Yesterday I had the students start on a new map, Escape from Everest, created by The Minecraft Teacher – Joel Levin. I let students know that this map would take cooperation in order to complete and that they would need to read the information blocks to discover exactly what they needed to do. I also mentioned that there are resources throughout the island, but they are limited so it would be important to share. I then turned them loose.
It’s fun to immediately hear the buzz as the students begin sharing their discoveries. I try to promote using the in game chat to get them typing and reading as much as possible. It seemed that most of my suggestions about sharing discoveries went unheeded though. As I looked around there were students with completely full inventories and others with nothing. After many complaints, especially about people stealing glowstone from the fuel canister, and requests for various items, a few of the students began to work together.
We will continue on the map next week. I am debating about sitting them down before to see if they can hatch out a plan or just let them work and see what happens. I am leaning toward using last week’s experience as a teachable moment to lead a cooperative discussion about what could be done differently to get the required materials for the rocket.
WOW!!! As I talked to each of the classes I was overwhelmed by the excitement and desire of so many students to participate. This is going to make the selection process very difficult because it will leave so many disappointed students. I’ve taken many things into consideration when selecting students for the group because I wanted a good mix of students, so I was careful when choosing.
This weekend I am going to finalize the selections and do my final revisions on the parent letter. I’m awaiting the codes from TeacherGaming LLC so I can play the game myself and learn a bit more. I’m already prepared for some students knowing much more than I do, but that should promote a good learning environment.
I was blessed with a two hour delay Wednesday morning and after getting some necessary work done I spent the next two hours “putting together” my Minecraft Club. I went back through the sites I had bookmarked to dig deeper and figure out what I needed to do now that this was becoming reality. The first thing I did was put together a parent letter for students I would select to help pilot the program. The letter explained a bit about the game and the educational value it provided. That same morning I also spent a lot of time reading about other Minecraft clubs and watching videos from Joel Levin AKA The Minecraft Teacher.
Throughout the day on Wednesday I was in contact with our tech coordinator so I could see if it was possible to set up a server and if so, learn what I would need to do. I heard a lot of tech jargon I didn’t really understand, but that being said he is going to set me up with a section of our server with the necessary processing power and ram to work for 25 students. I now have to wait anxiously for the account codes and keys to the software to begin this setup and begin learning more about the game.
I am probably moving too fast, but I want to have at least two solid months to pilot the program before summer break. Depending on how this goes, it could turn in to a summer program.
As mentioned before, upon returning from the Ohio Educational Technology Conference, where I heard and saw many sessions about games and learning, I came home fired up and ready to find ways to apply this research in my school. I soon realized how difficult this would be considering the current staff. I continued to research the idea anyway and came across the game Minecraft.
Now, I’d heard of the game before, but never tried it. After reading about the game and its educational values I decided to try the game myself. As I played the game I knew I had to figure out a way to get this into the school. I put together an informal request to the principal pointing out the value of the game and the idea of starting an after school club and asking if there was money available to make a purchase or if she had any ideas of where I could go to make a request. I got the response from her saying that the club sounded like a great idea and that the money was available so I could just fill out the requisition. I put together the requisition and placed the order for 25 licenses plus the MinecraftEdu custom mod through minecraftedu.com on Tuesday and I’m currently waiting for account codes.
Although this assignment took considerably more time than the previous ones I found it useful in getting back into the mindset of an active researcher/learner. Having been out of school for only a few years I couldn’t believe I had forgotten as much as I did about researching and citing sources. It was good to get back into the swing of locating scholarly research and learning about the many fresh new ways to do so with the advances in technology and the number of publications now found online.
In order to stay relevant to my students and in today’s society and in order to prepare my students for the 21st century I must stay current on today’s technology, educational and otherwise. Growing up a “gamer” and still enjoying a good video game, this research intrigues me. Despite some gray areas such as what to do about topics needing covered for the current format of standardization tests, I see great potential in video games leading to deeper, student centered learning, while promoting many of the skills contributing to their future success.
Finally, throughout my journey in this course I’ve found and subscribed to many useful resources, of which I can now add Google Scholar email alerts. Now, if I only had time to read even a small portion of these!
Link to Wentworth C – Annotated Bib