Today we had the privilege of learning about Minecraft from six local middle school students. Their excitement for this game world was amazing. Given the right resources, a class can use the game to fulfill curricular competencies in school.
According to the official website (education.minecraft.net):
WHAT IS MINECRAFT: EDUCATION EDITION?
Minecraft: Education Edition is an open-world game that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive environment where the only limit is your imagination.
Most of the student presenters stated that they started with the pocket edition, but eventually progressed to the full game at home. When given the opportunity to use it in the classroom, they jumped on it – even devoting break time to building worlds for other classrooms! In some cases, students may not even register that they are learning. What an amazing thing to be able to satisfy school needs with something that makes students so excited. If this game gets them inspired, I say, let them run with it!
The only real issue is that with certain screens MOTION SICKNESS can be a problem . . . And for me it was a real issue.
If it works for you, and your classroom, awesome! There are so many possibilities!
A classmate of mine shared about Voice Thread in class the other day.
There certainly isn’t a shortage of amazing websites or apps to use in a classroom these days!
Using Voice Thread, students are able to make an audio recording of them answering questions posed in class to demonstrate their learning and then their classmates are able to comment on their post.
When used by the whole class: What an amazing alternative to the traditional oral presentation! But, it is also something that could be used as a way to differential a project within a classroom, if you have students who are unable to communicate their understanding in written form (for whatever reason). Using this technology, or something like it, you would be able to assess their understanding of a science or math concept, say, without having their writing abilities getting in the way.
You might find this link to a Voice Thread Education Website of use when you are first starting out using this technology in your classroom.
Lastly, I’ll leave you with this:
7 Things You Should Know About . . . Voice Thread
Taking a step towards using a model of inquiry in your classroom.
When all you know is traditional instruction, the “sage on the stage” method of teaching, thinking about switching to a model of inquiry might seem IMPOSSIBLE.
That’s where Genius Hour and things like it come in. Like every other new subject or way of thinking, your students will need to be scaffolded into inquiry-based learning and Genius Hour lets you do that.
Once you and your students are comfortable with the procedure of Genius Hour, you might want to move into a guided, whole-class inquiry to demonstrate the process of connecting multiple curricular competencies and content items from the curriculum.
The whole thing is exciting! I look forward to have the chance to journey through this way of thinking with my future students. I’d love to come alongside each and every one of them as the “guide on the side,” while they find their passions and explore things that interest them.
Yesterday, we had a tour of a local independent school called
Pacific School of Innovation and Inquiry
(or PSII, for short)
While my classmates and I are in an elementary teaching program, and this school is a high school, it was very interesting to see an alternative to the traditional school model.
Here’s their website, if you’d like to check it out: learningstorm.org
Take a look at these competencies! Every student (read: every person) could stand to benefit from some thinking on these topics.
This is their pathway to learning:
This is how they approach inquiry-based learning:
Jeff Hopkins (seen in the video below) is the man behind this interesting school. He saw a need within the public school system and moved to create the change he wanted to see in the world.
The way we think of education needs to change and Jeff and his school community are making strides to accomplish that!
This is not my first foray into coding, but it has been a while. My first degree included several computer science and software engineering courses, so playing around with the Swift Playground App has been a bit like returning to a loved hobby after a long time.
I love to jump into a new app with both feet and very little instruction, and this was definitely possible with Swift Playground.
Check out this YouTube video for a brief introduction.
Here’s a great article to read about the app – it explains it better than I can, so head over there and give it a read.
As a potential tool to be used in a classroom setting, Swift Playground has many things to offer. Plus, because it’s a game, students may not even realize they are learning!
Skills to practice:
- Directions – right vs left
- Typing (if you don’t use the quick prompt options given at the bottom of the screen)
Characteristic and Methods to master:
- Logical thinking
- Problem solving
- Predicting patterns and behaviours
- Trial and Error
These all seem like worthy things to allocate class time to, if you ask me!
If you can get your hands on an iPad, I highly recommend giving this app a go. There is lots of learning and fun to be had!
*** Something else you might like to check out: Another student in my PDPP Elementary cohort, Genelle, focused on a different Apple coding app – check out her blog here for an introduction to an app called Scratch Junior that would be a great way to teach kindergarten students how to code. The app uses symbols instead of words, so kids aren’t excluded from learning to code simply because they have not mastered the concept of ‘words’ yet.
The beginning of a new school year. The beginning of a new program. So many new things to do. So many new people to get to know. So many new opportunities to learn.
As I have just barely started my post-degree program in elementary education this month, so many thoughts and questions are flowing around in my head.
This saying really resonated with me: “The best way to get things done is to simply begin.”
As the months go by, I’ll be posting about things that interest me within the field of education or anything that might connect in some way.
Passion Projects . . . Classroom/Lesson Ideas . . . Resource Links . . . Everything!!!
So, here I go!