Fairly recently I did the unthinkable, I invited Minecraft into my lessons- and I haven’t looked back. Like many teachers I had often overheard the incessant whispering or ‘Steve’, ‘Creepers’, ‘Villagers’ and ‘Pigs’ and I had decided it was enough! I was going to sort out this Minecraft thing once and for all!
It was at this point that I looked into Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi, this comes with the ‘Noobs’ software (available at: https://www.raspberrypi.org/). After a few hours of getting used to the controls I could see the potential. So I thought I would test the waters a bit by exploiting the children’s love of this ‘sandbox game’ in explanation texts. They would explain to this novice (aka me) the different features of the game, controls, how to play, getting started and even what it is. Heck they might even make some progress! Win win!
Within a week, I had some excellent writing from the children in my Year 5 (age 9-10) class, which they were incredibly engaged with, as they were ‘the experts’. Also, I then decided to continue with this thread of enthusiasm by using Minecraft in Topic as we needed to design an Anglo-Saxon village; I must say I was impressed. Within twenty minutes, every child in my class had created a house, with rooms inside and fashioned their own windows (no glass allowed). I can’t wait to continue to use more Minecraft and technology in my lessons and I am sure the children agree with this.
To sum up, this digital building block game has been a gift to my lessons. I have enjoyed even more engagement from my class and this has led to a deeper understanding, which they can take home and practise whilst playing on their games. More importantly, the children really enjoyed this! Granted I may not do this for every lesson and yes Minecraft does have some pitfalls such as growing crops in saltwater? However, hopefully the children will go home and switch on the goggle box and make the connection that they explained to the ‘philistine’ of a teacher what Minecraft is and how it is played.
Perhaps they will create a pyramid when we cover Ancient Egypt, or a rainforest when we learn about the amazon, or even a replica of the Indus Valley! Who knows! What I do know for certain is without creating an opportunity for these connections it definitely won’t happen.
Here is a video by @thecommonpeople , from time-to-time I look here for great ideas this one I found is a parody of the tiger who came to tea. Adam Clarke has lots of great ideas on his Youtube channel, from getting started and controls to lesson ideas.
What are the next steps? Well knowing how gifted my children at designing and building these digital models I could write a description of an area and see if the children could recreate it using inference and deductive skills. I could use Minecraft to inspire some writing. My pupils could create a scene from their favourite book, favourite monument around the world, or even build a perimeter and area problem for their friends to solve. I must be honest, and I know it sounds somewhat cheesy-pie but the possibilities are endless for the curriculum. The more I type the more I can think of ways this game of digital building blocks could be utilised in the classroom. Also, with the recent developments of Microsoft buying Minecraft and the educational version MincraftEdu I’m sure there will be developments over the next few months.
Our week of Minecraft:
For more ideas of how Minecraft has been used in the classroom you can view:
Mr Parkinson’s Blog: http://mrparkinsonict.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Minecraft
@MattPEducation ‘s Blog which shows English and Maths strands and how they can be achieved. http://5tanfieldlea.weebly.com/blog/minecraft-literacy-and-numeracy