Saturday, 27 September 2014

Using Minecraft To Teach Children About The Pyramids.

I am really enjoying my new role at school, teaching the new computing curriculum across Key Stage  2. This has provided me with lots of opportunities to deliver cross-curricular work as despite what some people may think, the new computing curriculum isn't just about coding. The sessions I deliver are part of teachers' PPA time. This means that they usually give me a concept/topic from one of their foundation subject topics that they would like me to cover. This is great as it has given me lots of freedom to teach these concepts in an engaging way while covering the computing curriculum (digital literacy and computer science aspects).

One of my favourite of these 'mini-projects' has been work I have been doing with Year 5 based on the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. This covered the following aspects of the history and computing programmes of study for Key Stage 2

History - the achievements of the earliest civilisations.
Computing - use and combine a variety of software to design and create a range of content that accomplish given goals.

We started by watching an National Geographic video which was 'touristy' in style and provided a brief overview of the pyramids. This grabbed the children's interest. We then visited a website that had 360 degree views of the pyramids plus virtual tours inside. These resources and the ensuing discussion provided the children with enough information for the next part of the project.

The Year 5 group I was working with is boy heavy and can be challenging. Therefore, I opted for a guaranteed 'win'. I decided to let them design and build their pyramids on Minecraft which they all played obsessively at home. The idea for using Minecraft in lessons came from Lee Parkinson (@ICT_MrP) .Well, I had hoped that it would engage them but the results were amazing. They were engrossed in the process and could readily explain their designs demonstrating that they understood the features of the pyramids and why they were there.

In an attempt to embed their learning further, when they had finished building their pyramids, they took screenshots and imported them into the Thinglink app. Thinglink is another app I have been introduced to by Lee Parkinson. They then labelled their designs with text, further images and videos of themselves talking about their knowledge of the pyramids. There are a few examples of the pyramids the children designed on our school website

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