Movie Making with Minecraft PE in the Classroom

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Making Movies in the Classroom 

  

       Making movies is a great way for my EFL students to practice their writing and speaking. However, as the students reach the upper elementary and middle school grades they shy away from showing their faces on screen. To remedy this problem I started using Minecraft PE (MCPE) instead of live action movies. All of my students, no matter their age, love Minecraft. So when I asked them if they wanted to make a movie using MCPE they were pretty excited.

Script Writing

We started with the script. With my primary classes we wrote the script together using the iPad app Celtx. Celtx is a fantastic and simple app for writing, screen plays, podcasts, and even TV commercials. With my upper elementary students we used Google Docs to create the script.

     Once the scripts were completed we began practicing. It is a challenge to teach expression and emotion to Korean students. To help, I showed them a few videos of the making of Frozen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SET0DeKtHkc

Storyboarding


    After practicing and revising the script we proceeded to create storyboards for the movie. In the beginning we used just simple paper and pencils. However, when Paper 53 for the iPad came out it was our go to app for storyboarding. To help my students understand about storyboarding we watched the kids from Animation Chefs explain storyboarding for stop motion. Even though we weren’t creating a stop motion movie the kids on the site did a fantastic job explaining how to create a storyboard for a movie.

Set Building and Filming 

 

  

     The final step before filming was to create the setting. To save time I imported buildings from PC Minecraft into our MCPE world. This was very simple using a few programs on my Macbook. However, when Minecraft PE was updated to version 0.10.0, and IOS updated to version 8, it is not possible to import worlds or structures into MCPE on the iPad unless you use Pocket Mine. Because certain blocks and mobs are limited in pocketmine we often built scenes in both Pocketmine and regular MCPE. This allowed us to film monster fight scenes.

With the scripts printed and practiced we began filming. I used Reflector and Screen-Cast-Omatic to record the screen cast of my iPad. I would act as the camera. One tip here would be to turn off the GUI on the iPad to hide the D-Pad and items. It’s a little tricky to move around but it gives you a nice clear picture.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9zv2Idm2r4 (trailer)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wi8cEwF88Ho (Full Movie)

Experimenting and Having Fun

We began experimenting with filming techniques such as green screen and camera angles. Also, we used a lot of different apps to add special effects to our movies. Here are a few apps that we’ve used and how we incorporated them into our movies.

Toontastic:

Toontastic is the best cartoon creating app on the App store. I use it a lot with my primary students for story telling activities. Toontastic has some fun and cool special effects, like rain, snow, bombs and much more. With the use of a green screen (More on this later for minecraft) we added these special effects to our Minecraft movies.

Green Screen by DoInk

There are a few green screen apps on the app store, however, Green Screen by DoInk is by far the best. We use it all the time for any live action videos we produce in class. Using green screen in Minecraft was a really easy. All we did was create a background with either green wool blocks or blue wool blocks. Once we’ve completed filming students could easily edit the videos in the Green Screen app and add any background or video they wanted.

Super Power Fx by Kuju

One of our Live Action/Minecraft movies was about superheroes. This app was perfect for giving each student super abilities. There maybe a way to incorporate the app into Minecraft but we haven’t experimented with that just yet.

X-Mirage

X-Mirage is a screen mirroring and recording app for the Mac. I was able to pick it up for free during a sale on Cult of Mac. What I like about the app is that it allows students to mirror their iPads to my Macbook and it allows me to record their screen. I have a 15 inch Macbook Pro, so I was able to mirror and record 3 iPads at once. This allowed us to use multiple camera angles.

Green-screening in Minecraft PE

  

 

  

Creating your own green screen in MCPE is very simple. All you need is some green wool or green emeralds as a background and you are all set. We even experimented with green windows in vehicles to simulate moving. In the photo above we used a blue screen to simulate a large forest.

Overall the experience has been very positive for me and my students. Students learned a lot about how to create a movie and spent a lot of time practicing key English skills. This summer vacation we will be working on coding skills. I look forward to sharing our experiences!

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Make your own road

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Here is a great little blog post by one of my middle school students!!

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Sujay tyle was very interested in making or doing chemistry experiences from when he was young. So he contacted to many boss of large companies at age 14 to work with and gained lots of knowledges about business. And when he was 20 he entered Harvard University but he was awarded one of 20 under 20 fellowships and took a leave of absence from Harvard university. Then, he started to have his own business. And he led market strategy at Kyruss a healthcare IT start-up in Boston. He also became the Vice President of the Development of the Scopely and made lots of games.
In this Ted talk, Sunday told us that it’s very important to make your own road. And he used the quote “Two roads diverged in a wood and I-I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” from Robert Frost. When…

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Stephanie coding

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This blog was written by one of my 6th grade students! I am really proud of all the hard work she put into researching and writing her blog!

stephanietedtalks

Hopscotch: making stickman

The reason why I code is to develop my problem solving skill. Also I want to gain ability to think critically from coding. Today, I made stickman with Hopscotch First I drew a circle. Drawing circle was not difficult. When I made turning degree less, it became like more circle. However, next thing was difficult. It was hard to find angles for turning to draw stickman’s body. Drawing legs was difficult because of turning angle. After I finished drawing a stickman, I was proud that I drew it myself.

