Monday, June 16, 2014

(Mine)Crafting a Better Project - First Week of Summer School



Free for All.


Those are just a few of the choice words and phrases I'd use when describing our first four days together in summer school.  The class is all about Minecraft with a twist - I'm trying to help students see they can use Minecraft as an alternative to school projects. They just need to be bold enough to convince their teachers that it is a worthy option.

Worthy. Definitely.
We started with some general rule building (generally, respecting property (no griefing) and no PVP were the main ones).  Then let them play around. Out of the 72 students signed up for the class, only 4 had no Minecraft experience.  The ones that don't are still struggling a bit, so it has been a challenge keeping everyone engaged while helping them get the basics.

Then, our first project - Pixel art! You can see the above example of Heat Man vs. Megaman. I helped put that together because I freaking LOVE Megaman and come on, is that not the coolest looking thing ever?

Here are some others:

This first project was a blast, but unfortunately, many students would rather run off and do other crazy things, so there weren't THAT many awesome pixel art structures.  That was my first issue - how, in Summer School, while playing Minecraft, can I get all students swimming up stream? Some tech issues have hindered us as well - learning that the server computer should be a bit beefier than 2GB of Ram and a single core processor.  Make sure students have access to anything they might need.

We were going to search for pixel art as a guide, but the generic log in I was using for them on the school computers had everything blocked, so that was another hinderence.

Beginning this week, I read an excerpt from the book "Drizzle" that described the setting. I also showed them a map of the farm in the story. As an entire class, we are going to be attempting to re-create the setting.  It has been a challenge to say the least. I should have set more up ahead of time (teleporters to roughly where the different buildings should go), but it was also interesting to see how chaos transforms into some semblance of organization over time. However, with 20 kids, I need to provide more structure in the virtual realm for them. I might even consider assigning the  different sections of the farm to avoid confusion and students not knowing their part.

The adventure is just beginning. I'm hoping to convince a few students that Minecraft can be more than just a game. Mostly, they just want to blow stuff up and do Player Vs. Player combat.  By the end, maybe they'll want to be designers. One can hope!

1 comment:

  1. HI Josh, I'm teaching a Minecraft summer school class too, and I have had some growing pains the first four days--I hear you! We are using, so the first day we used the edu intro world, the second we talked about what they wanted to build and then tried building it on a flat world, and yesterday and today they have been creating giant letters for a Minecraft alphabet book we are going to write as a class. I'd love to dialogue with you more--this is a fun class, but I'm with you that these kids are quick and are Minecraft geniuses who are way beyond what I thought they'd do initially. I'm constantly adjusting tack depending on what they do with what I planned, which usually takes about 5 minutes once they are in-world. My journey is here --
    Thanks for sharing your post!