Minecraft, connection and conceptual understanding

Physical and virtual spaces provide people with opportunities to make connections and establish a sense of community.

Grade One are building understanding of the above central idea.

Developing conceptual understanding is at the heart of their inquiries and students have been exploring connection and responsibility

The following series of learning engagements have helped students to develop conceptual understanding. They have applied this understanding leading to action encompassing the essential elements of the IB PYP programme.

Part 1 Understanding connection 

By making comparisons between physical and virtual spaces students quickly brought Minecraft into the discussion. We began exploring different virtual spaces that existed such as the class website and their personal blogs. Why are these private? How are they made private? Instinctively the class understood the need for password protection, the locked gate of the virtual world!

Looking at the statistics of the class website, they noticed how they had connected with different audiences around the world.

How could they grow their global audience?

Discussions naturally led to Twitter, as a micro form of connecting with an audience and the class were eager to note down schools around the world they would like to connect to.

We created a class account together, making all the decisions required collaboratively. The password, they decided was for their teacher to know only.

Set up and following other grades in school they researched other school tweeters via a growing list of educators created by @kathycassidy https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Aorxx4VHW3DGdExIZ0RtODlNMkhiWW83NDRBMEdsZWc&usp=sharing#gid=0

They sent some of their first tweets to classes around the world asking, “…we are new to @twitter and learning about public & private spaces btw we love your magic c bunny we have one too!”

Part 2- Concept Map, a web of connections

The following engagement developed a physical concept map- allowing students to make connections between physical and virtual spaces whilst using key unit vocabulary. Each student had a ‘tweet’, an idea about a public space they received from fellow Twitter connections. Using the prompt, ‘I’m a ……….I am connected to ……..because….’, students quickly built connections and by using a ball of wool to connect the discussion quickly noticed they were building a web of connections.
Part 3- What happens when connections are broken?
Exploring the web further, what happens when the public spaces get damaged? What happens if we are irresponsible?
Students decided that connections could be broken, promoted by the cutting of the web. Talk led to the concept of responsibility and the class decided to fix the web by responsible action.
Part 4 Essential Agreements
Looking at essential agreements created during Minecraft Club (see previous post) we wondered if the agreements would work if applied to a physical space such as the destination for their field trip, The Jet d’eau in Geneva.
Can Minecraft essential agreements work in public spaces?
The class were unanimous in deciding, yes!
Linking these essential agreements to the IB Learner Profile attributes developed a deeper understanding of their responsibility in both physical and virtual worlds.
Building Learner Profile sculptures in a the virtual playground of Minecraft fostered a climate of collaboration of creativity. The class were designing playgrounds for others to join.
Minecraft PE for iPad was the medium that facilitated these creations and as the boundaries between these two worlds continue to blurb in the lives of so named ‘digital natives’, there is an increasing need for both ‘digital immigrants’ and traditionalists to explore the potential of such virtual spaces for learning. Exploration through inquiry, questioning and open mindedness to ‘having a go’ will lead to a greater understanding of the levels of creativity, collaboration and communication that exist when learners are engaged in Minecraft and other such games. By deepening understanding we can begin to guide and foster balance.In an increasingly digital world there is a need to reexamine balance. Balance between physical and digital worlds is where the magic happens, where human kind is the interface between the worlds. The profile of a life long learner requires the digital, both physical and virtual spaces if we are truly to be internationally minded global citizens.

Two excellent article discussing the potential of Minecraft in the classroom and how to develop a growth mindset.




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