Letting Go of the Reins: Students Lead the Way with #Minecraft #edtech #ipaded

Minecraft

 

It took me a while to wrap my head around how I was going to incorporate Minecraft into my Core French Classroom.  I have read about and seen many people use it for other core subjects, but had some trouble figuring out at first where it applied in my room.  I think this is partially due to the fact that I don’t know that much about it.  I understand the main idea to Minecraft, but what one is truly capable of doing with it is beyond me because I don’t play it.

This is the first project I have attempted with Minecraft and I am really excited about the results for a variety of different reasons.  I would love to include it into my program in other ways and will look to the students for inspiration.

If you have an idea or a way you have included it in your language class, please please please share your ideas in the comments below.

 


 Using Minecraft to Demonstrate Understanding of Directions in French

 

Learning Goal:

We are learning to give clear directions in French.

Success Criteria:

The success criteria had been previously created with the students.  see the image below.  We had completed several different activities to practice this in spoken situations because I truly believe if students can say it, they will then be able to write it.  Every class, I would designate the first half to spoken interaction games and activities.  Students earned time on Minecraft by participating properly during these oral activities.  I needed this “earned” time as a reminder and sometimes as fuel for those who are more reluctant to participate otherwise.  We also developed two different criteria.  One was for being able to give clear directions, and the other set was for what should be included in the Minecraft project in order to properly show that they understood the learned concepts.

 

4. Vocab - Commands, verbs_7

4. Vocab - Commands, verbs_5

Task: 

Students had to create a maze in Minecraft.  They had to create signs in their maze that explain to the character in French, which way to go in order to follow the correct path and to find their way out.  To keep things somewhat simple, we decided as a class that every time a player reaches a sign, there should be only two possible routes (the right one and the wrong one).  There also needed to be an obstacle met by the character if they followed the directions improperly.

 

Because this was the first time I have done this, students really drove the project.  They provided ideas as to what would work and what wouldn’t work with Minecraft.  We discussed as a class any challenges that were met along the way.  I was really worried that the time spent on using the technology was going to outweigh the amount of language content being demonstrated, but I found that because so many of them play Minecraft already, they were able to create amazing results in a short amount of time (maybe 60-80 minutes total).  We talked about whether a plan would help them organize their thoughts for this, and is something we will discuss again at the end of the project to see if it was a necessity (I am not even sure yet at this point).

 

Here are a few examples.

I already know how I will make some adaptations. This week, we are going to play each others’ mazes and give each other feedback based on the success criteria. Questions that should arise and be discussed:

  • How easy were your directions to follow?
  • Were there any points that the person playing got lost?  Why was that?
  • Was there a sign every time was more than one way to go?
  • Did the directions make sense?
  • If they followed the directions the wrong way, did the person playing meet an obstacle?

We will have these discussions, and I will give students some time to go back and edit their work.  Finally, they will submit it to me, completed.

 Benefits I saw

  1. It was highly engaging, especially for some of my intermediate boys who are not interested in learning a second language.  Students who were using their own devices for this task were working on it at home because they were so excited about it.
  2. Students have become creators of a product (I wish there was a way for us to share our projects so others could play them, but the kids have told me this isn’t possible from the iPad app).
  3. They really had to understand the content, in order to create a functional maze and apply their knowledge properly.
    • For example, if they told the character ‘tournez à la droite’ and then when the character went right they ran into lava, it showed me a lack of understanding to that specific idea.  It would leave me wondering whether or not it was a misunderstanding of the necessary words or expressions in French, or if that particular student struggles with the difference between right and left in general, not matter the language.
  4. As I watched them create and had them show me their mazes, I could give immediate oral feedback and they would be able to solve the problems . They also received this immediate feedback from their peers because if their peer played the maze and ended up lost as a result of the signs, they would see it real time and could add extra directions for clarification.  If the player got lost as a result of their own lack of understanding the directions properly, it would create rich discussion as to who was right, and the creator would innately double check their work by using the resources from around the room.
  5. In order to play one another’s mazes, you have to be able to read the directions and understand them.  What a fun way for them to practice the learned concept as well.

Overall, I have been really amazed thus far at the projects I have seen.  The students never cease to amaze me with their creativity and their enthusiasm for this project was inspiring.  I hope to be able to find more ways to include programs/apps such as Minecraft to give my students the freedom to be creators, to show me their understanding of learned concepts in ways they want to.  To let go of the reins and let them lead the way.

 

8 Responses

  1. […] The success criteria had been previously created with the students.  see the image below.  We had completed several different activities to practice this in spoken situations because I truly believe if students can say it, they will then be able to write it.  Every class, I would designate the first half to spoken interaction games and activities.  Studentsearned time on Minecraft by participating properly during these oral activities.  I needed this “earned” time as a reminder and sometimes as fuel for those who are more reluctant to participate otherwise.  We also developed two different criteria.  One was for being able to give clear directions, and the other set was for what should be included in the Minecraft project in order to properly show that they understood the learned concepts.” To read further please click here:  http://www.mmemallette.com/2015/04/letting-go-of-the-reins-students-lead-the-way-with-minecraft-edte… […]

  2. I stumbled across your lesson of integrating Minecraft and I just love the different approach to incorporating French – very authentic! I too incorporated it, as an alternative project in our weather unit. Students were to create different forecasts and use the text to control the weather within Minecraft. A grade 8 student helped me create this project. It was his only effort in French class since grade 4. Thank you for posting this – I really enjoy how this is right on the button when it comes to student interests and involvement.

  3. This is a fantastic idea! What application did they use to create this? I work with a group of grade 4/5 gifted students and I feel as though this would be a fantastic way to engage them in French language learning using technology!

  4. […] Read my previous blog post “Letting Go of the Reins” here on this task for examples. […]

  5. […] it as a new way for students to practice or demonstrate their understanding of a learned concept. See my previous blog post where students created mazes to practice directions en français. When students use the language while building to share their experiences with their peers, they are […]

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