Thursday, 29 November 2012

So Much Win!!!!

Well, even though I did a blog just a few days ago, there is more today after this week.

First of all, the lesson on Tuesday went very well and I can see clearly that the students are really enjoying using MinecraftEdu in their lessons. This was the first lesson where they would work in groups and it worked very well. One group didn't really want to cut down their trees, but they spent a lot of time underground mining stone. Other than that group, the students generally had quite an even spread of wood, dirt and stone.

This is one of the girls in the class cutting down a tree happily. It's good that as the students have finally got a hang of the controls, they can get around to playing the game and really use it properly to learn.

By the end of the lesson most areas looked a little something like this:

... so as you can see most groups seemed to fully clear the main area and started getting right underground to get stone.

Besides all this, there is one more thing that is really interesting that I only really found out about today and that is who my project supervisor is. I got the main 7-9 grade maths teacher who was one of the teachers I wanted most. Now my project can really get going, I can have my meetings with the supervisor and start on the essay.

Other than that, everything is going as normal. The next MinecraftEdu lesson is in about a week and a half so until I start making the world for then I probably won't be posting here much.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

So Much To Say! So Much News!

So a lot has happened while I haven't been updating this blog but that's because of me taking a break off of MinecraftEdu lessons while there's been a break between units and because of not much happening in general about my project. However, over the course of this week just gone and this week to come, a lot has and will happen based on my project. This week just gone was sort of getting back into the swing of things but it wasn't actually that important to me as it was things that I have already done. Stuff like my Topic Theme and Approach Plan - a form which was supposed to give me a basic idea of what my project would be about, but I had already done that, and choosing my Area of Interaction. This week coming up, however, will be a LOT more important! On Tuesday two things are happening towards my project. Firstly, I am doing the first MinecraftEdu lesson of our new unit - Data Handling - which I will talk about soon. Secondly, I have to hand in my Personal Project Proposal. This will be looked at by all of the MYP teachers (probably on Wednesday) and in their meeting they will choose who each student's supervisor will be. I will probably find out by the end of this week or sometime next week but I do have a few suspicions for who I might get. As I have started my project already, this isn't too much of a big step but it does mean that my project will officially start in the school's eyes and I can begin to do other things with my project like writing the essay and having my supervisor meetings to help improve my project.

As for this Tuesday's lesson, there is a bit more to say. This unit has the potential to be one of the most fun out of the whole project as there is a lot you can do in Minecraft with Data Handling. The part that we are using Minecraft for is Sorting, so they will be collecting materials and then sorting them into different chests. The materials that they will collect will be dirt, wood and stone.

Not only will this be the first MinecraftEdu lesson of the new unit but this will also be the first lesson where they don't work by themselves. To start to try and do some teamwork building they will be in groups, working together to collect more materials than other groups. This was nicer for me to build not only because it was cool to be trying something new but there was less to build!

I am quite happy with this week's world and I have tried to integrate the Teleport Block again. All the students will spawn in the same area but then they have to find the sign which has their name on it both to get teleported to the right area and then to see who else is in their group.

You can see here that it is definitely less to build then all 20 odd lanes like I had in previous worlds. At the end of each of those areas there is a friendly message telling each member of the team what to do.

The idea is that they will walk on top of the teleporter and it shoots them off to their area. Now hopefully, if they read the message properly, they will wait for all members of their team at the other end. If they don't happen to read the pretty sign then the 'Freeze Students' feature may come in handy...

Each area that they are taken to is exactly the same. I used the handy //wand tool to just copy paste the areas around the map. I have some trees, tool chests and general dirt and stone structures that they can knock down and collect.

Usually a superflat world generates so that you have bedrock, two layers of dirt and then a top layer of grass. To make more resources available to collect, I decided to make the two dirt layers stone.

Then, I had an idea that I would do something a bit more fun. In one of the trees in each area there is a chest and in the chest there is ONE diamond.

If the team finds this diamond, the unit after, each member of the team will get diamonds tools instead of iron. I will see how this goes down but I will probably end up doing this for every unit as a fun thing to do.

That is about it for everything except while building this map I did discover a glitch within the game that might need fixing. If you place down a Teleport Block in an area and then //copy and //paste the area, when you right-click on the block in the new area to change the settings, it chucks you off the server. Don't know what the MinecraftEdu team can do about this but I hope if they see this they will take a look at it. You can still //copy //paste areas with Teleport Blocks in them but to use them you have to go around breaking them and replacing them in the right spots.

