Finally, after much encouragement and lots of nagging from our students, we launched our first expedition into MinecraftEdu. Our lunchtime Minecraft club was up and running.
Attending the E2 exchange and spending time with Minecraft teachers like Noelene Callaghan encouraged me to get a move on. I discovered many amazing examples of the way Minecraft has been incorporated into classrooms and the engagement and challenge for learners was clearly evident. Maybe instead of needing to control the implementation of this I could share this responsibility with others.
We have some very experienced and knowledgeable students in our school and it was time to engage that expertise to get up and running. Licenses sorted and application downloaded, I did what all good learners do when they get stuck – seek the help of an expert other! In my case this was a 12 year girl in my class and a Minecraft Master!
Master Marija has many hours of experience and last year gained second place in Minecraft building competition. Her passion for Minecraft was well known in our school and her expertise highly regarded. It was time for this teacher to learn from the best! It only took a short time to get our first world up and ready for its first inhabitants. My Minecraft vocabulary, limited at the start, increased quickly. Then the fun began in earnest.
Eight students arrived for the first session, all with varying degrees of expertise. Some I had invited after discovering them in the library with their noses buried deep in Minecraft manuals. Others who had shown an avid interest (by hounding and pestering me!) were also invited along. Anyone who thinks Minecraft is a solitary activity is mistaken. The noise was phenomenal. Things work differently in Edu environment and the kids quickly discovered the freedoms and constraints. All of these needed to be discussed loudly to ensure everybody knew exactly what was happening.
The second week saw our numbers double. Sharing a device to play in pairs was eagerly accepted as a way to make sure everyone could join in. Each day more and more students came to ask when the next session would be and if they could come along too. We quickly realised we needed to extend our leadership crew and more Year Eight students were roped in to help.
We are in the very early trial stages. Making sure things work the way we expect them too. Once we have the platform sorted, our plan is to extend Minecraft use into classroom programmes. Harnessing the power of a game many are already familiar with to explore concepts like visualisation in reading, ratios and proportions in maths, and incorporating ways of exploring events and places by recreating them in Minecraft. We are keen to find ways to collaborate and create with others. We plan to start small geographically, working with others in our local cluster of schools and then broaden our Minecraft horizons to join with school in other parts of our country and beyond.
The excited and enthusiastic response to our first expedition suggests we are on to something here. We would love to make contact with others who would like to make Minecraft Magic with us. Leave a comment and we will be in touch!