#mcedu MineCraft Building

MIneCraft Selfie with HouseOur New Home

Thanks to my friend Lee Graham, I now can build — a little. I learned about settings that are helpful to controlling what my little person does so I can build. I was glad  Melvina and Dustin were also there just in case.

I still need to learn how to wave my left hand and throw.

Here’s a video I made to remind myself how to do the things I learned.

If you have any tips, please advise. I can use a lot!

#mcedu Minecraft Day 1 Explore


Hurray! I tamed a horse. Hearts escaped. And my friend Lee Graham snapped a screenshot of me. Yes. That’s me learning MinecraftEdu on a horse I trained, thanks to Lee creating a week of challenges to a group of newbie Minecrafters.

Lee and her friends at the University of Alaska had created GiverCraft, a MineCraftEdu exploration of the book, The Giver, which my sixth grade students participated in. Knowing how important games are to students, and how those games are designed with the brain in mind, I felt compelled to learn more, to learn more to design my own MineCraft modules for my classroom.

But I am not a gamer. On the gamer personality test, I am an extreme explorer: I really don’t like playing, I like exploring the story. In my first venture with my students, I just couldn’t do it: every time I moved, I smashed things. I could barely move. So I stood behind my students and let them do the playing while I watched.

So, Lee offered to help set up a learning experience for newbiesMelvina, Mari, and I spent the day at different times exploring, learning commands, and how NOT to keep destroying things.  Thank goodness, Dustin joined in to help as well. I’m accepting the challenge to earn the Emerging Builder Badge! Whew! It will not be easy, but that is part of the point: learning to be a learner again!  I should also let you know that my grandson has offered to Skype in to help me if I get stuck, and I have two students willing to come up to school to make sure I don’t destroy the place, if need be. So, with Lee and Dustin, my colleagues Melvina and Mari, and my younger helpers, Hunter, Isaiah and Daryl, I am ready.

What did I do today?

I was a learner.

I had to download and install not only MinecraftEdu but also the Java required for its play. That part was easy. I’m a geek after all.

Entering the game however was not so easy, as this tweet explains:

I didn’t even know Melvina was in there; I couldn’t watch the Twitter help stream and focus on my stuck avatar. I thought I was in a deep hole and couldn’t figure out why that eye was staring at me. I kept pressing the space bar to hop, which isn’t the hop code. It was hilarious.

Once I finally got going, I took time to set my controls as Lee explained in the video [which uses my name at the parts just form me,  the biggest baby who can’t even move!] I still didn’t know Melvina was there! I saw Lee, but that’s all. Lee told me it was my mouse clicking that was destroying everything. Finally, I figured that out. I kept wanting to use the mouse instead of the control keys. Ok. I learned something. And I was so happy to know the controls for dropping something and to start the chat.

I followed Lee along the blue brick road [I’m sure this is a better road than that yellow one!], but got stuck on the stairs. I had to learn to jump and walk forward, and to hit the spacebar to drop down [not hop] when I ended up in the sky. Lee and Dustin gave me so much encouragement, such as, “Some horses take a long time to train, but they are trainable.” I don’t think it was the horse that took a long time; it was just me.  I know because I never did figure out how to give my horse her apple. That really bothered me I couldn’t thank her with an apple. Will she always be my tamed horse? I don’t know.

As a learner, I can see how some kids want to just keep trying on their own, to figure out what to do before going in groups, and some people want hints, and some need encouragement, and some are naturals. Some kids go off on tangents important to them. Sound familiar? Yes, our classrooms. But do we as teachers really always remember these individual strategies to success? And in Minecraft, you learn that help is there to encourage and hint [or google it], and that collaboration, as in the real world, is a key part of success.

I can now walk around, choose inventory, and place things like grass and stone blocks.I can also take screenshots [fn2] although as a Mac user, I’d never really used the function key before!



See that plus sign in the middle in the shot below? I didn’t know that’s how to place blogs. I kept just looking with my eyes and turning my avatar’s head to “look” and then tried to place the stone. I could never get them where I wanted them. Finally, while looking at that horse [above] looking at me, I noticed that plus sign behind him. That’s just like any learning; what seems obvious to me is NOT obvious to the learner. That’s why my blogs are all called something like “What Else.” Because I have to always ask myself, “What else could I do to help the learner understand?”  And of course, my students need to ask, “What else do I need to do to complete my work to the best of my ability? What else could I add, delete, elaborate, etc.?

