Computer Teacher Uses Minecraft as Curriculum

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Computer Teacher Uses Minecraft as Curriculum

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A New York City school is exposing America's children to the wonders of Minecraft at an early age.

If you're like me, computer class in grade school consisted of Oregon Trail, Carmen Sandiego, Number Munchers, and maybe a little of the Logo programming language. Oh, how things have changed. Today, in at least one New York School, kids in computer class get to play Minecraft.

At the Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School, first and second grade computer teacher Joel Levin developed an experimental Minecraft teaching unit that was designed to let kids explore, build, and collaborate within the game. He wasn't sure how it'd go over. Much to his surprise, the students took to Minecraft like they do to sniffing scented markers.

Levin allows his students to play in a modified Minecraft world that doesn't include monsters. His classes aren't so much focused on teaching kids to play Minecraft as they are on using Minecraft as a canvas for them to be creative with. In one situation, Levin had to take animals out of the game because students were just killing them all over the place, which wasn't in the spirit of his lessons.

Levin's blog, appropriately called Minecraft Teacher, explains the experiment from its beginnings. However, the best way to see how awesome it'd be to take a Minecraft class is to just watch one of Levin's lessons that he filmed and put on YouTube. One is embedded below and features the kids building after 12 minutes in. For school credit! These kids have it good.

Thanks for the tip GraelHart!

Source: Minecraft Teacher, via Kotaku

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My six-year-old son, who's in Kindergarten at the moment, loves Minecraft and I could definitely see using it in a classroom situation like this. It's a great way to get kids to think in three dimensions, to consider resource management, and the effects of their actions. With a little work it could also be a good demonstration of ecological preservation versus the 'progress' of civilization: anyone who has massacred a forest for lumber, or had to empty out a pond to build something, knows what I'm talking about :)

sweet, wish they did this in my school.

Wow, those kids really like lighthouses!

...

I can't think of a joke for that, I must have mined some writer's block

Now history teachers will be using Civilization to teach kids general history, and Call of Duty to teach kids World War II

Ah, I remember our computer teacher using games to teach us things back in grade school. Sim City 2000, Oregon Trail, Mario Teaches Typing...good times. It's nice to see Minecraft being used to continue that tradition.

Tom Goldman:

Levin allows his students to play in a modified Minecraft world that doesn't include monsters. His classes aren't so much focused on teaching kids to play Minecraft as they are on using Minecraft as a canvas for them to be creative with.

So..."Peaceful" mode, then?

Tom Goldman:

In one situation, Levin had to take animals out of the game because students were just killing them all over the place, which wasn't in the spirit of his lessons.

Hah, that reminds me of how most boys played Oregon Trail at my school. They'd forgo buying food for the trip, opting to fill their wagon with as much ammo as possible instead. They would take every opportunity to go hunting and shoot everything that moved, even if they could only take a small fraction of the meat back to the wagon. By the time they were done passing through a region it would be utterly devoid of animal life. I guess the settlers they controlled were carnivores or something, because they'd make the entire trip surviving off of nothing but meat.

To be fair... you have to kill alot of cows to get the leather, and pigs to get ham, and they and soemtimes they just dont give you anyhting.

EDIT: watched the vid, i wonder which kid was the jerk that cut down all the trees before anyone else could.

killamanhunter:
Now history teachers will be using Civilization to teach kids general history, and Call of Duty to teach kids World War II

The thing is, with some editing, those ideas could work. In a few of my history classes in high school we watched movies like Saving Private Ryan to see what those things were like instead of reading about them, but the best way would be to experience them. The D-Day mission in CoD 2 would be perfect if the twitchy shooter elements were taken out and it was more of an interactive experience than a game.

This is awesome.

Definitely a creative way to teach kids cooperation and teamwork.

Can I take this as an online course?

That one kid who yells, "Obsidian!"... Yah, he's awesome.

My friend and I play Minecraft in computer class. I'm not sure if we're supposed to, but we do it anyways :D
Good memories return to me of the day the teacher caught me playing Doom while in computer class:

"[insert my name here], what are you playing?"
"Doom."
"Are you shooting people?"
"No, of course not! I'm shooting zombies."
[awkward silence, broken by my friends laughing]
"I don't really think this game is school appropriate."
"Okay."
[turns off Doom like a boss]

I think this is a awesome idea, as minecraft can be educational and fun

I can imagine this helps a lot of the students get the picture; I know it would certainly help me. :D Also; Yay, Minecraft. Just built a rather large minecart track around my server. Damn it's going to be fun when I can actually -ride- the damn thing. :L

05:14 that " naaaawh" melted my heart

XD

Way to go teacher, btw isn't he a bit of a stereotypical guy for this job?

