Monday, October 5, 2015

Minecraft EDU-It's Way More Than Just a Game

Back in 2012, Simmons Middle School computer science teacher Cindi Morris decided to give Minecraft EDU a try with her 6th-8th grade students. Other than what she overheard from students talking about Minecraft, she knew very little about it prior to installing it in her lab. With some help from her tech coach and a few Youtube tutorial videos, she purchased MinecraftEDU (similar to what her students were playing at home but with features only available in the EDU version), got it up and running and let the students play. Despite there being some technical issues as well as a pretty steep learning curve for Mrs. Morris and her students new to the game, MinecraftEDU quickly became a success and opened the door for all sorts of deeply engaging, powerfully creative AND entertaining learning experiences. Fast forward to 2015 and now you will find that MinecraftEDU is an integral part of the curriculum used by all 3 HCS middle school computer science teachers. MinecraftEDU provides rich, challenging opportunities for students build, collaborate, problem-solve, code, lead, cooperate and showcase their skills and creations in an entertaining digital environment where literally, the sky is the limit. In her classroom, students have used MinecraftEDU to build models of the school library and sports fields, replicate historical settings and events, learn about ancient cultures, apply geometry & physics, give book reports, solve environmental problems, lead, present, and collaborate with their peers, all the while developing their digital ethos. MinecraftEDU has opened new doors for students to tap into their creative side and empowered many by leading them to discover new abilities and potential within themselves. It has offered many a renewed joy when it comes to learning by showing that it can really be all fun and games. 

Here is an example of an 8th grade group project. These students collaborated to build The Parthenon, a structure they studied in their world history class. They had to research the structure, recreate it in Minecraft and give a tour of their project to their peers.

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