I submitted a new professional development program to the CILC this evening for “Minecraft and MinecraftEDU in the Classroom.” The CILC’s website (The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration)  is the primary videoconference-based professional development resource I use to advertise after-school videoconferences I teach for other teachers on a variety of technology integration topics. Since I went back into the classroom last November as a fulltime elementary STEM teacher, my availability to travel to conferences for professional development has been significantly curtailed. I’m still presenting and traveling, but I’m limited now to just a couple days per month. Videoconferencing after school from my house, therefore, has become one of my most important as well as enjoyable ways to share ideas and earn some extra money as a professional development consultant.

This is the “short” description I included tonight for “Minecraft and MinecraftEDU in the Classroom:”

Learn how Minecraft and MinecraftEDU can be integrated into your curriculum. Invite your students to create simulations of places, events, and concepts in the engaging and creative environment of Minecraft. See examples of student-created Minecraft projects and learn how to get started with MinecraftEDU.

This is the longer description:

Minecraft is a “sandbox virtual world” offering opportunities for students to create simulations of places, events, and concepts in the school curriculum. MinecraftEDU is a customized version of Minecraft designed for educators to provide more control and limits when using the software in the classroom with students. In this session, we will view examples of student-created Minecraft simulation projects as well as teacher-created lessons. These will include projects addressing social studies, math, and other content area standards. This session is geared toward teachers of upper elementary and middle school age students, but Minecraft and MinecraftEDU can be readily used in other grade levels. Basic use and configuration of MinecraftEDU server and client software will be demonstrated and explained.

I included two different websites as resource links for teachers to use before and following the CILC videoconference: The MinecraftEDU curriculum page on my STEM website and the “Simulations and Games” page of Mapping Media to the Curriculum. The latter includes several different student-created Minecraft examples. I’ve been using MinecraftEDU in my classroom the past year, and am AMAZED at the levels of engagement and “flow” which students experience when they are creating, building, collaborating, and exploring in Minecraft. I have NEVER seen the levels of engagement and flow at any school, anywhere, which I regularly observe with MinecraftEDU in my classroom. Minecraft is such a powerful and open-ended “sandbox” world for student creativity and expression that I think it borders on professional misconduct to ignore it entirely. Since I’m integrating MinecraftEDU as one of five centers/stations in our STEM classroom “Maker Studio” this year, I have students every day (usually four per class) creating, building, collaborating and learning in MinecraftEDU. It’s awesome!

The ways two of my own children (Alexander and Rachel) were able to demonstrate and model creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving using MinecraftEDU this past summer at the “Create, Make and Learn” week-long STEM institute in Vermont were truly amazing. I was a first-hand witness to the power of student voices and perspectives in professional development to transform adult/educator perceptions about things like “Minecraft in the Classroom.” One participant in particular was initially very negative about the value of Minecraft to enhance student learning prior to the session they helped out with, which was led by Kevin Jarrett. Afterwards, the same teacher was ENTHUSIASTICALLY convinced Minecraft is a very powerful, engaging, and potentially beneficial environment which can be leveraged to support student learning in MANY ways.

I recorded videos of both Rachel and Alexander presenting in the CML14 workshop on Minecraft.

My search of CILC professional development offerings tonight didn’t turn up any existing sessions on Minecraft or MinecraftEDU. Hopefully the videoconference I’ll be offering will “open more educator eyes” to the positive potential for Minecraft and MinecraftEDU to be used inside and outside the classroom to support student learning!

For more about Minecraft, check out Alexander’s October 2012 presentation for the K-12 Online Conference, “Creating and Playing in Minecraft.”

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3 Responses to Minecraft and MinecraftEDU in the Classroom

  1. Trish Cloud says:

    I’ve been using MinecraftEdu for 3 years in after school clubs and in school based projects last year and this year. We have used it for digital story telling, Mathematics, and Social Studies. The engagement and excitement is there, just channel it for your purpose. There will be a Minecraft Unsymposium and loads on Minecraft this fall from the ISTE Games and Simulations Network check it out…bit.ly/GamesandSim.

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