Friday, December 12, 2014

Together, Positive, In Chaos


It's been an amazing adventure: GiverCraft. We read The Giver by Lois Lowry; we joined the GiverCraft MineCraftEDU community. We built a community based on evidence from the story, then were thrown into chaos as the memories returned when Jonas, the Receiver, left, leaving the memories to be found around our GiverCraft community. We built the memories and shared them in snapshots of GiverCraft and in words that expressed our interpretations of the story: What if the memories returned to everyone?
Everything we did, we brought back in discussions to the text -- what would Jonas have done? the Giver? What would the other characters do? Why do you think so? How has the community changed? But we learned more than "find the central idea" and "use evidence from the story."
As we worked through our memories in the new chaos, the students were concerned that some of the players did not follow the agreement we had all signed, to play nicely and not interfere with others' work. Yes, we were thrown into chaos, but we asked the person to stop. We asked again. Each time, he said, "No." Twice he provided food, but most often, he interfered.  It was a difficult discussion for my students, many of whom know that life is not always easy and structured perfectly; that struggles and difficulties can happen daily by events beyond their control-- they are independent-minded and are expected to solve their own problems, and they are family-oriented and are expected to help each other. And here, in their game, where they had agreed to certain constraints, here were people who did not follow the norms to which our students agreed and followed. They had the power to help each other, but not to stop the problem. They were indeed in a "new world" from which they could learn about life.
"What do you think?" I asked.
"We think there should be rules."
"There should be rules for people who just do anything anytime even in others' places and stuff."
"The should go to 'grievers,' or be kicked out for the day."
"We can't stop him; there needs to be rules."
And they wrote about it:
We are like the Giver because they had rules just like us. There are rules so people don't go in to other peoples things. Also because if we didn't have rules people would do whatever they wanted.
If you find a house don't go in it because we need a law to not to break stuff.
There was some people who was throwing potions at my friend's horses and they ran away but we got them back and they were throwing invisibility harming; we should have a rule for no bad potions.
If I had to make a law about the new world it would be that you wouldn't be able to break block unless you were ask to break that block for the player and the consequence would be that you would be kicked from the games for two days.
I'm going to make a fence around my property and I'm going to make signs that say "please stay out or please don't destroy", please and thanks too. We have laws In the real world; they don't go on to other people's property without permission-- that you can, you can't hurt anybody but since we have nobody to tell us what to do people can do what ever they want. But In the real world, people can do whatever they want If we didn't have laws.
We have laws in the real world because if we didn't have the laws we wouldn't be learning in our schools right now. We have rules in Givercraft and we follow those rules because if we don't we wont be doing the project about the Giver. Also if we didn't have laws people would be able to do what ever they want to do and steal stuff, hurt people,and say mean words to everybody.
The students understood why we have rules and leaders, and they found ways to solve their problems in positive ways. This is learning beyond the stuff of standards; its learning in life.
One other school group was recognized for revolting against the elders [which would be unheard of in our real-world community -- elders are respected and cared for]. The players apparently wanted more freedom and captured the elders. I understand that sometimes rules interfere. But I also heard the voice of those during the chaos -- that in their efforts to survive, their work was hampered not just by the new memories, storms, and dark of night, but also by players intent on adding to the chaos. The students tried to have a meeting to consider their choices; they put up signs to protect their stuff, and they talked to the person. They felt powerless, and struggled with their desire to maintain their agreement and their frustration with not being able to form a community better than sameness: free, but with an agreement -- free to build with their memories, with the freedom to work through the memories, and without someone interfering. They did not want sameness, but they wanted freedom to work together.
So today was the last day to build memories, even with our intruder. And they felt good about their decisions to find positive ways to work together -- to collaborate -- around the extra chaos. That's an important lesson as well.
And today was the day we were honored with an interview in Google HangOut with the author, Lois Lowry. One student already reflected on the experience:
Scene 2 final day
Today we watched the interview with Lois Lowry. There was a lot of people there. The person [Lois Lowry] said that she based the books on her father. The father is forgetful because he forgot that his oldest daughter had die when she was 28 years old. A lot of the kids had to tell how they finished the memory and what they did to finish the memory.
The students heard the author's process, a "What if...." and imagining a character for the answer. They heard how the community of sameness developed:
[paraphrased from author] My family was in the military. We’d have a wall around the base and community and everything was orderly with lots of rules. Every evening a bugle would play. We’d have to stop what we were doing and stand at attention to watch the flag lower. It was filled with rules, no crime, but not like real life and that’s what I was thinking when I created the Giver.
They learned that many kids write to Lois Lowry about the book. “There could be love,” is a quote from the Giver and a tattoo on a boy’s arm; the boy sent her a book to be autographed with a return envelope.
They heard how to build memories, especially "a wedding memory," which helped them in their last play at GiverCraft.
We learned so much, thanks to GiverCraft and Lois Lowry and her book and interview. We learned how authors get ideas, we learned that sameness is "mean and boring," but that chaos is frustrating because "In the real world, people can do whatever they want If we didn't have laws." And we felt good about ourselves for choosing to work together in positive ways, as we had agreed. Because we learned from The Giver, "There could be love."

Thank you, Lois Lowry and GiverCraft.


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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing with us! I participate as part of the Givercraft team, but also as a teacher. So my focus was much more on what my class was doing. I'm glad to read that you had a such a rich experience with this project. Their pondering of the situation with the intruder shows a lot of maturity and good perspective.

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