Saturday, November 12, 2016

Students Take The Lead With Minecraft

I learned about Minecraft while attending the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Forum in Denver this past summer. Earlier this year, I wrote about a few of our students that had shared their Minecraft skills in the library during the summer. We were all amazed at their passion and creativity during summer school classes.

I. Jared and Shawn (Library Build)

Lakeside Freshmen, Jared and Shawn, indicated they had an interest in Minecraft while I visited with them in summer school classes. I decided to let them use my Microsoft Surface to show me what they could do with Minecraft Education Edition. The two worked together and built the high school library in the digital environment. They enjoyed the process so much, they came to library during their off days from summer school. Over the days, they added electrical wiring and lighting in the library rooms. I made sure to show their work to teachers and administrators that visited the library. Everyone was amazed at the two summer school learners. Mr. Mathew Thornton, Assistant Principal, arranged a time for the two to present Minecraft to the entire faculty during summer professional development days. A few of the teachers are now allowing students to use Minecraft as a tool for digital projects! Jared and Shawn brought change to our school! The video link below shows our Facebook live walk through of their library build in Minecraft.

II. Hayden (Mayflower and Plymouth Colony Build)

Hayden is a junior at our school. He worked with another junior, Nathan, to create a Breakout EDU puzzle for our history department back in the summer. Nathan asked Hayden to create a Minecraft puzzle as part of the Breakout EDU game. It was a brilliant way to introduce Minecraft to the history teachers. In order to complete that particular portion of the puzzle, teachers had to learn to navigate around the ship and the colony Hayden had designed. In the video below, he describes how creating such a world in Minecraft has changed his thinking and the learning that took place.

III. Jordan (Alnwick Castle Build)

Jordan is an 8th grader at Lakeside. He has recently talked to me about his enjoyment of Minecraft. Jordan said he had studied the Alnwick Castle in Scotland and had built a smaller version of it in Minecraft. I asked him to bring it to school and show me. A few mornings later, Jordan brought his computer and showed me the castle before school. I was very excited by his passion for the program. I decided to send a Tweet with a photo attachment of his work to Stephen Reid (@ImmersiveMind) in Scotland. Stephen travels around the world sharing about how to use Minecraft in the classroom. We were excited to get a very positive response from Stephen just moments later. Stephen even explained the correct pronunciation of the word Alnwick to us via Twitter.

In the video link below, Jordan provides a tour of his digital castle. He explains that he used information from Wikipedia. I think this shows the importance of the school librarian in such projects. While Wikipedia might have been ok, if Jordan had come to me first, I could have showed him a range of credible sources like Britannica School, World Book online, and books in our library. Librarians can consult with learners and help them find a variety of credible sources (both print and electronic) for their research. We can also connect students to individuals (such as Stephen Reid in Jordan's example) that can give credible information from their perspectives and experiences.

Next Steps

I have been brainstorming ways to share student voice this year. I am very proud of all the learners involved in each of the examples above because they took risks. Jared and Shawn presented in front of a large group of faculty at our school and they allowed me to use Facebook Live to share their work. Hayden and Jordan created these videos for me to specifically share on this blog. I have explained to each of them that products like this can inspire others to bring change to their schools.  I will continue to encourage each of these students to keep learning and creating in Minecraft.

There is a much deeper learning that takes place when students have to create such buildings and places. Hayden described to me that he had to "put himself in the place of the people that were there." This requires using prior knowledge in a much different way. I want to help provide more opportunities for our learners to create such products across the curriculum and share some of them on my blog. This is only the beginning of the adventure to empower our learners.

How Our Students Presented Library Innovation Spaces.

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