Friday, November 7, 2014

Maslow and Minecraft

For the last five or six weeks, we have been studying the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. We have looked at the physical geography, culture, economics, and government. We look at enough content to give the kids a good idea of how things were back then but we don't worry a lot about the finer details that they probably won't remember anyway. I want the kids to grapple with the concept of what it takes to create a self-sustaining civilization and so, we worked on a project called YOUville.

In this project, kids must create a civilization based on Maslow's hierarchy of needs. We dedicated one week to each of the levels (we did not do the self-actualization level) so that kids could develop their civilization in steps. During Week 1, for example, kids located their civilizations in an existing, undeveloped area of the world outside of the United States that could sustain life. The location had to have a water source and the kids had to plan for the acquisition of food. Each week, the kids had to build another layer of their civilization according to the hierarchy.

Not only are we seeing some amazing projects but we are also seeing what the kids feel is important. Some really built up the defenses while others focused on art and culture. Kids could use any tool they wanted in order to build. Some chose paper and some chose digital tools. The two most popular digital tools were Build with Chrome and Minecraft. Now, we don't have Minecraft at school, but the kids do at home and on their phones. Would they be allowed to build their civilization on Minecraft? Of course. Why wouldn't they? Well, the results were astounding. Here are two snippets of one pair's Minecraft civilization.

After finishing their presentation, the two boys were asked how much time they spent creating this civilization. "Oh, we spent a lot of hours working on this at home." BOOM! I loved hearing that. I've always tried to make learning fun for kids so that they would eagerly do some of the learning at home. After all, extending the school day because kids WANT to do the work is a huge win for any teacher. Needless to say, I was pleased. 

The kids are learning what it takes to create a successful civilization and they can now appreciate the ancient civilizations we are studying so much more.

1 comment:

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