Teaching and technology thoughts!

MinecraftEDU Survival Island

Posted: January 22nd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

While looking for some inspiration for some MinecraftEDU lessons I came across a post from PCGamer that lists the top 25 custom Minecraft maps. The post lists 25 great custom Minecraft mods but one really intrigued me, Survival Island.


Above is the screenshot of the entire map. On the surface Survival Island is a small sandy island with only one tree. The main goal is to survive with the limited amount of resources available. This would be challenging enough but there are also some secondary challenges that players need to accomplish:

Challenges/ Goals to Accomplish:

  • Build a 2 story house with 20+ windows in it.
  • Build 10 bookshelves.
  • Create an automated cactus farm.
  • Create an underground tree farm.
  • Create an above ground mob/animal trap.
  • Build a water trap around the skeleton spawner.
  • Build a cart system.
  • Make something with redstone.
  • Gather 10 unused diamonds.
  • Find the treasure of the Lost Curator.

Using the information block from MinecraftEDU I added the secondary challenges onto the island:



The response has been pretty interesting. I had to reset the map after the first session because nobody saved any saplings, so there was no more wood after the tree was destroyed. This was also before I had posted the secondary challenges.

I think this idea could be used in lots of different subject areas. It definitely requires collaborative problem solving and team work. I think it is ideal for teaching about renewable vs. non-renewable resources maybe even deforestation and overall it is very engaging.

You can find the survival map here.

Let me know what you think.


Flipped Classroom Infographic

Posted: March 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Call for MinecraftEDU collaborators!

Posted: March 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

I have been toying with this idea for a couple of weeks now and just decided to go ahead and throw it out there and see what happens. I am setting up a MinecraftEDU server that can be accessed by any teacher. The hope is to have teachers collaborate and create a Minecraft unit that can then be made available for download. I think that having teachers collaborate on a particular unit will yield a better product than if any one teacher attempted this on their own. So, my initial idea is to create a Unit or Lesson based on the architecture and history of Ancient Rome. The idea came to me after finding this map available for download. The map has several identifiable Roman structures that could be used in a lesson about Roman architecture. My hope is that teachers will jump in and start adding assignments. Along with the server I have created a Google doc that will allow teachers to add written assignments or questions. The goal is to bundle this document with the map and give teachers the option of printing the document and giving it to students to fill out as they explore the city.

The plan as I see it will work like this:

  1. Server set up with Romecraft map.
  2. Give out the IP: Contact me for IP
  3. Set up a Google Doc to allow teachers to add assignments. This document will be bundled with the map download.
  4. Give out teacher password: Contact me through twitter (@warrenbez), email or leave a comment to get teacher password

Obviously, opening the server like this makes me a little nervous, the opportunity for griefing is huge, but I think the openness allows for more people to jump in and collaborate. This is the first iteration of this idea and future attempts may require a whitelist or private invitations. But for now I am going to  hope for the best.

So, if you are interested jump on to the server and take a look at the city and maybe even add an assignment.

Recreating a school using MinecraftEDU.

Posted: February 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

A portion of my multimedia class this year has been devoted to learning and using MinecraftEDU in creative mode to build a scale model of of our school. The students measure different parts of our school and then estimate how many block would be necessary for recreating that part of the building in Minecraft. 1 Minecraft block is equivalent to about 3 feet 3 inches. The project is coming along quite nicely. Below you can see the video of the project as it stands now. We have focused our attention on the middle school building and football field for right now. This part of the project is about 2/3 complete.

Teens and Technology Presentation

Posted: February 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Below you will find an online version of a presentation that I gave in January for parents. The topic was “Teens and Technology”:

MinecraftEDU Lesson

Posted: February 21st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Minecraft | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

I have been intrigued by the use of Minecraft as a teaching tool for a few months now. It seems to be a great tool that teachers can use for immersive, authentic learning in their classrooms. The students in my “Robotics and multimedia” class are using MinecraftEDU to build a replica of our school. They are in creative mode and there is some good progress being made. I will post a video of the completed project near the end of this year.

