“Outdoor learning experiences are often remembered for a lifetime. Integrating learning and outdoor experiences, whether through play in the immediate grounds or adventures further afield, provides relevance and depth to the curriculum in ways that are difficult to achieve indoors.” (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010.) Children retaining information by remembering a fun, engaging lesson is one of the main reasons I have found digital technologies to be such a useful tool for teachers today. Digital technology when used correctly often allows children to immerse themselves into an enjoyable learning experience which is far more likely to stay with them as it has engaged them and they have had fun throughout the process and so the thought of combining both the excitement of learning outdoors with the opportunities digital technology brings, I was looking forward to this lesson.
During this lesson we particularly focused on the use of QR codes in outdoor learning whilst the PicCollage app was also used to further enhance this lesson so we could document our journey. In order to introduce us to the way in which QR codes could be used both educationally through a median of fun a QR code hunt had been set up for our class in the university grounds. We gathered ourselves into teams each with two iPads, one to scan the QR codes which would reveal a question we were to answer before finding the next clue and the other to take pictures along the way to document our hunt. Before starting our hunt we were given some time to familiarise ourselves with the PicCollage app by taking various pictures to summarise an aspect of university life. The app itself is simple and easy to use, with many options available to create a unique collage including altering pictures, changing background styles, adding text and cartoon images.
Once we had created our collage we were ready to go on our hunt. We discussed the importance of talking through the rules and boundaries and reasons for these with children whilst still inside the classroom to ensure you have their full attention, everyone knows the rules, what areas to stay within and therefore are safe when outside the classroom. We all ran around the university grounds searching for various QR codes alongside a picture of where our next clue could be found. Once we used the iPad to scan the QR code a question popped up on the screen of our iPad with two possible answers. Next to the each answer was a letter, after we had found all six hidden QR codes we could have an anagram of six scrambled letters which we had to solve. From the perspective of a learner, being part of a group of students ranging from 18-40 there was so much excitement, fun and enjoyment, as well as a lot of competitiveness to get back first and so I find it exciting thinking about one day running a similar activity with a class .“The core values of Curriculum for Excellence resonate with long-standing key concepts of outdoor learning. Challenge, enjoyment, relevance, depth, development of the whole person and an adventurous approach to learning are at the core of outdoor pedagogy…” (Education Scotland, 2010.). This activity integrates so many and if done well, all, of the core values of the Curriculum for Excellence as well as so many more important skills and values including team work, communication and allowing children to explore, play and be adventurous in the outdoors.
The questions created could be about any topic, the children could run around searching for QR codes which then asked a mathematics question, or questions relating to a topic they’re studying. The opportunities are endless.
- Opportunities to carry out different activities and roles in a variety of settings have enabled me to identify my achievements, skills and areas for development. This will help me to prepare for the next stage in my life and learning.- HWB 2-19a
- Within and beyond my place of learning I am enjoying daily opportunities to participate in physical activities and sport, making use of available indoor and outdoor space. –HWB 1-25
- “I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts.- TCH 1-01a
(Scottish Government, 2008).
I have chosen outcomes from various levels to show that this activity can be used with a wide range of children (and adults!). Depending on the topic chosen for the questions, whether the children work alone or in groups, the way in which children have to make their way to the clues (run, hop, skip, jump) many more experiences and outcomes across various areas for the curriculum could also be covered during a similar activity.
Upon returning from our hunt we were given the opportunity to create our own QR codes using the QR reader app. This could be on any topic we wanted and use any format we found in the app. I created an Olympic hunt based upon a possible topic classroom topic. I had initially hoped for one of the clues to pop up a video of ice hockey on the children’s iPad and subsequently a question would pop up asking which team are the current Olympic Champions at this sport. However, I found that I could not do both a video and a question using the same QR code which is an extra feature I think could add further depth to this activity. However, after discussing this with Graham he suggested that it was possible to have one QR code as a video and the next asking questions about the video and so a similar objective was still achieved but in a slightly different way. Below are the QR codes I generated using my questions based on the Olympics. There is also a question sheet which the children would have to fill in and similar to the hunt we went on the letters next to each answer would form an anagram they would have to solve at the end of the quiz.
During this lesson I found it interesting how many different aspects of not only the Curriculum for Excellence but also GIRFEC (Getting it Right for Every Child) outdoor learning covers. very much at the centre of GIRFEC is the SHANARRI wheel, featuring eight well-being indicators; Safe, Healthy, Active, Nurture, Achieving, Responsible, Respect and Included (Scottish Government, 2012.). In pairs, we chose one of the eight well-being indicators and discussed how we thought outdoor learning achieved this indicator. During our discussion we chose to focus on respect. As a teacher you are giving children the respect as you trust that they can go outside and follow your rules to remain safe. By showing the children this respect by trusting them this is also allowing the children to be responsible whilst feeling safe and so covers more than one of the well-being indicators. Some of the other ideas from around the classroom included respect for their teacher, the environment and the people around them as well as being active and healthy.
