Saturday, May 17, 2014

Starting the Conversation

Part of the deliverables was to give two presentations - one for each school that has MinecraftEdu installed in their lab.The purpose of the presentations was two fold. The first was to increase awareness of Minecraft as an educational tool, either in or out of school, and as talking point with students. I wanted to demonstrate some of the extraordinary connections Minecraft has to curriculum. I wanted to point out that students are playing this game, developing interesting knowledge and skills and that even if the game isn't used in an academic context, it's something students enjoy discussing. Under these circumstances, the game could then be used to form a connection with that student the teacher might not have previously had.

The second reason was to promote the professional development workshops I have planned as part of my deliverables. I could have only advertised via email through the Curriculum Office but I did not think that an emailed notice of PD would be as effective as a presentation of Minecraft would be.

My expectation of the presentations was that a few folks would sign up for the workshops. I didn't expect people to start talking to students about Minecraft (why was that?) during their classes, prior to the workshops. An elementary art teacher took me up on the suggestion of talking to students. She teaches 3D drawing to her 4th grade class. There are the usual complement of students who enjoy this kind of drawing and those who do the work begrudgingly. This time, the art teacher suggested drawing something from Minecraft. She later reported that students jumped at this opportunity and couldn't wait to share their drawings with her. Since then, she's encouraged students to draw Minecraft images of any kind and they've responded enthusiastically.

As an aside, I wonder if drawing Minecraft is easier for those students who feel challenged in the area of art. If they generally feel they are not artistic and don't enjoy art, does it make sense that because Minecraft is made up of blocks and blocks are not hard to draw, that they now have success?

Other observations - students draw these willingly and label them accordingly. Is it possible to encourage them to now write more about them or perhaps create graphic novels? Have we now included writing as a possibility?

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