minecraft makershop

Minecraft Makershop: Year 2, Day 5

Yesterday was the final session of Minecraft Makershop for Week 1 of KidsCollege. I was certainly sad to see it end, though I do believe that this year’s workshop was a definite improvement over last year’s. I have ideas already for changes for a new version of the workshop. My students also had to do do a feedback survey for KidsCollege. There was a rating scale at the top, and every kid gave me a “Strongly Agrees” for each area (there was one Agrees). Parent feedback was very similar. I was definitely pleased. I didn’t think to get this kind of feedback from last year’s students, so this was certainly nice.

Students either want to take Makershop again next year or they want something new that still focuses on building. One student mentioned learning to build cities so we’re gonna roll with that. I’m going to work through the process of coming up with ideas for this type of workshop and then see if I can combine them all into something grand.

Returning to the last day though… teams continued working on their final builds. They knew it was the last day and were full of energy as it was. They worked on building their team builds and got distracted a few times. They were full of meme references this time. I indulged a few of them since it was the last day of class. So we watched Sail Cat and the I Like Trains music video as well. There was also the Shrek Do the Roar video.

By the time the final 45 minutes rolled around before parents, they were doing their own free building. Both teams had met their minimum requirements, so this was fine. Right before the parents game, many of them were playing hide and seek in the team builds. We did review the procedure for when parents arrived, and they agreed.

Our parent showcase involved each child sharing their build projects. They showed their first builds, their second, and their third, as well as their team builds. I had already explained to parents the things that they had learned throughout the course of the workshop, and how they had demonstrated their knowledge. Then I called each child up and handed them their certificate, along with an autographed bookmark from Mark Cheverton. I still had some left over from the previous year.

At 4:15, we said our goodbyes. Parents took their children, and I took the remainder to catch the bus. As always, I wore my Steve head and carried my pick ax to see them off. I said my goodbyes to the other kids who were there.

Overall, Makershop was a success this year. I definitely need some time to process the things I’d change and the things I’d keep for a Year 3 version. I’m not sure if I’d continue the hyperdoc route, but only because I received kids who did not have school accounts, which means they had no access to Google Classroom. I will need to develop an alternate route in that case. There are other things as well, but right now I want to process everything and just think. We’ll see what ideas come to me with time.

Here are the final shots of the team builds:

Group 1

Team 2

And our final dance party jam for the week:

Minecraft Makershop: Year 2, Day 4

The workshop is soon to draw to a close. Just one more session left and then my kiddos will be on their way to the rest of their summer vacation. I don’t know if any are signed up for sessions next week, so it’s very likely I won’t see any of them again. I will miss their shouts of “Steve!” when I pick them up for class each day though.

Today we tackled the start of the final project. It was a challenge for one of my teams last year, and I wish I had all of the photos from that build. Unfortunately, not all  of the images transferred over when I switched from Tumblr to WordPress last year. Students first watched a time lapse video of Arabius City being built to get them focused. From there, we talked project requirements and revealed the team names.

This year I really took a look at the skill levels of each of my students. I did not have the issues with getting along/arguing during the workshop like I did last year so that of course made it easier. I had students fall into one of three categories: beginner, intermediate, or pretty skilled. I had an even number of students so we had teams of 4 and 4 to build.

This year, I had them select their build theme with their teams first. From there, they decided on the buildings they needed in their creation. They were required to have 6 types of buildings and a road system to connect them. Landscaping is a bonus. After meeting the minimum requirements, they are certainly free to build more if they have time. All buildings need to incorporate the skills they’ve learned in the workshop. Once the basic plan was created, they selected a site for their build.

This year, both teams have selected a desert location for their build. For most of them, it’s a definite challenge, and not all of the things they have built fit the desert theme, but I did expect this when I first saw them select the spot. It’s given me the idea to perhaps develop a workshop on designing city/town builds in a theme. The kids seemed interested in this as well.

The buildings have been displaying the things we learned about in class. Some of the builds are a better example than others, but I think the students are feeling part of the time crunch as well to build many things in a short period of time. They are definitely now taking the time to work on the interiors of the builds, which they didn’t do as much of before when they made their first build.

The desert builds are at least challenging them to use materials they don’t normally use. Very few have ever used the sand blocks, along with the various clay blocks. It is definitely a challenge for my student who loves building with nether. I know that his group would have built something using those materials, but I made them tie it to a realistic theme instead. I knew he could build well with the nether materials, so I wanted him challenged to use other materials instead.

Once again, I have noticed that the longer the session runs, the more off track they can get if left unchecked. They love working, and I am starting to think it’s part of the 3 1/4 hour workshop. This happened last year as well with a 4 hour workshop. I’ve learned to accept it, and roll with the punches. They stay on track, but they end up making all kinds of meme and joke remarks in chat:

“Cringe nukes”

“OMG Becky”

“Morderer!” (came about because of a spelling error and now everyone uses it)

There are others, but these are ones used often. For the most part, both groups got a decent amount of building completed, and hopefully will be encouraged to really dive into the work tomorrow. During the last half hour, parents are invited to come see what students have created so any parents visiting our crew will see the students’ individual builds and then their group builds. Students will also receive their certificates showing they completed the session material. I’ve also got some leftover autographed bookmarks from Mark Cheverton from last year, so I’m going to give one to each student with their certificate.