I really enjoyed todays lesson. I think children should be encouraged to learn through adventure and playing outside where possible. Children being active and ‘getting some fresh air’ is vital for not only their own health and wellbeing but also, many of my most vivid memories from my own childhood are playing and having adventures outside and so I would love to bring similar, life-long experiences to children in the future. Living in Scotland the weather is not always predictable however so long as the weather is safe clothes can be dried and clothing can be changed. In Scotland, especially in Ayrshire we are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place with so many beaches and open green spaces that children should be given opportunities to take advantage of all of this outdoor space to play and learn. The apps we were introduced to today we both simple to use and created a wonderful learning experience which hopefully children would enjoy and remember.
Today was our final lesson in our Digital Technologies module. I have thoroughly enjoyed this module and my confidence in using Digital Technologies had gone from strength to strength each week during this semester. During our very first dt (digital technologies lesson) we filled out a form assessing our own confidences and abilities in various dt areas. Prior to this course, with exception of the ipad, most of my initial markings were either at 1 or 0 (Not very confident/ not much prior knowledge). However, since finishing the course all of these areas have improved and I rated myself either 4 or 5 in each area, which can be seen by the markings near the outside of the circle.
I now feel so much more confident about using dt both inside an outside of the classroom. I have loved discovering new, innovative and engaging ways in which digital technologies can be used, in particular the inter-dsicplinary learning opportunities they can provide and I look forward to finding ways of integrating digital technologies into my own lesson planning order to enhance my lessons and make them experiences to remember.
I am excited to take everything I have learned forward into my teaching career and build upon some incredible ideas which we have been provided with, created and discussed during this module. I will continue to research digital technology in the classroom and follow which games become popular, such as minecraft, and think how I could create learning opportunities or use these games as a stimulus for learning.
Education Scotland (2010) Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning.
Learning and Teaching Scotland (2010) Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning.
Pixabay.com. (2018). Free Images – Pixabay. [Online] Available at: https://pixabay.com [Accessed: 29 Mar. 2018].
Scottish Government (2008) The Curriculum for Excellence [Online] Available at: http://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf [Accessed: 22 March 2018].
Scottish Government (2012) A Guide to Getting it Right for Every Child [Online] http://www.gov.scot/resource/0042/00423979.pdf [Accessed: 24 March 2018]
SHANARRI Wheel image taken from: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0043/00438639.jpg
Today we were specifically exploring using minecraft as a stimulus for learning, this was an important lesson as “Minecraft is a worldwide phenomenon. Since it was first released back in 2011, it’s been taken to the hearts of thousands and thousands of gamers.” (Magbook, 2014, p.3) as Beauchamp states “Children spend most of their time on games not found in schools.” (Beauchamp, 2012, p.9). In order for games-based learning to be as successful as it has the potential to be, the games used in classrooms must be relevant to what the children play, talk about and engage with at home. This also then leads to the learning continuing when the children go home. They may recognise different aspects of the game and link that to what they learned whilst playing or discussing it at school. As Minecraft is such a worldwide phenomenom and can lead to so many stimulating learning opportunities which we explored throughout the lesson, as a teacher it is an important game to be familiar with. Ofcom reports that 86% of 5-7yr olds and 90% of 8-11 using gaming devices regularly (Ofcom, 2001) This is a huge percentage of children and in order to make learning relevant to their life this statistic must not be ignored as gaming devices now play an important role in children’s every day life.
Today we had the opportunity to work with Primary 6 pupils from a local primary school. As an aspiring primary school teacher it was great to work with the pupils and for me it reinforced my love of working with children and therefore, why I am spending so much time studying, writing blogs and taking exams!
The children alongside one of their class teachers visited us to show how they incorporate minecraft in their learning. They also brought their own iPads, with the Minecraft app installed so we could have some hands-on experience of the game. For the first half of the lesson the children were in control of the iPad and showed us around the game, answering any questions we had. Watching the two girls in our group they made this look easy and could very quickly find the tools and equipment they needed to build anything they wanted! However, during the second half of the lesson the iPads were handed over to us and the children were given instructions not to touch the iPad, they could only use their words to explain to us what we had to do. Being handed the iPad first I found it difficult to even place one brick from my ‘stores’ into the wold we were creating and quickly realised that it would take a long time for me to be anywhere near the level of ability the pupils had reached. The two girls did an incredible job of describing to us what we were to do and step-by-step instructions of how to do this. As Graham discussed with us at the end of our lesson this was an important lesson for us to remember in the future when we are teaching children to use computers, put our hands behind our back and talk them through it as if we just take the mouse and do it for them, we can already do it however they won’t be learning how to.
