In the Beginning:
The past week or so I have been looking at how to integrate the hugely popular game Minecraft into my lessons.  The whole experiment came about because I had heard of a couple of schools that had used it and a college of  mine was using in during his volume lesson.  Not to mention the hugely popular nature of the game itself.

I decided to investigate the potential of this 'game' by setting up a world where the students had to interact with questions that I had left for them.
To begin with it was a little disjointed as I had very limited knowledge of the games capabilities. I had to call upon a student in my class to teach me. Straight away this made him the Professional in the class and since introducing Minecraft into my lessons I have watched his social skills develop.

Social Skills
Prior to using Minecraft in class Student A was a quiet student who choose not to contribute to class discussions unless called upon.  Student A had a small group of friends who they interacted with but did not actively interact with all members of the class.  With the introduction of his area of passion I watched him approach, communicate, and help almost all members of the class.  He was called upon to install and describe the most inner workings of the game and I witnessed his oral skills take a huge leap. He had to very quickly learn how to give instructions clearly to save himself from repeating them.

After having Minecraft in the class for less than 1 week I have seen Student A create new friends and develop his oral language and that wasn't even an intended outcome.

We have been using Mincraft for almost a term and the social implication have been astonishing.  The language that the students have to use to describe locations, directions and crafting has increased the classes vocabulary.

Students have become more focused during lessons which include the use of Minecraft and are generally excited about exploring the new words. I have a core group of students that arrive early to school so they can continue with their learning and about 80% of the class that wants to stay in during break times.

Originally I set out to create an environment where the students would be introduced to volume.  The whole Minecraft world is made from blocks that are completely square, 1x1x1. The students arrive in the world to find and introductory cube. The instructions say that 1 cube in 1 cubic metre and give the mathematical reason why. As the students follow the path the discover 3 cubic metres. The students are then introduced to a large block which they are to explore.  This is much the same as when the students are given blocks at a desk however the fact that it is on the computer and they are able to fly around make it more engaging.  The students continue to explore the environment set up for them answering questions and getting up close to large structures.

During the lessons there was a huge amount of discussion between students as to how they solved each question. As the students were talking through their strategies the others were able to watch on their screen and follow the processes.

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Exploring Enlargement
As the teacher I was able to manipulate the environment as questions came up and was able to watch over the students and their pace through the lesson. I was easily able to see who was quickly grasping the new knowledge and those that needed additional support.  At the conclusion of the lesson the students were challenged to design their own house that met predetermined criteria.  The area of their house must be.... the volume of their house must be....

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Exploring Volume
I was very impressed with the way that Minecraft was able to support the learning in the classroom so began researching more widely on the internet.  I came across a site that sold MinecraftEDU. This program has opened a whole new world for me.

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Exploring Tessellation

I have now created a server with a world named 'Mathlandia'. Here the students start in an ever growing classroom with a variety of rooms. As the teacher I am able to open different learning areas and direct them through different learning opportunities. Today the Geometry Room was open and the Reflection door and Tessellation door were open.

MineCraft edu
Avatar World - Students homes
The student walk through the world contained within fences and 'Boundary Blocks' this ensures that the students don't wonder to far off task and don't miss important information posts.  Once each student reachs the 'end' of each area they are teleported back to the main building where the can choose to explore another room or head to their house where they are to craft using the skills they have just learnt.
I have found the 'freedom' for the students to learn and explore at their own rate to be empowering while the programs ability to constrain and direct students, manageable from a teachers point of view.


The next progression for the use of Minecraft in my class is to use the program during Literacy.  Next term our focus is on environmental impact and preservation of the environment.  I am in the early stages of planning but at this stage am thinking that using the novel 'City of Ember' may be an interesting way of addressing the topic.



Mystery Skype

Mystery Skype is one of those ideas I wish I had thought because it just so fun but instead I was lucky enough to hear about it.  The concept is simple:  classrooms Skype call each other and try to guess where the other classroom is located either in the United States or in the world.   There are many great resources out there but for my own sanity I am creating one list for future reference:

Classroom recounts

Mystery Skype Signup


Creating Classrooms We Need: 8 Ways into Inquiry Learning


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