Tuesday, 29 May 2012

video game lesson: Dooors

A bit of a break from minecraft posts as I am working on improving the syllabus for that particular project. So this week I am writing about the use of a videogame to teach prepositions and instructional English.

This lesson was inspired by Graham Stanley and Kyle Mawer's book: Digital Play and uses an "escape the room" game called Dooors. A free app on the iPhone and iPod.

The game is comprised of 35 levels—or rooms—that must be ecaped from by doing cetain things to the phone, finding items etc. 

The lesson plan is as follows:

I separated the class into groups and gave them an iPod each to play the game on. They must play as a group and write their solution to each door before going to the next level. The exact rules which I gave the class are as follows:

  1. Each time they clear a level, all group members MUST write the solution.
  2. They MUST show me their solution. If I don't understand it, they have to rewrite it before going to the next level.
  3. They have to update the whiteboard showing which level they are working on.


  1. They can ask other groups for hints
  2. They can ask me for hints (but only 3 times)

Once the rules had been established, I showed them how to clear the first 5 levels and gave them a worksheet to write their solutions on (Available here). The worksheet features the solution to the first five levels for reference as the same words crop up again and again as they go through the levels.

Encouraging cooperation and communication on a class level was fostered with the following insentives:

  • If all groups managed to get to level 20, the whole class would recieve 20XP
  • If all groups made it to level 25, the whole class would receive 40XP
  • The first group to get to level 30 would receive 20XP.

The difficulty of the game and the cooperation nature of the class meant that no individual group got to level 30. However, the cooperation and cohesive nature of the class was one that I won't foget for a while. In one class, a few groups didn't quite make it to level 20, so I erased the rule from the board, changing it to level 15. This class cheered when they heard the news. 

All in all, a really fun lesson! If you have enough students with smart phones or access to a number of iPods like I did, give it a try!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Mining English Week 5

Some pics from this weeks session.

The focus of this week's lesson was the use of prepositions. Something that comes very naturally and is essential in the Minecraft world. Before we got in game we went through prepositions one by one and then we practised building simple objects with Lego. This prepared students for using prepositions in the game.

I built a world for students to work in pairs where the activity required them to explain to their partner how to construct increasingly complex shapes out of various wool blocks. The final task had students working pairs to build a house together. Students paired up, logged in, and went to their relevant station.

Students were also told today about their test that they will be having at the end of the semester. The test will be comprised of two parts. The first part they will have to tell a native speaker how to build an object, and the second part of the test, the native speaker will tell them how to build an object. Students will be graded on how well they build each object, or in other words: how well they were able to communicate their ideas in English.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Mining English Week 4

Just a few pics of my fourth 'Mining English' class.

Today students completed an information gap exercise which had them explaining to a partner how to craft certain objects (with reference to the Minecraft wiki of course).

All in all a good lesson.