Minecraft and Fractals – a wonderful pair!

Minecraft and Fractals
By: Zoe Branigan-Pipe and Beth Carey

screenshotWe are all familiar with Math Manipulatives and the power of hands-on learning. Minecraft allows students to explore, create, design and problem solve in many dynamic ways. Here is one example of using Big Ideas and Concepts in Math. These concepts, once understood, force learners to use practical math skills in an authentic way.

“Today I learned about fractals the mathematics of nature introduced by Benoct Mandelbrot. Fractals are a repeating pattern in all directions with any shape. Inspired by Ancient Egyptian architecture this fractal is made entirely of gold blocks and glass. Although it is impractical it just shows what minecraft can really do”. -Gwen, Gr. 5 Student

Big Ideas: How does the concepts of fractal geometry link to the elements of design, engineering, and invention of the past and present and guide future decisions?

Overview: Grade Five Gifted students explore the connections and implications that nature has had on Math, Science, Art and Engineering. Using Minecraft as a creative and collaborative tool, students extend their learning of daVinci to explore and create fractals.

Source: Quillan and Makenna

Source: Quillan and Makenna

 

Who has heard of Fractals? Can someone give an easy definition? What are other things that we know of in nature that are fractals? How have fratals impacted our world? How does understanding the science of Fractals help scientist learn about Co2 levels on the planet as a whole? Where else could this idea be used to help the world? What surprised you about Fractals?

 

 

Activity Summary:

1) Background Information: Introduce and discuss the concepts relating to Fractals focusing on the principles of S.T.E.M.
2) Knowledge/Understanding: Show and discuss parts of video: Fractals The Hidden Dimension HD 1080p / Nova Youtube:http://youtu.be/lmxJ1KDR_s0
3) Communication/Thinking: Discuss, identify and list the many math concepts discussed in the video (Geometry, Symmetry, Patterning/Algebra, Problem Solving, Number Sense).
3) Communication/Thinking:Provide examples of assortment of Images that relate to Fractals.
4) Practise: Allow students, individually and/or in partners to draw and design their Fractals on paper
5) Application/Practise: Use FLAT world on Minecraft or Minecraftedu. Have students create their Fractal design in 3D dimension
6) Thinking/Communication: Allow students time to discuss, write and describe their Fractal on Collaborative document.
7) Consolidation/Sharing: Have students take SCREENSHOTS (F2) and copy/paste their screenshots into collaborative document/virtual bulletin board for sharing.

Social Media, Twitter and the need for networked support – how far does our support really go?

Look at the “Seven Degrees of Connectedness” and think about how you nurture, support, and develop relationships on line, professionally and even personally. Do you have a close circle, a clique, a group of educators that you depend on – those in Stage 6 or 7? Do you have colleagues that work in your school, your district, your city – that you empower or that empower you? Do you have their back when they mess up, or need a pat on the shoulder, or need a word of praise here and there? Do you have the strength to DM them a concern? What would you do if you noticed they made an offensive remark? Are you prepared to have that “difficult conversation”? Do you do it in private? In public? Do you Unfollow them? DM them?

For many of us, Social Networking has changed the way we work, relate, share, create and learn.  Just think, throughout history, innovators have created so many different avenues and channels to share and communicate and strengthen relationships at many levels – some very surface and others very intense and deep – even life changing. What about the printing press? The mail system? The phone, radio, television?  In so many ways, the transparent nature of all of these tools makes us all so vulnerable, which is why we depend on our relationships and our trust in others to help us do the right thing and be the best we can be. We want to encourage risk taking so it will lead to new innovations, new thinking, new perspectives. But, with each of these channels comes a risk. Risk of error, risk of misinformation, risk of misinterpretation, risk of bias, risk of judgement. Even risk of friendship or something deeper.

Online tools, like Twitter or Facebook also pose a risk. We know this. Have you ever said something “in the heat of the moment?” that should have been kept private?Have you ever deleted a Tweet?

Sometimes we are just learning, and along the way, we make mistakes.  When I first started on Twitter, about four years ago, I had no idea that I was “Tweeting” with location settings “ON” until @dougpete sent me a friendly DM suggesting that I take it off since he could see exactly where I live. Not a good idea.  Another time I tweeted out comment that wasn’t all that appropriate during a live debate (political) and again, received a DM from an online colleague who simply reminded me “Zoe…you have a very public audience here”. Once, I even Tweeted out my home phone number in the public stream, instead of the intended DM.  Again, an online colleague, one whose relationship and trust was built over time, sent me a little note, “Zoe, delete the last tweet”.

Whatever the channel or method, face-to-Face or online, the way we nurture and respond to relationships depends on the level of trust we have. Even in a public stream like twitter, there will always be a circle of colleagues and friends (STAGE 7) that will protect, support, guide, teach and nurture one another.  So ask yourself,

Where do my colleagues fit in the framework?
Where do I fit in the framework?
How will I respond to a Tweet that offends me?
Do I DM an online colleague to help or offer advice?
Do I make public a concern or do I DM a concern?
Do I have people to count on, in the stream, like in the Face to Face world?

I play it. They create it. Scratch.

