Online Module 2: Minecraft and the Curriculum

Minecraft for Education Minecraft Course Forum Online Module 2: Minecraft and the Curriculum

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    • #1230
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part one: (100 words) Discuss what the criteria are for an effective lesson in Minecraft education.

      Part two (100- 150 words): Discuss your schools current level of ICT. Make reference to teacher use, student use, hardware, digital content and school emphasis on integrating ICTs into teaching and learning. Is your school equipped for Minecraft education and how might you introduce it.

      Post your responses to parts one and two as a reply to this post.

    • #2607
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part 1: Discuss what the criteria are for an effective lesson in Minecraft Education:

      • Students should be given ownership over the project. The teacher may provide direction and assistance but the students must be given the creative space to develop their own knowledge as they work on a project.
      • The lesson should incorporate the use of 21st century skills such as those highlighted by the ‘Microsoft 21CLD Student Work Rubrics’:
      o Collaboration
      o Knowledge construction
      o Self-regulation
      o Real-world problem-solving and innovation
      o Use of ICT for learning
      o Skilled communication
      • The lesson should integrate multiple curricular subjects.
      • The lesson should have a ‘low threshold’ and ‘high ceiling’ meaning students with a low ability can achieve some learning, and students with a high ability can also be challenged.

      Part 2: Discuss your school’s current level of ICT. Make reference to teacher use, student use, hardware, digital content, and school emphasis on integrating ICTs into teaching and learning. Is your school equipped for Minecraft education and how might you introduce it?

      My school is quite a new, modern building, completed 4 years ago.

      There is an LCD IWB in every classroom running the Promethean ActivInspire software. Teachers have received some CPD in using IWBs interactively, source ready-made flipcharts and resources on sites such as Promethean Planet, SMART Exchange and Twinkl, create their own interactive resources, source interactive games and activities online, and use the IWBs to share videos, PowerPoint files etc. I like to ensure wide use of the IWB in my class for example, by making it one of the stations during station teaching. This ensures every single child in the class gets a chance to try the chosen interactive activity.

      We have a class set of laptops, which are shared according to a timetable. Particularly in the upper classes, these are used quite effectively for project work, with the children typing their Write-A-Book projects in Microsoft Word for example, and researching online and creating PowerPoint presentations on various SESE topics.

      When the school was divided into the old girls and boys schools, we in the girl’s school had a website where we used to post photographs of the children’s learning, and enable them to keep their class blog updated themselves fairly regularly. However we have not developed a website for the new amalgamated school yet.

      I think we would be quite well equipped for Minecraft education. One problem I would envisage is that we use an external IT support company and YouTube is blocked in our school. This would make visiting the videos NPCs direct you to in various Minecraft worlds impossible for the children. I would like to get. YouTube unblocked in our school. Then I would go about introducing Minecraft using roughly the following steps:

      • Discuss privately with the principal of the school.
      • If the principal liked the idea, prepare an introduction/overview to share with all staff during Croke Park hour.
      • Research and contact someone who could come to our school and assess if we are equipped for Minecraft Education, and to arrange the licensing for us.
      • Show staff how to join the Minecraft Education community and access some basic training – perhaps this training could make up some CPD during Croke Park hours.
      • Arrange for a representative from Minecraft to visit our school and provide further information and training.
      • Teachers try it out in their classes.

    • #2627
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part 1:

      The most important criteria for an effective lesson is that the learning is child led. The children should take ownership of their project. They should be working in a creative space exploring their imaginative sides. Mistakes will happen but the children will use their problem-solving skills to overcome these and continue creating. The lessons should be collaborative in nature with the children working together to create their worlds. If there is a shortage of technology in the room, the collaborative work can take place whereby the children rotate between builder/researcher/designer. The effective lesson will also be cross curricular in nature.

      Part 2:

      Our school has invested heavily in ICT over the past few years. We are part of a cluster project and have used our financing to purchase laptops as well as Minecraft licences and other coding software e.g. Beebots/Microbits/Crumbles/iZak 9s. The cluster class is currently entering 6th class and the classes from 4th upwards have had exposure to various elements of coding. All children also have Office 365 accounts which has enabled the older children to gain skills in Word/Excel/PowerPoint. The ongoing issue we have is that our digital team currently consists of two teachers and this can cause timing issues when trying to introduce the younger students to the resources that are available. CPD for all staff on the resources available to the school is imperative going forward. Minecraft was introduced to the students in two 5th classes in March of this year but will be reintroduced in September.

      • #3066
        Pat BrennanPat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Áine,
        Your description of the ideal learning environment above is excellent. Learning, In particular GBL (Game based Learning) should be steeped in Constructivist/Constructionist teaching approaches. Students take ownership of their own knowledge creation and in this case the actual building of objects. Your school seems to be very progressive in the move towards technology and using it effectively. Often, as you have made reference to, the teacher competency and CPD is the most important part of developing the Diigtal Learning in schools. We can have all the devices, but if we are not using them in an effective manner it is not going to yield the best results. Well done and best of luck with Minecraft going forward.

    • #2637
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part 1
      The most important criteria for an effective lesson in any subject is that learning is taking place.
      This can be achieved in Minecraft Education in a number of ways.
      The pupils need to engage with the lesson and I have no doubt that there will be high engagement in any lesson when Minecraft is introduced.
      The pupils need to learn how to work collaboratively as this is crucial is laptops. are shared during lesson.
      The lesson must be suited to pupils of all abilities.
      There must be a method of accessing what the pupils have learned. This can be done by using the camera and setting up a portfolio for each pupil.
      Chalkboards canbe used to give pupils different tasks when they are in the Worlds.
      Minecraft allows for integration between subjects.

      Part 2

      Our school has very limited use of IT at present.
      The ‘old computer’ room had to be removed to be replaced with a new ASD classroom.
      There are no laptops available in the school.
      I am lucky to be in a classroom where pupils have their own smartpads.
      Whiteboards are used throughout the school but I don’t have one in my classroom.
      I would love to use minecraft in my class when I return to school.
      I teach an ASD class and the pupils are always talking about Minecraft.
      I see so many possibilities where I could use it in my classroom.
      I’m not aware if we have the correct licence but I’m going to contact our IT consultant before I return to school.
      I would love to tell the rest of the staff all about the amazing resources that Minecraft Education has to offer when I return to school.

    • #2723
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part 1:

      A good lesson in Minecraft should include the following criteria:

      Students should be given ownership of the project while at the same time, the teacher can provide direction and assist with troubleshooting.
      The lesson should incorporate the use of 21st century skills as outlined in Microsoft’s 21CLD Rubrics
      The lesson should integrate multiple curricular subjects
      The lesson should Integrate the use of an imaginative and creative space to solve the problem in a variety of different ways. Minecraft, being a sandbox game achieves this.
      Good lessons will have a low threshold – high ceiling element allowing learners of varying abilities to be challenged.

