Lauren Bisset

Ed. etc.

Tag: gaming

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.

 

 

 

 

MinecraftEDU

I have been continuing to do research for my EdTech inquiry the last couple of weeks. One question that I was wondering about was how teachers can assess while incorporating Minecraft, as some projects/assignments with Minecraft require a tangible piece of paper to be handed in that shows their work, but in other cases how can we as educators assess learning?

I found an amazing lesson on MinecraftEdu’s Microsoft website that details all of the different ways educators can organize their assessment during Minecraft lessons:

Here are two examples of lessons that educators detail the ways they use Minecraft’s in-game tools to assess.

In this math lesson, the teacher suggests utilizing the portfolio tool for students to organize and export their work.

In this Social Studies lesson, students put all of their finished work along a timeline so everyone can see everyone’s work. This allows quick assessment on the teachers part, and peer assessment and feedback is also encouraged and accessible.

It is clear that there are many ways to organize assessment even when students are playing a video game like Minecraft, and this assessment seems as if it can take on much more interesting forms than traditional assessment!

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.

EdTech inquiry: Minecraft in the Language Classroom

Today I began my inquiry project by exploring Minecraft’s Education Resources page. I started their introduction to Minecraft for Educators. I was amazed by how many different ways Minecraft can be used for almost any subject. Having no experience with Minecraft previously, I was relieved to read that this shouldn’t be an issue. The introduction they provide for educators emphasizes the value in learning from your students while using Minecraft, because they will almost inevitably know more than you do. Among the many benefits that Minecraft provides as a learning tool, I appreciated how the collaborative and fun nature of the game contributes to classroom culture, especially while playing in groups or as a whole class. Especially in a language classroom, classroom culture is so important. Students have to feel comfortable and confident in language classrooms in order to fully open themselves up to learning, as speaking a language you do not know well can be an intimidating experience.

I am so excited to continue learning about how Minecraft can be used in the language classroom, particularly the lesson plans that other educators have made!

“Minecraft” by John Baichtal is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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