Saturday, 29 June 2013

Minecraft Day 5 - 27 June

Session 5 already! Students got to work quickly today, after just a few minutes to chat in teams about what they would work on, while the computers were organised and the server started. I also took the opportunity to remind students to focus on Kiwiana-related building, and to concentrate on the main building as they would add food stalls etc into the common area between each teams' allotments soon. The vacant allotments will be turned into park areas with trees etc. I also mentioned that they didn't need to glass in their areas to prevent customers flying in and not paying for tickets, because we would imagine ordinary tourists visiting and not being able to fly as we can in Creative mode.

We had the pleasure of a team parent visiting us today, looking at what the students were doing, chatting to them, and looking at some of my background research and process for getting started with MinecraftEDU. I'm really appreciative of the amazing parents who have given their children the permission to 'play' Minecraft at school. Not to mention the fabulous teachers who lend me their students, too! I enjoy seeing some of them popping in to see what their students are up to.

It was almost impossible to drag students away from their work, to chat to me about what their team had achieved today - they were completely focused on their screens. Hence the very brief summaries dictated to me by each team! Using Minecraft to promote written language isn't featuring directly for me in the current situation. However, one of our lovely teachers (@kiwiallana ) has some of her boys who are reluctant writers, beginning to write more at last, after being at our Minecraft sessions. It's great to see them publishing their Minecraft stories and poems on their class or personal blogs.

We did have one situation arise today (with a democratic outcome that applied previously agreed consequences). One student got tired of building and went flying around and scattering objects (diamonds) in the way of other students and generally irritating everyone. It had been agreed that students needed to stay in their own area and build, build, build. There would be time at the end to take a careful look at what others were doing. Jg1025 needed to be helping his team with building. As soon as the indignant voices started being raised, I quickly used the MinecraftEDU settings to freeze all students where they were, and of course the student was caught where he was. I said I'd stand back and let them decide what would happen because this was the student's second breach of the Charter. There was no mucking around, all students were clear and vocal in their belief that the Charter agreement should be implemented, and this student should miss the next session. They barely lifted their heads from their screens - a vote was quick and unanimous, even from those who were his team mates and friends. An embarrassed and distressed student left immediately. I made it clear that he would be able to come back the following week, which will also be the last session for this term. I found myself thinking that this experience, with punishment agreed by all in advance and then applied by his peers, would be more effective than anything a teacher could decide, or could be applied from a regular classroom. It did seem harsh, but it was what the Charter stated and all students clearly understood that.

Next week Minecraft will have to be on Friday afternoon, instead of Thursday, because of other things happening at school. We don't have long until the end of the term, so need to take time where we can.

It remains to be decided who will be involved next term, and what the project will be. Some students are asking for the opportunity to play as teams in Survival mode, and to have challenges in that way. I'm also keen to see what happens when students try the MinecraftEDU tutorial.

Finally, I had the pleasure of attending EducampChch last weekend, and there was a lot of interest from other teachers in how to get started with Minecraft, and particularly MinecraftEDU. I found myself sharing my newbie status and how easy it was to start up the server on the school network. Nevertheless, it was interesting that it would NOT start for me on the Network of the high school that the Educamp was held at.

I'm looking forward to having more Christchurch and other New Zealand teachers joining me in this journey, and sharing and learning together. There are others joining the Minecraft Teachers area of the Virtual Learning Network, and I'm seeing more Kiwi Minecraft teachers talking on Twitter, too. Of course, looking further afield, I gain enormously from the sharing on the Google+ Groups for Minecraft teachers. Fun times ahead!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Kiwi Fruities Team Update (after session 5)

Today we have made a cafe for our tree huts and put kiwifruit over the top of the pavlova. We have made a little river which is where Maori would fish. We had a disagreement about making boats, so we worked it out that we'd make the boats at the end.

Dictated by Noch

Blocknchips Team Update (after session 5)

We made the sheep's head and the shearing shed. We have the information on signs and a clock for time. There are chests for the shears.

Dictated by Ladder56

Moas631 Team update (after session 5)

My team has filled in the bedrock, made a river around the area. Also made the shape of the sky tower around the blocks. This has taken a lot of time. We lost one team member (Jg1025) for today and the next session because they broke the Charter by scattering diamonds everywhere and making a nuisance, instead of building.

Dictated by Steve

L&Pixels Team update (after session 5)

D1amond was away today. We have been working on our river and so far we have changed the outside of it to all wood, so that it will match with the grass and wood type of theme. We fixed up inside the waterslide so now it is a staircase to a ladder, instead of ladders to ladders. We changed some of the ground, which was black and white, and fixed it up to be grass. We realised that our marmite jar was uneven on each edge, so we will have to fix that. We have made a picnic table, and we have also made a small bakery.

