Monday, 7 October 2013

We're Back and Running.

Here is another blog post that I am going to start by apologising for my absence, so much has been happening but not much has been shared. So I am back at school, first day back for the last term today in fact. Which means I have about 6 or 7 weeks with my Pre-CAL Numeracy class and about 8 or so with the year 8s.

I actually had both classes in MinecraftEdu today, the Pre-CAL class, unfortunately, were unable to collect their pay today and I think that made them a bit lethargic, some did worksheets instead of getting into the world. I am worried that I have gone the wrong way at some point and taken away the fun. So here are the beginnings of a reflection on the project at this stage, what I would change, what I think worked very well and what I am planning for the remainder of the year.

To give you some idea about what I would change, the main thing is the creative world for building and costing their houses, I would definitely not do that again. I would have houses in the world for them to purchase or rent depending on their financial status. The tower would be redesigned to not be a tower at all, but spread out a bit more, I think having that many item frames and villagers in the one location is causing significant lag on the school computers, unnoticeable on mine, but causing issues for the students.

I would be making sure that the main world actually is the main world, I would have vacant lots of land for sale so that students could purchase the land and then purchase the items they need to build their house and slowly build it over time, this would mean that the costing would more intuitively happen as they purchased items from the vendors and put these purchases in their budgets, rather than what the students did this time, which was build a house and then try to calculate the number of blocks in it.

I would also have suggested business ideas for students, or businesses for students to purchase and run on the server, because some these students are not avid Minecrafters outside of class they don't know what sorts of businesses they can run, and what would be good for turning a profit. I would love to be able to give students access to the server 24/7, I think that would make the project 100 times better, more real and definitely more engaging.

So there are a few changes I would make, what would I keep? The payslip and payment system I have running is pretty simple and smooth, it did take an awful lot of time to set up, but over the project it has saved me hours of time. I think the amount of cash I am giving students is about right too. The base ideas for tasks are great, but I think they need a bit more prescription or perhaps more solid instructions/proformas for students to use. I would hope that this would speed up some of the projects, I know I have complained in the past about consistency of attendance and that being a major obstacle, but I also think that clearer support may help alleviate some of that.

So there are a lot more changes than what I would keep, but realistically I am still amazed at how the overall project has gone. So what are my plans? Well the next step is to use the multiple choice answer system from the year 8 maths group to give these guys an assessment on what we have learnt so far, in the form of a treasure hunt, similar to the year 8s. I am also feel like trying to 'break' the economy, just to see what ensues when the students seem to have a lot of money, to see whether the system will rebalance itself or whether it does indeed ruin the learning experience, of course that is a problematic thing to be doing and may ruin the end of this project so I am really not sure whether I will actually do that or not.

Now, onto the year 8s. We spent another 40 minutes or so in the integers review treasure hunt. I have reflected quite a bit on what issues we have been encountering and how the design of the answer system, or the wording of my questions need to be tweaked to prevent these issues from reoccurring in future implementations (like the Pre-CAL assessment).

I think most of the technical issues are direction based and caused by redstone behaving different when it is facing different directions. Shane and I spent a couple of hours messing around last night tweaking the design and getting to a point where it is easy to implement, and also will not be affected by the direction you paste it in. We are also going to design a 'second chance' room, where if you get the question wrong, you get put in the second chance room, given some specific instruction or tips as to the mistake you made, or how to get the question correct and you get an opportunity to show your learning and answer a similar question for half the reward. This is going to be implemented in my Pre-CAL assessment so I am really looking forward to seeing how that goes.

As to the wording issues, it is definitely interesting to see how things are interpreted by students, with written tests I am not sure I get to see so clearly the misinterpretations of the questions. I will be thinking much more critically about the wording I use as I write the Pre-CAL questions and will be trying to make them as clear as possible to see if one of the issues is the game itself being a distraction or whether it is just the poor way I worded some of the questions. (Many were written very late at night after a full day at work, simply because I was in a rush to get the map ready).

Well, that was a long post. If you made it this far, thanks so much for taking the time, and I hope my reflections and plans were interesting. Of course more will be coming in the future as I finish up this Pre-CAL project as well as Mathlandia for the year. Sometimes I regret that Mathlandia did not get used as much as I hoped, my plans for opening up the world for students to play at lunch times never actually came to fruition. Again, thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment below.


  1. I like your idea of the second chance room. What sort of buy in did this get from your students? We're all of them into it?

    1. Most kids were engaged and trying to find the next point to answer, I did kick one student off because he just ran around refusing to follow instructions in the first lesson, but in the second session he was back on track.