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6 Minecraft lessons offer a motherlode of learning

By Team ISTE 1/21/2016 Gamification STEM

News that Microsoft is buying MinecraftEdu and beefing up the classroom version of the insanely popular game got us thinking about all the great ways educators use Minecraft to teach everything from math and social studies to team building and cell biology.

"As an educational tool, Minecraft is a wonderful platform for learning," says Pam Simon who runs an after-school program called Fidgets2Widgets that has incorporated Minecraft since 2013. "You have to have mathematical understanding to build sound structures. Architecture and design features allow for innovation. Redstone in the game acts as the electrical circuitry system, so you can run minecarts, light torches, and create pressure plates."

Read these six articles to get ideas for using Minecraft to engage students in deep leaning in your classroom, school or program.

1. Minecraft: A primer for teachers

Ed tech specialist Karen Richardson describes how students use Minecraft to recreate book settings, practice geometrical concepts and build interactive historical simulations, such as Colonial Williamsburg. The game teaches kids not only content knowledge but also hones their decision-making and collaboration skills.

2. Use Minecraft to teach math

Fifth-grade teacher Jim Pike calls Minecraft the most powerful education tool he’s ever seen. That’s why he and education consultant John Stuppy created a website and server called Mathcraft, where teachers can find Common Core aligned math lessons and play the game with each other.

3. Ideas for Using Minecraft in the Classroom

In this Edutopia blog post, online educator Andrew Miller shares four ways to use Minecraft in the classroom to help students understand topics such as architecture and ratio and hone their survival and reading-comprehension skills.

4. Can Minecraft teach team building?

Discover what happened when high school teacher Doug Kiang challenged students to build and maintain an entire community and village that would parallel their experience in the face-to-face classroom.

5. Minecraft 101: The underwater dome project

In another team-building exercise, Kiang asked his students to build him an office completely underwater. This homework assignment had students working together outside school hours to tackle a complicated assignment. Find out how they solved a complex problem.

6. The Minecraft Cell: Biology Meets Game-Based Learning

Ninth-grade science teacher Dan Bloom describes how he worked with a game designer from Institute of Play to create a cell model in Minecraft that could mimic the real properties of a cell so students could experiment with it in the game. Find out how you can tailor lessons for your curriculum in this Edutopia post.

Looking for more Minecraft ideas? Join ISTE’s Games and Simulations Network to collaborate with more than 1,900 like-minded educators.

Photo by Kevin Jarrett licensed CC BY 2.0

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