Games based learning – Minecraft 5/3/19

In today’s input we were given the task of exploring the application ‘Minecraft’ and thinking about how games-based learning can be used in the classroom.  In how to do everything in Minecraft (2014) it is stated that Minecraft is a worldwide phenomenon and it has been since it was released in 2011, since then it has been taken to the hearts of thousands and thousands of gamers. Although, to some, exploring Minecraft may sound like a fun and easy input, I spent the beginning of the day confused and stressed out. Having never came into contact with this app before I was extremely confused by the controls as they were different from the games I have played on Ipads, computers and games consoles.  These are the Minecraft controls :

(Minecraft Forum, 2019)

I was mostly confused by the fact that moving forward,backwards, left and right wasn’t as simple as pressing the arrow keys, but infact random letters on the keyboard. However, I am sure that the children in my classroom will be able to make complete sense of this program and infact be able to navigate it with ease. When I think back to placement, there was a child in a primary 2 class that had asked me during a wet play break one day if I played Minecraft and at the time I didn’t think much of it, but now I see how difficult to grasp the app can be and it amazes me that a child of such a young age is not only able to navigate this app but also find enjoyment within it, when a 20 year old student like me was frankly a little bamboozled as the sight of it.

Once I overcame the control hurdle, I then explored the app to gain an understanding of how to move characters, build blocks and structures and create an end product. This took sometime but our group eventually figured out the ways of Minecraft. We then moved on to the planning stage of our lesson, during this time we had to find curricular areas in which Minecraft would enhance learning. We decided to look at inter-disciplinary learning (IDL) as this incorporates many curricular areas into one lesson plan.  The curricular areas we decided to cover were social studies, literacy, technologies, numeracy/mathematics and expressive arts. We decided this lesson plan would be implemented over several lessons to ensure all areas were covered fully. This was our lesson plan :

Social studies – The children would have the opportunity to look at castles from all around the world and to discover such things as the impact they have had on history, what they are used for and when they were built.

Technology – The children will research their chosen castle and they will then use the Minecraft app to create their take on the castle.

Expressive arts – The children will use their creative skills to make their castle on Minecraft and also a 2D version of it on paper.

Literacy – Once the children have created their castles they will be given the opportunity to write an imaginative story which takes place within their castle. They would use this as an opportunity to show their understanding of the castle and the time it was built.

Mathematics – This would be a skill that is used throughout the creation process as they will have to decide how many bricks their castle needs to be able to be equal and stand. They will also develop their understanding of shapes and how they fit together.

As a group, we decided that we were going to aim our lessons towards first level. These are the Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes that we felt would tie in well with our  lessons :

  • I have explored simple 3D objects and 2D shapes and can identify, name and describe their features using appropriate vocabulary. MTH 1-16a
  • I can explore and discuss how and why different shapes fit together and create a tiling pattern with them. MTH 1-16b
  • I can use evidence to recreate the story of a place or individual of local historical interest. SOC 1-03a
  • I can use exploration and imagination to solve design problems related to real-life situations. EXA 1-06a
  • I can write independently, use appropriate punctuation and order and link my sentences in a way that makes sense. LIT 1-22a 
  • I am learning to use my notes and other types of writing to help me understand information and ideas, explore problems, generate and develop ideas or create new text. LIT 1-25a
  • Using digital technologies responsibly I can access, retrieve and use information to support, enrich or extend learning in different contexts TCH 1-02a 

(Scottish Government 2008)

Our group also identified how our lessons would help children meet the four capacities :

Successful learners:

  • Use literacy, communication and numeracy skills
  • Use technology for learning
  • Think creatively and independently
  • Learn independently and as part of a group
  • Link and apply different kinds of learning in new situations

Confident individuals

  • Achieve success in different areas of activity

Responsible citizens

  • Develop knowledge and understanding of the world and Scotland’s place in it (Scottish castles)

Effective contributors

  • Create and develop
  • Solve problems

Alongside teaching through the curricular areas, this task would also develop many skills within children. Some of the skills my group and I developed throughout this lesson and we feel the children would develop are :

  • Planning and describing  – We had to both plan and provide a description of what our castle would look like and what we would use to make it.
  • Development of curiosity – The children would have the chance to research many different castles and find out the things they would like to know about them.
  • Problem-solving skills – Minecraft is a very hard app to navigate (or at least to me) and thus not everything will always go to plan. This is where problem solving skills will come into play when thinking of alternative methods and ideas.
  • Initiative – This would ultimately be a child led activity, thus the children would need to use their ability to think independently.
  • Critical thinking – The children could would need to think of a plan and decide whether it is achievable.
  • Presentation skills- oral, written, multi-media.
  • Patience – This is a very time consuming and sometimes frustrating process.
  • Team work – This is a very time consuming process and I feel it would be best completed within small groups, so the children will have to develop their interpersonal skills.
  • Creativity.