Today, however, I used MinecraftEDU for my first social studies lesson. I am currently teaching a Tennessee history class. Part of the curriculum for this class deals with the founding of Nashville. I was looking for a way to have students understand the difficulties that settlers faced when establishing the first settlement along the Cumberland river. I decided to have them use MinecraftEDU to create a replica of Ft. Nashborough.

Below are the instructions that I posted for students:

Fort Nashborough

You are part of the Robertson and Donelson parties that have arrived at French Lick near present day Nashville. You are a part of a group of settlers that must build a permanent settlement for your families. Your group will need to build a stockade that will protect you from animals and native american attacks.
There are two parts to your construction. First the entire group must get together to plan your stockade. Using this site as your guide you will need to decide how large to make the fence that will serve to protect you from animals and native american attacks. Your second job will be to create. The site above will give you a good idea of what your house should look like.
You will need to meet as a group to sketch out your stockade on the whiteboard. Elect a leader that will run your meeting. Remember to include two-storey buildings on the corners of your stockade that can be used for shooting over the fence.
  1. On a piece of paper draw a floorplan of your house. Your house must include:
    1. Bedroom area large enough for your family of 4
    2. Fireplace
    3. Kitchen area
  2. Find a location within the stockade to place your house.
  3. Decide what types of raw materials you will need to build your house.
We will be using a software program to build your stockade collaboratively.
Your grade will be based on the level of authenticity of your personal house and of the stockade. We will compare your completed stockade to that of the current stockade in Nashville.
The results were better than i thought they would be. The students elected a project manager who called on them to propose ideas for their stockade. He did a good job of keeping students on track when they were proposing silly ideas, he reminded them that their Minecraft structure needed to be authentic. The design of the stockade was laid out on the board and groups of students claimed certain projects to work on. The students worked for about 45 minutes and below are some screenshots showing their results:


Engagement was tremendous. Students worked in pairs and they were really proud of their creations.

Links for POA Social Media Class

Posted: February 1st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

What we will Cover:

  • Creating a gmail account as the basis for our other social media accounts
  • Create Facebook account
  • Change privacy settings
  • Update profile
  • Upload photos
  • Tag photos
  • Upload video
  • Discuss chat
  • Create account
  • Find people to follow
  • Send a tweet
  • Twitter Lingo
  • Direct Messages
  • Hashtags
  • Trending
  • Mobile
  • Create account
  • Upload video
  • Set privacy settings


Get Timeline
 for your profile.Facebook:


Avatar Editors:




Turning off Presenter Tools in PowerPoint 2008

Posted: August 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Technology Tips | Tags: , | No Comments »

We recently upgraded our computers to Snow Leopard and Office 2008. One of the “upgrades” in the new version of PowerPoint was that when connected to an external display the slideshow would play with presenter tools showing on the laptop and the usual PPT slide visible on the external display. This caused several problems with the projector I was using and so i wanted to turn this function off. Unfortunately, this is not an easy task in PPT ’08. I did not find an answer using Google, so I was began playing with the tabs in the new “Ribbon” in PPT. I eventually came up with the solution, I am sharing it below:


Turn off Presenter Mode in PPT 08


iPad Apps list

Posted: August 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: iPad, iPad Apps, ipads in the classroom | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

This fall our school will be piloting 2 iPad labs. The goal is to see how well the iPads work in the classroom environment. Can they become a replacement for the current macbook carts we are using. Here is the tentative setup:

Apple TV–To allow for screen mirroring in iOS 5



iRespones Pro: turns iOS devices into classroom response systems-$4.99

neu-annotate:allows students and teachers to annotate pdf files-FREE

Doceri-Turns iPad into interactive whiteboard-$50

BoardCam-Turns the iPad into a document camera-Lite version-FREE

Google Apps for education will be used for presentations and writing papers.


This is just a tentative list that I am sure will be revised as the school year begins.