Can Minecraft Teach Team Building?

Dilworth, Marianne

CO

Kiang, D. (2018, February 13). Can Minecraft teach team building? Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=156&category=In-the-classroom&article=Can+Minecraft+teach+team+building%3f 

 

  1. Don’t damage other people’s things.
  2. If you break something by accident, fix it.
  3. Keep the world beautiful.

The above rules were developed by a group of high school computer science students when their teacher assigned them a game of Minecraft. Their teacher, Douglas Kiang, describes the reasons behind this unusual curriculum decision in his article “Can Minecraft Teach Team Building?”

When Kiang realized that his students still didn’t know each other two months into school, he knew he had to find a team building activity. Minecraft, a hugely popular video game, involves creatively solving problems while gathering resources, experiencing combat, and building structures in a 3D world. Kiang found that students working collaboratively in a virtual world, developed real-world lessons in relationship building; they developed the ability to negotiate and compromise.

Kiang interesting article shares how Minecraft can be a valuable learning tool for students. Video games are often frowned upon as a waste of time that simply builds hand-eye coordination. But video games like Minecraft and other player versus player (PVP) games, are really online stories that encourage peer interaction, personal responsibility and community building.  Even though the students did not play the game during school hours, Kiang found that their Minecraft participation acted as a “catalyst” for dynamic discussions that enriched classroom learning. 

Student Agency for Powerful Learning

Dilworth, Marianne

ET

Williams, P. (2017). Student agency for powerful learning. Knowledge Quest, 45(4), 8-15. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1136307.pdf

In his article “Student Agency for Powerful Learning,” Williams defines student agency, and then explores how school librarians are uniquely qualified to nurture this attribute in students. Williams states that students develop agency when they have a strong sense of personal integrity and efficacy. When students demonstrate respect for themselves and others, and feel empowered to act, they are more likely to take responsibility for their learning. Fostering student agency requires a pedagogical power shift away from traditional models of education.

Williams offers some practical suggestions for school librarians to lead the way. These suggestions include encouraging recreational reading, and collaborating with students on library design. To develop student voice, students can create books or artwork that become part of the library’s collection. Having students then cite their own work gives them a sense of ownership and identity as a creator. Williams argues that using these strategies to establish a collaborative, student-centered learning environment will help students ultimately become successful agents of their learning.

I found this article to be an interesting and engaging overview of the concept of student agency. A school community that aspires to build a learning commons, must first have a strong program that builds student agency. I like that Williams makes the clear distinction that encouraging student agency does not mean that he is advocating for an anything goes educational model. Instead, he states that structures and guides must be put into place that allow student creativity and voice to flourish.

Piloting the Learning Commons

DeLuca, Allison

CO

Murray, E. (2015). Piloting the Learning Commons. Teacher Librarian, 43(1), 18–24. Retrieved from http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=110469425&site=ehost-live&scope=site

 

This article discusses using learning commons in the process of co teaching and collaboration between classroom teachers and teacher librarians. The article is told by a classroom teacher who works with the media specialist in her school in order to introduce her students to the learning commons and use it as a productive space for learning. The teacher realized the excitement that the children had when introduced to the learning commons and saw the potential for her students. The article emphasizes the importance of putting aside time for collaboration and the success that comes from collaborating with a media specialist in the school. The author gives details on her personal collaboration process with the librarian in order to give an idea on how to successfully collaborate in order to benefit students.

 

I feel as though this article is helpful for encouraging schools to transform library spaces into learning commons as well as encouraging classroom teachers to work towards collaboration with school librarians or media specialists. Collaboration is a key to success when it comes to the achievement of students. Also, the highlighting of the learning commons space was also a significant part of this article. Learning commons allow for students to be more creative and have more freedom when it comes to inquiry and learning. Current library spaces in schools have the potential to be transformed into learning commons in order to not only encourage student use, but to encourage collaboration between staff.

MIT Developing assessments to quantify makerspace educational value

Lepine, Sierra.

CA

Yorio, K. (2018). “MIT Developing Assessments To Quantify Makerspace Educational Value.” School Library Journal. Retrieved from https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=mit-developing-assessments-quantify-makerspace-educational-value

Describes an education initiative between MIT, MakerEd, and various school districts on East and West Coasts to develop and research the efficacy of assessments for Makerspaces and Makerspace projects/learning in K-12 schools. The idea is that makerspaces will be a better educational tool when student learning outcomes are assessed (and that there will be more buy in from teachers, parents, and other educational stakeholders), but that current traditional forms of assessment do a poor job of providing an accurate picture of non-traditional makerspaces impact on student learning. See also the iniative’s website, https://tsl.mit.edu/projects/beyond-rubrics/, for other similar projects and publications on non-traditional educational theory and practices.