January 11th hopscotch:making fire monster game

I made fire monster game with hopscotch. I made a game with explanation and it took such a

long time. When i finshed making the game, I was so proud that I completed making

complicated game. After i finished it I added some new rules to the original game. In original game…

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Our Coding Adventure

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Since October 2014, I’ve been slowly introducing my students (first-eight grade) to coding. I got the idea from my dissertation research with iPads in the classroom. A lot of the articles I came across had to do with the importance of kids to learn coding from a young age. However, it wasn’t until I watched a Ted Talk by Alex Klein “Codes We Live By“, did I realize that even though it’s been almost 20 years since I learned coding that I could teach my students the basics of coding.

Scratch Jr

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I began introducing my first graders to coding through an app called ScratchJr. ScratchJr is based on Scratch a popular coding application made by MIT. The biggest advantage of ScratchJr. is that it’s an app for the iPad. We have a class set of iPads so it made a lot more sense to start with ScratchJr. Through the month of November I followed the curriculum created by the ScratchJr. team. My first graders spent about 30-45 minutes a week practicing their coding skills. I was very surprised how quickly they were able to understand how the app worked and how easily they were able to complete the daily challenges I laid out for them. As a final project students created a short story about bullying, which was based on the storybook we were reading at the time.

Hopscotch and Gamepress 

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Choosing a program for my upper elementary students was a little more difficult. There are several apps for the iPad for upper elementary and middle school students. I decided on Hopscotch for a few reasons. First, it was highly recommend by Richard Wells (@ipadwells) and Paul Hamilton (Paul_hamilton). Both of these gentlemen have worked very hard to share their experiences and ideas for coding in the classroom. Second, Hopscotch is easy to pick up and learn but difficult to master. Once I showed the students the basics, they were teaching me by the end of the first week! Finally, the team at Hopscotch are very supportive. I’ve emailed them several times with questions and they were quick to respond. 

For my middle school students and advanced elementary students, I gave them a choice between Hopscotch and Gamepress. Most of my middle school students chose Gamepress because of the interface. However, some switched to Hopscotch because it was difficult for them to figure out how to create different options for their games. The students who stayed with Gamepress did a great job of supporting each other through the process of creating a game.

Blogging 

Each week students are required to write about the game  in Google Docs. This gives them a chance to practice their writing skills, as well as, reflect on their game design. In addition, each students chose a Ted Talk based on video games or coding. After writing a summary of the Ted Talk, students searched for more information about the main idea of the talk. For example, one student watched Daphne Bavelier’s “Your Brain on Video Games.” He learned about how Dr. Bavelier’s team discovered that playing action games improved your eyesight. From there, he found more information to support Dr. Bavelier’s argument. This was also a great way for me to teach my students how to write paragraphs using the MEAL Plan .

For my younger students they learned more about video games through essay writing. Students wrote persuasive essays on the positive and negative aspects of playing video games. My students were surprised to learn that there were a lot of benefits to playing video games. Most of them were excited to share this new information with their parents.

The final part of our Video Game Project will be the showcase of the games. My initial plan is for students to screencast their games and create voice-overs in iMovie.

Our goal is to finish our games and blogs by the end of February! I will update the this post when the first blogs are completed!

Adventure Time: Game Wizard

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Few games other than Minecraft have sparked my interest for classroom use in recent months. The games that have, are riddled with in-app-purchases and advertisements. However, Pixel Press recently released Adventure Time: Game Wizard for the iOS and Android.

What makes this game special is the option to create your own adventure. What makes this gave even more special is the ability to do that within the app or on a piece of paper. (More about this later)

I love using the iPad as a tool for digital story telling. There are so many great apps that combine to engage students in the wonderful world of storytelling. Moreover, these stories can easily be shared or written collaboratively with classrooms from around the world.

Game Wizard is a new and interesting way for students to collaborate on a story through a platform game. The game is based on familiar characters from the Cartoon Network. The game is divided into three sections: Play, Create, Arcade.

Play

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Game Wizard is a simple but entertaining platform game. There are 5 characters to unlock (More to come later), each with it’s own special abilities and movements. The object of the game is to work your way through the different worlds collecting coins, unlocking characters and defeating bosses. To reach the end you will need to use each of the characters’ special abilities and movements at the right time.

