Friday, 10 July 2015

Minecraft and editing

This is something we tried recently in our Year Six classroom and came away with a qualified success.
The aim was to get the children to work on their editing skills and, in order to engage them, we decided to play the first day of a survival game of Minecraft. For those of you who do not know, survival Minecraft is the version of the game where the character starts with nothing at all, has to make all equipment and get some food and shelter before night falls and zombies, skeletons and other things which go bump arrive to munch on your character.

We took in our Xbox 360 with the game, hooked it up to the IWB and chose a child to be a player. We were very clear that only one person would get to play the game during the lesson in order to avoid complaints (only partially successful) and randomly chose someone from the class to take control.
Whilst the child played the game, the rest of the children were writing the story of what was happening on the screen. We paused the game at regular intervals in order to discuss description, thoughts and feelings and what might happen next.
The game carried on until, luckily, the player discovered a village. We were then able to hide in the village whilst surrounded by a 'horde' of moaning, ravenous (the class came up with that) zombies. As dawn broke, I ended the game and we looked at the writing.
What the children had for the most part was a very clear first draft. As the writing had taken place at pace, there were lots of errors and, even when there was description, chunks of text that clearly could be improved.
The children then restarted the writing from the beginning on a new page, improving it as they wrote and adding much more depth and detail.
What we ended up with was two interesting pieces of writing. The first having a definite plot, characters and even the build up of tension. The second, which had been redrafted, was clearly improved with a much wider range of vocabulary.
However, the lesson could be improved in a number of ways. Firstly, in both pieces of writing there was a tendency towards shorter sentences. Secondly, there was no dialogue, so in future, when stopping the game, we would talk about what might be said. Finally, we would try to find someone who was not so good at playing the game so that there was a bit more suspense during the 'day'.

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