Congratulations to the amazing grade 5 and 6 students from St. George Catholic Elementary School, winners of the Minecraft Provincial eSports Championship! They outranked 25 other teams from across Ontario. The competition was held at the impressive Microsoft headquarters in downtown Toronto. It set quite the scene for the students who celebrated their hard-earned victory with pizza while reflecting on the exceptional teamwork involved in this achievement.
St. George students have been using Minecraft Education in their classrooms for several years now. Like many classrooms across the Ottawa Catholic School Board, it has gained traction as a learning tool. Calum MacKenzie was first introduced to Minecraft approximately 5 years ago by educator Krista Sarginson, a true pioneer in leveraging technology in the OCSB classroom. Together, they started a grassroots movement within the OCSB educator community, called OCSBBlockheads, for like-minded educators to share ideas and knowledge.
Minecraft is a sandbox-style game that allows students to build and model almost anything a student can imagine. The program can be used to showcase their learning of a variety of concepts across the curriculum in an innovative and engaging manner. Since it’s launch within the OCSB a few years ago, the demand for the program has only grown.
Passionate Educators – Inspiring Students Today and in the Future
Educators like MacKenzie and another St George teacher, Jacqueline Lawlor, actively seek ways of incorporating play in the junior panel to enhance student engagement and learning. This past year, MacKenzie and Lawlor joined the Canadian Playful Schools Network, CPSN, and have explored playing to learn beyond solely Minecraft screens. They worked with local Indigenous Knowledge Keepers and explored robotics, video design and Social Entrepreneurship! These innovative educators had students create and build an arcade with digital games coded in Scratch, 3D printed controllers, cardboard arcade-style games with Microbit scoreboards, and more. Every game taught lessons about the importance of clean water. The entire school community came out for a day of playful learning led by students. These experiences have solidified what these teachers already knew: that incorporating play into lessons means higher student engagement and greater output of student learning as students are able to express themselves in a variety of ways.
Deep Learning at OCSB
Deep Learning is a significant focus at OCSB; its application can be seen in the classroom, sports, and e-sports, where creativity and collaboration play a vital role in achieving success.
With Great Efforts Comes Great Rewards
The St. George students who participated in the Minecraft Finals considered their trip to Toronto a fantastic way to celebrate the end of their final year of elementary school, particularly after several years of COVID-related education. Playing video games at school, with the added benefit of educational value, has served as an excellent motivator for these students. The entire experience solidified their understanding of the importance of collaboration and communication, showing them how working together effectively can help them reach their objectives. Their hard work secured a spot in the finals, but their teamwork ultimately led them to victory as tournament champions.