Minecraft sparks curiosity in the classroom
Out-of-the-box thinking is becoming out-of-the-block thinking as teachers leverage the use of Minecraft to engage students in learning.
It’s not exactly the video game students are used to playing at home. Minecraft: Education Edition, or Minecraft EDU, is a game-based learning platform that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in an immersive 3D environment. It is what is referred to as a “sandbox game.” In a sandbox, you can play however or whatever you want. The same holds true for Minecraft EDU: the possibilities are endless. Minecraft is not just for gaming purposes; when students are immersed in different 3D worlds, they can show their knowledge and understanding of what they have learned about.
Teachers are incorporating the use of Minecraft EDU into lessons across various subjects like social studies, math, science, art and even in enrichment opportunities. Teachers can host a “world” for many students to work together or assign students individual worlds for independent tasks.
In Sam Marollo’s third-grade class at Neil Armstrong Elementary School, students used Minecraft EDU to learn math concepts. They went on a fishing expedition, keeping track of the fish they caught with tally marks, then made a graph using the data.
"In a virtual world, it gives the students access to experience we can't always give as teachers,” Marollo said. “Suddenly, their learning is becoming more meaningful as the opportunities are soaring past what a piece of paper and a pencil can do."
Sixth-grade students in Stacy Kanaley’s social studies class at Gates Chili Middle School recently took a walking tour of Mesopotamia and wrote, ”I love Minecraft Education as a tool for showing our learning in social studies because it is both fun, and you get to learn many things!”
Another student shared, “Minecraft really mostly teaches us that characters come from different places and too [sic] be creative, while building and learning new steps.”
Gates Chili innovation coaches are working to support teachers in their use of this new tool. They recently wrapped up a collegial circle of 16 teachers that centered around how to use Minecraft EDU and apply it in the classroom.