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28th August 2017

XMA and St Matthew Academy rewrite history

Students at St Matthew Academy in Blackheath rewrote history in December when they worked with children's author Tamsyn Murray and Apple Professional Development Specialist Trainer David Ryan at British Education IT specialist XMA, to write their own interactive World War I digital books.
Students from Year 7 and 8 spent two days being inspired by a variety of original source materials (including postcards, helmets, uniforms and a Death Penny issued for William Hassan), loaned especially for the event by The Somme Heritage Centre in Belfast, to write their own stories.
Before starting to write they learned about structure, setting and characterisation with Tamsyn, worked in St Matthew Academy’s 4D creative immersive space loaded with the sights and sounds of the war to get an idea of what it might have been like to actually be in the trenches, before finally splitting into groups and using iPad to get some words down under David's expert tuition.
Students also had access to a specially prepared online resource library of songs, pictures and poems from the era, which they incorporated into their stories to give their work a multi-media appeal. By the end of Day Two each group had produced a complete interactive digital book written entirely by them, complete with a cover they had designed themselves, with stories including a dual-narrative love story written from the point of view of a nurse and a soldier, and a heart-breaking tale of two children orphaned by the war. St Matthew Academy plans to test the students' storytelling ability by sharing their work with parents at a special event in the spring term.
The aim of this unique collaboration was to fuse the kind of technology students might use every day with timeless storytelling techniques to inspire their imaginations, unleash their creativity and give them some fascinating insights into WWI in its centenary year. Supported by XMA, who have an exemplary track record of cross-curricular ICT innovation across countless schools and academies, the project made 21st Century writers of St Matthew Academy's students.

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