Using Minecraft in your schools

There has been a discussion recently on SLN (School Librarians Network).  If you don’t know about it, this is a Yahoo Group and a very valuable source of information – most of the information on Heart comes from this group.  However, the discussion was about how you could use the extremely popular programme/app Minecraft in schools.  Sarah Pavey from Box Hill School in Surrey – one of the most innovative school librarians I know – sent me details of a project that she does with Year 7 pupils.  She has created a video which she has uploaded to YouTube for us, and has also included her lesson planning sheet which you will find in the Files section to the right, entitled ‘Castles’.  Sarah decided to replace the building part of the lesson where Year 7 pupils brought castles they built at home with virtual reality instead using Minecraft to construct the castles.  Sarah told me:

Year 7 do a module on concentric castle design. The subject teacher has already covered the basics in terms of history of design. We begin with a joint lesson between myself and the subject teacher in the classroom. We turn the class into architects for the queen/king (history teacher) and we explain that the ruler is on a generous but limited budget for their new castle and wants to make sure they get the latest features while at the same time it is safe and good value for money. We get them to brainstorm ideas collectively and then to argue why they should have that feature eg if they suggest having a portcullis I will ask them why on earth I want a gate with holes in it when I could have a solid one etc etc. Next we look at the books they might use for information so we give each pair of students in the class a couple of books and they have to explain to the rest of the class how they might use that book for research or why they might reject it. Then I show them a few websites on screen. Third part is that we tell them every good architect has a model to explain their ideas to a potential client but they can opt for a hi tech or lo tech option and there will be a prize for the top 3 in each category and then an overall winner. Each architect has to build their own. So lo-tech is models made of various materials including lego or cake (very yummy chocolate cake last year!!!) and the hi-tech include Minecraft. Basically with Minecraft they build the interior and exterior of the castle and then use something like Screencast-o-matic or their iPad to film it and add a commentary as they walk around it. We do research sessions in the library. Once all the entries are in I go back to the classrooms and award points for research, presentation etc and the class teacher does the history content.

 

 

Visual Literacy discussion guides

Once again, Philippa Godwin from Alde Valley School has generously shared some amazing documents with us.  She has prepared lesson plans for Visual Literacy, and you will find these in the files section to the right of the page.  Again, she has generously shared them in Word so that you can adapt them to what suits you – but do please acknowledge her hard work and generosity in doing this for us.  A big thank you to people who are happy to share their hard work with us all!

Duston School Hub booklet

Duston SchoolWhen CILIPSLG visited the award winning library at the Duston School, we were shown a copy of their library skills booklet that every student works through.  We were invited to take copies home for ourselves, and I was so impressed that I asked if I could share it with you all on Heart. As well as downloading from the Issuu site, you can download from the Box files as well.   Visit the school webpage here: http://thedustonschool.org/  If you have similar booklets you would like to share with us, please email me on the Contact address.

How to Tweet

Have you wanted to dip your toe into Twitter, but been held back by a lack of know-how?  Well now you can jump straight in, with a new How-To Guide created by John Iona.  Beautifully simple with clear pictures, you will soon be tweeting away!  Have a look in the How To folder in the Box files on the right of the Heart front page, to download your copy now.  If you use or reproduce anything in any of the folders, please have the courtesy to acknowledge the librarian who put a lot of hard work into creating these resources.  Thank you!

Are you involved in delivering the EPQ?

Are you involved in delivering the EPQ in your school?  School librarians are increasingly being asked to get involved with this, with various levels of involvement.  For some, it involves stocking their libraries with books especially for the project, for some, supporting lessons, and for some, like John Iona of Oasis Academy in Enfield, it involves leading the project.  I asked John to write about his experiences for Heart.  John says:

‘I was asked to be responsible for the management, planning, development and delivery of the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) course at level two in 2011-12, with a pilot group of ten year 11 pupils. For this course, pupils are able to choose a topic they are interested in and formulate a question around this topic. They then have to plan their project, carry out their research and then write up their findings in the form of an essay. The model is that of a university dissertation, and is based around pupils building upon and demonstrating their independent learning skills  For me, the course involved teaching pupils the skills they will need to complete their research project, which involved planning and delivering lessons that covered the full research process. As I was managing the course, I had to ensure that what I delivered would cover the assessment objectives demanded by the course specification, and so lessons were integrated over the year to teach pupils what they needed at the relevant stage of their project work.  This year, I now have 40 year 11 pupils on the course, and have EPQ Supervisors to help to mentor students on the course and mark projects. Having learned lessons from our pilot year, I have planned to deliver the teaching element through a pilot project at the beginning of the year. This will give me the chance to teach and model, and pupils learn and demonstrate, the skills pupils will use for their own projects. I will then give shorter sessions at relevant points when pupils are working on their personal projects, in order to refresh them on the skills they should be using and demonstrating in their work. This year will also use a much tighter time-schedule with firmer and numerous deadlines for pupils’ work, to ensure the best success-rate possible and more robust, targeted support to pupils.From a personal point-of-view, my role in delivering this qualification has been a challenging but rewarding one and has developed my own skills in terms of managing teaching and learning. More generally, the EPQ is a course which all Librarians should seek to be involved in, in some capacity, if it is delivered at their schools. Librarians have the expertise in the the skills it demands of students, and therefore will have much to offer in the teaching and supporting of students on this course.’

If you are interested in learning more about running the EPQ course, and getting training yourself, the School Library Association is running an online course with School Librarian Sarah Pavey.  Have a look at the course here.   And finally, if you are on Diigo you can join the EPQ group and share useful bookmarks here.  Have a look at this fantastic guide  to the EPQ  created by School Librarian Lesley Watts from the King Edward VI school.  This is on Issuu, and will not be visible on iPads  due to rights reasons.