Just saying xD

you...
LUCKY...
KIDS!!!
Anyways, that's pretty dang awesome!
Props to that school!

I love how the kids went about trying to kill all the animals and got distracted the moment they saw them on the screen.

And they say video games make people violent. Silly, kids are violent all on their own!

killamanhunter:
Now history teachers will be using Civilization to teach kids general history, and Call of Duty to teach kids World War II

You might have a good idea, until they realize that Gandhi wasn't a bloodthirsty warlord that lived in the same time as President Lincoln and Napoleon, and that everything from Call of Duty is at best time-period stories, much like Band of Brothers.

But still, having classes inside of Minecraft is pretty genius, but I cant shake the feeling that during recess, little Jimmy will hurt his hand trying to punch a tree for wood.

Kalezian:

killamanhunter:
Now history teachers will be using Civilization to teach kids general history, and Call of Duty to teach kids World War II

You might have a good idea, until they realize that Gandhi wasn't a bloodthirsty warlord that lived in the same time as President Lincoln and Napoleon, and that everything from Call of Duty is at best time-period stories, much like Band of Brothers.

But still, having classes inside of Minecraft is pretty genius, but I cant shake the feeling that during recess, little Jimmy will hurt his hand trying to punch a tree for wood.

To be fair, that boy Mr. and Mrs. Kent adopted made it look pretty darn easy. I mean god, he even punched through the school wall cause you could do it in Minecraft.

I'd totally get a bucket of lava and burn everything down just to troll the class. Ah that would be so much fun.

I wish we had things like this when I was in school.

Atheist.:
I'd totally get a bucket of lava and burn everything down just to troll the class. Ah that would be so much fun.

really? Just really?.........

Oh man, I can't wait to see what these kids built. I've always loved seeing things get built in fast-forward.

Dude's blog is awesome too.

Hungry Donner:
My six-year-old son, who's in Kindergarten at the moment, loves Minecraft and I could definitely see using it in a classroom situation like this. It's a great way to get kids to think in three dimensions, to consider resource management, and the effects of their actions. With a little work it could also be a good demonstration of ecological preservation versus the 'progress' of civilization: anyone who has massacred a forest for lumber, or had to empty out a pond to build something, knows what I'm talking about :)

I've stripped mined an entire beach out of existence in order to tile my glorious sky tower with glass.
I've tried to cover up the deep scar by flooding it, but... it's just not the same. :'(

Hungry Donner:
My six-year-old son, who's in Kindergarten at the moment, loves Minecraft and I could definitely see using it in a classroom situation like this. It's a great way to get kids to think in three dimensions, to consider resource management, and the effects of their actions. With a little work it could also be a good demonstration of ecological preservation versus the 'progress' of civilization: anyone who has massacred a forest for lumber, or had to empty out a pond to build something, knows what I'm talking about :)

I was curious about how the fire spreading mechanics worked, so I used flint and steel on a tree. It was part of a ginormous forest. We grabbed buckets of water and tried to put it out, and chopped down trees before the fire could spread too far... But then gave up after it looked like the entire world was on fire. We started planting new trees, even while the fire was still going.

The fire burned for a few Minecraft days. At night, we could still see it burning in the horizon.

Pebkac:

Hungry Donner:
My six-year-old son, who's in Kindergarten at the moment, loves Minecraft and I could definitely see using it in a classroom situation like this. It's a great way to get kids to think in three dimensions, to consider resource management, and the effects of their actions. With a little work it could also be a good demonstration of ecological preservation versus the 'progress' of civilization: anyone who has massacred a forest for lumber, or had to empty out a pond to build something, knows what I'm talking about :)

I was curious about how the fire spreading mechanics worked, so I used flint and steel on a tree. It was part of a ginormous forest. We grabbed buckets of water and tried to put it out, and chopped down trees before the fire could spread too far... But then gave up after it looked like the entire world was on fire. We started planting new trees, even while the fire was still going.

The fire burned for a few Minecraft days. At night, we could still see it burning in the horizon.

Oh gods!!! THE HORRORS! Think of the screams of the little minecraft creatures dieing in the inferno! YOU MONSTER!

