I am finding that there is a massive difference between creating activities to suit a course compared to creating a course with suitable activities. Of course I am being specific to the MinecraftEdu side of things here. Mathlandia is about creating activities that students can do that supplement what we are already learning in our classes. Whereas what I am doing now is creating a course in Minecraft and creating activities that suit that.
Why the difference? I am looking at providing opportunities for the students to 'need' to learn the content, but at the same time make it relevant to the virtual environment. Which is far from impossible to do, it is just a bit backward from what I have done in the past. Everything I have done so far I know that the students 'have' the knowledge, at varying levels, but all students have been introduced to the thinking they will need to complete the task. In this case the activity will present them with a structured need to gather some knowledge to complete that task, and by completing the task they will have demonstrated an understanding of that outcome.
Now that is a very 'heavy' teacher sentence if I have ever written one. However if I try to simplify it as much as possible what it boils down to (I think) is that I now need to design the task to help students learn on a specific pathway, rather than just designing the task to allow demonstration of a skill or knowledge. The other thing I am doing for the first time is writing formally as to what I am covering and linking it to curriculum documents, all this in the past was done in my head, but since this is going to be a project that could be perceived as just playing games, I feel that I may need to justify to parents (and anyone else who asks) the what, how and why of this project. That is what we are covering, how it is doing so and why I am choosing to do it this way.
I was chatting to another teacher involved in this program, the literacy teacher in fact, and she is concerned about the approach I am thinking of taking. She was suggesting that I take the first couple of weeks to teach the students the basic information that they need to complete the tasks, and then open up the virtual world for them. I am not sure how I feel about this, I think it kind of defeats the purpose of what I am trying to do here. I want the students to be self motivated and self managing. I think she may believe that this is too much to expect from these students, I am thinking what have I got to lose by giving them a go first, and if things are not going the way they should adjusting my approach then.
Again, I am really open to suggestions or thoughts if you have any. Thanks for reading.