Dear Digital Friends,
This post has been in draft form for so long I barely know what it’s intention was anymore. But I am archiving it to cyberspace to shed all.
This project may be a complete disaster!
For those of you who relish in other people’s failures… you may love to hear this. For fans of risk-takers, you might love this too. For me, I’m scared shitless! This project is an all-or-nothing for me and I’m worried it might flop. I’m concerned my students may not learn and I’m über freaked out that at any point, my Principal will call me in to his office with his, “Are-you-kidding-me-Angela” face and give me the what-for. But I’ve decided–it’s too late to back out now.
One. Two. Three. Publish!
Like I wrote in The Magic of Minecraft, my kids and their friends have been obsessed with Minecraft for years but the creepy pixelated images have always disinterested me. Over time, as my students’ obsession matched my children’s enthusiasm, I realized I needed to hop on this Minecraft bandwagon, so I started on my own personal inquiry which lead me to some great inspiration:
- Mike Hoffman: Using Minecraft to Teach 2nd Grade Social Studies
- Edutopia: Ideas for using Minecraft in the Classroom
- Tumblr: The Minecraft Teacher
- MinecraftEdu on Twitter
But observing other people’s ideas or experiences is one thing and doing it for yourself is a whole different beast. So, I crafted a plan.
I decided to integrate all of my COETAIL learning in much the same outline as the 5 COETAIL courses:
- Step/Course 1: use my PLN—for ideas, resources, and troubleshooting 911s (including attending Daniel Flynn’s Minecraft Workshop at Learning 2.016 Africa)
- Step/Course 2: make sure that my students and I are digital citizens— be EMPOWERED, give credit (a million thanks to @mikehoffman) where it’s due, and share our ideas with others
- Step/Course 3: craft some sort of digital work or an infographic to help my students and share with any other teachers crazy enough to take this on
- Step/Course 4: make sure my unit is technology rich, integrated, and including some sort of gamification
- Step/Course 5: tell my digital story
How I’m Gonna Get there
I convinced my team that we could take a never-before-taught unit and go all the way by integrating social studies, math, service learning and Minecraft. Because it was my crazy ass idea, I took it on myself to write the unit. I wrote up an integrated Social Studies Farm to Table unit and then embedded some interesting Minecraft learning (thanks to some direct idea snatching from my Minecraft idol, Mike Hoffman). I knew that my team of novices and I would need a lot of help from our Technology Integration Coach so, I met with him, discussed the learning objectives that I wanted the students to meet, tweaked my UbD to accommodate the three subjects of integration, and then, it was time to be schooled. Under the watchful eye (and incredible patience) of our TIC, Mark, we teachers were dumped in to the Minecraft world where we tried to do some of the complicated tasks we were going to ask the students to do:
- buy a plot of land (math and economics)
- build a home (wants and needs)
- build a farm to plant and harvest food (how food gets from farm to table)
- trade our food for essential items (needs, wants, and economics)
As a team, we decided that the unit would be part inquiry, part teacher-directed instruction, and part technology rich. Using Kath Murdoch’s inquiry cycle, classes started Finding Out and Sorting Out through some basic home-school connections. Students brought in food packages from home and, as a class, investigated the journey that item took from the farm to the table. Students built on this understanding by talking about whether or not food products that they eat are “needs” or “wants” and why. Once this foundational learning was in place, it was time to unveil MinecraftEdu.
I don’t know how this is going to go… and with the power outages of late, it might go terribly wrong, but my team and I are hoping that meaningful learning comes out of this fun integration. If not, uh… I guess that’ll be OK!?!? Yes. That’ll be OK because, at the end of the day, I know the students will learn, I know my team and I will learn a lot, and we’ll tweak and make new plans moving forward to next year.
Fingers crossed it all works out! If not, I might be opening that craft brewery sooner than I thought.