Thursday, 27 November 2014

Time, My Biggest Enemy.

I am not writing this to complain, more to explain. I have all these great plans of things I could to in MinecraftEdu with my classes. What I lack is the time to implement them 'in' my classes. I can make the time outside of my classes to create the lessons, but I cannot 'make' the time in classes to use the lessons. I find this really disappointing and am struggling with a way to alleviate the issue, the constant battle between time and curriculum.

So if I have a look at what has not happened in this latter part of the year that I had planned to do. "Spore" in my senior Biology class to discuss evolution and the process by which that happens and also the Minecraft and money skills unit with my year 8 Maths class. Both projects I was extremely excited and motivated to run. However my Biology class ended 2 weeks ago, and they are now beginning to prepare for next year, starting the new course. Even if I was actually still teaching them I wouldn't be able to, in good conscience, run my planned Spore lesson anyway as the learning is about a different component of the course.

My year 8 class realistically finishes at the end of this week, and while we are covering the same content, there just was not the time available in the classes left to really delve into the learning in Minecraft, as the 'lead' time to learning is longer in Minecraft than via traditional means. The power of Minecraft comes from the long term engagement and once the 'lead' time is over the powerful learning that happens. Unfortunately I did not feel that it was in the best interests of the students understanding of the topic to begin a project that we had very little hope of finishing.

So what now? I feel like I have barely used MinecraftEdu (or much else interesting) in my classes this year. I do have one opportunity left to me that will allow me to use MinecraftEdu in a classroom. In a couple of weeks we do a transition program for years 7-9, in this program the students don't do 'formal' classes, but practice specific skills required to learn. In this program I have 90 minutes with each class of year 8, in Minecraft. So I plan on using this time to try and get students to be a more cohesive group, more likely to work together and support one another.

So I am going to give them a couple of options, option 1, creative mode with a plan to build something, be that something the school, a pirate ship, a truck… whatever. I am also considering with option 1 giving them the opportunity to work in smaller groups instead of one large group, however I would really like the whole class to become more cohesive so I would be leaning towards the small groups building parts of the whole class build instead of something completely different.

Option 2, survival mode, but with a team death count. So I will limit the total number of lives all the students have, and students that know the game will have to support those that do not and work as a team. So it will not be 1 life per student, but the class may have 10 lives, and once those lives are used up the game ends and if there is time, we can start fresh with the idea to survive, as a team, longer than previous.

Now I think option 2 is way more interesting, and probably more fun, so I am hoping the classes choose that option. I am considering just saying that is what we are doing, but choice is also very important, and voting and coming to a group consensus based on majority is probably something that is a worthwhile endeavour to set the scene at the beginning anyway.

OK, I have been sitting on this post for a couple of days wondering what else to write to close out this post, and I finally figured it out. Thanks for reading, if you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to leave them below. :D :D :D

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