Minecraft Makershop: Year 2, Day 2

After recuperating from an exhausting day yesterday, I was ready for day 2 of the workshop. Something seemed to hit me though: my lessons that I had already prepared via hyperdocs weren’t good enough. I repeat, they weren’t good enough! I happened to look over my hyperdoc again this morning and it hit me: the section where I was to teach students about various build ideas was too long. I had multiple areas to cover, and if I wanted to cover them well, I couldn’t just lecture the kids forever. I also couldn’t skimp over this part, which I had improved on from last year.

With only a few hours to revamp the section, and no time to really sit and think things through, I began the process. I did what I tend to do best- change my lesson on the fly because something about it won’t work, and it took me until just then to realize it.

Originally, Activity 3’s hyperdoc called for me to teach students the following to students:

  • Shapes for foundations other than squares
  • Symmetry
  • Roofing designs
  • Floor designs
  • Layering
  • Aesthetics
  • Lighting
  • Furniture

As you can see, it’s quite a lot to take in for a middle school student. If you’re familiar with Minecraft, then you know it’s a lot to teach someone in one go. So I broke it down into parts. The section that followed this teach/learn section involved students redesigning their house. Instead of doing this whole section and then giving them free reign, I would teach one of the key points and then allow the students to work on that part for their redesign.

For example, when we talked about shapes, we had already watched a video that included this as a way to build better. The students designed the foundation for their new build on graph paper. We then worked on the sections about symmetry and roofing, did some designs on the back of the paper, and then the students took to Minecraft to design their foundation, create the supports, and then build the roof.

When it seemed like a good many of them were nearing completion, we moved into aesthetics and flooring. Students looked at some different floor designs and we talked about using graph paper to create them. They did a simple 10 x 10 design on graph paper, and then took to Minecraft to design their floor for their build. They also continued working on the other pieces as well.

By this time, the day was done. Our days have definitely flown by. I’m not using the hyperdoc format as much. I have 2 students who are homeschooled, and do not have a school GSuite account. I am still going by the lessons on there, except where I’ve made changes. Clearly, Makershop is still not to a place where I am decently satisfied with it! Since the students are rebuilding, here’s their current progress on their new designs:

(There is one more design than yesterday because an absent student showed up today.)

Overall, I like what I’m seeing from each student. In some cases, the student still chose to do their own thing, and that’s fine. Each design did incorporate the things we learned today (for the most part), so I know that it stuck!


Finally, we had another dance party today. This time we did two songs:

Minecraft Makershop: Year 2, Day 1

Today was the first day of KidsCollege, and I was ready to roll! In the morning I assisted with a CSI Workshop, but in the afternoon, I got my middle schoolers. I was totally ready for year 2 of Minecraft Makershop. Once again I have a small crew. I’m supposed to have 9 students, but only 7 showed up today.

After last year, I made some changes to the program. The biggest change was the switch to a hyperdoc format for the course. I designed the hyperdocs based on last year’s work, my reflections, and a need for increased focus in some areas. There is more writing this time around, and the students are kept to a tighter schedule. Increased focus incorporates more writing into the program, especially in the beginning. This year I am using the PC vanilla version of Minecraft, and my own server. I love MCProHosting for my server, and have never had any issues with them.

I started off the workshop dressed as Steve. We pick our kids up in the cafeteria, and I walked in wearing my costume. Here’s a picture from last night:


I walked my kids to class without skipping a beat. Then we dove right in. We started off by reviewing what they already knew, and by looking at some of the amazing builds people had made in Minecraft. The kids were amazed by some of the things they had seen, and I had to remind them that many people came together to build those things, but they had all worked on their skills.

Our first lesson was on the different types of blocks and basic block combos. It’s a very quick section, as it goes over much of what they already know. However, I already know next year that I want to instead incorporate stuff from the Guide to Creative that Mojang just released. I have it, and I think it’s definitely a huge improvement over the Construction handbook. It uses the color wheel to help discuss blocks.

Once the first lesson was complete, students then set about with the first activity: They had to build a house within Minecraft. I did not change this task from last year, except maybe to make the requirements very clear: walls on all sides, a roof, a door, at least 1 window, and it had to be above ground. What I did not do (and I kick myself over this) is tell them it had to be realistic or tied to a theme (sci-fi, city, village, etc). It’s fine, and I’ve told them it would be when they do the redesign, so we’ll see what occurs.