      Part 2

      We currently have IWB’s in all classrooms.
      We have:
      2 x ipad carts
      1 x chromebook cart
      1 x Windows laptop cart

      All teachers have laptops.
      Teachers mainly use Activinspire on IWBs along with whatever other apps they need to teach.
      Children use ipads for learning reinforcement games and content creation (puppet pals, ebook creator, imovie etc.)
      Chromebooks are used for learning reinforcement games (mangahigh, sumdog, spelling city etc. ). Children use Google Docs/Slides to create content also for projects across different subjects.
      Coding is done on the chromebooks using Scratch and also with Microbits using makecode.
      Windows laptops are also used for similar tasks.
      Coding for Junior classes is in Scratch Jr. on the ipads.
      During the recent lockdown we were able to use the children’s existing school google logins to easily setup Google Classroom as our online learning platform.I previously used the original Minecraft EDU in 2015/16 on projects in school. I would like to use the new Microsoft version in school. Our hardware is capable so it is just a matter of getting the correct licensing in place.
      I would introduce it to students by:
      Explaining that we will be using Minecraft in school but it will be slightly different and that we will be using it for learning.
      Doing an SPHE lesson on how we will behave in the virtual world of minecraft just like we do in the real world.
      Training the children in the basics using the tutorial world over a few Friday afternoon sessions.
      Let them build and get used to the controls and enjoy using it.

    • #2812
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part One

      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.

      Part Two

      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.

      • #3079
        Pat BrennanPat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Anna Marie,

        You have nailed the description on successful learning environments for Minecraft Lessons. Collaboration and self regulation (ownership) are key to the success of these projects. Teachers are facilitators and not the experts. It is great to see that your school has made such an investment in the procurement of good ICT equipment. As you have highlighted however, it is the CPD that is most important in going forward. Many teachers still use IT as a means of presentation and not really as a means of giving the children real immersive learning environments. Minecraft can be used to do this. It would be great to see a few teachers decide on developing a scheme with this and trying to role it out in the coming year. Well done

    • #3061
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part 1:
      An effective Minecraft lesson will incorporate a wide range of different things including the following:
      1. The students will take ownership of the project. These lessons will be mainly child lead and not teacher led. Though the students can ask for assistance from the teacher, the children are given a creative space to complete the project in their own way.
      2. The lessons will incorporate the 21st Century Skills – These 21st Century skills of Creativity, Collaboration, Computational thinking/Critical thinking and Communication are skills that are going to be necessary for our students to have when they enter the world of work. These skills are the skills that separate us from computers/bots and are what make us unique and priceless in specific roles. It is crucial that we as teachers introduce these skills into our lessons from a young age to highlight their importance and plant an interest in the children’s minds.
      3. The lessons will integrate a range of subjects- Minecraft works best when it is being used in a thematic approach. One where the content is taught through different subject areas and different active methodologies. The children can then bring their knowledge to the world of Minecraft and combine this knowledge with their Computational Thinking.
      4. Inclusion of creative space – Minecraft allows for creativity and it is important to promote this when students are building out their worlds. Everyone’s build may look different but it is the journey that matters.
      5. Caters for a wild range of abilities- The teacher can support each student depending on their ability. It allows for high achievers to work on and continue building while the teacher supports those who require it.

      Part 2:
      I have worked in a range of different schools, some that have a lot of ICT and others that do not. Integrating Minecraft into schools differ from the child’s ability and the school’s resources. Some schools may require more unplugged lessons before diving into the world, while other may jump into JavaScript and challenge themselves in that way.

      Technology is a huge asset in the classroom for the childrens learning. In the schools I have been in, I have seen Technology used for Learning and for Teaching. It is crucial that we integrate both into our classrooms. Most of the children in our classrooms use the medium of technology in their lives outside of school and it is the medium that is best to grasp their attention and lead to effective teaching.

    • #3239
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part 1.
      An effective lesson in Minecraft Education should include (but not limited to) the following criteria;

      1. Child led learning and ownership of the project. As a teacher you will scaffold the children but they will be given the freedom to interpret the project in whatever way they would like.
      2. The inclusion of ICT as this is a skill that will greatly benefit the children in the future and include those found in Microsoft’s 21CLD Learning Activity Rubrics.
      3. Collaboration and Group work. Working together to problem solve but making sure that the group is not too big (no more than four children).
      4. Integration of Curricular Areas e.g. a Roman Construction lesson might include History, Science, Maths, Art, English and SPHE.
      5. Inclusion of imaginative and creative space. There is no one-size fits all answer and the children can problem solve in a variety of different ways.
      6. Differentiation. An effective lesson will have ‘low threshold, high ceiling’ formula. For example, all children will start in a given biome but the high achievers or those competent in Minecraft have the ability to incorporate coding in their project.
      7. The lesson should spark interest and therefore result in excellent work.

      Part 2.
      My school is a new building, recently constructed over two years ago. We are lucky with our ICT and WiFi as it is all brand-new.

      The classrooms (including Special Education) are all equipped with WiFi and a SMART Interactive White Board. All teachers have a school laptop and visualiser. There is access to a digital school camera if needed. There is also a charged laptop trolley that is on a timetabled rotation around the school. It has 30 laptops and 12 iPads.

      Student use of ICT is encouraged and used by teachers around the school. The iPads are used in the younger end of the school for ‘Station Teaching’ and the laptops tend to be used in the middle to senior end of the school. The children in my school have a keen interest in ICT and are able to work on a laptop competently. They like to complete work on them for English (Report Writing), Maths games, Kahoot! etc. Teachers have not been formerly given any ICT CPD training in school apart from CPD completed in their own time. All teachers use their IWB proficiently and throughout the school day.

      Hopefully my school is equipped for Minecraft Education and this is something I will talk to the principal privately about. I will have to research and see if their is a licensing fee and discuss with my staff about introducing it and coding to our classes. I really feel the children would benefit hugely from it. The interest is already there!

      • #3272
        Pat BrennanPat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Claire,
        Excellent review of what an effective Minecraft Education project would involve. All of the above criteria would make for a powerful project that would provide a rich learning environment that students would thoroughly benefit from. Your school seems to have made great progress in attaining good IT equipment. I wonder if your laptops are using Windows 10. that is a requirement for Minecraft Education. For best results, we purchased 20 licenses in our school through prodigy learning. In each class, students are assigned a laptop number and a log in. They always use their assigned laptop and log in and there is never any problems. The world is stored on the teacher laptop so when the laptop cart goes to a new classroom those students cannot access your classes world. I would suggest you speak to your principal about purchasing the licenses. Then you try to run a project in the coming year. Bring another class teacher in on your project and in doing so you will show them how it is done. If the project is a success you could later spend some time at a staff meeting sharing your experience and I am sure others will begin to follow in your footsteps. Well done.

    • #3305
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      An effective lesson in Minecraft is one that has a certain structure in terms of planning and organising but the overriding feature of the lesson is that it is child led. In terms of structure it is one that has plenty of opportunities for integration with the various curriculum subjects. Problem solving should also be at the heart of the lesson giving opportunities for differentiation through the low threshold high ceiling nature of the game. The constructivist / constructionist approach to learning should be followed in the lesson where the children in their work construct meaning and build knowledge through building things that are tangible and sharable. Opportunities to give and receive feedback throughout the lesson should also be a feature of the lesson. This allows for positive collaboration amongst peers with all ideas and contributions taken on board and discussed.

