This is a reflection post for an assignment in a MOOC for Minecraft: Education Edition. The assignment was to try a mode of Minecraft (Survival, Creative, or Tutorial) and share in the discussion board.
Webinar Assignment #1 – Surviving the Night
I knew little about Minecraft this time last year, but was interested in learning about it to connect with my fifth grade students. To begin this process, I attended a session about Minecraft at MACUL (Michigan's conference for technology in education) and learned about the new release of Minecraft: Education Edition. I began dabbling with Pocket Edition to get my feet wet. I played a lot in the summer with my daughter (age 6) and she got hooked really quick! We spent all of our time in creative mode building some awesome houses, tunnels, and railways...my favorite! I had also tried the tutorial world in the trial version in the Fall and was impressed how it helped me and my students learn the keyboard commands easily, since most of us only had Xbox or Pocket Edition experience. Having tried both of those scenarios, I decided to try my hand at the mode I had been most avoiding...survival!
Day 1: I did not know how long day would be, so I went to the nearest tree and got as much wood as I could. I then built a simple shelter, 5 blocks by 4 blocks and only 4 blocks high. I had not checked on how to build a door yet, so as the sun went down I closed in my house to be safe. I could not see a thing! When would it be daylight? If I knocked out a block to check for daylight would there be monsters there? If I left a skylight open, can monsters climb? I checked a couple times and saw stars and knew that a door or safe window would be what I worked on next.
Day 2: I crafted a door and collected some more wood. I started to look for sheep so I could make a bed, but could only kill one. The beds had been mostly decoration in creative mode, but I was having a hunch that they could help make the night go faster. The nights sure seem longer than the days!
Day 3: Rain! I made a wood pickaxe and begin trying to mine stone. I am picking away and some sort of gray block is disappearing, but not being collected in my inventory. I try to mine in three different places, but not having any luck. I try to find sheep with the little light I have left and have no luck. I barely make it back to the shelter and have a hard time finding and shutting the door in the dark.
Day 4: I go deeper and deeper to collect stone (my daughter's advice), but it is still not showing up in my inventory. I do find two more sheep and make a bed. The night zooms past and I can get back to work.
Day 5: I try a few more places for stone and try different shades of gray. As I venture farther and farther away from the shelter it is more difficult to make is back before dark. I did not make it this time and stumble around until I fall down deep into something! I wait out the night, surprised that I am not being attacked by monsters, and look up a long way once I have daylight!
Day 6: I started to mine a staircase, but then realized that I had enough resources to build the staircase. That went much faster!
I had to take a step back and figure out why the monsters did not find me. Hmmmm...looks like "normal" is not the default setting. So I survived a few nights, but maybe it was not that hard at all.
I setup a new world with the correct settings and started again....and again....and again. I went about the same process of quick shelter, but tried to get the door with windows and a bed fit into the first day. Problem was once I died outside of the shelter from monsters, I kept respawning at night and away from safety (I learned about setting the new spawn location later). It took me four attempts to finally survive the first night with the monsters, but such a fun challenge! I am still having some difficulty collecting stone, maybe it is the wrong stone or I have the wrong tools. Something for me to keep working on.
This assignment was a great chance for me to explore the Education Edition more and a mode that I have little experience with. While I think I still prefer creative mode, I also think I will go back and keep building more in my survival world. I also enjoyed playing with the camera and portfolio, they are awesome resources to share out what it happening in student worlds. I look forward to the next assignment and seeing how the classroom mode will connect all of us in the classroom!
In preparation for the start of new #goaltime projects and some upcoming Mystery Skype sessions, I wanted to spend some time improving the questions that students are asking. In the move to NGSS, asking questions is the first science practice on the list. When starting investigations, students are quick to get going, but I want to slow them down just a bit so that they begin with wonder and that there is a foundation that drives the investigation. I also see an improvement in their science writing when their claims (CER) are directly related to a question they asked before they started.
5 Clue Challenges
I learned about the 5 Clue Challenge project from Mike Soskil during his Ditch Summit interview. The project is a collection of short videos (2-3 minutes) where a mystery location, person, animal, or object is shared by slowly revealing clues. The videos can be paused for as long as needed to allow time for students to research, discuss, and ask questions based off of the clue. Class discussions turned in directions I did not expect based off of questions students asked or information they found while searching. One example of this was a clue about population of a city when some students found population data based off of city limits and others found metro area statistics. After completing a few challenges on video, I turned the tables and asked student groups to write their own clues that were then presented to our class.
Quantity Over Quality (to start!)
Students began proposals for their new #goaltime projects and I wanted to weave in another element I had learned from Paul Solarz: asking PHAT questions. These are questions that are Pretty Hard And Tough....skinny questions, he says, are those that can be quickly looked up on Google. With the right question(s), students can continue that deep dive into their topic or learning goal throughout the project time.
