In his first year as a gifted and talented teacher, David Cupp found a way to engage his students through Minecraft Education Edition.
his classes in Gale Pond Alamo STEAM Academy convene once a week according to grade.
Vanessa Brower, a GT teacher at LBJ Elementary School, introduced Cupp to Minecraft several years ago.
“…It was probably my second year at Alamo. And at the time, I wasn’t quite sure how we could use it because that was when we still had the desktop computers and only four at a time. …When I moved into GT, and even last year with science, I found a way for kids to explain what they learned because I feel like if they can take ownership of it, they can definitely grasp the material if they can show it. and explain it,” Cupp said.
This year, to introduce their students to unsolved puzzles and mysteries, the students were investigating the marfa lights.
The ultimate goal for the students next semester is to create a product to demonstrate what they have learned.
“… I have made Google Slides for you to create a digital museum. And then we did Adobe Spark where they had to create… a little video about what they learned; so we have made minecraft. And then last week, they created… a digital work room and they had to create digital tracks. That way, when you play, you have to find the information and learn about it for your code to escape. I tried to get them to no longer learn like we do, so you have to find that way to engage them and engage them,” Cupp said.
“Minecraft is definitely his hook. … ”, she added.
This is Cupp’s eighth year of teaching. She was at Cameron Dual Language Primary School for one year, but the rest has been at Gale Pond teaching various grades. This is her first year as a GT or Scholars in Progress instructor.
Minecraft Education Edition allows teachers to create lessons that already exist, or create a world and have students build in it to show off what they’ve learned.
Cupp said he has noticed that the game makes it easier for students to grasp difficult concepts.
“… They had like 45 minutes in that class to build that Minecraft so we were able to talk about whether they decided to do this for their main product. How would you do it? Because it can’t just be a room. So they are already planning and thinking about how to explain their riddle, which they can choose between Bigfoot, or the Loch Ness Monster, or their pyramids. So they have this huge range to show off their knowledge. And they are definitely engaged. …,” he said.
Even during the Christmas break, the students plan to continue working.
“It’s motivating them,” Cupp said.
Teaching about 47 students in total, Cupp added that students don’t realize they’re learning.
As a bonus, students also learned vocabulary words like riddles, pondered what an unsolved mystery is, and whether they were skeptics or believers.
Cupp said he has learned as much from his students as they have from him.
Avyelle Puente, 10-year-old fifth grader, Cody Bauer, 11-year-old fifth grader, Nathan Ponce, 9-year-old fourth grader, and Aubrey Heisler, 10-year-old fourth grader, are all enjoying their trip to Minecraft to learn. Everyone plays the game outside of class.
“When we were making Minecraft to show some of the topics that we learned, we were making these museums, so we were using our creativity as we tried to show what we had already learned,” Bauer said. .
“Sometimes it can be much more fun to learn and easier to understand,” added Bauer.
Students enjoy learning this way for a variety of reasons.
“It’s a fun way to use your mind… It gives you a lot of different kinds of resources and better ways,” Ponce said.
Heisler said he likes that they can show off your creativity without anyone judging you.
“Because in GT, you are here to think differently from everyone else,” he said.
Puente said when they were in class, “It’s like an explosion of ideas that come to your mind. And it’s like other people give you ideas and ideas and then we’re in Minecraft and we just create all these ideas and put them together and it becomes a wonderful creation. So that’s what I like most about being in GT,” said Puente.
Since the class is once a week, the students really look forward to it. Cupp said they are in different grades and in different classrooms, so she liked meeting each other.
Ponce said that when he started in GT, he started Scratch Jr. Then he went to “Real Scratch” and started experimenting with it.
Scratch is a way to introduce students to programming, Cupp said.
“Now here I am with two different accounts on Scratch and making games and all that stuff with coding,” Ponce said.
Ponce said that he has made several different games.
“I made a game with profit and then I’m doing animations; some other things I’m working on. I’m working on ‘Choose your own adventure’. It will probably take me a few months to do it because I want to add a lot of endings. I think I started in September. It is simply called a game. That’s what it’s called,” Ponce said.
The earnings game teaches you about spending.
“I did that one just for fun,” he said.
Ponce said he could become a game designer, a teacher, or go into IT.
Bauer said he feels like the class teaches them certain career paths for their future.
“Here they teach us skills that some teachers don’t teach in their regular classes,” Bauer said.
Puente said that what he really likes about GT is that the people are very friendly and you can really express yourself. She added that the ideas will keep coming and that they will help her as she progresses through high school.
Heisler said she thinks GT will help her in her future career as well. She agreed that people are nice. “And they don’t even care if I do something wrong, or if I show more creativity than them, or something like that because they already know that GT is about expressing your feelings and thinking differently,” Heisler added.
The students hadn’t heard of the Marfa lights before class started, but it caught their attention.
Bauer said when he learned about the lights, “I wanted to dig deeper and somehow… find out as much as I could about them so I could try to investigate and help figure out what causes them.”
Bauer said he thinks he has a theory about it. He said that people see the lights at sunrise and sunset.
“…Perhaps they are like dust clouds that reflect sunlight. Because sometimes, whenever light shines through a window, you can see dust particles floating around, so I was thinking, what if they’re big clouds of dust reflecting sunlight? he said.