Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Minecraft & MinecraftEDU

When I began my current teaching assignment 4 years ago I had no idea who Steve was, what a creeper was or had never set my eyes on Minecraft whatever this weird obsession all of my students were constantly discussing. When I finally asked a student to introduce me to Minecraft, to say I was surprised is an understatement, in a world of 3D images, hi-fi televisions, here was a game with block images and nothing over the top imagery wise.

If you have to this point escaped the world of Minecraft, think Lego but interactive and with endless possibilities. Minecraft presents the user with a blank canvas and the ability to create and craft their own world, images, castles, your imagination is the limit.

Our first introduction of Minecraft into the classroom environment was through Ipad, we purchased it on all of our 15 schools Ipads and began exploring it with our students. Ipads allowed students to connect with eachother and build projects together, however with Ipads you are limited by only having 4 users in the same environment. The first year we did some introductory lessons and activities. One of our math projects saw students working in teams of 4 to produce a building to scale, they could select any building, research its dimensions and build it to scale in Minecraft, then present from their Ipad to the class.

After the first year we saw the strong reaction in our students and pushed to transfer from the tablet to the laptop. After some research online I contacted teacher gaming, which until recently owned Minecraft EDU, they have created their own unique version of Minecraft tailored for the classroom. (Last week Microsoft purchased this company and is launching their own Education Minecraft version this summer). For $450 we received 25 user licences allowing us to download Minecraft original as well as Minecraft EDU on our school laptops.

Last year in the first year of having Minecraft on the laptops we started MInecraft clubs, I held meetings 3 days a week, one day for high school students and one for 7/8 Boys and one for 7/8 girls. I made the decision to separate boys and girls in 7/8 for Minecraft based on observations in the classroom, a number of the girls were resistant to participating with the boys but the girls club on its own quickly reached and on some days exceeded the boys club for participation.

Working with high school teachers last year in my school we utilized Minecraft in a number of ways, in high school math to explore area, perimeter, volume and planning for construction technology. In 7/8 we used it for math, history and geography.

There are now updates that allow students to program in Minecraft opening up more curriculum connections and opportunities for students to explore and share their knowledge.

I will be having a page devoted entirely to Minecraft and how we are using it, be sure to check that page for updates and highlights of our adventures through the world of Minecraft.

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