I created a new graphic organizer and shared with them the expectation to ask a really tough question. I felt really good about the direction of the project, but I failed in facilitating the asking of that tough questions! Some students did not want to write a question they did not know the answer and many simply put the first question they thought of in the blank and moved on. An example was, “why do snakes shed their skin?” This answer could be found in a short time with a Google search, but I got a puzzled look when I challenged him to ask a deeper question. Other students left the question blank because they were paralyzed by the request to write one good question. They may have been thinking through possibilities, but could not recall the ideas they had rejected.
My requests began to change as I conferenced with students, instead of looking for the one PHAT question, I began asking them to physically write 10 questions or more. We reviewed lists and eliminated skinny questions and narrowed down to deeper questions. Students began self-selecting better questions and they were not the first questions on their lists. I look forward to beginning next #goaltime sessions with a longer list of potential questions instead of the pressure to declare one awesome question right away.
How will we know what a good question is unless we have something to compare it to?
What are resources and strategies you use to facilitate better questions from student? Please share in the comments below.
I am only one year into experiencing Minecraft, and I am glad that I have taken the chance to understand some of this world. Minecraft is a popular choice when we brainstorm for #goaltime. I was not always ready to help steer student projects into the deeper learning goal than what they are already doing when they craft at home. Playing the game myself has allowed me to understand more of the language and guide projects. This is extra helpful since we now have the ability to use the Minecraft Education Edition with all students in the class.
I certainly knew that we would get more play and creation during #goaltime, but a student surprised me with a new way to use the game. She used Minecraft to present her project and her project did not have anything to do with the game! Kat's #goaltime was learning about making a cake...in a coffee mug...in our classroom microwave! Some weeks we had messes to clean up or some burnt smells, but in the end she had a tasty treat and enough to share with all 48 students. The twist was when she setup a Minecraft world for students to walk through. The world signs and markers that share her learning experience. So cool!
When a student asked her why she chose to present with Minecraft, her answer was that she knows how to use Google Slides, Canva, PowToon, and other presentation tools. She said it was time to try something new! Check it out below:
The first two days back we have been exploring Thinglink as a presentation tool. Embedded below is an example from the Hawkins homeroom. Students responded to a prompt about their winter break and designed a Google slide with text, pictures, and a link. After a group photo, students tagged themselves with a link to their slide.
What we learned:
-The picture is more interactive than I thought it would be. All slides that are linked are fully navigable without opening a new window!
-The Thinglink pictures will be a great option for #goaltime project presentations.
-How to manage our sharing preferences within Google slides and copying those links to other sites.
-The images are not a spot for simultaneous collaboration. One student can edit at a time...and if they don’t save the image when they exit it will lock out others for up to 30 minutes!
-Always have plan B: My planning included students “drafting” on Google slides while we figured out how everything works. This was a good thing because the website was not whitelisted until I put in tech request, but was ready to go by the second day. Good thing students had something to work on while we waited for that.
This is a resource I had heard about a little, but am glad we finally decided to try it out!
On New Year’s Day, Krystal asked all of us in the family what our goals were for the new year...I was impressed and excited to listen Olivia as she was ready to share. She had many ideas, while I did not. I mostly achieved my 2016 goals, but in different ways that I had planned. They were more focused on the product and I found that I during this past year I enjoyed the journey towards them, with roadblocks and new paths, then I enjoyed the payoff at the end. I am now ready to declare 3 goals for the upcoming year, where I will end up I do not know!
Write - 100 words per day, post 1 blog per week (I am obviously doing this right now)
Make - 1 new thing per week
Ride - 60 minutes on my bike per week
Cheers to the new year!
PS - Olivia wants to Play (soccer), Learn (more about nature), Run (her first 5k)
As I look into the first week back from break, I am excited to try a couple new things right away. First, I will be using Thinglink as a welcome back activity. I have seen this before at conferences and have downloaded on my ipad before, but had just not seen the application for it. Listening to back episodes of House of Edtech podcast, I got the final push. We will give it a try, and I have some scaffolding set up with Google Slides in case the application does not work.
The big new thing is to try my first 3 Act Lesson in math. I am always reflecting and searching how to make math more engaging and real. While I feel there is more for me to read on the presentation and facilitation, I just need to give it a try. The lesson that we will be doing is from Graham Fletchy and is about racing. I had been playing some Mario Kart with the kids over break and was looking myself at the place value potential when the results are displayed. This lesson puts it all together, and keeping with my flipped theme I have put it into Google Slides. I am excited to read more about the 3 Act Lessons and see how this one goes!
I do not really feel as if I am a writer, but thought I would choose a more positive title. Beginning with the end in mind, I am working on the making the title true. Today begins my first day of the blogging challenge from AJ Juliani. I am pledging 100 words per day and 1 post per week. I think that this is a very low entry goal, but I do not really know what it is like to sit and write 100 words...hopefully I will see soon that I am exceeding this more easily that I am worried about. I would like to share reflections from my own classroom, celebrate excellence that I see in my building, and thoughts about what I am reading and listening to from my PLN. No one is reading this yet, but that is not the idea. My 2017 is including more process oriented goals than product, and this is the first that I will “be audacious” enough to share publicly.