I thought this was a really interesting concept, given the fact that makerspaces are an increasingly embraced educational trend, and that traditionally educational administrators and executives seem to value data – particularly quantitative date – as a means of evaluating programs above all else. I would be really interested in seeing what assessments MIT comes up with, what they look like, what they seek to quantify, and how hard or not they are to implement.

Research 101: Scholarship is a conversation

Lepine, Sierra.

ID

University of Washington Libraries. (2016). “Research 101: Scholarship is a conversation.” Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB9pAZPJp_g

A short video produced for college students describing the concept of scholarship as conversation, including the need for citation of sources, utilizing bodies of scholarly works to direct, focus, and explore research topics, and including the student as a participant in the conversation – a producer as well as a consumer.

I frequently use this in research seminars with community college students to get them to try to think about the whole process of inquiry/scholarship – that it can (and should be) interesting, organic, self-driven, and produced in a continuous loop. I think students are not used to thinking of themselves as content producers when it comes to inquiry and learning, but I do think it’s important that they begin to – likewise, I like the implication that inquiry and research are not finite with an end and a beginning, but rather an ongoing conversation that most scholars will enter after it started, and that will continue long after most scholars have finished and published their papers. It’s continuous!

On Being in Libraries

Lepine, Sierra

ID

Miller, K. (2018). “On Being in Libraries.” Educause Review. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/8/on-being-in-libraries

Fascinating article talking about conducting renovation and rebuilding of physical library space with student inquiry in mind. Written by academic librarian at the University of Miami, discussing a recent project involving University library/librarians, University faculty, students, and educational community members in a conversation about modern student needs and desires regarding both physical library space and intellectual/research processes. Ultimately came up with plans for a Learning Commons area in the library, newly built and designed to cater specifically to 21st century students needs in regards to individualized learning, creative inquiry, learning by doing, community-based knowledge building, etc.

 

Not only did I appreciate the discussion about how design thinking and inquiry can be used in terms of lesson planning and teaching, but also in terms of how to actually design a physical space! I also liked that article ended with an acknowledgement that now students request more quiet space in library, and a rueful acceptance that, while community learning is in vogue, it is still library’s responsibility to provide quiet and contemplative learning spaces for students, too!

The Power of Diversity

 

Arnold, Ronnie

Education Theory and Practice (ET)

Juvonen, J., Kogachi, K., & Graham, S. (2017). When and how do students benefit from ethnic diversity in middle school? Child Development (0)0, 1-15. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jaana_Juvonen/publication/317775761_When_and_How_Do_Students_Benefit_From_Ethnic_Diversity_in_Middle_School/links/5a1c7631a6fdcc0af3265229/When-and-How-Do-Students-Benefit-From-Ethnic-Diversity-in-Middle-School.pdf

Key points from the article I shared.

  1. More than half of the school aged youth are part of the ethnic minority
    1. Latinos are the largest
    2. Asians are the fastest growing
  2. Schools should expect to have greater diversity in the upcoming years due to the new ethnic composition of the environments
  3. Believes that if K-12 classrooms demographics do not match the ethnic diversity of neighborhoods, then increased segregation in schools that serve ethnic minorities can occur, students cannot receive the benefits of growing in an ethically diverse society, and schools composed of the ethnic minorities can be underserved due to unequal educational opportunities.

What I loved about this research is that social-emotional outcomes were the focus. I think educators can sometimes get swept away with following standards, teaching subject matter, and devoting the majority of the lessons to the subject matter. Of course, the time we get to design curriuclum and carryout lessons can sometimes not be enough, but we also need to consider the social-emotional well-being of the students while conducting lessons as well. What better way to bond with students, appreciate cultural differences, and learn real-world applications of a skill in the classroom teaching your favorite subject.

In the study, the researchers focused on social-emotional outcomes(safety, emotions, peer pressue, and lonliness) rather than academic outcomes. From the data analyzed, it was determined:

  1. Girls felt less safe but believed they received fair and equal treatment from teachers by the sixth grade.
  2. African American and Latino students felt safer but more victimized amongst peers at school.
  3. High parent education levels were associated less peer victimization of students.
  4. Believed teachers were less fair and equitable to all ethnic groups.
  5. Exposure to ethnic diversity in lessons displayed a positive relationship between positive perceptions of teachers and fair treatment.
  6. Teachers fair and equal treatment increased as the school became more diverse unless the class demographics were less diverse than the school’s demographics.