Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Jamestown- Minecraft Style

Could the colonists have experience Utopia when they entered America? Could the students recreate that colonial experience of starting a colony with little resources?  Mr. Fletcher, 8th grade American History teacher, certainly thought they could and provided a creative environment for students to explore. In this Utopian assignment, students were asked to build small colonies in a sparse future USA. The premise was that the country had collapsed centuries ago and had no electricity, buildings or any other sign of the modern world. Their task was to re-colonize America.

Not only did they build a colony, but they had to first apply for a royal charter to get funding, ships and equipment for the colony, and create a constitution for governing the colonists. Colonies were to be well fortified and be constructed in an area with resources amiable to humans and lastly not conflict with other colonies.

The first step was organizing the various groups. Then they met and constructed a planning document and sketch of the proposed colony. Only after completion of those tasks did they begin the Minecraft building part. They spent 3 days working on their virtual worlds.  I'm sure they would have happily spent a week or more on this project. Several students came in before and after school and during lunches and advisories to work on their creations.  

We had begun the project in Edu mode where they have to chop wood and find resources, but we quickly found the building time for beginning crafters was just too great for the class time allotted for the project. After switching to creative mode, builds went quickly and students were able to concentrate more on the context of what the project was about.

The final step of the project was to give a tour of the colony and describe the features of it as well as decisions made while working on it.  Some of the students gave me a quick tour during the last day of the build. Here's  a brief sample.