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Denise's Club Journal

Page history last edited by Colby 12 years, 1 month ago

I thought I needed a space to reflect on the Minecraft club separate from the game journal.  


June 5th 2012

Cross posted on http://randomgamingmusings.blogspot.ca/


The Lord of the Minecraft

I wish I had actually read The Lord of the Flies, because then I would know for sure if the title for this entry is accurate.  Somehow I managed to go my whole educational career without having to read it.  Some might say that it was a lucky miss. But I digress, this post is really about the decent into madness and chaos that my Minecraft club took on Monday.  It was awesome.


At the beginning of my Minecraft club I informed the members (four grade 8's three grade 6's and one grade 5 who was absent for this meeting) that the world we had been constructing was not going to be available for the second week in a row.  I also let them know that I got an email from @liamodonnell letting us, @MzMollytl and I, know that he had given his own club the option of being in creative mode or survival in our shared world.  I let them know I would do the same for them too.


I expected the possibly of having creative mode in our joint game would make them happy, but much to my surprise all but one said they would prefer to stay in survival mode.  They were very insistent that survival mode is the only 'real' way to play.  The was one student who asked to be in creative mode was given a pass from judgement because: a) he was in a younger grade and b) he was working with another member of the club and they just figured they would share the resources to build their base together.  Being younger and  using creative mode just to build a base was less of a stigma.


Then we logged in.


As the club members got their bearings and started making plans for what they need to accomplish they also began to notice what the other club (Highland Heights) had done when they played in creative mode, and the materials they had used.  There were tree houses, (one with tamed wolves in it), suspicious looking cavities in the ground and TNT left piled in different areas to name a few things.  Two members who were struggling with building a tree house, that one of them had begun last week, were the next to ask for creative mode: "just so we can finish the building and then we will go back to survival."  Lest they be judged harshly by their peers. The group accepted this and continued with their construction


Then one of my members asked to blow up some TNT.  We discussed it, and I caved, stressing :"Just this once, and not too big!"  I have to say, I usually don't give in so quickly but they were finding TNT deposits in areas and craters, so there was a precedent.  From there things started spiraling into chaos.  It was actually kinda amusing to watch.  My students who at the beginning were so adamant that survival mode was the only way to play Minecraft properly  started to come to the dark side.  At around the time of the first explosion, the club from Agnes Macphail also joined the server.  


Everyone who had creative mode started getting creative -go figure.  It got to the point that it was no longer practical to  play in survival.  Especially if you wanted to survive more than 5 minutes.  Only one student in my club retained their survival status, and lived to tell the tale.  Like a post apocalyptic movie he decided to abandon the destruction on the surface of the world and to begin again underground.  I think one student from Agnes Macphail stayed in survival mode too, but I do not know how they managed. 


All in all everyone had a great time.  Although I fear what the Highland Heights club will find if they log back into this world.  What I really found fascinating, was how quickly the members of my group changed from: creative is terrible> look at these people using creative, they need to stop> I'll try creative>give me creative mode!> anarchy!    


Is this an example of why students shouldn't play in creative mode at school?  No, I don't think so.  As the students were leaving they were talking about how much fun it was to go crazy in game, but they were glad they would be able to go back to their own world and get back to 'work'.  I wish these students were in a class I taught on a regular basis!  In their conversation there is so much material to lead into deeper conversations.  Why is it okay to destroy a world that isn't 'yours'?  Doesn't it belong to someone?  What about the environment you are effecting?  Are there examples of your in-game behaviour in the real world? What would be the impact of your actions if this was the real world?  And so on...  


All in all, good game.







April 24th 2012


Just wanted to add pictures of the 5 minute brainstorm we did in response to the question:  What can you do in Minecraft?

April 15th 2012

No Minecraft club this week.  I had an after school meeting today, and almost every other day this week.  There was much disappointment.  

One student did not realize the club was cancelled today and came to school with this awesome t-shirt he bought from WizardCon:


Something of interest to me that is coming out of the student wiki is the reluctance of students to comment about Minecraft.  While I understand reluctance to write, what I didn't expect was students wanting to use the clubhub to write about topics not directly linked to Minecraft at all.  I'm going with it, just because I want to see where this is headed.



March 31st 2012

Things have been going well with the club.  I am having some struggle with getting the students to embrace using the wiki.  There are a few possible reasons for this resistance ranging from unfamiliarity with wikis in general, lack of interest in writing, and just wanting to play the game.  Accessing the wiki outside of club time is also a stumbling block for many of the members as they do not have computers/internet at home.  Since I am in and out of the school so often with my role of literacy coach it is close to impossible to arrange consistent extra time to meet and work on the wiki.  However the fact that they can't access the server until 3:30 has helped the wiki cause since they have nothing to do for 15mins before entering the game.  Now that we have access to the server the boys do not want to play single player if they can help it.  I think they are afraid that they might miss something if everyone logs in while they are off exploring on their own.


I am really interested in the social interaction between the grades and the talk that is happening while they are playing.  The grade 8's have been very considerate of the grade 5 and 6 students in the club and all the members have helped each other at different times.  I especially loved the reaction the grade 8 boys had when the lone grade 6 member was trapped in a deep hole with no tools on our first day on the server.  They immediately made it a 'mission' to find and rescue him adding that he should stick with them for a while after they got him out.  I wish I had recorded it.   


