This teaching tool page covers two related resources: Minecraft and MinecraftEdu. Minecraft is a stand-alone video game that can be used educationally, but since it was not designed for these purposes there will be some challenges. MinecraftEdu is a custom-built modification of Minecraft that gives teachers and students more robust controls and features for designing and orchestrating learning experiences. It also streamlines the server creation and hosting process. And while MinecraftEdu increases the learning curve slightly, we think it provides a set of tools that teachers will find indispensable. For more informal or home use, the "retail" Minecraft should be sufficient.
After learning about seven major world religions, middle school Humanities students build in MInecraft Edu as a culminating project.
Working collaboratively in small groups, middle school students research and build important international sacred sites in Minecraft Edu. Within these sites, students invent games designed to teach and test players’ knowledge of different major world religions.
Global Religions Course
Each religion was taught over a one month period and included the following:
Early History, Geography, Spread of religion, Branches, Key People, Key Events, Branches and Modern History, Core Beliefs, Symbols, Rituals, Holidays, and Festivals.Students selected one Eastern and one Western religion to compare and worked in collaborative groups to research a sacred site.
Students wrote essays on the topics listed above, as well as on their sacred site. They summarized the essays into "Fact Sheets" and used these facts in their games. Students also wrote creative dialogues between people of their two selected religions in which they explained a holiday, ritual or festival.
Students replicated their sacred sites in MInecraft Edu and designed a game in which their two religions were taught and compared and in which the players' knowledge and learning was tested. The style of the games was based on student choice and interest, with game design strategy support, testing, and revision in the classroom.
Students presented their work to younger peers first, took feedback and made changes.
Students presented their final work in an evening event to their families.
The learning objectives in the Global Religions unit fall under several strands.
English Language Arts:
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.7.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3 Identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.5 Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
Students demonstrate creative thinking, constructknowledge, and develop innovative products andprocesses using technology.
Students use digital media and environments tocommunicate and work collaboratively, includingat a distance, to support individual learning andcontribute to the learning of others.
Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate,and use information.
Students use critical thinking skills to plan andconduct research, manage projects, solve problems,and make informed decisions using appropriatedigital tools and resources.
Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.