I'm pleased to showcase a new site started up by a friend of mine who used to be a member of the Games Network back when he was working in this country. Check his site out for lesson ideas and resources.
Nintendogs is a two week project that is totally cross
curricular and happens in the summer term in Year 1. The children are put into
groups of 5/6 and given 1 DS and 1 game. Initially the project was put together
to encourage sharing and teamwork in a rather difficult Year 1 class but we
soon realised there were many other positives to this project. The major thing
that came out of the project was the fact that my reluctant boy writers were
writing independently and through their own choice. The children are given the
task of caring for a group dog. They have to choose it together, name it, feed
it, walk it and clean it together. They are given 15/20 minutes twice a day to
look after their dog and every time they are given their DS’s they have to fill
in their Nintendog diaries describing what they have been doing for their dog.
The children began to write Nintendog adventure stories and creating comic
strips and pictures during free choosing and at home and bringing them in. The children completed maths activities that
link in as well as Design and Technology, Art, Science, RE and PE activities.
The children particularly enjoyed the Crufts for kids activities (sports day
practise)and our Guide Dog day where we
had a real guide dog brought into school to meet with the children. The
children then spent the rest of the day completing different activities e.g.
wearing a blindfold and trying to eat beans, get dressed, spread butter etc. or
writing their name in brail after drawing a self-portrait.We have now run the project for 3 years this
year and the children who are in Reception all look forward to being able to
use the DS’s and taking part in the project. Many parents have been very
impressed with the level of their children’s level of enjoyment and engagement
with the project and one parent last year said ‘ it’s the first time in his
school life that he is coming home eager to talk about what he did at school
Eyepet is a two week literacy
plan to help cover fantasy settings in Year 1. It is usually completed in the autumn
term and is planned to be very creative and to develop and extend the
children’s imagination and use of descriptive language. There are strong cross
curricular links to Art but there are also links to Design and technology and
science. The children us the PS3 for about 20 Minutes if that throughout the
whole project! The first thing we did was sit the whole year group down to
watch the beginning sequence of the game. We asked them lots of questions
around where were they? Who was the man
in the white coat? etc pausing the game each time to get the children’s
responses. We let them watch up to the point where an egg is delivered and then
turned the ps3 off. We went back to our classes and did a lot of work around
the egg where is it from? What is inside it? How did it get here? We really
focused on our question words and asked the children to write their questions
on post it notes and place on large egg shaped paper. By the end of the 2 weeks
the children had designed their own planets and eyepets, they had written
stories and descriptions about the eyepet and its home planet and also created
a detailed care plan for their eyepet including likes and dislikes and the best
way to look after their eyepet.
Around 2 and half years ago I started to hear news surrounding a small indie game development team called Mojang from Sweden. The concept of the game sprung out at me, imagine Lego + sandbox video game. This game was going to allow me to build structures just like Lego did and also let me create and tell my own story. Already Minecraft was starting to sink its teeth into me and had no intention of letting go.
Minecraft is a sandbox game, when you are first dropped into its “blocky” world your first task is to find/build shelter. With no materials to hand you have to gather wood by running up to trees and punching them until its drops a block. This block can be picked up by the player and then crafted into tools, say an axe. Use the axe to then gather more wood quickly and then you can create more tools such as a spade, pickaxe or a sword. This all sounds quite surreal, so just below is a video of me playing the first 20 minutes.
(Sorry about the quality and fps. The quality of the videos will improve soon)
Minecraft has come a long way since I first started playing its early Alpha/Beta stages. Hundreds of new features have been added over the years to keep the game fresh and appealing. This is why I have a love for Minecraft and its eager and committed community. Updates for the game arrive every month which include new features and bug fixing. The community is always growing and with over 9 million copies of the game sold to date and it looks like it’s not stopping anytime soon. As Minecraft got bigger and bigger more people started to look at what it had to offer.
As part of the Redbridge Games Network, I was interested to see how Minecraft could play a part in the classroom. Just over a year ago I stumbled across Joel Levin better known as MinecraftTeacher on Twitter and Tumblr. He began his own Minecraft club at his school in New York. I started looking at the work he and his pupils were creating and instantly I wanted to follow in his footsteps. His idea was to create a self-built community by the children whilst looking at different aspects of learning. They were covering Literacy, Numeracy, PSHCE (Citizenship) and even Design and Technology.
