The End is Really the Beginning
My final project ends where I started. Making our learning visible to all our community. Above are some of the comments the parents left when we had a morning sharing our projects with them and when students coached them in Minecraft. Sometimes it is not always obvious to the parents how we are learning through technology unless we include them in our learning journey. So in the spirit of sharing our learning , transparency and collaboration I included my parents in the process right from the beginning, starting with this letter . The support and interest from the parents has been one of the most important outcomes of the project and has opened up many conversations around what their child’s future learning and opportunities may look like.
These were my goals for my students
- offer choices in their learning
- understand what collaboration means
- be creators of their own learning environment
- collaborate locally and globally
- develop independence in their learning
This was the question I kept asking myself as the project progressed. Would this task have been possible without the use of technology?
My concern throughout this project was reaching the transformation in student learning. Many of the tasks leading up to using Minecraft were achieved without the use of technology, or sometimes with technology enhancing the task. I have thought long and hard to try and reach my own understanding of transformation. My interpretation of transformation became clear when I watched hours of video footage of students working in Minecraft and saw that seamless cross-over between the pedagogy and technology in a virtual learning environment.
Rather than planning a project to reach that transformation stage in my students learning, what happened was something much more powerful. The students themselves were transforming or redefining their own learning. So although it was a guided inquiry into using Minecraft as a collaborative tool, with detailed steps and skill building, before too long the students were beginning to take the project way beyond my original task.
Students connected their current maths inquiries into counting groups of objects into their virtual world and created ‘Array City’ setting challenges for one another. Throughout the project my role has become progressively more hands off. At each stage of the project, the students made reflections on their learning and on their personal goals. I also did this through two previous blog posts.
Inquiry into Collaboration Through Minecraft.
It has been so empowering for the students to begin the school year learning through their lens rather than mine and for me to see an increase in the level of personalised learning. I have seen confidence, independence, peer-teaching, problem solving and inquiry skills developing so much earlier. I am already seeing the trust and collaboration which the students have built in the classroom with one another and the depth of understanding around the possibilities and opportunities collaboration offers.
Collaboration helps their learning, not only in the classroom but globally too. My project was two-fold. Whilst my students started their inquiries around collaboration through Minecraft, they also started their blogging journey and started to share their learning on our class blog. We made connections with another G1 class in Kuwait. Students have exchanged information about each other’s schools and countries through class blogs.
My students are just beginning to connect to individual students in Ms Abby’s class through shared interests which will continue for the rest of the year. Abby and I are now helping each other in our current units and the students and parents can see first-hand the power of collaboration and the value of connected learning.
My personal inquiry into Minecraft has shown me it’s potential for differentiation and cross-curricular learning. The students are already planning to create stories in Minecraft and some of the Grade 1 French teachers have approached me to help them use Minecraft for instruction in their French lessons. Being a linguist and a former EAL teacher, I am already envisaging multi-lingual worlds being created. Students needed more or less guidance using Minecraft itself and developed their understanding and skills at their own pace. It was a perfect environment for my non- English speakers to practice their English at the beginning of the school year because they all understand the language of Minecraft. They are thrilled to all become Minecraft coaches for the rest of Grade 1, providing a familiar and fun platform for everyone to shine.
I purposefully planned this unit around 9 weeks. Perhaps it seems like a long time out of our busy school schedules, but I wanted the students to reap the rewards of taking their time to be independent, creative, digital citizens who know how to collaborate to transform their learning. Alongside using Minecraft, there were important skills that I wanted my students to develop around technology. My plan to create a Minecraft club for Grade 1 students is already in motion to begin in January and the best part of this is that my class are helping me to organise it. In a few weeks time my students will be coaching the other four Grade 1 classes in Minecraft. My colleagues have watched this project unfold and have already booked me as soon as I have posted my final reflection to share the project and set them up to use Minecraft. Love that ripple effect.
I am so glad I chose something that I have been wanting to use with the students for over a year now. This is just the beginning of my Minecraft journey.
Having spent a long time trying to produce a video for my final project, I have really appreciated the work and talent of those who are able to produce inspiring and memorable digital stories through their powerful visuals. This will be my next personal inquiry and was in fact one of my project options. I am looking forward to going back to having more time to explore and extend my learning from course 3.
Let the learning continue-always. Thank you Coetail.