Here are the results from each student:

There are, once again, a variety of skill levels in this workshop. I really enjoyed seeing what the students created, and I’m eager to see how tomorrow changes things. I already see some students utilizing some of the different blocks in new ways. Quite frankly, I had never seen anyone in the workshop attempt to use nether blocks to create a house design, but I really like what the student created.

Once they had finished their designs, students had to write about their house design and how they had created it. They shared their work on Padlet. They were going to share their images, but for some reason, they could not upload their images to Padlet and I need to see why that was. I think we may have hit a size limit snag, which I can easily have fixed.

From here, we moved into feedback. Students learned about good feedback, and then practiced with a few scenarios on the hyperdoc. They were then supposed to go and give feedback to each of the other students by using a Google form. This took longer than I wanted because they did not want to get it completed and it was like pulling teeth. I need to fix this area. I should probably limited the feedback they need to give, and then give better feedback myself. This area was too much “down” for students, and it needs reworked.

We did have a dance party thrown in. Today’s dance party song:

It did break up the task of giving feedback, and the students loved it. I have more songs for each day of the week, so I can’t wait to share those with students.

Our day ended with preparing for tomorrow by watching the next hyperdoc video on 5 types of houses. This included giving an assignment to students: Think about how they might redesign their house and make it better based on the things we talked about today. We’ll jump right in tomorrow by exploring some building techniques, and then incorporating those into Minecraft. I had planned to teach it one way, but I have a new idea. We’ll see how it works tomorrow!

Hyperdoc Resource: Don’t Be Fooled! Learn to Be a Healthy Skeptic

“Fake news” is a term that’s become more and more popular. What isn’t new is students falling for such news reports, often failing to research or dig deeper for the truth. Instead, whatever has been posted is taken at face value.

Here is a hyperdoc that I developed with the assistance of the journalism/media teacher. It focuses on helping students to determine how likely something online is fake news. It was designed for a high school mass media class so will work well for 9th-12th grades. In the interest of focusing on fake vs. valid, we did not use anything political in this particular lesson.

Name: Don’t Be Fooled! Learn to be a Healthy Skeptic
Description: A hyperdoc for grades 9-12 on determining the validity of a news article. Includes resources, and a final project in Prezi.
Notes: For this lesson, there is a form for evaluating and a doc with directions for the project. Both are currently set in the hyperdoc to make a copy. Make sure that you modify each as needed, and then repost with your own link before sharing with students.

Link to Hyperdoc

Feedback is appreciated. @tisinaction on Twitter or comment here!

Hyperdoc Resource: Minecraft Makershop Unit


Holy llama riding in a minecart! It’s finally done!

If you’ve followed me for some time, you’ll recall that last summer I ran a workshop for middle school students called Minecraft Makershop. This is a workshop that I designed and developed after applying for a grant to help fund the process. I had a small crew of students join me for a 5 day workshop, but we learned a lot. Now that I know about hyperdocs, I’ve taken the workshop and redesigned it. All of the original workshop projects are included, with the addition of more discussion, more critical thinking, and more problem solving. Hyperdocs made this all possible. Plus, using the hyperdoc format allowed me to really organize the entire workshop so much better. I’m happy to finally be able to release my workshop nearly a year later. I will be using my new hyperdoc unit version this summer when I teach during Kids College.

Name: Minecraft Makershop (6 hyperdocs unit!)
Description: Would you like to give a workshop on Minecraft? How about add some activities to an afterschool club? Or integrate Minecraft in other ways? Minecraft Makershop is a hyperdoc unit that focuses on building and design theory in MInecraft. Students learn about the basics of building, giving feedback, and using redstone. The final project of the unit is a collaborative group build that implements each learned objective.

This Minecraft Makershop unit includes 6 hyperdocs, enough work for a 5 day workshop (if hosting a 4-5 hour session). Teachers are free to redesign the time restraints to feed the needs of their students. In addition to the 6 hyperdocs, there is also a Resources folder, and a guide to help you set up the unit. Because this is a unit, and not just a hyperdoc, the link to the file below is a .ZIP file. Download and unzip to access all of the folders and files, then upload to your Drive.

If you would like to see a preview of one of the hyperdocs of this unit before downloading the entire thing, please click this link to view the 2nd hyperdoc in this unit: Minecraft Makershop Activity 2 Hyperdoc

Download the entire .ZIP file here.

Feedback is appreciated. @tisinaction on Twitter or comment here!

