Sunday, March 23, 2014

Minecraft in Language Arts

Students had their 4th day on minecraft this past Tuesday after taking a break for Spring Break. Students continue to build their Middle East world. I had some trouble with griefing by one of the students who became invisible. I am going to have to see if I can get some data and find out who it is. I think there is a way to do that, I just need to investigate.

I continue to be amazed and surprised at how well my students can understand the ins and outs of minecraft and put so much thought and complexity into their minecraft structures. After one of our minecraft session, I showed our after school coordinator some of the buildings students were working on. The students were eager to show off what they had done and kept talking about what they were going to do and how they would do it in minecraft. Students craft without having to refer to a resource. So anxious were they to show me how they added the various features to their buildings, that they would take over my machine and make the item they were trying to describe. They seem to know everything about minecraft. During this very lively convesation, I asked the students how was it that they were able to learn all the ins and outs of minecraft and be so creative, but had such a hard time learning Math facts and being creative in their other subjects. One student answered without having to think "because we get to do it." In other words, in minecraft he gets to learn and do on his terms. It's not because he thinks the subjects are boring or not relevant, he wants to discover them on his own. So here's to minecraft and having students create and do on their own. Most of them can do quite well without being told what to do.

Mr. Gembicki has started to use minecraft for his 8th Grade Language Arts Class. He was looking for a project for his advanced students. The assignment is to buid a structure from a book they have read and to write about it in minecraft. Mr. Gembicki is a minecraft player, so he was able to get the assignment running in no time. Students have had about 30 minutes to work on their structures and I have included some screen shots below. I expect this assignment will evolve over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for the final project.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Middle East World

We have only had two Minecraft days since my last post, due to ice days or after school cancellations, so our progress is slow. I am considering tyring to meet more than once a week once we get back from Spring Break.

We continue to try to work on what to build. The tornado idea is on hold since it will require me to install a mod that may not work with minecraft edu. So, in the meantime my minecraft students have decided to build a middle east city (with a little prompting from me). Most of my students are studying the middle east in their Social Studies class so the idea of building a desert city made sense.

We started with a flat desert world and the students decided to use TNT to make a hole in the desert and add an ocean. Filling that ocean with water turned out to be a monumental task and eventually our server crashed. I have also found out that it isn't very easy to get rid of water, so today we started over.

Rather than having students build on their own, I asked them what they wanted to build and assigned them a place to build. They put a perimeter around their space and began to build. This worked well and we are starting to see some good structures in progress.

One of my favorite is the hydroelectric dam. Students have studied that there are some hydro electric dams on the rivers in Egypt so Brian built one using redstone. I have a short video of the dam in operation below.

Here are some of our structures starting to take shape.

I have noticed how well the students take care of each other in Minecraft. They are always willing to help each other and share their knowledge. I have also enjoyed their enthusiasm and their patience with me as they teach me what they want to do and how the game works. I see the value in using Minecraft in the classroom, but I am not sure how, just yet. For now, it is a wonderful enrichment for students.