Minecraft has two modes of gameplay- survival and creative. Survival mode is much more like a video game where players must survive against different elements, collect tools and resources and protect themselves against different threats. Creative mode gives players access to all the resources and allows them to build anything. This mode has big potential for use in the classroom, here is one way we used minecraft to inspire writing.
Working with a Year 4 class, I set the children a task to create and build a haunted house, over the wifi 4/5 children can join the same world and work together to create a setting for their story. The rich talk, collaboration and teamwork while building their houses was incredible! The instructions were simple, try to make the creepiest and scariest house you can imagine.
By children building their own haunted house, they knew everything about it, they were so much more familiar with the setting and this gave them a wide range of ideas to work with. Once the settings were built, I asked the children to write an descriptive paragraph about their haunted houses. We discussed a range of different techniques to make their writing as chilling as possible.
Using the new AirServer, which allows for screen recording, each group created a video where they navigated around their setting. This was then shared onto the children's iPads. As an editing tool, children recorded themselves reading their writing over their video. By listening back to their writing, they could hear what sounded effective and what needs changing and improved. For the higher ability children, this was used as an extra challenge to try and make their writing fit with their video. Creating a finished digital story that not only shows children's writing skills but also their oral speaking skills demonstrated how great the iPads can be for producing work using a range of different skills.
Here are some of the children's haunted house descriptions: