Minecraft Global Mentor Jessica Pilsner joins Tch Talks to discuss how we can help students express themselves and their original ideas through Minecraft. Listen as Jessica explains how she unleashes her students’ creativity as they build and solve problems together within the world of Minecraft.
Do you remember when you were a kid and you could spend hours in a sandbox or building with blocks? That sandbox could become anything — a medieval castle, a turtle, or maybe even a bakery serving up sandy snickerdoodles. The possibilities were endless.
Being the type who likes to research, when I first noticed my students’ obsession with Minecraft, I began researching and found that Minecraft was described as a “sandbox game.” My gaming knowledge was limited at the time so the term was unfamiliar to me, but it brought me back to playing in the backyard as a child. Later, I learned the term references the few limitations put on the player. However, much like my childhood sandbox, it requires creativity.
Creativity is a 21st-century skill that our students will need as they continue to grow and engage in the work of solving global problems. With the wide-spread availability of information, the need for creativity is higher than ever. Students become innovators now in the classroom and take those skills into whatever profession they grow in to. Technology even allows students to make a global impact and be active citizens solving problems.
So as an educator, how do you purposely develop skills like creativity?
This time of year most of us are a little fidgety.
Summer is right around the corner, but as we’re constantly reminding students “the year isn’t over yet” and “don’t give up,” some of us find ourselves needing the same pep talk from our administrators and social media networks. We’re almost there — but in the year of dabbing here and there, flipping hydration, and slime (yes, slime!) enters an item that’s making heads spin.
|What is this amazing tool that’s taken our students by storm? The fidget spinner!
Wait. You mean that at the end of the year our students are obsessed, unknowingly, with NGSS phenomena? Students are loving science and some don’t even realize it.
So how can “Spinners” be spun into relevant phenomena for science classrooms and what is the science behind the spin?
Editors Note: This post is part of a series being developed collaboratively between Minecraft EDU and Teaching Channel.
A few years ago, I taught a class called “Storytelling” and it was my students in that class who taught me a great deal about game-based learning. I’d see them engaged in their video games or magic cards, and as a self-proclaimed non-gamer, I had much to learn from them.
A great game combines the art of storytelling, fine arts, music, video production, and appropriate player engagement to create an immersive, memorable experience. Gamers are very much like readers: they like to explore, uncover, discover, and fully immerse themselves in the experience they’re willingly entering. As a book nerd and teacher of readers and writers, it took me a long time to realize my students were reading and writing in games in the same ways I wanted them to do with books. It took me a while to learn from them that games were another form of literacy they were unlocking for themselves.
It was outstanding. Under the soft glow of the mighty brass chandeliers of the Beaux Arts Court of the Brooklyn Museum, learning stations — many decorated with a splash of iconic TED red — were scattered about the restored glass tile floor like a handful of strategically tossed jacks. As I bounced about the room, I watched 400 students smile with delight, scrambling to engage, create, and collect the vast knowledge available in the room. They vibrated with energy and I knew in an instant that this conference would be extraordinary.
How can we HACK education?
My family raised leaders. Both my sister and I are outspoken, driven, and in general, change agents. I can remember my sister starting a petition and spearheading a change to a policy that allowed girls to play football with boys at recess (they were afraid we’d get hurt). Secondly, though, we were also raised as innovators. We competed in the self-choreography division at dance competitions when we were little, using routines we created on our own. And I can remember developing my own recipes as an eight-year-old child — potato chip peanut butter cookies were one of my most loved originals. Put leadership, innovation, and creativity together, and the environment was ripe for the birth of a hacker. Read more
As teachers, learning styles aren’t a topic we focus on very often. They have quietly gone the way of other education trends and slipped behind what we know as well-rounded instruction and differentiation. We educators, though, still know that learning styles provide valuable insight and that we need to reach our students via their multiple intelligences.
We strive to teach students in a way that engages them and reaches their minds and souls. And this is only the start of why I sing to my students.
Asking a teacher to do anything teaching related on a Saturday is just as terrifying as being at the wrong end of a firing squad. How can we do this and expect educators to attend? These thoughts, and many others, were racing through my head as I logged off the Skype call with the team planning an upcoming Teacher2Teacher Engag(ED) Exchange Event in Washington, D.C.
But you DID come out on a cold damp winter day. You came from within the city of Washington, from Maryland, and from Virginia. You traveled down from Philadelphia… and even from Mississippi. You came!
It’s a dreary, rainy, Seattle Monday morning, but the spinning disco ball in our room is casting snowball light spots around the room and the lasers are putting on their show. It’s barely 8:45 am and our room is abuzz with activity. School doesn’t start for another 20 minutes, but my students are already diving deep into their work.
Like a whirlwind, Nafiso comes bouncing into our classroom and makes a beeline straight for me. Before I can even open my mouth, her elated screams fill the void.
“Mr. Ewing, Mr. Ewing! They were talking about Andy Warhol on the radio this morning. All about some painting that these people are fighting over!” Nafiso has a big grin on her face. She is so excited to talk art with me.