In September 2011 I started my first Minecraft club; it was aimed at low achieving boys in year 4. It was going to be a creative writing club. I had 8 boys in the club and we started to play Minecraft together. I had bought 4 Minecraft accounts so we could all play on the same server (one account per pair) and play together in the same world. I had already edited this world so when the game started we all began on a beach with a sunken ship just off the coast. I told them they were all miners travelling to South America by boat when they had been hit by a storm and woken up on this island. What should we do? Where should we go? What are our priorities?
Over the course of the 6 week unit we created Wordles, diary accounts and audio logs of our time on the island. They had all really enjoyed the experience and word spread around the school that I was using Minecraft in lessons. Some excellent work was produced and I have posted some of this in the post.
As word spread of Minecraft club more and more pupils wanted to join. I decided to change the clubs name to Creative Worlds in January 2012 and took the club in a different direction. My aim was to take children from years 4, 5 and 6 who didn’t really know each other and create a community around Minecraft. The club was more about working together and building cohesion between the pupils who had never really spoken to each other before in school.
I was going to be blogging about this club but I just never got around to recording all the wonderful things the pupils had created. I have a few of the worlds saved and it was amazing to watch their world come to life with more buildings, shops, swimming pools and rocket ships.
Starting this week I have new club of 16 children and together we are going to write about our experiences once a week. The children will be contributing to the posts and explain what they are getting from using Minecraft in the classroom. In these blog posts I will be going into more detail about how to set-up servers and creating multiplayer games. I will also talk about how to use the excellent tool from Minecraftedu which allows the teacher full control of the world and the players to give the lesson more focus when needed.
I’m very excited to start a new journey in Minecraft, it is a brilliant multi-purpose learning tool and I hope to show what it has to offer over the coming weeks.
Recently one of our members Dawn Hallybone has been interview about her work. Linked below are the two articles. The first appeared in he Telegraph and the second in Vodafone's Digital Parents Magazine about e-safety.
At Christchurch Primary School students have been using an iPad app called Bluster! to help improve their literacy skills. Students in years 2,3 & 6 said it was one of the coolest apps on the ipad for learning literacy. The App which is one of the most used apps at CPS has become very popular with students and staff, who even play it in the staffroom :)
This word matching game develops vocabulary and word understanding for school-aged children, or anyone brave enough to battle the elements. The aim of the game is to beat the clock, in case the sun. As the sun moves across the screen of the ipad the less time you have to beat the clock!
Pupils can shine bright in single-player mode as they learn and practice important word skills. Match rhyming words, prefixes and suffixes, synonyms, homophones & adjectives. Pupils have also Collaborate with a friend in team mode. The multi-touch iPad screen allows both players to play simultaneously, so you can work together to weather the vocabulary storm.
Features Include: • Three different play modes - including two-player action. • A variety of grade level appropriate content. • Engaging animated gameplay with sound effects. • Head-to-head and High Scores tables. • Plays on the iPad in both landscape and portrait mode.
We used the ipads for mental and oral starters on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in our Maths set (top set). We showed the children how to find and use the ‘Explore Learning Times Tables’ app on the Tuesday, and they were able to find, load and use the app independently on the Wednesday and Thursday. We used the ‘Time Trail’ in the ‘Quizzes’ section and the children had 1 minute answer multiplication multiple choice questions. Having learnt the 5x table by rote in class, this was an opportunity for them to show their understanding and they really engaged with the tech, building up the speed of their recall to achieve silver levels!
We also used the same app for recall of the 3x table and it has made a huge impact on the children’s ability to recall and identify the correct multiple of 3! They were focussed on the task, developed team working skills and supported each other in finding the correct answers. This learning was also reflected in their class work!
The ipads were also used by another maths set, using the same app. The teacher found that the children were keen to use them and their level of engagement in the learning was far higher than with other methods, with every child wanting to find the correct answer.
The children loved using the ipads and have said they will be asking parents to download the maths apps on their personal ipads so they can learn all of their times tables!