I totally missed the extra requirement of having a kid teach use how to use Minecraft, so after returning from our “unplugged” vacation, I downloaded the Pocket Edition to my phone and asked my little cousins to help me. When I asked them to help teach me they said, “Well you just run around and build things and mine stuff. You make swords and pick axes to mine. There’s spiders and zombies and stuff in survival mode.” They made it sound so easy.
They began by showing me that I can pick what mineral I want to use to build a building and how to clear open a spot to create something new. They showed me how to chose a weapon, kill animals to give me food (that you don’t really need in creative mode). But then, immediately upon taking over I got stuck in a hole. They showed me how to fly to get out. I was chuckling to myself because they were moving so fast and I was having a hard time keeping up. I think it will take me a while to really catch on. It really hit me how good kids are at picking up new games, etc on technology, because my 12 year old brother stepped in and took over on my phone, having never played before and was just jumping right in with no problem! This made me think that I want to be a little more comfortable with it before offering it in the classroom, BUT my students will always be able to teach me more!
Melissa brought up a point that has been on my mind too–whether young ones should be playing computer games in school. As I reflected on this, I thought it might be just the “hook” or tool that some students need to express themselves. I was thinking that it would be possible to use in a Genius Hour setting, with kids having the choice. She also brought up a great point about management—a teacher has to be active and present to keep students on task. I bet the interest hook in the game would help to curtail off task behaviors. I’d still have a clear set of expectations though!
Daysha had some super applications for younger students including using it as an application and practice of phonics skills as well as using Minecraft for an end of the unit project on communities. Tricia had some super math applications for younger students including studying area.
Finally, Sara L helped me reflect about the importance of using student interests in school. Using things students are interested in and have schema on helps them buy in to the project and also helps to make students willing to take more risks and show more perseverance with problem solving. This being said, I still think that Minecraft might be the right tool for some kids in some situations, but not across the board. For this reason, I’d probably have it as an option during a Genius Hour setting.