December 17 — During his first year as a gifted and talented teacher, David Cupp found a way to engage his students with the Minecraft Education Edition.

His classes at Gale Pond Alamo STEAM Academy meet once a week depending on the level.

Vanessa Brower, a teacher at LBJ Elementary School GT, introduced Cupp to Minecraft several years ago.

“… It was probably my second year at Alamo. And back then, I didn’t really know how we could use it because that was back when we still had desktops 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 think it’s ‘They can make it their own, they can certainly grab the material if they are able to show it and explain it, “Cupp said.

This year, to introduce his students to puzzles and unsolved mysteries, students looked at the Marfa Lights.

The end goal for students in the next semester is to create a product to demonstrate what they have learned.

“… I made Google Slides so they made a digital museum. And then we did Adobe Spark where they were to create … a little video about what they learned; then we did Minecraft And then last week they set up … a digital breakout room and they had to do digital clues. That way when you were playing the game you had to find the information and know it so that your code was ‘escapes I tried to make sure they don’t learn like us anymore, so you have to find that way to engage them and hook them, ”Cupp said.

“Minecraft is definitely their hook …” he added.

This is Cupp’s eighth year of teaching. He was at Cameron Dual Language Elementary for a year, but the rest was at Gale Pond teaching at multiple levels. This is his first year as a GT instructor, or Scholars in Progress.

The Minecraft Education Edition allows teachers to create lessons that already exist, or create a world and have students incorporate it to show off what they’ve learned.

Cupp said he noticed that the game made it easier for students to understand difficult concepts.

“… They had about 45 minutes in this class to build this Minecraft and so we kind of got to discuss if they decided to do it for their main product. How would you do it, because it can ‘It doesn’t. It’s not just a one-off piece, so they’re already planning and thinking about how to explain their puzzle, whether they have a choice of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or their pyramids. so have this wide range to display their knowledge. And they’re definitely engaged. … “he said.

Even during the Christmas holidays, the students plan to continue working.

“It motivates them,” Cupp said.

Teaching around 47 students in total, Cupp added that students don’t realize they’re learning.

As a side benefit, students also learned vocabulary words such as riddles, wondering what an unsolved mystery is, and whether they were skeptics or believers.

Cupp said he learned as much from his students as they learned from him.

Avyelle Puente, a 10-year-old fifth-grader, Cody Bauer, an 11-year-old fifth-grader, Nathan Ponce, a 9-year-old fourth-grader and Aubrey Heisler, a 10-year-old fourth-grader, are all taking advantage of their journey in Minecraft to learn. They all play the game outside of class.

“When we were making Minecraft to show some of the themes that we learned, we were creating these museums, so it was like we were using our creativity while we were trying to show what we had already learned,” Bauer said. .

“Sometimes that can make learning a lot more fun and easier to understand,” Bauer added.

Students like to learn this way for a variety of reasons.

“It’s a fun way to use your mind… It gives you many kinds of resources and better ways,” Ponce said.

Heisler said she liked that they could show off your creativity without anyone judging you.

“Because in GT you are here to think differently from others,” she said.

Puente said when they were in class: “It’s like an explosion of ideas came to your mind. it is a wonderful creation. So that’s what I like most about being in GT, ”said Puente.

As the class is once a week, the students are looking forward to it. Cupp said they were in different classes and in different classes so they liked to meet each other.

Ponce said that when he started in GT he started Scratch Jr. Then he went to the “real Scratch” and started experimenting with that.

Scratch is a way to introduce students to programming, Cupp said.

“Now I’m with two different accounts on Scratch and I make games and all that with coding,” Ponce said.

Ponce said he made several different games.

“I created a game for profit, then I do animations; other things I’m working on. I am working on a “Choose your own adventure”. It’s probably going to take me a few months to do because I want to add a lot of endings. I think I started in September. It’s just called A Game. That’s all it’s called, ”Ponce said.

The profit game teaches you about spending.

“I made this one just for fun,” he said.

Ponce said he could become a game designer, a teacher, or get into IT.

Bauer said he believed the class was teaching them certain careers for their future.

“They’re teaching us skills here that some teachers don’t teach in their normal classrooms,” Bauer said.

Puente said what she really loves about GT is that the people are so nice and you can really express yourself. She added that the ideas will keep coming and it will help her in her high school education.

Heisler said she believes GT will help her in her future career as well. She agreed that people are nice. “And they don’t even care if I’m doing something wrong, or if I’m more creative than them, or something like that because they already know that GT is to express your feelings and think differently, ”Heisler added.

The students hadn’t heard of the Marfa Lights before starting the class, but it caught their attention.

Bauer said when he discovered the lights: “I wanted to dig deeper and sort of… understand as much as possible about them so that I could try to research and help understand what is causing them.”

Bauer said he thought he had a theory on it. He said people see the lights at sunrise and sunset.

“… Maybe it’s like dust clouds reflecting sunlight. Because sometimes whenever light shines through a window you can see dust particles floating around, so I was wondering if these were big clouds of dust reflecting sunlight? ” he said.