Friday, 18 September 2015

Reflections by Teachers - 2014

Research Question:
What happens when students use Minecraft to work collaboratively?






This is a copy and paste of the reflections taken at the time of the project to keep them in the same place for future reference. Mostly in note form, this 'in the moment' evidence has captured some of the great learning that took place during this project. These reflections are also attached to the end of the respective blogs e,g, Week 1, Week etc...



Please make a brief reflection each week on ANYTHING that you have noticed about the students interactions in the game or in the classroom.


Some reflection ideas are:


·         Descriptions of events and interactions in the classroom
·         Quotations, phrases, conversations
·         Surprising, confusing events or statements
·         Reflections on observations, tentative theories, assumptions
·         Thoughts about the teaching and learning process — what’s working, what isn’t
·         Ideas about teaching


Week 1 reflections from Danny
The class was engaged and very enthusiastic to begin this journey. There were a good range of skills within the class from beginners through to more advanced students and it was really great to see that they had been put into groups that contained a mixture of levels where the more advanced students assisted those who were less knowledgeable. The verbal communication both through normal conversation and the in-built chat was very positive and lively. Problem solving and positive collaboration was evident throughout the session as well as compromise when there were differing opinions. The first session felt good, a good sense of community and a positive sense of “let’s get going”. It was also great to have individuals explain things to the rest of the class utilising the data projector and the tutor machine, the students seemed to enjoy this and it gave them some involvement and ownership of the learning.



Week 1 reflections from Carl
Really pleased with the thinking that went on in the pre-session in class and the session today. Lots of debate in class about what to build first. Original brainstorm below. There were a number of students involved in putting forward their opinion. One hot topic was ‘Which should come first, the supermarket or the farm?’




Other issues included who was going to decided where you should build. As a group we chose our top ten ‘First Builds’ and then agreed to add other builds later on. There was talk of a council that would need to be created in order to make decisions about new projects. An amazingly positive feel about the room as students explored their new world. One student used the message feature to tell her build group “guys, I think I have found the perfect site for our beach!”. Two students used the big screen to share some skills for new minecrafters. Students had previously placed themselves on spectrum of confidence in using minecraft. This data was used to create mixed minecraft ability groups . Several students brought their Minecraft handbooks along. One student shared their bridge creation at the end of the lesson. Biggest problem was being able to capture the conversations between the students. I will seek out a solution for next session. A fantastic opening day! Every students is keen to use the printed map and sort out the final sites for the first builds in time for next week. Feedback on the walk home was “next week can we have some more time to get going on our builds?” Noticeable absence of the word Minecraft in all my conversations leading up to the first session. since the first brainstorm session my students have been talking to me non stop, not about how cool Minecraft is, but about what they are going to do when they create their projects and what kind of problems there might be.




Week 1
Audrey’s Minecraft Reflections


What a super start to this unit!


Interactions within Room 19 were overall very positive.We did stop the class to refer back to their classroom treaty and respecting others and others property.


Conversations are occurring between less able & able students and boy & girl, mainly discussing their ‘build’ possibilities and offers of help and tuition. It is not solely on Minecraft.


One group is building a hospital. They are an able group who are determined to achieve automatic sliding doors using redstone and pressure plates. (An excellent Science extension)


The able users are predominantly boys, perhaps they are more inclined to like Zombies and how to survive against them. However during a conversation with one girl, she knew exactly what she wanted in their sports complex whereas her male buddy was more interested in how to achieve the basketball hopper device.


It is a unique situation where we have 2 trained teachers and an expert Minecrafter but we don’t really know how this unit is going to pan out.
The groups Carl has set seem to be working well with good collaboration happening.
The first session was a ‘stop-starty’ to establish ground rules.


Other possible teaching opportunities:-
  • Use the hospital crew to share/teach others to use redstone and pressure points.
  • Science Unit - create circuits/ electronics
  • Health - Healthy Communities and Environments
    • Societal attitudes and values
    • Identify how health care and physical activity practices are influenced by community and environmental factors.
    • Community resources
    • Participate in communal events and describe how such events enhance the well-being of the community.
    • Rights, responsibilities, and laws
    • Research and describe current health and safety guidelines and practices in their school and take action to enhance their effectiveness.
    • People and the environment
    • Plan and implement a programme to enhance an identified social or physical aspect of their classroom or school environment.
Social Studies - build on the Treaty
    • Understand how groups make and implement rules and laws.
    • Understand how cultural practices vary but reflect similar purposes.
    • Understand how people view and use places differently.
    • Understand how people make decisions about access to and use of resources.
    • Understand how people remember and record the past in different ways.
    • Understand how early Polynesian and British migrations to New Zealand have continuing significance for tangata whenua and communities.
    • Understand how the movement of people affects cultural diversity and interaction in New Zealand.


  • Literacy - learning stories, based your scene on a class novel, create information blocks with URLs


  • Maths - mapping, coordinates  and compass work


Week 2 reflections from Audrey


This week again saw great collaboration between groups and more are using ‘chat ‘ to ask for help, which is great to see.


Padlet is a great idea to capture their goals and reflections. Next lesson will hone in on 3 main Key Competencies and these will be the focus of the goals and reflection padlet.


