Add This

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Minecraft in ICT Lessons

This is an update on where we are at with  Minecraft Edu, which we have used  for the past 3 years in our 7th grade lessons. It  has quickly become a huge favourite for both teachers and students and we are looking at ways to bring it into other grades within the curriculum.

We have done several things with it in the past, such as building it into a fortress challenge, where students use their knowledge and skills from History class to plan and build a strong fortress. Needless to say, we tested out their designs in the end, in survival mode and the action was glorious. 
We have also done a Survival Island unit, where we shipwrecked the kids and sent them small challenges each lesson. They had to deal with all sorts of issues, which we threw at them, while trying out their skills at surviving on an island. 

Last school year we took a critical looking at the Mars One project and decided to send our kids on a mission to Mars. We found a great map online and landed our kids on it. Again we presented them with a series of challenges each lesson and they did their best to survive. Here is ashort video I did of them while we were working on the project.

We use reflection journals which we build in Google Docs for most of these projects. These are shared through with students, either Doctopus or Google Classroom and they work through them during each unit. 

This is the first year we are planning to use it in our 8th Maker Unit. We will spend a week looking at encoding images and have the kids design their own using a pixilation tool. They will then proceed create their designs in Minecraft. Some of our students did a similar activity 2 years ago. Using 8 bit images they found on the web, they built an enormous Mario and Pikachu in Minecraft. I have included a screenshot of this from our video below. (You can also see the students in the chat informing his partner in Spanish that he was building the mouth.)

Finally, we have run Minecraft as part of our gaming club in the past. During this time the Hunger Games was a big deal, so the students decided we should spend a few lessons running the Hunger Games on our server. They created the arena, the pedestals, and  the cornucopia. I enclosed the arena for them so they couldn't flee and played the role of Game Master for them.  We all had an amazing time. 
If you haven't looked into using Minecraft with your students you should. They will build machines, mix potions, use formulas for crafting and have an amazing time doing it. Send out a Google Form to find your Minecraft Masters, put them in teams with a Master in charge of mentoring and leading the builds and let the learning begin! The only thing you may regret is that you didn't start sooner.


Saturday, 19 September 2015

A Feature Article on Our Work

Recently we were approached by the people at iStopMotion about the ways in which we use the program with our students.   We responded and shared our 7th grade animation project with them as well as our YouTube Playlist of Best Animations from last year's DVA.

We are very honoured that they chose to write an article about our work and would like to take this opportunity to share it with the community.

Please click here to read the article.

You can watch some of our student videos below.

Taking the Leap-Maker Spaces in the LRC

Makerspaces offer engaging hands-on creative opportunities for learners to experiment and develop their skills in STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics through student centred, student driven project, embedded within the curriculum, through drop in sessions and as after school clubs  in Learning Resources Centres, libraries and classrooms.

Makerspaces come in a variety of shapes, sizes and are are multipurpose in design. While some are high tech others rely on relatively little technology. They lend themselves perfectly for teaching and learning STEAM skills and concepts. They are places where learners can go to think critically and creatively, plan and experiment, where they have access to tools, materials and resources, where they direct their learning and become inventors and innovators. Makerspaces can  include resources and spaces for electronics, programming and robotics, arts and crafts, woodworking, sewing, gardening and more. They are flexible spaces, often comprised of multiple venues, with plenty of storage and work surfaces, mobile and/or fixed.  
We happened upon this  learning trend  through a discussion with an ex student who is directly involved in the planning and implementation of makerspaces in schools, and immediately  recognised the potential makerspace  and steam learning offered our students and teachers.  This was a way forward for our school.  This was just over a year ago. Since then we have been exploring our options, collecting resources, attending sessions on makerspaces, developing a plan and putting it into action.

Since this time we have developed a tiered system of drop-in, clubs and curriculum based maker activities, developed resource banks, identified and equipped different areas of the LRC with materials and storage and identified areas of the curriculum both academic and extra curricular in which . Through our makerspace initiatives our students and staff members participate in  the active acquisition of important skills through critical thinking, exploration and creative invention. They make connections and build upon their learning experiences, both in school and in their personal lives.   
We measure our success not only by the acquisition of new skills and concepts, but also by the levels of excitement, initiative and student engagement we have observed so far, as we blast through traditional subject barriers, and take huge leaps into dynamic student lead creative experiences.
Here are a few more examples of student work so far. We look forward to sharing more on this topic in the near future.  

Websites / URLs Associated with the Session:

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Our New Animation Stations-Part One!

We decided last school year that our current tripod, nootle and ipad combination for shooting animation footage were just not working out.

It was then that we discovered the G7 Pro iPad Tripod. It turns out it was the best choice we could have made.

Today, while the new animation workspace was being painted chromakey green, we moved the students out of the studio and set them up with their G7s and iPads.  They had a wonderful time as they worked at provisional stations, filming the initial animation sequences for the stories they had written.

Both teachers and students were thrilled with the flexibility and sturdiness of the G7s. This  combined with the use of iStopMotion and Green Screen by DoInk has really helped us to streamline the animation process and keep frustration levels low.  Having a more stable setup this time around will pay off nicely in the end, as student productions will be much smoother than they have been in the past.