It’s easier than you think to begin using Minecraft Education in your classroom. During an FETC 2023 session, technology specialist Kristen Brooks from the Cherokee County School District offered an overview of how she engages her students with Minecraft Education.
“When kids use Minecraft in the classroom, they’re so engrossed in what they’re doing that they forget they’re actually learning,” Brooks said. “Students excel in their learning when they’re encouraged to create projects in a style or format they prefer.”
Here are some of her tips to get started and sustain enthusiasm for Minecraft Education:
You do not have 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 first started teaching Minecraft to my students, I had no clue what I was doing. The main thing is that you are not required to be the smartest person in your classroom,” Brooks said. The quicker educators accept that, the quicker they become comfortable.
“It’s OK to say, ‘We are ALL learning in this classroom at the same time,’” Brooks added.
Set clear expectations for building in Minecraft Education—with students and parents.
It’s not a game–it’s an instructional tool, must be used with intention, and should be aligned to standards. Brooks goes through learning standards to find something that will lend itself well to building in Minecraft.
Let parents know that students are not playing Minecraft. They are building in Minecraft Education to demonstrate skills and knowledge, Brooks said. Using this terminology is important and helps frame a mentality focused on learning rather than playing.
Start small, with teachers and kids.
The district identified small groups of teachers and invited them to pilot Minecraft Education. It was introduced to principals and administrators with clear expectations: This is not a game, but an instructional tool that must be aligned to standards. It also brought in an outside professional development trainer to help teachers become comfortable with Minecraft Education.
Younger students might need help with the basics at first. Create signs or posters with login information, and have more experienced Minecraft users, or students in older grades, come in to help younger students.
If teachers still feel nervous, they can create a Minecraft Student Ambassadors Program (MSA). This after-school club usually draws in older students who learn more about Minecraft Education so they can help in their classrooms or with younger students.
Educators also have access to specific support areas in Minecraft Education. Once in Minecraft, tap on Play at the top of the screen, and go into View Library to access tutorials for learners of all ages. Topics include science, math, computer science, equity and inclusion, art, esports, and more.
Understand that Minecraft Education can be used across all content areas.
Brooks offered scenarios where Minecraft Education elevates student engagement and brings a lesson to life:
When it comes to literacy, students can create book covers and design book settings. Older students could recreate houses, villages, or other structures that figure prominently in assigned readings. Building structures or settings can also bring social studies lessons to life.
App Smash with Flip. Students read a book, write a book talk script, create the setting in Minecraft, and record themselves walking through the setting while reading the book talk. Students upload their recording into Flip to share with their class.
App Smash with Green Screen: Create a story setting in Minecraft Education, and then create a silent screen recording while walking through setting. Students write a book talk script and use a green screen app to record their book talk.
“I love teaching my kids to create more than they consume, and I love teaching them with tools that will help engage them with learning,” Brooks said.
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