Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Cluster Project: Medieval Village

Our Enrichment Cluster students have settled on a project for the showcase. They've decided to recreate a medieval village!

We began a flat, snowy world and they planned to create small huts and houses. They set off and began creating. At the end of our hour, this is what the village looked like:

We decided that, although this looked pretty cool, it didn't necessarily imitate a medieval village. At the next meeting, we sat down and really examined some images of actual villages to study the materials and architecture used with the buildings. We also checked out some maps of villages to determine how they might be laid out. 

With that in mind, the students decided to scrap the snowy world rather than remake it and start over with a new classic flat world. In addition, one student suggested we use a resource pack to make the village really reflect the materials used during that time period. We chose the Halcyon Days pack, and I installed it on the client machines (after learning how to do this).

Here's how the texture pack changed the look of the buildings:

No texture pack applied
With Halcyon Days pack applied

The students decided that we also needed more of a plan before building, rather than everyone just going off and constructing buildings randomly. There was a lot more communication this time, although we will still need to work on that a little bit more. 

Can't wait to see how the final product turns out!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Math in a Minecraft World

Mrs. Ferriola's kids are at it again. They have decided to use Minecraft as a virtual world in which to practice their math skills!

First, the class decided on the rules everyone should follow when using Minecraft during lessons (a very important step!). Then they chose which project they would like to do.

Goals and Rules for Using Minecraft

Once the students signed into Minecraft, they worked together to complete some cool math products! Check out the screenshots below:

MinecraftEdu has number blocks that helps students create problems like these. The students built their projects, then ran around and solved each other's equations. So cool!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The League: Day 2

Today our League convened for our second meeting. We began by taking a look at the ideas from last week and adding to the list. We also discussed modifying our rules from last week.

We needed to begin narrowing down the list so we could choose what to create for our showcase product. Some students felt that we could combine some of our ideas into one big project; for instance, making a maze and obstacle course at the beginning of our project and then have players continue on through a city or other set of structures.

One young lady pointed out that we should probably figure out how much time we have to complete the project, so we looked at the calendar and discovered we only really have six hours in which to work. Another student suggested we narrow down the choices by eliminating ideas that either don't make sense or are impossible to complete within that time frame. Someone else said we could choose an idea that could be completed and look great within that amount of time, and if we had time left over we could expand on that project by making it even better. Some great project management ideas going on here!

Then we took the rest of the meeting to complete a building challenge that would allow players still learning the controls a little more time to figure things out. One young man challenged everyone to build the best house they could create, so we launched a flat, creative world and set to work.

After ten minutes - quick builders!

After 25 minutes, we had this!

What we realized at the end of our 25 minute building session was that we actually could accomplish a LOT more in a short amount of time than we originally thought. This opened up new possibilities for what we can do for our end product! We will reexamine the list of ideas next week and rethink what's possible.

The League of Extraordinary Crafters

Our Enrichment Clusters have begun for 4th and 5th graders, and our students are SO excited to be a part of the League of Extraordinary Crafters! 

We began the first meeting by discussing and agreeing upon a set of rules and expectations for how we will interact in person and in the game. (This is always the first thing that needs to be done when using Minecraft with students.) 

Here are the rules the kids came up with:
  1. We do not kill each other
  2. No griefing (don’t destroy other people’s stuff)
  3. No stealing (even if someone dies)
  4. No potion throwing
  5. Be nice! Don’t be a jerk or dark.

We will continue to examine and modify these rules as we meet. We then began a list of ideas of possible products to create for the showcase in December. Ideas included:
  • A big modern building thingy
  • Build a tutorial world 
  • Build a maze 
  • A city 
  • Big toilet with big parkour in the sewer system 
  • A bigger house than the world’s biggest Minecraft house, including the toilet 
  • Mini-games 
  • a farm with animals 
  • make a giant person and make a parkour course to retrieve a certain object 
  • Treehouse and roller coaster 
  • Medieval village with a castle and stuff

Next, we set the kids loose on the MinecraftEdu tutorial world. There were a few students who had never played on PC before, so this was a good place to differentiate for abilities. Those who were experts could move through the world at a fast pace and begin to solve the puzzles, while the newbies could figure out the controls.

Touring the Tutorial World

The time went by very quickly and the students were reluctant to leave. That's a sign they enjoyed their cluster!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

New School Year, New Plans

Last year was a great success with the Minecraft pilot at our school, and I'm excited to continue working with students this year. Our pilot is extending to other schools in the district, which is exciting! My co-pilots and I were accepted to teach a MinecraftEdu workshop at TCEA in February, too!

