I’m not too sure why I have always shied away from Minecraft as a teacher. Maybe it’s because anything that students want to play instead of doing school related things is difficult for a beginning teacher. Maybe it’s because our district hasn’t put it on every computer and iPad, unlike other games of this ilk. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been a bit stubborn and needed to change my attitude about something my students love to work with. Any way you look at it, my attitude changed this week and I decided to step out and give Minecraft a chance.
In my Texas History class we’re talking about the Texas Revolution and I want my kids to understand the battles, understand the momentum swings throughout the course of the revolution, and put themselves in the shoes of the Texas freedom fighters. With that in mind, I was putting together a project for our revolution unit I decided to try two different ideas that seem to be big hits with my students so far:
- Create a reenactment of two battles of the Texas Revolution using Minecraft. For each battle include at least two recommendations for the Texas army that would have aided their campaign.
- Create an audio recording of yourselves doing a play-by play commentary of one of the battles of the Texas Revolution. Be sure to describe major events, momentum swings, and who ultimately won the battle.
I wanted my students to be creative in their projects, but what I found is that the students are getting wildly creative with these two options specifically (there was one more) and have actively asked to get more time to work on these rather than doing other things. All free time this week was spent with kids working on these projects instead of leisurely activity. The kids really want to do well on these two because I think I tapped into some deep passions of my students without necessarily planning it that way.
I’m finding that my Minecraft kids are happy because they have a deep passion for Minecraft. They were going to be playing it anyway, so why not give them an educational reason to play it? On top of the engineering related reasons for them to play, now they can get another view of important battles in history using it. I’m also finding that my athletes are really pumped about the play-by-play option. Most of them watch sports religiously and are keenly aware of good and bad sports announcing. I tapped into this passion with this project and the kids have already decided in their groups who is going to by the “play-by-play guy” and who was going to be the “color guy”. The passion I’m getting for both is making me very excited to see the end results here in a couple of weeks.