I was really excited to showcase The Wonderful World of Roald Dahl Project at Insomnia 58, the UK’s biggest gaming festival, at the NEC in Birmingham as part of the Immersive Minds Outreach Team.
The Wonderful World of Roald Dahl is a literacy based Minecraft project designed to develop reading and writing skills. Pupils from 95 schools from all over the world have been celebrating Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday by building some of his most memorable settings using Minecraft. Following this, pupils developed their writing skills through creating their own imaginative settings in the style of Roald Dahl. Their writing was then used to build their own imaginative Minecraft settings. Schools were then invited to enter their Road Dahl Minecraft maps into a competition which will be judged by a panel of experts from around the world.
Schools used a range of versions of Minecraft during the project and submitted their entries in a range of formats including: Office Mix presentations, videos and Sway. In Wales, to promote school to school collaboration, I created a network on Hwb, the all-Wales VLE, for teachers to discuss and share resources. In addition, schools in Wales used a collaborative area on Hwb+, the all Wales VLE, for pupils to share work and discuss ideas. It was an effective way to encourage schools to take part in meaningful collaboration by providing them with a safe environment to discuss ideas and share work. Pupils used the site to share their Minecraft worlds and blog their final pieces of Roald Dahl inspired writing. Thank you Jane Grubb, from Central South Consortium, for creating and managing the Hwb+ site.
In addition, the digital leaders of Darran Park Primary School have visited a number of different schools to lead Minecraft workshops. One of the main barriers to using Minecraft in the classroom is teacher confidence. I discovered very early on that my building skills would never be as good as the pupils in my class…and that is absolutely fine! As a teacher it’s my job to provide purposeful learning opportunities and the context for using Minecraft. The pupil workshops, which the digital leaders have called their Minecraft Roadshow, were designed to introduce teachers to Minecraft and demonstrate how pupils can lead the learning. Our digital leaders have worked with over a hundred schools throughout Wales and are planning to visit schools in England and Scotland next year.
During Insomnia, people had the opportunity to explore Roald Dahl themed Minecraft maps, created by pupils taking part in the project, and add their own imaginative settings. It was great to see such a positive reaction to the children’s Roald Dahl creations – particularly from children and parents. This was reflected by the amount of time spent exploring the Roald Dahl maps and adding their own imaginative builds. At the end of the Saturday, one boy asked if I could ‘take care of’ his unfinished building until he came back on Sunday. It was great to see how engaged and on task he was – particurlarly with all the amazing distractions at Insomnia – the UK’s biggest gaming festival. It was also great to hear the views of parents about using Minecraft in the classroom. Many of them really liked the idea of using Minecraft as a hook to engage learners to develop other skills: in this case reading and writing skills.
Here is a selection of the imaginative Minecraft settings created during Insomnia:
One of the things I enjoyed most about the Wonderful World of Roald Dahl project was working with so many teachers from around the world. At Insomnia I had the privilege of meeting and working with Joseph Hammond, who had been doing the project with his class at Hillingdon Primary School. It was brilliant to hear about the impact the project had on engaging learners and also to meet one of his pupils who took real pride in talking about her Minecraft work. Here are some of the their Roald Dahl inspired Minecraft builds.
A massive thank you to Stephen Reid and the Immersive Minds team for inviting me to showcase the Wonderful World of Roald Dahl at Insomnia. It was brilliant to see and hear about all the fantastic ways they use technology and games based learning to engage and inspire learners. Their work is truly inspirational and I really hope to work with them again soon. Please click to find out more information about Immersive Minds.
The project illustrates how Minecraft can be used as a stimulus for learning and to engage learners. It is also important to remember that the focus of the project was to develop reading and writing skills and quality of the Minecraft settings is reflection of the planning and time allocated by teachers to develop these skills. Over the next few weeks finalists of the Wonderful World of Roald Dahl competition will be judged an expert panel, with winners to be announced next term to coincide with Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday. More importantly, I am over the moon with the way teachers have transformed learning through using Minecraft in their classrooms to develop effective pedagogies and engage their pupils.
If you’d like to find out more about the Wonderful World of Roald Dahl or using Minecraft in the classroom please contact me using the details below.