Design Thinking ~ Make Urban ReDevelopment a Reality in Minecraft

The purpose of this lesson is to inspire and engage students to use creative and critical thinking skills to make decisions and designs that impact an urban area. This cross-curricular approach to Design Thinking, allows students the freedom to use and connect  their inquires to real examples. The activity is intended for group or collaborative learning and uses a combination of whole class and small group facilitation with access to a variety of tools. The final product is a Design and proposal of a chosen Urban Landscape in their own community. Minecraft (and lego) are ideal platforms for students to use resources and tools collaborative to display their concepts.  The example lesson (below)  was facilitated with a group of Continue reading Design Thinking ~ Make Urban ReDevelopment a Reality in Minecraft

Do we facilitate 21st Century means of Acquiring Knowledge?

I asked my students this question.  How do you acquire knowledge?   95% said – Books and Youtube/Internet (the other way around, actually).   About 5 % said Teachers. Ouch.  As I write this post, my son sits across the table watching a video/story about Minecraft World. He tells me that this is how he “learns how to craft”. My other son reads Reddit threads to learn/improve his skills on Java.         Matt Henderson asked me to think about and share my opinions of the following question: How do people acquire knowledge and how can teachers facilitate this process effectively? My quick answer- books. I can’t help but think about the Printing Press of the 1400’s and forward. I Continue reading Do we facilitate 21st Century means of Acquiring Knowledge?

Design Thinking, Teaching and Learning with Minecraft and Lego

This lesson was facilitated with Grade Five Gifted Students. This is an example of how to combine a variety of collaborative tools (Collaborative thinking/planning, Blog, Web2.0 Doc, Minecraft) with a hands-on approach to building and designing prototypes that focus on world problems. Minecraftedu, large amount of assorted lego, a class full of engaged students and a teacher/facilitator provided the necessary resources.  It was incredible to witness the dialogue, creativity and critical thinking as the students explored and designed their ideas into something concrete.  Inventions Big Idea: How do past and present inventions impact our world of today? This is a sample lesson that can be used at a variety of ages and grades. Because this lesson is based on the concepts Continue reading Design Thinking, Teaching and Learning with Minecraft and Lego

Resolutions – Finding a new focus – A Year dedicated to a Plant-Based diet

  Being Vegan My top 10 outcomes after one year On January 1, 2012 I made a typical New Years Resolution – to exercise more and loose weight.  I also decided that I would run a Marathon (although this was pretty far fetched for me!) Like many people do when setting specific goals, I immersed myself in literature, magazines, movies and podcasts – not only for motivation, but to truly understand the science behind nutrition, fitness and health.  During this year, I adopted a vegetarian diet that included fish and dairy. I moderately exercised and I lost weight (about 20 pounds). In October 2012, I ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon at a time of 4:26. At the time, I Continue reading Resolutions – Finding a new focus – A Year dedicated to a Plant-Based diet

My Working Memory Deficit (and why I plead to educators to find other ways)

It is logical to conclude that many educators and leaders lead and teach like they were once led and taught. Why not? They were  good at it. They are the one’s that succeeded – the ones that were just fine learning through rigid assessments, text based assignments, memory driven tasks, criterion based and teacher directed/controlled learning with siloed subjects and curriculum. It is perhaps why we continue to hold on, so dearly, to these methods and pedagogies, even in a world where information and knowledge resources are at an abundance and in a variety of mediums.   In 2007, I read a post by Scott Mcleod called “What do students need to Memorize”. What resonated me the most was Continue reading My Working Memory Deficit (and why I plead to educators to find other ways)

On the Tip of Their Tongue – Use audio for Assessment and Evaluation

“________ has not handed in the assignment. Neither has ____________or ____________or ______________. Please have them come to my class and finish their work during lunch hour. ” “_______  failed the test…..can you give him/her time during class for a rewrite?”   “________needs extra time in my class to do his/her work.” These types of concerns were shared with me (their homeroom teacher), almost daily by other teachers. Let me be clear. I don’t blame those teachers.  When put into a timeframe or constraint (part of their schedule), many of  identified (exceptionality) Gifted students would shut down, move on, or just not finish. Why bother? And so, they would either be graded accordingly, or be given another chance to prove Continue reading On the Tip of Their Tongue – Use audio for Assessment and Evaluation

Cell Phones in my classroom: I give Permission

This post is in response to the recent Vote by the Teachers Federation Union to Ban Cell phones from the classroom. According to CBC, “The new rules state that mobile devices should be turned off and stored during school hours, unless special permission is given.” Ontario teachers’ union votes to ban cell phones in classrooms The meeting minutes found here indicates hat Policy Statements, 73.0, Student Use of Personal Electronic Devices in the Classroom, be amended to read: LINK  WHERE did the word BAN come from?  please not use the world ‘BAN’ here?  Could it give the wrong message? How about we advocate for ‘Safe Use’, or ‘Education/Training is needed’ or, ‘Helping students and teachers navigate online tools? I use cell Continue reading Cell Phones in my classroom: I give Permission

Teaching “how to” Self-Direct Learning

  Student:  I am easily distracted from the work I have to do.   Teacher: What are you distracted by?     Student: Stuff like the latest article about the Redstone update in Minecraft <that allows you to use the concept of electricity, pistons, electrical flow, breakers) or by the book that is screaming my name, or distracted by the story that I’m co-writing with my friend <the one I want to publish>, or by the new world I’m creating in Minecraft that allows collaborators to co-build and discuss in real time or by the new mode that I’m creating and why the Java Script isn’t working…….   Teacher thinking: How can the distractions become the learning focus? Would Continue reading Teaching “how to” Self-Direct Learning

Thinking through Redstone IN Minecraft

My son compares Redstone in Minecraft to Electricity in the “Real World”. He explains, that this wire like application has endless possibilities when it comes to creating or building machines. I spent some time working with him on Minecraft and noticed his use of patterns when using this application in Minecraft. As he mastered a particular concept (electrical source, flow, breaker), he then copied it over and over to create and customize simple machines. What I was most intrigued with, was not his knowledge of electrical currents or how circuit paths function, but was his ability to think through a problem, add further dimension to the problem and use the knowledge to construct further creations and so on. Here Continue reading Thinking through Redstone IN Minecraft

Community and Urban Planning – Project Based Learning and Minecraft

The following pictures/slides provide some information about how we are using PROJECT BASED LEARNING, INQUIRY and MINECRAFT in the classroom. Recently, a reporter asked me, “So what have you learned through this project?”   I’ve learned that I need to step back and trust my students. I need to provide time, support and facilitate the groups and activities and allow them to discover for themselves the different possibilities, avenues and perspective of an issue. I learned how important it is to use tools that they themselves are familiar with and to explicitly provide situations where they can be leaders and facilitators themselves. The Barton and Tiffany area in Hamilton remains vacant. These students, while their concept plans may never Continue reading Community and Urban Planning – Project Based Learning and Minecraft