Reflection week 2

This week we looked at using MinecraftEdu in the classroom to differentiate instruction. In reading the blog postings of my peers, it was interesting reading everyone’s perspective on how to use Minecraft in the classroom. There were many great ideas, videos, and websites shared, which I can reference for later use if/when I use MinecraftEdu in my own classroom.

This week we were also tasked with joining a Minecraft session. I have joined one before, but never really played. After playing I told my husband I am amazed a 9 year old could figure out how to play! I was SO much harder than I thought. Here is what I was able to figure out how to do: walk straight, walk backwards, walk side-to-side, fly, break stuff. I joined the playing session late and I didn’t realize until after I joined that Lee had tasks she wanted us to try and accomplish. One of the tasks was to build a workbench. I was so proud of myself that I figured out how to build a workbench, but then I couldn’t figure out how to put the bench down! Needless to say I need much more practice.

#diffimooc Week 2: MinecraftEdu Comic

week2 comic

The title of my comic is “MinecraftEdu Hurdles” because in my district there isn’t buy in from admin or those who are in charge of deciding to buy MinecraftEdu licenses, yet.  Those unnamed people in charge just see Minecraft as a video game.  One of the teachers I work with tried to start a MinecraftEdu after school class and was told they couldn’t.  I think eventually my district with get on board with MincecraftEdu, if that is the path of future teaching.

#diffimooc Week 2: Minecraft

Minecraft is based on creativity and imagination, what better way to get students to explore, collaborate, build and learn. In an Edutopia video Using Minecraft as an Educational Tool Joel Levin describes Minecraft as open ended, allows collaboration, students are able to work at their own pace and it’s proven that kids enjoy playing. All of those components sum up differentiated instruction (DI). The possibilities are limitless as to how educators can, will, and already do use MinecraftEdu.

Dan Bloom, a 9th grade Science teacher from New York, used MinecraftEdu to create a world where students could explore a cell while using chemical tools to break through DNA. Students had to figure out which chemicals were necessary to dissolve the components of the cell. He created a student handout that served as a guide to focus student exploration. The questions in the handout were used to assess student understanding (Bloom, 2013). According to Miller (2012), MinecraftEdu can be used to explore buildings, practice ratio and proportion, learn about survival, and reading comprehension.

Part of differentiated instruction is understanding student interests, many students are interested in playing Minecraft, so what better way to engage students in their learning than by using MinecraftEdu. Another aspect of DI is inquiry-based learning, MinecraftEdu can be used for students to explore and create things in worlds based on concepts they are learning about in the classroom. In a DI classroom students are collaborating and cooperating while learning together. MinecraftEdu is a perfect platform to engage collaboration, having students build things together or share with each other how to manipulate items in the game.

References:

Bloom, D. (2013, December 10). The minecraft cell: biology meets game-based learning. Edutopia.org. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/minecraft-cell-biology-meets-gbl-dan-bloom

Edutopia. (2013, December 10). Using minecraft as an educational tool. [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-ts=1421914688&x-yt-cl=84503534&v=SSimHPmZ0hA

Miller, A. (2012, April 13). Ideas for using minecraft in the classroom. Edutopia.org. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/minecraft-in-classroom-andrew-miller

More Minecraft Resources that can be found in my Pearltress collection:

http://www.pearltrees.com/ak_gryga/minecraft-resources/id11723929

Reflection week 1

Week one, why did I sign up for 2 UAS courses!? Breathe…I will be okay. So this week we read about differentiated instruction DI. As a 3rd grade teacher I always tried my best to DI. I noticed I got better at it as became a more experienced teacher. I also feel technology helps me DI. Many of my colleagues shared great technology resources in their blog postings. I also got some good feedback on my blog, which was nice to read. This week we also were tasked with creating an infographic. This task was a challenge for me as I am not a very creative person. I am pretty good at taking an idea and changing it to fit my needs, that is why as an educator I love the web. I can search for teaching ideas that people share and then tweak it to fit the needs of my classroom and students. I lived through the experience of creating an infographic, I wouldn’t say it was the best, but it reiterated the main points of my week 1 blog posting. This week I responded to the blogs of my colleagues I did my best to add some advice and/or resources that they could possibly use in the classroom.

#diffimooc Week 1: What is DI?

In Chapter One of How to Differentiate instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms (Tomlinson 2001) many key points were made. The points that interested me the most were differentiated instruction involves ongoing assessment, flexible grouping, and students and teachers learning together.

 

I believe it is important for students and teachers to learn together, as this shows an equal commitment between the two. I further believe students appreciate, respect and value teachers who can share in learning with them. As stated by Tomlinson (2001), “In a differentiated classroom, teaching is evolutionary. Students and teachers are learners together (p.5).” There are many things that we can learn from our students and many things students can learn from each other.

 

Assessment is a big part of education and it’s important to remember in a differentiated classroom it needs to be continual. According to Robb (2002), assessments help identify students’ strengths and areas of need so teachers can meet the educational needs of their students.

 

In a differentiated classroom grouping needs to be flexible. Students enjoy collaborating and creating with their peers and it’s important that the grouping of students changes as needed. As stated by Tomlinson (2000), “Flexible grouping allows students to see themselves in a variety of contexts.” Flexible grouping allows students to work with a variety of ability levels and skills. Allowing students to work with a variety of peers this allows them an opportunity to develop a larger variety of skills, instead of completing the same task repetitively in the same group. As the groups overall skills change, so do the expectations of each individual.

 

Resources:

Robb, L. (n.d.). What is differentiated instruction? Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/what-differentiated-instruction

Smith, G. E., & Throne, S. (2009). Differentiating instruction with technology in middle school classrooms. International Society for Technology in Education.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2000). What makes differentiated instruction successful? Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/what-makes-differentiated-instruction-successful

Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms.

ASCD.