Let me start out by stating that my nephew tried to teach me Minecraft and I got really frustrated and had to quit and walk away. Am I done playing Minecraft? No. Was I really mad and confused? Yes. Do I understand the draw to this game? Not yet. Will I become addicted to it before the summer is over? Probably. Am I going to play again tonight? I don’t know, maybe. Do I want to use it in my first grade classroom this fall? Definitely.
While taking a break, I started thinking about how the game works and it’s educational benefits. I thought about how my students will love that it is virtual Legos because my students LOVE Legos. Before I began, I read the How To Play Minecraft page and paid close attention when I was instructed that “upon entering a new world, the two most important things to do are crafting tools and building a shelter, all before the first night-cycle hits. Finding trees and harvesting wood are the first steps towards making tools” (Minecraftopia, n.d.). I learned just how important that was when I found exactly zero trees and was repeatedly attacked when night fell. My nephew tried to help me at this point and taught me how to fight the monsters, but there were too many of them, which caused me to die over and over. That’s when I walked away.
I think my first grade students would love to journal and draw about what they build and learn each day. I can see them naming their character and writing stories about their adventures in the game. I could also teach about shapes, seasons, addition and subtraction. I agree that “Minecraft can have huge educational benefits for children; it can help teach numerous subjects both with and without adult involvement. Learning in Minecraft can be faster than traditional methods of education, as children are often far more motivated, get more practice, and feel that what they are learning is useful” (Gamepedia, n.d.). However, I was still concerned that it would be too difficult for first grade students to learn how to use. I searched online to see if anyone had used Minecraft in a first grade classroom. I found a blog by a first and second grade teacher, Joel Levin, who was inspired to teach Minecraft to his students after watching his five-year play the game. Levin wrote, “Not only did we have a productive and fun unit, but I would say that this was the best project I have ever done in the classroom. In my 8 years of teaching I have never seen students so excited and engaged. They run up to me in the halls to tell me what they plan to do next class. They draw pictures about the game in art. They sit at the lunch tables and strategize their next building projects. And not only the boys, but girls too” (Levin, 2011). I found his words to be very encouraging and I am going to follow his blog this year and learn from him so I can create a Minecraft unit for my first grade students.
Gamepedia. (n.d.). Minecraft in education. Retrieved July 9, 2015, from Minecraft Wiki: http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Minecraft_in_education
Levin, J. (2011, January). A Classroom Experiment with Minecraft. Retrieved July 10, 2015, from The Minecraft Teacher: http://minecraftteacher.tumblr.com/post/3922255282/a-classroom-experiment-with-minecraft
Minecraftopia. (n.d.). How To Play Minecraft. Retrieved July 9, 2015, from Minecraftopia Beta: http://www.minecraftopia.com/how_to_play_minecraft