We are currently under the transdisciplinary theme "How We Organise Ourselves" and have the Central Idea of Citizens organise communities with systems to meet the needs of inhabitants. We are in the Finding Out stage of our inquiries. While parts of our days right now are spent researching about cities around the world and gaining knowledge about maps and mapping skills, we also have been spending one session a day with SimCity BuildIt.
The app is structured in a way that they are slowly introduced to different systems a city (and its citizens) needs. It links so well to our Central Idea, I almost can't get over it! For example, the first thing they need is a road, then a house, and then very slowly things like power, water, garbage collection, fire department, hospitals, etc. etc. and as the needs of the citizens grows, their choices become a lot more difficult.
There are many real-life factors in the game such as choosing how to spend your money, needing to use factories to create products to sell so that you actually have money, making choices related to the environment and the opinions of the Sims who live in their city, etc. It is interesting to see the different choices each student is making and why.
Each student also has a Numbers document where they need to record the data from the game. This includes things like the Sims happiness, how much money they have, population, and a personal reflection of what they did that day/how their thinking may have changed.
Our pre-assessment was creating a large map of a paper city on our class window. We try to add to it daily, and their knowledge from SimCity is really apparent. Adding a firehouse, roads to get to houses, factories, etc. We will continue this display throughout the 6 weeks of our unit.
The plan is that after they have a good understanding of the needs of a city (and where things need to be positioned) they will plan (on paper) a 'perfect' city. Then they will build this perfect city in Minecraft. These apps are not only proving to be an engaging activity that the students enjoy, but also fantastic tools to aid inquiry and creativity.
After we found out about the systems needed in a city, we made a blueprint of a city on graph paper. Students needed to make sure that their city blueprint has everything needed in a city. When they began showing me because they were "done" I prompted them with questions like "What if my house is on fire?" or "Where will my garbage go?" "How does my house have power?" "Where will I buy my food?"
When their blueprints were finished, they began building those cities in Minecraft. WOW to creativity!! They've really blown me away!
Passionate Canadian PYP Teacher in Vietnam