Monday, March 30, 2015

A New Experiment!

How young is too young for using Minecraft effectively? I've been wondering if 1st grade was a bit too early to begin. I found a willing teacher to let me experiment with her students, and we started learning the controls.

I began the lesson by having the students sit on the floor like always, and I asked the class who had ever heard of Minecraft before. Lots of hands shot into the air! Several students wanted to tell what they knew about the game. I did have 2-3 kids who had never even heard of it, so I had a couple of students do their best to explain what the game was about. Then I asked who had played Minecraft before, and about half the kids raised their hands. When asked who had played on a PC rather than a tablet or console, only a couple said they had. Clearly, we needed to start with the basics.

I handed out a copy of the MinecraftEdu control sheet to each person and had them look it over. Then I launched MCEdu and demonstrated the controls using the projector and physically pointed out how each key and the mouse controlled the player.

Next we decided on some basic rules for playing. The students who had played Minecraft before were very helpful in determining what the rules should be.

Our rules

We then got everyone on a computer and I explained step-by-step how to log into the server and join a game. They did a great job of listening and following directions! I made sure to inform them that when they first joined the game, they would probably be inside someone else's body (which looks really weird) so they would need to push the letter W to get out of the way.

I used a small tutorial world I built to get the students used to the controls. I love the tutorial world that comes with the game, but I find that it often takes too long to get through. Looking back, I think I would have done better to just launch a new creative world with border blocks around it. The project we will work on will be done entirely in creative mode, so their time would probably have been better spent learning those controls. (I found that the control sheet needed some modifications to reflect the creative controls, so I fixed them for next time.)

Mrs. Hall's class did an excellent job of being persistent with figuring out how everything worked. Next time we meet we will continue learning the controls, but this time we will just use creative mode and build little houses.

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