      In terms of the current level of ICT in our school there is a central computer room which holds 25 desktop computers which are linked to an online network. Slots of 30 minutes in the computer room are scheduled with the various classes throughout the school. A teacher’s server as well as a pupil’s server are used to store work and files. Each classroom is equipped with an IWB and a visualiser. Assistive technology is used in a number of classrooms whereby pupils with special needs have access to an Ipad. In terms of digital content the school has a website which includes a section for digital literacy and interactive websites for the children to use at home. There is also a teacher’s website which includes a blog and lists resources for integrating ICT into teaching and learning. Software including Wordshark and Numbershark are available for teachers to use with individual children. In terms of Minecraft Education the school availed of the free version a number of years ago but since Microsoft took it over there has been a number of issues in terms of access to it in the computer room. It was used in the computer room by a number of classes to support learning in history.

    • #3319
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      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.

    • #3626
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Criteria for an effective lesson in Minecraft:
      • Engaging topic for the students
      • Student led opportunities as the project develops
      • 21st Century Skills – critical thinking, research skills, creativity, perseverance, planning, oral and written communication, leadership, teamwork, collaboration, ICT literacy, computer programming
      • Projects which promote the integration of different curricular areas
      • Projects that promote collaborative work
      • Opportunities for the students to showcase their work

      Our School’s Current level of ICT
      We currently have 32 student laptops which are on 2 trolleys and timetabled for each class
      We also have 10 ipads with plans to get more so that there would be one between 2 students in each class. The ipads are also timetabled for each class.
      Each teacher has a laptop and access to an interactive whiteboard or a touch screen.
      Our school is working hard at integrating ICTs into the teaching and learning. Some teachers already use Scratch for teaching programming and for promoting the development of critical thinking skills with creativity and the integration of multiple curricular areas.

      How I envisage using Minecraft in Education
      I think Minecraft would be a great addition to the school. I would propose starting with 10 licences. This would allow for each group of 3 students to access Minecraft in Education and on completion of their class project I would encourage them to share their work with the whole school community. This would hopefully inspire other teachers to explore and learn more about Minecraft in Education and use it in their class teaching.

    • #3804
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part 1:
      An effective lesson in Minecraft education would start with an effective lesson plan, setting clear objectives.
      Some examples are:
      • Develop an understanding of the skills required to work effectively as part of a team
      • Learn to use the basic functions of the keyboard
      • Presenting, and giving/receiving feedback
      • Reflect upon performance and decisions for improvement
      • Learn to use success criteria for peer assessment
      The lesson should have a ‘low threshold’ and ‘high ceiling’ incorporating learning and challenges at each level of ability.
      The teacher should direct, guide, and assist with the setting up of the structure and details of the project but the students must be given the creative space to develop their own knowledge as they work on and take ownership of the project.

      Part 2:
      Our school is in its seventh year in a new building. Each year we build on our knowledge and acquire more technology. We place an emphasis on digital learning. In 2018 we received the ‘Digital School of Distinction’ flag, in recognition of our work towards incorporating beneficial ICT practices across the school.
      Each classroom has an IWB running Promethean ActivInspire software. Teachers have received some CPD in using IWBs interactively. During school closure we upskilled on using zoom, seesaw, loom. Each child set up a seesaw account and we will be continuing using this in the coming year as a home/school link with the children.
      In September we will have a class set of chrome books which can be shared around the school. Each teacher has a Microsoft office account. I need to check further to see if we have access to Minecraft education. It would be a great resource to introduce to the senior part of the school to incorporate different levels of education through Minecraft projects.

      • #4440
        Pat BrennanPat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Maria,
        Great synopsis of the criteria for an effective lesson.The Child centered approach is key in projects like Minecraft. The students are often more experienced with the application than us teachers and so it is important we give them the opportunity to use this experience. Your school seems to be well set up in terms of ICT equipment and recent CPD on using different applications. Minecraft can be purchased on an annual bases. Prodigy learning are the crowd we use in our school to get the licences.

    • #4370
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part one: (100 words) Discuss what the criteria are for an effective lesson in Minecraft education.
      To begin an effective lesson using Mindcraft Education I believe the children would need prior instruction and guidance relating to how to work effectively as a team. Clear rules would need to be established and discussed, such as how to listen to others and their ideas, respect for other children’s work and assigning roles in the group. This could be worked through in SPHE and Drama class.
      I believe the content of the lesson should be engaging for the children. If they don’t show an interest in the subject, they might not use their imagination effectively when working in Mindcraft Education.
      The teacher should set an acceptable timeframe at the beginning of the topic. Children will need to work to this timeframe but they should not be rushed.
      The teacher will need to decide how to organise the class groups. Ideally this should be done before the task begins. Are the groups mixed ability? Have the children assigned the individual roles in the group? Is the group small enough (3 max) to work effectively together? The teacher will need to give guidance on these parameters for the groups to work effectively.
      The children will need clear outcomes so the teacher would need to present a rubric for each group, detailing what needs to be constructed/built and other additional parameters the teacher is looking for.

      Part two (100- 150 words): Discuss your schools current level of ICT. Make reference to teacher use, student use, hardware, digital content and school emphasis on integrating ICTs into teaching and learning. Is your school equipped for Minecraft education and how might you introduce it.
      The school I teach in has a very good level of ICT. First off, our ICT coordinator is also a teacher in the school and effectively onsite at all times. This means that any ICT issues are dealt with effectively and efficiently.
      With regard to hardware, the children have access to a laptop cart with 20 laptops, which is timetabled to teachers during the week. Each teacher would have access to these laptops for one morning, in between breaks or an afternoon session. We also have two computer rooms, both of which are timetabled to the classes. In addition, we have access to a ~12 ipads and ~12 surfaces. These are also timetabled to the classes.
      The children are very proficient in using all the devices. As teachers, we are encouraged to use all devices to engage the children in the learning. The children have access to ‘Mathletics’ and ‘Reading Eggs’ accounts. They complete tasks in school and I would assign homework on these platforms once a week. In class, I generally use the devices for their online maths and reading accounts, in class research for SESE, recording learning/project work, maths and English games, art and drawing and recording information for classdojo portfolios.
      Some of the teachers in my school have previously used Minecraft Education in their classrooms, with excellent results. It is this which spurred me on to complete this course. I believe our school is equipped and already using Minecraft Education effectively. My only concern is the number of pupils in a class is greater than the number of laptops. Perhaps a couple of the children (or a group) could go to one of the computer rooms to compete their Minecraft Education project. However, supervision of these children would need to be considered as they couldn’t go on their own.

    • #4829
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part 1:

      An effective minecraft lesson should include the following elements to be most effective for all participants.
      – Students should have ownership and autonomy over their work. It should be child led, with teacher there as a facilitator adn for support, but the students hould have creative control.
      – 21st century skills need to be used (self-regulation, real worlds problem solving, use of ICT for learning, Skilled communication, knowledge construction, collaboration)
      – There should be links made with the curricular content of the students school day.

