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‘That awe and wonder moment’


Pupils at Woodchurch High School in Wirral explored Jerusalem as part of their RE revision with Google Expeditions

RE teacher Tim Shelton from Woodchurch High decided to use the Google Expeditions visit to help jog his pupils’ memories on Judaism and Christianity ahead of their GCSEs.

‘We studied these areas last year, so we used Google Expeditions to revisit this subject – it was a great revision tool, an effective way of getting them to think back to what they had learned previously,’ he says. 

Expeditions for these students included a trip to the Holy Places of Jerusalem, which took pupils to the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Mount of Olives.

‘The first scene was an aerial view of Jerusalem which gave pupils an overview of the Old City of Jerusalem, the walls and the Temple Mount.’

‘It gave you an idea of what city life was like in Biblical times. I’d ask questions such as ‘Where was the temple?’. Then I had pupils identify it, and questioned them on who built it and when it was destroyed.’

Tim explains that another scene showed the Western (or Wailing) Wall where the pupils could see images of people praying.

‘At one point we saw someone posting a prayer note into the spaces between the walls. I asked the class what this was for.’

In addition to daily prayers and pilgrimages to the Wall, important Jewish rituals are often conducted here and, as the pupils strolled among the crowds, their teacher was able to point out a gathering of boys and men in traditional Jewish dress, taking part in a Bar Mitzvah, celebrating the coming of age of a 13-year-old boy. 

‘I’d get the pupils to identify what was going on, what it was called and what was involved,’ Tim adds.

Tim also asked pupils to tell the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection through a mosaic on the wall when they journeyed into Christ’s tomb. ‘You could also see the stone that Jesus was laid on and images of a woman kissing and bowing in front of it. I asked the pupils why she was doing this and how it showed faith.’

Other sites that Tim asked the children to identify included the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane.

He explains: ‘You could see if pupils were following what we were learning because you would ask them to look at a site of interest and if they identified it correctly then their avatar [represented in the teacher’s tablet as a little digital smiling face] would gravitate towards your arrow, indicating they were on task.’

Overall, Tim believes the pupils gained a huge amount from their expedition.

‘As well as that awe and wonder moment you get when you first experience VR, we were pleased that there is also a real-life application with Google Expeditions learning, and the experience acted as a great aide-mémoire.’

Image: Woodchurch High