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

Breakout EDU

This summer while attending ISTE, I learned about a cool new game for the classroom called Breakout EDU.  Here’s a short video about it.

Since receiving my kit, I’ve played it four times–twice with my college students and twice with fifth graders.  All ages loved it.  For the fifth grade game, I used an adaptation of two of the games on the site (http://www.breakoutedu.com/).  The game centered around missing iPads, and students had to use their knowledge of place value to decode the clues to find them.

There are many games already pre-made to use with the kits (for free) and I enjoy making them up too.  I’m looking forward to playing with some first graders on Halloween!

NASA Spacecraft Lands at Oak Grove

It’s easy to make it look like a spacecraft has landed near you!

NASA Spacecrafts visited Oak Grove in Mrs. Becker’s 5th Grade Science class last week.  Okay, so they didn’t actually visit for real, but virtually they did, thanks to the augmented reality iPad app called Spacecraft 3D.  This app allowed students to view 3D digital replicas of the spacecraft and explore them in the classroom environment.

Students blogged about their experience with this activity.  Check out their posts on their blogs.

Cross posted on the Oak Grove Digital Archive.

High Tech Snowmen at night

Students in Mrs. Osburn’s writing classes introduced their new class blogs with high tech snowmen! They created snowmen based on the book, Snowmen At Night, and wrote short blog posts about them. Then, they created QR Codes to attach to their snowmen. When parents came for the 5th Grade Music program, they were able to scan the QR codes, read the corresponding blog posts, and leave comments for the students.

 

Check out their blogs here:

Rotation 1

Rotation 2

Rotation 3

Would you please leave a few comments for these new bloggers?

 

Who’s New at the GeoZoo?

Students in Mrs. Sharp’s 5th Grade class created creatures using their geometry skills to populate “The Geo-zoo.”  Mrs. Sharp had done the activity years before using paper and shapes, but wanted to engage her students by using the iPads.  We quickly were able to transfer the activity to a digital one.

Last Year’s Paper Version

Digital Version

Thanks to the iPad apps Geoboard, Pic Collage, and Dropbox, students were able to complete a project based activity (that normally was done as a homework project) within one class period.  By the end of class time, Mrs. Sharp had a great understanding of her students’ strengths with Math SOL 5.13 (The student, using plane figures (square, rectangle, triangle, parallelogram, rhombus, and trapezoid), will develop definitions of these plane figures; and investigate and describe the results of combining and subdividing plane figures.)

Check out the process below:

The best part was that the students were completely engaged and absolutely loved their creations!  Many even posted them on their blogs :

Rock Star Laser Robot by Double O Cleo

The Triangle Vampire from by Minecraft02

Tari the Tri-con by I Love Lax

The Tri-Liger by Iron Claw

Here are few examples of their awesome work:

If you are interested in doing a similar activity with your class, here is our STEM (Children’s Engineering) design brief and a couple versions of rubrics.

Design Brief

Rubric 1

Rubric 2

Let me know how it goes! And…if you are at one of my schools, I’d love to come in to help! Ask me! 🙂