Well todays first lesson in the measurement map did not go great, don't get me wrong, it was a great lesson in itself, but the learning I was looking for did not happen. The energy and excitement in the room was great, and that is what makes the lesson ok. I am really bummed about the learning though, I was using today as a setting the backstory, and tutorial lesson. Unfortunately I would estimate that half the students still do not fully understand how to use the tools they were given in game to complete the tasks.
So what was the main issue today? READING, the bane of my life… not really, I love reading, but students just will not do it. I split the reading into manageable chunks, made it part of the storyline, even sectioned it off into specific tasks. There were a considerable number of students that just ran past all the NPC's and had no idea what they were expected to do (mostly boys I will add there too). So what now?
I am very tempted to 'reset' the map, make everyone start fresh and do it properly, but that is not the answer here I don't think. What I think I might do is just refuse to help anyone with in-game tasks, just tell them to teleport back to spawn and go through the tutorial until they find the answer they were looking for. Alongside this I will be starting the lesson tomorrow with a group reflection on what happened today.
I have been really disappointed most of the day, since I ran that class this morning. But, after consideration (and a bit of chatting with other Minecraft educators) I just need to remember that this is these students first foray into learning in Minecraft. Of course the excitement was going to be sky high, and this is going to create distraction, which leads to off task behaviours. So tomorrow I will be re-iterating the 'ground rules' and expectations and I will continue teaching students how to behave, interact and utilise this time to their best advantage.
The following sentence will be my mantra tomorrow as I keep reminding students that all the information they need to complete the tasks in in the game: "Remember, this is new to them, they have never had the opportunity to 'play games' in class before, their initial reaction is sure to be excitement, channel that, use it to set the expectations and get awesome learning experiences happening." Corny yes, but the number of hours that have gone into making this map enjoyable and interactive instead of just drill and kill is significant. So if that helps me get through and helps the students learn things in a different and interesting way, so be it.
I did survey the students today, pre-Minecraft to get a picture about what they thought it was going to be like. I will also be surveying them at the end of this map to see what their thoughts are then, how they have changed (if at all) and whether they would like to do it again. I am really looking forward to seeing the post lesson results, but I will share some of the pre-lesson data now.
4 girls: not excited about it at all, or not very excited.
All boys: highly excited about it.
5 girls: did not think it would help their learning at all (really hoping this changes post)
I also asked the students to judge their current knowledge of the topic, and will do so again at the end and I am hoping to see increased confidence in their ability.
Enough blabbering for now, thanks for reading, more updates over the coming days as this task continues. Feel free to leave a comment below.