Saturday, February 28, 2015

Minecraft in the 21st Century Classroom

Our blogger for the last day of Indiana's Digital Learning Month blog is Amy Heath, 6th grade teacher at Yorktown Middle School.

I am always observing and questioning my students to inform my teaching.  I evaluate my lessons and assignments based on students' needs and interests.  Over the last couple of years, I became aware of my students love for Minecraft and interviewed students to learn more about the game.

After playing Minecraft and watching students play Minecraft, I realized that Minecraft is a powerful, learning tool.  At first, I feared gaming would control my classroom, but I was wrong.  My students worked harder and longer on research projects because students were not only engaged, they were addicted.

Over time, many students utilized Minecraft to prove learning.  For example, in Minecraft, students created a library where they stored "books" in a treasure chest for research-based assignments.  Students also created museums to explain various concepts such as how a Greek God or Goddess connected to a constellation to recreating villages from the Middle Ages, and when we studied pirates, students created pirate ships filled with biographical information about their pirate of choice.  We have even used Minecraft on virtual field trips.  For instance, we "virtually"  discovered Africa and learned that we could save baby elephants if we created them on Minecraft and posted a picture on Twitter with the #elegram on Nature.org.  When students choose the Minecraft option for an assignment, I have observed that they spend additional evenings and week-ends to create.  I am always impressed with Minecraft projects and thrilled that my students love to work.

Before we begin a project, students and I discuss the criteria for the project and create a rubric.  I conference with each student at project's end to determine if they met the requirements.  To my surprise, students always surpass the requirements showing standard-mastery over multiple standards.  After these experiences, I determined that Minecraft allows teachers to open the gates of creativity and connect the game with various content area literacy and writing standards across the curriculum.  How will you use Minecraft in your 21st century classroom?

Share these example projects with your students.





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