31 mars 2014

So much more than scale, volume and area

Initially I thought the only thing I could use Minecraft to and connect to education was math. But hey, it's so much more than scale, volume and area! Despite the fact that every wiki is on English (language and ICT) there's really no limits. You can do whatever you want, only your imagination and creativity puts the limits.

I have a couple of students that happens not to be out on work practice, instead they should pass old courses. But, again, the power of Minecraft is so much bigger than school. I thought I had to bring them back to track, to construct something inside Minecraft so much interesting they don't want to continue play. And I thought for myself it will take lots of times to fulfill my challenge.

Well, they did start to solve my challenge, but they did it way too quick and are now back playing survival mode. What was my challenge? Well, I wanted them to figure out how to construct a calculator. I also thought for myself, I guess they have to search and look a couple of YouTube clips before they can start build. I also thought they have 2-3 weeks of work there. Nope, I guess, from nothing to ready they have spend like 1 course/24 lessons on this challenge. And they also both have different solutions! 

They did the constructions all in their heads without any input from a tutorial. They didn't had to since they already had figured out how redstones and command blocks works. I was so amazed when they showed me and the calculators didn't work properly and they immediately started to debug their systems...

The redstone calculator and according to @abrightmore it's electrical engineering (boolean logic, signal strength, toggling states and more) was made like this:

I got very impressed about this calculator because the student who made this, of course he's smart, but I din't expect a redstone calculator from him. And he had some problems getting it started (self confidence) but debugged it and solved the problems while he explained what everything do. This calculator could handle digits up to 100 and return the answer in the scoreboard. 

The other calculator was even more impressive, even though it was made with command blocks (I was expecting redstone solutions). The other guy had made an impressive screen, with digits on a screen (sort of). Then he took me underground and I lost my breath. Lots and lots of command blocks! And he's been doing it with the command block knowledge but without any calculator tutorial! I'm impressed! And I also realized I'm not 20 anymore :P

25 mars 2014

Math geometry test

Finally I have a math test ready for the students, a test we - the Minecraft allies - all could agree on. I have not yet any experience about MinecraftEDU but in a vanilla server it's pretty hard to make triangles, cylinders and circles. But I solved that part with give the students the solution, instead they have to explain, write down, how you do it. Or more exactly: analyze my solutions.

Some of my fellow teachers went nuts when I told them the test includes eight (8) papers. And because of the eight papers the students must have several hours... eh? what? I have 14 tasks where the first and last is to put yourself in position and record your activity. 

So twelve tasks to go. 
Several hours? 
I think not. 
We're talking about generation G, not ourselves :P

Sharing is caring: Geometry math test

In upper secondary vocational institutions you get the marks

  • U0 (underkänd) - FAIL!
  • N1 (nöjaktig) - satisfactory
  • G2 (godkänt) - approved
  • B3 (berömlig) - excellent
Each task should have the mark so the student know how hard the task is and what it's worth.

Okay, so my thought about this test is to include much geometry but also a bit of equations and do it in a fun way. Therefor they have to go to the airport, travel to the math test and begin their journey. Three tasks they have to write down in the booklet so I have just made task numbers without workspace here and there. They will have workspace both in the paper copy (that's why it's eight pages) as well in Minecraft.

I only have them one by one, these students, so therefor I can use this single map (sort of) to everyone. I only have to clear their sketches now and then :D

I will have two full scale tests next week: the student with dyscalculia (I'm sure he will pass on N1) and one lazy non-motivated student that now works harder than ever...

24 mars 2014

Struggling with dyscalculia

I have this student who is very weak in math and before my first meeting with him one "higher educated pedagogy" told me it's enough if I can learn him to use a calculator. But hey!? If you don't understand what 10+10 is, what sense does a calculator do? 

Everything I tried the first two months was too hard and finally I thought the only was to solve this is so start from the beginning. Back to the basics.

A couple of months ago I realized what the challenge was, like a year too late.

Well, I've learned a lot and I do hope this student have learned something. Now I try to help him with geometry and for the first time I hav e faith. The key to success spells: Minecraft.

Addition is the favourite but he hates subtraction. 
And if I only had knew, Minecraft would have spared us much struggling and troubles if I had started with it before. Today we have been talkiing and discussed volume and cubes. If the area is 16 blocks, what's the volume??

