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A successful lesson in Minecraft should contain most, if not all, of the criteria below.
•The lesson/project is child centred and child led. The children’s creativity should be encouraged at all times.
•The lesson must be accessible to children of all abilities
•Each child must feel a sense of accomplishment on completion, regardless of the standard of the end-result.
•The children should feel that the progression of the lesson is in their hands and that their concept/plan/task is coming to fruition. This is particularly important if it is a group project.
•Collaboration amongst peers should be positive with all ideas and contributions taken on board and discussed.
•As Minecraft is accessible across so many curricular areas, the interests and abilities of all students should be covered.
Our school has invested heavily in IT over the past number of years. All classes, including the Special Education rooms, have an IWB, a class iPad and teachers all have their own school laptops. We have a class set of iPads in a charging cart and purchased a class set of Chromebooks with a charging cart prior to lockdown. All teachers use the interactive board and the interactive element of it plays a big part in class activity. There has been no CPD for staff in any area of IT, bar what teachers have done themselves.
The children use iPads during the school day for project research, Kahoot quizzes, word processing work and to interact with IXL/Khan Academy/Accelerated Reading.
We have a very active after school coding club (junior and senior level) where the children code using Scratch and Microbits. We have a robotics club for the senior classes and in the last two years were finalists in the regional VEX IQ competition. As a base school in the Dept. of Education’s Creative Cluster programme we were able to purchase Lego We Do kits, Edison robots and Microbits for use in the after school clubs. We successfully ran our first STEM Day last year where all workshops on the day were organised and delivered by the children from the school clubs.
While there is plenty of teaching and learning using digital technologies happening in our school, for the most part it is occurring in after school clubs. I do think our school and teachers would love the idea of Minecraft and would be able see the benefits it offers. However, all the IT initiatives are organised and delivered by one teacher and it would take more than that to integrate a new initiative successfully. To have something such as Minecraft used in-class would require some major CPD for the staff as a whole. I think teachers need to realise that we don’t have to be experts in Minecraft, merely facilitators. Croke Park hours could be used to introduce Minecraft and provide the required CPD. Introducing a monthly challenge would encourage its use in class and build confidence among all.