Dictated by DOXINWHAT

Monday, 24 June 2013

L&Pixels Team Update (after session 4)

Hi Everyone!

DOXINWHAT wasn't there in our last session, so, OwlsRcute and I (D1amond) were left on our own to help our theme park ride be wonderful. What we've changed is the ground. Instead of being that eye confusing flooring (black and white check) we've changed it to plain grass so it will be more of a picnic area in a park!

The L&P bottle is nearly finished, we just need to put our sign on the bottle. Our Hokey Pokey Ice Cream was very easy and that equalled 1 1/2 of our buildings complete/done. At the moment our Marmite Jar is a disaster! We only have a few sessions left until this term is over and to make our ride work, it's all about teamwork and focus to get our Marmite Jar finished.

Thanks for visiting our blog and seeing what our Minecraft world is doing at the moment!

See ya,
The L&Pixels

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Moas631 Team Update (after session 4)

We have finished the outer rim of the rugby ball (bigger) and now we are going  to fill it in with bedrock and put torches in. We have finished the ticket box, and are going to build a cafe and food. Everyone contributed well. We will build a glass dome like the L & Pixels. To stop all people flying in without paying. I think that we have done very well in this project.

(Written by 'Steve')

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Minecraft Day 4 - 20 June

This was a very productive and peaceful session. There were no problems with anything. I had some requests to allow some enchanting or potions to allow students to build faster, and that was fine. They are all realising the importance of looking after each other's work and working together. They also realise we only have three more sessions in which to finish this project. I suggested we didn't waste time visiting each other's areas, but would look around towards the end of the session - unfortunately I forgot to do this, but time is so short it didn't really matter. We still have the car park and food court area to build, and more signage. These will be jobs for those who finish their area of the theme park.

DOXINWHAT was away today, and was certainly missed by his team who were looking for guidance from him in building their Marmite jar. Luckily for me there were no technical issues and I managed on my own. CHIPMAN's place was filled by Ladder56 and that team made good progress today and seemed happy and completely focused. I enjoyed the ride on their rollercoaster, as you'll see in the video! Being a newbie to Minecraft, this was my first ever Minecraft roller coaster ride and I felt the thrill of that. I felt genuine anxiety about getting lost in their maze, too. Which goes to show just how real these Minecraft worlds can seem!

I'm impressed by the desire of the students (completely unprompted from me) to want to provide items like donation boxes for Cure Kids by the entrance to their area. Everyone was willingly 'throwing' help across the table to whoever requested it - there didn't seem to be any need to use the chat area for communication.

I wanted some written updates in the students' words for the blog from today's session, but I felt it was a big ask when time is so short. Two teams will email me an update or post directly to the blog themselves from home. The other two had a team member dictate their updates for me to type - these are completely in their own words and you can read their updates here on this blog.

It's amazing how these students can concentrate so completely for the full hour and a half without a break. No one was at a loose end, they were all busy building collaboratively, sharing out the roles.

Any parents who are interested to see what they're doing are welcome to pop down to the Conference Room at school between 12:45 pm and 1:45 pm on a Thursday.

Blocknchips Team update (after session 4)

On the roller coaster ride!
Ladder56's been building the maze inside the giant sheep. Ladder56 has half-built the shearing house and has put some things in it. We've also fixed the roller coaster and made it work - you can now do the jump and we've wired it up to give you gold at the end. We're going to make some note blocks that make a tune to say "Bye-bye". You can enjoy our roller coaster ride in the movie.

(As dictated to Carol by Kingfire)

Kiwifruities Team update (after session 4)

View over the top of the pavlova maze towards the tree hut
We have been making a roof on the pavlova maze. We've expanded the pavlova. We're all working on this together.  The team decided to make a face in front that is our entrance. We've made a donation box there for Cure Kids New Zealand and made a sign for it. Noch found out how to make ferns and we've been putting them at the entrance. Porkchop has made a ring around the tree hut for the sheep to go in later. We've made a shearing shed for the sheep to be shorn by hand.

Today we've been working well together, finding new things and building things together.

(As dictated to Carol by Gman)

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Minecraft Day 3 - Thursday 13 June

Today we welcomed a visitor, a teacher (Principal) from another school, who was very keen to see what Minecraft being used in a school might look like.

Before getting the Macbooks out of the pod, players had to sit with their teams, look at their plans, and briefly discuss with their team mates what they needed to do next and who would be doing the different tasks. There was some urgency for this because the students really just wanted to get onto the game, and get building. It's a bit of a hit and miss approach to building and a lot of planning is done 'on the fly'. But certainly, the session went pretty well for quite a while.

