This morning the students of Year 6S were presenting their inquiry research into Kiwiana and extended an invite to Mr Bierworth (Deputy Rector and Principal of the Preparatory School) and myself to attend. Over the last few weeks they have been conducting an inquiry learning project around the question “What is Kiwiana?”
To spark enthusiasm the students visited the Canterbury Museum and toured the Paua Shell House, before looking at other Kiwiana icons. There was also some cross-curricular learning happening here, with students working on area and proportion in Maths, where Mr Dekkers tasked them with designing their ultimate Kiwi bach (holiday home).
The students jumped at this challenge as it was a chance to use Minecraft in class for learning! They started to look at old family baches their families owned or visited, brought photos to class and asked the question “what would the ultimate bach include now?” Students had to include certain criteria such as:
- Where would the BBQ live? (afterall, how could it be a Kiwi holiday home without a BBQ?)
- Where would the mountain bikes and surfboards be stored?
- What was the access to water going to be? (sea / river / lake etc)
Having gained experience in Maths using Minecraft, this was extended to the inquiry topic where the challenge was to research iconic Kiwiana features of New Zealand and then include them into a Kiwiana theme park.
Being adept at using OneNote for research and planning, the children worked collaboratively to identify their iconic images and locations and record their research in a shared OneNote notebook. Here is a fantastic example of one:
What impressed me so much about their use of OneNote was:
- Using “Tasks” that could be ticked off when each job was completed – this meant they knew exactly who had to do what.
- Having the “show contributors” turned on so the initials of each group member was alongside their work, meaning they could see who had contributed what to the research.
- Storing images in the notebook as examples for when they started to build their Minecraft theme park.
- Use of highlighting – key words / concepts were highlighted to ensure they would be include in the theme park and oral presentation.
- Using their iPads and OneNote to read their notes from during the actual presentation.
- Mr Dekkers writing feedback directly into their OneNote notebook during the presentation so by the time they finished they would see his comments.
Group Presentation On Kiwiana Theme Park Using Minecraft & OneNote
One of the skills that Mr Dekkers was focusing on as part of this Inquiry unit was synthesising information found as part of their research with their own ideas, discussions and information from their parents.
This allowed the conversation to include plagiarism and why this is a serious issue – a great way to remind students that being a good Digital Citizen includes protecting and respecting the intellectual property of others that has been shared online (see this post for more information on Digital Citizenship).
The presentation skills of the students were excellent, and it was delightful to see them seamlessly switching between presenting to their classmates using their iPads / OneNote for reference, whilst also navigating through their Kiwiana theme park designed on Minecraft. I am sure they would have been delighted with the feedback they received:
- Whilst plenty of technology was being used in this unit and presentation, it was very much in the background. It was not being seen as a distraction, but rather a tool to get the job done.
- Students made great use of OneNote as a shared document that was accessible anytime, anywhere for them to record their research.
- Students were accountable to one another and their teacher as it was evident who had contributed what to the notebook.
- Interest, engagement and enthusiasm from the students was very high – they loved the “gamification” of their learning by being allowed to use Minecraft to design a theme park.
- Students were keen to share their learning – they wanted their Principal and Director of ICT to see their learning – they were proud of their efforts.
This kind of cross-curricular learning, with deep and authentic integration of technology is incredibly pleasing to see in our classrooms.
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