Lauren Bisset

Ed. etc.

Tag: open pedagogy

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.

EdCamp: Bottom-Up Learning

Today in EdTech we had a mini edcamp/unconference. We were able to write down on post-its some topics we felt we wanted to talk to or to learn about in a small group setting, then we narrowed it down to three main mini conferences that we could choose to attend.

man standing in front of group of men

I chose to join a group that wanted to talk about our favourite teachers and why they were our favourites. I liked that I was able to choose the topic I was most interested in instead of sitting in on something that I wasn’t as engaged with. We had a great conversation, everyone was engaged and contributed a lot because we were talking about something we were passionate about. The more casual, small group, conversational setting I think really lends itself to people feeling more comfortable to share their opinions and experiences. We were able to hear each others perspectives and have deeper debates than sometimes is possible in a lecture setting.

Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry

This Friday, I had the opportunity to explore the Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry. Jeff Hopkins, the founder of the school took the time to talk to us and explain the concept of the school and how it looks on a day to day basis.

Up until this visit, I understood what inquiry-based learning was but wasn’t completely convinced of how it could be more beneficial to learners than any other method of instruction or learning. Jeff explained how the learning at PSII is completely individual: the students decide what they are interested in learning and have the agency to pace this learning however they would like. Using monitoring services such as Trello, the teachers are able to keep track of each students inquiries very easily. Students who wish to work on one subject all day are able to do so at PSII, instead of being interrupted by bells and refocused into different subjects in 60-minute blocks. There are teachers constantly circulating, so the students are able to get help when they need it.

One aspect I was surprised by was the amount of activity and conversation among the students when I walked in. I expected almost a silent work environment, with each student staring at a screen. Part of the reason why I was hesitant about the school’s philosophy was that I thought students were missing out on this social aspect. However, I was glad to see that this was not the case. Although the students learning is individualized, they are not sequestered and alone in their learning environment. There are opportunities around the school for students that would like to work alone silently, but the main area of the school looked like a lively group of kids working and socializing together. Jeff also explained to us that they strive to facilitate events and activities that involve the whole school, such as group hikes, in order to further establish their school community.

Overall, I was extremely impressed by Jeff Hopkins presentation. He has such a passion for allowing learners to reach their fullest potential, and I commend him for the amazing job he has done setting up PSII. I encourage everyone to explore PSII‘s philosophy and to look into the benefits of inquiry-based learning.

Most Likely to Succeed

In class on Friday, we discussed Greg Whiteley and Ted Dintersmith’s film, Most Likely to Succeed. I found it really interesting that some people said that they had the same feelings as the parents of students at High Tech High about how this new type of schooling might affect the students futures as they enter the world structured around traditional schooling. I had not thought of this perspective as I watched the film, being so enamoured with High Tech High’s near-revolutionary approach to learning. As we discussed in class, I would be very interested as well to see a “Part 2” that might provide us with some insight on the long term effects of the High Tech pedagogy. 

In addition to the focus on High Tech High, I enjoyed the beginning of the documentary where it outlined the absolute urgent need for a change in our educational system. Things such as the subjects that we choose to study that we never really question were actually established more than a hundred years ago, in a completely different world than we live in now. In the possibly near future, every job that does not require human creativity or critical thinking will disappear. Of course, we have known this for a while, but I had not yet thought about this fact from the perspective of an educator. I will have to take this into account as I think about my approach to teaching, adhering to the curriculum but also having an eye on the future and how I can best set up my learners for success.

 

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