Black Gold 2015:Hearts, Souls and Mines
On May 21st, I delivered a training day at Darran Park Primary School as part of the Black Gold 2015 project. I am coordinating the project on behalf of Rhondda Cynon Taff LA and in partnership with Microsoft Academy, the Rhondda Heritage Park and the University of South Wales. The objective of the project is to use ICT to create an exciting and highly engaging project focusing on the history of mining in South Wales. Fourteen RCT teachers from the Ferndale, Tonypandy and Cymer clusters, took part in the training event. The focus was to introduce the different types of ICT that will be used throughout the project. As one of the main objectives for the project is to build the Rhondda Heritage Park using MInecraft, the day began with a pupil workshop using Minecraft Pocket Edition. Year 5 and 6 pupils set the teachers the challenge of building the most unique structure in twenty minutes. Although the teachers found this challenging at first, they were amazed by the pupils’ knowledge of the game and how they could build so many weird and wonderful creations. I wanted the teachers to understand that they didn’t need to worry having to teach the pupils how to use Minecraft – the majority pupils in their classes would already be Minecraft experts!
During the second part of the day we looked at the Office 365 tools available to every child in Wales through Hwb- the national collection of digital resources to support learning and teaching for learners aged 3 to 19 in Wales. An important part of the Black Gold 2015 project is for each school to research a specific part of the history of coal mining in South Wales and share their research with each other. To support this we spent time looking at OneNote and thinking how it could be used to effectively when pupils are collecting their research. We also introduced the Encyclopaedia Britannica tool, which is now available to all pupils through Hwb. In addition, we looked at how Hwb+, the all Wales virtual learning environment (VLE), could be used effectively within the project. A shared classroom was set up where pupils from each school will be able to share their work and collaborate with each other. The shared classroom will also host discussion forums, surveys and blogs linked to the project. Each school will also be using the wiki tool to create a shared wiki using their research.
As part of the continuing partnership between Rhondda Cynon Taff and Microsoft Academy it is important to look for opportunities for the pupils to develop 21st Century Learning Design. 21st Century Learning Design, or 21CLD, professional development helps teachers redesign their existing lessons and learning activities to build students’ 21st century skills The tools available through Hwb and Hwb+ can play a vital part in developing Skilled Communication and Collaboration – two important 21CLD rubrics.
In the final session of the day the pupils led a Minecraft EDU session. During the project the pupils will be using Minecraft EDU to build the Rhondda Heritage Park. The plan is to build an actual working mine underground in addition to the winding gear, coal dram and everything else above ground.
A big thank you to everyone who attended the day and particular thanks to Leanne Hunt, SS Gabriel and Raphael Primary School, and Emma Vaughan, Penygraig Junior School, for their support with the Hwb/Hwb+ workshops. Really looking to getting started on 1st June!