This semester I have definitely been forced out of my comfort zone exploring new technologies like Piktochart, Schoology, and Minecraft. Using new technologies in a creative way is challenging for me because it often takes several days for me to find inspiration for how to use the technology to meet my needs as an educator and to meet the requirements of the assignment. While I appreciate each of the pieces I created, my best work in CEP 813 is the Algebra 1 assessment I crafted in Minecraft.
When I initially played around in Minecraft world I was extremely frustrated with my inability to navigate the system. Being that it is a gaming world, I had to use my laptop keyboard to navigate and I consistently ran into walls and fell down ladders. Because I spent so much time mastering the basics of simply walking in Minecraft world, I have to admit, I wondered if I would ever find an educational purpose for using games like this in a high school math class. I was extremely skeptical. When I was asked to actually create an assessment within an open piece of grass within the game world, I started off by throwing around some blocks to make a cool-looking building hoping to be inspired with an educational purpose. I could not figure out how to make a tilted roof, so I Google searched how to do this. I searched how to construct a door. I became a problem solver and learned what I needed to as I went. When I had a purpose to acquire new information, I had the inspiration to learn more and construct new knowledge.
I then remembered how one of my former (now graduated) students came to visit me several weeks ago to tell me how much I helped teach him skills necessary for his current job in construction. I became inspired to create an assessment that had students build, measure, and write equations within Minecraft. I knew that if I struggled to buy into using games for learning math, I would definitely have to create an assessment that would connect to my students and get them to buy in as well. It was at this moment I had a turning point (the “aha” moment if you will) when I truly found the purpose in using games for assessment and learning through assessments.
I think this piece of work reflects me as an educator and a learner. I believe in putting myself in my students’ places to better appreciate what concepts they will need extra support with. I believe in making my purpose for instruction and assessment clear. I believe in making all learning experiences valuable. I believe in struggling and problem solving to rise to the challenge. My Minecraft creation required me to experience all of this challenges as a learner but appreciate the learning opportunity for students as an educator.
My instructors provided me with feedback both while I was constructing my project in a virtual setting and afterwards so I could reflect on my design. They were open to new ideas given this was a creative project. Going through this experience helped reinforce my beliefs about the usefulness of encouraging, written feedback. My instructor’s input shaped my thinking about and attitudes towards the applications of digital games in school. I would follow their example by having my own students use Minecraft to construct knowledge and explore the system independently. Additionally, I would provide feedback in a similar fashion to provide positive reinforcement and promote engagement.