The topic of mods has come up a couple of times, but the majority of the members believe it is too soon to introduce them, since they haven't done any significant building and exploring.  I have also told the group that they need to write any request in the wiki for me to act on them.  The idea being, that although I may participate in the discussion I am forgetful and need reminders to do things like: add new skins to our skin folder.


After the second day on the server the boys were discussing the 'missions' they would undertake the next time they log in.  

I am looking forward to what they build and how they will resolve issues as we spend more time on the server.  Its my hope that as they work on the server together and with the Grims that they will use the chat feature more and connect more with the wiki.  


I think the real issue for me is time.  I wish I had more time to work with the students and extend what they are doing in game and the thinking they are doing out of game.



Jan 31st 2012

Yesterday I had a lot of people show up to the club. only 6 of the actual members, and 9+ student observers. The observers participated in the writing activity and observed and assisted members who were exploring the game.

The observers are eager to join and were quite pleased to see many members were away in hopes that they would be one step closer to joining. I was impressed with their enthusiasm. The teacher who runs the lab said he had never seen a club where students were told they couldn’t be a part of the ‘team’ and still came to the meetings.

The writing activity was to write a response to a picture (Terragrim attacking a zombie). It was up to them what form they would write in. While they wrote I finished logging in the computers. I took a look at the writing and was a bit disappointed by how brief they had been, but I was encouraged by the lab teacher who told me this was more than many had written most of the term. In truth the students spent most of the time talking about what they were going to do in the game and gaming in general. Unfortunately I was logging in computers so I couldn’t pay too much attention to their talk.

Once I showed them how to change their skins, and where to find the preselected skins in the folder I had made, I let them go and explore. I wanted to take screen shots of their avatars but it was impossible to get close to them as the observers were surrounding them. It was interesting to see what they chose to do in the game and which type of world they created. The more experienced the player the more difficult they made it for themselves. The observers came in handy, as one of them was able to fix the problem of the game running a bit jerky by making changes in the options panel. I had not known that you could do this and just assumed that the computers were just ‘laggy’. Once he had done this fix on a couple of the computers another observer who had watched what the first had done help with fixing the rest and shared how to use the options panel.

However, as much as the observers were a help, they were also a hindrance. It was difficult to control the excited gamers and they were easily distracted. The other problem being that they will need to have permission forms if they are to continue coming out. I talked to a couple of teachers and I think what I will do is allow the observers to sign in at the beginning of the club, to show their continued interest in joining, but not have them stay for the club.

I just really hate having to turn away students who really want to participate.


Jan 24 2012

Word has gotten out about the club and I now have a waiting list for membership. A group of grade 5 boys actually printed off a bunch of information about minecraft and gave it to the principal when they went to tell him that they wanted to join. I added them to the waiting list. The principal even offered to find out if he could get some money to buy some more accounts. I told him that for now we were keeping the clubs small but I would get back to him.

My first meeting was good. We created a code of conduct for in-game behaviour and out of game behaviour. We kept it simple, with the option to add or modify as we go. There was an interesting conversation about 'trolling'. Two boys wanted to know if it would be okay to troll each other but leave everyone else alone. The point was raised by another member that their trolling might still effect other players i.e. If they set traps for each other and someone else stepped into it. It was decided not to allow trolling at all.

To wrap up -and give me a chance to get to know the students- I asked them to write about what they expect from this club, and some of the games they have played. So far all responses were very short, and varied a lot in experience level with this game. Some want to find the Enderdragon, while one member just wants to learn how to play the game. One student wants to make a rollercoaster.

I have all the accounts set up so I think next class I will have them explore independently, if the server is not up. They have already asked about changing their skin. I am not sure what I want to do about that yet. I think I might create a folder with pre-select skins and have students find out how to change them independently.  Since I don't know any of the students well it is difficult for me to judge how much leyway I can give them yet.

I gave out permission forms and media releases (just in case) and sent them on their way. I had 4 students audit the club. They may come back next week. 3 of the 4 them already have accounts.


January 16th 2012
I am at a school of more than 500 students and I was afraid that when I made my announcement about a Minecraft club I would be flooded with students who would want to join.  This assumption was based mostly on Diana’s own stories of how she is having a hard time with student selection, and knowing that Liam would have no, or little difficulty finding students at Highland Heights to fill his club.  I was sure keeping the club to 8+ students would be difficult.

IMy announcement was made in the morning so I went to the computer lab after school and waited for students... and waited...and started playing Minecraft so I wouldn’t be thinking about how I did not have a single student come out the the club.  The teacher in charge of the computer lab came over and we talked about Minecraft for a bit.  Eventually two grade 8 students came in hesitantly asking if this was where the minecraft club would be.  One of the students had a lot of experience playing the game, but they are both currently using borrowed accounts.

The teacher who runs the computer lab gave me some tips on how to get student at Duke of Connaught interested.  He suggested that I focus on attracting the grade 6 students, for various reasons and gave me the names of the 2 grade 6 teachers to follow up with.  I asked the grade 8 students who came to the meeting if they would be okay with acting as ‘experts’ in  the club if the rest of the members came from the grade 6 classes, and they agreed.

Things I needed to know/do to have more success:

     The culture of the school

      Direct contact with students and with their teachers

I need to be more aware that being in a new school, and in a role that has little direct contact with the school as a whole means I have zero credibility with students right now.


Comments (1)

TingLeditor@gmail.com said

at 11:49 pm on Apr 16, 2012

Love the shirt! Terragrim has ordered a shirt that combines many of her loves - Minecraft, Japan, and chibis. I'll take a photo and post it when she gets it.

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