      Part 2

      Our school has a laptop cart that goes around he school. It is a very large school and the computers could do with some upgrading. There is a push at the moment for our staff to up skill and look and reflect on how with engage the students in ICT in the classroom. There are 70 Kindle fires in the school.
      There are two Ipads in the ASD unit as well.
      All teachers have a laptop and there is a IWB in each classroom. I think as a school we need to improve our engagement with ICT and i look forward to bringing this back with me in September. A number of students access additional support and use Lexia literacy program.
      In the ASD class where i am currently posted I use the following programs Teacher my monster to read, reading eggs, maths seeds, matific, lexia, Seesaw. I use Seesaw as a communication journal parents. Since the lockdown happened the children have also been using seesaw and i can see this continuing for homework next year.
      There is a coding after school club. I would like to create an after school club for minecraft education next year and hope to implement it with the support of my co-worker who i did this course with.
      I have put in a request with our IT team to investigate if we have Minecraft, and if not, if we can get it on the laptops for the students.

    • #4845
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part 1

      An effective minecraft lesson should include the following criteria:
      > Student led – Minecraft gives children the freedom and opportunity to be creative and to take ownership of their work. Teachers can guide and aid learning but will help the children take ownership of their work
      > 21st Century skills – Children should become familiar with ICT skills which will ultimately open a lot of doors for them in the future. Development of research skills, perseverance, planning, oral and written communication, critical thinking, leadership, teamwork, collaboration, ICT literacy, computer programming, plotting, using controls, coding, creativity, etc are all becoming more and more important in today’s work places. Minecraft Education serves to enhance the children’s skills in these areas
      > Cross curricular – Minecraft allows integration across all subjects, in particular through project work
      > Imagination – Minecraft Ed promotes the development of the imagination and allows children to see different ideas and different perspectives from their peers
      > Differentiation – Minecraft Ed allows for children of all abilities to contribute at their own level. Equally the lesson can be pitched to all levels

      Part 2
      Every teacher has their own individual laptop and each mainstream classroom has an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) with the Active Inspire programme installed.
      There are also two laptops that remain at the back of each room.
      There is one laptop cabby shared around the school which has sixteen laptops in it.
      Children have access to Clicker 7, Teaching Time, Teaching Money, Spellodrome, Reading Eggs, Matific, Lexia (10 User License). Copy of Dragon Naturally Speaking.
      Each learning support/resource room has one computer in it for children to work on when needed. This is not ideal as often withdrawal groups can consist of up to five or six students.
      Similar to the mainstream classes, both special classes have IWBs in the classroom.
      Both classes have a touchscreen Lenovo IdeaCentre C560 computer.
      Recently we have acquired two new IPads.

      ICT is used throughout the school daily. Children use it for homework, projects, through the IWB etc. Teachers use ICT to engage the children.
      After completing this course i wish to set up a Minecraft ED afterschool club in my school with my coworker.
      I also hope to use it on a one to one basis with the children in my ASD class. I am hoping that i can build their confidence in using the programme, eventually progressing to collaborative work with their peers.

    • #4944
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part one: Discuss what the criteria are for an effective lesson in Minecraft education.
      An effective Minecraft lesson allows students to participate in engaging and creative exercises, across so many curricular areas, as part of a small group.
      Learning is taking place in an fun, open and non-threatening environment.
      Time to experiment with the programme initially will lead to familiarity and heighten interest levels
      Microsoft 21st century skills, creativity, collaboration, communication and problem-solving skills are central to each Minecraft assignment. The students learn how to discuss, share and agree boundaries, roles are assigned and contributions are welcomed and considered.
      Students function at a level that is appropriate to their age and ability. The low threshold- high ceiling formula means that students a sense of accomplishment regards of outcome.
      There are lots of opportunities to give and receive feedback.
      Self / Peer /Teacher Assessment is possible
      The projects are student led. They take ownership of the activity and the teacher is there as a facilitator, to assist when and where appropriate.
      Self- assessment and peer assessment are possible.

      Part 2: Discuss your school’s current level of ICT. Make reference to teacher use, student use, hardware, digital content, and school emphasis on integrating ICTs into teaching and learning. Is your school equipped for Minecraft education and how might you introduce it?

      Our school has increased its investment in ICT in recent years, but we need to invest more in both hardware and in training.
      All classrooms have IWBs and they are used throughout the day for teaching and learning. We have two charged laptop trolleys for 30 laptops(Windows 8) which are timetabled for use throughout the school.
      All the teachers have a school laptop (Windows 10).
      12ipads were bought recently and are used regularly as part of station teaching in the junior classes.
      Coding and Scratch is introduced in 3rd & 4th class, and it needs to be continued and built upon in the senior classes. The Beebots are used in the junior classes for coding.
      Greater expenditure on whole school training in the use of ICT is essential to build confidence and competency in the use of the technology. Teachers are willing to give new technology a go but lack the skill and the knowhow to incorporate it into the school day effectively.
      Technology is the way forward and it is important that we promote the development of computer skills in our students. Minecraft is a great way of integrating project work across the curriculum. The level of interest and engagement from colleagues might be a limiting factor in its introduction. As suggested elsewhere if one or two teachers were to pilot it successfully with their class this should spark some interest from others around the school. I would like to see it being introduced into school as it is so versatile, creative and dynamic.

    • #5900
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part one: (100 words) Discuss what the criteria are for an effective lesson in Minecraft education
      • Prior knowledge of topic
      • Clear instructions and rules
      • Familiarity with using ICT to assist lessons
      • Time tabling
      • Consideration of groupings and set roles for students
      • Fun and enjoyment
      • Space

      Part two (100- 150 words): Discuss your schools current level of ICT. Make reference to teacher use, student use, hardware, digital content and school emphasis on integrating ICTs into teaching and learning. Is your school equipped for Minecraft education and how might you introduce it.

      The school where I work is very well resourced with ICT. There has been a concentrated effort to constantly upskill staff with new ICT initiatives and projects over the years. As well as departmental funding, Equipment has been sponsored and funded by private companies. Unfortunately departmental funding has often fallen short of what is needed for schools to be well resourced in this area and to allow for new and innovative ways to for teaching and learning. The school has several very experienced teachers who have an excellent level of ICT skills. The ICT coordinating teacher leads a digital learning team within the school and is readily available to support and encourage staff . Regarding hardware, the school has a laptop cart with 20 laptops, 12 ipads and 12 surfaces. We also have a computer room with 12 computers. Each classroom has an Interactive whiteboard, recently a process has begun to upgrade these boards to smart boards. For use of ICT equipment, timetables are devised to allow all staff and children access.

      Minecraft Education has been used very effectively by a number of teachers in the school. Having observed some of the lessons, what was very noticeable was the lack of discipline problems and that each pupil was engaged, regardless of ability. The children were all working collaboratively and above all having fun. If I could deliver lessons like the ones I’ve observed using Minecraft, I’d be very proud.

    • #7482
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Criteria for an effective lesson

      1. Lessons should be facilitated by the teacher but should be child-led

      2. Clear objectives need to be set and the children need to know what these are

      3. Problem-solving and communication skills must be explicitly taught

      4. Children need to have researched the topics and have research material available; whether it’s online or in books etc.

