Declaring goals: Now and then

EVOMC21 7th edition

Before sharing my goals for 2021, here are some reflections from 2016 when I joined EVOMC for the first time and what I have developed ever since!

The beginning of the journey starts 👉 HOW I GOT INVOLVED WITH EVOMC (2016.).

In week 2 reflections (2016), I wrote that I could see at that point, from the articles and presentations that Minecraft offered plenty of possibilities. I realized with time that Minecraft was more than a tool. It was actually an open-ended universe. So open that we can sometimes get overwhelmed.

YOU CAN USE MINECRAFT WITH STUDENTS IN AT LEAST 3 WAYS WHILE IN-GAME:

  • Free play – while they can enjoy the possibilities given by the game, they can use language to communicate through writing in in-game chat or voice chat in Discord (or through other voice program).
  • Presentations or Discussions about the game – Presenting and discussing experiences that they had/are having or the ideas for the future will not only develop their linguistic knowledge but also improve their communication skills. They can show and tell, explain, create tutorials, etc.
  • Create, Produce and Design – Minecraft is a very flexible environment. They can use the resources available to build amazing buildings and mechanisms. They can go more advanced with the command blocks to produce minigames and automatic farms or design experiences in-game for others.

In MineAcademy, my current project, I want learners to have the chance to explore the world, have adventures, overcome challenges, complete missions, create, produce, design and share their ideas and experiences. From challenge-based approach to project-based, the most important goal is to create meaningful interactions (with the world, with peers and the learning tasks) for them to develop their language knowledge and skills. So the goal from the classroom we are so used to didn’t change, what has changed, however, is the space and the resources available which are limitless.

Back in 2016, my goal for that session was to learn as much as possible about Minecraft through playing and exchange ideas with other teachers. Writing these blogs posts to keep track of my learning journey was essential back then. In Week 3 post (2016), I wrote about my experience in public servers. That helped me a lot when I set up my own server with students in an after school project called the TNT club. Here is a tour I gave to EltSandbox inside the server TNT and the link to Dave’s blog, one of our past EVOMC moderators.

T for try it out

N for network

T for teach others

Have fun!

I wanted at the time to create a space to understand how students play and interact with others in Minecraft. So, as I mentioned in the video, it wasn’t about teaching but about me learning about them. I have to say that apart from a couple of situations we had in the server for the 8 months or so that I ran it actively with the students (from grade 6 to 9), most of the time they were very responsible and willing to contribute. From public servers I learned how to set up the in-world in a way that expectations about how to interact with the world and others were clear and if any problem came up I would talk with the student to understand what the problem was to figure out how to prevent that from happening again.

SOME USEFUL SUGGESTION TO GET YOU STARTED:

🔑If you are not sure how to get started. Start by finding out a) what edition of Minecraft your students have; b) whether they like to play it or not; c) If some students don’t like Minecraft, explore with them why they don’t like it; d) let those who like it share why they like it… that might spark the interest of others; e) After that, show them the possibility of learning English through Minecraft and ask them to give their opinion about learning language through games; f) ask if they play games and collect the list of games they play so you understand what game preferences they have. As I have said, Minecraft is quite flexible and you will see with time that you can create different experiences for different types of students/players.

🔑Start with an after school club. Don’t be afraid to open a space for you to play with your learners. As long as you have clear community rules, you should be fine. Just like you do in the classroom. Renting Realms from Microsoft is the easiest way to start your own server.

🔑 You can start simple. Connect your pedagogical skills to the content knowledge of Minecraft . As you develop more skills and continue develop on how to apply Minecraft for educational purposes, you will come up with pedagogical solutions that is more aligned with immersive learning spaces. In 2017, I created lessons based on communicative approach and Minecraft as theme for my 6th graders. They loved it! Bring Minecraft stories to read or watch, tutorials, questions like what is your favorite mob and why, etc. For younger learners, Minecraft is more appealing than older learners. Bring not only Minecraft as theme but other games they like and they will certainly appreciate the opportunity to talk about what they like or don’t like.

⚠️ Although the post is getting a bit long, I hope it has been an interesting reading so far and you can bear with me a little longer. I’m reposting a video and some reflections I made at the end 2016 EVOMC after researching more about Learning through games. Paul Gee‘s book is a must-read.

“The opportunity to learn is not the book. It’s whether you can bring experience to the book.” Gee, 5:45

Learning a language meaningfully like learning any subject means to do it by having real experiences. Two things I learned from my project with teens in 2015 that are important in my opinion to foster meaningful learning. You can find out more about my journey adapting, creating or adapting games here and here.

  1. a community of learners to be built needs a shared interest to support its development. After all, a group of people have different needs, motivation and wants. It important to find something that can connect people to one another in a given moment. This moment of connection create experiences. I wonder though whether we can actually foresee these moments and design experiences for our learners, much like game designers do in a way that we provide positive experiences and therefore it facilitates not only community building but also leverage language learning and willingness to use it.
  2. language is not used in a vacuum. We need an environment that is conducive to language use or opportunities that are meaningful to use the language, not by forcing people to do so which never really works, but by creating the space for them to be willing to give it a try. It’s not easy to try out a language one might feel not competent or confident to use it. After speaking English for almost 25 years, I still go mute in certain situations. Mind you even in Portuguese. Speaking is much about knowing as it is about emotions and how one sees oneself in a given situation.

Thanks for reading up to here! 😁👏

SO WHAT DO I WANT TO DEVELOP THIS YEAR THROUGH 2021 EVOMC EDITION!

🎯 Create a Java and a bedrock server running with plugins again. Java and plugins have being installed on a hosting service. ✅ Bedrock ❌… not yet!

🎯 Experiment with Discord, learn more about how the different bots can help us manage the Discord server and create a space for teachers in MineAcademy Discord server. 🔍Almost there… If you are a teacher looking forward to learn more how to use Minecraft, let me know.

🎯 Design quests in Minecraft using NPCs and Quest plugins.

Here is the presentation Jane Chien and I gave on Jan 17th for teachers interested in learning about the key aspects for teacher development in Minecraft.

How about you? Where are you in your journey to implement Minecraft in your teaching practice? What do you still need to develop? Have you set your learning goals yet?



🚀 How about continue your adventure in MineAcademy English Club by reading the next post?

2 thoughts on “Declaring goals: Now and then

  1. Pingback: Rose Bard and Jane Chien discuss Key Aspects for Teacher Development in Minecraft | Learning2gether

  2. Very nice post and highly readable 🙂 I added it to the archive of your presentation with Jane Chien here, https://learning2gether.net/2021/01/17/rose-bard-and-jane-chien-discuss-key-aspects-for-teacher-development-in-minecraft/#Promotion. In corroboration of your points, I refer you and your readers to the blog of Romanian non-native English speaker MP, particularly this post: https://evominecraftmp.wordpress.com/2016/01/28/a-day-in-evo-minecraft-world/. MP is a well known explorer and adventurer who spends a lot of time in real life on long journeys hacking his way through jungle mines and temples, but this post describes a day at home reading about something his son had written after spending some time in Minecraft. It’s a lovely read and illustrates the concepts that you postulate regarding how Minecraft can be used creatively with NNS of English.

    Liked by 1 person

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