Minecraft was a formative assessment that is different than a chapter test, where students are graded based on how many answers they answered correctly. It was an assessment that had no right or wrong answers and let us explore as learners. Giving us control of our own learning is a very powerful feeling for students. We were given basic guidelines to follow but were also given the freedom to decide where we wanted to go. We were allowed a week to roam around in a world created for beginners to train ourselves. I used this time and felt comfortable with how to move and gather information. However, after the week was over, we started fresh and had a freshly raked sandbox. All of the things that I felt comfortable doing in the training mode, I could not do in this new world. I was trapped in a barn and couldn't seem to jump or fly out of it. I felt totally discouraged because I did not know how to do anything any more. I explored and saw that my classmates were building hospitals and pyramids and the only thing I could do was destroy dirt and start to build my Pilgrim Monument out of dirt. I started to compare how I felt to my students when they do not understand a concept in math. After researching on the web, I found that I could give myself any element that I wanted. I then started to build Provincetown Harbor and a vegetable garden in Plymouth. I stayed up from 1am to 7am building my assessment and it was a powerful moment when I finally finished. It was something that I was proud to accomplish because at midnight I felt deflated and wanted to give up on the project. I am not the only person who has felt this way when dealing with video games and education. When Constance Steinkuehler was interviewed for an online article, she said that students were able to conquer games like Minecraft because “It wasn't just that the students knew the domain well; there were plenty of unfamiliar words. But they persisted more because they cared about the task” (Thompson, 2014).
In conclusion, because this assessment was not “high risk” it gave us the chance to make mistakes and start over if we were not successful the first time. Having assessments such as digital portfolios allow us to show growth over time by documenting our work each step of the way. There might be a few detours to the final product but when we finish, it allows us to look at what we were able to accomplish.
Thompson, C. (2014, October 9). How Videogames Like Minecraft Actually Help Kids Learn to Read. Retrieved August 8, 2015. from http://www.wired.com/2014/10/video-game-literacy/