Volume = a * a * a --> 4 * 4 * 4 = way too hard!

So we had to do it the long way, with addition, and also build up the cube and destroy it. Just to prove we have make the math correctly.

But finally, with the awesome tool Minecraft he finally gets it because he see it. In a way he experience the math in 3D. And these small moments, when I see he understands a bit here and there, it encourage me to continue.

Unfortunately, because he makes progress I also became too ambitious. Even though he loves to be creative, loves to paint, loves motorcycles, pixelart was way too hard

14 mars 2014

Geometry in Minecraft

OK, so today I've had a couple of groups who has been learning math throu Minecraft. And again, the most awesome things happens. We usually have 45 min classes, most of my students has problems with their concentration. Well, they sit at my classes till I tell them they have to go... So, I've succeed make math so fun they don't want to quit. In fact, I've succeed with this math mission so well the students ask me for more sessions - even if it's on their sparetime. As today.

They also do something that I've never experienced before: they shake my hand and thanks for the class... some of them do it the gangsta style, but hey - they show what it means. And the gangsta way, that's respect.

And as Gabe Zichermann explains (don't remember if it's this clip or another) the students explains it with two words, it is
  1. Fun
  2. Multiplaying

So today I had this guy who tries to pass an old course. Math for this guy is booooooooring. Ok, so he came before the class started. We talked about last lesson, what he missunderstood and what he had to do to make it better next time. And he started to do his tasks. In mid time when I asked if he needed a break (he refused!) I also asked what he's learning and why? Or do I fool myself make him play a game...

While he continue build he explained:
  • I have to count all the time, I can't relax, I have to think about math all the time. How many blocks from here to there, up, sides and so on...
  • I create a model of my task at the same time.
  • I can directly see if I've done something wrong in my calculations and change it.
  • I can, whenever I want or need, control myself. Back a bit and reflect to my self: is this realistic?
  • I practice my skills to imagine something 2D into 3D

Later he actually proved this when I wanted him to do the task with the red dice with white spots. Because I showed him some different ways how to make that work, where the sides could be 5, 7 or 9 blocks.

He made it with 10 blocks. He realized he had to build a bit more but it would be much easier to do the counting afterwards: perimeter, area and volume.

I also did a personal reflection: he has started to make notes on paper and also started to make a sketch at his paper before he starts to build his tasks... And please remember, he doesn't like math. And now he's learning without thinking!

13 mars 2014


So finally we're about to start a game school, an introduction to make games, at our school (a secondary vocational institution). The tool we're going to use is CraftStud.io but our students will also learn something about
  • Dramaturgy
  • Aspect ratio
  • Creative writing
  • Audio
This is the first but hopefully not the last time time we try (do) this. 

I'm just about to create a Google+ group for this purpose when something hit me: what if we try to do the group in English (instead of Swedish)?

Would an English spoken group attract collaborators from outside our school and outside Finland?

11 mars 2014

a Minecraft computer?

As most of you probably know 
I'm working as a remedial teacher at a upper secondary vocational institution in Helsinki area, Finland. My students are like 15-40 yo. I have just started with gamification and Minecraft as tools. In fact, the more I use Minecraft the more I believe it's a fantastic educational tool. I try to help and come up with challenges to both weak and strong students. 

The finnish educational system offers you to learn a profession in two ways, theoretical (upper secondary school) or practical (upper secondary vocational). The later alternative includes 120 weeks of studies: 90 connects to your profession, 20 are common and 10 weeks are free choices. And within these last 10 weeks I see my chance to use or test Minecraft, CraftStud.io and more.

My students usually study Business Information Technican  (datanom) but I'm also more and more getting ICT Assemblers  (ICT-montör).

My first Minecraft attempt 
3D modelling as blockholm.com and blockbyblock.org because I believe it's an important thing to practice buildning 3D models of something. These students builds a city and their school buildings. This group are last years students and this project will end in April. This first server is a service I rent (hosthorde) and the world is vanilla creative.

My second Minecraft attempt
This time I wanted a server with specific mods so I had one fellow teacher help me put up a server. According to him I now owe him one. According to me he has been able to make a server course much more interesting for our students because instead of install a virtual server they have been able to set up their own Minecraft/Mumble server. This group are first and second years students. They still have to build 3D models but now also practice programing with ComputerCraft and Lua. 

