Course 5 Final Project. Inquiry into Collaboration the Minecraft Way

Passion learning

Passion learning

 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.

Transformation

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 create an array city to reinforce their maths

Students create an array city to reinforce their math

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.

Project Reflection Part 1

Project Reflection Part 2

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.

Individual connections

Individual connections

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.

Unit Planner

What now?

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.

 

 

12 thoughts on “Course 5 Final Project. Inquiry into Collaboration the Minecraft Way

  1. Nadine

    Interesting!
    I have always wanted to introduce Minecraft and dive in. Congratulations to you on your planning, organization and success!

    Reply
  2. Kitto-Switzer

    Interesting!
    I have always wanted to introduce Minecraft and dive in. Congratulations to you on your planning, organization and success!

    I absolutely love that you did this with young students because it is so possible. I will share your project with our Grade 1’s and Lower School for inspiration. Thank you!

    NKS

    Reply
    1. Suzy Ramsden Post author

      Hi,

      Thank you so much for your comments. I was nervous about using Minecraft PE rather than MinecraftEdu, but it turned out to be such a creative and collaborative experience for the students. I will now be introducing to the whole grade and starting a Minecraft club in January. Please share around any of the resources if you think they will be useful. Also happy to halp in any way. I really did set this up step by step so that the students could then just fly with their final project. Yesterday our published community guidelines written by the students arrived. The excitement continues as well as my own learning.
      Thank you again
      Suzy

      Reply
  3. Nora Vermeulin

    Dear Suzy,

    I am so amazed by your project!
    Your final post is full of resources, reflections and shows very well the process of students learning.
    What I really enjoyed in your video is seeing the students in action and becoming responsible learners and collaborators. The learning understanding behind this project is impressive and it is obvious that students will reinvest and develop what they learnt as digital citizens.
    Well done for taking the risk!

    Reply
    1. Suzy Ramsden Post author

      Dear Nora,

      Thank you so much for your comments and for your support. I so enjoyed this project and I am so glad I took the risk. My biggest takeaway was to let go and give the students the space to be independent problem solvers and risk takers themselves. I enjoyed the fact that it was at the beginning of the school year and I have added choices in their learning. I am looking forward to sharing this with the French department and supporting the teachers if they wish to use Minecraft as an option.
      So happy and lucky to collaborate with you.
      Suzy

      Reply
  4. Lauren Spector

    What a wonderful project, Suzy! Thank you for including lots of videos of the students working together. It was really interesting to see different parts of the process as they collaborated to plan and create their community on Minecraft! It was also neat to see how they now use Minecraft in subjects like math!

    The successful Minecraft morning was a fantastic way to let parents see how students can use Minecraft to make their thinking visible. The next steps will be so exciting for your students as they become the Minecraft coaches for the other G1 students!

    Reply
    1. Suzy Ramsden Post author

      Dear Lauren,

      Thank you so much for watching and commenting. There were so many joyful moments in this project as I handed over the learning and drive to the students which they then shared with the parents. The Minecraft morning was one of those moments that will stay with me for a long time. The students were so proud to show their learning in their way and the parents were overwhelmed and delighted by the learning possibilities. It is often so hard for parents to keep up with the possibilities of technology in schools and to appreciate the learning that is involved. Many of the parents are now creating on Minecraft with their children at home. It seemed at times like a long road, with all the different elements of the project. We can see, however, how we have helped them at the beginning of the school year to have that independence, creativity and responsibility using technology which they can apply and build on. Thank you again for your comments. It’s only a small part of my learning from this whole Coetail experience and long may it continue for all of us, #local and global PLN.
      Thank you Lauren for inspiring us all to take up this amazing opportunity.
      Suzy

      Reply
  5. Joel Bevans

    Hi Suzy,
    What a brilliant project you have created. This is truly inspirational what you have managed to achieve through one project… digital citizenship, digital footprints, communication, blogging, collaboration, goal setting, community, coaching. So much going on!
    It was amazing to see the students show us around what they had created in Minecraft through the use of the green screen. I got a real sense of being part of the project with them.
    Seeing parents interact with their children and going insight into the power of technology was brilliant. The comment “Learning through technology is delightful” is superb reflection from a parent.
    Well done on an awesome COETAIL experience. It has been great to be part of it with you.
    From one of your local PLN members!
    Cheers,
    Joel

    Reply
    1. Suzy Ramsden Post author

      Hi Joel,

      Thank you so much for your comment. It was so great to start this journey with you. I didn’t have balance #my first ever blog post, but I did somehow manage to stay on the board and you played a big part in that-thank you friend.
      I so enjoyed my final project with the students and it has been truly rewarding widening their learning opportunities. Involving the parents from start to finish was important and proved to be very powerful. I am enjoying hearing the collaborative projects that are now happening at home. It is so important for the learning to have been inspired and driven by the students, to learn through their world, not mine. It provided important insights for me too, observing my students lead their learning.
      We must now make sure we make our projects visible to all our ISL colleagues too and continue sharing and building on the powerful learning that we have all been lucky enough to have. I absoloutely love your Travelling Tales Project and know it will continue. We could ask our classes to coach each other-mine could introduce Minecraft to yours and yours could introduce Travelling Tales and start us off on another Tale. It could be a great way to overcome that ‘physical’ separation in Early Years and Grade 1 and to build collaborative learning opportunities.
      Looking forward to continuing our learning-thank you for being such a big part of mine Joel.
      #ISLPLN
      Suzy

      Reply
  6. wendy

    Hey Suzy,
    This is such great work. So digital, and so real at the same time – it involved so much in Minecraft, yet so much more than Minecraft too. It’s inspirational, and I’m totally in awe. To use Minecraft as a vehicle for digital citizenship, and only as a secondary source – just wow. I’ll be in touch about Minecraft in the future – good luck with your club when you start it!
    :)Wendy

    Reply
    1. Suzy Ramsden Post author

      Dear Wendy,
      Thank you so much for your comments. I am enjoying having time now to really reflect on the project and where to go next or how to improve. I enjoyed the creativity, problem solving and student driven learning. It was exciting to watch it all develop and since too. These 6 and 7 year olds completed the Minecraft Hour of Code Adventure so confidently and are now making personal inquiries into game design. The best part was that the parents were so behind it and could see all the learning and collaboration that went on. I have just posted our final class guidelines on Twitter , written by the students as a result of their project.
      Please do get in touch and/or use and edit resources.
      Suzy

      Reply

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