This is an update on where we are at with Minecraft Edu, which we have used for the past 3 years in our 7th grade lessons. It has quickly become a huge favourite for both teachers and students and we are looking at ways to bring it into other grades within the curriculum.
We have done several things with it in the past, such as building it into a fortress challenge, where students use their knowledge and skills from History class to plan and build a strong fortress. Needless to say, we tested out their designs in the end, in survival mode and the action was glorious.
We have also done a Survival Island unit, where we shipwrecked the kids and sent them small challenges each lesson. They had to deal with all sorts of issues, which we threw at them, while trying out their skills at surviving on an island.
Last school year we took a critical looking at the Mars One project and decided to send our kids on a mission to Mars. We found a great map online and landed our kids on it. Again we presented them with a series of challenges each lesson and they did their best to survive. Here is ashort video I did of them while we were working on the project.
We use reflection journals which we build in Google Docs for most of these projects. These are shared through with students, either Doctopus or Google Classroom and they work through them during each unit.
This is the first year we are planning to use it in our 8th Maker Unit. We will spend a week looking at encoding images and have the kids design their own using a pixilation tool. They will then proceed create their designs in Minecraft. Some of our students did a similar activity 2 years ago. Using 8 bit images they found on the web, they built an enormous Mario and Pikachu in Minecraft. I have included a screenshot of this from our video below. (You can also see the students in the chat informing his partner in Spanish that he was building the mouth.)
Finally, we have run Minecraft as part of our gaming club in the past. During this time the Hunger Games was a big deal, so the students decided we should spend a few lessons running the Hunger Games on our server. They created the arena, the pedestals, and the cornucopia. I enclosed the arena for them so they couldn't flee and played the role of Game Master for them. We all had an amazing time.
If you haven't looked into using Minecraft with your students you should. They will build machines, mix potions, use formulas for crafting and have an amazing time doing it. Send out a Google Form to find your Minecraft Masters, put them in teams with a Master in charge of mentoring and leading the builds and let the learning begin! The only thing you may regret is that you didn't start sooner.