A rockin’ week in #DiffiMOOC and #MinecraftEdu

#DiffiMooc was a fun-filled week!  Apparently I really enjoy making cartoons, being in a twitter session, blogging about MinecraftEdu (can’t seem to write a shorter blog post, sorry!), and of course I love playing in the game but especially helping others get the hang of the basics.

First the cartoon, I’m such a “visualizer” when I read, so these assignments of creating a visual representation of my learning each week have been pure fun.  Yes, I spend way too much time trying to use each recommended program and finding others to try, but the process of learning each tool and coming up with an idea has been exciting!  I mean, anytime my assignment is to read the MinecraftEdu wiki, I could spend all week doing that!

Some highlights from our twitter session this week:

  • Reading or writing about Minecraftedu vs playing it are two very different experiences for many of us
  • We are all very invested in differentiation and what it means in our practice and for students
  • Differentiation is possible in all content areas through MinecraftEdu but also through so many other technologies!  Our group is a valuable resources for learning about other well-used tech tools for differentiation AND assessment!
  • Great resources for differentiation include:  classroom management tools, subscription sites, Google groups or other PLN’s (peer/professional learning network), educational websites, software and tools for everything from assessment, creating and using rubrics, shared learning spaces, and news sources!

I keep telling myself each week that I will work on writing a more concise blog, but the essential question this week prompted me to write as many things I could think of to show differentiation in MinecraftEdu.  For those of us who are still on the fence about the game or just learning about what is possible, I was there only a semester ago.  I had never even heard of it before the Gaming & Open Education course last fall.  Maybe it’s because I love games and technology, but I also saw the impact on students and teachers through our Givercraft experience last fall, and we barely scratched the surface of what could have been done with that project.

For my part of the MinecraftEdu challenge, Thomas and I worked on building the Welcome Center (in the sky) that other players would spawn to when they logged into the game.  We wanted to create that effect of seeing the world from above as you enter the game, but first you have to make it out of the house and follow the yellow wool road (good one, Thomas!).  I made my cartoon about “How To Plan” because most times when you use MinecraftEdu, you need to just get in the game and go from there.  We didn’t have a plan but we just started building and working off of each other’s builds, somehow that works when you’re in this game.  I made several books and placed them in chests around the area and was able to help other players build and figure out their basic controls.  I think one aspect of the MinecraftEdu sessions to keep in mind, is that our experiences will mirror many of the students since they will all have various levels of experience with the Minecraft game or really any video game in general.  As we make our way in the game world, we can keep in mind how each of the students might react to the challenge, the choices available, time spent, tools used, etc.

One thing I also realized from the blogs and the twitter session, is how valuable it is to have be part of a PLN that represents many different content areas, grades, and teaching experiences.  While it is appropriate to connect with other teachers and instructors in similar settings or communities, it’s just as important to learn from other content areas and professions to enrich your professional development.  Reading other blogs, especially about how differentiation is applied in various learning environments, has given context to my “textbook” understanding of differentiation.

Any thoughts, feelings, opinions, suggestions?

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