Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Math Triathlon - Minecraft Style

Mrs. Downs teaches 6th grade Math and came to the MinecraftEdu Camp that was previously mentioned.  She had played Decimal Island during Camp which sparked ideas for more math oriented game playing.  She teaches TAG (Talented and Gifted) math classes as well, and some of those students have also been in my video game club.  She asked them if they would like to create a math world for the other students to go through. For them - they had just been elevated to Minecraft Masters. They worked for weeks creating a world in which kids would go through a mini tutorial world on MC navigating, and on completion, students would venture into their math world of proportion and probability. They created a working spinner and other games of chance as well as a large building area for students to complete proportional replicas of models.  This was the first world for the classmates to play on Day 1 of this 2 day blast of math. The students made it through the tutorial and created their models.  We even had a guest come to watch - an Instructional Coach for the district. Thanks to him for taking time out from his busy schedule.


Day 2 was our last day of school.  Mrs. Downs and I decided to try one of the worlds on the MinecraftEdu World Library by MisterA called Decimal Triathlon. Even though these particular problems were easily computed, the kids thought this was an outstanding way of doing problems. Students enter the world and quickly begin working on a math problem.  

They ran to the nearby building. Signs containing the answers appeared above 4 holes. Students jumped into the hole with the correct answer.  For this they received chicken; incorrect answers were worth rotten flesh. So it's like answering a multiple choice question with a virtual body.  

From there, leg 1 of the race began with a swim across a lake. Once across, it was on to the next question and the same scenario of jumping into the correct hole.  Leg 2 brought the player to get a saddle, stick & carrot, mount a pig and take off to the last question. You would have almost thought the kids were riding real pigs - they enjoyed that immensely.  One last question and then they spawned boats, jumped in, and rode the rapids to the finish line. They were greeted with a round of spectacular fireworks as they crossed the finish line. What a wonderful way to finish the year! And what a cool world - it has now sparked ideas for me to create some other engaging worlds too.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Spanish Villages and Villagers

Mrs. Garcia had visited the science classes creating body systems using Minecraft and was curious to use it for her Spanish classes.  So we talked about options and she came up with a project!  Seventh grade students had been learning family & party vocabulary. She decided to have them create a dwelling, then populate with several NPCs.  Each NPC would 'speak' a Spanish phrase telling who they were in relationship to the party person. 

We learned several things from this project.  First they spent one class period focused on creating dwellings.  Since all classes were using one world, each class had to build in a particular area.  A mayor of the class village was elected to determine an appropriate building site for the class.  

Day 2 was putting in the translations. Most students had written the phrases to be said on paper. Students first tried creating the NPCs and typing the phrases directly in MC, but the special characters were not available. We found it easier to type the phrases in Word where it was easy for them to insert the special Spanish characters, and then copy them into MC. 

When all phrases were created, it was time to create the NPCs. I found 
they had to be in 'teacher mode' to accomplish this. I changed the teacher password temporarily for this to happen and we carefully monitored students so they would not abuse this power.  

They had such fun creating characters to look like all sorts of things and it was easy to add the conversation. 

At the end of day 3, they had finished the project.  Mrs. Garcia then took the students back to the classroom where they presented their fiestas to the group.

That's only half the story.  Now Mrs. Garcia had come up with a plan for the 8th graders - the second year Spanish students. This project involved creating Spanish villages. Certain city buildings were required to be built (to match vocabulary) 

Again, a mayor was selected from each class to select a proper building area. The students then created their community buildings - some were very elaborate. 

Then they used the sign feature to label their dwellings and their contents. After 3 days of building, students presented their work to their fellow villagers.

 How about the view from this hospital?
Beautiful gardens and libraries in the cities.

Minecraft Camp for Teachers

Several teachers from my campus took an afternoon to learn about MinecraftEdu. We began by looking at some projects our students had created as well as looking at other student creations on the Internet. Teachers had a sense of what could be created. They then delved into our very own tutorial world where they learned how to navigate and build in the virtual world. Pretty soon, they were pretty competent in walking, jumping, swimming flying and simple building.  I decided to keep things in creative mode for this initial dive. For the most part, the teachers wouldn't initially need mining or crafting skills, but we did go over terminology such as 'griefing', 'mods', and 'NPCs' so they would what students would be referring to.

They learned how the Edu panel works - how to freeze students, mute them and most importantly how to transport them to another location if they get stuck. 

Then it was time for a trip around the world with the World of Humanities. There, they interacted with NPCs and went on quests into virtual versions of human culture - from Greece to Mesopotamia to MesoAmerica and beyond.

They explored a couple of worlds from the MinecraftEdu World Library pertaining to math and science. 

As they left camp, they all had ideas of using it in their own classrooms for next year and could see how the students could really benefit from using it. I can't wait to see what we do with this tool next year.