Did you know that you can use Minecraft for educational purposes? I found this out last year at the CUE 2014 conference. I was so excited to use it.
This past year at the CUE 2015 conference I was fortunate enough to attend another session by John Miller (http://minecraft.edtecworks.com/). He shared a wonderful Japanese poetry project he did using Minecraft. The final product was the students created a Japanese tea garden set to music and lead you on this journey through their poem. There were different sound effects and actions that would happen when you would crossover the action blocks, the poem would even be read to you. I was blown away and that was when I got even more excited for using Minecraft with my kids.
We really used Minecraft this year by incorporating it with our Guardians of Time project. The students had to work with their teams and create a time period appropriate headquarters for their superheroes to live in. After that was completed, their next task was to reconstruct the first setting of their main event from their mission assignment.
This proved a bit more challenging and I had to guide them a bit more than normal so they knew what I was expecting. I gave them all Information blocks, which is special to the EDU version, and the students had to strategically place these blocks around their setting and explain what was so important about this piece.
This was the part they struggled on because they were not sure why certain things were important to, let's say, the Gettysburg address. I spoke with the group about that and finally asked them specific questions like, "Why was it held in that cemetery? Why should we care it was held there? What was the big deal about his speech? How did this speech affect hisory?" After doing this with several groups they started to get the idea.
I was speechless at the outcome. You know, you always worry about the fun activities and that the kids aren't taking much away from it. I really expected the parents to come to Open House and question me on the kids JUST playing Minecraft... but I had a much different repsonse.
The parents were blown away at what their kids were learning with this and the details they were sharing about their specific events. When my principal came in with a board member, one of my students explained, in detail, about where Christopher Columbus set sail from, why it was important, the name of the dock and much more. I was blown out of the water!
I had my kids do screencasts of their projects and you can find them below. It was our first attempt at a screencast, so the volume is a bit low because the kids still felt the need to speak in a soft voice even though they were told to speak normally.