      5. There needs to be linkage and integration in all lessons

      6. ICT skills need to be taught. Also, sufficient ICT equipment must be available for the children.

      7. There should be differentiated objectives to allow all children to participate and achieve something.

      School’s Current ICT level

      All teachers use a laptop with an Interactive whiteboard.
      The school is currently updating their records onto Aladdin to make payments etc. easier.
      There are 2 iPads in my classroom and 3 in the autistic unit but none in the other classes.
      There are two/three computers for the children in the back of each classroom from 2nd – 6th class
      Classes are set up on Seesaw in infants and Class Dojo for the other classes. Children submit work an queries through this.
      We have a Whatsapp group with the parents of the class to communicate
      There is a school website and also a PTA facebook group in our school
      There is not much of an emphasis to use ICT in your teaching and learning in our school. At present, the teachers in the school are requesting iPads for each teacher in the school and also a class set of iPads for the children to use
      It is something I will be suggesting to include in our SSE as we are really falling behind with 21st century learning

      • #8161
        Pat BrennanPat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Karen,
        Good to see your school is moving in the right direction with regards it’s ICT. In our school, we use laptops/ iPads and tablets with the students. I think that the laptops are best personally as they give the students the experience of the keyboard and tend to be much smoother at running programs such as Minecraft Education. I would suggest that schools move towards purchasing laptop carts instead of Ipads/tablets for these reasons. The criteria you have discussed above are all very important for successful lesson designs. 21st century skills such as collaboration, Problem solving and ICT skills need to be inclusive to our lessons. It is something i am sure we will find difficult to do with the restrictions we will face in the coming months but these skills are now more important then ever for our students.

    • #8120
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Criteria for an effective Minecraft lesson:

      Child led – the lesson should be facilitated by the teacher but the learning that takes place should be led by the child. They should have ownership over the project and the teacher can differentiate questions to allow for higher order thinking where appropriate.

      Problem solving – the children will have the opportunity to use their problem-solving skills to overcome errors and issues in a creative and innovative way in the Minecraft world. It will provide them the opportunity to try things without fear of failure.

      Team work – lessons using Minecraft allow the opportunity to foster the skills required to work as part of a team. The children will have to communicate effectively with each other, listen to each other and undoubtedly overcome differences of opinions and find ways of working together.

      Expectations – As per any lesson there needs to be clear guidelines of what is expected of each child during the lesson. As Minecraft is online the importance of appropriate behaviour online is paramount and these rules would tie in with the schools acceptable use policy.

      Schools ICT:
      All the classrooms in my school have interactive whiteboards and a teacher computer. As part of the Digital Literacy Framework we received funding this year and have purchased 16 iPads. We also have 6 tablets and 10 notebooks that are available for class use. There is also a computer room in the school that has 16 computers. These however are slow to process and can be frustrating to use with a whole class as a lot of time can be wasted waiting for them to load.
      Our staff is divided in their opinion of ICT use. Some staff members feel that children spend enough time on devices and as such the learning in school should focus on alternatives. Others embrace ICT and use it daily in their classroom. There are also some staff who are not comfortable themselves with ICT and as such don’t use it at all.
      I am unsure of the license that we have in the school if it is equipped for Minecraft, but I will be finding that out when we go back to school.
      In terms of introducing Minecraft in the school, I think I will start to use it with my class and after we have completed some projects on it I will ask other teachers if the children can present their world to other classes. This will hopefully encourage other teachers to use it when they see what can be done with it.

    • #10893
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part 1: The most important criteria for an effective lesson is to ensure it is child led so students can feel ownership over their own work.
      Secondly the lesson should incorporate the 21st Century skills so that students can become competent in these skills when moving into their careers.
      The lessons should encompass a wide range of subjects from the curriculum. This alongside a theme can make learning more relatable and fun for students.
      Also, lessons should allow for individual creativity with the success criteria. This links in with the first point on the lesson being child led. Students will feel a sense of ownership and pride in their work when given the opportunity to be creative. Some students may need some guidance to be given their journey of creativity.
      Lastly, the lessons should cater for all needs and abilities within the classroom. Minecraft lessons can be very inclusive when implemented correctly. Students can work at their own pace.

      Part 2: Unfortunately, we don’t have access to Microsoft 365, this is something we would have to purchase. I would have to speak to management about this decision. We currently have a computer room with 3 desktop computers. Within each classroom we have a class laptop and iPad. There may be access to MacBook’s. We also have interactive whiteboards in each class and a portable whiteboard.
      If I were to implement Minecraft to my classroom I would download it onto the class laptop and allow students who have computer skills to access it during downtime or work for it as a reinforcer. I could also have a group and display Minecraft on the interactive whiteboard. It also may interest older students in the school. Assembly time might be a good opportunity to allow students to spark interest it and also engage in the lesson in an interactive way.

      • #10975
        Pat BrennanPat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Sandra,
        Whilst, students will need an Office 365 account to access and use Minecraft EE, that does not necessarily mean you have to purchase licenses for O365 just MEE licenses will suffice. This does not mean that all students have to start using other Office 365 apps, you can pick and choose what other apps (if any) you give access to. As your school does not have Office 365 already setup, you can start an Office 365 Education trial. This lasts 30 days, and during that time, you must attach school domain to prove eligibility. Once eligible the standard version of Office 365 is free. Importantly, attaching a domain, does not mean that you have to start using Office 365 for email, you can continue using your current email solution…

    • #11465
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part One:
      Criteria for an effective lesson in Minecraft Education.

      The learning should be child led.
      Collaboration is key (with roles and responsibilities clearly defined and agreed upon by the group).
      Mixed ability groups (attainment wise and in relation to Minecraft experience). A child with high attainment in school may not necessarily by the child that is most adept at Minecraft and vice versa. Learning from each others prior knowledge and peer based support is essential.
      Numerous curricular areas should be incorporated.
      The incorporation of 21st century skills should be an integral part of an effective lesson as outlined in the Microsoft 21CLD Student Work Rubrics.
      Pupils should be encouraged to experiment, trouble shoot and problem solve together.
      Pupils should experience success.
      Finally, and most importantly, it should be fun 🙂

      Part Two:
      We are an all boys school of approximately 140 students.
      Our school has invested heavily in ICT over the last number of years.
      We have Smart boards in all classrooms. We have a class set of laptops in a wheeled charging case for use. These laptops do need to be replaced in my view as they are quite old.
      We have a class set of iPads.
      We decided on a digital strategy and each class has specific targets (apps they will become familiar with, projects they will complete).
      We have a set of Beebots.
      We have invested in microbits and Lego We do kits.
      We have also taken part in the VEX robotics competition and we have 2 robotics kits.
      We have completed numerous ICT CPD in school and personally over the years and I believe that teachers in our school are open to learning how to use technology more in their classroom. We also have good peer support.
      Our school does not use Office 365 however I would be interested in looking at the standalone subscription to Minecraft Education. I would like to see it introduced in the senior classes, possibly 4th and 5th class, so they could have a number of years to use it.
      I would like to float the idea of Minecraft Education to my principal then approach the class teachers if it is agreed that it would be something of interest for our school.
      I would also like to introduce Dreamspace to the other teachers, particularly as it was delivered online (it would be an awfully long bus journey for us).

