Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bodies in Motion

I had mentioned in an earlier post that 7th grade science was doing a second project in Minecraft.  This time, they have been tackling the entire human body. Students have been studying various systems of the body and are now modeling the concepts they have learned about in Minecraft. 

The assignment was to model at least 3 systems (nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, etc.) together. They first planned the models on paper and then began implementation.  We found that it helps it the students know a bit about Minecraft tools, especially redstone.  This knowledge enables them to add interaction to the models and allows them to work at a quicker pace.

We started this project last week.  We have only one computer lab so classes had to double-up to get in.  But it's been working - teams of 2 or 3 work together on one computer.  Two classes (Mrs. Arcaya and Mrs. Collins) met for 3 days last week and 2 more classes (Mrs. Taylor and Mr. Bedford) are meeting for 3 days this week to build the models.

The students are engaged and we have had very few incidents of not being on task.  It helps to lay the ground rules for behavior in the virtual world before they get in.  Otherwise some might know it only as an entertainment device rather than an education tool in school.

The final piece of the project is to use a web-based tool called Screencast-o-matic to record a tour of the project.  It's so easy to use - just click Record, select the area of the screen to record and start talking.  It saves to your disk drive. This allows the other students to look at peer work, and learn a little more about Minecraft and it's capabilities. It also assists the teacher in grading the projects.  The videos are stored where the teacher can grade when time is allotted and the teacher can then share the videos with other teachers.

Mrs. Arcaya has been sharing her work in Minecraft with other teachers in our own school as well as schools in the district and out. Also, other teachers have stopped by the lab to see what it going on.  Look for an upcoming Spanish project where the kids will be building villages incorporating Spanish vocabulary. It is with great pleasure I can post our successes with this playful learning tool.

One thing to notice from looking at the pictures, the kids are focused.  They are helping each other. Quiet kids open up.  They work together to get tasks accomplished.  They ask to come in to work extra and have asked about doing other projects with Minecraft

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