Create 

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This is where the app stands above the rest! As I mentioned earlier, there are two ways to create your own game. The first way is to use the in app builder. You begin by selecting a sheet which you use to create your game. The sheets come in 4 different sizes. You can add a numerous amount of sheets to build on to your game! In the build mode you have many options to add platforms, hazards, enemies, and special blocks for your game. The interface is simple to use and a lot of fun. Some of the items are locked when you first begin, however, these can easily be unlocked with gold from playing the game. (No IAPs)

Once you’ve finished creating your game, you can chose from 4 unique design layouts. The layouts really bring your game to life. This is where you add your enemies as well. There is a limit to the amount of enemies you can add to each sheet but it doesn’t take away from the game at all. You can add more sheets to extend your game or you can keep the game to one sheet or level. When you add new sheets your end points become check points which allows you to move more freely between levels.

Drawing 

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The best way to create your own level is to draw it by hand. The game supplies special paper that you can print to create your levels. On the sides of the paper there are special symbols which represent the unique blocks in the game. Once you’ve drawn your game, all you need to do is scan the paper with your iPad and it becomes a new sheet in your game. I would recommend using a ruler because the scanning process isn’t perfect. Some blocks my not turn out as you expected. However, you can easily fix this from within the game editor.

Arcade

The arcade is filled with games created by people from all over the world. This is a great place to share your own created game or find ideas for a new game that you would like to create.

In the Classroom

This game has a lot of potential for classroom use. As I mentioned above I love to engage students with digital story telling tools. For this game I have a few ideas I would like to try in the near future with my classes.

1. My first idea would be to have students create a story based on the characters from the game. They can write the story in their notebooks or create the story in the Book Creator App. Once their stories are completed students would work together to design the levels based on their stories. This would be a great way for students to combine their stories and games in to one. In the end, we would screencast our iPads and students would give a virtual tour of them game, explaining how it connects to their story.

2. Another idea would be for students to create levels and share them with students abroad. Students from other countries would share their levels (Through drawings or the Arcade). Finally, students would create stories from their levels that were share with them.

As you can see, the app has a lot of potential. I am hoping for more characters and level designs to get added in the future. Also, it would be fantastic if they added the Boss characters to the level design, as well as, the ability for children to create their own characters.

short life, long impression! – “A new hope for peace”

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This blog was written by one of my middle school EFL students. She is one of my hardest workers and she has a really bright future!

tedtalkxjoanne

What made Mattie become so famous?

Although Mattie always had to fight pain for his life, Mattie was a well respected poet and peace activist. He began creating and sharing his heart songs at the young age of 3 ( when I was learning to walk 🙂 ), and has ultimately  published six collections of his heart songs poetry books and one collection of just peace essays and e-mail correspondence between himself and former president Jimmy Carter. The first step he exposed his appearance to netizens all around the world, was when he shared his three wishes on the internet at the age of 10, when his illness got worse and he almost died! His three wishes were publishing his own poetry book, meeting former president Jimmy Carter, and to appear in the Oprah Winfrey show, a famous television talk show. As so many people were deeply moved by his…

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Mystery Skype with a Twist

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Mystery Skype

Asia Victoria Skype

Mystery Skype is becoming increasingly popular with schools around the world. Connecting with schools has never been easier. https://education.skype.com makes it easy to find teachers and classrooms around the world to connect with. However, for schools in Asia, connecting with English speaking schools in the Western hemisphere is a challenge. Most schools in the US or Canada for example are between 12 and 15 hours behind. Australian and New Zealand schools are only an hour a head of us here in Korea but because of my school’s unique schedule, we often begin our classes when their classes finish.

Skype with a Twist

Victoria Asia Skype

My students create a variety of video projects. We have our own little news show, we create scary movies for Halloween, and we often choose a video project for different presentations. Therefore, we decided to create videos for Mystery Skype!

The first step was to find a school willing to work with us. I’m happy to say it didn’t take long. I was able to find a teacher in Alberta Canada that was excited to be a part of this little experiment. The next step was to arrange how the videos would be shared. We use Youtube for our blog posts so I suggested using it for this project. To avoid privacy concerns we uploaded unlisted vidoes and shared the links with each other. Another option would be to use Dropbox. It’s pretty simple to use but it’s also easy to run out of space quickly. The final step was to decide on what kinds of questions to ask and how many hints to give. We decided to ask only yes or no questions and each student could share their own hint.

Not Quite Finished 

My students were very excited to get started and very eager to share information about their culture and country. We’ve shared three videos so far and we plan on sharing at least two more. It didn’t take long for us or them to figure out our countries. To keep the game going a little longer we asked the students to try and find the city. We gave more detailed hints which guided the students in their research. Since it’s Halloween we will share a little bit about our Halloween customs with our new friends.