Minecraft – we’re back

Minecraft ECA 2011-2012

Minecraft ECA 2011-2012

Following the excitement of last year’s Minecraft Activity, I knew I wanted to offer it again this year. That said, I battled to keep up with the latest happenings in the Minecraft world, the responsibilities of my day job, occasional stints presenting, and of course seeing my family! Something had to give, and for the first term, unfortunately it was Minecraft.

Last year I had some wonderful Techxperts helping me out to moderate the school server, while I maintained administrative control. Perhaps it was because it was new to me that I wanted to keep a hold of the reins. Well, there are no excuses now.

This year, I want the activity to be student-managed and student moderated. To clarify, the Middle School/High School Techxperts will run the server for the Grade 2-5 Minecraft activity which will begin in the new year. This will give me the opportunity to interact with the students and just play. It’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned.

The Techxperts on the Minecraft team decided that running Tekkit would have the most learning potential. They are a very knowledgeable bunch, and informed me that Tekkit meant they could have access to anything that exists in the world – and more. Pascal (G10) took a leading role and helped me set up our RedstoneHost server, update McMyAdmin, install Tekkit (all the behind the scenes jobs that I find such a chore), and generally made my life a lot easier. He is a complete superstar.

We had a few glitches, but there is nothing more satisfying than working through and eventually solving a frustrating tech problem. Our server is now up and running.

I went on last night, to see how things were going. Seriously, I love my job. Three keen students were on, helping to set up the initial spawn points in readiness for the Grade 2-5s. It’s just the beginning, but it’s pretty neat to see what’s happening already.

Photo credit: Pascal Brunner

Photo credit: Pascal Brunner

Multiplayer games like these are tremendous levelers. I am very much a beginner with Minecraft and after a 6 month hiatus, it was all I could do to remember how to fly and move around. The Techxperts were so supportive. When I expressed my need for a refresher course, Pascal suggested I try building myself a spawn point, to (and I quote) “get myself back in the game.” In the world of tech coaching, Pascal modeled perfectly the notion of Positive Presuppositions – assuming the very best of a person, to encourage and support. It blows my mind. I can’t wait for the Grade 2-5s to join in and show the Techxperts how great they are. Because they are. Simply amazing.

I’m working on a presentation for parents about the benefits of gaming (together with Sean McHugh & Louise Phinney). I have so much to tell them. I hope they are ready to listen with an open mind.

Upside-down: Get a different perspective

When I was at Teachers’ College, I remember approaching my art course with trepidation. I wasn’t too shabby at art as a child, but as I had effectively given up the subject at the ripe old age of 13, it would be fair to say I wasn’t what you’d call confident!

One of the first things I remember our 2 lecturers getting us to do, was to sketch FAST (in 15 mins) the line drawing they put on the Overhead Projector (remember those?). The thing is, they put the drawing on upside-down. Deliberately.

The drawing was clearly beyond me, but as I’ve always been a good student, I duly attempted to copy it as best I could.

When our 15 mins was up, we were told to turn our drawings the right way up, and I think 99% of the students were amazed at having done a lot better than they anticipated. When the drawing was upside-down, we had to keep looking up to check we were putting the lines in the right places, not just guess from our prior knowledge of the subject.

It reminds me that our perception of our own abilities (or lack thereof) can sometimes affect the quality of our performance. If we look at something from another perspective, we might just surprise ourselves.

For my Extra Curricular Activity with the iPads,  I found an image online that was upside-down, and had my students do the same thing, but using Brushes on the iPad.

Here are two students’ representations of the illustration above. I will include them both upside-down and right-side-up for comparison.

Michelle, in Grade 6 did this one:

Michelle 1

Ji Min in Grade 5 did this one:

JiMin1

I’m pretty proud of both them!

Techxperts – saving the world, one screencast at a time

This term, Louise and I have started an after school activity for Grade 4 and 5 students called Techxperts. Here’s how we marketed it to the students:

Do you love using computers and other bits of technology? Are you a bit of a Tech Wizard? Do you know how to use programmes such as Photo Story, Adobe Premiere Elements, Scratch or Google Earth? Do you like to help others?

