My children have been obsessed with Minecraft for years. For me, the pixelated graphics and blocky characters were reminiscent of my first Atari so they were not something I was eager to investigate. But as my 2nd grade students have become more and more engrossed with Minecraft, I figured I had to look in to this a bit more deeply! But where to find the time?
It wasn’t until our school migrated to the Common Core social studies standards and we were presented with a farm-to-table unit that the wheels started turning. My kids are always mining and planting things in Minecraft, so maybe we can mash-up the two activities.
So over the summer, while I had time to reflect on my year, I decided it may be possible to use Minecraft as an engaging tool to help students learn how food gets from the farm to the table. And things got even better when I started to investigate this idea on the Coetail website. Utilizing the musings of others Coetailers, like Ried Wilson, Carlina Fiordilino, David Cole, Dwight Trainer, Patrick Holt, and Mary Carle I began to think that this idea was actually doable.But everything fell right in to place when I began working with someone who had actually instructed a similar unit when working with Coetail graduate, Mike Hoffman.
Last week, during the Hour of Code, students were so engaged with the Minecraft coding task that I knew that my team and I were on to something good!
So now… the plans are in effect. We’ll have to try teaching it this year to see if it works, but I have high hopes that this will be my first real step in redefining technology in my 2nd grade classroom.
I know this unit is a good choice for my Course 5 project because it merges together a high interest tool (Minecraft) with conceptual learning that can be challenging from within the walls of a classroom. My biggest challenges with this unit is that we are a 2-campus school with 60 2nd graders–I’m concerned that our Minecraft.edu account and our ES TICs will not be able to support the demands of all of these students across two campuses. The other challenge we’ll face is the pedagogical shift in teaching and learning for my team. We’ll have to step away from read-alouds and guided inquiry in to a more hands-on technology-rich learning approach. This will require teachers to augment the way in which they run their social studies block…but I know it’s all manageable. And even though I’m SO eager to be done with this post, get to the airport, and start my holiday break… I can’t wait until January 18th when we kick-off this unit.
Fingers crossed it’s a great success!