Tag Archives: coding

Creative Mode

My Minecraft Inquiry is now well underway. I still have a lot to learn but we are definitely making progress with MinecraftEdu. I’ve discovered that we achieve more in Creative Mode and that border blocks help students to build in the same location. Our unit of inquiry is almost complete and then I will begin the process of compiling a video for my Coetail Course 5 Project.

Our new school so far!

I realised I have had to learn a lot of new vocabulary quickly. Students are already familiar with Minecraft which left us teachers new to Minecraft constantly researching definitions. I decided a MinecraftEdu glossary aimed at beginner educators would be a useful addition to my Minecraft Inquiry blog.

Throughout the Minecraft lessons the students helped to create an assessment rubric. Student suggestions are listed below which we then constructed into a rubric.Assessment tips

The students identified a range of skills required to be successful in our Minecraft Inquiry including face-to-face social skills as well as ‘in game’ social skills. They also felt it was important to follow the plan and recognised that this was related to staying on task.

Students identified cooperation and kindness as key Minecraft skills.

As in all aspects of education, the more time and effort I put into the Minecraft lessons the more the students get out of them. I have now scheduled an hour’s set up for each lesson where I just explore the world, check on student buildings, and prepare any assignments or additions for the lesson. This has really helped me to understand the expectations for each student for every lesson, which in turn helps students to be successful with clear guidelines.

My Initial Observations

Student engagement in MinecraftEdu is staggering. Every student is completely focused on their task for every minute of the lesson. Every single lesson ends with disappointment when the students realize they have to stop working. This level of student interest is remarkable and motivates me to consider how else I can integrate MinecraftEdu into our curriculum.

One minute warning: What already? #MinecraftEdu the fastest hour of the day #coetail#minecraft

— Amanda (@ALMcCloskey) February 23, 2016

The social and thinking skills that the students are developing are incredibly beneficial.  Elena Malykhina discusses in ‘The Scientific American’ the impact that digital games can have in education. The challenge for teachers is trying to find the time to assess how to best utilize these resources. Hopefully my ‘Minecraft Inquiry‘ will support other teachers hoping to incorporate MinecraftEdu in an inquiry classroom.

A Mid-Year Tech Review

As I am approaching the half-way point of our school year I want to assess my ‘Tech Targets’ to review my plans for the remainder of the school year.

Flipped Learning

The Flipped Learning Model is a practical way for teachers to maximize class time. The excellent Flipped Classroom Infographic by knewton.com provides an easy way to see the benefits. This is a useful tool for front loading information and allowing students to prepare questions in advance.

In an inquiry-based PYP classroom I rarely prepare lectures for my class. I want to be part of their learning journey to assess prior knowledge, address misconceptions and plan the next day of learning depending on student understanding and ideas. However, using video reminders after a lesson has been very useful. I decided to design my own infographic, based on Knewton’s, to target the specific needs of my flipped classroom.

Below is an example of how I have begun to put these ideas into practice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wC7ACLOrNL8  (video no longer available)


Every now and then in education you stumble across something that has a big impact in the classroom. Kahoot.it is a simple idea and very easy to use. It is attractive, fun, engaging and has seeped into all curriculum areas of our classroom.

Kahoot excitement to liven up a shape quiz on a Thursday afternoon #sislearns #kahoot pic.twitter.com/b3kt4YcagI

— Amanda (@ALMcCloskey) October 15, 2015

My class are constantly requesting more Kahoot quizzes. We even have our own style of chair dancing emerging thanks to the catchy tunes. If you haven’t tried Kahoot yet I recommend it!

Minecraft Mania

It is clear that Minecraft is currently a major influence on primary-aged children. The excitement of even mentioning a mine, and the many conversations in class that can be related to Minecraft is impressive. I first saw it used in the classroom by @donovanhallnz in 2013 and began to realise the potential of Minecraft. I now feel ready to launch an ECA and have just received approval for site licenses and a server. My research has now begun and I have found some excellent information on some coetail blogs including @davidc, @wayfaringpath @chezvivian, @holtspeak. My new project awaits!

Image from Flickr by Mike Cooke

The Shifting Definition of Teaching

As I am approaching almost 2 decades of teaching I am able to reflect on a shift in my role as a teacher. In my early career in London my role was to ‘share knowledge’ and although we sometimes ‘looked something up in the dictionary together’ (just to model how of course) I was perceived by my students as the expert in all areas. When I began teaching the IB PYP in 2001, my perceptions of myself as an educator were challenged. I began to adjust to an increasingly student-centered, concept-driven, inquiry based approach. Perhaps I didn’t need all of the answers to be an effective teacher.

Now, as a teacher attempting to utilize all of the advantages that technology has to offer in my classroom, I find I am definitely not the expert. I am learning continually: sharing, copying, modeling, trying, retrying, listening and reviewing different approaches. For the first time in my career, my students are able to discover things with me, and teach me. ‘Miss, why don’t we do it this way?’ has become one of my favourite questions in the classroom. I am constantly impressed with how quickly young students can utilize new tools, apps and programmes experimenting and sharing their knowledge instantly.

Not a solitary activity!

A spontaneous sharing of ideas. Photo from my Code Club activity this week.

This sharing of knowledge and expertise is having a hugely positive impact on what is happening in my classroom. The connection of like-minded educators around the globe is an outstanding, never ending resource, of new ideas and approaches. As we all try to accommodate the ever evolving technological advances around us, we are able to help, assist, develop and offer practical suggestions for adapting these in the classroom. This connecting and building on knowledge extends the expertise of teachers like never before.

This shift in learning within a digital community is being discussed as a new learning theory.

“Siemens and Downes initially received increasing attention in the blogosphere in 2005 when they discussed their ideas concerning distributed knowledge.  An extended discourse has ensued in and around the status of ‘connectivism’ as a learning theory for the digital age.”

Rita Kop and Adrian Hill

Connectivism: Learning theory of the future or vestige of the past? 2008

 Although the authors conclude that connectivism is not a learning theory in it’s own right they do acknowledge that connectivism:

“Continues to play an important role in the development and emergence of new pedagogies, where control is shifting from the tutor to an increasingly more autonomous learner.”

It seems that the role of the student is also shifting. They are no longer ’empty vessels’ waiting to be filled with knowledge. Technology has enabled them to become contributors and creators in their own learning. The excellent ‘Blooms Digital Taxonomy‘, by Andrew Churches, attempts to incorporate this new digital learning style to facilitate learning. He also discusses the importance of teachers setting the example in their practice:

To prepare our students, our teaching should also model collaboration.

Andrew Churches

Churches provides practical examples of what being creative is currently like digitally, including coding, filming, animating, videocasting, directing, producing, video logging etc. All great practical suggestions of how we can try to encompass the modification and redefinition stages of the SAMR model, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura (explained briefly below by Candace M).

As teachers we are at a compelling time in education. Incorporating endless new technologies to prepare our students for an ever-changing world. Luckily, our connections mean that we’re not alone. Even our youngest students can help us to create this. And whilst we tackle this task of the future we should remember some wise words from the past:


 Schools of Tomorrow, 1915