Reflections of Blending English and Technology in the Classroom

Archive for the ‘Project Based Learning’ Category

Minecraft, for Educational Purposes

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Lately there has been a buzz in education about gaming as an aid to learning. While many educators are unsure of applicable roles in curriculum areas, students have definite ideas of how they can use gaming, more specifically Minecraft, to demonstrate their learning. Working in a 1:1 environment has given students opportunities to create remarkable multimedia projects, and being a seasoned 1:1 school, students at BCLUW tailor their learning and projects to fit their areas of interests and passions.

Meet Jarrett – a sophomore at BCLUW. As a freshmen he would amaze me with his stop-animation videos. He has a love of video games, like the normal 15 year old, and a passion to create. I knew Jarrett has used Minecraft in a few of his classes, History and English. Likewise,  students at BCLUW have used Minecraft in many other curricular areas.

So what is Minecraft? Simply put, Minecraft is a virtual world where people build, explore, engage in battle. This survivor game is one where players use the environment to sustain life. Although that is the main focus of the game, gamers have been finding several new uses for Minecraft: architecture, computer programming, a hobby, and of course for EDUCATION.

Here is an example of Jarrett’s work. It is a virtual tour of Egypt that he researched, designed, built, and PRESENTED. This project was one he proposed to his history teacher in place of the other assignment.

Jarrett’s ideas for Minecraft Projects:

Science – Virtual demonstration of atom combining

Math – Electric Wiring

English – Virtual demonstration of grammar reviews

History – Reconstructing buildings

Spanish – Language selector in Minecraft to aid in learning

Art- Pixel art

Music – Create your own music, (there are instruments you can use in Minecraft)


Here are additional examples educators have been sharing with me. Please add your ideas in the comment section or tweet me!



Written by sfarnsworth

April 12, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Cross-Curricular, Project Based Learning: BCLUW Mock Trial

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For the past five years, on the day before Thanksgiving break, the BCLUW senior class holds a Mock Trial as a culminating project at the end of a cross-curricular unit designed by myself (English) and Josh Ehn (Social Studies). This unit is designed to provide students an understanding of how our legal system works, as well as job prep skills. The government side of the project is taught by Mr. Ehn who also decides the roles each student will play and the court case to be tried. Students interview for positions from judge to jury members highlighting the skills and qualifications they have gained in high school that makes them the best candidate.

In English class, students create resumes based on real information, a necessity for graduating seniors. They also learn the fine art of writing a letter of application in hopes that their words and experience stands out in order to receive an interview. Finally, with the help of teachers and community members, each student is given a time and location for an interview.

This is a fantastic Project Based Learning example that helps blend learning from different departments. Students are challenged to express their skills on the resume, and the interview provides much needed experience with a bit of added pressure. We want to thank the following community members for donating their time to support BCLUW students: Shane Tiernan, Darla Ubben, Doug Benjamin, Denise Hoy, Mike Payne, and Jayne Katzer. It was another successful trial, the students had fun, and the defendant was found GUILTY… Next year we are looking for challengers, any school interested?

Written by sfarnsworth

November 28, 2011 at 2:34 am