This week's goal was for students to learn a little about redstone, what it does, and how to use it. For this goal I set up an indestructable room (using the MinecraftEdu mod's "build disallow" blocks) with an iron door, and gave students a chest of materials and instructions to find five different ways to get inside the room. My two groups handled this task very differently. The first group needed very little assistance before they set up a line of redstone with a lever leading up to the front door. They even made the line of redstone too long to activate the door, so I was able to pass out redstone repeaters and explain what they did. The group eagerly wrote down the different methods they used to open the door, after which I activated the teleporter inside the room which took them to the village they had started in the previous weeks.
Group two did not do as well with this task. While they did figure out that you can put a button or lever right next to an iron door and get it to open, they did not have the patience to see what they could do with the redstone. They did not want to work together on the project, so they started wandering and exploring the world around the room on their own. Eventually I got them back around to the room and activated the teleporter, giving them some free time.
I'm learning that I need to tailor my lessons to the group I am working with, and not just assume that one lesson will work for all. Also, when the planned lesson does not work with a particular group of students, they are still engaged in playing the game. I need to pay more attention to what it is that engages them when they wander from the planned activity and use it to my advantage, instead of just teleporting the explorers back to the lesson area and asking them to stay focused on what I want them to do.
So where do I go from here? The students in the first group have been requesting some time in survival mode. I want to put together a survival scenario for them. They even responded positively when I mentioned I would ask them to make a survival journal of the experience. As much as I would like to do a Rube Goldberg project with them, I want to take advantage of their motivation in this area and see where it goes from there.
The second group would not do as well in survival mode, I think. They are more interested in building and exploring. Maybe I could take this group in a more architecture or mapping focused direction. We'll see. Any comments or suggestions are welcome.