Small Cubes, Huge Opportunities 

Throughout the last year I have been experimenting with the game based creation tool called Bloxels and I have been blown away by the possibilities. What amazes me the most are the attitudes of the students as they receive feedback from their peers and revise their game creations. These little blocks pack an amazingly powerful punch when it comes to learning. (I’m not receiving anything from Bloxels for writing this.) 

We have gone through many different ideas with creating games and Bloxels has an incredible amount of possibilities. Our first try with Bloxels was through a design thinking project on how to help kindergarten and 1st grade students interact with fairy tales. Third grade students designed and storyboarded many different fairy tales and then had the younger students come to class and give a great amount of feedback using the KAT protocol. What occurred then was amazing to watch. These younger students were providing authentic feedback, not just good job or that’s cool, but workable feedback that my students could use. I had to sit back and wonder why this was happening and it struck me right away. These 3rd graders are owning their creations, not to present to a teacher, but they know who they are creating it for.

Those are the moments when you know that the tool you are using is a great addition to anything in the classroom. Sure you can use the app for free, but the board makes it so much better. The hands-on ability to build and recreate after getting feedback allows for so many different possibilities. After this first round and many other rounds of feedback and recreating we were able to present to the younger students our fairy tales. Let’s just say that smiles and laughter were had by all!

Unique ideas lead to unique opportunities and these games really bring those opportunities to the surface.

Our next time around has been with a flight perspective. Students have been designing games and exhibits to create a children’s museum experience for students and staff at our school. As students have been learning about the different forces of flight, we’ve been working on trying to think of other ways that people would learn about flight. Students are designing games that help you to learn about how birds fly, ways that airplanes work, paper airplanes, how aircraft fly in space etc…. There is no way to tell a student how to build, the only way to help is through facilitation. I can only ask them questions, but more importantly they have to ask themselves and their classmates questions.

What’s so amazing about these ideas is Bloxels allows for students to create a base game and then begin to add artwork, backgrounds, animate characters, add facts through the storyblocks and so on. I could go on and on about the amazing chances that this product gives to students, but it would take way too long. I want to express to you that this type of product is something that students thoroughly enjoy working with and no matter how frustrated they might get with their games, they don’t, simply because they are the ones creating, not just consuming.

Our flight museum is still a work in progress and I am excited to share the final product with you all when that time comes, but for now go to the Tutorial page and learn a few things. Then head on over to the Infinity Wall (type in 221,6 for our Little Red Riding Hood game) and check out some of the saved creations from our class.

Each day students are asking when we get to work on our games and so many items go into that learning. I work with my standards and incorporate them into so many of our games, but what’s even better is the ability to create, communicate, collaborate, and think. These 4 items are prevalent in everything we do and to the students it doesn’t even seem like work. Time always flies by and sometimes we have to rearrange the schedule because students are so involved. Isn’t that what we really are striving for in our schools? The chances that students have to create and be excited to come each day, knowing that they are owning their own learning.

We all have the opportunity to create so take a moment today to download the bloxels app or head on over to Bloxel Lesson plan page and check out the awesome goodness happening there. Also if you are interested in purchasing the boards, many local retailers carry it and Bloxels sells classroom sets too! Finally, check out the twitter tag #bloxels to see what others are doing with these small and amazing creative blocks.



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