Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Minecraft Natural Resources Activity

My students love Minecraft. During Rainy Day Recess, a group of students will sit together in a corner and collaborate as they build together in creative mode. My first year as a third grade teacher one of my students had absolutely no interest in science, and little interest in any other subject. He was an intelligent kid with little motivation. One day his exasperated mother exclaimed, "All the kid cares about is Minecraft!"

I spent that evening getting a lesson in all things Minecraft from my son and daughter. Our class happened to be studying Natural Resources. The next morning, I asked my student to design a Minecraft Natural Resources Museum for extra credit. He worked on it that night and brought his laptop in the next morning. I hooked his laptop up to the projector and he showed the whole class his museum. This was in the early days of Minecraft, and the students were blown away. I was, too. Not only had he built a museum and categorized the resources, he had built a solar powered flying boat to show how he could use an alternative energy source.  His entire attitude about school changed, as did the students' perception of him.  I think it was the first time that I realized that a little extra effort and time to reach a specific child, could really make a difference. Third grade can truly be a turning point in a child's education.  So many children turn a corner during that year, and learn to enjoy learning. I'm constantly striving to find new ways to help facilitate that shift.

The next year, I developed a project around the concept and my entire class worked on it together at school. If you would like to try the same in your own classroom, check out my Minecraft Natural Resources Activity, or find a ten year old to teach you about Minecraft and develop your own activity.

Oh and if you are still wondering if Minecraft and other building games are a worthwhile activity for your students, I would like to introduce you to one of my 3rd graders this year.  He was asked to design a column to print on the school's 3D printer in Technology.  We had been studying Ancient Greece, and the Technology teacher had developed a project to supplement our lesson on Greek architecture.  He proudly told me his was super cool, because he learned how to make modifications in Roblox and did the same thing in the 3D software.  That is so incredibly awesome that I don't even really understand what he is talking about, but he does!  He is using technology that would have been taught only to adults specializing in that field just twenty years ago.