Minecraft EDU

Um, OMG!!!!

minecraftSomehow John Miller arranged for the #awesomesauce folks at Minecraft EDU to come to our tiny little town on their TeacherGaming Tour 2015. So this afternoon I sat in a packed room with eager teachers – waiting to find out what the buzz was about – and some really great tutors – 6th and 7th grade students.

For a few years now, my students have begged me to include Minecraft in our classroom. They know they can hook me with most things tech. And for years now, I keep telling them that I don’t get it. I’ve tried it, and quickly get bored, or in the case the other night, die within 5 minutes. The ‘regular’ Minecraft isn’t for me. I’ve seen some of my students create some great worlds during Genius Hour, I just don’t have the patience for that. So when John shared the opportunity to do this, I jumped on it. I mean, this many kids can’t be wrong!

So there I sat, between 2 tutors. Apparently, I looked like I’d need more than one. Axel and Lauren were a great help. In 2 hours we were taken through maps and tasks. First we started off with just getting use to the controls and how to manuver our people. On a side note, I was glad NOT to be Steve! I got to pick out a character.

Once we were use to manipulating our people, we were given tasks to complete. We navigated through mazes, built structures with partners, and coded turtles – which could help us navigate through the map. See, it is pretty cool!

You know it’s a good training when they have to ‘freeze’ you in order to get your attention! Yeah, we were frozen a few times so that we could learn how to operate things from the teacher end, and talk about how to use it in our classrooms. At one point I was frozen right in the middle of my turtle running the program I coded. It was then that I made some strange unintelligible sounds. I really wanted to see if I programmed the little guy properly.

So clearly, I’m beginning to ‘get it’! Boy will some of my students be happy. Formers will say something like, “Sure, now you get it AFTER we’re gone”. I’d like to explore this more and see how I can incorporate this into my 5th grade classroom. I think, and it’s been proven, that there are great possibilities with this. I’d also like to explore some of the maps (worlds, mods) that are available.

It was a great workshop, my only complaint: we only had 2 hours. Wish we had more time. Thank you to everyone!

Lauren helping me, yet again!

Paper Minecraft

Earlier this year, I instituted Genius Hour. It has become the students’ favorite time of the week. I blogged about it recently, and you can read it in Why Genius Hour.

One of the biggest successes has come from Isaac. He is a creator by nature – tape and paper are his mediums of choice. In the past (I taught Isaac a few years ago) he would cut, tape, and draw on his creations. Well, he has since discovered Minecraft and Papercraft – the paper version of Minecraft. At first, he would have me print out Papercraft creations he found online. Much like this:

papercraft earth

Photo Credit: niksin via Compfight cc

Those are pretty cool and all, but then I showed Isaac Google Draw. That was it for him. His creativity kicked in and he hasn’t asked me to print out a prefab one in a while. Why? Because he now creates his own! At first they were pretty basic as he was getting to know the program. I showed him some simple tricks, like copy and paste, so that he could have congruent figures.

minecraft 1

Okay, so the sword is pretty cool, and not so basic. Since this one, he has started putting faces on his creations, and becoming a bit more precise.

snow golem

I can’t tell you how to put them together, but then again, I’m not into Papercraft. Isaac, however, is thrilled to have his creations brought to life. When I asked him about putting tabs on them and writing instructions for those like me; he says that it’s easier for him without the tabs and never really answered me about directions – I’ll take that as a ‘Not going to happen’.

It has been more than thrilling to watch Isaac’s progress. When I asked him if I could write about him on my blog, and share a few of his creations, his eyes sparkled and a HUGE grin spread across his face. I told him that he would get full credit for all of his work. He then told me that I had to put his full name on his creations. Yeah, after reminding him about Internet safety he was okay with just his first name and my name – so that no other Isaac could take credit.

I can’t wait to see what creations he will have for us in the new year!