A Whole New World

For a few years now, I had been petitioning to have a Minecraft club…but the admin (at that time was hesitant) and at that time, it wasn’t a battle I needed to fight — so I remained patient.

When admin changed, I decided to bring up the subject again — and admin said for me to write up a proposal and it would be considered — and I received a “go ahead” and started to make some plans.

At first, I had thought we would use the ipads and purchase the Minecraft PE app and we would all learn together.

But then, after attending a session at a local conference — my admin and I decided to pursue the Minecraft EDU environment.

It was decided to charge a fee for the club that would pay for the licensing, the server, and also start a fund for our robotics unit.    We would host the club on Tuesday for 15 students and Thursday for 15 students and sent out the registration forms.  And the clubs filled up quickly.  (this was in December)

Over Christmas break, I got lost in Minecraft and, thankfully, my IT got lost in it as well — so, I wasn’t wandering alone.  And I also joined the Google Group on Minecraft — (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/minecraft-teachers) and spend A  LOT of time at the Minecraft EDU wiki (http://services.minecraftedu.com/wiki/Main_Page)

After wandering a bit through some of the “lands” of minecraft — I decided that the first week of the club, we would wander through the TUTORIAL world (Created by: Joel Levin, Matt Adams, Stephen Elford) which provided a teachers “guide” which I found very helpful:  http://services.minecraftedu.com/wiki/Tutorial_World

SIDENOTE:  I had printed out the Minecraft Mouse Guide, thinking perhaps one or two students might need it — but in fact, all the kids  needed it because NONE had every played minecraft on a computer.

And the first week of CLUB went great.   It took the students about 30 minutes to wander through the tutorial.  I was able to transport to students if they needed help — or transport them to other students.   Tuesday’s club was busy and loud — Thursday’s club was more quiet but still very busy.   We ended the day with an excitement of anticipation for the next week — which was good since I am still such a newbie at this.

For the second week of club, I went into the tutorial world again and created a scavenger hunt for the students at the lighthouse.   I placed RED BANNERS (for TUESDAY) and BLUE BANNERS (for THURSDAY) and then hid chests near the banners with different supplies.   1.fwOver 40 chests were hidden — so I got in some good practice of right mouse/left mouse clicking, adding inventory, saving games, creating caves, flying (still something that makes me dizzy) and more.

Tuesday’s Class LOVED this — and after the scavenger hunt (which took 25 minutes) they had free build time.   Thursday’s class is today — so we will see how it goes.

For Week 3 and 4 — students will be in the SNOWY WORLD which I am creating into settlements.   Each student will be given a plot of land with 2 chests — one will have generic items (which all groups will have) and 1 will have specific items which they can give or barter with.  I am looking forward to seeing how this works.  2.fw

And then week 5 — still working on details.   I was thinking of making a BREAKOUTMinecraftEDU experience — but still not sure exactly what that would entail.  Plus, though my learning curve is moving quick quickly — sometimes my goals are loftier than my skills.   I will probably talk with kids on week 4 for their suggestions.

I had no idea that this would be such fun — but also such learning —
there is construction, collaboration, lots of creativity.  I am seeing quiet students step into leadership roles and off task students suddenly 100% on task.   I am blessed that on Tuesday, my elementary principal is coming in to help and on Thursday, my superintendent is helping.

No idea what will happen next year with Microsoft acquiring Minecraft EDU (http://education.minecraft.net/announce011916/) — but that won’t affect us this year so I won’t worry much.

I would LOVE to hear what you are doing with Minecraft — especially Minecraft EDU — so  please share.

OR if you have some tips or tricks for me, that would be helpful as well.




I Screen, You Screen, We All Screen For Green Screen

I have opened my arms wide to the options of Green Screen — mostly, due to the EASE of using the DOINK Green Screen App.

So, it was with total delight when I read the direct message from Karen (@doinktweets) telling me about the newest update of the app:

DoInk Tweets

Wanted to let you know that Version 2.0 of our Green Screen app has been approved by Apple and will be available for download in iTunes this morning. It is a HUGE release full of new features including:
• Green Screen by Do Ink is now a universal app! Now you can make incredible green screen videos on your iPhone!
• We’ve given the user interface a major facelift, with a cleaner, more functional design!
• Uses standard iOS user interfaces for importing and exporting images, videos, and project files from any cloud-based storage service.
• Support for 1080p HD videos (1920 x 1080 resolution).
• Undo/redo support in the main editor.
• Copy/paste sources on the timeline.
• Place camera sources on multiple layers at the same time, and set the start/stop times for camera sources just like any other source.

Wanted you to be the first to know. Hope you like the new release. Thanks for all your support. -Karen



It just keeps getting better — and now that it can be used on the iPhone as well — is WONDERFUL!

I know I do gush about this app — but it truly is both easy to use and very very effective.

Already teachers on my campus are using it with students for
*history reports
*state reports
*greeting cards
*chapel videos
*what I want to be when I grow up
*science projects
& more.

This week — with Hour of Code — we are going to try to green screen our BB8 robot….but more on that later.

It is not a free app — but it is worth every single penny of the $2.99 cost.

If you want more ideas to see how we are using green screen in our lab — please visit:  http://jenniferlwagner.weebly.com/green-screen.html


And please share below, how you are using the DOINK App as well.


