Part one: Criteria for an effective lesson in Minecraft education
• Creative & Child-led: The lesson should offer opportunities for children to explore their creativity and imagination. Open-ended tasks rather than closed tasks work well.
• Collaborative: The lesson should offer opportunities for children to collaborate with their peers, with group protocols and roles established prior to commencing building projects. For example, turn taking, etc.
• Cross curricular: The lesson should weave in curriculum topics in a thematic way, for example, history, art, maths, SPHE, etc. as shown in the earlier mindrising projects in the previous module.
• Emphasis on process rather than the product
• Teacher as facilitator rather than taking an overly didactic approach
• Inclusive: Using a low-threshold high ceiling approach to foster participation and enjoyment, while building on skills at a level appropriate to where the child is currently at.
Part two: Schools current level of ICT.
Teacher use: Use is generally based on teachers’ own levels of confidence expertise. All teachers have a school Gsuite account which is used to varying degrees.
Student use: Students from 3rd-6th have a Gsuite account which is used effectively for collaborative projects, creative writing. Each year for seachtain na gaeilge, our HSCL teacher runs a themed competition where children create a story in google slides as gaeilge, for example, Bia, ainmhithe, etc. and present this to the class.
Hardware: IWBs in all classrooms. Set of school ipads (x15) which are used according to a roster. New chromebooks purchased but not set up for general use. Laptops in the computer room (x25) but are often glitchy & unreliable. Visualisers (x2) one for senior classes, one for infants.
Digital content: Seesaw had been piloted over the last 2 academic years, school closures forced teachers to make greater use of it, so I would expect it to be used to greater effect on reopening. Digital activities tend to focus on lower order drill & practice games/apps, rather than on content creation.
School emphasis on integrating ICT into T & L:
As previously mentioned, gsuite is used to good effect by pupils in senior classes. The increased use of seesaw is positive, and I would hope to see this being used across a broader range of curriculum subjects, for example, PE, music, etc. as it is currently mostly used for oral language & project work.
Introducing Minecraft: As many of the staff are lacking in confidence in relation to digital technology, it would make sense to pilot minecraft with 2 or 3 more confident teachers initially (as we have done with previous digital tools/interventions). This would get greater buy-in from the rest of staff, who would also be able to get additional support and help with troubleshooting from more experienced colleagues.