I've gotten this suggestion to have them pass an obstacle course with their turtles...

Third attempt
If this is working so good, could it actually help weak students to better understand math? And yes, so far so good. I have a couple of students that I try Minecraft with, to understand geometry and more. So on my creative vanilla server I have them to do several things, and to each task put a sign like:
"perimeter=12 blocks", "area=16 square blocks" or "volume=60 square blocks"
Units would be the proper thing in English, but in Swedish it's actually "block".

Forth attempt, the upcoming one
Yesterday I got an idea how to put out a challenge to the stronger students because we always have some troubles getting all the free weeks of courses. If they could do something else besides 3D modelling or Lua programming, could I get them do something else connected to their education? And because I thought I had to came up with a valid idea this morning I posted a question in my favourite Google+ group "Minecraft in Education". And I got this playlist: Building a Minecraft Computer Tutorial from awesome Colin Gallagher!

And just to be sure I also tried to reach the Minecraft Education guru (well, sort of) Adam Clarke. And suddenly I was in the middle of a very interesting twitter discussion with both @thecommonpeople and @abrightmoore. Amazing! ...and I'm not the most active twitter person so it was a new experience. Adam gave me this suggestion: Advanced Redstone Computer Tutorial 1: Introduction and also this reddit Ultimategamer32

Well, what I would like to do:
I have three students (16-17yo) that should be out getting work experience, but they didn't get any work place. Instead they're still in school trying to catch up their studies. And as you all know, it's so much more fun to play... I'd like to get control over their gaming, get them back on track and actually learn something. Why don't make them build a computer inside Minecraft? On my vanilla creative server... 

And I had something like this in my mind (and mostly because that's the only clip I've seen).

Little do I know, because the first question I got was this "what kind of computer" and honestly, I don't know. I still don't know. 

You see, I want a challenge for these three Business Information Technican and if that succeed I can get more students do the same thing.

Maybe I should start with a calculator before getting them into a real computer...? Any suggestions?

7 mars 2014

Minecraft and math

So as you know, I've started my math course, or the support in math with Minecraft. Once again, this is nothing my school does officially and "the higher educated pedagogy" doesn't even like it. But, I have support from my principal. He makes the decisions and I make them come true :D

Today I have found an ally, one of the math teachers, that also see the possibilities to learn a different way, like Minecraft. Again, my principal did a new fast decision, "yes he can pay that teacher to come aboard" and now I have an ally that will make a test to my students. Within Minecraft. So my students not even can do my records in Minecraft but they can also be able to pass the course make a test within the game! Amazing!

What is it they say? 
A small step for a man a big step for mankind!? 

And I'm pretty sure this dyscalculia student will make it this course without having any extra support, and I don't know who it's going to suprise most: him or my fellow teachers? :P

Today I have done some instructions for my fellow teachers that are willing to test Minecraft and also done some more records to the faster students. Among other stuff they are about to create a red dice with white spots. And they have to figure out how big it has to be by themselves...

I also have contacted one researcher, PhD in math difficulties (Åbo Akademi University), about my efforts in Minecraft, what I'm doing and how positive response I've gotten.About the dyscalculia student and the other with ADHD and ADD. And he also thought that was thrilling, especially as he had never heard about Minecraft (!). But again, it takes a lot more to make science out of this :)

Well, we'll see what that leads to in the future :D

And finally, yesterday my principal deputized one of the classes who is building 3D models in Minecraft (our school and more). He got interested and also saw the possibilities with it. Easy to learn, easy to create and he immediately saw several courses where to use it further on.

3 mars 2014

Mindmap ongoing projects

I have two projects with Minecraft. When I started to blog about the first project I couldn't see any interest from the world what I'm doing in little Finland :) but I had to change that opinion pretty soon. Therefor the first mindmap was in Swedish but the second one, the updated one, is in English.

When I looked at the qualification requirements to become a Datanom (Business Information Technican) I'll saw  a chance to include following subjects: 


But I aimed a bit too low. It turned out be be possibly to include lots of more subjects and courses. In the first project we rent the service from HostHorde but in the second project we have built our own server.

The second project also include CraftStudio, it takes a game to create a game. Anyway, that mindmap has subjects in the middle but not in any order. I've been looking at the Padagogy Wheel V3.0 to see what I can connect to my courses and SAMR Model.