Getting started is easier than you think Minecraft Education in your class. During FETC 2023 session, technology specialist Kristen Brooks of the Cherokee County School District provided insight into how she engages her students with Minecraft Education.
“When kids use Minecraft in the classroom, they get so wrapped up in what they’re doing that they forget they’re actually learning,” Brooks said. “Students excel in their learning when they are encouraged to create projects in a style or format they prefer.”
Here are some of his tips for getting started and maintaining enthusiasm for Minecraft Education:
You don’t need to know how to use Minecraft Education to use Minecraft Education in your classroom.
“What if I told you that you don’t need to have the fear factor?” When I started teaching Minecraft to my students, I had no idea what I was doing. The bottom line is that you don’t have to be the smartest person in your class,” Brooks said. The sooner educators accept this, the sooner they feel comfortable.
“There’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘We’re ALL learning in this class at once,'” Brooks added.
Set clear expectations for building in Minecraft Education, with students and parents.
It is not a game, it is an educational tool which must be used with intention and must conform to the standards. Brooks reviews the learning standards to find something that will lend itself well to building in Minecraft.
Let parents know that students are not playing Minecraft. They build in Minecraft Education to demonstrate their skills and knowledge, Brooks said. Using this terminology is important and helps frame a mindset that is more about learning than playing.
Start small, with teachers and children.
The district identified small groups of teachers and invited them to pilot Minecraft Education. It was presented to principals and administrators with clear expectations: it is not a game, but an educational tool that must be aligned with standards. It also brought in an external professional development trainer to help teachers get started with Minecraft Education.
Younger students might need help with the basics at first. Create signs or posters with login information and ask more experienced Minecraft users or older students to come help younger students.
If teachers are still feeling nervous, they can create a Minecraft Student Ambassadors (MSA) program. This after-school club usually attracts older students who learn more about Minecraft Education so they can help out in their classrooms or with younger students.
Educators also have access to specific support areas in Minecraft Education. Once in Minecraft, tap Play at the top of the screen and go to View Library to access tutorials for learners of all ages. Topics include science, math, computing, equity and inclusion, art, esports, and more.
Understand that Minecraft Education can be used in all content areas.
Brooks offered scenarios where Minecraft Education elevates student engagement and brings a lesson to life:
For literacy, students can create book covers and design book sets. Older students could recreate houses, villages, or other structures that feature prominently in assigned readings. Building structures or sets can also bring social studies lessons to life.
App Smash with To return to. Students read a book, write a book talk script, create the setting in Minecraft, and record themselves walking through the set while reading the book talk. Students upload their recording to Flip to share with their class.
App Smash with Green screen: Create a story setting in Minecraft Education, then create a silent screen recording while walking through the setting. Students write a book conversation script and use a green screen application to record their book conversation.
“I love teaching my kids to create more than they consume, and I love teaching them with tools that will help them learn,” Brooks said.