Essential question: What Minecraft game could you create that would help students learn?
To answer this question, I had to start at the beginning. What is Minecraft? According to the website, minecraft.net, “Minecraft is a game about placing blocks and going on adventures. Explore randomly generated worlds and build amazing things from the simplest of homes to the grandest of castles. Play in Creative Mode with unlimited resources or mine deep in Survival Mode, crafting weapons and armor to fend off dangerous mobs. Do all this alone or with friends.”
I’ve heard of teachers using Minecraft in the classroom, so next I searched MinecraftEdu. Minecraft Education Edition is a separate edition of Minecraft that was created by teacher for use in the classroom. Some benefits to the Edu edition that I really like are that the teacher has the ability to limit student interaction with the world, or to permit it. We often discuss the difficulties of internet connection in the bush, but Minecraft Edu can function offline after it is installed. Minecraft is an open”sandbox” game, which allows players to roam and create. The Edu version allows teachers to set assignments for students.
After finding out about the educational edition, I wanted to see what else was already out there. Andrew Miller (2012) has an article on Edutopia with ideas for using Minecraft in the classroom:
- Explore real life buildings
- Practice Ratio and proportion
- learn about survival
- visualization and reading comprehension
The MinecraftEdu World Library (http://services.minecraftedu.com/worlds/) has a list of already created lessons that are ready for use, including ideas for students to experience the setting of the Magic Tree House books, learn and practice coding, fractions, etc.
For use in a 2nd grade classroom, I can see great benefit is using Minecraft as a space for students to make their visualizations from reading “come to life.” Like anything else, I know this won’t work for every student, but it might be just the ticket that some students need to get fired up about reading. Giving students a space to express themselves is very important. It would be really cool for students to then share their visualizations with others and discuss the similarities and differences.
Another idea for a game that I thought of was to go with themes that I teach around. For example when we are reading and learning about penguins, students could create a “perfect” habitat for a penguin using the knowledge that they’ve gained and expressing that through the game. I would want collaboration in the game, so somehow design the space so students could interact with each other and request/trade items and ideas. In the same way, students could create a setting from a certain time period we are studying, including recreating important buildings from the time. Collaboration is very important to me and it would be neat for students to create these settings and environments in partners or small groups. This way they learn how to share ideas and work with others in a respectful and safe environment.
Miller, Andrew (2012, Apr 13). Ideas for using minecraft in the classroom. Edutopia. Retreived from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/minecraft-in-classroom-andrew-miller
MinecraftEdu World Library. http://services.minecraftedu.com/worlds/
What is MinecraftEdu? http://services.minecraftedu.com/wiki/What_is_MinecraftEdu)