Friday, May 9, 2014

Making a Difference

I worked out a plan of deliverables for my Capstone that seemed comprehensive and doable. I planned two Google presentations for two faculty meetings and did them. I completed one of two workshops and have "semi sort of" resigned myself to lack of participants prohibiting the second from running. Everything's working almost according to the plan. What I did not plan nor consider was that others might pay attention to what I was promoting. Say that again? Isn't that the intention? Yes, but this the Capstone and I'm too busy thinking process rather than effect and, dare I say it, some form of success. Beth asked how I would know success and I'm reasonably certain I didn't give her a good answer - because I didn't know.

Since the presentations, I've had some unexpected conversations. The day after I was informed of a middle school science teacher mocking the idea of using Minecraft in school, I met with a 4th grade teacher. She had attended the presentation I did at Shaftsbury Elementary. She told me she had hoped to attend the workshops but already had committee meetings she had to attend. I offered to introduce her to the game.

What I thought would be a brief intro after school turned into a two hour session. I was amazed at her willingness to stay so long and learn the game. We played in the Tutorial World of MinecraftEdu where she learned to navigate and build. Along the way, she made the connections you always hope a teacher will make with a game. At some point in the Tutorial World, players have to get out of a space that's too high to jump. It requires digging up blocks and then placing them in stair fashion. Once she realized what was happening, she knew instantly there wasn't one way to complete the task and that this was problem solving. She saw this again later on in the world and discussed the idea of problem solving and logic with me several times.

At the end of our session, she said one of the reasons she wanted to know more was because of her experiences with her students over the past year. Their conversation has revolved around geology (although they didn't identify it as such) and durability of difference substances. Their reference to different science concepts made her realize she now needed to respond to their prior knowledge, which students hadn't had in preceding years. She said "I realized I have to teach science differently than I'm used to teaching it."

Ah... 180 degree turn from the opinion of the other day and I'm feeling like I'm making a difference

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