Game Discussion and Outline for Minecraft based on the Hunger Games Book One

During the course of this week I have spent some time catching up with the rest of my team.  I asked Lee a few weeks ago if I could switch to the Minecraft team since I have been using Minecraft for my STEM class as well.  I am very excited to be apart of this team and enjoy using Minecraft in education.

On Tuesday I met with a few people on Minecraft and in Google Hangout to discuss Game Mechanics and play around a bit.  One of the game mechanics we discussed was assigning players roles.  Some of the roles we suggested were: family roles, social or class-based roles, your job/responsiblities, your attitude, and special abilities.  Nicole wanted to begin working on this so she is plugging away on making cards.  During our hangout we also discussed different ways we could play the game.  We had a chance to play survival mode, which I had been too afraid to play prior to Tuesday’s Hangout.  I would like to tell you that I survived, but I did not.  I did learn a valuable lesson though, and that is that your role in a family can help you survive.  Tiffany and Colin tried their best to save me!  This will be important for students to remember as they try to survive in District 12.

Also during our meeting I asked how I could help out.  I spent some time on Thursday looking at our Narrative for our game.  Colin and I read through our Narrative and Code of Laws just to make sure everything was cohesive and ready for the Gamifi-ED Wiki.

The group has worked diligently to create a narrative that introduces students to the world of Panem.  I did not participate in making this because I was not involved with the group at the time; however, I enjoyed reading through the narrative and providing support where I could.  The students’ first quest is outlined for them in the initial narrative.  The basic rules are explained in the narrative (5 rules), though to survive members of district 12 may have to break these rules at some point.  Players are expected to contribute to the glory of the Capitol.

During the previous week, as a team we worked on creating District 12.  Several buildings were already built, still I was able to build The Hob; and learned how to use world edit to create the building itself.  Colin was a huge help in learning how to use world edit.  Also, I had a chance to work with Lee a bit in Minecraft.  I don’t always feel that I am very helpful, but I was glad that I was actually able to help someone else.


This week has been challenging for me because I have really had to step out of my comfort zone a bit.  I have learned a great deal about Minecraft and feel more comfortable with some of the features Minecraft EDU has to offer.  Thanks for a great week!


Week 9 Reflection: Shifting from “What” to “Where” and “How”

Well, I am certainly glad I took the time to read through some blogs this week.  I had a very difficult time completing this weeks blog.  Perhaps because I am busy preparing to move or maybe because I was a little unsure of the content this week.  I am not certain, either way I read several blogs that made me think about my opinions on moving from the “what” to the “where” and “how”.

My contributions this week included reading and responding to several blog posts.  Leslie shared a great resource on her blog page.  She included a blog posting by Krista Moroder who discusses the idea that we have teachers that know how to teach and teachers that know how to use technology, (Moroder, 2012).  I think it is important to remember that we don’t always have to use technology.  There is still great value in teaching without technology.  Technology is another tool to add to our tool box.  If we can use it effecitvely to teach or learn then great, but if we are using technology simply to use it then perhaps we should consider not using.

I also took sometime to look through Gary’s blog.  I actually read his reflection this week.  How interesting.  He spoke about the “what” of teaching and how crucial this is to learning.  It is very important that we allow our students time to explore how to learn and give them the skill set to be life long learners, but part of that is helping students build their background knowledge.  Without giving students background knowledge and the skill set they need to “learn how to learn” they will not develop the skills necessary to be life long learners (especially in the elementary grades).  I am reminded of a blog I read by Wiggins.  In his blog he spoke about high school students who didn’t know how to read for understanding.  The students could read but didn’t have the skill set to make inferences.  He continued by explaining why the students couldn’t make inferences, no one had given them the skills to make inferences.  Telling a student to make an inferences or simply providing examples does not teach the students how to do this.  There are certainly clues or things students can look for in a situation to help them infer.  As educators we have to help students learn the what so they can apply it to other situations.

This week I also commented on Brandi’s blog.  Brandi has a neat situation in that she works with students who are not familiar with the oustide world because they live in a small rural community.  I have not been in that situation, however I tried to pull some resources for her to use.  I do not know how helpful they will be, though since I am not in that situation.

I also took some time to read through some of Heather’s blog.  She is trying to catch up with her blog posts so I commented on learning as a part of the collective.  She spoke about using Kagan Learning Structures so I shared some of my favorite learning structures and how I used them.  Great post!

Finally, I am working on catching up with the Minecraft Game group since I switched.  I am excited to be a part of this team because I am using Minecraft in my other class as well.  In the comment section I suggested creating a survey to assess where the students are at with using Minecraft.  Colin is super awesome and already made one!  I jumped on today to suggest some questions for the survey but he is too quick! 🙂  Thanks, Colin for all your hard work.
Overall a busy, productive week!



