Beyond the Glass

Reflections on education in a connected world. Jackie Sakatch


Minecraft Screenshots

I have wondered awhile about the game Minecraft.  Last Christmas my son was planning Minecraft on his iPad when my sister, who is a high school administrator expressed concern that we were allowing him to play Minecraft.  I was confused from what I had seen watching Ben play he was using blocks and materials to build a community in a virtual world.  It seemed to me it was like portable LEGO.  My sister explained that in her experience teens can become obsessed with the game and not think of anything else.  Ben described to me the two mode creative and survival and we agreed that he would only explore in the creative world.

Alec Couros challenged us to participate in Open Access  week so I planned to participate in this Connected Educators experience:

Minecraft Open House (ISTE, Games MOOC, rgMOOC, Inevitable Instructors)
1 PM – 3 PM ET.  Minecraft Open House.  Minecraft is a simple, easy to use virtual world that has been unlocking higher order learning skills in kids (especially creative skills) at an ever-accelerating rate, providing outlets for students who were falling by the wayside, and was one of the most popular applications at the most recent ISTE conference.  We’re honored to have ISTE’s virtual worlds group, as well as several other games in education movement leaders, join us today for an open house where you’ll get a chance to explore the environment, ask questions, and discuss it with experts in the field.

Unfortunately our van broke down and I was not able to be at home during the live event.  On the positive side I was able to watch the  video.

The people in this video made Minecraft look so easy.  The video outlines a Minecraft challenge website.  I enjoyed listening to the mother of two twelve year old girls talk about the different modes in Minecraft and the responsibilities of parents.  The girls talked about how they would love to use Minecraft in their classroom to complete assignments and explain their thinking.

I was curious about connects to a grade one/two classroom.  I visited the Minecraft teacher blog after reading the article How Minecraft is being Used in the Classroom by Andrew Webster.

I then bought myself the Minecraft app and tried it for myself.  Ben was very excited that I was interested in exploring Minecraft.  He sat beside me as I created my first world.  The next thing I know Ben had clicked on the egg a bunch of times and their were ducks everywhere.  Then he showed me how to make them disappear.  He showed me how to move around the world and how to access the resources I had available.  Once I was left to my own devices I somehow managed to get stuck under the ice and water.   I tried again and was able to create this structure:

2013-10-27 16.18.48

I will admit that Minecraft is not the game for me and I am not really interested in experimenting in this environment.   I think that it is a fine game for Ben to play.  For now I will continue to ask that he play in creative mode.  If a student in my classroom wanted to show me their learning in Minecraft I would accept their assignment and ask them to explain share how they used Minecraft to help them.

I am wondering if anyone has experimented with Minecraft in their classroom.  I am also wondering if you have concerns about Minecraft what your concerns are.


Moving Forward by Starting to Make Connections in Grade 1/2.

Blue Glow
This week I met with Cory Antonini a consultant on our school team to discuss connecting my classroom.  I wanted to make sure I had a clear understanding of what the polices were for Regina Public School regarding individual students blogs and the use of twitter.   I described to Cory the experiences that I had last week when I tried to have my classroom connect and comment on other classroom blogs.  Cory and I viewed my current classroom blog and created a classroom Twitter account.  When we tried to add a Twitter feed to my current blog we were unable to.  After some discussion about wanting to eventually add individual student blogs and have a variety of security options available I decided to use Blogger because it is linked to the Regina Public Schools Google account.  Cory also showed my the Kidblog website and suggested that I explore it for when I want to add individual student blogs.  I want to find a tool that is easy for young children to use and is easy to manage.  Cory encouraged me to continue  teaching my children how to comment on other classroom blogs.  He also suggested that we start creating content as a classroom through shared writing experiences and posting them on Twitter and our class blog.  Learning another blog format is a bit of a challenge but experience is the best teacher!   If you are using Blogger or Kidblog I would love to hear about your experiences.

I am currently in the process of creating content for the new classroom blog.  I was excited to be able to add a translate function to the blog.  I teach a large number of children who are new to Canada and English is an additional language in their homes.  I hope that this tool allows families to receive information from the school in the language that they are the most comfortable.


Another step forward that our school took this week was to have a technician come to our school to set up our iPads.  We now have a way to add apps to our iPads and have ordered cases to keep them safe.   I welcome any app suggestions that you might have.


The Filing Cabinet


The beginning of EC&I 831 is going to begin in half an hour.  I have checked the Google + website, login into the Blackboard program and think I am ready to go.  The course begins and Alec starts to speak.  I cannot hear him.  I panic and ask my husband to come and fix it so I can hear the video.  With a few quick clicks, he manages to get me sound.  I promised myself when I became a teacher that I would never be the teacher that did not know how to work the latest technology.  I never wanted to be standing in front of a class saying I do not know how to work the technology in the room.  With what I would call a boom in technology I feel myself falling behind and not sure what to use, how to use and how to be efficient with technology.    My solution has been to hide the technology available to me in the filing cabinet.  When I have tried to incorporate computers into my grade one /two classroom the log in process has frustrated me.  By the time, everyone has logged in successfully an hour has passed.  The children have played some web-based games, some of the computers have accessed the internet others crash or require numerous updates.  I know that I need to use technology to prepare my students for the world they will live in but I need to do it in an efficient manner.

This past year each classroom received an iPad.  My seven-year-old son loves our iPad and teaches me something new about how to use it every week.  Right now, we are unable to connect our iPad to the data projector we have because we do not have the correct cable.  We also have not figured out how to add apps to the iPad without giving out access to the school credit card so it sits in the filing cabinet waiting for a plan.    My goal for this class would be to free the technology that is available to me from the filing cabinet.  I would like to become proficient with technology so that it does not take me three tries to get something the way I envision it.  I also want to fulfill the promise to myself and not become that educator who is afraid or unable to use the technology provided for them.



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