Friday, April 19, 2013

Minecraft in School? Too much Drama?

For several weeks, studens have been asking if we could host a Minecraft Club after school in our middle school. I am not a Minecraft expert, so before we agreed to host a club, my colleague and I decided to do some recognizance. We read articles, scoured the blogs, watched videos, talked to my 9 year old son who loves to play, and to other tech people in our district schools.

Minecraft is a hugely popular game that can offer students amazing collaborative, problem solving learning experiences. But, it can also expose students to bullying, hurt feelings and frustration too. We want our club to be successful and a real asset to our school. So, we plan on taking baby steps!
This week, a peer and I, hosted our first Minecraft Club meeting. We knew it was going to be a popular club, but, we had no idea how popular! The classroom was filled to the gills with Minecraft t-shirt wearing middle schoolers, most of whom were boys.
We didn't actually play any Minecraft that day. We simply gathered the students' ideas about what they would like happen during the club meetings and what kinds of activities they were interested in engaging in inside Minecraft. There were lots of games that they wanted to play that I had never heard of! I was so glad that the students were open with us about playing "Hunger Games" (playing to the death, just like the movie), "Capture the Flag" (just like outdoor game), "PVP" (player versus player until you are the last player still alive), "Mob Survival" (still working on figuring that one out), "Team Faction PVP" (play until your team has killed all the other teams), and some others.
Both my colleague and I were very concerned about keeping the students feelings safe and to make our club a fun, positive and great place for kids to come build and hang out.
I was surprised at how open the kids were with us about what they do in Minecraft at home. Four kids even raised their hand and admitted to 'griefing" (MC speak for destroying other players' creations).
We now have a game plan!
1.The students will play in Creative Mode (no killing, only building) in the LMC next week.
2. We are going to have groups of 3-4 students log into their already created Minecraft accounts and work together to collaboratively build a Wonder of the World, or a Chicago landmark.
3. We will not allow:
a) the chat function
b) no TNT (they can use it to blow each other's structures up)
c) any one caught "griefing" will be asked to log off

We are hoping eventually to get a server for our club that we can control, but we are going to take a chance with online servers until we can get the funds to create our own.
We are cautiously optimistic that our club will foster community, and then we can open up more options to the students as we learn how we are going to operate as a group.

We have also roped our building support technician, Paul, to help us with the kids. He has played a lot of Minecraft and knows who to set up a server, and all the games that the kids play we don't know about! He is going to be an amazing asset!

Stay tuned for next's week's episode of Minecraft Drama!

1 comment:

  1. Jen, did you talk to the science department at TMS? I know Eileen Stocco used Minecraft in her 7th grade science classes to create Rube Goldberg projects. I'll send her your post!