Twitch club brings gaming to school

[Sometimes after-school activities are the perfect vehicle to engage student interests. In this LA Times article the students started a club using the web tool – Twitch – in order to promote their interest in gaming.]

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Brayden Foxhoven reacts to action in a “Minecraft” game during a lunchtime Twitch Club at Viewpoint School in Calabasas. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

By Paresh Dave

Seventh-grader Brayden Foxhoven hurries to finish his chicken fingers. He has bases to capture. Gems to collect. Viewers to entertain.

And he knows better than to break the cardinal rule of playing video games at middle school: Don’t spill your lunch on the keyboard.

Foxhoven and his Viewpoint School classmates are getting an education in Twitch, the app that lets anyone stream their game play for the world to watch.

This school year, the private school in Calabasas formed a Twitch club — a weekly gathering that has quickly become as popular as established clubs for Spanish speakers and “Harry Potter” fanatics.

Where students who toiled on computers during lunch were once the audiovisual club nerds, Foxhoven and his dark blue Twitch hoodie are among the cool on campus. Even high schoolers are jealous of the lunchtime gaming privilege, which occurs about once a week on the school’s complex bell schedule.

“I didn’t expect people to want to do the club,” Foxhoven said. “I didn’t expect the 25 sign-ups. It was unimaginable.”

The Twitch Club — which the Amazon.com-owned company believes is the first middle school group named in its honor — reflects gaming’s emergence into the mainstream.

“Gamers are leading the cultural vanguard,” said Twitch marketing chief Matthew DiPietro. “The school’s endorsement acknowledges what most people under 35 already know, which is that gaming is a large, integral part of pop culture.”

Foxhoven got the idea in September during the first week of classes when he wore the same Twitch hoodie each day. Some two dozen strangers complimented him over the sweatshirt, gifted by a family friend at the San Francisco firm.

“Cool! You do Twitch? Are you going to make a club?” students would ask him. “I said, ‘Sure why not?’” recalled Foxhoven, 13.

But he faced resistance from school officials, who’d never heard of Twitch but knew of gaming’s associations with laziness and violent behavior. In a couple of weeks of daily meetings with Foxhoven, they also questioned whether broadcasting online would threaten students’ privacy and safety — not to mention the risk they would be exposed to the kind of bad language that seeps into any online comment section.

A discouraged Foxhoven considered hosting an unofficial, after-school club at his dad’s video production studio.

But Foxhoven offered one last pitch to Casey Dodd, the school official in charge of approving clubs. He showed that 30 students backed him and explained that gaming was core to their lives and aspirations. Dodd loved it.

“We have tons of clubs, but we have a solid five or 10 that gather the most energy and intensity,” Dodd said, placing Twitch Club in that category. “The tech ones are definitely on the up and up.”

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My Mother’s House explores death, grief and memories as a Minecraft poem

[This Guardian article highlights a very creative use of Minecraft by a poet and visual artist. Minecraft provides the vehicle for an exploration the house of the mother of poet, Virginia Bennett. We hear the poem and see the word flash on the screen providing a very moving story.]

by Stuart Dredge, August 11, 2015

Poet Victoria Bennett and digital artist Adam Clarke’s ‘poem-world’ shows popular video game as a platform for art and expression

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My Mother’s House is a poem-world delivered as a Minecraft map

My Mother’s House is the most moving poem I’ve ever played. It’s the work of poet Victoria Bennett, inspired by her experience caring for her terminally-ill mother, and reliving some of the shared memories in her home.

As I explored it, the poem brought back my recent memories of helping my own mother clear out my late grandfather’s house, remembering and sometimes learning for the first time about different aspects of his life.

Using Mindcraft to Build New Worlds

Three ways to use Minecraft imaginatively in the classroom

From The Guardian, April 7, 2015

By and

From getting students to think about careers to rebuilding their school, teachers share inventive ways they use the building-block game

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Teacher Matthew Bell from Stackpole VC school in Pembrokeshire used Minecraft to build a virtual replica of his school building with students. Photograph: Stackpole VC school, Pembrokeshire

Excited shouts of “left, left, left”, “knock down that tree” or “pick up that stone” can only mean one thing: your students have discovered the virtual world ofMinecraft.

Since its launch in 2011, children and adults worldwide have spent hours creating unique environments. The video game generates a blank landscape of different terrains that players explore. They construct buildings, mine for useful materials and, depending on what mode you’re in, may have to defend yourself from attacks or stave off hunger.

An education version of the game, MinecraftEdu, has now made its way into schools. In 2013, one Swedish school made the game a compulsory part of its curriculum. Now the government in Northern Ireland is providing funding for the game to be rolled out in all secondary schools by June 2015.

We took to Twitter to find out how teachers are using Minecraft. From history to languages, and coding to renewable energy, here are some fun ideas from our community.

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