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!

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