In the past I have created many maps that I believe help students understand some of the content that I am trying to teach them. I have even planned whole projects within Minecraft tied to particular curriculum standards. I am, however, about to embark on a new branch of Minecraft in my classroom. A map designed to be a formative assessment blended with real world assessment.
We are just about to finish off our Linear Algebra unit in my year 8 math class, and I suggested to the students that I would like to do an activity with them in Minecraft, but was concerned about the time taken to do that given how much curriculum I have left to cover. So most the students really liked my suggestion that their test be within Minecraft, some were not so keen. Now the reality is that I need a Minecraft map that will ask the exact same questions as the pen and paper test so that no student is advantaged or disadvantaged by choosing Minecraft or the paper and pen test.
This alone was an interesting enough experience, to take a written test and see how much I could readily not only present but also formally assess within and alongside Minecraft. The multiple choice questions were easy, use the ECAS. Some of the short answer questions were easy, others were not, so some will be based on dialogue with NPC's and others will be based on real world paper pieces that students will have to show me to move through the map and the remaining short answer questions will be based on some scoreboard trickery. Finally the analysis task, I have still not figured this one out completely yet, but I think it is going to be a combination of NPC dialogue and the in-game book and quill.
As always I have been grinding away at a good way to build this map for quite some time. I want to make sure that it 'makes sense' and is not just a jumble of math problems thrown into Minecraft in a haphazard way that is more grindy for the students than fun. This morning I finally figured out the story that could possibly make this map work. A dungeon/prison escape!
I am going to put some play elements into this map but not in the way I normally do. I will still use some game mechanics to my advantage, but this incorporation of play is something I normally do in a much more controlled way than I am planning to do this time. I am thinking of giving students the option of the 'fun and dangerous' path through the dungeon which will probably include some slaying of monsters and some questions based around that. The other option will essentially have the same questions without the slaying of monsters and will be the 'not quite so much fun and not all that dangerous' path. I think it will be interesting to see which path the students choose to take.
This current plan of course, is just a plan, and it is still changing, even as I write this post new ideas are springing into my head about how to get students to answer 'real life' linear algebra questions in a more fun and engaging way in Minecraft while still enabling me to assess them the same as those who are doing a paper and pen test. I will do my best to keep updates, and possibly even screenshots coming as I move forward with the production of this map.