Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Mining though Minecraft Education Edition

I’ve always been interested in using play and games to engage my students in content.  I remember back in my early years as a student playing Oregon Trail and similar games to not only learn computer skills, but to also explore topics and themes presented in the games.

This summer, I was introduced to Minecraft Education Edition at the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert U.S. Forum in Denver, Colorado.  Along with many other exciting, inspiring, and engaging activities, I was able to attend a session on using Minecraft in the classroom.  Previous to this session, my knowledge of Minecraft was extremely limited.  I knew what it was, and that my students absolutely loved the game, but didn’t have a clear picture of how it could be relevant in my class.  Todd Beard, the MIEE in charge of running the session, along with some of the Minecraft Mentors, illustrated some exciting ways to integrate the program into a typical classroom.  I learned the basics during my session, and came away excited to integrate it into my class.

After returning from Denver, I consulted with my co-teacher and school administrator about potentially trying to implement Minecraft into my co-taught Humanities class.  Last year, our year-long project in Humanities (module work) explored the idea of the settlement, organization, and growth in various civilizations.  I knew that Minecraft could be the tool that we needed to step up our “game” in the classroom (like what I did there?) and provide an opportunity for students to apply their learning in a new way.

After garnering positive feedback and support from both my co-teacher and school administrator, the idea, which seemed so great at the time, became daunting.  I didn’t know how to play other than how to walk around and break things.  While I understand that this is really all that you NEED to know, I felt insecure about being able to help my stu
dents with the program.  This feeling of insecurity and fear of the unknown really came to a head as my co-teacher, Steve, and I began planning our modules.  He had absolutely no knowledge of Minecraft and my knowledge was extremely limited.

We looked closely at the model lessons posted on the Minecraft in Education website and started to get excited about the possibilities.  I spent a large amount of time looking at the ‘Support’ page and really trying to conceptualize how this would work in my classroom of 35 students.  In the next few posts, I will continue to explain our journey and will give you a glimpse of the program in action.

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