This week’s topic was a lot of fun for me as I had the opportunity to sit down with my 10-year-old son and explore a topic that makes him very excited – Minecraft. When he first started playing Minecraft, I was pretty unsure about the educational benefits. After conducting research and learning more about it, I am excited about how I can employ this educational tool in my classroom. The Twitter chat and discussions on the blogs forced me to really think about the applications of Minecraft in my classroom more than I originally posted. My experience with Minecraft in education has been limited to one or two students submitting assignments. I have had students turn in assignments created on Minecraft that replicate World War I battlefields/battles. Students’ video recorded their presentation as they taught us about the dangers and pitfalls of life in trenches during the Great War. This was great, but the class discussions and twitter chat this week really got me thinking and looking for new ways I could implement Minecraft if every student in my classroom had access to a computer. I would have students create entire medieval villages as shown in the video below. Students can go further than showing the class their village. Students could create various roles to play in a class activity and they can create the world digitally, and role-play the world as a class activity.
I also found the following website to be pretty exciting as far as opening my eyes to the many possibilities of applying Minecraft to Social Studies. http://amylandisman.com/2013/10/minecraft-history-project-ideas-and-lesson-plan/ The long and short of it is that I was not fully sold that Minecraft could be a viable learning unit for my Social Studies classroom at the beginning of the week. I know it could be used, but the applications seemed to fit other subject areas better (Math, Language Arts). I ran across a 7 Wonders of the World Social Studies Unit and I think that could also be a fantastic opportunity for students to learn more about locations such as the Coliseum, Parthenon, and the Taj Mahal. Students could explain to the class what the structure was made of, what it was used for, and its significance to the history of the different cultures. Recreating a Tlingit village was yet another Social Studies Unit I was excited to learn more about along with the same theme as the Medieval village assignment. It has been a good week as I have learned a lot about a fun yet creative emerging technology. Like many video games (outside of Mario Brothers) I find myself on the outside looking in. I have a healthy skepticism about what video games are actually beneficial to learning and what games are just fun. After researching the educational uses of Minecraft, I am convinced that there are many great ways I can incorporate this technology into my classroom and students will have fun learning.