Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Minecraft Beit Hamikdash

Chanoch L'Naar

This is my first blog post ever. After tweeting the final version of a project a student of mine made, Shira Leibowitz, a member of my growing PLN, encouraged me to write about it. I imagine that much of what I write will be well known, but I hope you can get something out of it.

Shlomo Hamelech tells us that we should teach each child in their own way.  Fortunately, many teachers today are aware of learning style preferences and build their classroom environment to meet the different needs of their students.  Technology, however, has allowed us to take this to yet another level.

Every year I try to hone in on not only the learning styles of my students, but also to their particular areas of interest and strength. Some are attracted to sports, others to art, while yet others are interested in technology and gaming. If a child's skill and interest in a certain area is not nurtured, it may even weaken his abilities in other areas.

This became extremely apparent with one my students this year.  I have an 8th grader this year who is an extreme visual learner combined with an absolute obsession with video games.  In years past he was labeled as distracted, uninterested, and impossible to teach.  He was beyond surprised when I encouraged him to use his interest and skills in his favorite game called Minecraft to build a model Beit Hamikdash as part of a class project.  His eyes lit up.  “Rabbi, are you telling me that I’m allowed to play games in class?” He was in disbelief.

I was certainly not prepared for his devotion to this project.  Sure, it was fun for him, but he took the project on by storm and completely owned it.  He worked on it during class, during lunch, and for hours at home after a long day of school for 3 weeks straight!

When presenting his groups work with his peers, he spoke proudly, confidently, and most importantly, with a deep understanding of the ins and outs of the Beit Hamikdash.  Sure, not all of the details are perfect (such as the 5 branches on his menorah), but he will confidently explain to you why he couldn’t make all of the details perfectly.

Take a look at his youtube video and please feel free to share your thoughts.

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