November 25th, 2013 By Colin Gallagher Categories: Minechat, Minecraft

Minechat Episode 16!

I took a trip to James York’s Minecraft world to see how his immersive Japanese language learning world is coming along.

I love James’ approach and where he is going with his Minecraft world. James is a big advocate of a holistic approach to teaching Japanese. Thinking of the connections to the world at large and creating areas in Minecraft for his students to interact and immerse themselves in the Japanese language is what his Minecraft world is all about.

I mention in the video that I’m a little bitter that after 18 years of learning Irish in a rote memorization curriculum I remember about 5% of the Irish language (at a stretch). If only in my time at school I was taught in the same way James teaches his students. What did I really need to learn when learning Irish? In what context? Minecraft wasn’t around in those days but I should have been immersed in the language in the context of everyday life (role-playing, skits, how-to demonstrations). All those things are being transformed in modern day activities within Minecraft by James.

I look forward to re-visiting James at a later date.

November 22nd, 2013 By Colin Gallagher Categories: iPad

At our school we are building a depository of apps that we currently have or require on our iPads. At the start of the school year I created a list of the apps we had from last year and also shared the document out with all our teachers to add to. It’s a random selection of apps that relate to a number of different curriculum areas and not at all organized!



As our early years have other varying and significant needs for their students and the apps they require they set about creating their own list of early years apps. @AlisonEducates heads this up and as I get around to purchasing them, I mark it off on the list. As you can see, Alison is more organized! And I have not purchased the latest ones yet! Long story…


I know many years ago starting off with iPod Touches wondering what apps to get. I hope some teachers find these lists useful.

November 21st, 2013 By Colin Gallagher Categories: Google Apps, Software

A lot of our classes our using Book Creator on our iPads to create multimedia books. The one major complaint was the restrictions of only being able to read the .Epubs on that iPad and because we use one iTunes account for all iPads we are limited to 5 devices to share our books to.

I saw on my Twitter feed a mention of Readium, a Chrome app that would allow you to read multimedia ePubs through Chrome. So I checked it out and it actually does do what it says it does! Really easily too!

So I made this video tutorial for our teachers.

So now teachers can store the Epubs in their Readium library locally and not have to go through all the iPads to present students’ books. Especially handy for parent conferences.

November 13th, 2013 By Colin Gallagher Categories: Minechat, Minecraft

It’s that time in our school year where we embark upon our use of Minecraft within our curriculum. This week we are starting off with our Grade 3 students in planning and building a community full of interconnected systems. Their Unit Of Inquiry is “How We Organize Ourselves” with the central idea being “Communities can function because of the systems within them”

I’m really interested (stressed) to see how Minecraft turns out this year as this year’s students are completely different than last year’s students (naturally). I’ve tried to focus all attention on our use of Minecraft to our curriculum this year. I may not offer a Minecraft after-school club this year and offer a game making class instead. To be honest, students had a very entitled  air about them regarding Minecraft this year. When it was announced there would be no Minecraft after school club this semester there was a near riot at assembly and it got on the verge of being obnoxious and demanding. Teachers and parents alike were stopping me every day asking about it. So it may be time to re-evaluate the environment of Minecraft in our school. I am very focused on seeing whether we can use it in any other grade for a Unit Of Inquiry but I think after school club might be out this year. Get students used to the fact that it is just another tool we can use to help us understand concepts, inspire creativity and help us develop collaborative/social skills. That way we can focus on the curriculum integration of Minecraft.

Coincidentally in the run-up to our unit I was asked to talk about Minecraft a couple of times over the last few weeks.

First up, was an episode of Michael Boll’s EdTech Podcast where we talked a lot about Minecraft in general and how the Minechat Youtube channel came about.

Second up, was the first in a month long series of webinars for This was a very interesting Google Hangout with a number of different players in the education technology field (and beyond). It was at 7am Singapore time so I was just happy to be coherent.


I was delighted to be asked back for Week 3 of the webinar series which will be on Thursday 21st November. That episode will be based around “…how can Minecraft help students learn not only academic content but also 21st Century learning skills, social-emotional skills, and other non-cognitive skills.”


August 30th, 2013 By Colin Gallagher Categories: Procrastination

Whether you agree with classroom blogs or not we have our reasons for doing them at our school and we have had great success and fantastic interactions with families, extended families abroad, teachers, and other classes around the world.

A parent recently asked us (actually perhaps 0.1% of our parents each year ask the same question) why aren’t the blogs password protected. I wrote up the following list in response that I presented to our teachers so we could all be on the same page and think for a bit about our journey together in blogging.

What we are doing for our students is very important. We are providing them with a platform to present themselves in public online with our guidance. We are providing them with a set of skills (and dare I say it morals) to use when they are online and using whatever website is the rage these days within their age group. Are we sure they have that same sort of guidance outside of school and on websites we don’t monitor?

Case in point, last year a Grade 4 student commented with a few swear words last year on his classroom blog. Due to us having every student commenting from home throughout the year we could easily trace the IP address and nab the culprit.

Did he know about IP addresses?
Did he know how easy it was to be tracked online?
Did he know that not putting your real name down online does not mean you can say anything?
Did he know how inappropriate his actions were in that environment?
Did he know the consequences of his choices online can have very serious implications in the real world too?

He does now.



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