I am finally playing Minecraft. I am using MinecraftEdu to start with just to get my bearings as I will eventually create my own world with this platform. I have been recording my thoughts as I explore the game and conduct my reading for the class I am taking here and here. I did spend some time reading Teaching with MinecraftEdu after going through the tutorial. I even recorded myself going through the tutorial and shared my thoughts as I played so I could capture what I was thinking as I was playing in regards to education.
Teaching with MinecraftEdu for MinecraftEdu is essential for any educator thinking about bringing the game into their classroom. It provides more than enough information to get started. You could spend days clicking on all the links. One of the things that I caution anyone with when using Minecraft is not losing sight about why kids love Minecraft to begin with. They have autonomy, purpose, and a chance for mastery. The openness and opportunity to carve your own path is what makes this game work. As I read through all the ideas for the first lesson, please don’t narrow the options so low due to your fears as educator that kids hate it. You have to let them go. Let them prove to you their learning!
I work with middle school students. As I continue to think about Minecraft as I play the game and slowly develop worlds to meet Iowa Common Core I continue to read and find ways to prove support to use MinecraftEdu to provide an avenue of creativity and critical thinking through game based learning. At the end of this article are 5 links to sites you can read. I will reference a few that really stood out to me in my support for making this a reality in my school.
I read a quick blog post, Why and How to Use Minecraft in the Classroom?, and the basic and key idea of the article and Minecraft is that
“Generally, teachers tailor their lessons as per the game. But with Minecraft, they can change the game as per their curriculum.”
This is a key idea because you don’t have to change your teaching. You change the game to fit your teaching. That is powerful with any tool or tech we infuse in classrooms.
I also read Mineclass – How to set up an Interschool Minecraft project and my brain instantly started spinning with ideas. I love global projects and colloboration so I am already reaching out to people to figure out how to develop a project where students would work together across the world in a Minecraft project.
So what am I going to create with all these possibilities? Here are my current ideas, but I would love any new ideas you can provide.
Where has my experimenting taken me in regards to education?
Idea 1: Use Minecraft to build trench warfare. Create a basic post based on schematics found online. Students would then have to conduct their own research and build the enemy trenches or add on to what currently exists. I would be focused on the following standard
Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand the use of geographic tools to locate and analyze information about people, places, and environments.
- Understand the characteristics and purposes of geographic tools and representations of the earth such as maps, globes, graphs, charts, models, grid systems, aerial and other photographs, GIS, satellite–produced images and databases.
Idea 2: MinecraftEdu Free Play with emphasis on Reading Standards for Informational Text. With this idea students would have to do “research” on how to manipulate things in Minecraft. The project would explain the key standards and learning targets and through scaffolding leave it up to the students to prove their mastery of standards. In their world and along with screenshots and video they would demonstrate the following standards:
Analyze how two or more authors writing about the same topic shape their presentations of key information by emphasizing different evidence or advancing different interpretations of facts.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.
Employ the full range of research-based comprehension strategies, including making connections, determining importance, questioning, visualizing, making inferences, summarizing, and monitoring for comprehension.
Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Idea 3: Students develop their own science experiment within Minecraft using Science as Inquiry. My thought here is that students create their own investigation and then conduct their ideas in MinecraftEdu to discover what happens. Throughout this process they are reminded of the scientific investigation process. I see this as more of a kickoff to the year to just get their brains working again.
I don’t have these connected to standards yet, but here are a few others I have in my mind.
- Build a world that with the use of switches and redstone you create a utopian world that can turn to dystopia. Thinking more language arts genre type project to showcase understanding of reading.
- Recreate the lock and dam system along the Mississippi River to showcase science standards at a local level. I don’t know how to get water to move or how to build the locks and dams to allow water to flow and rise. Not sure if possible, but it would be cool.
- Recreate the Quad Cities to provide a local historical map of what was.
Last, I think it is a no brainer that no matter what project you create you can easily cover every standard within the Technology Literacy strand of 21st Century Skills.
Articles to read