2015-06-29_17.05.12Watch now, I’m going to place a stone block on that plus sign in the image above — see my stone block in the lower right in my hand [which I won’t click because it will dig hole]?  Watch:  Boom!


Ta Da!

I did it! I accurately placed a stone brick without destroying something. Smallest thing to do in Minecraft, and big deal to me!  Think about it: learners need continuous feedback, resources to review, and encouragement at what may seem so simple to us teachers.

I should add here, that students are so helpful to each other. During our GiverCraft, students who knew Minecraft would jump up as they heard a peer frustrated, and would help them figure it out — not do it for them, just guide them. It was awesome to experience.

I had made a mess of our world placing blocks:


Remember, I do know how to destroy! [but hate doing it]  See: all cleaned up! All good citizens keep their world clean.


Before I left, I thought I should review the chat, and I’m glad I took the screenshot. I missed the top lines about the apple for my tamed horse: I have to throw it.  That will be the first thing I learn tomorrow. Got to take care of my creatures. But you can see  how helpful Lee has been and how she let me be to explore, to “walk around and jump and ride and dig a bit,” which I did.  Thanks, Lee, for a great first adventure in learning.


#140WC Thanks #Givercraft



It’s been an amazing adventure: GiverCraft. We read The Giver by Lois Lowry; we joined the GiverCraft MineCraftEDU community. We built a community based on evidence from the story, then were thrown into chaos as the memories returned when Jonas, the Receiver, left, leaving the memories to be found around our GiverCraft community. We built the memories and shared them in snapshots of GiverCraft and in words that expressed our interpretations of the story: What if the memories returned to everyone?

Everything we did, we brought back in discussions to the text — what would Jonas have done? the Giver? What would the other characters do? Why do you think so? How has the community changed? But we learned more than “find the central idea” and “use evidence from the story.”

As we worked through our memories in the new chaos, the students were concerned that some of the players did not follow the agreement we had all signed, to play nicely and not interfere with others’ work. Yes, we were thrown into chaos, but we asked the person to stop. We asked again. Each time, he said, “No.” Twice he provided food, but most often, he interfered.  It was a difficult discussion for my students, many of whom know that life is not always easy and structured perfectly; that struggles and difficulties can happen daily by events beyond their control– they are independent-minded and are expected to solve their own problems, and they are family-oriented and are expected to help each other. And here, in their game, where they had agreed to certain constraints, here were people who did not follow the norms to which our students agreed and followed. They had the power to help each other, but not to stop the problem. They were indeed in a “new world” from which they could learn about life.

“What do you think?” I asked.

“We think there should be rules.”

“There should be rules for people who just do anything anytime even in others’ places and stuff.”

“The should go to ‘grievers,’ or be kicked out for the day.”

“We can’t stop him; there needs to be rules.”

And they wrote about it:

We are like the Giver because they had rules just like us. There are rules so people don’t go in to other peoples things. Also because if we didn’t have rules people would do whatever they wanted.

If you find a house don’t go in it because we need a law to not to break stuff.

There was some people who was throwing potions at my friend’s horses and they ran away but we got them back and they were throwing invisibility harming; we should have a rule for no bad potions.

If I had to make a law about the new world it would be that you wouldn’t be able to break block unless you were ask to break that block for the player and the consequence would be that you would be kicked from the games for two days.

I’m going to make a fence around my property and I’m going to make signs that say “please stay out or please don’t destroy”, please and thanks too. We have laws In the real world; they don’t go on to other people’s property without permission– that you can, you can’t hurt anybody but since we have nobody to tell us what to do people can do what ever they want. But In the real world, people can do whatever they want If we didn’t have laws.

We have laws in the real world because if we didn’t have the laws we wouldn’t be learning in our schools right now. We have rules in Givercraft and we follow those rules because if we don’t we wont be doing the project about the Giver. Also if we didn’t have laws people would be able to do what ever they want to do and steal stuff, hurt people,and say mean words to everybody.

The students understood why we have rules and leaders, and they found ways to solve their problems in positive ways. This is learning beyond the stuff of standards; its learning in life.

One other school group was recognized for revolting against the elders [which would be unheard of in our real-world community — elders are respected and cared for]. The players apparently wanted more freedom and captured the elders. I understand that sometimes rules interfere. But I also heard the voice of those during the chaos — that in their efforts to survive, their work was hampered not just by the new memories, storms, and dark of night, but also by players intent on adding to the chaos. The students tried to have a meeting to consider their choices; they put up signs to protect their stuff, and they talked to the person. They felt powerless, and struggled with their desire to maintain their agreement and their frustration with not being able to form a community better than sameness: free, but with an agreement — free to build with their memories, with the freedom to work through the memories, and without someone interfering. They did not want sameness, but they wanted freedom to work together.

