So if you are a regular reader, you will know that once I get an idea in my head, I cannot help myself, I have to try it out. Well, true to form, I tried Spore with my Biology class last week and it was a very interesting lesson.
First off the students LOVED it. Even with just me controlling our creature and having discussions at each evolution as to what they wanted, and their reasoning as to why. In the lesson we did not get past the cell stage, but now they are at me every lesson, "Are we playing Spore today?" This of course means that I will definitely be putting in a lot of time to get my head around it, and how to support student learning both within it and outside with it as the base.
Their excitement actually started at a low level, but very quickly got to screaming level when we were getting chased by larger creatures. It was hard to maintain discussions with the whole class, and give everyone input with so few items available (and so few DNA points to spend), so I think a small group project would work much better.
I also spoke to the students who I used Plague Inc with last year, that had also played Spore on their own, for their thoughts as to which would be better. They thought that Spore would provide a more appealing learning space, and a better discussion point for evolution and why things evolve.
At the end of the lesson I spent half an hour (after school finished) discussing the lesson and my plans for the project with the blind student and his support staff as to what we could do to support him in this. He said that while the 3D printed model parts would be cool, he probably only needed the base parts printed and then written descriptions of each different part to make informed decisions and enter the discussion. We also had a chat about which group members would best support him, and describe what was happening as well as what they were doing.
I seem to be doing a lot of planning toward this project, unofficially and all in my head right now, but I am thinking, as part of the project, students must befriend or ally with at least ? other species. By doing this, students will need to think about what parts they need to do this, and this will drive their decision making and discussions into the area where most learning will occur. I don't know how many species to make them befriend, I think 2 is not enough, but I think 5 is too many, so I will need to have a serious play session in the game and figure out how much time it would take and go from there.
On the MinecraftEdu front, we are planning to do an update stream session with the developers to discuss the new features in the 1.7.10 (and before) update and also the future features that are currently being planned or worked on. So stay tuned for more information on times and how to get involved. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave a comment below.