About a year and a half ago I had the opportunity to listen and watch as Mitchel Resnick, creator of Scratch, demonstrated how this free, open-source programming language software engaged students around the world.  I was so intrigued with the program because it was so different and so far removed from the Atari games I played as a child.  And so, I  began experimenting with its possibilities both at home and in the classroom. My students used the programming language with ease (admittedly, I had much more difficulty then them and didn’t explain it well) but they used software tools to create digital storyboards about the Olympics, as culminating activities in our Space unit, to tell stories about Early Explorers  or they simply used the programming language to create and share games (for fun). At home, to my utter delight,  both my kids (7 and 9 years old) quickly replaced their usual sites – mini-clip or andkon.com with Scratch. They spent hours reviewing the games created by other children and studied the codes. They downloaded and changed games to make it “theirs”.  I can’t help but find pure joy in watching my boys create games.  There is some irony in the fact that at 8, I played Pong, while at the same age my child creates the game for himself. P1016550 It was for this reason, I was so excited to meet Mitchel Resnick at ISTE 2010 last year in Denver. I asked him for an autograph (for my son, of course).  My 10 year, told me recently that one of the newest features on the Scratch website is the   “Scratch Suggestions” portal. The creators are engaging and empowering the users by asking them what they think and it is that kind of respect that keeps them coming back. That is what my son told me. Now onto the point of this blog post – The other morning I came downstairs to find my boy on Scratch (surprise, surprise). I stopped for a moment to watch him and was amazed at the skill level. When did he learn this? Who did he learn it from? He told me that although Scratch is available at school, he doesn’t use it. So where did he learn it? Certainly not from me.  From the other players. From the examples.”I  learned it by reading the scripts”.  So I asked him to show me what he was doing. I do hope you find a second to give my son a comment.

It’s a Global Network – Then and Now

Dear Mom,

I was asked to reflect upon what made me so passionate about educating students within a global perspective. From the time that I can remember, you have always taught me to pay close attention to what is happening in our world.  You provided me with a foundation of which I use today as a focus of how I live. You gave me the inspiration and passion to continue your path as an educator.

mom class

I know that education has changed since your first years. However, your vision to make change in our world and to advocate for social justice has not changed. You taught students to be fair. You helped impoverished families. You tirelessly helped immigrant families find their place our community. You taught children to make connections to the world beyond themselves. You helped them see that  they need to be active and engaged participants.

35 years ago you recognized that students need an inquiry approach to learning. Today – we are are saying the same thing, and we say its because they have access to instant information – but its not. It’s because students need to be active participants in their learning.

It is now my turn to continue what you started. To connect myself and my students to the world beyond their own. Many years ago, you said that people are more educated now about injustices- and that it is thanks to groups that were the first ones to bite the bullet, the first ones to talk about things like racism .

YOU SAID.. It may not be popular, but it’s necessary. I hear this same statement everyday about students learning across our world. It is necessary that we provide them with adequate, fair, and universally designed learning space. Not always popular, but necessary.

It was about 10 years ago when I made my first personal connection, as an adult, to the world outside my own.

mom newspaper

Sometime in the spring of 1999,  Kosovo hit the international headlines when forces under the Yugoslav President Milosevic tried to suppress the Albanian majority’s independence campaign. This news item struck my interest because you taught me to pay attention to what was happening in our world, to always ask questions and to listen to stories. So I did. I wanted to know more. With my new computer and first ever Internet connection, I  began following blog posts from Kosovo Albanians who were being forced to flee their homes – thousands killed. Night after night I read posts from people all over the world expressing their disgust and concern over the Milosevic rule.

That was my first taste of the Web 2.0

– My first time publishing my own thoughts for the world to see. This was my first Social Network outside my personal space. I felt incredibly empowered and excited that this could be possible. I had passion ,

I had an opportunity and I had a platform to do what was necessary and give my students the same opportunity to learn that the world needs them.

my class

You taught me to be authentic and current. It is my goal to give my students the gift of a Global Learning Community and as a result, I have found one myself.  And, You were right when you said, “don’t do it alone”. 10 years ago, I began to share my voice to strangers, and  I felt connected. Today, I share my voice with colleagues, friends and supporters from all over the world and I never feel alone.

You helped me see how one person’s passion and dedication can lead to progress and change and you told me to network and be active. I can’t compare my experience with your involvement in anti-war protests in the mid 1970’s or your leadership in the civil rights movement, or your membership in Affirmative action coalitions. But, I can tell you that I am become networked. I have met so many people – across Ontario and Canada- and the world – that share their knowledge, their passion.

Jenny from Australia inspired me to use tools like ipods in the classroom so my students can blog and read news and events from their homelands – in their languages. Doug from Ontario sends weekly props as encouragement. Andy from Bellville –always the first to offer help with any tech question, Jen from Alberta and Kathy from Saskatchewan share their classrooms with me in literacy and numeracy and remind me everyday with their blogs and tweets that learning and teaching is fun and engaging and connected.

You might think that my world as an educator is much different from yours. In many ways, it is. Today,  technology has provided opportunities, and tools, and choices – but most of all – access. With these, tools I can translate,  podcast, listen write, share and collaborate – all for free.

It is my vision – my dream,  I suppose to provide equal opportunity for my students, like you did. While the tools that I currently use in my classroom will change, I promise that I will continue to learn new ways of reaching peoples potential -.

Through innovation, creativity and new technologies, our world is catching up to a movement you started years ago.

Mom, enjoy your retirement.

Have comfort in knowing that the community of activists for students around the world continues growing bigger everyday.

With Love, Zoe

What was your first taste of 2.0? Do share…


Using Glogster as a Presentation Tool –

This Glogster was created by Angela in Room 213

GLOGSTER IN THE CLASSROOM

(article from: http://www.education-world.com/a_tech/columnists/dyck/dyck037.shtml)

I introduced Glogster to my Grade Six students this past week as an option for displaying their research for their bio-diversity projects.

Glogster has tried to make this tool as teacher-friendly as possible by making it easy to set up a class account, which provides a private account for each student (and generates passwords and e-mails them to the teacher). As with other Web 2.0 Tools, teachers are trying it out in a variety of ways. Especially helpful to new Glogster users is Traci Blazosky’s Glogster Tutorial page.