Reflection: Minecraft & the Ideal School

I was recently tasked by one of the FMS administrators to design an enrichment activity for students involving Minecraft. This activity would be worked on once a week during the Genius Hour slot. I would end up with students 30 minutes each week, and the students would be selected as candidates by administration. Students would have final say in an interest meeting- if they didn’t wish to participate, they didn’t have to do so.

I love Minecraft (which you’ve seen from reading this blog if you are a repeat visitor), but I didn’t want to just sit the kids down to play. I wanted them to be challenged by a problem, so I set out to research. I ended up finding various projects on the Ideal School, so I decided to give the project a Minecraft twist.

The final version ended up with a few parts:

  • Part 1- Discuss issues in today’s schools and brainstorm ideas for structure of the school day, learning and lessons, and ideas for school facility.
  • Part 2- Draft a design of the school on graph paper
  • Part 3- Use Minecraft to create a model of the ideal school
  • Part 4- Complete a series of questions to provide information about the Ideal School
  • Part 5- Present results to administration

Today was the first day for our group to meet thanks to unfortunate timing of snow days. Students logged into their computers and joined the Google Classroom. I had displayed the class code on the projector. Once students were in the classroom, I gave them an overview of the project and all the steps that would be completed.

We first began by discussing the issues that they felt kids today faced in schools. I got some really good answers, and wrote them on the board as the kids took turns speaking. I had answers like:

  • lack of educational tools (calculators, books, etc)
  • not all schools have enrichment programs
  • lack of engaging learning

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Students were then directed to view the Google Classroom. I had created 3 tasks to begin with that focused on Part 1 of the project. Each task was designed to be completed in Padlet, which I have used in the past and loved. Students were able to each answer the question in one location. They could also see what their classmates were writing. I gave a quick overview of how to create a post on the Padlet. Students were asked to use their first name for the title, and then use the space to answer the questions on each Padlet.

idealschool2

While they worked, I observed and asked questions about their plans, sometimes playing devil’s advocate, but mostly just to hear their ideas and thoughts. For example, through discussion one student realized that the way he set up his school year would give students a break in January and February, avoiding some of the potential snow days.

As students finished each Padlet, they marked the assignment as done in Google Classroom. Because we are limited on time, not all work was finished today. Students were told that they would finish this work the next time we met. However, they also have the option to work on the remaining pieces outside of class on their own time. Some students said they would do it, others said no to that idea.

idealschool1

I am looking forward to seeing what the next class meeting will bring, and what kind of designs will develop when these students begin working with graph paper. Eventually, I will share the lesson plan here as a resource. It will need to be tweaked as the project is completed.

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