I know lots of educators that talk about using gaming in the classroom with their students. I’ve even tried this out before by using Nintendogs with my Grade 1 and 2 students. Students definitely love using video games or handheld games in the classroom environment, but I often question the learning. While I tried to ensure that our gaming activities focused on learning outcomes and curriculum expectations, I often found students were just too wrapped up in the game itself. I hate to say it, but I did not see the benefits of gaming in the classroom. Then yesterday happened.
Right now, my Grade 6 students are working on a project in Social Studies about First Nation Peoples and European Explorers. As part of this project, they need to create a media piece sharing something that they learned through their research. I was working with one of the groups yesterday, and the three boys mentioned that they were going to use one of the lands in Minecraft to help create their background for a Claymation activity they wanted to do. They went on to tell me about this background and why they thought it would work so well. This is when I asked them if they had Minecraft on their iPods. Two boys mentioned that they had their iPads at school, and yes, they had Minecraft on them. I asked if they could create this world in Minecraft, and they explained that they could, but they were one iPod short. No problem.
I downloaded Minecraft on my iPod Touches, and I suggested that they use Minecraft for their media piece. They loved it! One of the boys mentioned that they could film the building of the world and the discussion, and then play this during their presentation. Awesome! The students then sat down with their three iPod Touches and started creating their world and discussing the connection to Social Studies. Before long, they videotaped this “test media piece”:
Watching what these students created makes me think that maybe gaming really can be used for learning in the classroom. It took three students to show me how. Now I’m inspired to explore more options. How do you use gaming in your classroom? How do you make sure that the focus is on the learning and not on the gaming? I’d love to hear your ideas!