1. Premier Stories

Whilst we intend this work to be transferable and meaningful in stimulating a host of primary-focused writing situations, we decided that for the initial project, a perfect narrative vehicle for the Kodudes project would be a film-based theme: the children would create Premier Stories.

This was considered a strong starting point as:
  1. Film narrative offers many interesting parallel forms of writing and supporting media: scripts, photobooks, film novels and console games, not to mention the film itself.

  2. High levels of engagement: this is a key driver for the project, and whilst the Kodu environment can be considered hugely motivational alone, we felt that children who are potentially disengaged with common reading and writing scenarios may be inspired by seeing how writing permeates their media and is in fact an essential component in film and game conception and realisation: Creative writing is a real world skill, used by game developers and film makers to produce the media these children are engaged by.

  3. The creative outcomes for the project are not only interactive 'written' stories in the Kodu environment, but also the construction of immersive atmospheric 'scenes' and the development of  creative narrative through the programming of intractive games. Films already naturally touch on all these areas and children are well-versed in the spin-off culture.

  4. Films and games have clearly identifiable and familiar audiences - a critical though often lacking component  in children's writing in school. Just as for the film and gaming industries, the audience is never far from the minds of the children working on the Premier Stories project - it will be their peers who will get to 'play' (and even adapt) their interactive narrative creations. 

Session structure

Each session follows a similar, albeit flexible, structure to ensure the key foci of the project are covered. The sessions begin with pupils writing a diary entry for the previous week's work. This allows a recapping of the narrative, a review of their creative writing and of the coding skills they discovered: perfect preparation for the new work about to undertaken.

Attention then turns to the focus for this session's creative writing work: in the Permier Stories project, this has taken the form of watching and discussing the appropriate excerpt of the Monsters vs Aliens movie. This may also involve comparing how these elements of the story plot were covered  in the different media, such as the junior novel, the movie storybook, the younger reader or the PC and DS games. 

stimulus for writing (often a shared/collaborative exercise such as generating word/phrase banks) is then used to prepare the pupils for a period of effective and powerful writing. Crucially, the writing takes place within Kodu, ulilising the <say> action command. To the 'audience' experiencing the Kodu story file in play mode, this narrative appears as 'popups' as the character being controlled encounters them along the physical story path of the 'schema' (see below). 

The second part of the session then turns to exploring the same narrative section in a visual way still within the Kodu environment: the pupils turn their attention to creating a dynamic 3D representation of a setting for a scene they have just written about. These often develop further with some conditional or interactive elements being programmed. 

The climax of the film will similarly be developed in into a minigame: a culmination of the project work intended to draw on all of the pupil's creative and coding skills. 

Project roll-out

The innovative and creative Premier Stories project is being run in two schools in two Local Authorities:
  • Nottinghamshire
  • Wiltshire
For more information about the Premier Stories project, visit the session write-ups.
Wilts sessions