A situation arose with some able individuals taking the ‘law into their own hands’ and overpowering others work. We understood their intention but the way they went about sorting the problem was not ideal. This situation was them addressed and solved by the whole class.


Speaking to the individuals later - I told them we were impressed at their creativity in building a flame thrower however it was not the best idea for this situation. The class voted on the best solution.


I love having individuals with more knowledge having the ability to share their skill via the large screen for all to learn. Well done Sam and your TNT idea! This sharing approach is one which should be encouraged to empower students, emphasising we are not always the experts!




Week 2 Reflections from Danny


Really enjoyed seeing the progression of collaboration this week. The work that had been done back in the classroom was clearly evident and had a positive effect on how the actual “minecraft”
session went.


I too felt that Padlet was a great tool for the students to get together on, in fact this seemed better than the brainstorming session around the paper printout of the world.


There was more good problem solving on display and it was great to see that decisions could be made as a class in a democratic way that everyone was on board with.


Favourite moment was seeing the students rise to the challenge we had posed as to how to “clear” the land - some very creative solutions were posed and a very good scenario initiated by one  student with all the others in agreement.


Week 3
No class due to athletics


Week 4 Reflections from Danny


Once again the students came in enthusiastic and keen to get moving with building their respective areas within the community. The background work that had been done in the classroom was evident in the preliminary discussion at the start of the session. Everyone seemed to understand and have a good level respect for the terms set out in the treaty that had been agreed to.


Padlet continues to be a useful tool to capture student thoughts, achievements and challenges.


As the building of the world continues, more and more instances occur that require the group to problem solve as a collective. There were several “incidents” that gave rise to useful debate this week, one boy inadvertently poisoned a group of horses causing quite a commotion in the first instance but after discussion the matter was resolved very effectively and in my opinion this has been one of the upsides of this trial - students are forced to deal with all sorts of situations in a rational, calm, manner that will be a very useful skill for the future.


I would still like to see a video log of some kind with the students talking about their work whilst showing it. I am thinking perhaps a session at the end of the build where each student gives a brief tour of the part of the world they had most to do with. This would surely show any observer the level of engagement that is happening with this trial.


Audrey's Reflection week 4
This project has a good Inquiry balance for all involved  – although we had an idea of where it could go , we have discovered situations that we hadn’t given a lot of thought, like potions, money/ trading and beacons, which have raised many issues.  These ideas have resulted in super class discussions and resolutions.
The Key Competencies are at the forefront driving the focus on ‘self’ to set high standards and how to cope with adversity, to think, be curious and creative and  to recognise others views and negotiate a happy outcome.
I love that collaboration has no barriers, boys happily sharing with girls and less able being taught new skills from experienced students. Students sharing their knowledge as a tutor is empowering.
Yes we are using Minecraft but that almost seems a by-product with all the other rich learning, skills and collaboration happening.
I am looking forward to watching/hearing the students self reflection on their builds via video recordings. This will delve into their inner decision making and reasoning.


Danny Week 5 Reflection


Time to consider how things look and how it all links together as a whole in the “Thorrington minecraft community”. Signage and ascetics need to be considered now that the infrastructure is in place. Video feedback worked well but was slower than expected and can’t be replicated on to each machine which is unfortunate as the students were pretty keen to get on board with this mode of reflection. Everyone is getting on well and adhering to the rules in general. Engagement is still high and the work done at school helps a great deal.

Audrey's Reflection week 5
Great to see Anton persevere building his elevator for the 3rd time. He showed true determination to get it functioning with red-stone circuits.
My discussion with the hotel group clarified the difference in hotel levels. Higher levels resulting in better views, better quality and higher costs made them think about their penthouse creation.
The school group have worked hard to clear their area and start their build. It will be interesting how they see their classroom layout  - traditional v modern?
The video trial - good to test as the conversations by the selected students were basic retells of what we could see and not of the decision and negotiations that had taken place to get to that final finished build. *


Thoughts for week 6
KC - thinking about your build and now refine it. Be creative, perhaps add something that will make people go ‘wow’!
Be reflective in your thought process - think more closely at the detail of your build and improve an element of it. Ask advice on how to improve your build.


Things to consider
- view ULearn14 Minecraft student video again to compare and perhaps get more ideas to
 improve our World.
- roads to nowhere?
- consider our own Christchurch community - roads, traffic lights, roundabouts & signposts,
 public gardens and play parks
- consider Pioneer fitness centre/ old QEII for comparison.
- consider our houses and gardens in ChCh - rooftops, chimneys and fences


Next step learning
* Prompts sheet needed and practiced scripts to share their deeper inner thoughts about options they had and choices they made.


Audrey's Reflection Week 6
This week for me was the best for taking thinking to the next level. Most students claimed they had finished their first build. I set them a challenge to go back and add more detail, add something that will make someone say 'wow, that's awesome!'. Jake's re-lighting fire was a great example of a 'wow' moment showing a 'can do' attitude to persevere and work through to succeed.
The group video reflection again displayed thinking to the next level. They drafted original thoughts and ideas on paper then were able to explain their options and give reasons for their choices.


Thoughts for Week 7
Continue 'thinking' focus next week to raise the quality of the students build. Refocus on adding something to achieve a ' wow' moment.
Encourage students to search Minecraft wikis to discover new recipes.
Continue with video rehearsals - this will speed up video time & give a more polished group reflection.