With that in mind, and using the popular app Popplet, I put together some ideas about how it's potential could be maximised.
A photo of their 'working at home' display can be seen here:
However, as with many things, it was sometime before the app was purchased, installed and ready to go.
This week marked that moment, as year 5 embarked on 'Minecraft day'. A day filled with Minecraft activities. Some creating written work, some paving the way for future writing and others revisiting maths skills based on ideas discovered via twitter: http://mrparkinsonict.blogspot.com/2014/02/minecraft-maths.html
Our first lesson of the day saw us taking our first class venture into the retro-esque style of Minecraft. However, rather than simply play the game, children were asked to document their experience in note form. They were asked to imagine themselves as a pioneer or marooned adventurer having to make do in an unknown landscape. Their ideas to later be turned into a diary of their exploits.
Examples of the notes taken:
The following day, the children used their notes to create diary entries in the style of an explorer who suddenly found themselves in an unknown land. The entire class were focused and engaged with the task, and were able to produce high quality pieces of work, many to a greater standard than they would have ordinarily produced. Here are some extracts from the children's writing:
Confused, I looked around wondering where I was. Eventhough, it was boiling hot I was freezing cold. Following this, I let out a blood curdling scream saying "WHERE AM I"?!. After that, I looked at a formidble tree( it was like an angel). As I punched through the everlasting tree I punched the last piece of wood and made some wooden planks. Then, I got to work on building house ,which was really small '. Then I made some tools such as pickaxe and a axe. As, night got near I panicked . I slowly paced around the dispicabaly small room wondering if I'd survive the night. Just as it was midnight a slithering spider crawled through the doors and in to my house. I killed the spider then heard the dead of the night groan 9 aka zombie). It was howling like there was no tomorrow. At one point I got annoyed and I was like a furocius beast as I cut of his head.
Day dawned ' wich was thankfull' and I peered outside with my groggy eyes. I went in to the sea ( just down the hill) and washed my face. However, when I went home I felt an urge of bravery. Qucikly, I ran back down to the sea and jumped. Swimming to a little block, I looked at the amazing view. Dusk fell and I darted back home (so that I wouldn't get attacked). Cautiusly, I opened the door incase ny monsters had gotten in. Luckily there was sheep all around so I made some shears and sheared the sheep. I made a bed and slept so I didnt have to face the monstrus devils.
Spontaneously, my feet skimmed across the dirt. Panicking, I went on a long scavenge, which was utterly easy, mainly for wood. Sprinting, (too fast) I slipped and SPLASH! “Help! anyone there?” Into a deep, flowing lake I fell. Luckily, my hand gripped onto the terrain therefore it was time for me to climb out. Meanwhile, a timid farm animal squelched through the field in front of me. However, I didn’t want to hurt it. Due to this, I turned for the top of a mountain so I could build my shelter (made of tree bark) Devistated and distraught, night swept in at the speed of a racing car. Even though, I hadn't managed to find any food I had certainly managed to sleep well.
Petrified and confused i looked slowly around the unknown world. Quickly, i saw some blocks of wood therefore i sprinted to collect it for shelter and fire. Moreover, still panicking i started to biuld a house for shelter, which was made out of wood. Another thing, it was nearly night time terrified i seen a black spider, who had red eyes, was howling like then wind! Suddenly, a wolf(which was barking ouitside my door) was waiting for food. Following this, it was pitch black however hearing despicable howling growns in the distance.
There are many more examples in the pupils personal website section of the class blog: http://5tanfieldlea.weebly.com/1/category/curriculum-pupil-personal-webpages/1.html
Our second lesson was based on the excellent ideas found at http://mrparkinsonict.blogspot.com/2014/02/minecraft-maths.html.
Using a class expert to guide us into creation mode, we looked at how we could create rectangles quickly using the in game resources. Then by taking a screen grab and importing it into PicCollage (see more on PicCollage here: http://5tanfieldlea.weebly.com/1/post/2013/10/piccollage-moving-beyond-posters.html) we commented on the shapes perimeter, area and ratios contained within. Some of the children were able to simplify their ratios to the simpliest form using their knowledge of factors. This proved a fun activity to revisit a skill we needed to keep fresh in our minds burg without the need for good old fashioned worksheets.
Here are just some examples but many more can be found on the main section of the blog at http://5tanfieldlea.weebly.com
More Minecraft Literacy.
Our afternoon focused on creating an information text. At first, we examined some pages from the ever so popular books and annotated the features we could see. We used this to build a checklist of what we needed in our own work. We then set about using PicCollage to create our own information page on a different Minecraft creature.
Here are some examples:
It was also an excellent opportunity to flip the tables, giving some children the chance to be the expert - A role that they may not normally take. Some children, who wouldn't normally feel confident enough to do so, were happy to lead the class, giving examples of how to complete activities on the class whiteboard. Great for building their confidence and developing their speaking and listening skills.
My advice would be - Give Minecraft a go!