Minecraft in the Classroom

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.

 References

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

Minecraft. http://minecraft.net

MinecraftEdu World Library. http://services.minecraftedu.com/worlds/

What is MinecraftEdu? http://services.minecraftedu.com/wiki/What_is_MinecraftEdu)

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8 thoughts on “Minecraft in the Classroom

  1. Camille Varin says:

    Your examples of uses for MC to help with visualization during reading were very helpful to me. I’m still trying to find more variety of ways to use MC in my classroom as a high school ELA teacher. If you think of anymore or find any resources along the way, I’d love it if you shared them with me.

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  2. aletakmay says:

    Kayla,

    When we used Minecraft Edu (Givercraft) as a small group of six students, there was a Read 180 and math lab group going on at the same time. The bandwidth would usually on allow 2 to 3 students at a time on to build together. We were trying to tie in the collaborative aspect so that they could create scenarios and add to them as we read through the book. I was able to get them to stay after school to work together for a few weeks. After awhile, some of the parents wanted students home for chores, and I even had another teacher pulling them out of my “just gaming” time to complete paper homework in their room. My goal was to connect our students with students working on the same project in another Western Alaska village, but we could not build use the texting feature to build and collaborate with low internet bandwidth.

    I did have students build their own spaces individually during class, which did work, and there was a lot of out of the seat sharing ideas and talking more and more about what they were building. We worked out who would build which part of a scene so they were adding to an overall picture, then I added their pictures with their verbal comments on the pictures to a word wall called padlet.com

    Aleta

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    • akreadingteacher says:

      Did you see the students become invested in their project? It really sounds like you had something good going there! I think the collaboration aspect is so awesome, whether it’s done through the game or face to face at desks. Your idea of connecting to other villages through the project is so great too. I wonder i this would be a possibility over time, as our internet gets faster and technology continues to advance?
      Thanks for sharing your experience! The way I see it working in my mind is during a Genius Hour setting–this would help with limited computers and bandwidth issues 🙂

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  3. Sara Lucas says:

    The MinecraftEdu World Library is an AMAZING resource!! Thanks for sharing this. So many things I didn’t know existed and worlds that can be added on. I really wish I had computers now. I think you might be able to add some of the mods on but it is much more complicated.

    I think your visualization ideas for lesson plans are great! I saw the visualizations as the most common use from reading this week. It seems like whatever you can make on paper you could make in minecraft.

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    • akreadingteacher says:

      It’s always fun to find things that are already created! Why reinvent the wheel, right?! 😉 I was reminded by another blog post, that Minecraft might be the right tool for some situations and some students, but maybe not for everyone! It’s our job to read into the interests of our students and the needs of the project 🙂

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  4. Kodiak Reading Teacher says:

    I really like your idea of using MC Edu in the classroom to recreate habitats and or historical buildings fitting your themes. Like you said for some kids this opportunity to use technology to showcase understanding is just the right thing. For me learning how to use MC to teach would mean I have to learn a lot more about MC then I already know (which is not much). Thankfully I think my students could show me a thing or two.

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