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Since the release of Minecraft: Education Edition (read about it here), I see it used everywhere. Students are using it for fun and teachers are using it with students to give them a creative and collaborative way to demonstrate their learning. But before we get into how it’s being used in classrooms, I have a little story.

Working in the Learning Commons at West, I often overhear student conversations in the morning and see what they are doing on their iPads. One morning before school, a student came into the Learning Commons and ran over to two other students. He said, “Hey! Want to build a huge castle in Minecraft and then blow it up?!” They all seem genuinely excited about the idea and then spent the next thirty minutes collaborating on a castle with the intention of just destroying their work immediately. In another instance, a teacher told me that her students begged to help classmates finish their projects when they had finished their own.

So what does this say about our students?

  • They are really good and fast at building in Minecraft.
  • They know how to work cooperatively and collaboratively in Minecraft.
  • They are perfectly happy “wasting time” in Minecraft with no discernible goal.

So what if we gave them a goal? Why shouldn’t we tap into that passion, creativity, and engagement? If you give it a chance, you will experience strong engagement, a high attention to detail, and some seriously hard work from your students. Take a look at a few examples of ways teachers have been using Minecraft: Education Edition in Shakopee Schools. For more lesson ideas, look here!

3rd Grade Language Arts:

Students created a house for a character from a story they had read. In the house they included things their character would have and use. Students also created a book cover for a recent book they read. When they were done, students used the built-in screen recording features of the iPad and included a voiceover. Finally, they submitted their videos in Seesaw. You can find these activities and more by searching through Minecraft Classroom Build Challenges. Some of the options under Language Arts include create a story setting, design a book cover, and build a treehouse.

3rd Grade Math:

Students were learning about multiplication arrays in Math. They used a pre-created lesson and world to build arrays with their partners to practice multiplication. When they were done, they had to write out the math equation for each array on a slate (chalkboard) in the Minecraft world. This allowed them to see a virtual manipulative to visualize how multiplication works. Screenshots of the completed slates were sent to the teacher via Seesaw.

7th Grade Life Science:

Students in Life Science explored the extinction safari world to learn about ecology and the impact of humans on the extinction of certain species. Students then responded to some questions in a Canvas discussion about what animal they would like to see recovered and why as well as what impact it might have on our ecosystem today.

8th Grade Earth Science:

Students created a model of the Rock Cycle in a Minecraft world which included an exploding volcano. They had to use different types of rocks and create geological layers. When they were all done, they AirPlayed their iPad in front of class to demonstrate their understanding of the Rock Cycle.

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