OT: I love this idea. As said above, so many uses for just one little game. I think Minecraft is shaping up to be the game of the decade! It reminds me of high school several years ago, my friends and I used to use Gamemaker 3000 I think it was to create side scrolling shumps a la Metal Slug in ICT. THen we'd play AoE II whilst we waited for the rest of the class to catch up. WE were the nerds. after about 3 weeks of that, even the teacher started playing AoE with us. He kicked our arses too, the bastard. We got him back by introducing him to DoTA the next year. HAHAHA!

Considering I just built a massive egyptian temple in about 4 days, can we make it a college course so I can test out of this class? I could use the BS credits towards finishing my premedical degree.

Those lucky kids...the most I get to do with video games during class is talk about Portal 2 with my friends and my teacher. It would be cool to play minecraft IN school though.

........Can someone PLEASE DDoS Minecraft again? I am sick of Minecraft this and Minecraft that.

Dfskelleton:
My friend and I play Minecraft in computer class. I'm not sure if we're supposed to, but we do it anyways :D
Good memories return to me of the day the teacher caught me playing Doom while in computer class:

Damn, we used to just play Spacewar! in computer class. Now I feel old.

Very interesting video. As a student studying to become a Primary School teacher myself I can watch this video and analyse the positive and negative aspects...

Positive: Kids are engaged straight away, learning can also be achieved by modifying the world. This can also show students some possible occupations and allows the teacher to see what they are more interested in (for example, mining, architecture, farming etc.)

Negative: The students (Grade 2, Stage 1) are probably too young at this stage and while they have a good concept of the game they dont really take to the challenges. I think it would be much more beneficial in teaching Stage 2 or Stage 3 students (grades 3-6) as they will have the ability to work well together and create some amazing things. Another thing is that I think the teacher spent too much time talking. The students were clearly too excited to be able to play the game and may not have been listening fully. They were restless

I would actually like to try this when I go out teaching.

Everything cool HAD to come out after i finished school. But i see good things to be taught in MC.

HankMan:
Wow, those kids really like lighthouses!

...

I can't think of a joke for that, I must have mined some writer's block

I too can't think of one. I must have come up empty handed.

Oh wait.

OT: I feel like the only one in the world bored out of my mind by Minecraft.

Ok, now they have to figure out how to do my job in Minecraft. Let's see, how could we get Adobe InDesign integrated to a java game...?

I remember a few courses that were this awesome. I like to think of them as sundae courses. Fun while still learning something.

Hungry Donner:
My six-year-old son, who's in Kindergarten at the moment, loves Minecraft and I could definitely see using it in a classroom situation like this. It's a great way to get kids to think in three dimensions, to consider resource management, and the effects of their actions. With a little work it could also be a good demonstration of ecological preservation versus the 'progress' of civilization: anyone who has massacred a forest for lumber, or had to empty out a pond to build something, knows what I'm talking about :)

I do. Whenever I am building on a new world I am hesitant to go gung-ho to harvest sand or surface stone, as I know I will be seeing that from the top of my grandiose tower when it is built. If I want a forest to remain I replant the trees as I finish chopping them down, and I trim around the edges of sand dunes and mountains. It's a bit harder, but the reward when my fortress is finished and I stand on the tower to view my domain is all the richer for not seeing pits and decimated forests everywhere.

Judgement101:
........Can someone PLEASE DDoS Minecraft again? I am sick of Minecraft this and Minecraft that.

Short Answer: No
Second Answer: Still going with No.
Besides which, doing a DDOS on Mojang will only put Minecraft on the news again. Your criminal logic befuddles me.
And lookee here, there are lots of other articles here to peruse, most which don't deal with Minecraft. You should go visit them!

Pebkac:
I was curious about how the fire spreading mechanics worked, so I used flint and steel on a tree. It was part of a ginormous forest. We grabbed buckets of water and tried to put it out, and chopped down trees before the fire could spread too far... But then gave up after it looked like the entire world was on fire. We started planting new trees, even while the fire was still going.

The fire burned for a few Minecraft days. At night, we could still see it burning in the horizon.

On two of my worlds I had forest fires started by surface lava(pool or fall), and in one I watched it start at the horizon and slowly work its way towards where I was working. I was building with stone in this world so didn't have too much to worry about except the possibility of any close lumber going up in smoke. So like a true firejumper, I went over to the fire and sought to take down trees to make a break. I think I succeeded as it did die out not long after with many trees spared. Not to mention going back to base with a lot of lumber. And burns. There is some basis in Minecraft in how to suppress forest fires.

Also I swear forests have been denser lately since 1.3.

He isn't a computer teacher!

He's using a Mac...

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