6 Steps to Successfully Integrate Minecraft in Your Classroom

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I have been asked many times about how to use Minecraft in the classroom.  Educator Wes Fryer is my latest convert and not only for Minecraft’s use in schools, but Minecraft can also be a way to connect with your children.  He explains this in a wonderful blog post.  Yes, Minecraft is one of the latest fads in education, but I firmly believe that this one will last for a long time.  The open-ended game play of Minecraft allows for infinite uses with every experience being different.  Are Legos still popular today?  When explaining Minecraft, I explain that this game/environment is the “modern-day Legos.”  In fact Lego makes a Minecraft microbuild.

So, how do you start using Minecraft in the classroom?

The list below is a start, but understand this fits my conditions within my school and might not work for you and your class.  The links below will be helpful for further reading and guidance.  Please contact me with any further questions.

My conditions:

  • 6th grade 1:1 netbooks

  • I teach ancient civilizations, reading, and writing

  • Wifi connections throughout my school

    • Connecting to a Minecraft account through Minecraft.net is not available while the students are at school

  • I have a Tutorial/Advisor time each day with about half of my homeroom

  • Most of my students have internet  access at home

Simple List

  1. Play the game before you use Minecraft in your classroom.

  2. Gain access to the game for you and your students at school.

  3. What game modes will you use?

  4. How to setup a secure game without any intrusions.

  5. Figure out when to use Minecraft within your classes.

  6. Expectations for the students. 

Detailed List

  1. As the teacher, you need to play Minecraft before the students play the game in your classroom.  This is an absolute for me.  I usually don’t answer a teacher’s questions about Minecraft gameplay unless they have played the game themselves.  You are the teacher and you are their guide.  Is it safe to try a science experiment in your classroom without trying it yourself?  Minecraft can lead to inappropriate behavior if not monitored and if you don’t understand the game, you will make it easier for these bad behaviors to occur.

  1. How do students get access to Minecraft at school?  In my situation, those who own Minecraft are able to install the game at home.  When they come to school they play the game in offline mode and then they have three options.  They can play a single player, create a LAN (group game), or join a LAN.  You can also use MinecraftEdu, which is discussed below in step 4.

  1. What are the different game modes?  (Survival, Hardcare, and Creative)

    1. Survival- This is the basic version of the game.  You “mine” the area and create items to stay alive.  You will use the resources in your area and fight off any creatures that might try to harm you.

    2. Hardcore- Same as “Survival,” but you only get one life.

    3. Creative- This is the version I use the most for my classroom.  In this mode you are given an unlimited number of all the resources, weapons, and tools in order to build anything you can imagine.

  1. What problems have you seen from using Minecraft in the classroom?  The biggest problem is when students create a LAN (group game) or join a LAN.  Within my school district, if you create a LAN game it can be seen throughout the district by anyone who who is looking for a LAN game.  Even though the students are in “offline mode” and are not logged in to Minecraft.net, LAN games are available in single player mode.  Anonymous students are inviting themselves to LAN games and causing problems.  The anonymity has created groups of students who jump from game to game destroying creations and using foul language.  It would take a lot of work to track down these individuals and give consequences.  There is a solution that would give teachers the power to create their own servers (another type of group game) and keep the unwanted out, while monitoring and guiding students that want to use Minecraft in a positive way.  MinecraftEdu is that solution.  It is an education version of Minecraft that was created by a teacher, for teachers and students to use.  Joel Levin, The Minecraft Teacher, is one of the creators of MinecraftEdu and has joined EdGamer for few podcasts over the last couple of years.

    1. MinecraftEdu Wiki

    2. Teaching with MinecraftEdu

    3. MinecraftEdu lesson from ASU’s Center for Games and Impact

  1. When can the students “play” Minecraft?  Down time or when students finish their work?  We need to be careful how we integrate games within our classes.  My friend Lucas Gillispie said it best, “My plea to educators, especially those brave enough to explore game-based learning:  make video game play a part of how you do business in the classroom.  Don’t make it a reward.”  His article, “Don’t Incentivize Games And Play in The Classroom,” does a great job explaining this idea.  Minecraft for me right now is something that the students want to do when they are done with their work within Tutorial/Advisor.  The students are driven to build for fun and to work with others collaboratively.  I have also guided students to build historical creations and there has not been any discussion about grades or earning rewards.  They love to share their creations and they just want to build!

  1. What rules or guidelines should I give the students?  Have the students create the expectations and post them in the classroom.  If you, as the teacher, play the game you will be able to approve the rules the students create.

Have fun building!

Please contact me if you have any further questions.

edgamer@edreach.us


 MinecraftEdu artwork allowed from MinecraftEdu

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