Minecraft Makershop: Day 3

Today marked the midway point for Minecraft Makershop. Today was a pretty good day overall, and we did get a lot accomplished. I know that not all of the kids were fond of some of it, because they just wanted to build, but I had to remind them that this was part of the workshop and they did settle in once they got started.

Some of my kids arrive shortly after 8:30, and have a half hour to wait until the workshop begins. I’ve set most of them to doing research for the first part and checking things I’ve sent via the email list. If they finish all of that, then they are able to work on any of their builds. It’s worked well for the most part, and keeps them occupied until we start at 9, which is usually when the last kid arrives.

Today we started with researching examples of the type of final individual build they were completing. For example, one kid was looking up office builds, while another was looking up examples of jails. The kid with the jail actually came in and told me he’d done his own research last night and had ideas to incorporate into what he had started. I told him great, and looked forward to seeing what he ended up building.

Once 9 o’clock rolled around, the kids began working on their builds. I was pretty impressed with what many of them were doing with their builds. I knew that most would not finish before we had to start working on the collaborative group builds, but I figured they could always work on them by themselves when they had to wait on their group members. Some of the kids were still having trouble with the concepts we had been learning about, while others were really making strides. I knew that I could not bring every kid up to the level I wanted in the short time that I had. The skills I was trying to teach about are not concepts that can be learned overnight. They are learned and improved upon over time, and if I can observe a build and find the key points that were different from when the workshop began, then I have accomplished something.

At 9:30, we took a break from our individual builds to refocus on Redstone and the ways it could be used in the game. I wanted the kids to take a closer look at the ways others had used the material in the game. I already knew that some of the things they would find would be simplistic, and others would be very complex. It also gave them practice with their research skills, but don’t tell them that! Each kid spent time developing a list of ways to use Redstone. Once they had had twenty minutes to complete research using both the internet and the books I had provided. Then we all gathered at the tables in the center of the room to discuss what they’d found. We created a large list of ways to use Redstone creations in the game. Some creations are best used in survival mode, but others are great for builds. Our list has 37 items, though I think a few things are repeated on there. Check it

Once we had our list, we talked about the connection to circuitry and how the Redstone had to be connected just so in order to work. We did this with a simple discussion using a lighting system as the visual aid. It was one of the easiest projects for the kids to understand, and one that some had already used in their builds.

The kids returned to building their own projects at this point, and worked until lunch, when they were supposed to be finished. However, they didn’t get finished, though some were close. Therefore, I’m not going to post any pictures of those builds yet because they’ll have time to work on them in the mornings and at lunch during the remaining days that we have left. There are quite a variety of buildings being created though, and I’m pleased about that. It does help that I told them they couldn’t build a house for this project. I did provide them with a Builder’s Block list to help them decide on what to build if they couldn’t come up with anything on their own.

After lunch, I split the kids off into their final project groups. The final project requires each group to design a city or village. There must be at least six types of builds, but they can certainly have more. Every project must have a road system to connect everything together, and must use Redstone throughout. Each group was given a 200 x 200 area in which to work out their project. Originally I had planned on a 300 x 300 area, but that was
far bigger than what I wanted so I downsized.

I finally decided to just do two groups. One would have 3 kids and the other would have 4. I had observed the kids all week and their levels of experience. I tried to mix up the groups a bit, and pair up kids who could teach each other new things. I also had some kids who didn’t mix well together, and did try to keep them apart for this project, due to limited time. I believe I ended up with a good mix of abilities. Each group is very different. One group works well and talks through everything they plan to build. They also provide assistance if their partners want it, but don’t interfere with their build otherwise. The other group doesn’t talk to each other much, and they have trouble communicating. I’m going to have to really pay close attention to this group and work together with them for this particular project. I want them to talk through and plan things, so I’m going to have to provide support.

Group 1 hard at work. The one student is separated because the computer to his right was having issues.

Group 2 working on their project. Each student was working on a separate build for their community at this point.

We’re ready for Day 4! I’m eager to see where the day takesus, and what ends up in the final project build.

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