Sorry for such a long wait for this update but now that my project is really starting to kick off, updates should become more regular.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Quick Update

Okay, so first off I'm sorry that there wasn't a MinecraftEdu lesson blog post this week; I had a short day and a dentist appointment so for convenience my mum ran the whole lesson. I don't have any screenshots, however from what my mum said, everything went better than the first week, but not as good as the second week.

Now I have a few weeks break from lessons. This week is our school's autumn break and after that grade 1 will have two weeks were they won't be using MinecraftEdu in their Tuesday morning maths lessons. When they do get back to using it, our new topic will be sorting. I have a few brief plans for these lessons involving different coloured wool blocks and chests where the students must work together to break down the blocks and put the different colours into specific chests. More information will be out nearer the time.

I also have a bit of good news to share. At the end of the school year there is a project fair where all grade 9 students get to show off their projects that they have done throughout the year. At this fair, I was hoping to make a video of what has happened over the course of the year's lessons but I was having some trouble recording. I know that I will buy a professional recording software called 'Fraps' but I didn't know how to get the resolution correct for a video. I have now downloaded a free program called 'Sizer' where you can set up different resolutions and when you have it open in the background, you right-click on the window you want to resize in the bottom left corner and it opens up a menu with the different resolutions you have set in Sizer. I have now set a 1296x758 resolution for Minecraft so that in-game, Minecraft can be recorded at a resolution of 1290x720 (the excess pixels is for the window outlining which I don't want recorded).

Then, another problem I had with this is that when I wanted to record, I set my 'Record/Stop' hotkey to F8. Unfortunately, this made the game go into some kind of smoooooooooth play style which wasn't normal. What I didn't know was that in Minecraft, F8 already is a hotkey, which puts the game into this state. If you want to know what I am talking about just go into Minecraft and press F8 (you'll see what I am talking about). Thankfully, I have now changed my 'Record/Stop' hotkey to F9, which doesn't correspond with any hotkey in Minecraft so I can now record as I want to.

Now all I have to do is sort out voice recording. I talked to another teacher who uses MinecraftEdu - Stephen Elford (Twitter: & Youtube: - and he said that I should try using an Ipod or a phone and just place it in the middle of the class however our students are too spread out and our computer lab is too big for this to work. We could try a skype call (or some other voice call service) but then to record everyone's voices, everyone would need to have skype open and be in the call (which might interfere with in-game FPS) and need to have a microphone (which is slightly inconvenient but also - as 1st graders - might distract them as they would probably meddle with it). I guess I could try this for one lesson to see how much lag the students get and to see just how inconvenient it is.

Other than all of that, everything has been going fine! I am waiting for the new MinecraftEdu update to come out so that I can have 'Quiz Blocks'. This will make building the arenas much easier and will also help with taking the students to the next area. Before, when each student had finished their task, my mum and I would have had to teleport the students into the next area. Now, we can use these Quiz Blocks to trigger a redstone pulse, then I can hook up some 'AND-gates' (will be shown in a video later) and then pistons which will open up the next area automatically when the students get the answers right.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Round 2!

Today I had the second third of the class to teach and I must say, after some changes that I made, this group was amazing! Last week, we had an all boys group and they were very excited because they were playing a popular game that some of them play at home. Also, last week they could see each other, which for a few caused a bit of a distraction. This week we had an all girls group and they concentrated really well, understood what they were doing and were silent (which for first graders is awesome)! In addition, this week I made some structural modifications.

As you can see, I added walls around the whole arena so that the students couldn't see each other and were, therefore, not distracted by their friends. Also, under certain strips of blocks, I added 'Build Disallow' blocks so they couldn't place or break blocks in places they weren't supposed to, which is something that happened a lot last week (mostly accidentally).

In terms of how well prepared I was, I logged each child onto the server before the lesson, put them in their individual strips and then gave them all the blocks they would need in advance. This actually saved between 10-15 minutes at the beginning of the lesson because of how long it takes them to log on and so on.

