Yesterday, I had a problem. During the second nutrition break, there was an issue with some students destroying each other’s property in Minecraft. Unfortunately, similar situations have happened in the past, and I was now faced with a dilemma: do I ban Minecraft from the classroom during the break times, or do I allow students to still use it?
I’ll admit that I know very little about the game. I’m seeing it used more and more this year, and some students have used it to really apply their knowledge in language, math, and social studies. My initial thought was that this is just a game though, so why does it produce such extreme emotions?
Talking to the vice principal, Tammy McLaughlin, at the end of the day yesterday really helped. She has children too, and as she told me more about the game, I realized the connections people have to what they create. She helped me see a different point of view, which actually inspired our writing activity for this morning. You see in class, as part of our current TLCP (Teaching Learning Critical Pathways), we are also learning about point of view. Why not link a game that students love and a real life problem with our TLCP?
When the students came into class today, they saw a piece of chart paper on each table group. Across the top of the chart paper, it said, “Tell me everything you know about Minecraft.” I then added on the board, “If you’re like me and you know very little about Minecraft, do some research.” And with this, all of the groups were off to work quickly.
Once students brainstormed for about 10 minutes, I stopped them and had a few groups share their ideas aloud. Then, I showed students this question:
Together, students brainstormed this list of people:
At this point, I pulled up Michelle Fawcett’s class blog on the projector screen. Michelle is a fantastic Grade 5/6 teacher from a neighbouring school, and she’s doing a very similar TLCP with her students on point of view. Last week, I saw this blog post of hers with great graphic organizers for point of view. I wanted my students to create similar organizers.
With her blog as our guide, we co-created part of an organizer together, and then students got into groups to create a point of view organizer on three of the different groups of people that could be affected by a Minecraft problem. Not only did students write and discuss what these people might be thinking and feeling, but they also tried to find “proof” to support their thoughts — including the use of previous experiences.
As students finished their organizers, we reconvened and shared some ideas together. Then I showed the class this message:
Together, students created this list:
With these positive thoughts in mind, I had students break into groups again and create class rules for Minecraft. Not only did they have to list the rules, but they also had to develop logical consequences. When we met as a class for the final time, students shared their own rules, and combined the ideas together to help create this list of rules:
This is the list that I’ll print and post on the wall for all students to see. We had it up on our projector during both nutrition breaks today, and as I was in and out of the room, I continued to hear the students discussing the rules and reminding each other of them. They worked!
Yes, this morning’s lesson was in response to a class problem, but it was also a great way to get students exploring point of view (a concept directly linked to our TLCP). It also got reluctant writers to write more because nothing brings out the desire to write like Minecraft. 🙂 And, in its own way, it helped me see how point of view and restorative justice can overlap in the classroom environment: students started seeing things from a new perspective, and that was positive for everyone.
Will there be other problems with Minecraft? Maybe. The hope is though, that with the student-created rules, these problems can be resolved quickly and easily. Problems will always arise in the classroom, but it’s what students learn from these problems that matter. I think they learned a lot from this one. What do you think?