28 februari 2014

Minecraft and geometry

Sorry, this is so awesome I have to tell you. 

First of all, my principal (at my section) have given me the Minecraft tool to use when I try to explain or help our students. He makes the decisions, it's up to me to make them real.

And all of these students I have now, different classes, actually has the same course to pass: geometry... What could be better than actually use Minecraft...?

I found some inspiration made by Traci Blazosky at the awesome site teacherspayteachers but unfortunately I couldn't use it. But it gave me a structure how to make and put up challenges to my students. 

So I have a bunch of students, 16-19 years old, some with a challenge (ADHD, dyscalculia and more) and some without. All of them has never thought math could be fun. None of them have never done that much at these lessons. And come on, when the teacher had his lecture you maybe get a question once in an hour. You have to make a decision once in an hour. 

Computers and games, you have to make decisions all the time, every second. 

That was what happened today. 
I had this unjustified guy without any inspiration, I should - according to his teachers - be so very glad he came so early in the morning. 40 minutes is the maximum time he usually can sit still. I put him in front of the computer and started to explain my thoughts how to make geometry possible in Minecraft, perimeter, volume, area.

Three minutes and I had made math interesting.
After 75 (!) minutes without break I asked him if he was learning something and if he could see any difference between this way of learning and the old fashion way (paper, pencil). 

He smiled, answered honestly: maybe not that much geometry but a lot of thinking. A lot of thinking and all was about math, he had to calculate every move in one way or another. What come to geometry, when he had to start think about it (in game) it was so significantly. Perimeter, he could count it and control it (walk around a house). Volume he finally understood.

Imagine: I made math fun!

Computers and games, you have to make decisions all the time, every second. 

Same thing yesterday but that guy (18 years old) has dyscalculia. He doesn't like math at all. But he knows he need help with it. He had have two lessons of intodruction to Minecraft, just be creative, try the controls and so. Yesterday we started for real.

Again, difficulties with the concentration and what happened? 
He sat for one and a half hour without a break! 
We had to stop because he had to go to another lesson.

A bit nervous I asked him if he had learned something new and he answered:
"Yes, I know understand perimeter. I can see what area and volym are, but it's hard to count. But hey, I couldn't believe math could be this fun!!!"

Math can be fun!


24 februari 2014

YouTube and the 5yo princess

Again, the 5 yo princess has taken us by surprise. When I thought she used YouTube as a chance to watch children movies she actually has found walkthru's and tutorials to both Minecraft and Monster High 13 wishes.

Yesterday she showed her uncle, the usually data nerd in the family, how to use and build in Minecraft. If he starts to play I guess it won't take long before he start to teach her programming within Minecraft (ComputerCraft mod).

Monster High 13 Wishes, she found it (YouTube) and she has been looking for it when we have been shopping. Now, again, we're about to use our own little gamification home where the princess can earn som extra money if she helps in the household.

This week I'm going to start use Minecraft to help some students with dyscalculia or other learning  disabilities understand geometry. They're about to create for example a garden with a perimeter of 36 units or a house with an area of 56 square units.

15 februari 2014


I've come across this awesome tool to use in classroom. Best of all, we get rid of the cellphone problem. And when I've test it in class all focus is on the teacher and his/hers lesson, all are active and interested! The students also want to do it over and over.

The gameiciation part is so awesome! Everyone wants to participate, everyone wants to win and the way to to win, is to learn. There's lots of discussions about questions I've dropped out, am I right or wrong? They have started to google to prove I'm wrong :)

Was it hard to use and learn?

So how does it work??
FIrst you create a teacheraccount here Kahoot, getkahoot.com och log in. This is also where you start all your quizes..

First time you create an account, after that just log in.

This is my welcome view. In the menu I can see all my material (me) and also those quiz which are public (free to use). 

Push the question mark to start a new quiz. First thing, give it a name.

Now, all you do is start to fill your quiz. Question 1, what question do you want to put out? You can add a picture to give the students a hint of what you want or to make it more fun. I usually set the time to 60 sec but I wonder if it's enough with the default, 30 sec. 

When my quiz is ready I push the green button down to the right. And after that I put a summary to it, how hard it is and if I want it to be private or public (default). And you can edit later.