There were lots of signs appearing all over the theme park today, with messages for 'visitors'. Just about every group is building a roller coaster of some sort - all built around their chosen Kiwiana icon. It will be interesting to see how these work when finished.

One student got frustrated with computer mice not doing what he needed, having had problems with a computer in the first week, and his own mouse last week, and in the end the frustration got too much for him and he sadly made the decision not to continue. His team mates were left a little in the lurch because he was the experienced player, but he had really been focused on the issues he felt he was having, more than supporting the group. They had to figure out what they could do themselves, and how they would do it. A little help from DOXINWHAT, an experienced player from another team was all that was needed to get them going again.

The student who had been on his first warning in Week 1 mentioned, at one point, "I can't spawn any animals!" That caught him out, because he knew that I'd decided there would be no more animals getting in the way until fences were solid and everything else was organised - probably at the end of the project. What he didn't know was, this week I'd used the MinecraftEDU settings to turn off players' ability to spawn animals (one up for the teacher and MinecraftEDU)!

Players seemed completely focused for most of the hour and 20 minutes of play, but I started to notice two or three players starting to have other players complain a little about what they were or weren't doing. The earlier mentioned student was wandering around other teams' areas to have a look, but causing concern (players were suspicious of his intentions), and at one point was talking about doing enchantments - no way Jose!

Later, another started to wander into other areas because he felt he didn't have a job at that time with his own team. Is it because most of the teams are young boys (only 2 of the 12 students are girls), that they can't work this out between them and make sure they're all busy and needed and included? Still, it's a great chance to remind them of how to work within a community - even a Minecraft one. Next week I might talk about this a bit more, and ask them all how they think they might avoid this happening, and find solutions if it does occur - eg - talk to each other, and listen to each other.

A player in another team was concerned about chests and signs being placed at the entrance to their section of the theme park, by a player from another team. I suggested they talk about what was going on, and he found that the actions were innocent. I wouldn't say those actions were helping the player's own team and their building though...

During the session, I took one member from each group out and videoed them doing a tour of their area, and explaining what they were building. They did a good job of that and you can see the videos below! It will be great to get students starting to add short updates to this blog, but right now I want the path of least distraction from their play - our sessions are only short, and I need to smooth the path of being able to have them add their thoughts here. The 3 senior students have been invited to be blog authors with their own school gmail accounts, so we'll see if they can add something in the future.

All in all, everyone was busy and focused on the assignment they had been given. Progress was good, and all teams had at least 2 of their 3 players completely part of the action. The noise level wasn't bad, and at times it was very quiet. There didn't seem to be much chat going on within the game, people were doing their jobs.

Here is a flyover of the Kiwiana Theme Park after today's game:

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Minecraft Day 2 - Thursday 6 June

We got started more quickly today, and everything went smoothly. But, first things first...

Students were reminded about their contractual agreement with the Charter they had created. We agreed that no animals would be spawned today - they would have to wait until everything was built and they could be properly fenced in. There would be no use of invisibility either. Fireworks would have to wait until the end of our construction.

Groups were then given sheets of A3 paper and had to come up with a rough sketch of what they were trying to build, from a profile view, as well as a birds eye view. They needed to have a conversation about how they were going to start on their construction, and who would start where. I'll let this run its course from now on, and see how well they collaborate and work things out in discussions within the room as well as via the built-in Chat of Minecraft.

I need to find a way to print the Chat log because I'm interested in the conversations that will occur from a literacy perspective, as well as in the collaborative talk. Two students were keen to communicate via the Chat, but wanted to do so accurately so were checking with me on how to spell words correctly - great, authentic motivation for wanting to communicate in written form!

I made use of MinecraftEDU's ability to freeze all students twice today, when I needed to talk with them once during the session, and at the very end of the game so that they would get on and pack up the Macbooks, ready to take to the next class that was needing them.

Students were working well together today, helping each other, helping me, and one kindly lending a computer mouse to someone having trouble with theirs. Very good to see, and students having lots of fun and being very focused.

I'm wondering about offering the MinecraftEDU Tutorial World sometime - I've been working through it myself at home and really enjoying it. I'm not sure when to fit it in though... we only have our hour and a half on a Thursday each week (which includes set up and pack up time).

Here is a flyover, after the day's session finished - is that some hokey pokey icecream that I can see? We have a couple of vacant lots for fast finishers to use later. Carparking, ticket offices, food stalls etc will also be constructed in the future. Keep in mind that I'm a complete newbie to all of this, so I'm still working on my flying skills!

I've created a Minecraft Playlist of our videos on SpringstonTube (our School's YouTube account).