Wiggins. ().  The Shift from Teaching Content to Teaching Learning. Retrieved from

Moroder, K. (2012, November Friday). Let’s Stop Talking about Teaching with Technology, and Start Talking about Teaching. Retrieved from

What are the Challenges in Shifting Content from “What” to “Where” and “How”?

what where how

I have had great difficulty coming up with a blog post for this week.  I am not certain if I am just too busy with other things in life or if I am having a difficult time wrapping my head around the essential question: what are the challenges in shifting from “what” to “where” and “how”?  After grappling with this for a bit, I determined that I needed to first define and think about the “what”, “where” and “how”.

Defining the what, where, and how is fairly simple.

The question of “what” is easily testable.  The two types of “what” are the facts being either true or false, or the beliefs which must be explained or justified using the content being studied (Thomas & Brown, 2011).   In the past and even now educators fall into the trap of teaching students “what” they need to learn based on the curriculum.  Certainly not all teachers simply teach the “what”; however, I have seen many teachers who do just this, and I am certain I have done this before as well.  The goal then is to move beyond simply teaching the what.  There is a need in today’s ever changing society for teachers to move students into the where and how of participation, thus teaching students how to learn.

The “where” encourages the learner to determine where to find the information?  Sometimes students may not know, for instance, where Iraq is if you point to it on a map.  However, if you ask students where to gather the information to find Iraq many will be able to do this using things such as Google Maps (Thomas & Brown, 2011).  This idea reminds me of using Wiki as a resource.  Wiki is a great resource because it allows users to manage knowledge in one location; additionally the way the knowledge is managed is recorded through discussions and activity on the page.  I will be the first to admit that in the past I have never been a fan of wikis, and honestly, I find them difficult to use at times.  It is important, though, to note the value a wiki can possess.  Sheehy speaks about some of the benefits of using Wiki with other educators.  Using a wiki allows teachers to collaborate when they might otherwise not have time to “meet up” to discuss strategies or lessons (Sheehy, 2008).  Similarly, wikis can allow students to connect and share information in an organized fashion.  In the past it was difficult to find ways to organize information that students found on a particular subject; now, students are able to gather information on subjects such as serious games and put all the information in one location.  No longer do students have to wonder “where” they will locate information.  Now students and teachers can move into the “how” of participation.

The “how” of participation asks us how we can judge and evaluate the information that we gather?  Mizuko Ito discusses this in her ethnographic study shared by Thomas and Brown.  She discusses “how” we judge and evaluate in three ways: by hanging out, messing around, and by geeking out.  Mizuko explains hanging out as just “being” by learning the social practices and social norms that make one media literate.  Once students and teachers develop this social agency then they can move into “messing around”.  One of the critical pieces of messing around is that the student or person messing around develops a personal interest.  Getting students to take a personal interest will help them learn how to learn.  Finally, Mizuko explains geeking out, which means extending the social agency of hanging out and the personal agency of messing around.  People who “geek out” think, “How can I utilize the available resources, both social and technological for deep exploration?”   (Thomas and Brown, 2011)

Challenges of shifting from the “what” to the “where” and “how”.

The “what” of learning is often defined for us in the field of education.  I am reminded of something a fellow educator has mentioned in class before.  Often times as educators we feel bounded by the curriculum; still, sometimes it is important to use our professional judgment and not teach everything. Now, I don’t mean we should leave out crucial areas of study, I just think we should look at the curriculum and pacing guide with a critical eye.  If our students take a pretest for instance and already know the “what” then we should have the freedom to move right into the where and how of participation. 

One of the challenges of moving into the “where” and “how” is feeling like students don’t know the “what”.  I think this is a common feeling among educators; this may be where we, as educators, need to shift our thinking.  Perhaps students can learn the “what” by moving into the “where” and “how”.  By letting students take charge of their learning we allow them to “own it” in a sense; students will feel more involved in their studies if we give them the chance to locate information and play with it.  As I begin to think along these lines I am reminded of Wiggins article on shifting from teaching content to teaching learning.  When we encourage students to take charge of their learning we also have to take time to show them how to learn. 

–“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”—

Benjamin Franklin


Sheehy. (2008). The wiki as knowledge repository: Using a wiki in a community of practice to strengthen K-12 education. Retrieved from


Thomas, Douglas & Brown S., John. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.

