Here is the start of my Classroom Catalist. I will be uploading a few other videos to explain what I have done. Please note that this catalyst is not your typical catalyst. Instead of focusing on only one aspect of a course, or one learning goal, I focused on the entire course. I chose to do this because of the professional learning focus within the Peel Board for 2017-18, which was to create final assessments (no longer called exams) that would assess all the learning goals of a course (overall expectations) and do so in an engaging and with a 21st Century Learner focus.

 

The first change that I will implement in September when I start this is that I will have the students be more dilligent with their journaling or with a mind map, depending on the needs of the class. They need to keep their ideas together in one place so that they can add to them as their understanding of the situation grows. Now that I have a plan for the exam I will also start discussing this right from the first week. It will guide their progress. The next change I will undertake is to have students peer assess their summary document more frequently. For the Minecraft component, I would include templates for the students to start with that include ingame instructions. These are crutial for students to be more efficient without limiting their creativity. I will also encourage more group collaboration, possibly even multiplayer collaboration to speed up the build process and help the weaker students.

 

A little guide in to the layout of the course. For this course to work, students need to have exposure to the scientific method and the idea of journaling early on in the course. Upon reflection, I feel that I did only one of those well. The first two weeks of the course should be spent evaluating the needs of the students in the class and their understanding of these crutial components. I would even spend some time in that first week creating Success Criteria for the journaling. Then, once a week, a topic could be chosen to have them write a journal entry. To guide the students through these ideas, I show the Martian (2015) movie by Ridley Scott early on, usually just after I finish having them review the conditions in space and Mars vs Earth. This becomes a hook that I use throughout the rest of the course.

 

I look forward to trying this with new students next year and revising it to suit their needs. I have already gotten positive feedback from staff here and I look forward to your ideas. Please use the videos as a guide and post any comments that you think would be useful for anyone attempting this version of the course.

 

Thanks.

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John Shaughnessy's picture

September 2018 Update.

 

Well I am going to be able to try this out again to see any improvements as my Principal was nice enough to give me 4 sections of SNC1P0 this school year. 

Also for those districts that still are paying for student access to Office 365, Microsoft is now offering an iPad version of their Minecraft Education software. It will cost the same per student as the windows one. I think you can have a mixture of users on computers and ipads at the same time. For more info on this please check out the following link: https://education.minecraft.net/ipad/

Unfortunately my district has discontinued their office365 subscription for students this year. However, I still believe that the app purchas for iPads is the most cost effective way to use Minecraft right now, especially if your district is part of Apple's Volume Pricing Plan. This does require you to relenquish more responsibility to the students because you cannot control who is in the world and who isn't and the number would be limited to 8 students. This is not a limitation in the Education edition.

My final update so far is that I have also created template worlds that have instructions on how to interact with the world for the purposes of producing the products for the assignments described above and in the units plan. Anyone interested in getting a copy of this can contact me here. They would have to understand how to get the world onto student's devices. The simplest way to do so is to use the iTunes program on a computer and a direct connection with the device running the game. You can also have students install the app MCPE Addons. They can use the studio feature, import the game file and then export it to their minecraft game. This will automatically add the map file to their games if they are using the legitimately purchased game. The files would likely have to be given to your IT person at your site to have him/her install them onto the student iPads using their software.

I hope that this helps people be more successful with this version of the course.