After talking to my cohort at the nearby middle school about students "helping themselves" to our licensed copy of MinecraftEdu via the student shared drive, we had to come up with a solution to keep that from happening. Our current solution is to create a generic computer login just for Minecraft, with the permissions for that account locked out of all drives on the server. Hopefully that will curb the sharing!

I'm in the process of reinstalling Minecraft to the new generic account and getting ready for the 4th and 5th grade enrichment clusters, which begin soon. Stay tuned to see what our fabulous students create!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Goods and Services

Mrs. Rumpf's 2nd grade class has been studying goods and services in their Social Studies lessons. We took this opportunity to integrate Minecraft as part of their learning!

The students joined a flat, creative world and decided whether to work alone or in teams. Each group or individual chose a good or service to offer and built a store or other building to "sell" their products. (There is a mod you can load that allows a monetary economy, but we decided that was unnecessary for this lesson)

There were lots of great ideas! We had hotels, bakeries, a blacksmith, bookstores and even a roller coaster! Students who finished their buildings early helped to connect the stores with sidewalks and streetlamps. The student creating the rollercoaster decided to expand his coaster so that it toured the entire village!

The village from above

Creating fantastic street lamps

A lovely bookstore

The interior of the bookstore

Aerial view of the roller coaster

An incredible hotel

A very modern-looking bakery

These buildings turned out really well. Hard to believe they were created by second graders!

Catching Up

It's been a very busy end-of-year season! Let me catch up on all our Minecraft happenings!

I've been working with 3rd graders on using MinecraftEdu to demonstrate their knowledge of volume. Minecraft is perfect for this! The students learned about volume prior to coming to the lab. When they arrived, they sat down on the floor and we discussed the rules for using Minecraft (this is a crucial step if you want kids to stay focused!). I demonstrated how to complete the assignment by building a very basic rectangular house and calculating its volume. Then we set the kids loose in a flat, creative-mode world to show what they know. The students and teachers did a fantastic job!

Load their worlds and take a look!  Monarch's world and Sleuth's world

Creating houses

This is fun!

Volume houses and Herobrine

Working together on an emerald house

Other Happenings:
  • Ms. Ferriola, one of our TAG teachers, has been using Minecraft quite a bit on her own with her classes! She is able to launch a server, load a world, and save it successfully! It's going to be awesome having another staff member capable of being a server admin. 
  • A small group of 5th graders has been working on a tutorial world to teach the rest of their class how to play Minecraft. They started with a basic world I created to use with teachers and modified it to suit their needs. They teach their class tomorrow morning and they're very excited!
  • One of our 5th graders recently completed a IIM research project on castles. What better way to show his learning than Minecraft? He created a multi-level castle complete with moat, stables, defensive walls, and escape tunnels! 
  • One thing I learned recently is that I need this rule: Do not throw objects or potions at other players. A couple of students in each class would get distracted and fly through the air throwing snowballs or potions at other players. In fact, I tell each class not to even use the potions at all unless they can give me a reasoned argument for why the potions are needed. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Escape from Everest

The past two Tech Club meetings, the students have elected to do some more Minecrafting. I wanted to try out a new map and a new way of having kids work together, so I loaded the "Escape from Everest" map onto the server.

Escape from Everest is an interesting twist on regular Minecraft. Players load into a small room deep in an underground cave. They eventually figure out that they are trapped on the top of Mount Everest, and the world has been flooded because of environmental disasters. They have to work together to escape into space.

I did not prep the kids with the storyline before playing, except to remind them about griefing and working together nicely. It took them quite a while to discover what their goals needed to be, but once they did they naturally grouped themselves into small teams to work together. Of course, there were a couple of students who just wanted to explore the hidden cave network and not really contribute to the overall goal, but that was fine.

They have yet to escape from Everest, but they are working well together to get it done!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Area and Perimeter World - Check it Out!

I finally made a decent walk-through video of the 3rd grade area and perimeter world! I used a better desktop computer and the trial version of Camtasia, and that seemed to do the trick. Now the hardest part is walking around smoothly enough to not give the audience vertigo.

Take a look at these homes! The kids did an awesome job of creating and calculating area and perimeter. (Warning: video is about 17 minutes long!)