Wiggins. ().  The Shift from Teaching Content to Teaching Learning. Retrieved from


Week 8 Reflection: Learning in a collective

This week has been a busy one.  I have spent time reviewing games.  I have only finished two since I have been busy with other assignments.  I did spend sometime talking with other people in the class this week.  I am looking forward to working with Colin and Chris on a Minecraft task for my son and Chris’s son.  I think it will be neat.  We are truly embracing the idea of working as a collective, though I think Colin has much more to offer on the subject of Minecraft.

I had a nice discussion with Sara H. about constructivism.  Students learn so much more when they are given the opportunity to construct their knowledge.  I also spoke with Gary about the different ways people are using the collective to learn.  Gary provided a great resource filled with information about different ways collective learning is used (  I also shared the Sal Khan video with Gary about learning in a collective (  Finally, I spoke with Colin about using the collective to share hobbies and learn more about your hobbies.  What a great idea!  Colin had some good suggestions about how I could do this without sharing personal information.

This week I also had a few conversations on my blog page as well.  Megan, Tiffany, and Colin visited my blog this week.  Megan and I discussed the value of working in a collective as an educator; each of us brings unique passions and interests to the teaching career.  When we work together we can use these different “gifts” to help each other become better teachers.  Tiffany shared how belonging in a group is so important.  I think working in a collective that a student picks can help the student feel involved and interested in the collective.

Thanks for all of the great comments and discussions this week.  I have learned a great deal being a part of a great team.  Especially from some of our high school students who have helped me navigate the wiki page.

Thoughts on Learning in the Collective…

My first thought as I read and researched for this week’s blog post, was the Borg from Star Trek.  Perhaps I have managed to date myself a bit, but I find myself thinking, “Resistance is futile”.  Colin, a fellow blogger shared a clip during our twitter session.

According to Wikipedia, A “collective identity is the shared sense of belonging to a group.  It is conceptualized as individuals’ identifications of, identifications with, or attachment to certain groups.”

Douglas Thomas and John Brown elaborate further by saying that the collective is the “collection of people, skills, and talent that produces a result greater than the sum of its parts,” (A New Culture of Learning, 2011).  People are actively engaged in the process of learning; furthermore, the participants are people who belong in order to learn, (Thomas and Brown, 2011). 

Khan Academy has a great clip on the idea of learning in a collective.

The video clip discusses how our closest relative, chimps, are able to communicate by showing.  Chimps are able to convey movements observed in the present.  In other words, chimps communicate but their communication is limited to the present.  The chimps’ knowledge does not build and move forward.  Humans have symbolic language and are therefore able to learn, and through experience, gain information that can be passed on to the next generation.  Not only is information passed on to the next generation but humans are able to learn from the collective and build on that information.  So, new information is being experienced when humans learn through the collective, (Khan Academy). The internet has given us the opportunity to participate in the collective in a whole new way. 

 Claudio Garaycochea explains one way the collective can be used on the internet to allow your knowledge base to grow in a specific area.  Imagine what you could learn about web design or interior design if you had a web PACKAGE “with the best tools, having any of these within a moments reach?” (Garaycochea, 2011).  Garaycochea poses the questions, “What would happen if experts from different industries were to create PACKAGES with the best tools, having any one of these within a moment’s reach?”  He goes on to discuss a project called “CustominzeInternet” which seeks to do just that. 

I like the idea of having PACKAGES available to learn from the experts, but I find the collective can be valuable just by working in a group with individuals who have different strengths.  For instance, teachers working together to plan a unit.  Some teachers are really good at incorporating new strategies, while other teachers have a great deal of experience with classroom management.  We can learn SO much by listening to our colleagues! 

Next week I am going to work with Colin and Chris on a Minecraft lesson for our own children.  I am super excited to work with other people.  My son is probably even more excited than I am; he continues to amaze me each time he plays Minecraft.  What really baffles me is his interest in working with teachers.  He loves when teachers are willing to work with him on Minecraft; he really loves when they will follow him and let him show them around.  Imagine what we could learn if we viewed our students as part of “the collective”.  One of my favorite parts of teaching is learning.  I love the chance I have to constantly learn new things.  Being a part of the collective certainly helps me achieve my goal of being a lifelong learner. 


Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Khan, Sal. Retrieved from

Garaycochea, Claudio. (2011). Improve the use of the Internet through collective intelligence. Retrieved from

Thomas, Douglas & Brown S., John. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.


Week Seven Reflection: Play and Embracing Change

This week we explored how play helps us embrace change.  We also discussed what implications this has for us as professionals.  Several students defined what play was; this was not an approach I took, however I enjoy learning through play.  I often watch my youngest child play and am amazed at how much she is learning just by playing, even by herself.  I think as adults we forget how much we can learn by just exploring things.  Along with exploring comes an element of risk and a willingness to change.  While I am not comfortable with taking risks in games, I am comfortable taking risks in the classroom.  Since I am not a gamer I am fearful of anything that might force me to take a risk or might be scary.  In the classroom I view risk taking in an entirely different manner.  I want my students to see that I am willing to look at how education and technology are changing and try new things in the classroom; even though these changes involve taking a risk.

