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!

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