It’s only the beginning…


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It feels a little strange to write this blog post as if this is the end, because in my head, I feel like I am only at the beginning of my journey.

The use of MinecraftEdu has allowed for the creation of new tasks by me, but more importantly by my students, that would not have been possible without the use of a computer.  Students have been free to imagine new assignments and share how we can

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implement them into our studies. They have felt empowered to dream big about how to showcase their learning in an environment where they are all totally engaged and working collaboratively. Because of the use of this kind of technology, I have seen 100% consistent, active involvement, like I haven’t seen previously.  Reluctant learners are asking (and sometimes begging) for more time in Minecraft.

Teresa Coffman and Mary Beth Klinger have done considerable research about using virtual worlds in education.  Their article ”Utilizing Virtual Worlds in Education: The Implications for Practice“ explores SecondLife, but I think the concepts they explore are easily transferable to the use of  MinecraftEdu in the classroom. 

“This higher order learning is created through the interactivity of the environment and the ability for learners to manipulate content through exploration. This complex environment has the potential to frustrate learners but as engagement in the complex problem becomes more meaningful, students become more stimulated bringing about opportunities for a more intense learning experience.”- Coffman and Klinger

This is exactly the kind of thing I have seen consistently this year, and other 5th grade teachers have begun to comment on it, now that their students have experienced our grade level simulation (see last post for more information about that.)

Eric Walker, a colleague whom I’ve mentioned a few times in previous posts, led me to the research done by Teresa and Mary Beth through his reference to them in his chapter in Minecraft in the Classroom. I’m grateful to him for continuing to inspire me through his dedication to his work.  

The outcome of this project (to date) has FAR exceeded my expectation when I started dreaming (literally) about it last May. Bumps and roadblocks are normal for any quest for change and I imagine there will continue to be more as we forge ahead in our mission to redefine education.

ASD RD Hint HuntRecently I was asked to join the Research and Development team that has just been formed at our school. The group includes one teacher from each division, the Director of Educational Technology and the ES Associate Principal. After only a couple of meetings, I am energized to think about where we will go and how we will help students as the world of education transforms and changes in years to come.  It is exciting stuff and I’m so thrilled to be part of the growth. Without my involvement in COETAIL, I don’t think this would have happened.  COETAIL has inspired me and pushed me harder than I would have pushed myself independently and I’m excited about the opportunities this has opened up for me.

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I unveiled my video for my family at dinner a little bit ago.  My daughters (7th and 8th grade) both gave me very high scores. YEAH!!

My hope is that others will be inspired to jump off the cliff, dive into the deep end or whatever other idiom you want to use. The bottom line is… be like the Nike commercial and “JUST DO IT!”

Enjoy the show…

3 Replies to “It’s only the beginning…”

  1. I love the intro! Captivated from the first second!

    I love the interviews with your colleagues! It’s so clear that you are spreading the enthusiasm and engagement in this type of learning throughout the grade level/school!

    The collaboration element is so awesome! I’ve seen the same, and I love how students can so authentically team together to overcome challenges – both in a virtual space and a face-to-face environment. I love Tammy’s comment about technology being another participant in the conversation – such a great point!

    I’m glad that Larry hit on all the pre-planning for a unit like this – it’s so clear that you did an outstanding job in this area and that’s what made the project so successful! It would be awesome to have “view only” versions of those GDocs you created linked in this post too – that would be a valuable resource for other teachers that might be interested in doing something similar.

    Love the video clips from your classroom – presenting, screen casting, playing and collaborating! I am especially appreciative of the noise level and clear ownership of the learning – you can see without any narration that students are truly engaged in what they’re doing. This is what a collaborative, engaged classroom looks like!

    Silly question: I thought ASD was 1:1? Does grade 5 not have laptops?

    Couldn’t agree more with Tammy’s final reflection about the risk taking of the teacher. Well done Kara!

  2. Thanks for your comments Kim.

    It has been a journey and I feel like I’ve only just gotten started writing postcards to my family and friends!! 🙂

    Yes- we are 1:1, but I do not have the licenses for MinecraftEdu on my student laptops, which has been a topic of conversation (as you can imagine) between me and the Ed Tech department from the beginning. I am still plugging away- trekking to the computer lab (so very old school and difficult to have any sort of differentiation going on within Minecraft) but think our laptops will soon have access.

    Mike, Director of Ed Tech, has been in conversation with me about this since last May- when I made the first request for access on my laptops. I think he wanted to see how it all went, if my team would get involved and if this would be something that would become bigger than me. Understandably, it is better for everyone if there isn’t ONE “Minecraft Teacher” but rather a culture of teachers ready to work toward redefinition. He’s all for looking at how we can sustain and grow what has just started- and he’s the one who asked me to be on the R&D team. Not sure if that all made sense, but it’s the nutshell answer.

    Looking forward to more adventures that are just around the corner.

    Thanks again for the support!

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