Sunday, January 20, 2019

Town Planning: Draft Day

As we prepare to create our grade-level communities using Minecraft this week, students across the grades began drafting their contributions to the community on graph paper.  Some students are creating buildings, such as a town hall, fire and police station, or library, while other students will be in charge of infrastructure or green spaces.  Whatever element they will be adding to our communities, they will be sure it ties in with their chosen Global Goal.

As with all our design projects, students always begin with designing beforehand.  These kindergarten, first and second grade students tried to put their ideas on paper (with varying degrees of success due to their developing fine motor skills), but everyone worked together with their partner to make their visions a reality.

 Students created their own norms for behavior and digital citizenship while in Minecraft and working with their partners, as well as identified how they knew when their buildings are complete.

After their designs were finished, the students in grades 3-5 were able to take the next step and lay out their town visually like we learned from Miss Greenfield, considering where each part of the town would be best located for our community.

With their designs in hand and expected behavior in mind, this week in STEAM is going to be so much fun!

Friday, January 4, 2019

What Do We Value As A Community?

This week we began our next STEAM unit that focuses on Global Goal #11, Sustainable Cities and Communities.  The students were thrilled to hear that we are going to be designing grade-level towns using Minecraft!  There was a lot of excitement (and even a little bit of flossing)!

The essential questions we are asking ourselves in this unit are If we could build an ideal city, what would be the master plan?  What is important today? What do we value?  Everyone agrees that we value the Global Goals, so we figured there would be no better way to brainstorm a list of what we would need in our ideal city than to use the Global Goal grid as a foundation.  We created a list of buildings and resources such as a hospital, a school, green spaces, clean water, renewable energy sources, and then asked the students to figure out which community asset ties in with which Global Goal.  They were amazingly astute!

We talked about their roles as town planners, and what town planners do.  Students in K-2 watched a fun YouTube video describing the role town planners play in community development, and third through fifth graders had the opportunity to meet a local town planner herself, Paige Greenfield from Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission in Woodstock, Vermont.  She talked to the students about the forethought and design thinking that is involved when making decisions for a community, from ideas such as accessibility for all to food sources and waste management.  It was a fantastic discussion, and the students now have a much more solid understanding in their role as town planners of their Minecraft community.

Making thoughtful decisions that are going to have a larger impact on their community and potentially the world is an important part of being a 21st century learner and global citizen.  Next week, students will create their own rubrics for this unit and establish behavioral expectations and norms in their cyber world, a perfect opportunity to discuss digital citizenship.  This STEAM unit is going to get kids thinking and excited about design thinking like never before!