Today we had an amazing middle school teacher named Heidi James and some of her students come into our class to teach us about how they have been using Minecraft in their classroom. I was very skeptical at first as I have never been a very big gamer, but after listening to the middle schoolers enthusiasm while speaking about everything they learned I eagerly jumped on board! They spent some time explaining different project that they had done using the game as an outlet for inquiry learning, and then even gave us the chance to learn how to play!
This class did some really cool activities in their Minecraft world, but my favourite one that they explained would have to be learning about ancient Egyptian civilizations. The class was split into groups and each group nominated a leader for their own civilization. The leaders were then given some supplies and resources that were different from other groups. At the beginning the students spent their time building housing and different infrastructures to create a community, but after that they had to learn about trade between different communities. Instead of reading this in a textbook the class was able to experience this first hand and learn through doing! Further into the semester the students then began facing obstacles that would attack players such as: starvation, animal attacks, natural disasters, etc. I was so inspired by this lesson and all the students were able to accomplish on their own.
When they began to teach us to play I didn’t realize how hard the game was. Perhaps it’s because I’m not very video game savvy, but I found that guiding my character around our practice was very disconcerting. With a bit of practice (and accidentally digging out of the world) I got the hang of it. I think students would have an easier time picking these skills up than I did, but even if they didn’t, this would be an amazing learning tool.
For those who are interested in finding out more about this topic, I have attached Heidi’s twitter handle below as she is the awesome instigator of this new learning tool