Happy to have chosen, following advice from Robert Appino’s and others, an inquiry into collaboration through the use of Minecraft. It feels like we are all on a truly creative learning journey together which in itself is a worthy enduring understanding for the rest of the school year and beyond.
My big goals:
- students develop an enduring understanding of what collaborative learning is and a increased desire and ability to be a contributor and creator both online and offline
- students pursue and organise their own inquiry into themselves as learners through using Minecraft
- we all, as a class have a better understanding of one another
- we explore learning possibilities through Minecraft
- students create their own guidelines around digital citizenship and class community
- students are able to explain their thinking and learning to a wider audience using technology
- parents ask deeper questions about learning and Minecraft
- a Minecraft club for Grade 1, with the possibility of involving parents and older students
- offer Minecraft as a personalised learning option during our 20 percent time.
Applying my learning from Coetail
- building my PLN and thinking collaboratively and visibly through Coetail is deepening my understanding around learning, extending my knowledge around using technology and helping me learn new skills to transfer to my students
- helping students understand the possibilities as well as the responsibilities of being digital creators and contributors
- how we learn is more enduring that what we learn
- digital literacy is and will remain important for our students
- digital learning environments are often new to parents, we have a responsibility to help parents see the bigger picture and the new tools for learning.
What am I hoping to see in student learning?
In Colin Gallagher’s book Minecraft in the Classroom, he lists why teachers use Minecraft in the classroom:
- digital citizenship
I’m hoping to see all of these. Above all, I would like to see an enduring understanding of what true collaboration and connection locally and globally really means for a Grade 1 student and
- a greater independence in leading and organising their learning
- 1st graders reflect, self-assess and recognise what they need to do to move on in their learning
- an increased independence in being part of a digital community
- trust and empathy
- a variety of choices in their learning which they may choose to use again
- increase in problem solving
- perseverance when the learning gets tough or frustrating
Main components of the project
Students and I begin the year by watching videos of ourselves in group situations and set our own goals which we will try and achieve by the end of the project.
Students will use i-Pads to learn how to use Twitter, Kidblog , and various other apps such as Explain Everything, Popplet, i-Movie, @30Hands and Google slides. Understanding and discussions around digital citizenship will be woven into the activities.
In the beginning, students will follow a few teacher led tasks to develop and show their skills in Minecraft
In a group students design a community in Minecraft, agreeing how they will achieve this, they will need to plan it, build a model, and create in Minecraft, reflecting on the project and their learning throughout.
Through Kidblog and Twitter we will share stages of our project with our Grade 4 buddies, the parents and with Ms Abby’s class in Kuwait. My goal would be that some students will begin blogging about Minecraft which will continue beyond the project.
We will have a Minecraft presentation morning with parents and other Grade 1 students to share our projects and reflections and plan new projects for our Minecraft 20% time
My first responsibility, apart from sharing our project with the students was to share what we we would be doing with the parents. From the very beginning of this project, I wanted to give parents the opportunity to question and understand why I am using Minecraft in the classroom. It is the beginning of the school year and transparency and trust is an important part of the learning partnership with my parents.
Parents have been sharing the students’ excitement and enthusiasm for the project and some hare surprised by their child’s ability to create in Minecraft. I am happy to hear that some parents are starting joint building projects with their child at home. Some of these have been posted on our blog. This student built his apartment block at home and posted on Kidblog. We used the picture to do some maths inquiry around arrays.
The beginning of the unit was finding out how much they knew about communication, connections and collaboration. I needed to find out just how much they were able to collaborate and how much they knew about Minecraft. The following are some of the videos we made at the beginning of the unit. The students watched these to self-assess their willingness and ability to collaborate and communicate. My goal is WAIT…Why am I talking.
Having launched the unit, we have hit highs and lows, obstacles of time and technology. These have all been teaching moments and part of our problem solving. It’s an exciting and sometimes uncomfortable journey watching some of the students argue because they don’t want to share i-Pads or watching other students struggle to communicate their ideas and participate . Our first few times using Minecraft made interesting viewing for all of us and helped the students to better understand how to collaborate, solve problems and what they had to do next to move on.
Some students are experienced Minecrafters, others not. It has taken some students a while to realise that it is the collaboration part that makes the project run smoothly and their learning deepen, not particularly their Minecrafting skills.
I am observing what is happening in the class as the project unfolds. I will continue to document my reflections and our journey.