Minecraft & Different Subject Areas

MinecraftEdu has made its way into thousands of classrooms around the world and it is helping teachers engage their students in many different subject areas. Some of these areas include english (reading and writing), and mathematics.

Minecraft and Reading/Writing Skills

One of the main focus areas when it comes to education is our students reading comprehension. One of the best ways for educators to become aware of their students’ reading comprehension is to have them create visualizations. This is where Minecraft comes in. Educators can use Minecraft to have their students recreate settings, characters, and potentially even certain scenes. Students can also use Minecraft to work on their writing skills. In Minecraft students will create all different kinds of worlds using their imaginations. When it comes to working on student writing skills, teachers can have their students answer a few simple questions: What is the story behind your building or world? Who are the characters in your world? What is your strategy for survival? What is the setting? Why have you chosen the location you have for your house and or city? Minecraft is a great way to get their students more engaged and excited about their reading and writing skills.

Minecraft and Mathematics

Another subject area where Minecraft can be beneficial is in mathematics. The best way to get students engaged in mathematics is to relate it to the real world. Although certain mathematics can be difficult for educators to relate to real world, with enough thought it can be done. Minecraft is a great way for students to gain an understanding of measuring, dimensions, area, surface area, perimeter, volume, capacity, ratios, budgeting and much more. A great example of using Minecraft for mathematics would be to have your students create a scale representation of their own home and pose certain questions: What is the square footage of your home? If you were to put siding on your house, how much siding would you need? What would the cost be? How much would it cost to res-shingle your house? So although it may take some thought to incorporate Minecraft into your lessons, it is potentially a great way to motivate students for mathematics.

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Minecraft in the Classroom

Over the past few years, playing the game Minecraft has become a hobby for millions of kids around the world. Although the game was most likely designed for gamers to have fun and be creative, there is evidence proving that the game has a lot of educational value. In 2011, an educational organization create a program called MinecraftEdu in an attempt to bring the popular game into the classroom and to say it was a success would be an understatement. Since 2011, MinecraftEdu has made its way into thousand of classrooms and is currently being used as a tool to teach all kinds of subject areas. That said, in order for Minecraft to be a success in the classroom, an educator first must be willing to give it a chance. Like anything else, MInecraft will only be beneficial if it is used in a beneficial way. Below is a video showing how an educator in New York city uses Minecraft in his classroom.

After becoming familiar with this game through my ECMP 455 learning project, I strongly believe that Minecraft can be very beneficial when it comes to student learning. For more information on MinecraftEdu and how Minecraft can be used in the classroom, visit the MinecraftEdu Wiki.

Farming in Minecraft

The video below is a brief explanation of how to farm in Minecraft. Farming plays an important role when it comes to survival in the game because it is an excellent way to obtain food which is needed in order to survive.

Now that I have spent awhile learning how to play the game Minecraft, my next couple of posts for my ECMP 455 major learning will focus on how Minecraft is being used in the classroom and how I believe the game could be used in a math class.

No Percentage Marks?

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I recently read an article by the Edmonton Journal discussing a different grading method used by a high school teacher named Dave Martin. The article is entitled “No Percentage marks from a Red Deer math teacher” and is one I certainly believe the majority people would find interesting.

My journey in becoming an educator began 5 years ago, and over that time the faculty of education at the University of Regina has been drilling the importance of assessment and constant feedback into the heads of their students. Dave Martin’s method of grading takes this to a whole new level. As the article mentions, Martin has stopped giving his students percentage marks on their assignments and exams, and instead uses comments encouraging students to fix their mistakes and retest their knowledge. In my eyes this is a fantastic form of assessment. Lets face it, how many students actually pay attention to the feedback that is given to them when there is a grade written at the top of the page? This is not to say that some students don’t pay attention to the feedback that is given by educators; however, from my experience in being a student for the past 17 years, the grade is the only thing students really care about. This is a huge problem because the students who are scoring lower aren’t learning what they are suppose to because they know the feedback isn’t going to improve their grade. Further, as Martin mentions, even the students receiving final grades of 70% technically haven’t mastered anything because they didn’t understand 30 percent of the material.

Dave Martin’s method of giving his students a grade only at the end of the school year carries many positives. First of all, in order for students to gain an idea of how they’ve done on an assignment/exam, the comments are the only way to determine which areas they were successful and which areas need improvement. Secondly, by eliminating grades, you eliminate stress which can be very helpful in helping students succeed. The less amount of time students spend worrying about trying to get good grades, the more time they can spend making sure they actually understand the outcomes presented in the curriculum.

This a very interesting article and I strongly believe that all educators would benefit from reading it. That said, as a math educator, this is a grading method I strongly support and would be very interested in trying out.

Surviving the Very Beginning

One of the most difficult things about learning how to play the game Minecraft was learning how to survive the first day and night. I’m not going lie, I probably died at least 7 or 8 times before I actually figured out a strategy to get through the first 24 hours (in Minecraft daytime lasts 10 minutes and nigh time lasts 7 minutes). That said, after reading a bit of information on the Minecraft Tutorial/Beginners Guide, I finally figured out how to make it through the night. Those first experiencing with Minecraft may want to do a bit of research on how to survive during the early stages of the game. There are many great videos on You Tube and the Minecraft Wiki is also very helpful. Below I have posted a video on what I believe is a good strategy for surviving the first day and night when someone first begins their Minecraft journey. I realize the video is a bit long so I apologize in advance. Enjoy!

Creating a Small Game

This past week in ECMP 455 our class was introduced to a very cool website called Scratch. Scratch allows users to test out their computer programming skills as they create fun stories, games, and animations. Below I have posted a link to a maze game that I was able to create in about an hour using Scratch. Although it is a very simple game, I found the process of creating it very interesting and I now have an understanding of how I could create something more complex. I have also included a screen shot of how I created the game. The first picture indicates how the ball has been programmed and the second picture indicates how the button has been programmed. For anyone interested in learning about some simple computer programming I highly recommend checking out Scratch.

http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/embed/13953117/?autostart=false

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 10.04.47 AM        Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 10.05.08 AM

Beneficial Recipes

This video explains how to create a few beneficial recipes in the game Minecraft. A recipe is when certain materials are combined to construct different tools or other complex mechanisms. I have not mentioned in the video how to acquire all the the materials needed to construct these recipes, however, an individual can gain information on where to get the materials by using Google or any other search engine.

As stated in the video, these are simply some of the tools and things I believe to be extremely beneficial in the game. That said, this is a very very small percentage of the recipes that exist in the game Minecraft. To view a full crafting guide for Mindcraft, click here or here.