“James, stop playing video games. Go read a book or do something productive.”
That was then. This is now.
“James, how did you build that? That’s so cool? What are those dudes with the funky green heads? Let’s start a server together?”
So what happened?
Last Spring something possessed me to open an email about an online workshop for teachers called 3D Game Lab. The goal of the workshop was to explore how to harness student interest in gaming to foster learning. I thought that maybe if I learned about gaming that I might reach a few students that I might not otherwise reach. In fact, I had one particular student in mind.
The workshop transformed my entire outlook on gaming. I am now totally convinced of the power of this media to create learning. moreover, I would say that it is necessary for students to learn gaming, but more on that later.
So began what I am now calling the WG (with gaming) era of my teaching career. The era before, well, I refer to that as WOG.
In the middle division at Brentwood School we have a 30 minute period once a week called Exploratory where kids choose an activity to pursue with a teacher. Activities include jewelry making, yoga, All Things Asian, kickball and more. In the past, I ran a garden club. I believe kids need this too. This year, however, due to some construction on our campus, my garden area was inaccessible. What was I going to do for my Exploratory?
I presented a never before offered activity to the students at our Exploratory fair. MMORPGs drew a huge cheer and was the first activity to fill up. I chose Minecraft because of the building and working together potential that it offered. After some server issues, the activity is up and running. In addition, I found ways to incorporate using Minecraft in my science curriculum.
Having taught for close to twenty years, I have discovered new tools that will keep me excited to teach for the next twenty.
Oh yeah, as for that student that I was thinking about last Spring? Well, he’s still struggling, but yesterday he excitedly shared with me his plans to create his exam study guide using Minecraft.