And now, each team’s progress so far:

Group 1

My thoughts: This group chose to build in the desert, but their buildings do not lend themselves to a desert theme. That’s okay though, as we really didn’t go over this in our workshop. They are utilizing the different skills though- different shapes, layering, roofing, etc. They are having a harder time completing their builds in a timely fashion, but I am hoping that the thought of their parents seeing their final build will kick them into high gear and allow them to add more to their tiny city.

Group 2

My thoughts: This group is really trying to tie their build to a desert theme. They have really taken up the skills presented in this workshop, and have come up with some amazing designs. I am especially loving the path they have created through their town. Even though some of the colors may look out of place, there was a firm attempt to use what they had been taught. I am curious to see what they create in the remaining 2 hours and 45 minutes tomorrow.

And finally, our dance party jam today:

Minecraft Makershop: Year 2, Day 3

Day 3… where I followed through with my plan from yesterday and it went well overall. I watched the kids finished their second build and kept comparing it to their initial designs. Even though some did not finish their second build, the improvements they made between the two were usually huge in most cases, and I was overall pleased with what they had learned.

Today’s tasks were as follows:

  • Finish the 2nd build
  • Compare the two and take screenshots
  • Do a build without guidance

I eliminated the redstone activity because we weren’t going to have time, and it would not impact my overall goal of being a better builder much. I wanted to focus on these other things instead.

We found out first thing this morning that 1.12 had been released while we all slept, so I spent a few moments updating the server to support the new release. The kids were excited because it meant that they had access to a ton of new blocks for their builds.

The kids settled in and got started finishing their second builds. Even with a time limit, and giving them plenty of time, quite a few still did not finish. Those that did, did not care so much for doing the third build on their own. I’m not sure why on this, as last year’s crew did not mind the third build. I’m wondering if it just happens to be the particular group. I will definitely ponder over this, and give it more thought.

Let’s take a look at what each student did for their first and second builds. I think you will see an improvement in the building style. The first build is on the left and the 2nd build on the right:

Student #1

I have to showcase the inside of this build because I love it so much:

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Student #2

Student #3

Student #4

Student #5

Student #6

Student #7

Student #8 (absent the 1st day, so only have the 2nd build)

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I had a few students who did not want to follow the guidelines, and did their own thing. Even though they did, they still made some improvements over what they had built before. I want to showcase some of the 3rd builds that students were working on that I found rather interesting:

Here is the interior of Student 3’s work. The outside did not really add much, but I loved this. He told me it was a shop that sold images and paintings:

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Student #4 really tried something different, and it is her best work yet:

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Student #5 was really wanting to finish his second build, so he quickly threw this together. It is a slumber party house:

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We also did another song today. I picked one that would be an ear worm, mostly because one of the boys started singing a Natasha Bedingfield song and I wanted to get revenge!

Tomorrow the class will get into two different teams and begin work on a city/town build. I’m not sure how this one will go… I haven’t decided how I want to split the teams up yet. I will have it ready to go before class tomorrow though. This was the most difficult section for last year’s crew, so I want to see how these students work together to create the build. Wish us luck!

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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!

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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:

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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!

Minecraft Success!

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Beyond the barrage of hyperdoc resources that I’ve been sharing recently, I’ve been finding more success in using Minecraft with my students in Fluco Game Designers. Even though there were many failures at first, I’ve finally gotten it off the ground and moving right along.

I solved the LAN issue that we were having with students. This involved me researching server space rentals and talking to some folks more knowledgeable than I. I learned a few things along the way. The biggest though was that cheapest isn’t always the best. Thanks to some smart feedback, I learned that cheaper sites tend to oversell their space, and cannot always provide the features they promise. I went with MCProHosting for this reason. They were a mid-range option, but I had good found good feedback and reviews on their service. I would be able to get up to 25 students on the server at a time for $10 a month.

We have now used this service for nearly a month, and it has been fantastic! I have not had any issues with MCProHosting, and would recommend it to any colleagues who are unable to buy the Education Edition through Microsoft, but do have access to the regular PC version. The students have all been on at once, typically around 20 on our busiest days, and there has been very little lag. I do make sure the students stay close together in a decent radius in the world so that also helps.

Their first task was to build a Minecraft base or home. I did not give them any requirements as to looks or materials, except that of redstone. I do feel that I would modify this task in the future because the redstone component didn’t get completed with some of the students, and others really rocked it. The designs that were created were rather varied, and added a lot of intrigue to the world. I’ve added some pictures below of their designs.

Our next task is a collaborative project. I believe I have decided on a collaborative village/city build. I am going to go into the server and create fenced off areas. The idea is to have students in groups of 4 that must develop their design within the space allotted. I believe that if I gave them an open space, they would end up running into each other’s builds and trying to build more than they can handle. I did the fenced space for my Minecraft Makershop last summer, and it definitely was a positive when it came to building plans. The students didn’t bite off more than they could chew.

For this project, I don’t believe the hardest part is going to be the building. I have a gut feeling that the hardest part for these students will be the collaborative piece and learning how to design together. I will probably use some ideas from Hyperdoc 6 of my Makershop unit and redesign it for these students, just in case some do decide to take Makershop in the summer during Kids College.

Until next time, happy building!

Hyperdoc Resource: Minecraft Makershop Unit

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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!