I spent some time reading through Thomas’s page.  He mentioned how much students can learn when teachers are willing to try new things in the classroom.  Students learn that even teachers are uncomfortable with change, but they also learn that change can be positive and can be looked at in a positive manner.  I shared some different ideas with Thomas that might provide differentiation and choice for his students.  I suggested he look at using TicTacToe Boards and that he explore “Genius Hour”.  I also spent some time talking with Megan about Genius Hour as well.  Google initially came up with Genius Hour to offer time for their employees to pursue their own passions.  Employees were allowed to use 20% of their work time to work on their own projects (provided that these projects had the potential to be used for work).  Now, teachers are looking at using this same idea in the classroom.  This seems to mirror Dave Burgess’ idea of finding your passion and using it to be a successful teacher.  Now, we can help students find their passion and be successful as well!

Finally, I discussed Kagan Strategies and Robert Marzano’s Strategies with Leslie and Donna.  Kagan structures are a great way to improve engagement in the classroom!

I also began working on the Wiki page by reviewing one game.  I have only begun this process.  I spent some time reviewing Math Baseball.  I have not written a summary of my evaluation yet, but I have filled out the teacher side of the rubric for this.  I am finding it difficult to keep up with all of the different blogs, wikis, and class assignments, but I am trying.


Burgess, Dave. (2012). Teach like a Pirate. Dave Burgess Consulting Inc. San Diego, CA

Embrace Change in the New Year with Genius Hour. (2014). Retrieved from

What does the way you play have to do with embracing change and how does this impact you as a professional?

Embracing change seems less challenging for me than say my parents, however the same could be said about my kids.  They are growing up in a world that is changing daily.  My children are often more comfortable with change than I am.  I also recall thinking as a child that I wanted to be a parent who was fit and could play with my children; I envisioned play being things we would do outside.  I am slowly learning that I can also engage with my children by playing games which may not be outside or physically active.  I still prefer playing with my children when we are physically active; however, I am also learning that I can spend valuable time with my children by playing games such as Minecraft.  My kids and I are having a great time learning about Minecraft together.  Even my youngest child is getting involved by watching and learning how to move around in Minecraft.  I still need lots of help playing games though.

I found it difficult to complete the gamer profile this week.  I wanted a choice that said something about neither option given being applicable.  So, I do not really feel that my gamer profile is accurate.

 game profile

I do like to explore in games, however I only like to explore if there is NO risk of being killed.  I do not enjoy the risk factor that games have.  I suppose I like games like Minecraft that allow you to use a setting such as “Peaceful”, where there are no creatures that can harm the player(s).  So, a portion of my gamer profile is accurate.

I suppose my gamer profile speaks a little about my ability to embrace change.  I am willing to embrace change as long as the risk to me is not too great.  I suppose games offer a risk factor without creating risk in real life.

There are many advances in the ever-changing world of technology that allow students to take risks in the classroom.  One tool I came across is Genius Hour.  Genius Hour was created by Google.  It encourages students to “explore and develop their own passions and creativity,” (  You might be thinking that this is some game online that students can get involved in, however it is not.  The Google team uses the idea that employees can use 20% of their work time to work on projects that they want to work on provided the project has the potential to increase their skills at work or be used in a future work project.  Imagine what students could learn if a portion of their work time was spent on things they are passionate about!  Instead of “Fun Friday” where students have unstructured free time, we could give students time to work on projects they are passionate about!  What a great idea!  Dave Burgess speaks about passion in his book, Teach like a Pirate.  We can foster our students’ passions by encouraging them to participate in Genius Hour!

Let’s embrace change by encourage our students to explore their passions through play.  As one of Melvina Kurashige’s students said, “students are more comfortable with what they know best and many students excel at playing video games; when we add education students can do better in school and enjoy doing it,” (paraphrased from Nicole from Melvina’s class).


Thomas, Douglas & Brown S., John. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.

Burgess, Dave. (2012). Teach like a Pirate. Dave Burgess Consulting Inc. San Diego, CA

Embrace Change in the New Year with Genius Hour. (2014). Retrieved from

Cool Tools for the 21st Century Learner. Retrieved from

Gamified OOC. Melvina Kurashige: Mid-Pacific Institute Student Showcase. Retrieved from

Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology. Retrieved from Bartle Test of Gamer Psychology _ Explorer.htm