Thursday 27 October 2016

MindRising 2016: 'Pursuit of Happiness' embraced as free lesson plans available to all schools

There is still enough time to start working on an entry for the Mindrising Schools Competition 2016

Published 11/04/2016 | 18:36

Conor McCriosta visiting the real GPO after building it in minecraft at DIT workshops
Conor McCriosta visiting the real GPO after building it in minecraft at DIT workshops

‘Resolve to pursue the happiness of all the nation’ was the theme inspiring the thoughts of over 120 children and young adults who attended RTE’s Reflecting The Rising ‘MindRising’ workshops in DIT Aungier Street recently.

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Mindrising’s Orlaith Nugent probed her attendees aged from seven to fourteen to think about ‘what they could build to bring people happiness’, and ‘what message they could send 2116 to create a better Ireland’.

‘Mindrising’ quickly became mind-blowing as a plethora of diverse ideas emerged when attendees explored the GPO on unique Minecraft maps which Microsoft have made available for free on

The’s team ethos is to encourage users to collaborate and have fun while learning in a safe, monitored environment.

Harry Kelly, aged 8, enjoying’s free workshops at DIT Aungier Street
Harry Kelly, aged 8, enjoying’s free workshops at DIT Aungier Street

There’s still enough time to start working on an entry for the Mindrising Schools Competition 2016 as the closing date to submit is not until April 25th. Currently teachers all over Ireland are starting to construct new knowledge about this year’s theme of past and future Ireland.

Nugent says an entry can take only a few hours or become a more comprehensive project depending on the class’ schedule.

Any lack of previous experience with Minecraft shouldn’t put teachers off exploring and using all the free maps available on the site even if not entering. With starting points of Minecraft maps and detailed lesson plans provided, the Dublin Castle and The GPO maps provide a stunning canvass to inspire digital storytelling.

Minecraft in the history classroom has already been generating commentary from the teachers who are taking the brave step of going into a world they sometimes feel their students are more familiar with.

Supported by key educators at DCU the role of the teacher in this unique competition is more to guide learning and topic ideas so students enter the process of deep learning almost unbeknown to themselves, while enjoying collaborative learning with their peers.

Kisheog Community College in Lucan has embraced working on Minecraft in the classroom.

Kisheog’s Ruth Murphy says one of the challenges with such a fact-heavy subject as history is getting the pupils to learn and remember all the key words and vocabulary. She says while learning and understanding key words are vital for success, most of the language is new to them and it can be overwhelming.

Murphy says “I have tried different techniques to help pupils develop their skills and to remember the key words being introduced to them. I have tried getting first years to build models out of cardboard and while some really did enjoy it, I found it took an awful lot of time and there was a huge amount of resources to be gathered. I needed to come up with an easier, better (and safer) way to do such active learning.

"Then came Minecraft and discovering a large majority already played it themselves”.

Working alongside a colleague Minecraft building was given as a homework task to each first year student. Murphy says she was ‘completely blown away’ by the work of pupils.

“I found that a handful of pupils who never did their homework and put little effort into their classwork were spending hours building in Minecraft. I was talking to them on their level, getting them to use a game they loved and enjoyed to do their history homework and they were instantly interested and very keen to impress. It was fantastic to see”.

She says that it’s very easy to use such technology in the classroom as one of the benefits of Minecraft is that it is very simple and quick to master for those not already using it at home.

“I would thoroughly recommend using Minecraft in the classroom. It is fun, relatively hassle free, there is no mess or classroom chaos and engages those pupils who lack focus and concentration, but best of all it allows pupils who might not excel academically to really show off their talents.

"The advice I want to give all teachers out there: try it and see. You won't regret it”.


How to get started?

1. Head over to

2. Check out the Toolkit. Here you will find three different sections: Teaching Tools, Design Thinking Tools & Creative Technology Guides.

4. In The Teaching Tools you will find detailed OneNotes, just click on the images of the G.P.O and Dublin Castle to open. Within each OneNote there is A body of work on each building and general information all adhering to the current school curriculums. Also included is Minecraft activities for all levels from beginners to expert, such as detailed maps of the buildings and the surrounding areas, to actually building or recreating Dublin Castle.

5. In the Design Thinking Tools, you will find critical thinking games and how to set up a Hosted Minecraft Edu server in just a few simple steps.

6. Finally, in Creative Technology Guides you will find resources to help you video an interview or get started with sway.

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