    • #12091
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part one: The criteria for an effective lesson in Minecraft education.

      A successful lesson in Minecraft would be achieved over a series of lessons, most likely as a project as opposed to a single stand-alone lesson. Minecraft is so detailed and cross-curricular, that a single lesson would not do it justice.

      These lessons should contain elements of the following:

      • Be hands on (all pupils have a chance to contribute to the project)
      • Encourage collaboration => all pupils have a shared responsibility within their group.
      • Be accessible and appropriately challenging for all children => Low Threshold, High Ceiling
      • The pupils should enjoy researching and doing the project. They should feel a sense of pride and achievement when they have completed their project and that they have learned something.
      • Be cross-curricular – not only linking the various subjects, but affording children with different interests to contribute to the best of their ability.
      • Teacher is the springboard for the project, but the pupils are the trains that drive it forwards. => teacher does not need to have all the answers and the group itself has to solve problems, overcome obstacles and make its own decisions. (Self-regulation)
      • Be Flexible => the teacher challenges, but the pupils are the ones who interpret it, mould it and bring it to a successful completion
      • Be interesting and draw the learner in – as a result, projects will vary from year to year depending on the interests and abilities of each individual class and on what is happening in the world around them (real world problems/start points).
      • Be manageable for the class teacher => to start off with too big/complicated a project will lead to frustration on all sides. Although the teacher should step into the background and be a facilitator, she will still be called upon to help and guide and if there are too many unanswered questions/hurdles, frustration will happen all round. Start simple, build up everybody’s confidence, add new twists in after each successful project. It is very likely that some pupils will know more than the class teacher, but if the teacher keeps pulling the knowledgeable pupils away from their own projects to help other pupils, then this could lead to resentment.

      Part two:
      We are a vertical school with 16 classes and a computer teacher (this year will see his job description change greatly. At the moment, it is envisaged that he will be supporting the teachers to provide computer lessons to the children in the building, and support the teachers providing an online curriculum to remote pupils). We have 30 touch screen laptops which are timetabled across the classes. We have a set of older laptops which can be used for extra project work outside of our set times.
      Each classroom has a visualiser – we chose not to install interactive whiteboards (and I am quite happy with this decision personally).
      Each teacher has their own laptop. We use the Primary Planning Tool for our yearly plans and monthly reports.
      The level of interest and usage of teachers varies – as a result, the same holds for the pupils. CPD is needed and necessary, but often it is the teachers who are already interested and invested in technology who attend these courses and push for more ICT in the school. On a positive note though, some teachers who may be overwhelmed by technology are open to team teaching and will swap subjects to ensure their pupils experience a full ICT curriculum. Our computer teacher plays a huge role in this, helping and enabling each class teacher according to his/her ability or interest.
      The pupils from 3rd upwards have been set up on Microsoft Teams which we got to grips with during lockdown. The Senior Infants used SeeSaw, and as a result of the success of this, the boys from infants to second class will be enrolled in it this year.
      Zoom, Loom, Aladdin, Epic, ThatQuiz, Kahoot, Hour of Code, class blogs and Accelerated Reading are used regularly within our school. I had hoped to push for BeeBots last year, but unfortunately Covid happened and the way things are now, to be able to successfully introduce them, I will need to wait until we go back to our ‘old normal’
      I’m unsure as to whether or not we will be introducing Minecraft education this year. I am currently teaching Senior Infants – I joined this course because I wanted to know more about Minecraft and what my boys were talking about (Some of my reluctant writers happily wrote Minecraft stories based on their favourite characters). I was also using the Minecraft theme in Hour of Code and again, was interested in knowing more. At least I will understand what the boys are talking about and possibly introduce
      Swapping with older classes to introduce it this year probably won’t happen, but in time, I definitely think it would be worthwhile to introduce it in the near (and safe) future.

    • #12615
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part 1: Discuss what the criteria are for an effective lesson in Minecraft Education:

      The most important criteria for an effective lesson is that the learning is child led. The children should take ownership of their project. They should be working in a creative space exploring their imaginative sides. Children will use their problem-solving skills to overcome these and continue creating. The lessons should be collaborative in nature with the children working together to create their worlds. If there is a shortage of technology in the room, the collaborative work can take place whereby the children rotate between builder/researcher/designer. The effective lesson will also be cross curricular in nature.

      Part 2: Discuss your school’s current level of ICT. Make reference to teacher use, student use, hardware, digital content, and school emphasis on integrating ICTs into teaching and learning. Is your school equipped for Minecraft education and how might you introduce it?

      Our school has invested heavily in ICT over the past few years. We are part of a cluster project and have used our financing to purchase laptops as well as Minecraft licences and other coding software e.g. Beebots/Microbits/Crumbles/iZak 9s. The cluster class is currently entering 6th class and the classes from 4th upwards have had exposure to various elements of coding. All children also have Office 365 accounts which has enabled the older children to gain skills in Word/Excel/PowerPoint. The ongoing issue we have is that our digital team currently consists of two teachers and this can cause timing issues when trying to introduce the younger students to the resources that are available. CPD for all staff on the resources available to the school is imperative going forward. Minecraft was introduced to the students in two 5th classes in March of this year but will be reintroduced in September.

      • #12760
        Pat BrennanPat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Celine,
        It appears your school are doing very well with regards to the uptake and use of ICT to enhance teaching and learning experiences. I used the Izak 9s in the past two years myself and found them to be an excellent resource for developing 21st century skills. They are expensive though and it would be great if they were a little less costly for schools to purchase and use regularly. Yes continuing to introduce staff to new resources and upskilling staff is so important, especially with the rate that new technologies are being created. It’s brilliant to hear that your students are using the Office 365 accounts regularly. In our school we have a Digital Committee with about 8-10 of us on it. we meet regularly to discuss ICT in the school and this greatly improves our ability to share expertise or help others with new technologies.

    • #13410
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part one: Discuss what the criteria are for an effective lesson in Minecraft education.
      Firstly I think it is important that IT has a key role and function in the school and that it is embedded in the school community. It survives where it thrives. The children will have the advantage of knowing Minecraft and while I introduce it to them, I am sure that I will be the student more than the teacher. However, that’s the beauty of it because it will be child-centred and child-led. The children will enjoy the trust and freedom to explore this resource in class and I know from experience that they will be thoroughly engaged and excited learners, what better way to learn really. They will have prior knowledge in most cases and engage in meaningful discussions and make connections to their life and their friends life. It will be a safe environment and a great way to learn.

      • #13499
        Pat BrennanPat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Clare,
        You are right in saying that , fundamentally, IT will need to be well embedded in the class that are using the Minecraft Education. In saying that, Students are pretty savvy with IT interfaces and i have found that those who are not so familiar with Minecraft Education soon learn the controls with practice. As you have said, the child-centered approach is so important to the design of an effective lesson in this. This will result in the students needing to collaborate and brainstorm ideas in order to complete the task.

    • #13422
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Discuss your schools current level of ICT. Make reference to teacher use, student use, hardware, digital content and school emphasis on integrating ICTs into teaching and learning. Is your school equipped for Minecraft education and how might you introduce it.

