BUILDING BLOCKS — Pictured are Nicholas McCulloch and Gillian Tagliaferro. Photo submitted by Sarah Seweryniak.
HAMBURG — Saints Peter & Paul School technology teacher Aaron Odden has begun incorporating the game Minecraft© into the classroom.
“When Minecraft was first getting very popular, I saw an interview with a teacher who created a version of Minecraft designed for use in schools and how other teachers had begun using the game in their classroom,” Odden said. “I knew that it was popular with the students here and, because we had just updated our computer lab, I knew I had the resources to bring the game to Saints Peter & Paul.”
The teacher said that “the more students are interested in what they are working on, the more they will take away from it. Minecraft’s popularity is part of what makes it an effective teaching tool.”
Students will work cooperatively and demonstrate digital etiquette and communication, as laid out in the diocesan technology curriculum.
Second- and third-grade students will have silent Minecraft days, in which they can communicate by only typing to each other, to practice finding letters on the keyboard and demonstrate proper typing technique.
For other subjects, older students research other societies through history, build towns based on their research and write an accompanying essay. They will work on walk-through book reports, in which they may recreate their favorite settings from books and guide players through the story, using signage.
Third and fourth graders will be learning about area and perimeter by building fences and filling them in with blocks. They can work to make bar graphs in first grade; eighth graders can conduct physics experiments with in-game gravity, which they will then compare with gravity in the real world.
Odden is also offering a Minecraft club after school, for students in fourth – eighth grade.
“I hope students take to heart what it means to be a good digital citizen and how to behave and work with others in a digital environment,” he said. “I also hope, because their interest level in the game is so high, that whatever they learned while making their project stays with them longer.”