As we continue our blog series detailing the creative uses of technologies and teaching techniques in and around the classroom by our Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators, we’re amassing some fantastic examples that can be put into practice by teachers in their very next lessons. So far we’ve covered the following topics:
Today we’re going to look at some of the ways in which Minecraft has been utilised by members of the MIEE community in order to help students work their way through concepts and problems by using a medium that is not only familiar to them, but hugely engaging. And that’s half the battle with teaching in general – creating an environment in which the children actually want to learn.
Ray Chambers, Head of IT/Computing at Uppingham Community College, is continually finding new and innovative uses for Minecraft in classroom. Earlier in the year Ray was the main focus of the TechRadar article How Minecraft is helping kids learn code one block at a time, which went into some depth about the hugely popular sessions he was presenting to packed audiences in our Theatre during BETT 2015 in January.
On his own blog, Ray has been sharing all sorts of helpful video guides and lesson plans that allow other educators from all over the world to get started with Minecraft and replicate the positive learning outcomes that are evident in the classrooms at Uppingham Community College. His Theatre Sessions at BETT 2015 were a huge success, and Ray has created a Sway of this content:
A short while ago, James Protheroe, ICT leader at Darran Park Primary school in the Rhondda Cynon Taff district of South Wales, told us of his vision to use Minecraft as a way to bring together students from a number of schools within the LEA to collaborate on wider project based learning assignments:
“The plan is take Year 5, 6, and 7 pupils children from three clusters of schools to the Rhondda Heritage Park. The Rhondda Heritage Park is a museum dedicated to the history of coal mining in South Wales, built on the site of a former colliery. Each class will be given the task of using Minecraft to work collaboratively to create a virtual Rhondda Heritage Park. Once the virtual landscapes have been constructed, they will be printed on the 3D printer, thus creating a virtual and physical model of the Rhondda Heritage Park…
…Within a cluster, the group of schools feeding the same secondary school, each school will have a different area to research. Each school will use OneNote to record their research and share this with the other school’s in their cluster. This research will then be used to create a shared animation about coal mining within the Rhondda Valley.”
And now it looks like the project is about to go live!
Setting up the Minecraft server tomorrow. The children have promised to help! #mieexpert15
— Year5/6 Mr Protheroe (@DpDarran) May 12, 2015
We look forward to hearing more about this from James in course, and we’ll let you know how they all get on.
For another example of how schools are using Minecraft to engage students, we’ll stay in Wales and turn towards Ynsyboeth Primary:
— Ynysboeth Primary (@ynysboethpri1) May 8, 2015
While not being used in every school just yet, Minecraft as an education medium is certainly on the rise, thanks in no small part to teachers like Ray and James who are experimenting with this technology and sharing their experiences and ideas with other educators. We’re only beginning to scratch the surface of what is possible when using Minecraft in education, and there is huge excitement around what students and teachers will be able to achieve going forward.
With our MIEE TV blogs we like to get to know a little more about one of the Expert Educators we’ve quoted, so this week we’re going to meet James Protheroe and discover how he got involved with the Microsoft Expert Educator programme and how he sees technology playing a role in the classroom: