Just this week alone I have read 3 different posts on Twitter about how Minecraft, @MinecraftEdu, has improved students' reading comprehension or math skills. Every time I read one of these posts I can't help but think about Isabel.
To say Isabel LOVED Minecraft would be an understatement. It was her passion. I don't believe a day went by without her trying to convince me that I should let the class download Minecraft on our iPads. She even enlisted some of the other students to try and convince me. And each day my response was something like "let me look at it" or "we'll see".
If I were to be completely honest I'd have to admit I was afraid. Yep! I was afraid what other teachers would say if they ever found out I was letting my class play a game on their iPads. I was afraid that I couldn't justify why I was letting students play a game when they should be working. I didn't really understand the game myself. I, I, I--I wasn't thinking about the students!
Our class was only 1 of 2 classes in our entire school with a class set of iPads, so I felt like I had a responsibility to make sure the students used them for academics, not playing games. What I failed to realize was that playing games could lead to improved academics. After all, we played other games in class to learn, didn't we? How was playing games on a device any different?
I have often regretted not being brave enough to take a chance and follow the passions of my students. Two years ago my fifth grade students knew something that I am just now beginning to understand--don't be afraid to be different. Don't be afraid to listen to your students. More importantly follow the passions of your students or should I say follow your gut!