Colin's Sandbox

Planning this summer’s online course activities (to be continued…)

by on Jun.02, 2013, under Uncategorized

So it looks as though I may have a couple of irons in the fire with regards to my Master’s program this summer time.

Using Minecraft for the Powers of Good (STEM)

As part of a potential STEM course using Minecraft to solve real world problems in the classroom I’ve been tweaking a survey I first developed in the last semester’s MOOC to better gauge where the participants are at and how we can best deliver instruction.  Here’s the rough draft of the survey (I set the online Google Form to not accept responses at this time, so I can’t embed it within this page).  Basic in nature, without being to wordy, attempting to get a feel for the audience.

It’s still too early to give much indication for how it really will happen, but for now it is looking like it might play out as a day of face-to-face workshops at a math and science conference in Anchorage in October.  This would lead up to a one semester online course.  Delivery is still yet to be determined but given the nature of Minecraft I anticipate weekly sandbox sessions in-game along with a host of resources made available online to support the course activities.  At the outset of the unit I would hope to have a good sense of the kinds of real-world projects each participant would like to accomplish in their own class that would serve as their motivation for engaging with the class.  Once we’ve gone far enough into the class we could facilitate students sharing their worlds and units amongst each other for feedback, playability, and educational value.  Creating a library of Alaska-centric Minecraft worlds and challenges would be a really neat way to help foster a community.

The more I go down that road the more I realize that I need to spend more time exploring MinecraftEdu worlds that others have done before I can possibly walk others through this process.  I think it’s important to make the process as general as possible; Minecraft is “hip” at the moment, but like all things, its time in the sun will set.  The basic engineering design process however, is the most important thing that we’re trying to convey here.

Tutoring Algebra

Secondly, I’ve been approached to potentially help tutor a student online via distance in Algebra.  I don’t yet know very much about the student at all.  Outside of preschool and teaching adults I don’t have a whole lot of experience working with young students, so its new ground for me. It’s an opportunity I can’t really turn down, considering I don’t have a class of my own, haven’t taught in a structured online capacity yet, and the experience would be immensely informative for me.

Without knowing more about it I would endeavor to go down the following route:

  1. Exchange dialog with the other instructors to find out how I can best help.
  2. Technical nitty gritty + scheduling – how do we best engage in synchronous and asynchronous communications?
  3. Find out more about the student’s learning style – do they best relate to short videos, ala the Khan Academy style?  Or working through sample problems hand in hand?  What sorts of encouragement work best?  Do frequent sessions of short duration work best, or less frequent, but longer sessions fit their needs?  What are they interested in that we could use to tie in Algebra?
  4. Where is the student lacking in math?  Where is the student strong?  How does this compare to the math standards we’re trying to meet?
  5. How do we best go about assessing the student along the way to demonstrate progress?
  6. And then there’s the fun stuff of course, finding the relevant resources out there and actually _do_ the unit of instruction with the student.

2 Comments for this entry

  • colin osterhout

    In talking with another teacher the way I was going to approach this initially would be with a HSGQE practice test for starters along with having the student mark down some sort of indication of confidence questions. We’ll see how far that gets me.

    Apparently the student has a strong inclination towards art, especially photography, and online tools. After figuring out what core skills they’re lacking in I’m hoping to stretch myself and find assignments where they can take their camera out into the world and find examples that fit into equations and hopefully alter them using online photo editing tools. Hopefully making math and Algebra more engaging. Even though I will be remote, I will be working with a teacher there who will be doing 1:1 facetime more often, so I will be well supported.

  • Ronna Williams

    When tutoring students in Algebra the most difficult part is to figure out were the “holes” are in their foundation. If I can help, let me know.

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