Fourth graders are completing their digital citizen superhero comics. Once we finish that up, we’ll be getting started on our Explorers project taking place in Minecraft. More to come soon.
Fifth graders finished up their interactive maps in Google Slides and we are now focusing on the Oregon Trail. Students will be creating lists in Google Sheets, organizing what they would need to bring as they travel from Missouri to Oregon. They have practiced this trip in multiple versions of the Oregon Trail game and will soon be setting out on a Minecraft simulation of what that journey would have been like. If they make it to Oregon, they get to start their new lives and build a future for themselves and their families.
Sixth graders finished up our ecology unit this week. Our final exercise had our unique personality groups attempting to understand and complete a level in Little Big Planet designed by myself and current 8th grader, Damian. Each student took control of one of the four unique characters and had to determine which character’s unique ability was needed to pass each obstacle. We’ve been using video games to observe how different personality types interact with their virtual environment. This extended into the real world as we observed different personality types have trouble communicating what they wanted to the other members of their group. We discussed how ecology is scientific analysis and study of interactions among organisms and their environment. That led us into a discussion about how our environment influences our behavior in both our real lives and online lives. We discussed interdependence and how that plays out in an online space.
Seventh graders continued researching American History through Media. As an introduction to the 1960s, we watched bits of The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. Many students noted that women were treated very poorly on these shows, often perceived as dumb and in need of a man to be a complete person. We also tried to figure out why so many hit shows of the 1960s were focused on rural living when it didn’t seem to represent America at the time. As an introduction to the 1970s, we watched bits of All in the Family and The Jeffersons. Students were shocked to see how Archie Bunker spoke to Edith on All in the Family, repeatedly calling her a “dingbat.” The episode also had a lot going on in terms of sexuality and race. The students did not seem to find any of it very funny. On the other hand, students were pleased with The Jeffersons. They appreciated seeing a black family represented on television and also noticed that Weezy was a positive portrayal of a woman unlike the other shows we’ve watched (we didn’t watch the Mary Tyler Moore show, so this is definitely accurate given what we have watched so far). Overall, students found the shows in the 70s to be much more political and “real” compared to the rural simplicity of the shows from the 60s. Moving on to the 1980s, we watched bits of Family Ties, The Golden Girls, and ALF. Students found the Golden Girls to be the funniest of the three and appreciated its more forward thinking portrayal of women and gay men (the episode we watched featured a gay wedding). None of the students could figure out why ALF was popular. While I showed them Family Ties so they could get an idea of what the Reagan-era 80s were like, they seemed more focused on the few negative mentions about Russia. I think many of them were unaware of the US/Russia relations of the 80s, so that’s going to be something they’ll want to research. Here’s a look at some of the work they’ve been doing…
Eighth graders have finished up their work on Pleasantville. We’re now working on a unit entitled Craft Your Future. This unit is all about urbanization and the challenges it creates for urban communities. Students will attempt to solve these issues through their constructions in Minecraft. Students must plan and create new urban landscapes to meet the needs of the growing population. Students will explore the concepts of urbanization, communities and sustainability, to gain an understanding of the world they are building in. They must not only build to meet their own needs and interests, but create urban structures and spaces, that benefit many different groups of people. Having gained an understanding of the issues they face as constructors, students have entered the planning phase. A public hearing was held last week for the construction companies to meet with the public and field their questions and concerns about their ideas for a new rooftop construction. Classmates played the role of either children, teenagers, families, or the elderly and ask question accordingly. The requirements for their construction are as follows:
- An outdoor kitchen facility
- A table and bench area
- Three trees
- A greenhouse
- A secure perimeter
Here is some video from the public hearing…