Posts tagged “learning

June, July, August

Posted on June 9, 2014

Summer is here! I’m basking in the glow of few responsibilities and playoff basketball. In the popular vernacular, I “survived” my first year of teaching. If you have friends on Facebook who are similar to the friends I have on Facebook, you might have seen them post THIS specious “news” article about a Chinese miner who supposedly survived 17 years buried underground, surviving on a diet of rice and rats and painstakingly burying 78 of his colleagues, only to be rediscovered and escape his subterranean purgatory. Well, the story is a hoax (check your sources, students), but the experience of reemerging into the daylight of human civilization is similar to how I feel. I have time to read for pleasure? I can pursue hobbies…

Circle the Wagons: Metacognition and Mega-Confusion

Posted on May 19, 2013

The Oregon Trail If you attended grade school in the late 80’s or early to mid 90’s and were fortunate enough to have a computer lab in your school, you probably played The Oregon Trail.  For the uninitiated, The Oregon Trail was (and, in its 5th incarnation, still is) a computerized simulation of the massive westward migration that pioneering families undertook in the mid 19th century.  Like those brave pioneers, the game has you travel with a cohort of family and friends in a covered wagon.  Your ultimate destination is Oregon, but to get there you must purchase supplies (including animals, clothing, and medicine), cross treacherous rivers, and hunt game for survival.  Dysentery, cholera, and broken limbs are ever-present threats.  In one version of…

Minecraft Part Deux

Posted on October 1, 2012

Soooo I’ve been a bad blogger.  A poor pontificator.  A sorry soliloquizer.  I can offer up all the usual excuses, such as “I’ve been busy,” or, “Life gets in the way,” or, “I stepped in a really big wad of gum on the sidewalk, got stuck there for approximately one month’s time, and was finally rescued by the derring do of Scooby Doo and his goofy troop of teenage sleuths.”  But all those would be mistruths, half-truths, or deliberate efforts to disguise my sense of shame with glib humor.

But good news!  I have been hired!  As a substitute teacher at several schools!  And it is the pursuit, achievement, and fulfillment of this grandly exciting thing that has occupied much of my time.  I am literally pleased as punch to be in the classroom in whatever capacity (as long as it’s not as a human Kleenex dispenser).

The rest of this post will be dedicated to a bit of Nerdom that I find particularly enjoyable.  If you read my previous post on Minecraft, you are familiar with how much of a fan I am of it.  Well, today I bring you a video of a multiple choice question I made in Minecraft using circuitry and all kinds of other things unfamiliar and intimidating to an English major.  When I become a bonafide, dyed-in-the-wool, card-carrying teacher of English, I’m going to try to implement some sort of game mechanics in my classroom similar to this in order to teach grammar concepts.  Think of it!  Making grammar kind of fun!  And exciting!  Pie in the sky you say?  Well, I beg to differ:


Apologies for the snuffly bits and weird throat-clearing; I’m battling something akin to a head cold.  But yay!  Conjunctions!  I’m thinking of building entire levels that would test students’ knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and even literature.  Levels could even be book-themed.  Imagine a Harry Potter level set in Hogwarts.  Or a Lord of the Flies Level set on a deserted island.

If you’re interested in all this stuff, I suggest you check out  It’s a really cool modification of vanilla Minecraft that allows teachers to do some awesome educational things with the game.

And FYI: I am aware there is some debate over whether “therefore” is technically a conjunction, but for the purposes of this video I didn’t consider it a conjunction.

Have any ideas of how something like this could be implemented in an English classroom or other academic discipline?  Let me know!  Tell me your ideas so I can be inspired by them and (tactfully) steal them–giving you full credit of course!