Again, something we've know about for sometime, but took a while to get around to using. Over the past five years, we've shared the work of Night Zookeeper many times and often spoken to and shared ideas with 'Night Zookeeper Paul'. Since September 2015, we've been using the Night Zookeeper website with our classes.
First of all, it is possible to use the Night Zookeeper website for free. Something Night Zookeeper state is that they are a 'Social Enterprise' and will always offer 'free elements' of their site. This allows all children, in all schools, from all walks of life to access and benefit from what they offer. For us, this sums up the company and the employees (many of whom are co-founders and company directors). They're just a nice bunch! Take a look at 'Free Resources', every class gets a Class Blog (ours: http://tinyurl.com/pqmc7lo & http://tinyurl.com/ouo84vx) and Star Writing.
Image credit: twitter.com/nightzookeeper
We just said it can be used for free. Why subscribe? We thoroughly recommend a subscription. Through this, a teacher can set their own 'Teacher Missions'. This is where the class complete a task that their teacher chosen the objectives for, work bank and more. In addition, Children can complete their own missions, change their avatar, create animals and more. As a teacher, the writing can be assessed against the criteria set. In the time we've used the site (seven months), there have been many, many useful upgrades and there are more in the pipe line. What we've written here is only a taster of the site. When signing up, full access is initially given for free, so sign up and try it to see how you get on with it.
What We've Done
We've used it to complete the 100 Word Challenge on a weekly basis. In addition, we've also completed the Star Writing Challenge. We've read other children's work on commented upon what they've written. We've received comments ourselves. A small number of safeguarding issues have cropped up (sharing information), but when they have (in this safe environment), it's been a good opportunity to learn for the children involved. We took part in World Creative Writing Month 16, finishing 19th and writing over 94,000 words in about 20 days. The children enjoyed using the site, have written lots and been enthused by it. It has been a positive addition to our classrooms. Most of our writing has been in addition to our English curriculum and some has been part of our English work. Many children have chosen to use it at home and during break times in school.