If so, then the UWC Techxperts need YOU!

Survey students and teachers to see where they need support (and learn to create and use Google Forms in the process).

Create screencasts which show people how to use the programmes we have at school.

Create help sheets to solve common troubleshooting problems.

UWC Techxperts: Saving the world, one screencast at a time.

Student-created products (to-date) include:

  • A series of  screencasts on how to use Diigo
  • A how-to poster for the lab on what to do if you come across a ‘locked’ computer
  • A screencast on how to use PhotoStory (from go to woah!)
  • A how-to poster for the lab on how to log-in to Jing
  • A poster showing the 4 different things to check if your headphones aren’t working

We have been using Jing as our screencast tool of choice. The kids find it really easy to use and were absolutely stoked to try making screencasts and annotated screen captures.

The posters are up in the computer lab, and it has been fabulous to have student-generated products to direct students to with those common troubleshooting problems.

When introducing PhotoStory to Grade 2 students (who had never used it before), it was fantastic to have a screencast which outlined exactly how to get started, from a student’s point of view. I have created screencasts myself previously, but I think it’s nice for them to be made by kids, for kids.

Here are the screencasts which show how to Bookmark & Highlight a page using Diigo, by Jean-Luc.

Do you love using computers and other bits of technology? Are you a bit of a Tech Wizard? Do you know how to use programmes such as Photo Story, Adobe Premiere Elements, Scratch or Google Earth? Do you like to help others?

If so, then the UWC Techxperts need YOU!

Survey students and teachers to see where they need support (and learn to create and use Google Forms in the process).

Create screencasts which show people how to use the programmes we have at school.

Create help sheets to solve common troubleshooting problems.

UWC Techxperts: Saving the world, one screencast at a time.

Cross-posted at U Tech Tips

Techxperts – saving the world, one screencast at a time

This term, Louise and I have started an after school activity for Grade 4 and 5 students called Techxperts. Here’s how we marketed it to the students:

Do you love using computers and other bits of technology? Are you a bit of a Tech Wizard? Do you know how to use programmes such as Photo Story, Adobe Premiere Elements, Scratch or Google Earth? Do you like to help others?

If so, then the UWC Techxperts need YOU!

Survey students and teachers to see where they need support (and learn to create and use Google Forms in the process).

Create screencasts which show people how to use the programmes we have at school.

Create help sheets to solve common troubleshooting problems.

UWC Techxperts: Saving the world, one screencast at a time.

Student-created products (to-date) include:

  • A series of  screencasts on how to use Diigo
  • A how-to poster for the lab on what to do if you come across a ‘locked’ computer
  • A screencast on how to use PhotoStory (from go to woah!)
  • A how-to poster for the lab on how to log-in to Jing
  • A poster showing the 4 different things to check if your headphones aren’t working

We have been using Jing as our screencast tool of choice. The kids find it really easy to use and were absolutely stoked to try making screencasts and annotated screen captures.

The posters are up in the computer lab, and it has been fabulous to have student-generated products to direct students to with those common troubleshooting problems.

When introducing PhotoStory to Grade 2 students (who had never used it before), it was fantastic to have a screencast which outlined exactly how to get started, from a student’s point of view. I have created screencasts myself previously, but I think it’s nice for them to be made by kids, for kids.

Here are the screencasts which show how to Bookmark & Highlight a page using Diigo, by Jean-Luc.

Do you love using computers and other bits of technology? Are you a bit of a Tech Wizard? Do you know how to use programmes such as Photo Story, Adobe Premiere Elements, Scratch or Google Earth? Do you like to help others?

If so, then the UWC Techxperts need YOU!

Survey students and teachers to see where they need support (and learn to create and use Google Forms in the process).

Create screencasts which show people how to use the programmes we have at school.

Create help sheets to solve common troubleshooting problems.

UWC Techxperts: Saving the world, one screencast at a time.

Cross-posted at U Tech Tips