What is the Night Zookeeper?
Emma Cotton, Class Teacher, Langham Village Primary School, Norfolk, UK
Creativity and literacy skills enable students to lead fuller lives and contribute to society. However, schools have reported that it can be difficult to get children, particularly boys, excited about writing. Lack of motivation can inhibit skills development as students are less likely to practice their writing skills.
Night Zookeeper is an online platform which inspires children to express themselves and to be creative writers. What started as a simple story about magical animals has grown into an online world where children can learn about anything that sparks their imagination. The website inspires and engages children, nurturing a love of writing as they develop core skills across the curriculum.
Issues of motivation have been approached from the child’s point of view. Writing has been gamified to make it an enjoyable experience. A love for writing is inspired through the story, characters, and game, and children are motivated to produce their best writing.
Teachers choose from thousands of interactive lessons from a broad curriculum range and send it to students to access online. Students write, read and draw their way around the Night Zoo as they become publishers of their own creative ideas.
Curriculum content delivered in this way motivates even reluctant students. Work can also be published on a class blog which gives the students a sense of audience and purpose for their writing for further motivation.
The Night Zookeeper is a tool that teachers and students can use flexibly to fit whatever their particular philosophy and curriculum is at their school.
Teachers can also benefit from the assessment tools within the Night Zookeeper as the online writing tool automatically assesses children’s writing ability and tracks progress. This makes it easy to compare a piece of writing a child submitted at the start of the school year with one they create towards the end.
The potential for this innovative assessment tool for recognizing dyslexia has been recognized and The Night Zookeeper has received funding to develop this further.