Whilst discussing the game with us the children were able to become the teachers and explain to a group of 4 adults different aspects of the game they liked, explain and show us the different worlds and characters you could create and finally coach us (4 completes novices) through playing the game…a difficult task for anyone never mind a primary 6 pupil. The two girls working with us did this with ease, confidence and a smile on their face the whole time. The girls were clearly very engaged with this game and I believe this engagement gave them the confidence to be able to discuss and explain the game thus so fluently. Some of the main comments I picked up from talking with the girls were
“It’s really interesting sharing and seeing each other’s worlds”
“You have to work out how many you need”
“What shall we do, we could make this, what do you think?”
alongside this the two girls in our group would discuss any question they couldn’t answer either with each other or with another group, communication and problem solving to find the answer.
These comments reinforce some of the work by Beauchamp who states the skills which are developed through games-based learning, including:
- Negotiating Skills
- Strategic Thinking
- Application of numbers
- Group Decision Making
After having the opportunity to work with the children it was clear to see the development of these skills through the use of games-based learning in a real-life school setting.
Towards the end of the children’s time with us the class teacher discussed further with us the ways in which she uses Minecraft with the children. She encouraged us to not to be scared or embarrassed to learn from the children as she is still learning things about the game from them. As we had discussed in many lessons previously, children really are the experts at many of these games and they can further our knowledge and introduce us to different aspects of the game which may allow us to create more, better ways to use games-based learning and as Beauchamp states “…Achieving particular educational objectives through the use of the game was more dependent upon a teacher’s knowledge of the curriculum with which they were working than it was on their ability with the game.”
(Beauchamp, 2012, p.10). Therefore our understanding of the curriculum and how to use the game in order to achiever various outcomes is more important than an in-depth knowledge and ability in the different games.
The class teacher also commented on how she uses Minecraft as a stimulus for literacy, writing and in topic work. The children are currently doing a topic on Harry Potter and so they are currently creating a Harry Potter world where all the children join and build new parts of the Harry Potter World together. All of these ideas further reinforced the important role Minecraft can play when used by someone with the knowledge on how to use it. However, the story which resonated with me the most was when the children’s teacher told us about a new child during a trial day at the school. Throughout the day the child barely spoke a word, however when the children began taking about minecraft the new girl joined in the conversation and was able to give advice and tutor the other children through different tips and tricks she had discovered. It was amazing to hear about the ability a game has to bring people together. This common ground and shared interest gave her the confidence she did not have during the day and allowed her to make friends with others.
Todays learning provided me with so many examples of the ways Minecraft could be used as a stimulus for learning, as the learning does not come from the game, the game provides a stimulus to allow further learning (Bray, 2012). An example of this could be as a stimulus for topic work. This could work for anything from the Romans to Titanic and The Egyptians. The children could create a world or a scene based on their topic, for Egyptians they could create a Pyramid or Titanic they could create their own ‘unsinkable’ boat. They could work to create this in groups or create a whole world as a class, each responsible for a different area of the topic. This could lead to many cross-curricular learning opportunities including a literacy lesson presenting their world to the class or an art lesson creating their world from various materials including boxes, paint or natural materials found in their playground. Some of the experiences and outcomes I identified from the Curriculum for excellence include, however are definitely not limited to:
- When I engage with others, I can respond in ways appropriate to my role, show that I value others’ contributions and use these to build on thinking-LIT 2-02a
- I can create, capture and manipulate sounds, text and images to communicate experiences, ideas and information in creative and engaging ways- TCH 1-04b / TCH 2-04b
- I can use exploration and imagination to solve design problems related to real-life situations-EXA 1-06a
- When listening and talking with others for different purposes, I can:
- share information, experiences and opinions
- explain processes and ideas
- identify issues raised and summarise main points or findings
- clarify points by asking questions or by asking others to say more-LIT 2-09a
Bray (2012) states that in a classroom setting, games should not just be used as rewards or for entertainment but as a whole new approach to learning and today’s lesson has been an excellent example of how this can be done and the benefits this approach is bringing to the pupils in a local primary school. Since the lesson I have been researching some examples of what is possible in Minecraft and below are some examples of how creative Minecraft allows the imagination to be.
Beauchamp, G (2017) Computing and ICT in the Primary School From Pedagogy to Practice 2nd ed. London: Routledge.
Bray, O (2012) Playful Learning: Computer Games in Education [Online] Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/Microsofteduk/playful-learning-computer-games-in-education/2-the_microsoft_visual_identity_the [Accessed 13 March 2018].
MagBook (2014) How to Do Everything in Minecraft
Pixabay.com. (2018). Free Images – Pixabay. [Online] Available at: https://pixabay.com [Accessed 31 Mar. 2018].
