Our 2nd grade students currently finished up the Unit of Inquiry: Where We Are In Place and Time. The Central Idea states that humans and geographic factors affect communities. Students explored various lines of inquiry such as relationships between geographic features and communities, the characteristics of communities, the impact of humans (development) on the environment, and the relationship between climate and patterns of settlement. As the final assessment of the unit, students used MinecraftEdu to create a community of their own. Evidence of learning would be student's ability to create a community that effectively represents the characteristics of their chosen type (urban, rural, suburban etc.) as well as their intended geographical location. Second grade students were so excited to work on MinecraftEdu to express the mastery of their learning in such creative ways. Mrs. Kim popped in and out of the library throughout the week to see the progression of their work and was simply blown away. They were so engaged and so creative! Technology is truly a power tool for our students who will lead the future!
Our students continue to build and add on to their living quarters. They are self-paced so when they're ready to move on to the next achievement, they can. Achievement number two is to establish a food source. We had students planting gardens, cultivating farms, and creating pens for animals. I surprised the kids by telling them the villagers were bored. Right away they suggested a theme park! We tossed around ideas for what our theme park should have and quickly got to building. They discovered it should be close to the village but not right in the middle of it so that it could be pretty expansive (imagine 27 kids contributing to the park). The first student to venture out and break ground added a beacon so the rest of the club could find the location. Roller coasters began popping up as students utilized their knowledge of Red Stone to power the track. We also have bumper boats, parkour challenges, food trucks, and a lazy river to get from our village to the theme park. I wonder what will it be called?
It's amazing to watch these kids work; completely focused, engaged on creating what they see in their imagination, with absolutely zero direct instruction from the adult in the room. It blows my mind. What they don't realize is that they are demonstrating the 4 Cs of a 21st Century Learner: Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Collaboration - a skillset required to succeed in the information age.
Round two of our MinecraftEDU club opened up to fourth and fifth grade students and my excitement for their increased capacity was met with their excitement to show me what they knew! Compared to my third grade group, this group is much more experienced, presumably since they've been playing longer than their younger counterparts. I only have two students who've never played the game. The rest are pretty experienced. Surprisingly, I have a majority of students who play on tablets or other mobile devices so playing on the PC was a new experience for them. Of course, at the beginning, they expected to come in and just play Minecraft! We went over expectations, impressing upon them our goal was to use Minecraft to learn and discover new ways it can be used by their classroom teachers. After a few grumbles, they accepted the fact we are still at school and using Minecraft to learn wasn't so bad. #WeAreStillinSchool
In my continued effort to learn more about the game, I've discovered something called achievements. I thought this might be a way to guide our time together, giving the students enough freedom to be creative and inquisitive, yet staying focused on concepts I wanted them to learn. Rather than using the in-game version of achievements, I modified them to fit our needs. The first achievement was to build a living quarters. The only requirement was that we all built near each other so that we could form a village. That's it. The creativity that unleashed from that point was amazing! We have small, basic huts, large creeper style houses, quarters that venture underground and connect to friends' house via tunnels, and even houses that reach up into the clouds.
After our first day of building, I realize we need more time. We meet for one hour after school, but after getting logged on and explaining the goals for the day, we are often left with only 40 minutes and rush to pack up in the end.
Quote of the day - "Want to build an underground tunnel to connect our houses?"
Construction is complete! Our Minecraft model of Spicewood Elementary came together nicely. Once you land in our flat world you'll find that the students created the school building, the playground, and the running track. Once you venture inside the building, you go through intricate hallways to discover classrooms, the atrium, the library, and the all important, restrooms. The range of experience levels amongst the students gave a nice balance to their creation. Those who wanted to focus on the small details could, such as lighting and window placement. and others could work on the bigger picture.
In this project, students were enthusiastic throughout, excited to be using Minecraft at school. They were independent learners since they all knew more than the teachers involved! Their curiosity and creativity paved the way for success! This project enabled students to draw from the PYP attitudes they have been cultivating all year.
Our students began crafting a model of Spicewood today. Students got started by suggesting which rooms/structures they'd like to start working on and grouped themselves according to similar interest. A few lessons learned today like start a flat world otherwise you'll generate a world that's impossible to build on. Got it! I'm also learning about spawn points and teleporting students back to the build site - that comes in handy.
Our first Minecraft Club meeting was a great success! Third grade students quickly filled the library wide-eyed, bursting with excitement declaring they were here for Minecraft! Along with the help of Mrs. Haney, Mrs. Marvel, Mrs. Shipp, Mrs. Moline and a fifth grade helper Myles, we began by discussing expectations, setting goals, and moved into exploring our first tutorial world. The utter astonishment of seeing Minecraft on a school computer was amazing to experience with the students!
We did encounter a few technical difficulties that have since been resolved, but that is all part of being the first pioneers of a Minecraft world at school. The students were extremely flexible and understanding, ready to help problem solve. Before leaving for the day, the group agreed that our first project would be to build a model of Spicewood Elementary.
Quote of the Day
MinecraftEdu has landed at Spicewood Elementary and the kids are beyond excited! We will be documenting our journey, highlighting our accomplishments, and reflecting on next steps. Follow us!
Laurel Mtn Minecraft Experiment
MinecraftEdu World Library
MinecraftEdu on Twitter