I feel incorporating Minecraft into lessons would be a great asset for the classroom, the youth of today are fully engrossed in digital technologies and it is said that “The use of computer games, in particular console games, is firmly embedded in the 21st century youth culture” (Children and Parents : Media Use and Attitudes , Ofcom (2001)). I therefore feel it is essential to focus on the areas in which the children are interested in and build upon that to create stimulating, engaging and interactive lessons. I feel one area that may be a slight downfall of this lesson is a lack of clear instructions and boundaries. The children within the classroom could very well see this as an opportunity to play around and not focus on the task they have given. Beauchamp (2012, p.9) states that “Not only do [teachers] have to become familiar with the games, they also have to ensure that they make clear the way in which they want for the game to used.” Therefore I will ensure I give clear instructions for the task and ensure that the children are aware of the boundaries that they have when playing this game, it is crucial to do this so the children can explore different methods of learning and are not restricted to textbooks.

Overall, although I myself found this programme extremely frustrating and hard to grasp, I feel the children would flourish with this program incorporated into their lessons and thus I will make sure to research the program further so I fully understand and can teach the children to the best of my ability.

References 

Animation (Part 2) 26/2/19

After last weeks planning stage for animation I was extremely keen to jump right in and start to create our animation. With a firm plan in mind our group put together the scene for our animation.

We chose to put black and white paper around the construction background as we found that when recording there was a glint from the brightness in the background which made the animation flow less naturally. As previously mentioned in the first half of my animation blog my group and I had decided to use Lego as opposed to the bendy men, I feel like this was a wise decision as the construction of the pieces and the movements of the characters was much easier and looked much more natural.

We then went on to set out the pieces for our Lego city fraction wall. It was here that I realised just how much work and effort was going to be going into this short animation and that some aspects of the animation plan were a little out of reach in terms of both the time limit and my level of expertise. Originally, we had planned to make the Lego character bring in each Lego brick and place it on the wall, however we quickly realised that this would take far more time than we had and also that it was extremely hard to get the brick to stay in the Lego mans truck. When I first realised things weren’t going to be able to go exactly to plan I felt a little disheartened, it is in times like these when I often check out of activities because I like things to be perfect and exact, however this activity showed me that when things do not go to plan it can often lead to them being better than the original idea so it is important to keep going with the process and I feel this would be a great lesson for the children in primary school to learn.

This is our completed animation :

After completing our animation and watching it back, I felt a great sense of pride in our work. Although it was a time consuming process, it felt great to be able to see how well it had worked out. I feel the children would gain a great deal from completing an animation and watching it back as it is a product which they have both planned, created and completed and it is something I feel they would take great pride in sharing with others. Therefore, I feel it is crucial to give the children the chance to share their creations with others, whether it be giving them the choice of presenting or  sharing in groups or pairs and of course it is important to give the child the choice of not sharing at all.

I feel our activity would be an excellent lesson for the classroom  and we found a variety of experiences and outcomes it would cover within the first level :

  • Through taking part in practical activities including use of pictorial representations, I can demonstrate my understanding of simple fractions which are equivalent. – MTH 1-07
  • Using digital technologies responsibly I can access, retrieve and use information to support, enrich or extend learning in different contexts. – TCH 1-02a
  • I can use exploration and imagination to solve design problems related to real-life situations. –EXA 1-06a

(Scottish Government, 2008)

Bertrancourt (2005) suggests three ways in which animation can be used to enhance learning:

  1. To enhance learners’ visual representations.
  2. To illustrate processes.
  3. To provide an interactive element.”

I feel our activity did all three of these aspects and arguably more as throughout our activity we were able to identify a number of skills we were developing :

  • Patience – This process took us 3 hours.
  • Negotiation – Our team did not always agree on the best way to proceed however we spoke about each idea and decided which was best.
  • Teamwork – We all had our own part to play in this animiation and there is no way you could complete one without your group all helping.
  • ICT ability – This activity developed our knowledge of the iStop motion app.
  • Communication – Our group had to communicate throughout the process, to help each of us be sure of our roles and to help each other.
  • Time management – This animation could have grown arms and legs and gone on arguably for hours upon hours, however, we knew we had only 3 hours to do this and had to work to meet the deadline.
  • Problem solving – When things did not go to plan we had to think : why is this not working and how can I fix it.

Each of these are invaluable skills for young minds to develop, both to develop the 4 capacities and to ensure they are well rounded individuals with an extensive set of skills.

Alongside these skills, animation and digital technologies  allow for pupils with additional support needs to participate fully within the activities and express themselves. Beauchamp, G (2012, p.55) states that ” e-Inclusion aims to use digital technologies to minimise the problems that pupils with learning difficulties experience”. I feel this is a massive benefit of digital technologies as promoting diversity and inclusion within a classroom is vital and is something I will ensure to do every single day.

Overall, all of my questions from last week have been answered and although time consuming I feel animation is an extremely worth while activity. It develops numerous skills, promotes inclusion, provides a stimulating alternative to writing and leaves children with a sense of pride in their finished products which they can then show off to others. I will make sure to use this in my classroom.

References

  • Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary Classroom: From Pedagogy top Practice. Pearson.
  • Scottish Government (2008) The Curriculum for Excellence [Online] http://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf
  • Bertrancourt (2005), Jarvis, M. (2015) Brilliant Ideas for Using ICT in the Classroom: A Very practical Guide for Teachers and Lecturers.  Pg  92