Getting started is easier than you think Minecraft education in your classroom. During the an FETC 2023 session, technology specialist Kristen Brooks of the Cherokee County School District offered an overview of how she engages her students in Minecraft learning.
“When kids use Minecraft in the classroom, they get so caught up in what they’re doing that they forget they’re actually learning,” Brooks said. “Students succeed academically when they are encouraged to create projects in a style or format they prefer.”
Here are some of her tips for getting started and maintaining enthusiasm for Minecraft Education:
You don’t need to know how to use Minecraft Education to use Minecraft Education in your classroom.
“What if I told you that you don’t need to have a fear factor? When I first started teaching Minecraft to my students, I had no idea what I was doing. The main thing is that you are not required to be the smartest person in your class,” Brooks said. The sooner teachers accept it, the sooner they will feel comfortable.
“It’s totally okay to say, ‘We’re ALL in this class at the same time,'” Brooks added.
Set clear expectations for building in Minecraft Education—with students and parents.
It’s not a game, it’s a learning tool that should be used purposefully and should meet standards. Brooks studies the standards to find what works well for building in Minecraft.
Let parents know that students are not playing Minecraft. They build Minecraft Education to demonstrate skills and knowledge, Brooks said. Using this terminology is important and helps to create a learning-oriented, not a play-oriented mentality.
Start small, with teachers and children.
The district identified small groups of teachers and invited them to the Minecraft Education pilot program. It was presented to principals and administrators with clear expectations: It is not a game, but a learning tool that must be aligned with the standards. It also brought in an external professional development coach to help teachers master Minecraft Education.
Younger students may need help with the basics at first. Create signs or posters with login information and ask more experienced Minecraft users or older students to help the younger students.
If teachers are still nervous, they can create a Minecraft Student Ambassadors Program (MSA). This after school club usually attracts older students who learn more about Minecraft Education so they can help out in their classrooms or with younger students.
Educators also have access to specific support areas in Minecraft Education. Once in Minecraft, click Play at the top of the screen and go to Browse Library to access tutorials for learners of all ages. Topics include science, math, computer science, equity and inclusion, art, esports, and more.
Keep in mind that Minecraft Education can be used in all content areas.
Brooks suggested scenarios where Minecraft Education increases student engagement and enlivens the lesson:
When it comes to literacy, students can design book covers and design book designs. Older students can recreate houses, villages, or other buildings that feature prominently in the assigned readings. Building structures or settings can also bring social studies lessons to life.
Application Smash with Turn over. Students read a book, script a book talk, create an environment in Minecraft, and record themselves walking through the environment while reading the book talk. Students upload their recordings to Flip to share with the class.
Application Smash with Green screen: Create a story setting in Minecraft Education and then create a silent screen recording as you go through the settings. Students write a book talk script and use a green screen program to record the book talk.
“I love teaching my kids to create more than they consume, and I love teaching them with tools to help engage them in learning,” Brooks said.