So today was the last day to build memories, even with our intruder. And they felt good about their decisions to find positive ways to work together — to collaborate — around the extra chaos. That’s an important lesson as well.

And today was the day we were honored with an interview in Google HangOut with the author, Lois Lowry. One student already reflected on the experience:

Scene 2 final day
Today we watched the interview with Lois Lowry. There was a lot of people there. The person [Lois Lowry] said that she based the books on her father. The father is forgetful because he forgot that his oldest daughter had die when she was 28 years old. A lot of the kids had to tell how they finished the memory and what they did to finish the memory.

The students heard the author’s process, a “What if….” and imagining a character for the answer. They heard how the community of sameness developed:

[paraphrased from author] My family was in the military. We’d have a wall around the base and community and everything was orderly with lots of rules. Every evening a bugle would play. We’d have to stop what we were doing and stand at attention to watch the flag lower. It was filled with rules, no crime, but not like real life and that’s what I was thinking when I created the Giver.

They learned that many kids write to Lois Lowry about the book. “There could be love,” is a quote from the Giver and a tattoo on a boy’s arm; the boy sent her a book to be autographed with a return envelope.

They heard how to build memories, especially “a wedding memory,” which helped them in their last play at GiverCraft.

We learned so much, thanks to GiverCraft and Lois Lowry and her book and interview. We learned how authors get ideas, we learned that sameness is “mean and boring,” but that chaos is frustrating because “In the real world, people can do whatever they want If we didn’t have laws.” And we felt good about ourselves for choosing to work together in positive ways, as we had agreed. Because we learned from The Giver, “There could be love.”

Thank you, Lois Lowry and GiverCraft.

WC: 1242

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Crosspost at Ms Edwards


#140WC More Time



Everything was calm last week. The community was built by our group of collaborators, designing and building together based on evidence from the book, The Giver.

This week: chaos! The Receiver is gone and all the memories now are experienced by everyone. Color. Animals. Night. Storm. Holes. Deep holes. Stuck. Hungry. Hurt.

Now the students are struggling to survive — will they work together or will they fight for their own? Our team listens to each other.

“Help, I have no food.”

“Here I come. I can give you steak.”

One student wrote in his reflection, “Jonas was hungry and so was Gabe but Jonas only cared about Gabe.” and the next day wrote, “Today I felt happy because I was getting the things we needed and I helped me friends if they need help. The other reason why I felt happy was because I help me friend EDInysh get food because she said she was hungry and she was almost dead. In the book The Giver Jonas felt hungry and he said “im so hungry I think im going to die by hunger. I am a socializer because I am nice to my friends and i help them out a lot for them to survive in Givercraft.”

They are a team. Working together to survive the new world of memories. And they are working towards building the new memories, their task

“Ms Edwards, we need more time. Could you please ask the elders for more time?”

The students want more time! to complete their learning task!

But, then, don’t we all?

WC: 247

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#140WC Somebody built a wall



I’m thankful I have such thoughtful students.

In my class, we read The Giver, and we’re re-reading the book for evidence in the multi-player MineCraftEDU game, GiverCraft. Our rules say to ask before entering another player’s house and to not build on other player’s property. We’re not supposed to build traps or blocks in public property.

We’ve had violations on our property. At first, our students started to break down the violations, but then we decided to be better. We talked about the problems.  We talked about what we could do to work around the issues — so we could keep playing within the boundaries expected. We want to play the game; we want to learn together as a community. And communities make rules for safety and fairness, and we are creative and problem-solving within those parameters. That’s how communities are built. So what could we do when people broke the rules in our areas?

We have players who built tunnels into our house. What did we do? We plugged the top and put up a sign.

We have players who built right in our spot. What did we do? We put up a Welcome sign with our name on it.

We have players who created a hole on our property someone could fall into.  What did we do? We put in a plug and put up a warning sign.

We have players who built walls on our property. What did we do? We said, “Just go around it or over it.”

Although others have not followed the rules, we worked around the issues and stuck to the meaning behind the rules. We did not harm. We were not mean; we worked together to solve the issue without hindering the work of others.

I think that’s a valuable and positive attitude. Live and Let Live.

WC: 286

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