So last week, my work sister @AbbyInProgress and few dozen regional educators went up to Microsoft to get trained in Minecraft Education. I have heard about many in my PLC who loved using Minecraft with their students in their sites and classrooms. I always thought, ok, someday I'll take the jump and learn what all the fuss is all about...
That was four years ago... About three weeks ago, I get a message from the talented The EdTech MacGyver himself, Joe Marquez, aka @JoeMarquez70 if I was interested in attending this session in our area put on by Microsoft & @CDWCorp and if I knew any other educators who would be interested. I said, yup, because it was time to jump in! At work @SCCOE we are currently going through the process of creating our courses and updating them for our next school year. I have a few courses that are in the works that I can blend in this type of tool for the 5 C's (Collaborating, creativity, critical thinking, communication, and culture :-)
I was so glad that I attended because I learned much not only about Minecraft EDU but how many educators globally are using it with students for the 5 C's mentioned. My amigo, Derrall Garrison, aka @derrallg STEM Coach from Cupertino, showed me a few things he had used Minecraft EDU to solve real world problems by turning many of the student creations into 3D printed creations. Towards the end, I jumped in to the #minecraftedu PLC and getting to #exploremsftinedu. I was so fascinated on how many connections I made in that session IRL and online.
After our project, we did a final activity in which we all came up with various ideas on how it can be blended with much of the curriculum our school districts use or creating. The online resources at https://education.minecraft.net also has tons of resources that I'm currently enjoying learning how deep one can go with this tool for student learning.
So what does all of this have to do with badges? Well, first off, because of our training, and work completed, we received a Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator badge. I was pleased because I wasn't aware we were receiving one for our work on this product. I enjoy learning and receiving these little tokens for my learning. If you ever receive an email from me, you will see some interesting badges I have collected from various institutions and products.
As a GeekDad, I always try to make a connection on how some of these tech tools that I learn can benefit their my kids own learning. Especially with my youngest Padawan. Since my Padawan is on the spectrum, I'm always trying to figure out how to scaffold learning experiences that allow him to explore the latest tech. I'm always in teacher mode when looking at tools to see what will engage hime to create, explore, discover the world around him and enhance his literacy.
I've been doing this since he was diagnosed at 2 and half years old. As I connect with educators world wide, I'm always curious how various educators use tools to enhance literacy with all learners. This is how I learn about what apps to try or buy. FYI... I always try before I buy if I can help it :-) If I do have to buy, I always contact the publishing company for an educator discount. It helps when you purchase close to 40-50 apps a year. I know, but I love to explore and make the connections to teaching and learning.
Anywho, I have purchased apps for my Padawan that have been a huge success in his development. I have also purchased many that have been a huge dud but are great learning tools. Something amazing has been happening the last few weeks since he has become an early reader. Apps that he paid no mind to a year ago, are being used more frequently with new delight and curiosity. Many things are now connecting for him. I love observing his curiosity and drive to create various digital products with his new knowledge.
We both usually explore digital tools after dinner. What was amazing tonight was that as I was posting in social media about a new digital badge I earned today on #UDL, I turn down to see the Padawan building some kind of structure with digital blocks. I had to do a double take because i thought, how did he install Minecraft on his iPad? I quickly realized it was an app I had purchased over 2 years ago that he never took to until now. I observed him for a good 15 minutes. During this time He was figuring out shapes, area, scale and function. I was blown away for many reasons. One, It took his dad a good 1 to 2 hours to really understand all most of the functions in Minecraft Edu to build something that most people can make sense of in a digital or real world. My 6 year old Padawan, some how learned the mechanics of his tool and began to create without any instruction.
I finally had to ask him, what he was building. He quickly turned around and glazed at me with a big smile and said, "An indoor park Daddy!" I laughed and he smiled at his creation so far. If you don't follow me on social media, especially on Facebook, you might not know that we visit most parks, outdoors and indoors wherever we roam. Indoor parks are our thing especially when the weather doesn't permit to go to outdoor parks.
Although, I still believe Minecraft EDU is a great too for building and learning, it might not be a good fit for my Padawan at this time, he has a platform that is similar and has the ability to make his thoughts, ideas, and curiosities come to life.
What will he create in his own indoor park? Only he knows at this time but I love the fact that the last sentence of tonight was, "Daddy, I'm a builder!" That sentence fills my bucket in so many ways. The possibilities are endless but the learning opportunities through exploring and building are giving him a sense of self confidence that is amazing to watch. He's doing what his dad did and without receiving a badge. He might not need a badge, just more opportunities :-)