Minecraft for class?

MineCraft siteWasn’t sure what to make of a student request to use Minecraft as part of our house exercise in French. The students have to take me on a tour of a real or imagined house , talk about it in French and let me ask them interview questions about it. One girl wanted to use Sims and take screen shots. I know Sims very well and what it can do because my daughter has played it forever. Minecraft was unfamiliar ground and I could neither say no nor yes. I said I’ll give you 10 minutes next lesson to show us on the whiteboard what it can do. Other students might be interested and will be able to see what you can do with it. Act of faith on my part but then I had to spring into action. So what do you do if your want to be open to technology in a classroom but don’t want to put yourself at risk?

1. Search for it in more than one search engine. Minecraft came up easily and I could see what others were doing with it and go to the official site. This game is huge is what I learnt and seemed liked electronic lego.

2. Search for it on Twitter and see what comments are being made. Having done that I felt like it was okay and probably safe for my classroom. I still wasn’t a hundred percent certain though.

3. Talk to the technicians. This gave me a chance to get information I might not have known or hadn’t thought of. Technicians are a fount of thought and information so the next tips are theirs.

4. Look it up on YouTube. What comes up could well be indicative of the sort of programme /software it is and you get the comments on YouTube as well.

5. On the USB sticks left behind in our computers Minecraft has featured very heavily. That could be good or bad. I asked the students why that was. They like it . It is a good game. I asked them if it was violent. They said zombies came out and attacked them in the house and village they had built but they could switch that off.

So now I was ready for the student to show us for 10 minutes in class and what he showed was really interesting and it had a real retro game look and feel but all the students could relate to it. He could use screenshots or take me on a tour as he was doing in class but do that in French. For secondary students it would make life quite interesting and Minecraft could be used in the way I shall be using it in class. Mine is but a modest contribution!

6. If you are going to use a game or screenshots from a game – how are you going to prove that this is student work and not that of a Net friend or expert gamer? That is a very good point to think about from one of our technicians. We need a work in a process approach and we need to have some idea of how games work. I could tell from the way the student was talking that he was new to this game and was doing the sort of things newbies do but could recover as you do and was very good at thinking on his feet.

So now I look forward to going on French tour of his imaginary house and he’ll be happy because he really likes that game.

7. If I still felt insecure I would not let it go on the whiteboard. I would get the student to show me on their laptop which this student did at lunchtime after he’d asked me if he could use it. That is how keen he was!

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