8-10 yrs old
Reading and Writing
Using Minecraft, students create their own spelling city to practise spelling in a fun, engaging and meaningful way.
July 12, 2018
Students have written lists of historical spelling words.
Vis/Vid latin root words
The Jail and Police Station
Any real city needs law enforcement to keep the citizens safe.
Come here to practise your spelling against your classmates!
The conventions of spelling can be a dry, difficult subject for many students. However, spelling and grammar are fundamental skills that support student fluency and encourage students to successfully engage with increasingly more complicated texts, ultimately fostering strategies for lifelong learning and success in secondary and tertiary education, and beyond.
The question then, is how we make the process of exploring and learning about the conventions of spelling and grammar more engaging for students aged 6 - 10. Our guiding idea was to have students establish and construct a thriving virtual city, in which each building represented an element of spelling or grammar. In this way, we hoped to build students ownership of their learning and to make learning the conventions of spelling and grammar more meaningful for the students. This guiding idea prompted us to pose the following questions:
• How can make spelling more engaging and more meaningful to all learners?
• How do we support students to take ownership and responsibility for learning the conventions of spelling?
• How can we meaningfully celebrate student success in spelling, in more than just traditional modes?
• How can students present what they know in new and engaging forms?
• How can we support students to become independent, self-regulated and collaborative learners?
• What will our collaborative class look like?
Put simply, the project challenged students to work collaboratively to build a complete spelling city. Students organised themselves into small groups, each taking responsibility for constructing a part of the city as a whole. The guiding focus was for students to demonstrate and celebrate their understanding of the conventions of spelling and grammar, with each building representing one of these elements.
Students followed the following process to construct and share their spelling city:
1. Students organised themselves into small groups
2. In their groups, students brainstormed a list of possible buildings; including what element of spelling or grammar each building could represent, what the building might look like and its location in the city.
3. Some suggested building ideas that were generated by students include: Spelling Rules Museum , Word Origins Coliseum , Spelling Bee Stadium and Spelling Gymnasium. Students also planned and created town infrastructure such as the roads and public transport, motels and car-parking facilities, nature gardens, police station, court house and jail.
4. Once each group had decided on a building, groups came together to plan the outline for the city and to delegate roles and responsibilities within each group. This ensured that all students had a shared vision for Spelling City and understood that students were not to impact on the construction sites of other groups.
5. Students began the process of constructing their spelling buildings, and giving them creative names.
6. This process of building challenged students to develop strategies for successful collaboration, within groups and across the whole class.
7. With the spelling city completed, and students generating activities to be attempted within each building, the city was opened and younger classes were invited to take guided tours through the spelling city.
8. Students took on the role of spelling coach and city guide for their younger peers, allowing our students to demonstrate their understanding of spelling conventions in a creative, engaging way.
9. Students discovered a huge range of links to other learning areas, such as the complexity of building and running their own city and maintaining infrastructure and creating a legal structure that governs all citizens.
Any group construction activity can face difficulty when group members do not agree on shared activities. Collaboration between students and groups was critical to the success and was established as a primary expectation for students. The virtual Minecraft classroom was aligned to our existing school rules of Respect, Responsibility and Resilience. Students are familiar with these expectations and were able to identify what these expectations might look like in Minecraft; for example you show respect for another group’s building and do not destroy another person’s work, you are responsible for the position and size of your own buildings so that they don’t impact on another person’s work and meet the brief that your group agreed on, and you are resilient when unforeseen accidents occur and show flexibility when working in a collaborative group.
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