**Edit** If the below video does not show, click here to view on YouTube.

Mrs. Smith's Class - Area and Perimeter City

By the way, did you notice I successfully embedded a video into my blog? I learned that you won't see an embedded video until the post is published. I figured that out after an hour of trying to decipher HTML code and then giving up and hitting "Publish". Always something new to learn!

Cluster Conclusion: What Have We Accomplished?

One more meeting. That's all we have left. Our Enrichment Cluster is almost complete. Our Enrichment Showcase takes place next Friday, and we are ready to show off our work!

The enrichment program at our school is the whole reason I was able to bring Minecraft to the campus, and I'm so proud and satisfied with how everything turned out. Our 2nd and 3rd graders have been so excited to arrive on Friday mornings to get their world built and perfected. Their ideas and collaborative work has been so impressive - they think of way more interesting and creative things than I ever could. This group of students who barely knew each other have worked so well together to create such an interesting place for our showcase audience to see.

The "Hershys Kiss"

Today's meeting involved a lot of discussion about the technicalities of exactly how we should share our Minecraft world with the audience next week. The students had some really great ideas:

  • Log into the computers as ourselves, arrange our avatars in strategic places around the world, then use the teacher tool to freeze them in place. That way, audience members could use their frozen avatars to see the world but would be restricted from moving around and potentially destroying things.
  • Log in as ourselves, jump into a minecart and then freeze the avatars. Then the audience members could take a guided tour of the world.
  • Change the spawn point to the entrance of the minecart tour so guests could just hop into a minecart and be shown around, but would be free to exit and see inside buildings where the minecart doesn't go.
  • Put signs at the spawn point with the rules about how to behave in the world, but let guests freely explore. (One student even created a "punishment chair" in the forest where, if a guest was behaving badly, we could teleport that guest to the chair. The chair really was a hole that went down below bedrock, which would effectively "kill" the guest and end their session. I thought this idea was hilarious!)
One concern that Mrs. Shrull and I brought up was that if we let audience members play and explore our world, we would get a massive backlog of people waiting to take part. We talked about the ultimate purpose of the showcase, which is to give the cluster students a chance to show off their product and tell about what they learned. We all decided that in order to accomplish this goal, we would have our cluster students man the controls and talk to guests about their learning while showing their constructions. This way we are able to control how much time a guest spends visiting our table, and our kiddos get a chance to speak to a captive audience.

Once the discussions were complete, the students logged into Minecraft to put the finishing touches on their buildings. They decided, with ten minutes left in the session, to make a sign in the sky that said "The Great Minecraft Experiment". This was really funny to watch, because they didn't really make a plan beforehand. There was some confusion as to how the word "great" was spelled (was it "grate" or "great"?), so for about 5 minutes kids were transforming the "e" to an "a" and back again. Finally Mrs. Shrull intervened and made sure everyone knew how it should be spelled. While the kids worked on this sign, I backed my avatar far away from the city so they could see on the projector how the sign was progressing from a different angle. One student made a line of red wool to show where the bottoms of the letters should be. Great idea!

The Great Mine_______

We also tried an interesting experiment with fire and lava. One young man had made a fireplace in the mansion, and wanted me to enable fire so he could light it. I suppose I should have checked out the fireplace first but I didn't, so we all learned a valuable lesson. You can't make a fireplace out of wood, or it will catch your entire wooden mansion on fire! This was funny but so sweet to watch, because all the kids stopped what they were building and rushed over to the fire to help put it out and rebuild after the damage was done.

A few minutes after the mansion fire, another student talked me into trying to enable lava so he could make a lava pillar. This time I had learned my lesson, so I made him show me where he intended to put the lava. He assured me that the lava would be entirely contained in some iron bars, so we decided to see what would happen if I enabled fire long enough for him to place the lava but disabled it right after he was done. Would the lava disappear? It turns out that lava stays put even after fire is disabled. Good to know!

The lava pillar

9:00 came way too quickly, because they hadn't quite finished the sign. We are going to meet for about 15 minutes right before the showcase begins to give them a chance to wrap it up. Hopefully they can get it finished!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Cricket in Times Square

Today I spent some time in Ms. Ferriola's 2nd grade TAG class teaching the basics of Minecraft so they can begin a really cool project. The students just finished reading A Cricket in Times Square, and they want to recreate the main settings from the story within Minecraft. One student even suggested they reenact the story once the setting is built!