Scottish Government (2008) The Curriculum for Excellence [Online] Available at: http://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf [Accessed 13 March 2018]
For today’s lesson we were exploring games-based learning “Digital Games-based Learning is the integration of gaming into learning experiences to increase engagement and motivation.”(Higher Education Academy 2017). One of the main reasons I chose Digital Technology as an optional module is during our first semester in another module we were introduced by our lecturer Graham, to how the Wii Game ‘Rock Band’ could be used to engage and motive children from creating a band, drawing or painting the band members, going on a world tour and calculating prices of tickets, to working out where to go and when, the options are almost endless and include so many, both cross-curricular activities and life-skills from collaborative working to problem solving.
We began today’s lesson by working in groups to create a mind map on the positives and negatives we believed about Game-Based learning. Some of the positives we decided upon were that children were free to express themselves, are in control of their own learning and allow for so much interactivity. We then did some further reading and returned to our mind-map. From our reading this emphasised the collaborative and co-operative working opportunities available as well as promoting exploration which games-based learning can introduce into a classroom.
Jean Piaget first introduced the idea of discovery learning and Piaget, alongside Vygotsky has argued that play is a crucial component for development from birth through to adulthood. He suggested children learn best through ‘doing and actively exploring’ (Mcleod, S. 2015). Vygotsky built upon this by suggesting that children not only learn by doing but this learning is most valuable when done in social groups, learners helping and teaching each others, Vyotsky names this the ‘More Knowledgeable Other’. Both Piaget and Vygotsky have changed our schooling system and the way we teach immeasurably and Games-Based learning has the ability to incorporate all of their main theories, promoting social learning, discovery learning and allowing them to actively explore.
An idea for Games-Based learning we were exploring in today’s lesson was the Mario Kart game on Wii console. We were to create our own Mario Kart vehicle:
This has been the first lesson where I have been confident with the technology we have been using. I love the Mario Kart Wii game and I found it really fun to create my own vehicle. This reminded me of the excitement I would feel in Primary School when we were given the freedom to create and draw our own character and this is an excitement I hope to be able to bring to my own classroom which due to this lesson I have many invaluable ideas which I can take forward with me. If doing this in a classroom I would provide a range of materials for the children to choose from so they could choose different colours and textures to cut and stick onto the vehicle they were creating. This activity could then be extended in so many different directions which is what we were to discuss in small groups after having created our vehicles.
We created a poster based upon the Mario Kart Wii game and an activity we could extend to Inter Disciplinary Learning (IDL). Whilst creating our poster we found ti difficult to put activities under specific areas of the curriculum as most of our activity ideas were cross-curricular and so covered more than one area of the curriculum. We decided our activities would be based upon the design of a track for the cars to race around, we would encourage the children to create a track to manoeuvre Beebot around, this included writing directional instructions specific to their track for their peers to follow, creating a short animation film of Beebot moving around their track and writing a reflective blog throughout the whole experience. This is one example of the inter-disciplinary learning Games-Based Learning allows. From these activities we covered Maths, Art, Technology and Literacy however we had many ideas of how we could have extended this evan further to different areas of the curriculum, beginning to incorporate children’s movement through health and wellbeing. Some of our Experiences and outcomes from the Curriculum for Excellence as seen in our poster below included
- ‘I can describe, follow and record routes and journeys using signs, words and angles associated with direction and turning’ MTH 1-17a
- ‘I can present my writing in a way that will make it legible and attractive for my reader, combining words, images and other features’ LIT 1-24a
- ‘I can explore and experiment with digital technologies and can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts’ TCH 1-01a
(Education Scotland, 2004)
Today’s lesson made me excited for the future and provided me with the ideas and ignited my passion to use Games-Based Learning in a classroom one day as I have explored, researched and discovered the benefits and possibilities it can bring to learning. Mario Kart for Wii is a game which has been around for a while, since my childhood, and so I am familiar and confident with it however there are several new games which could also be relevant and valuable to learning opportunities which the children may have more knowledge in than I do. This is not something to be feared though as I can learn from the children and this would also be an exciting opportunity for them to teach me aspects of the game I might not be aware of.
Education Scotland (2004) Curriculum for Excellence; Experiences and Outcomes [Online] Available at: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/Experiences%20and%20outcomes [Accessed:06 March 2018]
Higher Education Academy (2017) Gamificaiton and Games-Based learning [Online] Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/gamification-and-games-based-learning [Accessed: 06 March 2018]
McLeod, S. (2015) Jean Piaget [Online] Available at: https://www.simplypsychology.org/piaget.html [Accessed: 06 March 2018]
McLeod, S. (2014) Lev Vygotsky [Online] Available at: https://www.simplypsychology.org/vygotsky.html [Accessed: 06 March 2018]