I have played Minecraft (MC) on an XBOX 360 very lightly over the last few years. I truthfully just wandered around, trying to follow my children and dig “homes” into caves. I was an explorer, to put it bluntly. Until this week, being pleasantly forced through an assignment, to actually sit down and play MC was I able to learn something.
The instructions were to interview a MC playing, young person and spend some time playing the game myself. I hired my twelve year old son for the job as he is the most skilled “player” I have in close contact. Before I sat down in front of the XBOX I went to visit Minecraftopia. This site gives a good run down of the buttons needed to play MC on a computer but I visited it for the other knowledge such as what to build first, supplies that could make weapons, and general knowledge about time frames for daylight hours.
I wanted to go into the game as knowledgeable as possible since like I said earlier, I was more of an explorer of the MC world(s) than an actual participant in anything useful to myself or anyone else.( I also wanted to sound like I knew what I was talking about but I was clearly was the novice in the room.) Well it turned out I really did not know anything and my son humored me by sticking me in a tutorial world which was not very helpful.
After a little bit of annoyance, my husband and other son joined in and we switched to a peaceful survival world where I was expected to craft weapons in order to mine other minerals to make more things to survive. It was chaos! At one point I retreated to another room to regroup as frustration was high actually having to do all of it myself. Not knowing how to move things from my inventory to my crafting table (how to even read the inventory) and being able to move from one storage place to another was more than I could learn at the same time.
After telling myself to grow up and go play games like a kid, I went back upstairs and asked a lot of questions but I was able to craft a wooden pickaxe to mine coal so I could build torches to see in the dark cave. Once I was able to see, I found iron. I was also able to craft a stone sword and a stone pickaxe, which harvested animals and other minerals quicker. I figured out how to read the inventory list of how to make other tools and was able to maneuver around the XBOX buttons quicker. I was impressed since I had been playing for about thirty minutes. I had enjoyed my time and look forward to the next time I can jump back into MC!
Since having the experience in MC, I enjoyed reading Andrew Websters article (2011) labeled Educational Building Blocks:how Minecraft is used in Classrooms in which he had interviewed Joel Levin (creator of a tumbler blog minecraftteacher.tumblr.com/ ).He speaks of the choosing to use MC in his class because it is just “so open-ended”. From Levin’s interview with ARS Technica (2011) he goes on to say [that]”The game presents you with a huge open world and you can do any of a dozen different preset activities. Or you can go off and create your own content.”
*The appeal of creating everything in a world, is what has interested me in introducing MC in my classroom. The only limit to what you can build would be your imagination. If you are not feeling very creative, you can go into a preset world and just mess around but you have to create something, even if it is just a cave.
I have used Minecraft (XBOX version) for an Alaskan Geography class. This class was centered around Alaskan land and water forms but also the Native Tribes and Regions. The class would do book and map work in the traditional sense and once we got through the base learning about the land, we started to cover the Native Tribes and Regions. We took one region at a time, with the main Native group of that area, went into MC and built the Native Communities. The students were supposed to use basic materials, like the natives of a certain region would have used (no golden longhouses) and create a small community.
The students needed to discuss what they were going to build, work together to clear trees for some tribes (such as the Aleuts). The students had a great time and gave presentations at the end of the year that showcased their knowledge as well as all of their hard word spent in MC.
Since attending ASTE in early 2016, I have been interested in getting MC (computer version) into my classroom as I believe it will keep students engaged while teaching them many skills like problem solving, collaboration, and creativity. I am highly interested in Givercraft. I love the book and would love to see what students could do with recreating the world from what they had read.
The plan outlined at http://survivalcraft15.weebly.com/the-giver-unit-plan.html provides a detailed curriculum (standards included) to use while taking your students on the close read adventure of “The Giver” by Lois Lowry.
Levin, J. (2011) MinecraftTeacher. Retreived from http://minecraftteacher.tumblr.com/ on July 7, 2016.
Webster, A. (2011) Educational building blocks:how Minecraft is used in classrooms. Retreived from http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2011/04/educational-building-blocks-how-minecraft-is-being-used-in-the-classroom/ on June 7, 2016.
Retreived from http://www.minecraftopia.com/how_to_play_minecraft on July 6, 2015. (not at all sure how to properly cite this resource)
Retreived from http://survivalcraft15.weebly.com/the-giver-unit-plan.html on July 6, 2016. (not sure how to properly cite this resource)