Ms. Ferriola and I spoke a couple of weeks ago about beginning this adventure, and she did a great job prepping the 2nd graders. When I walked into the room today, they had already mapped out exactly what was going to be built, who was going to construct it, and who was the "project manager" in charge of each building. In addition, they had agreed upon rules of conduct and consequences for breaking those rules.

We spent most of today just learning the controls, although a couple of the students had already played Minecraft on the PC and were able to begin constructing. I watched one 2nd grader figure out the perimeter of the floor of his pagoda. Math AND reading integration!

Times Square begins!

I'm excited to see how the world turns out. I've taught Ms. Ferriola how to run the server, so she's going to be heading this project while I just check in from time to time. Minecraft is starting to spread around our school. Awesome!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Meeting with @JoelLevin and @EduElfie!

I was super lucky to get to attend the SXSWEdu convention this week, and my co-pilots (does this make sense if we are all piloting Minecraft together?) and I made sure to attend the MinecraftEdu session hosted by Joel Levin (who started the whole MinecraftEdu thing) and Stephen Elford (an Australian teacher who started with Minecraft early on).

Although I have pretty much mastered gameplay and the MinecraftEdu teacher tools, I still came away with some good information and insights:

1. Whenever you get a group of people together who are interested in learning/playing Minecraft, inevitably there are a bunch of them who have never played. This seems to be true for both kids and adults.

2. Adults are just as noisy when playing Minecraft as kids are. Maybe even more so.

3. Minecraft can be used with pretty much any age level, and within almost any subject area.

4. Even the pros only use Minecraft a little bit during the year. Teachers are still responsible for teaching tons of content, and we can't get it ALL done in Minecraft. Stephen said he only uses it maybe 10 hours total for an entire school year. That's really not that much.

5. Joel made a Hunger Games-based world, and it's really cool. I'll need to play it more to get a better idea of the mechanics.

6. The World of Humanities map is amazing. It uses an NPC mod to make characters that you can interact with. I'll need to take a look at both of these some more.

It was great to meet these Minecraft role models!

Recording a World - Not as Easy as I Thought?

Last Friday I spent quite a while touring the area and perimeter world while recording my trip using Jing. This turned out to be really frustrating because:

- Jing only allows you to record in 5-minute increments. This isn't going to cut it. I suppose I'll need to invest in something like Camtasia Studio?

- I was doing this on my laptop. When I was in-game, it was smooth and the graphics loaded nicely. When I watched the published video of the walk-through, though, it was horribly choppy. I am wondering now if I need to use a better computer? If that's not the problem, I am unsure what to do next.

I know it's possible to make great recordings of Minecraft gameplay, because I see them all the time on YouTube. Now I'm off to Google some solutions...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

First Foray into Curriculum: Area and Perimeter with 3rd Graders

This morning we made math a little more exciting! Mrs. Smith's 3rd grade class met me in the lab to work on demonstrating their knowledge of area and perimeter, using Minecraft as the assessment tool.

Yesterday I met with her class to discuss the rules and expectations of behavior within Minecraft so we would not have to waste our lab time with this part. (I really think this is one of the most important parts of using Minecraft with students - you must involve them in the discussion about what constitutes appropriate behavior within the game. Digital citizenship is a vital skill, and this is one way to reinforce it.)

At 8 am sharp, the class entered the lab. I had them sit on the floor by the projector screen so we could get ready for the assignment. I demonstrated how to get to Minecraft, which is hidden in the Program Files without a desktop link (less distraction to students in the lab who are not using Minecraft). About half the class had no PC Minecraft experience, so I showed the basic skills needed to work within a creative world.

Then we did a quick review of the project goal: create a house with a fenced-in yard, find the area of the floor of your house and the perimeter of the fence. To demonstrate, I made a very small floor and we talked about how to find its area. I placed a sign nearby and wrote "The area of my house is 18 square meters". Then I created a tiny fenced-in yard, and we discussed how to measure its perimeter. (One interesting point was we had to decide what constituted one unit. Was it the fence post? Was it an entire section of fence including two posts and the wood boards inbetween? The students decided that one fence post would be one unit since it only took up one square on the ground, so we went with that.) We then calculated the perimeter of my fence, and I created a sign that showed our answer.

After this quick demonstration, Mrs. Smith had the students who knew how to play sit at the computers first, leaving at least one chair on either side of them. Then the newbies filled in the empty spots so that they could easily ask for help from one of their peers. (This worked out really well!)