Hyperdoc Resource: Minecraft Redstone Challenge #1 Base/House

Here is the most recent hyperdoc resource that I have created. I worked on this at the end of last week, and it gave me a chance to try another of the templates. While learning how to do hyperdocs, I’ve tended to take lessons I’ve already taught and redid them to fall into the hyperdoc format. The nice thing is that they turn out better than what I had originally planned.

Name: Minecraft Redstone Challenge #1 Base/House
Description: This hyperdoc is set up as a MMTS Game Board. The board gives options for students to explore using the redstone element through videos and text guides. Students apply their work twice on the board, and they also will share the final product with classmates as well.

Here’s what you need to know:

– The “Wonder” section is set up as a Google Form to collect student information. I have set the form up so you can make a copy, make your own changes, and then change the link.
– The “Create” section link will automatically ask students to make a copy of the document when clicked. It gives the guidelines for the challenge. Edit as needed.
– The “Share” section currently has no link. On my original, I set it up so students would be directed to a Padlet. Please insert your own link.

Other Notes:

My students in middle school and are part of an after school club. We use the regular Minecraft for PC edition of the game. My students play on a server that I have set up via a hosting service. This hyperdoc can be adapted for other versions of Minecraft, including Education Edition. Just remember to change the directions to reflect this on the instructions document.

Download Here

Feedback is appreciated. @tisinaction on Twitter or comment here!

HyperDoc Resource: Google Classroom PD

This is the hyperdoc I mentioned in my previous post on failing. It’s okay though because I fixed it and am now ready to share it with others who offer professional development to staff.

Name: Creating the Right Google Classroom for Your Class
Description: This hyperdoc is done with the Hero’s Journey template. It encourages teachers to explore first, and the mentor section is a demonstration that teachers can follow along with. Teachers have the chance to set up their classroom and have access to resources on ways to use it right away.

I have added two sections to this template. The first is a Reflection piece, where I have space for a survey to be inserted. The second is Hero’s Backpack, which was a space where I added more video resources for participants to refer back to after the session has ended. This was a request from my staff. If you feel that one or both of these sections do not suit your needs, feel free to remove them.

The only link that you will need to insert is a link to your own Padlet. This section is clearly marked in the document. You will also want to change the wording of parts of the document that refer to ITRTs. These are our tech resource folks. Please fill in with whatever role assists teachers with technology.

This hyperdoc session can be done in 2 separate class sessions of 1 hour each, or as one 2 hour long session. It cannot be completed in 1 hour.

Download Here

Feedback is appreciated. @tisinaction on Twitter or comment here!


HyperDoc Fail


I seem to be writing about failing a lot lately, but I’ve learned so much from my failure. I have the mindset of “fail foward”. It really does put a new perspective on failure and mistakes. I don’t feel like some horrible person anymore for making mistakes. I recognize my mistake and then immediately reflect on what went wrong and how I could fix the issue so it doesn’t occur again. If it does occur again, then there’s more reflection. It’s changed the way I do things this year for sure. I’m certain that being a stubborn person when I truly want to do something also helps.

I’ve written about hyperdocs before, and even shared a resource. Yesterday I presented a professional development session on Google Classroom. I had developed my hyperdoc based on the “hero’s journey” template. It had taken some time, and I had a gut feeling that it wasn’t completely finished yesterday, but couldn’t figure out why. I figured it out pretty quickly at the PD session though, thanks to my participants reminding me.

Here’s what happened:

The session was set up to let them explore ways to use Classroom first. The next section was a whole class bit. I had forgotten to put in a part where I demonstrated setting up Classroom, and having them do it alongside me. Instead, I only had discussion for the problems teachers may face and how to solve them. Argh it seems so obvious now! Thankfully my participants reigned me in and asked for me to do it. I was happy to oblige. I’m pretty flexible when it comes to my PD sessions, and prefer to adapt on the fly to the needs of the participants.

Of course, having left out that one section meant we didn’t get to finish completing the hyperdoc, but trying to do a proper introduction on Google Classroom and get teachers up and running with it definitely takes more than an hour. I would definitely love to run the session longer or in multiple parts, and will most likely do that in the future. Multiple parts is more feasible though because so many staff already have a hard enough time staying after school for an hour, so extending that wouldn’t be beneficial to them.

Since my reflection on my failure, I have since changed the hyperdoc to reflect what should have been there all along, and am recommending that it be used over 2 class sessions, or even in a class of 1.5 -2 hours. Staff would not feel rushed to complete everything. I will soon be sharing the hyperdoc in my blog, so if you want to assist your staff in learning about Google Classroom, it’ll be worth a look!