The only thing that probably didn't go as well as planned was the final area with the house in. I don't think anyone fully understood that one block in the game (on the house) was the same as one square on the worksheet they had in front of them. Then, we gave each student three different colours - brown for the wood, silver for the windows and yellow/orange for the door - just as we did last week but the students didn't seem to see where each kind of different block was in relation to the others. I think more work needs to be done on the perspective side of this unit (Pattern & Perspective).

The students about to get started!

What the arena looked like around the end of the lesson.

On the fun side, I found an NPC village just outside of where the arena was built so I decided to move the fun area out to that. I just planted a few trees around it and replaced the chest of axes and put it there. Sadly, no one got there this week either as many got stuck on the final exercise. Hopefully 'Mr. Axe Chest' will get more attention in future...

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The First Teaching Lesson!

I had the first lesson where the kids were actually able to take something away from the lesson in terms of knowledge yesterday. It seemed to go okay but I didn't feel like everyone understood exactly what the point was. I am hoping that in the later maths lessons this week a lot of that will be explained. I guess as I only had one third of the class I will be able to see if it was just that group of kids and that I just had a bit of bad luck or whether it is the style of teaching and the structure of the map I built. If after next week's group I have the same problem I will look at changing the map and the way I teach the children about it.
As you can see everyone had the same original pattern and the goal of the first section was to recognise and repeat the pattern. Some got right into it and others took a while to get used to the controls again. At the end of the 45 minute lesson some people still had nothing while others had either done it correctly and gone onto the next area or then had something but it wasn't correct so they weren't allowed to progress like here:
This was taken about 5 minutes before the lesson was due to end. As you can see a few had got it correct while others either had something incorrect or barely anything at all. The two strips at the far end had no one in them which is why they are fully empty but they rest were being worked on. 

In the second area (with the white blocks) the students had to look at  the shape in front of them and based on perspective think how many blocks were used to build the shape in front of them. They were all made differently so that they wouldn't be able to copy answers and everyone's had a different number - between 5 and 10 blocks - to complete the shape. Then in the final area there is a house. In front of each side of the house there are signs saying :
  • View 1
  • View 2
  • View 3
  • View 4
On a piece of paper that we gave them, they had to colour in squares to show what each side of the house looked like. Each side had a different pattern of wood and windows so each drawing should have been different.

Sadly the outside area (although one student was close) was untouched and therefore the chest of axes was unused, leading to the chest becoming very sad! I hope it gets used next lesson!


I went to my student councellor today and talked to her about starting my project early (most people will be starting in November when the supervisors are chosen). It seemed like she wasn't so keen on the idea at first as it is to do with video games however the more I got into the subject she became more comfortable with the idea. After everything was explained she was actually quite excited to see the results (so it seemed) and pretty much said that it is okay for me to start early and that she would also send me - and the rest of the year - the essay/report structure help sheet. In practice, this means that I can start working on my project fully and then I can start on the essay too! The only thing I won't have is the supervisor but at the beginning of the project that isn't such a big deal... It's nice to know I can get right into this now full speed!!!

Saturday, 29 September 2012


I am Andrew. I am 15 years old in grade 9 at an IB school in Finland. Throughout this year I have to do a project that is personal, something related to my hobbies and passions outside of school. So, for my project, I will be using my favourite game (Minecraft) to be what I want to be when I am older (a maths teacher). Most Tuesdays throughout this year, I will be teaching my mum's 1st grade class maths using a mod for Minecraft called MinecraftEdu. This gives extra blocks, functions and opportunities within Minecraft to make it more suitable for learning and teaching. I have already taught one lesson in which the students learned how to move, jump, place and break blocks. This week, they are looking at perspective. I will take one third of the class this week, another third the week after and the last third the week after that, to play through the map I have made for them to learn about patterns and perspective. 

The children will spawn in the small square in the bottom left of the picture and then they will be individually teleported to the first area - the long strips. Here they will be given the appropriate blocks and will have to carry on the pattern. When they think they are ready and I say it is correct, they will be taken to the next area. 

In that area they must look at the shapes (the ones made of the white blocks) and then think how many blocks have been used for the shape in front of them. You can see that each shape is different. This is so that everyone has their own shape and it will prevent cheating and copying from their partner. Then when they have finished they will be sent into the final area. Here they will draw what the house looks like from each side of it. 

When they have finished everything, the remaining time of the lesson will be free time. Here they can chop down trees and play as they wish.

Everyone can take an axe and play to their hearts content!