When I was young I enjoyed playing and creating with Lego. Making planes, houses, patterns, you name it … it was fun and I could spend hours with those little plastic blocks. Fast forward a few years and today there is another type of block on the block. It’s not a brick you can feel and stick up your nose … it’s digital and like Lego, but a whole lot more. I’m talking about Minecraft. A simple looking sand box game has evolved and revolutionized how students play and create.
This revolution has gathered a tremendous following. Running around with a pick axe mining, collecting a variety of minerals and other resources, and of course staying safe from creepers and zombies … Minecraft has become a place where kids of all ages can build their own world, make their own rules, and make their own learning. I have watched and played this game with my own kids and I’m constantly amazed with the ideas, problem-solving strategies, and creativity they come up with. Talking with my students at school has also helped solidify my understanding and affection for this game as they have told and shown me worlds they have made themselves and collaborated on with others.
It became obvious to me that this tool had great potential to motivate students in a wide range of ages and abilities and redefine how students are taught and show their understanding. I would consider myself an intermediate player at best, but I was not afraid to a risk and implement this tool in the classroom. Over the past few years, I have had students use Minecraft in social class (a cool reconstruction of the Colosseum along with a tour inside for example), math class (creating various structures and calculating the surface area), and in projects like Genius Hour (recreating our school from a school map). I have witnessed many successful student developed projects using this powerful tool. I look forward to improving upon my own understand and utilization of this game-changer.
There are many resources out there to help you get started on your Minecraft journey. Check out http://education.minecraft.net/ for updates including a free release of Minecraft: Education Edition coming soon. Here is a sway I created showing how one could use Minecraft in a math classroom (https://sway.com/b8kNs42T8hzJ5DeY) On Twitter, I recommend following @immersiveminds, @jpedrech, and @playcraftlearn for ideas on how to use Minecraft in the classroom. Also talk to your students and many of them will have ideas, suggestions, and projects. So pick up that pick axe and dig into it!
One quick plug … I’m facilitating a technology in education workshop this summer for the SPDU on Monday, July 25 come on out … I’d love to share and discuss using in technology in the classroom with you in person(for more info contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or take a look in the summer short course catalog coming out soon). Thanks for your time and feel free to follow me on Twitter @vendi55 and check out my blog at deanvendramin.weebly.com
Dean Vendramin. Educator for over 20 years. Currently Education Leader for Math/Science at Archbishop M.C. O'Neill Catholic High School. Have a passion for all things in education with emphasis on technology integration, assessment, professional development, and 21 Century Education. Posts are articles he has written for the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation monthly newsletter The Bulletin, Saskatchewan Math Teachers' Society The Variable, blog requests from memberships he is a part of, and his own thoughts.