I can add a picture or a YouTube clip which the students see while everyone log in to the quiz. 

Wee! Ready! I can start, launch it immediately by pressing the PLAY NOW button. And after that, LAUNCH

My students surf away to
and log into with a PIN code (4591).

This is what the students see on their cellphones (or computer) and all they do is to enter the PIN code.

And to this game it was 4591.

I try to tell them to use their real names because there's a chance I can save the results later.

They give their name, and now the cellphone is locked :) while they wait, all they see is maybe the YouTube clip you added to the quiz. At my smartboard, on their units all they see is "You're In!"

On the teachers smartboard the player one by one log in and when I have all in, I START NOW.

Still and only at my smartboard/screen the first question pops up.

After some seconds the question, with answers (color and symbol) pop up.

This is what the students see.

After everyone has answered you get to this summary and you have time to discuss the question further more if you want. Or just push NEXT.

Scoreboard, and with more students only the five highest rankings are shown. 

But, there's only one winner! 

All can put a score on your quiz and you can either run the quiz again or save the results, Excel file.

If I save the Excel-file I get a summary of the quiz, the participants and the results.

In the front view I can choose one of my quiz and edit it if I'm not satisfied. And save it when I'm ready.

Minecraft in education

I have some of the first years Business Information Technican students that should be out getting work experience but didn't get any work place, still at school. Those students try to catch up with their studies. Some of them had actually worked today but there was this one guy who disapointed said: 
"I've only played Minecraft today"

So I sat down with him for a minute or two, and we agreed he should have done some studies. But what on earth had been so interested today with Minecraft?

Well, two things.
He had send out some turtles on mining missions (private server) and build a nice cool house (project server in school) from a blueprint, with English messurements.

Suddenly the bad day turned out into a better day. He had actually done some  working after all. He looked a bit sceptical when I told him. First he had done some lua programing (to get the turtles, ComputerCraft mod in Minecraft, working). When he tried to use the blueprint he had to start think about scale, math, geometry and probably been googling a lot to get the 3d model in Minecraft as real as possible.

And that's what i love with Minecraft! 
Without thinking you're doing lots and lots of learning. 
I have the same experience with my 5 yo daughter and I'm so jealous about the opportunities you have as a teacher if/when you teach in primary school.

Sunday morning, on our way to the ballet, she started to ask me about a farm and the fields around it. I tried to explain with different words but after five minutes I gave up and said: "do you remember Minecraft yesterday? The wheat you planted to make bread? That's what these fields are too."

Amazing, immediately she understood and started to explain farms in real world (what they had talked about in the daycare) and what she wanted us to do in our Minecraft world. 

My belief in Minecraft have resulted that my boss has invested in five minecraft accounts which I can use when I work as a remedial teacher. Today I had my first session, I've introduced a bunch of students, tired of school, to Minecraft and geometry. Awesome! But it's too early to get any feedback from that course today.

Gamification - watch and learn

Awesome explanation about Gamification! Gabe Zichermann gives a lecture on how to embrace the game world and its prerequisites and take its context to create a desire to learn. And I like the twist in the end, his advice to all adults...

I don't know if it's in this one or another one he talks about the bottle bank, but the same concept as in the Speed Camera Lottery, by the funtheory.com

And the next one, I've listen to her twice: Jane McGonigal - Gaming can make a better world. And very funny, Jane is so much far away from the stereotype vision of a gamer (male, acne, asocial...) 

Mindmap and thoughts: project 2

I've started two new courses, two projects, with the purpose to learn and understand programming. My groupmembers study to be Datanom (Business Information Technican) and if there's a chance we can catch the way of programming it would help a lot.

When I was searching for information about Minecraft and the mod ComputerCraft I also came across the gamemaker tool CraftStudio. There's a lots of benefits with both programs, so I'll test them both.

When you run this kind of project you'll also be able to include other subjects, if the other teachers are open minded enough to understand, accept and take the chance. Some of my fellow teachers has been positive but most are sceptical and actually, I would say, have the guts to test something new  :P

When I look at the qualification requirements to become a Datanom (Business Information Technican) I'll see there's a chance to include following subjects:

The 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. I'll gladly take input and feedback on my thaughts :)