      Our school currently has 15 Laptops on a trolley. I run the afterschool computer club and have a huge interest in IT and it’s importance in schools.
      While the Digital learning Framework is not implemented in my school, I did undertake the process myself as part of an assignment I was doing on a college course and I found it very valuable. Initially I sought to gather information from the staff members but there was little buy in. To be fair schools are often initiative overloaded so this was a contributing factor. With a deadline looming I changed my focus to the other stakeholders in the school, the children. The were incredible and really embraced the exercise. I integrated it in my maths lesson on Data and they helped me to outline the various stages of gathering and collecting data. The children really enjoyed putting the questionnaire together and asking the other classes to participate in the survey. The feedback was great and the children really wanted to see a greater use of and training in IT in the school. I found the experience to be very enlightening and rewarding. True it was to fulfil a college task but I got so much for experiencing implementing the Digital Learning Framework and I really saw the benefit of involving the children because sometimes they really do know best.
      Broadband was a big issue for us but it has improved. Hopefully now that Covid has driven us to online learning, we will invest more in the school with IT. While we have a limited number of laptops we do have very good ICT equipment in the school and IWB’s. I hope to bring back my learning experience and show the school the possibly of using Minecraft in our school. I am sure I will be supported with this.

      • #13510
        Pat BrennanPat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Clare,
        this is a great approach to assessing the use of ICT in the school. In my own school we formed a Digital Committee of volunteers and we, as a group used the DLF to assess our use of ICT. But, as you have said, the children’s input is also very important when it comes to this reflection as they are the people who it should effect. You mentioned how there was not very much buy in from other staff. Maybe it would be worthwhile setting up a Digital Committee of volunteers at some stage this year. Considering the current climate there might be some more interest in the coming year. I know that it has greatly improved our schools organisation, CPD and assessment of our use of ICT.

    • #14011
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part one: (100 words) Discuss what the criteria are for an effective lesson in Minecraft education.

      An effective lesson in Minecraft Education should include:
      – group work – with clearly defined roles and responsibilities that are rotated among the members.
      – pupil ownership of the project , guided by the teacher.
      – use of 21st century skills including collaboration, problem solving, ICT literacy and research methodology.
      – linkage between curriculum subjects, e.g Maths, History, Geography and English.
      – an opportunity to open the pupils to an imaginative and creative space.
      – publication of their work maybe during school assembly or open days.

      Part two (100- 150 words): Discuss your schools current level of ICT. Make reference to teacher use, student use, hardware, digital content and school emphasis on integrating ICTs into teaching and learning. Is your school equipped for Minecraft education and how might you introduce it.

      I work in a rural school. Fibre was just connected shortly before lockdown. Each classroom have either an interactive whiteboard or projector. We;ve just been informed that these will be upgraded to Clevertouch 75 inch interactive screens for the new school year.
      Each teacher has a laptop and online resources are used during lessons e.g. Bua na Cainte, Above the Clouds and Jolly Phonics. Internet access is available for GoNoodle etc.
      There are 30 refurbished laptops in the school which are shared between classes. Not all 30 of them work consistently. We are looking at trying to upgrade the equipment for the pupils.
      There are some pupils that use tablets/ipads as assisstive technology. There are three ipads used in SET and the ASD classroom.
      I inquired about the software package that we have in school, we do not have an A3 or A5 licence. We need an Office 365 tenant to be able to request a quote for the addition of Minecraft licences. I will follow this up when I get back to school. Due to the current Covid-19 situation my ASD class may not be able to have inclusion in mainstream class and I feel that incorporating their learning across the curriculum with Minecraft education may be highly motivating for them.

    • #14700
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Criteria for an effective lesson in Minecraft Education.
      The children need to have some sort of understanding of the features of Minecraft Education. They should have a few preparatory lessons in using Minecraft, even if it’s just a station during another lesson , such as, English or maths depending what your lesson focus will be. The lesson should be laid out in clear segments of time and maybe a whiteboard time used to help with task completion. It is very easy to get carried away so a lesson outline should be given out. A print out or lesson roadmap should be given to all students and a more detailed key or explainer given to children with additional needs. A checklist for tasks completed should be ticked and given to the teacher from each group at the end of the lesson.

      The school I am teaching in was founded in 2003 and had been in a temporary building previously. Like all growing schools the emphasis is on gathering base materials and technology, so the resources are scarce. Each class has a projector with only two classes have a Promethian Interactive Whiteboard. All teachers including support have a laptop that they use with a projector . There are children who have laptops as assistive technology but these are not used in groups they are for personal use only. There are 4 iPads that are used I the junior classes . Teachers are using Twinkl as a resource provided by the school and of course Seesaw was used this year. Some coding was taught by one teacher who is proficient and this was used in a withdraw setting. Teachers encourage the use of technology in the school and CPD training has been accessed. In-school in-service in technology and assessment was provided and this has been very useful. Hopefully as resources develop and the school becomes more established the technology will grow and the children will have access to more learning apps like Minecraft Education. In so far as using Minecraft Education in the school , there is a tech company that manages the school internet and devices. Any tech queries we have must go through this company which means we cannot upload anything without going through them. This is handy in some respects because you don’t need to be technology proficient yourself.

      • #14956
        Pat BrennanPat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Louise,
        It sounds like your school has made good progress towards setting up good technology in the school. The fact that you cannot upload things without running through the tech company must be frustrating at times. However, Like you say, it is better to have someone overseeing installation in the long run as it will ensure that the devices are all protected and running smoothly. Glad to hear that you have had some in school CPD for the teachers. I think that new concepts and new technologies being introduced often take time and people can sometimes be reluctant to start. This is one of the biggest challenges that staff face when it comes to introducing technology. Regular CPD and a whole school approach to improving this is very importnat.

    • #15860
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part 1.

      An effective lesson using Minecraft education, as with any lesson should firstly stimulate interest and excitement for knowledge and learning. It should enable students to develop their skills for 21st century learning: to work collaboratively, construct their own knowledge, incorporate real world problem solving through play and fun whilst also providing a challenge that is appropriate to each students level. Low threshold high ceiling tasks such as can be provided through gaming create a student centred environment where they can self -regulate. In terms of the best usage of teaching/classroom time I believe that a Minecraft lesson needs to incorporate a number of curricular areas. SPHE- developing communication and interpersonal skills through collaborative learning, history, geography or science topics, and visual art seem to work very well together in many of the online lesson samples I have seen. I think taking a local history or geography project where students can transfer real world experiences into an online world makes it even more relevant to their own lives and providing a sense of ownership of learning.

      Part 2.

      Over the last four years the school and parents association embarked on a large scale fundraiser for ICT in our school. The main focus was the upgrading of our network. Moving from on site server to cloud based storage, purchase of 30 iPads and refurbishment of our computer room. We also had support from industry who donated previously used laptops for the teachers in 2014. These are slow and out of date at this point. In 2019 the school purchased Office 365 licences for teachers. We have only stared using these accounts consistently since March 2020 and our laptops are struggling with Microsoft Teams. Minecraft has not been used previously. The focus has been on iPads and app usage until recently. We have approximately 12 desktops in the computer room which are functioning but now need to be replaced and almost all 14 teaching staff need new laptops/desktop and training in Office 365.

