The Hotdogs and CoolBananas3000 show!

On Friday my two sons stayed home from school. Neither was sick, it was just one of those mornings where it was easier to have them at home with me than it was to get them to school. Maybe you’ve had one of those mornings or maybe you’re judging me to be a slack parent, either way my boys stayed at home on Friday.

Their preferred activity for the day was gaming – of course – and their preferred game was Minecraft. After about an hour of them gaming independently (OK, they may have briefly jumped on a server together, but mostly they were gaming separately), I decided that if they were to spend more time on Minecraft they’d have to produce something that I could show their dad, lol. So they got to work creating the first five episodes of their YouTube series: Hotdog & Bananas Multiplayer Survival Series.

They are keen to have an audience for their videos and so I promised that I would blog about them. It was great fun watching how seriously they took their videos and how quickly they became more comfortable in their digital identities – initially my eldest son (Hotdog) was nervous and concerned about small mistakes made. I loved hearing my youngest son (Bananas) being very forceful in his wish that the series contain his full gamer name ‘Cool Bananas 3000’ because that is what he is ‘known’ as on YouTube – he has his own YouTube channel, lol.

Here are their vids … the second one is a little grainy as I think Hotdogs potentially exported it the wrong size … oh well, it’s a learning curve! I’m sure they’d both love a comment or thumbs up if you enjoy their episodes … of course I can appreciate that you may not want to endure more than a few minutes! Oh, no – that’s not nice, is it? Haha. Enjoy!

Minecraft: a community of practice.

So I’ve been having a great time in #massivelyminecraft with my boys and hubby. I really haven’t ever been excited about games – especially not the multiplayer, immersive, sword and pickaxe variety. I have been known to get competitive on Mario Kart, Wii Bowling and Lips but they’re probably the lamest games known to gamer-kind. Oh – and Tetris, yeah I dig lining up those little shapes.

So why minecraft and why now? Couple of obvious reasons.
1. Twitter. My PLN has gone a bit games mental in the last 12 months and it’s easy for me to get pulled along with the edu-trend tide. I tried to ‘gamify’ my classroom but felt in my heart that it didn’t work for my kids in the way gaming in edu should. I got frustrated by the focus on extrinsic motivators and it just felt a bit daggy. Good learning design can learn from good game design. Good game design doesn’t begin by deciding on badges and XP – it begins with fun. Finally, two people I admire greatly (Dean Groom and Jo Kay) have a big interest in Minecraft and learning.
2. I have two young sons – 7 and 10. They have been gaming most of their lives – mostly together, sometimes alone, sometimes with my husband and very occasionally with me. Their lives revolve around gaming and that’s no English teacher hyperbole. And if I don’t game with them I’m out of this world. Mostly I master their gaming language second-person. Sometimes I have no idea what they are talking about so I zone out. Not very responsible parenting!

So a couple of weeks ago I jumped into #massivelyminecraft to follow in the footsteps of my two mining boys. Since doing so I have learnt heaps from my boys, my husband and the insane community of miners led by Aunty JoKay 😉

Every morning my kids begin to prattle on about their latest missions into Nether or Skyland. The speak with passion (and volume) about their builds and inventory of diamonds and obsidian. They challenge each other to make houses out of pink wool or ice. They despair over their flooded mine and discuss the best strategy to fly to the square moon. Best part about this? I know what they’re talking about – I am of their community. We share a common language. Both boys have demonstrated to me first hand their impressive mastery of multiliteracies. I’ve witnessed them strengthening these literacies via immersive practice and proximal learning with expert miner JoKay and young expert novice miners.

And because I’m a teacher at heart I can’t help but wonder how this very authentic learning space can be used to transform education as we know it.

Thanks Jo and Dean. You guys continue to rock my world!

Here is the blog post about our ‘Cool 3000 Family’:

http://minecraft.jokaydia.com/2011/09/cool-family-3000/

Here’s Mr 7’s video he made: