ideal school

Minecraft & the Ideal School, Day 2

When you let your imagination run free, you’re sure to come up with some amazing ideas. That’s exactly what some of my students are doing with the Ideal School project.

Day 2 began with students picking up where they left off. Many of them had completed half of the work with the 3 different Padlets. They spent some time today working on their School Design questions, which many enjoyed, and of course, some got distracted with all of their ideas. There was definitely some great discussion between students about the facilities they would offer, and how they would design their schools.

Once work was completed on all 3 Padlets, students were able to begin Task 4- Sketching their School Design. Prior to the class meeting, I had modified this section of my original lesson plan. I wanted students to be able to messy sketch and just get an idea of what would be in their schools and where it would be located. I didn’t want them to have to worry about carefully plotting the design layout just yet. I had made my own samples of a messy sketch and a good sketch to share with them in Google Classroom. My samples only show a small section of a school building.

This is where many students ended class. They were laying out the messy sketch designs. Some will have a school with multiple floors, and others will have a single level school. I even had some students want to come down during dismissal time to continue working on their sketches. This is perfectly fine by me, and I love that they are eager to keep working outside of class time. Students will be able to move on to the second sketch when they show me their completed messy sketch and I make sure that the requirements for the school are met. They will not get to the end of the project, only to be told they are missing something.

Overall, day 2 went well, but I think that was mostly because I spent time before the class tweaking the lesson plan again so that it was more specific, and really got students to put some thought into their work. Originally I just had them graphing their sketch with all measurements and such, but I realized that this was not a good idea because they would have had no idea how the overall sketch of the school should look. I felt that this could lead to mistakes and frustration. I also added into the lesson that the messy sketch needed my approval before the good sketch so that I could make sure that all required pieces were included.

This revision led to me creating my own examples of both the good sketch and the messy sketch. I wanted students to see a model so that it would be clearer to them, and many did appreciate it. I am really hoping that the graph version turns out well, because I have so many students who struggle with this when it comes to Minecraft. They have trouble creating their design on graph paper so that it transfers easily into Minecraft.

I am certain that my changes to Day 2’s part of the lesson made the difference in how the activity proceeded. Day 3 is meant to be a continuation of Day 2, and I expect most students to finish the messy sketch and be working on their good graph copy. Below, you can see the work from Day 2 from some of the students:

Very much looking forward to Day 3 next week. I am looking forward to seeing what the students come up with for their ideal schools!

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.