Today in my EDCI 336 class we learned how to play the education version of Minecraft! When used correctly, Minecraft can be an excellent resource to help students with socials, science, and math activities. Minecraft is very popular among present day elementary and middle school students so you can actually use your students as a resource to teach you how to play. In my EDCI 336 class we were taught by a group of grade 7 and 8 students from a local middle school. As teachers, it’s important to realize that we don’t know everything so this method of enabling your students to teach you something will drive their learning and grow their confidence.
Most elementary and middle schools in the Victoria/Saanich school districts have access to the newest version of Minecraft so you can easily use it your classroom. Before learning about how to play Minecraft, I had my hesitations but now I see how beneficial it can be in the learning process! For example, I was worried that my students would be stuck to their screens and not interacting with each other but my class was constantly talking to each other off screen when we were learning today. Minecraft is great way to get your students to collaborate with each other and I promise that they will continue to work together after school hours (they just have to share their IP address to play together!). I also wasn’t sure how to assess Minecraft projects but my professor recommended observing your students as they are working to see if they are addressing the core competencies of the BC Curriculum. Finally, I was worried that I would not be able to monitor my students on Minecraft but as a teacher you have full control of your students. For instance, you can transport to your students, freeze and mute them and transport them to you! You also are able to make your character invisible to your students so that you can watch them without them knowing.
To use Minecraft as a resource in schools I would recommend teaching the concept first and then using Minecraft as an activity to help with the development aspect of your lesson. For example, pressing F3 on your computer allows you to see your coordinates on the Minecraft grid. You could create a math project around this to help your students understand the x, y & z coordinates. Another example is for an ancient civilization unit in social studies. An activity to help your students learn this concept is to have your students create a civilization with design mode on Minecraft and then changing it to survival mode with monsters and your students have to survive with resources that they would only have during that time period.
For more information on Minecraft in the classroom and Minecraft school projects visit education.minecraft.net.