Many years ago, and by many I mean almost 4, I wrote a piece about using Minecraft to explore sheep wool genetics. This was based on a meeting outside of school with several elementary age students. Last spring I was able to do a more extensive lesson in a 7th grade Science class. It was an ungraded enrichment activity for students to reinforce what they had learned about Mendelian genetics.
- The world was built by a student on her own Minecraft account, saved and imported into MinecraftEdu.
- In the spirit of pair programming, two students played on one computer.
- Below is my rough lesson outline.
- Here is a link to an article, (including a video) written for our school newsletter and website.
As a new school year ramps up, I have been preparing for my usual eighth grade physical science course. In addition, I am teaching the first ever robotics elective course at Brentwood School. My plate is full, and that is why I am passing the following email on to the Minecraft community. I believe it is indicative of the present paradigm shift in education away from “stand and deliver” instruction towards more technological and experiential instruction. My question: why not take an environment that kids absolutely love playing in and use it to create learning about the world they are living in? I can’t think of reason. The email: Minecraft teacher wanted “to engage [kids] in topics of geometry, biology, physics, architecture, etc.” Hmm, I think Minecraft would work for that.
MINECRAFT TEACHER WANTED- Ojai/Ventura/Santa Barbara area
The topic for my third meeting with the Sammy Y group was measuring the speed of minecarts. While for the genetics of sheep session I overestimated the knowledge of my audience, this time I underestimated. The night before, I reminded myself how redstone worked and created a couple of starting gates and such. When I asked the kids if they knew how to use redstone, they erupted with knowledge and described some of their builds. In fact, they had already began laying down rail and running a continuous cart around the base of our location beacon. They certainly knew more than I did. A tinge of concern gurgled in my stomach as they took off laying down power rail before I could even pose the question we were to investigate.
Please forgive the digression from Minecraft while I write about teaching in general. I believe many teachers fail to provide authentic learning to their students because of their belief that they should always know more than the students. Teachers are often fearful of their students knowing more than they do about a topic. Embracing what students know relieves teachers of this pressure and allows teachers to capitalize on a student’s knowledge or expertise in order to take the student’s learning to the next level. Moreover, students love teaching the teacher, and adults for that matter, (see Kids Teaching Adults Minecraft), and ironically, this makes teaching the real students easier. End of digression.