      There are varying levels of engagement with ICT by school staff. Training was strongly requested during the upgrades but has been limited. I would love to get some more Office 365 licences for senior students and some new desktops for our computer room. There is interest and willingness for this at admin level in our school so I’m hopeful that we can more towards less app based usage from middle school upwards.

      • #15926
        Pat BrennanPat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Avril,
        I agree that making the lesson engaging and interesting for the students is very important. Also, as you have said, designing a child centered lesson where the students have the opportunity to be creative and make their own decisions is very important.
        It is great that the school made the decision to begin collecting funds and investing in ICT a number of years ago. The up keep and maintanance of laptops is costly and difficult. I think it is essential that the school invests in good quality laptops and frequently wipes and updates the software. If the laptops are of a good spec and they are updating frequently then they should last. In our school, when we purchase new laptops for the staff, we use the old ones as student laptops. We are lucky to have an in school IT support that keeps everything working smoothly.I would recommend that the focus is put on updating current staff laptops first before rolling out Office 365 with students.

    • #16034
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Thanks for the advice Kevin, I will definitely be pushing for laptop upgrades this year.

    • #16526
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Part one : Criteria for an effective lesson in Minecraft education
      •Creative and child led – Pupils are actively involved in a process of knowledge construction and skill development with the teacher acting as a facilitator. Pupils should be provided with an opportunity to explore their own imaginations, to be creative and to express themselves. It is imperative that the students develop a sense of ownership over the project or assigned task.
      • Development of 21st century skills – The lesson should incorporate the 21st century skills of collaboration, knowledge construction, self regulation, real world problem solving and innovation, use of ICT and skilled communication. As teachers we must equip pupils with the skills necessary to function as active, responsible and social beings as they progress through primary, secondary and third level education and eventually join the workforce.
      •Integration – Meaningful integration will allow pupils to transfer concepts and skills across a number of subject areas and to develop and refine these further. Making connections across several curricular will facilitate maximum teaching and learning.
      •Differentiation – In adopting the ‘low threshold high ceiling’ model, learning is made accessible to all whilst also providing natural extension opportunities.

      Part two : My school’s current level of ICT.
      We are a developing rural school, with three classrooms of multigrade. In designing our school vision and crest, we highlighted four core values, the second of which is that “We uphold high expectations for effort and performance in our learning and develop skills for the 21st century.”

      All mainstream classrooms are equipped with ultrashort throw projectors and smartboard IWBs. There are 6 pupil PCs at the back of each classroom and another in the SET room. Each class has 3 ipads with a fourth shared device available.

      Pupils from 2nd to 6th class have access to school office 365 accounts and use one drive as their e-portfolio for digital projects. In preparation for a safe return to school this September, the parents of infants and 1st class will also be given access to office 365 accounts to facilitate the sharing of teaching and learning materials.

      Senior pupils are learning to code using scratch 3.0 while all pupils from infants to 6th class create videos using ipads.
      Pupils from 1st-6th utilise a variety of online learning tools throughout the school week including Quizlet, read theory and typing club.

      A school website and twitter is used to share positive reports and accounts of teaching and learning while Aladdin School management system allows for the tracking of pupil data and assessments as well as secure communication with parents.

      I absolutely believe we are equipped for Minecraft education and am hoping to introduce this in the next year or two. I am the infant teacher at present but 4th – 6th class will be trialing lego education in the coming school year.

    • #16675
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      -Part one: (100 words) Discuss what the criteria are for an effective lesson in Minecraft education.
      In order for a lesson to be effective in Minecraft education it is important that the following elements are present.
      Agreed parameters and rules need to be agreed with the children in relation to using the Minecraft Education World for learning.
      Respect and collaboration amongst the students in their groups
      Defined roles for the children
      Allowing the children to explore and create in a safe space where they can learn from their mistakes and failure and call upon their group to solve problems and work through bugs they may come up.
      Knowledge of the commands and functions in Minecraft need to be taught in order for the the students to navigate through the Worlds
      21st Century skills – using technology and game based learning to enhance their holistic skills.
      The teacher is important in the aspect of aiding and giving guidance and direction to the students for their projects or subject learning in Minecraft Education.

      -Part two (100- 150 words): Discuss your schools current level of ICT. Make reference to teacher use, student use, hardware, digital content and school emphasis on integrating ICTs into teaching and learning. Is your school equipped for Minecraft education and how might you introduce it.

      In my school, we are still at the fledgling stage in relation to Digital learning. A lot has been accomplished in relation to the infrastructure over the past year to year and a half.
      We finally saw the introduction of a Wi-fi network in early 2019 which then allowd us to introduce tablets into the schools and the classes.
      We also introduced Microsoft 365 into the school last year in September 2019 (after a lot of behind the scenes work by myself, assigning accounts and setting up MS Teams during the Summer months)
      The advent of the school closures helped to bring MS 365 and Teams into practice with teachers using it to communicate and collaborate in class groups and as a whole staff)
      The students are using the tablets but not in a cohesive manner and or in a whole school way.
      With Microsoft’s Minecraft Education I would see a huge potential for the students to use this medium to experience a more immersive way at looking at and enhancing their school based offline learning in a creative way that uses this medium of GBL to give the students the all important 21 century digital skills.
      I would hope to roll out teacher tutorials to show them the value of using Minecraft Education in the classroom with the children.

      I would say we are equipped to introduce ME but there needs to be more teachers in the school willing to use the medium for teaching their students using Game based learning and MS Minecraft Education.

      • #17676
        Pat BrennanPat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Ronan,
        it is crazy that in this day and age, some schools are only able to obtain decent Wi-Fi in the past year. This is a clear example of the lack of investment from Department in our schools. It is great to hear that you and your colleagues were able to get everything up and running in such a short period of time. Yes, I agree, using ME successfully in class requires the teacher having a lot of experience using it. They do not need to be experts but a considerable amount of CPD is required. In our staff, we have a number of teachers who have taken part in CPD in ME and they are using it now in their classrooms, without this CPD these teachers might not have considered using ME before. I would advice you to take small steps with introducing ME to your staff. It can be very overbearing as there is so much to learn with it. Perhaps carrying out a shared project with another class teacher who is interested in using it would be a good start.

    • #17762
      Pat BrennanPat Brennan
      Course Facilitator

      Hi Kevin,
      I agree, I was fighting to have Wi-fi for a few years in the school but the previous principal didn’t want to have it installed and the BOM wanted to install an inferior quality system a few years back that eventually got put on the back burner.
      It was only after doing the Digital Framework training that the principal saw the importance of having Wi-fi!
      Thanks for the advice. I will probably try and get some interested teachers on board and then partner with them. Since doing the course, I have been doing the MS Minecraft training to keep things fresh in my mind.
      Thanks again for a great course.

      • #18523
        Pat BrennanPat Brennan
        Course Facilitator

        Hi Ronan,
        It is crazy that decent internet connections are not prioritized by some schools even today. Glad you have yours up and running anyway. I have been thinking of running a project with different classes from around the country using Minecraft in the coming year. I think quiet a few of you might be interested in it so I will keep in touch over the coming months. Glad you enjoyed the course.

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