Monday, March 30, 2015

A New Experiment!

How young is too young for using Minecraft effectively? I've been wondering if 1st grade was a bit too early to begin. I found a willing teacher to let me experiment with her students, and we started learning the controls.

I began the lesson by having the students sit on the floor like always, and I asked the class who had ever heard of Minecraft before. Lots of hands shot into the air! Several students wanted to tell what they knew about the game. I did have 2-3 kids who had never even heard of it, so I had a couple of students do their best to explain what the game was about. Then I asked who had played Minecraft before, and about half the kids raised their hands. When asked who had played on a PC rather than a tablet or console, only a couple said they had. Clearly, we needed to start with the basics.

I handed out a copy of the MinecraftEdu control sheet to each person and had them look it over. Then I launched MCEdu and demonstrated the controls using the projector and physically pointed out how each key and the mouse controlled the player.

Next we decided on some basic rules for playing. The students who had played Minecraft before were very helpful in determining what the rules should be.

Our rules

We then got everyone on a computer and I explained step-by-step how to log into the server and join a game. They did a great job of listening and following directions! I made sure to inform them that when they first joined the game, they would probably be inside someone else's body (which looks really weird) so they would need to push the letter W to get out of the way.

I used a small tutorial world I built to get the students used to the controls. I love the tutorial world that comes with the game, but I find that it often takes too long to get through. Looking back, I think I would have done better to just launch a new creative world with border blocks around it. The project we will work on will be done entirely in creative mode, so their time would probably have been better spent learning those controls. (I found that the control sheet needed some modifications to reflect the creative controls, so I fixed them for next time.)

Mrs. Hall's class did an excellent job of being persistent with figuring out how everything worked. Next time we meet we will continue learning the controls, but this time we will just use creative mode and build little houses.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

An Exciting Visit!

Right before Spring Break, our students were thrilled to host some visitors and show off their Minecrafting skills! I was contacted by some lovely people from Microsoft's Minecraft in Education team who wanted to come to our school (along with representatives from Doberman and Mojang!) and see how we use MinecraftEdu. How exciting!

I organized two groups of students for our visitors to see:

  • A group of 3rd graders who were just beginning a project, so we could demonstrate how we start off. These kids finished reading "A Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom" and wrote a spin-off story about the prince from The Little Mermaid. They had already done some prep work beforehand, such as deciding on jobs and assigning roles, but nothing had been done in Minecraft prior to the visit.
  • A group of 4th graders who chose to use Minecraft as a vehicle for teaching others about their cultural heritage. These students had been working on their projects for a couple of weeks (2-3 hours cumulatively), so the visitors could see how we handled Minecraft after a project had taken off. These students worked in small groups or individually to create an area of a map that showed some aspect of their culture. I had connected these areas with teleportation stations so the future audience could easily travel from one project to another.
The students were told a few days ahead of time about their guests, so when the day finally arrived they were SO EXCITED. The 4th graders arrived chanting "MOJANG! MOJANG!", and the 3rd graders ate lunch in the classroom to finish preparations for their session.

Our visitors were impressed with our students' work, and I was proud of how well they worked together! After each session the students asked for autographs from all of the visitors, who were kind enough to take the time to do it. The kids were also able to ask questions, most of which were directed to Vu since he had the most inside knowledge about Minecraft itself.

Check out the photos from the visit! I'm so thankful our kids got the opportunity to meet these people and be a part of such an exciting event!

Vu playing with the kids

Kimmy from Doberman asking the tough questions (using a pig)

Group Shot!

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Future Looks Awesome!

Our 2nd and 3rd grade Enrichment Cluster students have completed their Tomorrowland, and it looks amazing! They worked on this project for one hour a week for about 7 weeks. Most of the students had played Minecraft on a console or tablet, so the PC controls were new to them. They mastered this problem quickly, though, and went on to create this fantastic city!

Aerial View

Inside the Airport

Inside the Airport - TSA Only!

Inside the Airport - Passenger Entrance

Check out the floating buildings!

Lovely Home

Aerial Garden

Home with an Indoor Waterfall

Tomorrowland Playground

Tomorrowland Museum

Grab a boat to take a water tour of the city

Observation Platform - swim up to get there!

Hotdog Stand of the Future

Build on a cloud!

Tomorrowland from up high

Helpful Map

That was photo overload, but I'm so proud of these kids! The superintendent came to view their Showcase presentation and was quite impressed with their work.