Ever since attending the Game Master Exhibition @ ACMI in Melbourne last year,
the thought of utilising Minecraft as a learning and teaching tool has appealed to me. Since then, the Minecraft bubble has continued to grow and swell without any sign of bursting. More and more of my students have become totally enthralled and spend hours of their spare time online creating some of the most detailed and magnificent structures that many would never have believed they would be capable to building. In the amongst all of this creativity and flexibility, I believe, lies an incredibly powerful teaching and learning tool.
During the Game Master Exhibition, my students were given time to explore the games that were available. I came across one of my students creating a basketball arena in Minecraft. The engagement, concentration, focus he displayed was mind blowing. I instantly thought two things
1) A list of educational application came flooding into my mind within seconds. Advanced spatial awareness, rotation of shapes, symmetry, angles, volume and capacity, area and perimeter etc and that’s only in Numeracy! Imagine how many other ways Minecraft could be used across various other curricular areas.
2) Why the hell aren’t I already using this in my classroom?
I came across a great post on edumedic a couple of moths ago that reignited my first thought when I first saw one of my students using Minecraft. So I decided to start a Minecraft at my school for students who might be interesting. As you can imagine, the response was completely overwhelming. Over 65 students expressed their interest to join what had been advertised as a “small club”.
Before taking on the responsibility of creating the Minecraft club and getting my students all riled up, I needed to answer a few questions for myself. What is the purpose of the Minecraft club? Why do we need it? What are the students going to get out of it?
I came across another great blog written by David Lee who started a Minecraft Club at his school in Korea to teach students about civics and citizenship. Great read and I thoroughly recommend you have a look when you get a chance. What I found interesting was the idea of collaborative teams working towards a common goal. I contact David and we are in the process of negotiating a Google Hangout session so that our students can discuss how they are using Minecraft in education.
I decided that teamwork, communication, planning, collaboration and sharing of resources and ideas would be the fundamental skills I wanted my students to take away from our Minecraft Club. I also wanted them work on small construction projects in competition with other groups within our club.
Students formed groups of 4 to 5, created group names and established rules and a code of behavior for future Minecraft club activities and participating members. Edmodo groups were established for each team as a forum for members to share ideas, distribute resources and discuss their projects.
Student where then introduced to their first construction task. The first task was to reconstruct a model of Melbourne’s Eureka Skydeck using the scale of 1 block is equal to 1 metre. Students were given time to research the dimensions of the actual building using a range of websites and begun calculating the height and width of the various sections of the building. They then shared their findings with their group via their Edmodo group page.
What struck me was the ease in which the students were able to conceptualise how they would replicate the original building using Minecraft while applying size, scale and shapes contained within the real life model. I look forward to adding more to this blog post as the weeks progress.