The students logged in and claimed a spot near the spawn point. Some kids decided to work with a partner, while others chose to work alone. We had to redirect behavior a few times, but overall the class did a great job of getting right to work and staying focused. They created some really nice houses, but were not able to finish in the time allotted. We will meet again tomorrow to finish up.

The students greeting Mrs. Smith in-game

The neighborhood so far

Once the students left, I visited each house and checked their math. I left an information block giving feedback about their calculations for each student to see in the morning. Several students correctly figured their areas and perimeters, but we will need to do some reteaching tomorrow. In cases where I was unsure how the student calculated their area but the answer was feasible, I left a note block asking them to see me tomorrow to demonstrate how they did their math.

One example of a feedback sign

Today was so exciting for the students! I hope we continue to expand this pilot into other areas of our curriculum.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Our City is Growing!

Our students were back to work on their city this Friday. I was so excited to see what would happen after the last meeting, which was so wonderfully industrious!

The students sat on the floor like usual, and Mrs. Shrull and I talked about how proud we were of their work last week. We praised their collaboration and polite conversations (because we definitely want it to continue!). After a quick discussion about the upcoming showcase, the kids all logged in and resumed their construction tasks.

Beginning the Hershey's Kiss

Making progress on the Emerald Mansion

The castle, bakery, mansion and farm are all taking shape and looking great! Someone made an awesome scaffold addition to the farm. A group of girls began working on the all-important Hershey's Kiss today, and it's turning out really cute!

The Hershey's Kiss

Inside the Hershey's Kiss - complete with lamps!

Awesome Farm!

Occasionally Mrs. Shrull or I would have to remind a student to stick to the task at hand, because they'd come up with these great ideas for new things to build. We told them that once we had finished the original project, we could start on something new.

Happily, the same calm, collaborative atmosphere from last week continued this week! If someone wanted to move or break something, it was done politely and with permission.

Mrs. Shrull took notes of conversations she overheard:
     "Is it ok if I break this so I can have it?"
     "yeah, sure."
     -said to me: "She said I could break it."

     "Why are you breaking it?" (said to different student)
     "We're breaking it so they can build their moat. We're gonna move it."

     "I'm planting cocoa beans because I know that almost everything you would bake in a     bakery needs chocolate."

Aerial View

These kids are having so much fun working together on this project. When I see these students in the hallway or in their classrooms, they always make sure to let the other kids know "she's my Minecraft teacher!". LOVE IT. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Student Reporters: From Filming to Playing

Minecraft is like a super-powerful magnet for kids, and I think it's really funny.

While we've been working with Minecraft, other clusters around campus are doing things like friendship bracelets, Lego constructions and movie making. (Clusters are really fun. I wish I'd had them growing up!) The last two cluster meetings we've had, students from other clusters have been showing up in our room armed with video cameras. They're making a documentary about our cluster, which is awesome!

Here's the funny part for me: No matter which kids come into our cluster, and no matter what they're supposed to be doing, they inevitably get drawn into the game. They offer advice or ask questions of our students, and sometimes even sit down to play!

Someone here is supposed to be filming

I can't wait to see these Minecraft documentaries!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Valentine's Day Edition: Our Cluster Project Begins!

This week our cluster began its real work - designing and building something great to show off at the showcase! Now that our students had pretty much mastered the controls, it was time to move on to the real deal.

First thing, we discussed the purpose of the showcase and the necessity of having something great to show. We needed to decide which mode we would use in Minecraft - survival, Edu, or creative? At first, many students wanted to use survival. After looking at the calendar and counting how many meetings we still had left, we came to the conclusion that using creative mode was our best bet.

Then we talked about the product. What should we create? The students had lots of great ideas: a castle, a mansion, a bakery and a hut. Oh, and a Hershey's Kiss. We decided that maybe we could create a town that had all of those structures inside it!

We assigned project managers for each building, and the students were allowed to choose which building they wanted to work on. The managers placed a sign outside each structure to show what it was going to become, and the kids got to work.

Creative Mode = Students Flying Everywhere!

An Aerial View

Great Work!

Up until this point, all of our cluster meetings had been sort of chaotic, with lots of excited yelling. It was really interesting to observe what happened this time. With a given project and all distractions turned off (no mobs, weather, PVP or anything), the students were calm and focused on the task. There was talking, but it was normal conversation. The best part: SO much collaboration!

