What begun as an exploration to explore how Minecraft could be used in the classroom to motivate students has led to a desire to harness the true potential of this pixel led world creator.
With numerous boys in my class being unmotivated readers I decided to utilise Minecraft to inspire their reading and to engage them as we worked together to reach the outcomes within the curriculum.
The program of learning began with a day of learning for myself as I had never been exposed to Minecraft before. We were using MinecraftEDU which meant I was able to access teacher tools and a plethora of resources on the web created by teachers just like myself from all over the world. By the end of this session I had accessed numerous readings and YouTube clips, and had managed to create a flat world that consisted of a 'holding zone' with a teleportal that transported each child to a desired location. I had set this world up to contain four areas where each group of 7 students would recreate the setting of Rowan of Rin.
We began reading the first few chapters of Rowan of Rin and then the children were exposed to the task that had been set. Ground rules were discussed and a certain level of freedom given.
I was amazed at the level of engagement that Minecraft immediately created and how the children collaborated to create and then work towards a common goal.
I immediately began to see that there was enormous untapped learning potential of this tool. This included learning paths and possibilities within mathematics, digital citizenship, english, science, history and design technology.
As each session was completed the children were then asked to continue reading so that they could continually add to their world to demonstrate their understanding of the text. Even the most reluctant reader was inspired to read each chapter.
The children were also given the task of summarising each chapter by using a book and quill which they stored in their own personal Minecraft chests which enabled us to have a written record of the students’ understanding.
Children planned and collaborated to create a mill with a spinning water wheel. Some students built the structure, others used red stone to experiment with circuits while others studied gears to be used to help the wheel turn.
Each group began to evolve as a functioning mini society. Many of the disengaged students were presenting themselves as leaders, experimenters and risk takers. Each student worked and learned alongside each other and consistently moved to help each other to complete tasks.
Upon completion of their worlds the students then began writing their scripts from the viewpoint of the main character, Rowan.
The curriculum focus was now on how his character changed from the beginning of the story to the end. This is the main assessment task within our English learning unit but done in a way to motivate the students to express their understanding creatively rather than writing an analytic essay. In fact many of the students have not even viewed the task as an assessment piece but rather as a medium to express their creativity about something about which they are passionate.
Screen recording software was then used and editing completed in iMovie. Once the movie was cut to the desired length the students then recorded their character voices and then overlaid the audio over the video.