It's All Good
Learning and Sharing with Technology
Now that we have finished the Minecraft project, please complete the survey below! This will help me to plan for next year's project and learn from each of you!
Enjoy this collection of screenshots from our 3rd grade social studies Minecraft projects! Students were encouraged to take a screenshot of something they liked or were proud of while creating within the program.
All four 3rd grade classes have been actively participating in their Minecraft groups to develop a Wampanoag, Pilgrim or Puritan village. Students are highly engaged and amazingly helpful to one another! I love learning from the students too! Enjoy some photos of their hard work below!
This year, I've decided to try to incorporate Minecraft within the computer lab classes rather than having a separate club(s) as I did last year. There were several reasons for this:
1) There was a HUGE response to the before school clubs last year. So many students were interested in grades 3-5 that I ended up offering 4 different clubs before school let out in June! By including Minecraft within our regularly scheduled lab sessions, I know that many more students will have the opportunity to try out, learn and explore with Minecraft.
2) Scheduling is a tricky thing and I am unable to run Minecraft clubs before or after school this year. I chose to run the clubs last year because I was interested in seeing what the students could do within the program. Now that I have a good idea of the possibilities with Minecraft, I'm confident the students will collaborate to create great stuff during our scheduled classes!
3) I've decided to focus on using Minecraft strictly with 3rd grade students. My thoughts on this are because these students didn't have the opportunity to join the clubs last spring (we only opened them to grades 3-5), they should have the chance to try out Minecraft at school. I also want to attempt to tie Minecraft to the 3rd grade Social Studies curriculum. The current 4th and 5th graders will not have the opportunity to use Mincecraft in the computer lab setting this year. Instead, they will be focusing their efforts on the 3D design challenge using the MakerBot 3D printer. Third grade students will not be using the 3D printer so there is some trade-off in my planning.
Starting the first week of March, Minecraft will begin to be introduced during computer lab sessions. Stay tuned to see where this adventure takes us!
In honor of our final Minecraft Clubs~round 1, I decided to have both groups do a quick lip sync of the song "Minecraft is Just Awesome." As the students were creating, I walked around with my clipboard with the lyrics and using my iPad mini, I recorded students saying a line or two from the song. Using iMovie, I created the videos below. Due to privacy issues, the videos are password protected. If you were a member of the clubs, you've been given the password to access the videos below. Enjoy!
Since the beginning of the year, I wanted to start a Minecraft Club at school. My own children really love playing the game at home~first my son learned about it and then my daughter caught on. But it wasn't until my daughter began showing signs of becoming obsessed with the game that I thought I should take a look at it. Once she started showing me all the amazing things she was doing within Minecraft, I thought, "I need to do this at school!"
I approached my Principal early on proclaiming all the awesome things I had watched my kids do in Minecraft: the creations, critical thinking, planning, problem solving, communicating and of course the collaboration with others online. He was cautious (primarily due to the "survival mode" he was familiar with) but supportive of my desire to provide an outlet for kids to explore the program at school. His concerns surfaced around the potential violent nature of the "survival mode" with the weapons, creatures & explosives that are built into the game. I assured him we could work in "creative mode" with some of these elements disabled as a starting point. With his approval, I contacted our IT department with the hopes of building our own server. Thanks to my tech director and systems engineer who both enlisted the help of Rico, a district technician, to build the server for us using an older model Dell computer. I don't exactly know how Rico was able to build the server (I'm not that techie in my knowledge) but he did and we were up and running for March!! Woohoo! The great thing about having our own server is we are able to play together in a safe environment where it's just the Minecraft Club kids. As our server guru, Rico is also able to adjust settings as needed. One of the greatest moments this year came when I introduced Rico to a 4th grade class as "The builder of our Minecraft Server!" The students literally jumped out of their seats in the computer lab and cheered for him. It was an awesome moment that I wish I had recorded.
The next step was developing the format of the club. I knew we'd have huge interest so, looking at the calendar, we decided to run two before school clubs instead of one. We wanted to have as many kids as possible participate so we decided to run the first round for five weeks with the assumption that if we ended up with too many kids and not enough slots, we'd just run another five week session before the end of the school year. We decided to start at 8:00am and run until 8:50am on Wednesdays & Fridays because these are days I'm typically in the building (I travel/work between two schools). I chose the before school format rather than after school simply because it worked for my personal schedule. I was volunteering my time because I wanted this to work. I wanted to see what my students could do with Minecraft and I was excited by the potential.
My principal and I talked about which grade levels we should invite to participate in the clubs and we settled on 3rd-4th & 5th graders. I was open to first and second graders joining in as well but for our first attempt, we agreed upon the older students only. I developed a permission slip to send home with interested students (see below for download) and visited classrooms to share my good news: Minecraft was coming to NMES! I left the forms with the teachers and encouraged students to return them by the deadline (a week away). By the next day, I had over 20 forms returned and by the deadline I had over 90 returned for 50 slots. We chose students by lottery~grouping them by preferred day and picked out of a box. Students were notified if they were selected or not and I only received one phone call from a parent who was concerned his child wasn't selected. I assured him that we would run the clubs again and if his child was still interested at that time, he would have the opportunity to participate. We actually decided to give preference to any student who wanted to join the first round but wasn't selected. After all the planning was done, we were finally ready to start the adventure of Minecraft in school! I didn't know where we were headed but I was excited to enter the world of Minecraft with my students!