Thursday, January 22, 2015

Spreading the Word

As much as I love using Minecraft as an educational tool, I find that getting other teachers to make the time and commitment to giving it a try is sometimes difficult. I recently put this poster in my "Goo in the Loo" PD picture frame:

(By the way, Goo in the Loo is an effort created by some GAFE teachers and trainers where you put posters in the bathroom as a quick PD session for teachers). I use it for all kinds of tech PD topics, not just Google Apps. 

I wanted to see if this would spark any conversation or requests for Minecraft sessions with classes. So far, I've had one request to try using Minecraft to simulate an economy. I've never done that before, so I'm excited to see how it goes!

Here's hoping we get even more kids and teachers involved with Minecraft! 

Friday, January 16, 2015

An MC Enrichment Cluster Begins Again... Without Me

It's time for the 2nd and 3rd graders to start their Enrichment Clusters, which always makes Fridays so exciting! Again this year, we offered a Minecraft cluster to this age group. This time, though, I wanted to take a break from the commitment of facilitating a cluster so that I can focus on another one of my big projects - bringing a Makerspace and the idea of Making to our school (look for adventures in Making and 3D printing with Minecraft coming soon-ish!).

Our fantastic music teacher, Mrs. Marshall, has been interested in Minecraft since we began piloting it here last year, and she agreed to take the reins of the MC cluster this time! I'm really excited about that, but I do miss the interaction and excitement surrounding kids doing Minecraft.

The kids have decided to create a Future World, which sounds full of potential. I'll check in with them periodically to see how things are progressing, but I'm thrilled that Minecraft is catching on with other teachers here. There's no such thing as too much Minecraft for these kids!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Medieval Village Complete!

Our cluster of 4th and 5th graders worked really hard for several hours to recreate their version of a medieval village, and were finally ready to present their world for a community audience at the showcase just before the winter holiday.

We used the Halcyon Days texture pack to achieve a medieval look. We also used the CustomNPCs mod to create a few NPC characters around the village to interact with, but the tools that come along with that mod made for some great decorations as students mounted weapons and armor into item frames on the walls.

Have a look at the finished product!

Overhead shot looking at the town marketplace

A Trading Post

The Wool Shop for all your weaving needs

A jail (I think)

A small church

Overhead view with a nearly-complete castle in the distance

Medieval farm near the town wall

I'm continuously learning new things as I work with students and Minecraft. This was the first time I enabled build tools for students, and I decided to try it when I saw how much tedious work was being done on the perimeter wall and the giant castle. I had the students elect two people who would be able to use these tools, so that we didn't crash my server and there would be minimal damage if someone went crazy with the fill tool. I felt bad that I hadn't introduced it sooner, but I guess it's kind of like how your calculus teacher shows you this really complicated method of solving a math problem so you understand how it works, then pulls out this huge time-saving easy method of doing the same thing? Yeah, I'll go with that.