Monday, March 6, 2023

Using Minecraft to Design Amusement Parks @PlayCraftLearn #MakerEd

My Innovation and Design class has been a work in progress since I created it in 2020. Lots of ups and downs as I tried to figure out the balance of all of the different types of projects I wanted students to explore over the course of the trimester. I feel like I finally landed on something that is working and I wanted to share it here. 

I wanted students to think big for their Minecraft project but felt like I never had the time to give them because of the other projects. I also noticed that there are some projects that require waiting and do not take the entire class period. For example, making the cutting boards requires wait times as boards are cut and glued together. I don't want students just sitting and waiting for projects to glue, so I realized that a long-term Minecraft project might be the thing I have been looking for to solve my time problem. In retrospect, it is a pretty simple solution to the problems I was having, but, sometimes, things just take longer to click. 

I introduce the Minecraft assignment to students at the start of the trimester and let them know it will be due at the end of the trimester. Students will be given days during the class to work on it, but they will also have time in other classes when they are waiting for projects to print on the 3D printer, be cut on the laser cutter, or finish glueing. These times will keep them active in the design and build process while waiting for other projects to finish. I rolled this out for the past trimester and I think it worked very well. Students worked here and there on their build and created some amazing projects. I think I would give more in class time on the assignment as some students felt rushed at the end, but that might also be just Middle School time management issues. The start of the third trimester will give me a chance to tweak anything as I have another go at the approach. Below you will find the activity I assign on Seesaw and a few of the completed projects you can click on and will be taken to their sites. Some students used Adobe Express to create a website and others used Google Sites. 

The Google Sites created below can only be accessed by students and staff from our school. 

The students were excited to showcase their work and there were great conversations about what goes into a website that is trying to sell people on what they have to offer. Spelling and grammar conversations were had as students talked about what a website that is filled with errors might say about a business. Most of all, time management was a big part of the conversation since many students planned for something much bigger, but underestimated the time it would take to complete much of their park. My class is about failure as much as it about design and creation. Learning those hard lessons on time management and completing tasks in a timely manner are tough lessons to teach, but learning them in an environment where they do not have to be afraid of failing their assignment or class because they tried something big is important to me. (My class does not have homework or grades to push student to try big ideas and see how they work.)

Like many other teachers, I know that my class is a constant work in progress, but I wanted to share this win because sharing good things once in a while is good for a teacher's soul. 

Hugs and High Fives, 


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