OK, so 2014 was a bit of a slow year for me, this year, 2015, I am going to get back into pushing the boundaries of my teaching. I am lucky enough to be teaching year 8 Math again, and I have spoken to the students about a MinecraftEdu session every fortnight. Of course they are excited, but so am I, I have the first couple of topics pretty much ready to go, I am still deciding how I want to tie it all into "Mathlandia" because ideally I would like to start with the Measurement map with Galacticraft and Mystcraft and actually allow the students to leave the polluted planet and find a new home on a remade Mathlandia home world.
The problem with this is the order of topics we are studying doesn't really line up with this, as we are starting with Probability. I plan on using the new probability map I made for a demo lesson at another school this year and seeing how the whole thing plays out. I could of course complete the probability map, have a 'disaster' that makes the world polluted, but it would require a rewrite of the base Measurement map backstory, which in itself is not an issue, it is just a matter of whether it is 'worth' the required time given the students propensity to ignore backstory and any other reading or text while in class.
The other exciting thing I am trying to maintain this year with this math group is on the opposite weeks to MinecraftEdu we will be using an XBox to gather 'data' to perform basic numerical actions upon to improve basic number fluency with these students. The first session of this XBox is this Friday (as in 2 days away) and the first MinecraftEdu session in which we will do the tutorial world is next Thursday. I am really excited and also hoping to be able to actually find the time to open the base Mathlandia world up for students to interact with at lunch or recess at least once a week.
So the 'to-do' list is quite large, starting with a building a completely new Mathlandia home world, deciding whether to continue using Mystcraft as a way of separating the lessons out and being able to upload each lesson separately to the world share for others. On the sharing of my worlds, I am going to try and upload them 'as is' instead of trying to make them 'perfect' before uploading as this is what I believe to be one of my biggest failings, I have all of these wonderful worlds that 'work' in their current state, but they are not shared because there are things I would do different if I were to use it again, and the time needed to alter them in this manner is normally swallowed by the next project or map as, for me, it is way more fun to build something completely new than alter a pre-existing map, even my own.
Setting the boundaries and ensuring students stay up to date with their assigned book work is also going to be a high priority on the list. Unfortunately if students do not keep up, then I cannot afford to take the time out of 'normal' classes to do these different activities, while they are valuable, I do need to keep pace with the other class and make sure students are getting the required skills and knowledge.
I also am hopefully going to gather some relatively 'hard data' to prove that MinecraftEdu is supporting student learning and knowledge retention of these topics. Having taught almost entirely not in MinecraftEdu last year, I have the data of student growth without it, and comparing that with the data I gather this year when I am teaching with it I hope to 'prove' that it is a valuable tool, rather than just knowing it. I know it is difficult to compare different cohorts, but if I look at relative growth of students rather than comparing the data wholly I hope to be able to make some valid arguments for the continued use of MinecraftEdu at my school and in my classes. This may make the time away from 'normal' classes easier to defend in the future.
OK I have babbled on enough now, just a 'quick' update and hopefully some more regular sharing and lessons will happen over this new school year. Feel free to leave a comment below.