to a student in Ohio.” concludes Davidson with an excited smile. It seems school really has changed forever.