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Empowered Learners Leverage Game-Based Learning
Empowered Learners Leverage Game-Based Learning
By Andrea AJ Lugo, Instructional Technology Facilitator, El Dorado Avenue Elementary School, Sylmar/San Fernando Community of Schools, Board District 6
Educators at El Dorado Avenue Elementary are empowering their learners to explore and create learning environments that support their own learning goals by leveraging game-based learning through Minecraft: Education Edition (M:EE). This year, El Dorado Avenue Elementary was selected to be a Practitioner 7.0 school in partnership with the Instructional Technology Initiative. Selected schools join a learning community of like-minded schools that collectively explore how to leverage digital resources to transform teaching and learning using the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Students, digital citizenship, and to support students in developing awareness of foundational computer science concepts and practices. This year’s Practitioner School 7.0 theme, Empowered Learner, grants students intentional exposure to leveraging digital resources and to developing and integrating foundational future ready practices within K-12 classrooms. As a Practitioner 7.0 school, El Dorado Ave. Elementary teachers have started the school year off strong by already having professional learning around the Empowered Learner standard and its sub-indicators. “This is an important opportunity for our students as well as our staff and even myself to grow as learners. Being part of the Practitioner Schools program opens doors for our students that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to explore.” says Alejandra Febles, Principal of El Dorado Avenue Elementary.
Game-based learning through M:EE is one way El Dorado Avenue Elementary students are developing these future ready skills guided by the ISTE standards. Game-based learning is engaging for students because it empowers learners to take risks, provide opportunities for collaboration which results in active learning, and shifts from passive learning to active learning.
Additionally, students create and explore within an environment that allows them to develop critical thinking skills and produce creative solutions. M:EE is a platform that can be leveraged by learners to demonstrate their understanding and mastery of all common core standards. El Dorado Avenue Elementary teachers' use of M:EE supports students becoming future ready by building student agency and using technology skills to be productive. In addition, it nurtures problem solving skills and systems thinking which is needed to become future ready.
The ISTE standards are a guide that support learners in the use of technology for learning. The Empowered Learner standard 1.1 calls for students to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating learning which includes setting personal learning goals. Through M:EE, students customize their learning environments (ISTE 1.1b) by building worlds and other environments using various blocks, signs, and also Non-Play Characters (NPC). In these environments, students are able to demonstrate their learning (ISTE 1.1c) by adding links to articles and videos. Students can also create a written book with text by using the Book and Quill, a resource within the M:EE crafting menu. Ms. Ly, a fourth grade teacher at El Dorado Avenue Elementary, is introducing her students to the ISTE standards. She states, “My approach is to teach and expose students to a variety of digital tools and resources so that they can begin to select how they can best communicate their learning to others and eventually collaborate in a broader space.”
Angel De La Cruz, a 4th grade student in Ms. Ly’s class uses Minecraft:EE to demonstrate his learning (ISTE 1.1c) by creating a Non-Player Character in which he adds text to explain the purpose of the Non-Player Character.
He demonstrates his understanding within the game while also using problem solving skills. He is one of the many students at El Dorado Avenue Elementary that have experienced game-based learning through M:EE and immediately demonstrated interest and confidence in this adaptive learning environment.
There are several resources that M:EE provides that support educators with implementing game-based learning into their learning context.
The M:EE website includes lessons and some starter kits for teachers whether they are novice, experienced, or have advanced skills using M:EE. The shared lessons include a variety of all core content areas in addition to objectives and supplementary resources. Additionally, M:EE has a 5 star rating on the Common Sense Education website, a nonprofit organization that provides ratings reviews, learning resources, and advice to families. Minecraft: EE also has a professional learning community where educators can connect globally with other educators to troubleshoot and get additional support for lesson integration.
Minecraft:Education Edition is an excellent way to support technology in the classroom and for developing empowered learners with future ready skills. Learning and teaching is a journey, therefore, El Dorado Avenue Elementary teachers and students are embarking on this together. Brandon Guzman, 4th grade student in Ms. Ly’s class states, “It is important for students to have choices because we could learn better. By giving me choices, I won’t just learn about one thing. I could get smarter by learning all the different things.” M:EE’s influence on student learning is significant and teachers must understand this in order to transform academic outcomes. These are just our first steps in shifting from traditional classrooms to future ready classrooms.