Friday, March 25, 2011

Minecraft is in My Classroom Already? Oh. Embarrassed Face

My First Day of Minecraft.

All I Can Do is Make Holes!
Can't even remember how to choose and place a block.

Some of you may find this amusing, but I actually have gamers in my classroom at Nutrition Breaks playing Minecraft.  Students from one of the classes I teach turn up regularly and ask to use my computers. Not once have I thought to ask, "What are you doing?"

I regret not having asked sooner.  All it took was a simple expression of interest on my part for them to welcome me into their world. They sprang into engagement, happy and eager to demonstrate; articulate, expressive, knowledgeable and skilled.  With me as the learner and my students as the teachers, we have forged a much more interesting relationship. We are on new ground - shaky for me, firm for them.  I am the new kid in the class, uncertain how to proceed and desperately attempting to understand norms.

One student helped me open my account and showed me the fundamentals. I now know that W, A. S, and D are not just letters on a keyboard.  This small step represents enormous learning on my part. One student showed me how to move  and how to choose and place blocks.  Another showed me her world: breathtakingly beautiful and full of surprises.  I must thank them for their patience as they attempted to instruct me.  I think I'm one of  "those" students.

My first insight into gaming is that I'm not just learning to play a game, I'm learning to think differently. On my first day I struggled tremendously to complete a very simple range of motions: move through the terrain and place blocks.  In my students' eagerness to help me understand the amazing world of Minecraft they overwhelmed me with information - information that was completely logical and self-evident to them, but which was an alien language to me.  As I sat there I wondered how often have I done this to my own students? How often have I moved through what I perceived to be simple tasks and left my students in the dust?  Probably more often than I would care to admit.

I've realized that as I move forward in my teaching practice, there really is no point in conducting lessons unless I have first determined the next step of learning.  That process must be participatory.  If a student has not been involved in identifying the next step, learning most likely will not occur.

I went home at the end of the day and attempted to replicate what I had learned.  I could move through the terrain, but could not for the life of me remember how to place a block. All I could do was dig holes!  Very frustrating. Unable to accomplish any of my goals, I blasted dozens of holes into the terrain. Take that Minecraft!


  1. i love it Heidi. bravo.
    esp love this:
    I'm learning to think differently.

  2. I am so impressed, Heidi and think that as a "beginner" of gaming but an expert about learning, your insights as to the processes u go through will continue to be very important.I look forward to future posts.

  3. Thank you for your kind words Mary Ann.