Thankfully, this year, we worked through the schedule and the class is now engaged in the recreation of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, based on the research students have done to understand what the city may have looked like.
Working in small groups of two to three, students have chosen an architectural structure, ranging from Great Temple, to marketplace, to Chinampas (floating gardens) and other significant buildings. We designated one team as City Planners. The City Planners were required to map out where various structures were located in the city, and to coordinate with all the builders accordingly. City Planners also distribute supplies out to the various teams. For those who know Minecraft, City Planners were set to Creative Mode, while the remainder are set to MinecraftEDU mode. This latter mode gives students a mixture of creative and survival in that they do not need to worry about hunger or the gathering of supplies, but they also cannot fly. City Planners, on the other hand, need to fly as they review the progress on the overall city plan.
This inability to fly for regular builders has created a stir in some of the players, particularly one of the pyramid groups. They asked for special permission to fly in order to speed up their build process, but were denied. To get around this, they created an innovative system of building out each corner with initial blocks from which they could quickly push out the layered blocks. It was wonderful to see their process of working through a challenging issue with given design constraints.
We are about mid-way through the unit, and while it has taken time for some players to get acclimated to the environment, we have reached a state of flow. I look forward to the end result, but the process has lived up to my expectations and far exceeds what I could have done on my own.