MinecraftEdu is a phenomenal tool for educators. The possibilities are endless and I am already planning how to integrate MinecraftEdu into language, mathematics and social studies units.
I found that a one hour setup before each session really helped me to stay focused on exactly what the students had to achieve. It also helped me to become more familiar with MinecraftEdu as a tool. The social computing skills that the students were able to develop far exceeded my expectations. It was a safe, easy to use digital environment for young students to be able to interact, collaborate and create together.
A Minecraft Inquiry Unit Plan:
This really is just the beginning. I am going to continue my ‘Minecraft Inquiry Blog‘ as I continue to research the possibilities of Minecraft in an inquiry classroom.
I realised I have had to learn a lot of new vocabulary quickly. Students are already familiar with Minecraft which left us teachers new to Minecraft constantly researching definitions. I decided a MinecraftEdu glossary aimed at beginner educators would be a useful addition to my Minecraft Inquiry blog.
Throughout the Minecraft lessons the students helped to create an assessment rubric. Student suggestions are listed below which we then constructed into a rubric.
The students identified a range of skills required to be successful in our Minecraft Inquiry including face-to-face social skills as well as ‘in game’ social skills. They also felt it was important to follow the plan and recognised that this was related to staying on task.
As in all aspects of education, the more time and effort I put into the Minecraft lessons the more the students get out of them. I have now scheduled an hour’s set up for each lesson where I just explore the world, check on student buildings, and prepare any assignments or additions for the lesson. This has really helped me to understand the expectations for each student for every lesson, which in turn helps students to be successful with clear guidelines.
My Initial Observations
Student engagement in MinecraftEdu is staggering. Every student is completely focused on their task for every minute of the lesson. Every single lesson ends with disappointment when the students realize they have to stop working. This level of student interest is remarkable and motivates me to consider how else I can integrate MinecraftEdu into our curriculum.
The social and thinking skills that the students are developing are incredibly beneficial. Elena Malykhina discusses in ‘The Scientific American’ the impact that digital games can have in education. The challenge for teachers is trying to find the time to assess how to best utilize these resources. Hopefully my ‘Minecraft Inquiry‘ will support other teachers hoping to incorporate MinecraftEdu in an inquiry classroom.
My aim is for students to plan and design a new school. They will have to consider the relevance of the learning areas they design and hopefully add some creativity. The focus will be on working collaboratively, developing cooperation skills and listening to other perspectives.
I have decided to introduce MinecraftEdu in our school and to use this as the tool for students to design their learning environments. My first task is therefore to familiarize myself with MinecraftEdu. I decided to create a blog to document my progress.
As a group the students decided the best strategy would be to design new classrooms in small groups. I then decided to enforce the presentation zen principles of designing offline. I created a planning sheet for students to complete before they logged in to MinecraftEdu.
I aim for the collaboration process of designing and building to be beneficial for all students as they all have an equal voice. All students will design in groups and then build using their own computers build together online. This will give all students to collaborate and be creative when building.
As an educator my aim is to become more knowledgeable about MinecraftEdu by broadening my PLN.
If you work in a primary school chances are you have heard your students discussing Minecraft. Currently over 21 million people have purchased Minecraft. There are a staggering 7 billion views of Minecraft related activities on YouTube. Clearly it is very popular. My question is ‘Can Minecraft enhance student learning in my classroom?’.
Image from Flickr by Thomas Wagner
I have researched how many teachers have integrated Minecraftedu successfully into the learning engagements. I have read and learnt from previous coetailers’ blogs about integrating Minecraft into a primary classroom, in particular @wayfaringpath @mikehoffman and @biggles. I am hoping to learn from their experiences and to build a valuable resource for teachers like myself. My aim is to create a blog that is aimed at primary teachers interested in integrating Minecraft into their classrooms.
The first draft of my Minecraft blog.
I am particularly keen to see how Minecraft can integrate into an inquiry classroom. I will be focusing on how the PYP transdisciplinary themes can be used in Minecraft, as well as looking into possible conceptual links with the PYP key concepts. I am also hoping to see any potential ways to teach language, mathematics, social studies or science learning outcomes.
It is my aim to provide a simple guide for primary inquiry teachers to integrate Minecraft into their units.
A Unit of Inquiry: Design a School
I have designed a unit of work that will help to introduce MinecraftEdu to students. The project is deliberately open to enable students to follow their own ideas. Students will be working collaboratively on designing and building a new school. They will have to justify features of our new school design and then follow a plan to all build it together. We will also be focusing on cooperation skills so that it is a collaborative learning experience. The detailed plans are below:
My main concern is that, although using Minecraft will be fun, it may not be academically rigorous. I am also worried that it will be a distraction for students. In regards to my blog my concern is that I am repeating what other teachers have already tried to do. I am also unsure of how using Minecraft can be linked to our curriculum as I will be learning as I inquire. I am also concerned about the technical side of using Minecraftedu as this is the first time it has been used in my school.
This will be a new experience for me. I have not yet used Minecraft or seen it in action in the classroom. As a homeroom teacher I will be rethinking how I can teach all areas of my curriculum to find authentic links through Minecraft.
In an inquiry-based PYP classroom I rarely prepare lectures for my class. I want to be part of their learning journey to assess prior knowledge, address misconceptions and plan the next day of learning depending on student understanding and ideas. However, using video reminders after a lesson has been very useful. I decided to design my own infographic, based on Knewton’s, to target the specific needs of my flipped classroom.
Below is an example of how I have begun to put these ideas into practice.
Every now and then in education you stumble across something that has a big impact in the classroom. Kahoot.it is a simple idea and very easy to use. It is attractive, fun, engaging and has seeped into all curriculum areas of our classroom.
My class are constantly requesting more Kahoot quizzes. We even have our own style of chair dancing emerging thanks to the catchy tunes. If you haven’t tried Kahoot yet I recommend it!
It is clear that Minecraft is currently a major influence on primary-aged children. The excitement of even mentioning a mine, and the many conversations in class that can be related to Minecraft is impressive. I first saw it used in the classroom by @donovanhallnz in 2013 and began to realise the potential of Minecraft. I now feel ready to launch an ECA and have just received approval for site licenses and a server. My research has now begun and I have found some excellent information on some coetail blogs including @davidc, @wayfaringpath@chezvivian, @holtspeak. My new project awaits!