Lauren Bisset

Ed. etc.

Category: Multimedia Learning Theory

Minecraft for Language Learning: The Final Presentation

On Friday my friend Julie and I presented on our Tech Inquiry project, on Minecraft for teaching language. I was excited to share what we had learned over the course of our project and answer questions! Here is what we took away from the inquiry!

Our inquiry questions were: How can we use Minecraft to teach language?

  • Is it even possible?
  • The limits of the game
  • Engagement or chaos
  • What are the specific needs of a language classroom?

We believe that a language class should be:

  • Fun
  • Loud
  • Creative
  • A community of learners
  • As little worksheets as possible
  • Authentic
  • A space where you can make mistakes
  • Open to all types of learners

We discovered in our research that there was a lot of commonalities between Minecraft and what a language class should be. Minecraft can be a great community game since a class can have a common goal and students can work collaboratively to achieve it. Minecraft also requires a classroom that is a positive and collaborative space before we move to the game. Writer Laura McKenna argues that it’s so popular with autistic children that in a classroom, the game could essentially serve as the great equalizer between autistic and non-autistic students. We also learned while playing that you can change the setting to the targeted language, and you can chat with everybody on the server, so that in itself is an ideal scenario for language learning. 

Minecraft Steve toy

Pros to using Minecraft in the language classroom:

ENGAGEMENT AND MOTIVATION
It has been proven that Minecraft  increases motivation in the classroom.

COMMUNITY
It is a highly collaborative game and a class goal can help build the sense of community.

AGENCY  AND AUTONOMY
Game-based learning offers opportunities to students to take ownership of their education.

CREATIVITY
Minecraft is a blank canvas: you can do and build what you want with it.

LEADERSHIP
Students are the expert since they are often more knowledgeable about the game.

DIFFERENTIATION
For students, Minecraft can help them show their learning in a way they would never have been able to on a paper.

SELF-EFFICACY
Students can be confident using technology independently and take their learning into their own hands.

RELEVANCE

The game is a key cultural influence for their generation.

blue, red, and green Pac-Man wall painting

There are some cons to using Minecraft, however.

MOTION SICKNESS
Some people can get really dizzy while playing the game.

DIFFERENT LEVELS
Students often come with drastically different levels of knowledge of the game.

PREMADE LESSONS ARE LESS INTERESTING
An easy way to work with Minecraft is to download premade lessons and let the students explore and learn from them.  The students are more passive.

DISTRACTION
With such a wide range of possibilities, it is easy for students to get off task and it is hard for the teacher to monitor them.

 

Best practices we suggest for using Minecraft in the classroom:

  1. BUILD A POSITIVE CLASSROOM
    Students are more open to try new things when they feel supported.
  2. START WITH A SHORT PROJECT
    To feel less overwhelmed
  3. PROMOTE STUDENT LEADERSHIP
    So students help and teach each others.
  4. LET THEM BE CREATIVE
    You can use a premade lesson, but it is always better to let students create something

We wanted to provide a mini-unit plan to show how it is possible to implement it into the classroom and within curricular expectations:

group of people using laptop computer

FRAL GRADE 9

Big Ideas:

  • Improving communication skills in a language helps us define ourselves and affirm our ideas.

  • Language is a cultural tool, the common thread of knowledge and values.

Content:

Literary elements:

  • characteristics of the novel
  • characteristics of the fable
  • stylistic elements

Text organization:

  • narrative structure
  • portrait
  • descriptive sequences

Language elements:

  • agreement of past tenses
  • pronouns used as direct and indirect object  complements
  • verb moods and tenses associated with the genres being studied

GOAL
Create a world and tell a compelling story around it.

LESSON 1
Explore the many possibilities of Minecraft

LESSON 2-3
Build the world. 

Review of the principle of storytelling.

LESSON 4
Learn about how a setting can influence a story. Review notions of description, pronouns, verb moods and tenses.

LESSON 5-6
Write the story and present.

More ideas:

There are 1001 ideas to use Minecraft in the classroom:

  • Set the game in Survival mode and give quests.
  • Create a city as a class and narrate a screencast tour
  • Start a new civilization and role-play
  • Download a world (ex. a shipwreck or an extinct civilization)  and have them imagine the story behind it.
  • Create a vocabulary scavenger hunt.

Works Cited

Gallagher, Colin et al. Minecraft in the Classroom: Ideas, Inspiration, and Student Projects for Teachers. Peachpit Press, Berkeley, CA, 2015; 2014.

Irvin, Glen, et al. “How The Minecraft Classroom Can Transform Your World Language Classroom.” Technology Solutions That Drive Education, 5 June 2019, https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2017/11/minecraft-can-transform-your-world-language-classroom.

“Minecraft: Education Edition- Collaboration.” Youtube, YouTube, 8 June 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=OJzriaJvvLw.

“My Minecraft Journey Lesson One: Why Minecraft: Education Edition?” My Minecraft Journey Lesson One: Why Minecraft: Education Edition? – Microsoft in Education, https://education.microsoft.com/courses-and-resources/courses/my-minecraft-journey-lesson-one.

Willingham, Emily. “Minecraft Is Shaping A Generation, And That Is A Good Thing.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 27 Apr. 2014, https://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2014/04/26/minecraft-is-shaping-a-generation/#27b6854d66b6.

 

 

 

 

Video Conferencing/Multi-Access Learning

man standing in front of people sitting beside table with laptop computers

Should we allow flexibility in modality accessibility? What are the implications within a classroom context? How is this a human rights and a social justice issue? These are all questions that we discussed in EdTech on Friday.

I think that sometimes, as teachers, we can get locked into our own preferences and biases. The binary that exists in high school and most universities is courses are either taught face-to-face, or online. In online learning, there is not usually a set time and dates for the class and the professor to meet online, even though the resources to have “face-to-face” learning online very much exist, and are actually becoming more accessible and affordable. Students have to self-regulate, deciding what times they are going to go online to do coursework, so their self-accountability is huge.

Another method includes blended learning: a mix of face-to-face time and online learning. There are benefits to this method, but the learning is not increased in this scenario. It does not meet mobility needs.

Multi-access learning is seemingly the best solution. It includes video-conferencing, face-to-face, and online learning. It is inclusive rather than exclusive because everyone’s preferred method is addressed.

There are so many different needs that learners have, including many different physical and mental health needs that some learning styles obstruct. Using multi-access learning can help learners that are normally barred from traditional classroom settings learn like the rest of their community.

Minecraft in the Classroom: EdTech Presentation

Yesterday in class we had the privilege of having a Grade 7 teacher from Colquitz Middle School and some of her former students come in to our EdTech class to teach us about the advantages of Minecraft in the classroom and how to use it!

As I have been exploring Minecraft in education for my EdTech inquiry project, this class was very valuable for me. The teacher explained how much success she had found ever since she incorporated Minecraft in her classroom and shared so many different ways to use it.

The students were so knowledgable about Minecraft, and we had so much fun learning from them, flipped-classroom style. The room was so loud as all of us struggled to figure out the game and our “teachers” running around to help us as much as they could. They were absolutely the experts in that room yesterday, and they seemed to feel so empowered by having the knowledge and the opportunity to share it. One of my classmates joked to me that they were more comfortable and confident up in front of a class than we were as pre-service teachers, but it was actually true. The experience definitely brought home the message that learning from my students happens more often than I may have previously thought and how valuable that can be to a classroom.

Here is a screenshot of a castle one of my classmates made in the minutes it took me to figure out how to place a block, showing me how much I still have to learn in the world of Minecraft.

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