Earlier this week, London CLC ran a ‘City Planning in Minecraft’ workshop with the year 5 class from Reay Primary school, Lambeth. At the end of the workshop, the teacher (Miss Coates) gave us some lovely feedback on how the use of Minecraft had motivated many, ordinarily very reluctant pupils, to write. This prompted us to ask if she could pop the feedback in writing for us to share. However instead of doing this, the teacher put the request to her class, who consequently review of their entire ‘Open City Neighborhood’ project. We were amazed by how eloquent and insightful the children’s review was and so over to the students of year 5 Reay primary school…
The students’ review:
As part of our partnership with OpenCity (@OpenCityOrg), Reay’s Year 5 have been working hard on their challenge of designing an ‘Open City Neighbourhood’. We have thought about it from all different angles including, how people will move around (transport), how eco-friendly it is (renewable energy/building materials/pollution) and whom will benefit from living there/visiting it (leisure/tourism).
We had designed loads of different buildings, including buildings which had more than one purpose, and designed a community ethos in which everyone would be allowed to visit or to stay and in which people told the truth and were open about things which needed talking about.
We made models of our various different buildings as part of the process and had started to lay them out on the table to work out where they would go, but a load of toilet rolls, cereal boxes and plastic punnets made it difficult to conceptualise, let alone visualise.
We were not all on the same page. We had a problem. We needed a shared vision for our ‘Open City Neighbourhood’ in which we could ideally walk around and consider.
That’s where the CLC (@LdnCLC) just up the road in Clapham Old Town came in. It was brilliant, as they designed an afternoon of workshops using Minecraft. We felt confident immediately, as we knew how to do things in Minecraft and we knew what we needed in order to make our designs successful, thanks to the Open City programme. Rowan helped us to understand where to put everything in the neighbourhood by having a grid on a piece of paper and making us think about what building should go where. But brilliantly, this then translated into the Minecraft world. After a bit of designing and building, we were able to wander around our neighbourhood admiring each others’ designs but also problem-solving and trouble-shooting the layout. Of course the court house should be nearer the police station and the library as near to the centre of the neighbourhood as possible, as this symbolised not only our love of reading but also the ideas that everyone is welcome here and trusted to borrow books.
We were finally able to ‘walk around’ (or actually fly around if we double-clicked the space bar) and see how it would all work and how we could improve it. We really worked together too as we were all sharing the same world and had to get used to the idea that we might inflict some damage on someone else’s building by mistake and how we could best rectify the situation and apologise.
Thank you very much to the CLC and Open City for combining our learning in this way. It has given us much more confidence with our project but also with our communication skills because we were having to listen to each other and help each other out.
A note from Miss Coates:
We had such a wonderful time at the CLC yesterday. I couldn’t agree with the children’s perspective more (as above) but would also like to add that the ‘chat room’ was opened up on Minecraft which meant that the entire class spent much of the afternoon reading and writing without even realising. It was astonishing to see often VERY reluctant writers getting involved in the chat room, commenting on each others’ designs or trying to be funny (and sometimes succeeding!) without being disrespectful.
As a teacher with bad previous experiences of Minecraft, I have been reinspired to use it – the children were not online, so I didn’t have to worry about anything scary and Minecraft as a tool was perfect for all of the children as they worked as such a team. Children were merrily going around helping others, offering up their expertise or showing off their skills to the rest of the class. They were brimming over with confidence and pride, something which was just so super (and in some cases very rare) to see. In this sense, it did not level out the children’s skills but sort of flipped them around as some of the most competent architects were now seeking the computer skills of the least.
A parent’s perspective:
I had three children in the back of my car yesterday afternoon who couldn’t stop talking about their trip. They rabbited on about the best layout for cities, the best sorts of doors to use for factories as opposed to houses and about how much fun they had had despite it being the hottest day of the year! Thank you!
P:S (from one of the children in the car):
I would just like to point out that we were sharing the back seat of the car because we were car-pooling to help save the environment, as we were all going to our swimming lesson together instead of three separate cars. That means less pollution for our neighbourhood.