Thursday, April 10, 2014

Area & Perimeter Connection: Part II

The one thing I really LOVE about using Minecraft in the classroom is the fact that the kids get to do ALL of the creative work.  I can give them guidelines and suggestions, but they always have their own ideas and thoughts that they want to follow.  They are able to build, modify, and create whatever they want.

But, what I love even more than letting them just create, is watching them plan, discuss, and then see the plans come to life.  For some reason, there's just so much more payoff for the students when they are able to watch a few scribbles on a piece of paper transform in to a 3D building right in front of their eyes, and the fact that they are the ones making it happen.

After my students spent a couple of days drawing up their architectural plans on paper, it was time to take them to the lab and bring the plans to life.

Before going to the lab, we did our voting system on selecting a name for the "world".  As a class, the students nominated three top contenders out of a list full of suggestions.  They then, privately voted on the name they wanted out of the top three.  The winner was....

Noel Jersey

A spin off of New Jersey and our town name of Noel.  I'm not sure why or how one of my students came up with it, but the rest of the class seemed to like it.  And, one thing I made sure of was not allowing anyone to know who came up with the name suggestions, so that the class was voting on what they wanted, rather than who they wanted.

The students also decided that they wanted to start a completely blank world, versus having a world that already contains some buildings and various terrains.  It was against my suggestion, but I honored the students request and went with the completely flat and empty world.  

Building day finally came, and the students took off...

Cobblestone was a popular material among the students

In the process of measuring the current perimeter around her base

Some students opted to build one room at a time to make calculations easier 

Some students realized that as long as the dimensions matched, they could get creative on the design

It always amazes me how focused they are when in front of the game

Height was a subject we had just started to discuss, so that was a hot topic of discussion
This student turned his plans sideways to match how it was coming along on the screen

The town view projected on the SmartBoard so the class could see how others were doing

We were in the computer lab for about an hour, and the students realized that there was still plenty that needed to be done in order for them to complete their projects.  But, I think they got a really good start and learned SOOOO much in the process.  The connections they were able to make between learning area and perimeter from a text book and applying it to "real world scenarios" were amazing.  Not just that, but we explored the career of architects, discussed designing homes without becoming an architect, and even went in to some discussion on why it's probably not a good idea to have a bathroom in the kitchen, or only one door in a home.

Real world connection is what it's all about.  Really.  I may not be able to let my kiddos build houses in "real life" but Minecraft gives them the next best thing:  Simulation.  It's a life simulator, that they are in control of.  

So many exciting adventures to come.

Stay tuned!!

Ms. Hill

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Area & Perimeter Connection: Part I

It's that dreaded time of year when state testing is looming right around the corner, and everyone is starting to feel the pressure of what's fast approaching.  Teachers, myself included, are pulling out all of the stops to review, refresh, and ensure that our students are prepared for the test and have all of the skills they need in order to do the best that they can.

Over the past couple of weeks, we've really been focusing on measurement and geometry.  It's our planned unit of study, but we are also aware of the fact that measurement and geometry tends to make quite an appearance on the MAP test (which is our state test).

We've been learning standard measurement, metrics, area, perimeter, angles, lines, and 2D shape characteristics.  I figured there wasn't a better way to apply the learning that's been taking place in our math class than in Minecraft.  The whole game is focused on building with square blocks.  It would give me the chance to review the students' understanding, and it would allow the students a chance to apply their learning to a real world situation.

By why just build in the game?  Why not take it one step further and do a cross connection between putting ideas on paper, going through a process, and then applying the plans and ideas to the game.  So, we discussed architecture, the architectural process, and how one day they may ALL get the chance to build a house they want to build.  We spent some time looking at blueprints and learning some of the ways plans are drawn, such as showing doors, windows, stairs, etc.

I gave the kids their assignment and list of "requirements" for their plans:

Draw a building plan of THEIR choice
The plan MUST contain the following:

  • Measurements of all walls of the building in either standard units or metric units
  • Total area and perimeter
  • Area and perimeter of each room
  • A conversion key (their units of measurement per square block in Minecraft)
  • Scale ratio
And then, the kids were OFF....

A lot of math going on to figure out area and perimeter

Committed attention to detail

Color coding helps this student keep track of what she has and what she needs

Deciding on what else he could add

A great plan in the making

Early in the plan phase, but the architectural elements are already taking shape

Looks busy, but that's a lot of planning, and expression of math on paper

Once the plans were finished, it was time to get the part they'd ALL been waiting for.  Turning the plans into actual buildings.  That would have to take place in the game.

That's where Area & Perimeter Part II comes in to play.  Stay tuned!!

Ms. Hill