A teacher at a Dorset school has been recognised at a prestigious awards ceremony in London for an innovative teaching method that has put her school at the forefront of ICT development at a primary level.
Tracy Broadbent, an ICT Technician and Leader from Manor Park CE First School in Dorchester, was awarded an Inspirational Educators Award at a ceremony hosted by The Worshipful Company of Educators and RM Education, which this year commended educators who were using ICT in innovative ways to support students.
Tracy has been using the popular building computer game Minecraft and the simulation game Cities: Skylines to help students learn about building communities and developing economies as part of their everyday lessons.
“I’ve always been a very keen gamer and I firmly believe that using Minecraft in education can have a transformative effect across the whole curriculum, so it’s been my ambition for a long time to bring gaming into schools as a learning tool,” explains Tracy.
“When we had some building developments at Manor Park, I saw an opportunity for us to revisit our vision for technology and approached our Headteacher with my ideas. I wanted to evolve the way our lessons are delivered and encourage engagement from students through using games and programs they already enjoy using.”
Led by class teachers with Tracy’s support, students at Manor Park have been using Minecraft to build World War II Anderson bomb shelters, create garden allotments and even reconstruct Pudding Lane to support their learning about the Great Fire of London.
Through building simulated bomb shelters, the students were encouraged to select an engineering approach and explore the combination of materials. They could then see which of their decisions worked best when a simulated bomb was dropped on their shelters and only the strongest survived.
“The use of gaming in learning has meant that some children who often struggled at school are now leading experts and are supporting their peers, which has transformed their sense of self-worth and increased their motivation to learn,” says Tracy.
“Minecraft helps to develop their logic and increase teamwork, and this strategy has had a tremendous impact on our students’ engagement. It’s incredible to see their appetite for learning grow, as well as their confidence - they can’t wait to get to their lessons!”
Tracy is currently writing a second book about gaming in education and is frequently asked to speak at a number of regional events where she helps other schools across Dorset to replicate her strategy.