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Design a Zoo with Minecraft - 6-week project-based learning course

Course Description

"Design a Zoo with Minecraft!” is a project-based learning course that incorporates science, technology applications, and mathematics while working on critical thinking skills via reading comprehension and short answer written expression. All while students build and create with Minecraft!


Once enrolled in the course, students have the choice of working on content at a grade 3 or grade 5 level. In this way, the course is appropriate for students in grade levels 2-6 depending on their ability. There are weekly comprehension and math quizzes written for grades 3 and grade 5. Students can choose to complete work at one grade level, or they can complete both grade levels.


Mathematics topics addressed include: geometry/measurement, data analysis, use of the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), and money (all money problems will use dollars and cents).


Prerequisite Skills: (anchor charts/supportive materials will be provided for mathematical problems) At a minimum, with or without support, students should be able to: - solve one- and two-step word problems by adding or subtracting three-digit numbers which do not require regrouping or borrowing across zero (ex: 604 – 501 or 507 + 471). - use multiplication and division within 100 to solve one- and two-step word problems (ex: Nina can practice a song 5 times in an hour. If she wants to practice the song 75 times before the recital, how many hours does she need to practice? 75÷5=? Or ? X 5=75 ) - solve one- and two-step word problems involving dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies (use addition and subtraction with decimals to the hundredths place) - identify triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons, hexagons, and cubes. - find areas of rectangles - find perimeter of polygons (at least three straight sides) - understand units of time (60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day) Reading


Comprehension and Written Expression objectives and activities include: exploration of various zoo related articles and sites, focusing on identifying key ideas and details in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences, determining main idea of a text and using details from the text to support the main idea, and determining the meaning of general academic words or phrases in a text relevant to our subject area. Students will interpret information presented visually or quantitatively (in charts, graphs, diagrams, and/or animations on web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text. Students are expected to engage in discussion posts and short answer questions by writing in complete sentences with beginning capital letters, ending punctuation, using capital letters for proper nouns and the personal pronoun “I.”


Prerequisite Skills: At a minimum, with or without support, students should be able to: - read and comprehend text at a minimum of a 2nd-3rd grade level - compose a sentence with a beginning capital letter, ending punctuation, and capitalize the names of proper nouns (specific people, places, or things) and the letter “i” to represent yourself. Supportive constructive feedback will be provided for written mechanics.


Students are provided weekly assignments. They may choose which grade level (3-4 or 4-5) of work to complete. Advanced students can choose to work on upper-level content, or students needing more practice can work on lower level content. Or better yet, students can choose to do both grade levels!


Math practice will have a strong focus on real-world, word problem application with a Minecraft or zoo theme. Why? Because the world presents math as real life not just as algorithms! These word problems are, dare I say, FUN!  Students will have a weekly article to read with comprehension questions. Minecraft builds will be focused on the weekly reading and math activities. Students will engage in weekly discussion activities. Discussion and posts of Minecraft builds will be made to the online discussion are in the online Canvas classroom for the course. On average, students will complete 2-3 hours of math, reading and written response lessons, discussions, and 2-3 hours of creating their “Zoo” with Minecraft each week. This equates to 4-6 hours of work per week in total.


What will students be creating in Minecraft each week?

Week 1: create zoo blueprint and entry sign

Week 2: animal exhibit 1

Week 3: animal exhibit 2

Week 4: animal exhibit 3

Week 5: animal exhibit 4

Week 6: create 2 extras and final wrap-up


This course will follow a “flexible schedule” and does not have scheduled online meetings. This flexible schedule allows students to work at any time, 24/7 for the duration of the 6-week course. Thus, keeping all students working at a similar pace but not requiring them to attend a set online class meeting time. Each Monday morning (12:00 AM Pacific) the tasks for the week will be unlocked and available to enrolled students via the free online Canvas portal ( Instructions on how to access the Canvas online classroom will be emailed prior to the start date of the course.


The weekly checklists include reading notes, watching video lessons, completing math practice problems, watching video lessons, creating Minecraft builds, and posting to the online classroom discussion forums. The teacher will participate in the online discussion forums to provide feedback and can always be reached via email and through Canvas. To stay on track, students should follow the provided pacing guide each week of which tasks should be completed each day (Mon-Fri). There is generally about 1 hour of work per day. Students should be sure to complete the weekly tasks before the next week of tasks are unlocked to stay on track.

Each student will need a Minecraft account. Any version of Minecraft (PC/Mac computer, Minecraft for Windows10, Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, or other gaming consoles, Minecraft PE for iPad, Android tablets, etc.) will work for this course. Purchase of a Minecraft account must be made separately and prior to the start of class. Instructions on how to build with Minecraft are not part of this course. Students with a few weeks of Minecraft experience through play or otherwise will have the skills needed to complete the builds in Minecraft. 

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