Designing Animal and Plant Cells in Minecraft Edu

I had a chance to work with Mrs. Scott’s 5th Graders are Fort Lewis last week as they worked to design plant and animal cells in Minecraft Edu. I love this activity for so many reasons, but most importantly, the conversations that ensued as students worked in small groups to design and build their cells.  If you stood in the middle of the room and just listened, you could hear so many things going on that we strive for in classrooms:

  • Meaningful discussion of a topic using vocabulary as they discussed which materials to use for their cell parts and why.
  • Embedded use of the writing process as students worked to label and describe cell parts. It mattered to them that their spelling and grammar was correct.
  • Collaboration and communication skills being used as students worked to explain their ideas and build their model together. Students who were more versed in Minecraft helped those who weren’t, and there was great discussion and compromise as they decided exactly how to build their project.

I wish I could capture all these things to show other teachers, but I haven’t found the best way to do that yet.  There’s nothing like standing in the middle of it.  So this post is my attempt to show what I can.

To begin, we discussed the design challenge and the expectations of students when they worked in groups in Minecraft. We talked about the different types of players in Minecraft projects.  (The chart below was helpful later in class for students who began wandering off to do their own thing or destroying others work.  Group members were able to quickly name behavior and redirect their errant group member.)

minecraft directions

Then, students had 10 minutes to talk about what they were going to build and make decisions such as who would host the world, what jobs each group member would complete, and basically how they would accomplish the task.  It was tempting to skip this part and just jump right in, but I think the upfront discussion lead to better group work once students were in the game.

20190117_132041120_iOS.jpg

Each group picked a person to host the world, and all the other players in the group joined that world. They sat at tables together so they could easily talk in real life while working together virtually.  I have found this setup works really well for small groups.

Finally, at the very end of the time, students recorded a tour of their world using Flipgrid. I know that the tours would turn out better with screencasting software, but we didn’t have that option this time so I just grabbed iPads and had them record on one computer.

You can check out their tours here:

https://flipgrid.com/9d49110d 

I love how all the groups approached this challenge differently.

If you want to try out this design challenge in your own classroom, here is the design brief: Plant and Animal Cell Design Brief

We just used the Blocks of Grass world in creative mode.

A huge “thank you” to Mrs. Scott for always being willing to collaborate and integrate technology.

*This lesson originally came from Joshua Thom and a lesson he posted in the Microsoft Community.  You can view the original lesson here: 8Bit Cell Tour I adapted it a bit to align with the Children’s Engineering Design Model.

**Cross-posted on The Learning Collaboratory here: Designing Plant and Animal Cells in Minecraft Edu

Water Conservation Projects with Adobe Spark

After their experience with their Level Up Village Global Scientists projects, students in Mrs. Meredith’s class wanted to create a media message to encourage people to save water.  They had learned that, in their community, water waste was one of the biggest issues. Check out some of their water conservation projects using Adobe Spark.

Morning Group

Afternoon Group

These students are helping make our world a better place! This project addressed Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation.  Learn more about the SDGS here – http://www.teachsdgs.org/

This project was also posted here: Fort Lewis Digital Archive.

Small Group Center Ideas

Our division has really been talking hard about small groups.  Our literacy plan requires small groups in Language Arts, but teachers are also asked to come up with ideas for Math, Science and Social Studies — even cross-circular activities.  Here are some ideas for using Technology in small groups.

 Minecraft Edu (Use Prompts to match your content – area, perimeter, models of science or social studies concepts, novel settings, etc.)  — All Roanoke County teachers and students have accounts.

Breakout Edu (Digital Breakouts)https://platform.breakoutedu.com/ ; Create a free teacher account to find the free games; Example: Finding Frosty – https://platform.breakoutedu.com/game/FINDING-FROSTY

Formative (Game Based) Assessment Websites

 Reflection

Coding

 Organizing

 Creating

Are there any other ideas or resources that you use in your classroom?

Field Trips Around the World with VR

We all know that students remember the things they experience–that’s why we like to take students on field trips when it’s possible.  As teachers we know it is often hard to really communicate ideas about different places that students have never been — they can look at pictures, but it’s just not the same.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could take students to all the places they study?  Talk about an expensive field trip! Or…maybe not!

Over the past few weeks, fourth graders at Oak Grove have been helping me experiment with using Virtual Reality as a way to going on virtual field trips.  As they were studying habitats, they had the chance to actually “visit” habitats around the world using the app Google Expeditions.  I brought in a virtual reality headset that works with a phone and played around with allowing students to go scuba diving in a coral reef, polar bear site seeing in the arctic, safaris in the savanna, and much more.  Since I only have one phone, we also tried out using the app on the iPads without a VR headset, allowing for up to four groups to be participating at a time.

Finally, students then took turns taking each other to different habitats using the teacher console of Google Expeditions and one VR headset.  It was fun to watch them teach each other about what they were seeing in the various places.  I’m excited about the potential of this technology and can’t wait to see how it will transform classrooms in the future.

Virtual Reality from elemitrt on Vimeo.

 

What’s for Dinner Stop Motion

Mrs. Corbett’s class created stop motion videos to demonstrate their understanding of food chains and webs in various habitats/biomes. Check them out below!

All Videos

North American Forest

Desert

Savanna

Arctic

Ocean

Rainforest

Students also reflected on their creations and on the Breakout Edu game they played in class.  Check it out here:
FlipGrid Reflections 

Cross posted on the Oak Grove Digital Archive.

Light Up Mother’s Day Cards

  • “You light up my life!”
  • “You light up my heart!”
  • “You are the light of my life.”
  • “You make my day shine!”
  • “You make me shine!”
  • “You light my way.”
  • “You shine like a star.”
  • “You are my shining star.”

These are just a few of the sayings second graders used on their light up Mother’s Day cards!

We used paper circuits from Chibitronics to create the circuits behind a shape in the inside of their cards.

 

Then they poked holes in the shape to help light shine through and came up with catchy sayings for Mother’s Day.  I was so impressed with their creativity and they were so proud of their cards. Take a look at some of them below:

 

See more of the cards on the Glenvar Digital Archive.

Cross Posted at the Learning Collaboratory.