On Friday, November 1st we had a teacher and some students from Colquitz Middle School come in to speak to us about how they have been working with Minecraft in their classrooms. They highlighted how this game challenges students to develop several skills including: problem-solving, teamwork, collaboration, critical thinking skills and crafting (building worlds, tools, etc.).
When asked about their experiences with Minecraft, the students emphasized the following:
- Minecraft has built a sense of community
- Has helped them learn about agriculture (need food, seeds, how to tend to them, water, fences, dirt, hoe, care for animals, etc.)
- Everyone on the server has to be asleep in a bed for it to get to the next day. If you don’t have a bed, monsters will come out and can kill you (one of the aspects of collaboration and teamwork)
- Building of civilizations – allocate jobs to each player (farmer, builder, hunter, etc.)
- Tutorial world is finite. Beyond the tutorial world is infinite
- Math skills (x y coordinate grid, and 3D coordinate grid; use coordinates to navigate around the world to figure out where their teammates are)
- Science curriculum (physics)
- Design, draw, plan, execute (Design skills and Technology Curriculum) – ideating, prototyping, testing, making, sharing
- It is one of the more collaborative games (chatter was constant in our room to coordinate with one another and to problem solve)
- One student wants to be an architect, another wants to be an artist
- Facilitates PLAY
- Environmental lessons on sustainability. I have a few reservations about this as I feel the infinite nature of this world could potentially lend itself to a misconstrued representation of the finite nature of our planet. Could reinforce a worldview of consumption and ignores the interconnectedness of local and global ecosystems.
From the perspective of the teacher, she noted that students truly are the leaders. It is important to trust them and work to empower student voice and choice in the classroom and beyond. In terms of assessing student engagement with Minecraft, the teacher said that assessment is fed by anecdotal comments based on observations. Minecraft lends itself to a good tool in the classroom as it has a facilitator version where a teacher can have special powers to do things like freeze all (or individual players) and bring them into a specified location, they can gift players items, change the time of day, change the level of difficulty and much much more.