Well That Didn’t Go As Planned

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a teacher, it’s that one has to be flexible. Sometimes, very flexible. Teachers encounter obstacles and problems when a lesson doesn’t go the way as planned, and often have to think on their feet to create a backup plan in mind. This is particularly true when it comes to technology use.

Lately I’ve encountered a lot of issues in my Fluco Game Designer club with technology. Things just didn’t go as planned, and I’ve had to scramble to redirect the lessons. It’s frustrating, yes, but I also have to expect that if it can go wrong, it just might go wrong.

We first had issues with LearntoMod, which is all on our side. Our students have email accounts, but they cannot send or receive email from anyone not using a school email address. This has made it hard to get students to sign up to use the program, even though we have whitelisted the email now. Something’s still not right though. I’m going to push it aside for now. One thing I would suggest for the site is to make it so teachers can create the accounts for students without them needing an email address. That would make things so much easier. When we had issues with that, I set students to task on their Spring Showcase project on Gamestar Mechanic instead. They were not very happy, but it worked.

Yesterday I had a group that was ready to begin in Minecraft since we had put aside LearntoMod for now. I had everything tested- school accounts, logging in, connecting to LAN… everything was a go. Our students use regular PC Minecraft. They came into the lab about 30 minutes after I had gotten everything connected. I went around to help get folks online and into the LAN. I got myself in, and 2 other students before suddenly I was getting an InvalidCredentialException error. Well drat. Now kids couldn’t log in, and it had nothing to do with the school either.

Thankfully, many of the students use DailyCraft. They know I hate it and don’t allow them to use it, but it did accomplish the purpose of the lesson yesterday until we could get them logged into the school accounts. They were to explore and learn about using Redstone and build different items or machines that functioned. They had the ability to go to YouTube and search how to videos to help them as well.

We were able to get on regular Minecraft eventually, so they got kicked from DailyCraft. I got them on the LAN network to explore the world I’d set up for them. They were free to build as they wished.

I’m hoping that next week goes more smoothly, and I can go over LAN rules, such as “Be courteous of other builds”, aka Don’t destroy others’ work. I already had someone destroy the goofy arrow I built at spawn point, as well as part of a watch tower structure. I rebuilt both, and then located the exact spawn point. I’m working to develop a base camp style cabin, and hope to post things in there for students, as well as some nice decorations and things. It is my goal to use this world throughout the rest of the year, and then at the end of the year email students the world files so that they can have a copy themselves.

Flexibility is key!

KidsCollege is a Go!

After a 5 day weekend thanks to snow days, the district finally returns to school. Based on how things look outside, you wouldn’t have ever guessed we were just off for inclement weather. First it was snow, but then it was all the leftover ice. Warm weather came through and now there’s really nothing but random piles of dirty snow.

One thing I did accomplish though was a phone conversation with PVCC about KidsCollege. It’s a program offered in the area for students. It does cost, but they attend either an AM or PM academy to learn a new skill. They are also free to attend both if their parents so choose. The activities are hands-on and in a workshop format. Instructors suggest the classes they would like to teach, and they are able to earn $487 per Academy, a little more than 16 hours a week.

I will admit, I loved the idea of being paid for teaching on a topic I loved. With a wedding coming up, I want to be able to pay off some of my bills and so I am working all 4 Academies, as long as students register for them. I don’t usually do a summer job of any kind, but this is more like being able to have fun with groups of students.

I will be doing my 4 sessions on:

  • Minecraft Makershop – Rising 6th-9th Graders. This will be very similar to the Makershop I ran last summer, except now I have things to change and take out based on how the first one went.
  • Coding Through Minecraft – Rising 6th-9th Graders. This will use the LearntoMod software. Students will learn some of the basics of blockly coding and how this code can be used to create mods for Minecraft.
  • Game Design 101 – Rising 6th – 9th Graders. This will utilize Gamestar Mechanic and incorporate many of the same elements that we have completed in the Fluco Game Designers club that I run for this age group.
  • Lil’ Minecrafters: Making and Building Exploration – Rising 1st-2nd Graders. This will be similar to my Makershop for the older students, but scaled down to meet the needs of 1st and 2nd grade students. We will do a lot more focus on building, shapes, placing shapes together, and textures.

Right now, the titles for all of the sessions are temporary and not final. I know Minecraft Makershop will stay the same, but not sure about the others. I’ll need to spend time hashing out my activity guides for each day, and I want each class to have a final project as well, since they have to have something to share on the very last day of the Academy. It will definitely be a challenge, but worth it in the end.

I am pretty excited to see how it turns out though, and depending on how I feel, may use some of the sessions for a presentation idea at WVSTC. I’m not entirely sure yet though.


Positive Post Friday: 8/19/16

It’s Friday and that means it’s time for another Positive Post Friday!

Fridays mark the end of the work week. Fridays mark the start of the weekend. Fridays should end the week on a positive note. Therefore, I’m going to share 5 positive things that happened this week:

  1. I learned from a Twitter colleague, @aforgrave, that I could get a free teacher account on learntomod.com for my game design club students. This will be a huge help with teaching modding.
  2. I received my Piper kit in the mail and got it put together by Wednesday evening. I’m looking forward to completing the missions and learning what I can do with it.
  3. I have a meeting today with the superintendent, technology, and some other people from the central office about social media and building our school’s brand. I’ve prepared my document, and have been told the superintendent should be fond of my idea. Fingers crossed!
  4. I have been planning my professional development sessions, and have my first session next week on the project library at the high school. It will probably be a small crowd because teachers only need to attend if a) they plan to use it and b) they’ve never been trained on it before.
  5. This last one isn’t really school related, but this is the last weekend I should have to go back to my hometown for awhile. I have just a little bit more to do with the old apartment and then I’m done. I really dislike the long drive back and forth!

Your turn: Share your Positive Post Friday.

Until next Friday! Have a great weekend!