Making It Real in Minecraft

For those that know me Minecraft is a big part of my classroom.  It is an engaging tool I use with my students to not only to reinforce concepts, but also showcase their learning in classes like math, language arts, science and more.

Funny enough, I was recently in a webinar where I listened someone talking about using Minecraft in the classroom.  Going into this webinar, I was quite proud of what my students were doing with this program in class.  As the speaker went on though, I started feeling kind of bad about the kinds of things I had my students doing.  According to what the speaker shared, the kinds of projects I was doing only tap-danced on the surface of what this program was able to do.  These kinds of projects were only superficial and I wasn’t using the program to its fullest potential.  I honestly walked out of the webinar going okay, I need to reflect and looking at using it better.

I guess for me the thing is that I work with primary – I work with the littles.  I honestly think what my kids are doing with Minecraft rocks.  Last year’s class created a new zoo for Ivan and Ruby from the “The One and Only Ivan”, they recreated the White House, the Golden Gate bridge, they made Array cities to showcase their understanding of multiplication.  Then this year’s class has only been working with the program for a little over a month and they have made fraction towers in math and houses to suit characters from their independent reading novels.  They are learning – how to mine and use this program, how to build and create so that the vision they have in their head comes to life.  They are learning to collaborate and compromise so that everyones’ ideas play a part.  They are learning to problem solve – when they want to build a piece and it just won’t work, how are they going to figure that out.  The funny thing is Minecraft is helping hone these important skills.  Perseverance is a word we use quite often in my classroom and funny enough, this is not an issue when it comes to building in Minecraft. And every thing my students create they are so excited and proud of themselves for the work they have done.  So you know, I am not going to negate that because one person said this is not enough.

The amazing thing as well is that they are using this program, in my opinion, to a great potential. Recently I gave them the following real world problem. There is a new school being built soon in our school district.  I asked them to be part of a design team and design how they think this new school should look. They needed to decide what would the focus be on this new school and create it.  The next step was a Dragon’s Den style presentation where the teams would present their design ideas to judges.  The thing is the judges are going to be the actual principal of this new school, a school  design planner from our district, and a Minecraft expert from our IT department.  The teams will get a chance to “sell” their designs to these judges.  Now how more real can that get?

So to those people who are just starting out on their own Minecraft journey, I am going to give the following advice – its okay to start where you are comfortable. We are all at different spots in our journey in Minecraft and trust me, there are some amazing people doing some amazing things.  It’s easy to get intimidated and convince yourself you aren’t ready to use this because you aren’t as good as this person or that person and what they are doing.  I was there myself not too long ago.  But what you need to remember is that we all started somewhere and if your start is one small, simple project then trust me, your kids will be excited and overjoyed. Minecraft has so much potential in the classroom, its up to you to take that chance and let your students prove to you what they can do once you give them that opportunity.

As for me, like I shared, I can’t wait to see what happens with my littles and their school design project.  I am also excited to see what comes in the new year in my own Minecraft journey.

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