Monday, April 27, 2015

More Minecraft TLLP Teaching

A few weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to work one-on-one with a delightful teacher in my school board for some planning time focused on educational uses of Minecraft. I wrote about the experience on the GamingEdus website. Last week, I was able to return to her school to work alongside her and with her students. We decided to experiment with a student-led inquiry approach. She teaches a HSP class (a special education class, for students who are typically at least two years behind their peers in literacy and numeracy skills). It was a wonderful morning of teaching and learning.

I had the chance to wander around her classroom before the students arrived and I saw many ways that she had already chosen to include Minecraft as part of her assignments. For instance, when she was absent on a previous day, she left some non-fiction reading (procedural writing) on how to draw a creeper, and the students enthusiastically read and followed the directions.

Before recess, we focused on numeracy and after recess, we worked on literacy.

Numeracy Lesson

The Student Prompt = The students logged on to the GamingEdus Multi-School Server and walked through their school portal to their Minecraft region. They showed me the houses they had built. I was fascinated that one of the students had made a pointed roof.

The Lesson Summary = We explored the question of roof shapes. I wondered which would be faster to build in Minecraft - a flat roof or a triangular roof. We set up the parameters (e.g. how high, long and wide would our creations have to be) and timed ourselves as we built. We then discussed our hypoetheses, the results, and why in real life roofs are more likely to be slanted instead of flat. The co-teacher tied the discussion in to real life with connections to their school roof leaks and the Elliot Lake mall collapse.

Curriculum Ties

  • Mathematics > Measurement (Time, Length, Width, Height)
  • Mathematics > Geometry (3D Shapes)
  • Science > Structures
Successes & Challenges = It was very difficult for the students to pop back and forth from the game to the class discussion. We turned the laptops around so that students wouldn't be distracted when we planned before the building contest, or reflected after the building contest, but some got frustrated because they wanted to "play" more than talk or plan. Their teacher gave them an excellent pep talk about the need to demonstrate to other teachers and administrators that Minecraft isn't just about playing when we do it in school, but about playing and learning. My hypothesis that the flat roof would take a shorter amount of time to build was trounced by 50% of the class, who built the triangular prism faster. We suspect that external factors (like taking time to decorate the flat roof dwelling with torches and flowers) impacted the results.

Peaked roof or flat roof? Which is "better"?

Literacy Lesson

The Student Prompt = One of the students had written an amazing short story set in Minecraft. The incredible part of her story was that the point of view was of a creeper. 

The Lesson Summary = The student read her story to the class and I gave some descriptive feedback (focusing more on praise than on corrections and changes). We talked about the point of view of the story and I mentioned how it reminded me of a Minecraft parody song. We played the video "A Creeper Like You" and we discussed topics such as effective and poignant words, inferences from the music video, and what constitutes a parody. 

Curriculum Ties
  • Language > Oral Communication
  • Language > Media Literacy
  • Language > Reading
  • Visual Arts > Reflecting, Responding, Analyzing 
Successes & Challenges = This lesson seemed to be even more successful than the earlier one. The students were very focused on the Minecraft video and were able to tap into their background knowledge to help them understand parodies. I greatly admired how Mrs. Butters was able to positively redirect one student, who had a LOT to say, to take an energy break, so that a quieter student could have the opportunity to share his thoughts uninterrupted. After the students left for lunch, she remarked that one student gave his lengthiest answer ever during that class discussion. Mrs. Butters also did a fantastic job of capturing the student observations and comments using her interactive white board. 

Minecraft short story with a twist!
Teaching that incorporates Minecraft (or any student interest) can also JUST be good teaching. I learned a lot working with Mrs. Butters and we learn so much from each other that we will schedule another meeting so that she can come to my school and see my students in action. I can't wait!

No comments:

Post a Comment