Tag Archives: Integrated Projects Week

Artifacts from our #MinecraftEdu #IPW2013 showcase at @The_School

One of the many things that make The School at Columbia University special is our Integrated Projects Week (IPW). Students break up into small groups with faculty advisors and explore something in depth for a week. On the last day of the last week before Spring Break, there is a showcase of all the projects. This year, teachers actively tweeted with the hashtag #IPW2013 on Twitter. A variety of tweets were shared or retweeted from The School’s Twitter account (@The_School).

Over the years, I’ve led Haunted New York, Black Rock Forest Leaders, Digital Archivists, Paper and Book Making, and Minecraft (this is the 2nd year of Minecraft). I partnered with 7th grade English teacher, Albert DeGrasse, to explore the geography and architecture of New York City in order to inspire the virtual world our 4th-7th graders built on our private MinecraftEdu server. We visited the Panorama of the City of New York at the Queens Museum of Art, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, and the High Line Park. Our Google site with our collected reflections, images, and videos is here.

Today is the showcase, and tomorrow I will sleep late.

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The geek shall inherit the earth: Video of kids from @The_School building a #Minecraft city

This is IPW week at The School at Columbia University. Integrated Projects Week is a week when normally scheduled classes are suspended, and kids sign up for a week of in-depth exploration of selected topics. It’s one of the things that make The School so special.

I’m collaborating with Don Buckley and Gina Marcel to lead this Minecraft IPW. We bought 10 licences of MinecraftEdu and are couching the kids’ exploration of the virtual environment with conversations about architecture, city planning, Minecraft Lexicon, and best practices for collaborative building projects.

We also went on some field trips to observe city structures and integrated spaces: Monday, we visited the Queens Museum of Art to see the Panorama of the City of New York. Tuesday, we took an architectural tour of The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Wednesday, we walked the full length of the High Line park to see how abandoned elevated train tracks were transformed into a unique park that inspired many of the newer buildings around and above it. Thursday we spent the day at school choosing an area on our hosted landscape to plan and build a joint city

This has been my first time in a room full of kids actively playing the game. I’m surprised by their interest, investment, conversations, learning, hypothesizing, sharing, and willingness to experiment. Their communications have not all been positive – building too close to each other, sabotaging each other’s strucures, exhibiting disrespectful physical/virtual behavior  – however, each incident is a teachable moment, and we’ve had reinforcing conversations about respect, appropriate behavior, community norms, etc. Overall, I’m watching them demonstrate the importance of “Play.”

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Awesome demo of a Makerbot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer at our NYCIST meeting


At our April NYCIST meeting, we saw a demo of a Thing-o-Matic 3D Printer by Isaac Dietz (@dietz1) of Makerbot Industries. Makerbot (@Makerbot) is based in Brooklyn, NY. Brandi Kaseta is the assistant to Ellen Baru (Director of Technology at The Cathedral School); After Brandi attended Botacon (themed “Robots For A Better Future”), she knew that the rest of us at NYCIST would be pscyhed to see the printer in action. Thank you, Brandi!

The Think-O-Matic comes as a kit and takes about 16-18 hours to put together. Some soldering is required. I joked that they could create a Thing-O-Matic-O-Matic which would be a printer built just to build other printers. Isaac said that in fact that had already been accomplished. The printer uses ABS plastic, just like legos. You can use their software, Sketchup, or other 3D modeling software to create a design up to 4″x4″x6″. Also, there are close to 10,000 pre-made templates and objects you can download and create at http://Thingiverse.com.

The Thing-O-Matic kit sells for $1299 on the site, and there is an educational discount on top of that of about 13%. Plus, the purchase would be tax-exempt. Contact Makerbot at: Support@makerbot.com

More resources:

Video of the printer in action is below:

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Making paper with 1st/2nd graders for Integrated Project Week (IPW) at @The_School

The School at Columbia University has begun Integrated Project Week (IPW). Our K-8 community splits into small groups and embarks on an intensive week-long study of…something. In previous years, I’ve facilitated:

  • Haunted New York where we researched spooky sites around the city, visited these locations, interviewed people, and gathered all of our footage into a 19 minute feature film (using iMovie). It was an incredibly serendipitous experience, and I fell in love with the city all over again.
  • Digital Archivists where we talked about how to save information and gather data using a variety of new media tools – digital images, videos, servers, cloud computing, blogs, websites.
  • Black Rock Leaders where we talking about survival tactics, sustainability, and nature before camping in Black Rock Forest for a couple of nights
  • Five Boroughs in Focus where we visited locations in each of the five boroughs of New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens) taking photos and using them to illustrate personal blogs. The writings included a variety of styles: narrative, short story, fiction, poetry.

I’m used to middle school dramas and odors, so this week is a revelation (already). I’m paired with Danielle Morris, a ridiculously talented primary school teacher, and we’re teaching kids how to make paper and books and employing a Writing Workshop so students can use their books to house original stories.

I’ve already been on a soap box talking about using bamboo instead of trees for paper making and building purposes. Also, we’ve gone on a tour of our school, gathering paper from office shredders to use as the “pulp” and paper from recycle bins to use as the notepaper inside. We’ll be using the back of this “found” paper to give new life to a potentially landfill-bound resource and reinforce my favorite trio of words: Reduce, reuse, recycle.

So far, I’ve survived the first morning. That’s something. 🙂

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