It seems honestly like yesterday that I started my journey with Minecraft. I had heard parents grumbling about their kid’s new obsession, so I went to the source to find out more – my nephews. As they showed me what Minecraft was and what it was all about, I was fascinated with the possibilities. Then came the opportunity to test out using Minecraftedu in my own classroom. At the time I was teaching a grade 4/5 combined classroom and I’ll never forget our first crack at using it. I challenged my students to design a new playground for our school. The playground at our school was old and there was talk about potentially fundraising and building a new playground, so this seemed like the perfect authentic project. They spent the class designing and started their build. I shut the server off, the next day we opened our designs up and everything was gone. I couldn’t believe it, I thought maybe their was a glitch so we started again. Again that day when we finished, I shut the server off to open it in the next day to again a blank world. It wasn’t until I did some research that night, that I found out the glitch in the situation was me, I had to “save the world” which I was forgetting to do. The conversation that came about the next day was one of the hardest I ever had, I had to be honest with my kids and take ownership of my mistakes. While they were not impressed with me, they soon got over it and the running joke the rest of the year was always them reminding me to “save the world.”
Fast forward five years later and the memories I have with Minecraft are too numerous to completely share. Highlights though would be my kids sharing their knowledge with teachers via skype and going to different conferences sharing my story about the possibilities of Minecraft in the classroom and meeting so many different people along the way. As well, the amazing projects my students did – rebuilding famous structures, recreating settings from our read aloud novels, making Array cities, designing and creating new schools for our district and so much more. The stories I have of my kids – the boy frustrated in other classes because he struggled with things like writing becoming the class expert, the one who others went to when they had problems in Minecraft, of another boy who had never been challenged in school, everything came easy to him until he was challenged to build something in Minecraft and everything that could go wrong did and he had to learn not to just quit and give up. I have shared the story of the girl who found her “voice” when it came to Minecraft and sharing her design. I have so many stories that will be tucked away as great memories.
The other thing that has started to happen is other staff in my school are coming around to the potential of using Minecraft. The grade one classes did a project where they compared urban and rural communities in Minecraft, the grade two classes had their students share their understanding of patterns in math in Minecraft. My grade partners even got in on the action and did quite a few projects with me. It’s been great to see how it is slowly being used across our school.
So last week when it came to pass that Windows 10 would be coming to our site which meant our friend Minecraftedu would most likely no longer be able to be used, both the kids and I were sad. We had so much fun this year with it, we had built so many wonderful and fantastic things with it, how could we say good-bye? However, as this door closes on this adventure, a new one is opening. I have the opportunity to test out Minecraft education edition at my school site with my littles. We will be one of a few schools to try it out. I won’t lie, I am nervous and scared. I don’t know Ed edition like I do edu. There are many things new to get used to, I honestly feel quite intimidated.
The thing is I know, just like five years ago, when I started with Minecraftedu, there were many things I had to learn, things I figured out as I worked hand in hand with my kids, quite often we figured it out together. So now this will be our new adventure. We will open the new world and see what it brings. The thing that is also different this time around is I have a much bigger group of experts to draw on, my Minecraftedu people are a treasure trove, I know any questions I have, they will help point me in the right direction. Plus I have my littles, who aren’t afraid to just jump in and figure it out as we go along. That’s the great thing about kids, when it comes to Minecraft they aren’t afraid to make mistakes, aren’t afraid to say ok, back to the drawing board. I’m just crossing my fingers that I don’t have another “saving the world” moment this time around.