1st Maker’s Faire Recap

My computer lab is a happening place — we have ipads, a greeen wall, laptops, 2 imacs, and more —-

And the teacher in the computer lab (me) is saturated with tech ideas and information — attending edcamps, following twitter, attending conferences, etc etc.  So we are always working on a project, an idea, something — our lab is never boring.

YET, I thought — I need a break — perhaps they do too.
So, I took a look at the calendar — and decided that the week before Thanksgiving, we would have a Maker’s Faire (kinda).  Not too elaborate…but time to play, explore — and time away from tech.

And since HOUR OF CODE begins for us on November 30th — and instead we make it a MONTH OF CODE — I thought this would be a good “step away” week.

So, we set the room with up to 7 areas.   (The older kids had 7 — I narrowed it down to 5 for K and 1)

We had an origami area.
We had a hot wheels area.
We had a PIPE CLEANER area– but that changed on Tuesday to a beading area.
We had a Stacker Cup area,
We had a Lego area.
We had a crayon/marker/colored pencil, scissors, glue, ruler, etc area.
We had a sticker foam shape area with different colored cardstock.

Tables were totally rearranged and round tables were also brought in.

When the students came into the room, I explained that we would have a maker’s fair—what a maker’s fair was.

I then pointed out the areas and then gave the 6 rules.

#1 — They had to create.
#2 — They had to have fun.
#3 — They could not destroy someone else’s creation.
#4 – They could move chairs as they wished — or stand at a table — or work on the floor.
#5 — When the lights went out, we needed to clean up (and I would give them a 10 minute and 5 minute warning)
#6 — If they could not hear the music playing — they were too loud.

And then I set them free.

Things I learned or noticed —
a.  Our kids don’t know how to play with hotwheels — so we had a learning curve of how to put the tracks together and how to use the grips and I think we always made the circles wrong — but smiles, it worked.
b.  Our kids will experiment if we step aside.   We have a rack for the laptops which is about 6 feet at the top — and I noticed that students were attaching the grips for the hotwheels to the top.   For the stacker cups, students asked to use my step ladder to reach the top.  Students knew I had special scissors — you know the ones that cut designs — and they asked to use them.   It was a day for YES — and because of that — I saw creation.
c.  Everyone — if they work together — can clean up over 500 hot wheel pieces in less than 5 minutes.
d.  Kids like the freedom to move.  I had at least 10 kids ask me if they could move from areas before they did — and I said “of course, you could”.   And the ability to combine items, like the origami, the crayons, the felt shapes — was something they questioned — again with a “yes, you can”.
e.  One song we sing in chapel is “Get A Little Crazy” and in the song it says “move it to the left now, move it to the right”.  As the song began to play — it was great fun to see the students move as they worked.   I should have pulled out the camera but it was a special moment I will always cherish in my heart.
f.  The quiet time of sitting at a table with students and coloring or beading or making a hotwheel track or stacking cups — and working 1:1 or a few more — is an exceptional time.  And something we need to have more of.
g.  Students want to be noticed.  During each session I kept hearing “look Miss Wagner” or “Miss Wagner come here” — they were so proud of what they did and wanted to share it.
h.  We had only 1 discipline problem the entire week and it was stopped with a “what is Rule #2? — You can’t have fun if you are arguing.” and pshew, crisis was diverted.  (grins — I know that won’t always be the final result.)

Things I Might Do Differently Next Time
a.  Cardboard — I know it is going to be messy — but I think they will have a blast.
b.  I needed to push more tables to the wall and open up floor space.
c.  Establish some directions for things that might be unsafe or could break — don’t kick the cups, don’t stand on tables, or chairs) — so we need more step ladders.
d.  Have more unique items — hmmm, perhaps string art, or leather punching — something they don’t usually see at school.
e.  We cleaned up the area so it would be ready for the next group — perhaps we don’t need to?  Still not sure.

So — was this an academic week?
Well, it depends how you look at it —
We had lessons in velocity, force, cause and effect, balancing, hand/eye coordination, teamwork, small motor skills, math, spelling, art, science, creativity, ingenuity, wonderment, problem solving, color mixing, following directions (origami), review and change, sequencing, patterning, construction, …. and I could go on.

All because we decided to have a Maker’s Faire.

And — only 1 student was openly disappointed.

Everyone else just went with the flow.  And — as one kid said “it was the best day ever.”




We have several “themes” in the computer lab that I (and the students) truly look forward to…..

CODING — what fun!
SKITTLES WEEK — we graph with skittles
The WEEK b4 Christmas break — choose your own app week


We love DOT WEEK —

and each year, it gets better and better.

3 years ago, when we first hosted the project, we watched a video of the book, colored the dots and used the ColAR app and that was pretty much it.

Last year, we watched the video (shared by Discovery education), colored the dots and used the ColAR app…and students started making buddy dots — where they started folding, cutting, etc their dots to make really interesting dot combimations with the app.  I step back and watch them create and take lots and lots of pictures.

This year, we watched the video, listened and sang along with the DOT SONG by Emily Arrow, colored our dots, used the QUIVER app to animate, and created more buddy dots.  We also added a CLASS dot for each classroom AND the K and 1 colored their dots on dots and used sticker dots to add more fun.  Triple Dots!!

It is a great week — a fun tradition — where we push all the tables to the side of the room and just create, collaborate, and color!

Below is a video of our fun!
And I invite you to consider joining the project next year with your class too!