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Explorer's Journal

Page history last edited by Melanie McBride 12 years, 11 months ago


[note: I couldn't find anything about the format or focus of the journal and wanted to generate a few ideas about what students might reflect on - please remove this note once descriptions are in place, etc]. This will need a rubric, supplementary example/resources (to show students what each product looks/feels like) and some modeling tips for teachers. Later on, would be good to get some trouble-shooting tips from teachers who have tried this (along with student feedback about what they liked or didn't like/struggled with). Please add more writing prompts - and encourage students to come up with their own ideas! Links to sample entries would also be great.


Entry types


The explorers journal could take the form of an offline, paper and pencil notebook/log folder or online blog. The journal will have two kinds of entries: thematic and personal: 


1) Personal entries - as distinct from thematic entries: this is an opportunity for the student to reflect on his or her learning with the teacher. These are personal, metacognitive, entries that will provide the opportunity for students to offer reflection and feedback about their comfort level, confusion or potential challenges with the unit (and make appropriate adjustments). I would suggest some semi-private format for this (offline paper and pencil or perhaps via message type delivery). These entries are not shared with other students.

2) Thematic "log" entries: These entries will also provide metacognitive potential via commentaries about the student's experiences but will be written in a style in keeping with the "story so far" theme. The entries may include: writing, interviews, drawing/diagrams, screenshots, machinima, audio and any other format that speaks

to multiple literacies (rather than just writing). A blog/moodle format would be great to share the students "log" with their peers, which they will comment on (i.e., blogging based criteria). Three types of journals/entries to consider (depending on the subject focus):


Possible formats and content types:


  • Simple diary format (general intro, all subjects): Things I felt, things I observed, things I experienced. Written in keeping with the thematic structure of the unit (i.e., storyline). Perhaps this might require some modeling?
  • Anthropologist log (sciences, social sciences): You are a scientist/anthropologist discovering a new world. Record your observations about the properties of the world, its flora and fauna, weather, foods, the culture and customs of inhabitants, etc. This might be scaffolded with scenes from popular movies that include a narration of similar style (or example writing in this genre).
  • Artist's notebook (arts/design): Drawings, sketches and artwork derived from your minecraft explorations and experiences. "fan art" interpretations of the monsters, "monster manual", creature and player "stats" (create a stats sheet to describe your abilities, alignments, etc. Hitpoints for animals and monsters, histories, etc). Colour and texture swatches from the world - ideas for textures that are not available. Design concepts, diagrams, and planning notes.
  • Image gallery:  I think this should be incorporated into all of the entries although it would likely be easier for students to upload their images to a central flickr so that they could easy share and explore each other's images - they would use tags to indicate their own images and use these images for their blogs and presentations.

  • Machinima (advanced):  After my first day in minecraft I made a short video of me "noobing it up" (just wandering around my new place and down into my mine with my workbench affixed to my hand :) It truly is noob - which is the spirit of the first piece. Students could create machinima as stand alone entries - or perhaps "final" projects that serve as a kind of presentation of their experience. They could use windows movie maker or mac to include still screenshots, diagrams from their journals and other materials compiled together to showcase their "adventure". I used CC Mixter as a source for open source music (they have music of every style - including videogame "chiptune" and "8-bit" music! but you may want to choose something more thematic to the story - or FX loops).

[placeholder machinima - you can change this to a student example]

YouTube plugin error  


Writing prompts


  • Day in the life: Record observations, feelings, experiences, questions and challenges about your time inworld.
  • How to: How to survive your first night, how not to get killed by creepers, how to guard your house against monsters, how to build a door, how to make a circuit, how to use beds, etc.
  • My story: A short story or letter about your character, your lifestyle, your favourite/least favourite things, your history, your beliefs, etc.  
  • All about [object, material or property]: Choose an object, creature or property you have come across in minecraft and write as much as you know about it (trees, water, creepers, strone, ice, lava, pigs, electricity, zombies, darkness, etc) 
  • Spooky story: Write a spooky story/minecraft "myth" about the more frightening things in minecraft.  
  • Monster or misunderstood? Write a backstory about creepers, zombies or other monster that tells how they arrived at their current form and why they do what they do. Are creepers really bad guys or sad guys? How did the zombies become zombies? were they maybe just regular folks like you and I? Monsters aren't just two dimensional :)




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