We overheard things like:
  • Is it okay if I destroy this block to put in a window?
  • Hey, can I work on that with you?
  • Let's put some carpet here. What color do you want?
  • Can anybody help me figure this out?

Collaborating on the Castle

Working on a Farm - note the "Thank u"!

It. Was. Awesome. 

We had one occasion where there was some accidental griefing. One student was trying to use redstone to create an arrow dispenser so that the castle could shoot arrows at enemies, but none of the other players understood what he was doing. Instead of getting upset, he calmly told me the situation. I froze the students and let him explain what he was working on. The others thought it was a great idea, apologized for breaking his work, and even offered to help him!

The Arrow Dispenser

This was the best meeting we've had so far!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Mods and "Snow" Days

I did it! I successfully loaded a mod!

Okay, so I had to have someone sit with me and explicitly teach me where to put the downloaded files. Even then, I put the file in the wrong place three times. I'm still a little confused about how to tell whether a mod is a server mod or a client mod, so I basically put the file in every possible location and then deleted them one at a time until the mod loaded. But let's focus on the positive - I loaded a mod!

Which mod? Well, it would've made sense to start with WorldGuard or something that would actually be helpful to my cluster; however, my 8-year-old has been DYING to try out the Pixelmon mod because of his dual obsessions with Minecraft and Pokemon, so I started with that.

Here's the thing with Pixelmon. I play Pokemon X on my 3DS XL (am I the only parent here who still plays stuff like this?) and I play Minecraft. I know some stuff about both of these topics, but once I saw that I successfully had loaded the mod and the excitement of that accomplishment wore off, I realized I had absolutely no idea how to play with this mod. NONE. I chased a Minecraft-version of a Pokemon around the forest for a bit while clicking madly on it with no result. So, now I'm off to YouTube and my 8-year-old to figure it out.

Next topic: "Snow" days

These snow/ice/too-cold-for-school days are really putting a damper on my Minecraft cluster. How is it possible that everysingleone of these days is a Friday?! So weird.

Anyway, this Friday is supposed to be great weather so here's hoping we can get some Crafting done!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Minecraft Cluster: Day 3

Friday morning clusters began with the usual amount of excitement. The kids rushed into the room and sat on the floor, looking expectantly at the projector screen.

We began by discussing possible ideas for our cluster products, which will be presented to the school and community the week after Spring Break. The kids had lots of great ideas:
  • a giant floating pirate ship
  • a castle, specifically one that says "Minecraft Rules"
  • a dragon
  • an underwater house
  • a hotel
We talked about which mode would be best to use to accomplish this task. The students agreed that, while survival mode is more fun, creative mode might be the best one to use. 

I explained that we were lucky to have a third mode, MinecraftEdu, which is kind of a hybrid between the other two modes. The students elected to try this mode out today to see what it was like, so I launched a new world on the server. I turned off pretty much everything in the environment so it wouldn't be a distraction. 

Before we set the students loose on the computers, I introduced something new. I showed them the Samsung tablets that were lent to us by the Outdoor Learning teacher, and demonstrated how to use the Diamond Boots searchable wiki in order to figure out crafting recipes.

The assignment today was an easy one: gather resources and build a shelter. They could work alone or collaborate with others as they saw fit, but we revisited the agreed-upon rules about griefing and working together nicely.

Once the students logged into the new world, they set off with their partners and began punching trees. They did much better today with typing their messages to each other, rather than yelling them excitedly across the room (although that did still happen to some extent). There was a lot of great collaboration and communication about what needed to happen. One group decided to create a farm, so they split up tasks to make it happen more effectively. There was only one issue of someone taking resources which was quickly rectified by having the student return what was taken.

Building a farm

You can put a pumpkin on your head!

Most students were able to construct a rudimentary shelter, although one little guy made an awesome underwater house! I asked him how he had managed to make a house underwater without the water leaking down into his house. He taught me something new: If you put a ladder in the water, it blocks the downward flow into the shaft. I'm going to have to go try that later!

Ladder leading into the water

At the end of the cluster, a group of parents taking a guided tour of our Schoolwide Enrichment Model in action stopped by to watch us work. One of them asked a great question: "How is this version of Minecraft different than the regular one my child plays at home?" I was happy to explain how MinecraftEdu gives a teacher more control over the gameplay and the ability to create new worlds and set assignments.

Today was another success!