Minecraft has the potential to be one of the most effective tools for instruction and engaged, creative, higher-level learning in the 21st century classroom. This project is designed to fit into a History course for students from 6th – 10th grades. The core content necessary to complete this project would be students’ understanding of how multiple ancient civilizations were able to adapt and modify their specific geographic locations in order to start a civilization that survived and ultimately thrived.
The object of the activity below is to have students attempt to recreate the steps that an ancient civilization would take to survive in its infancy. This activity will require students to follow a series of steps in a constrained period of time. Ideally, students should work on these steps in the History classroom under the supervision of the teacher. This would require all students to have a personal computer with Minecraft downloaded on each device. Typically, Minecraft.edu would be used for this activity.
Based on students’ familiarity with Minecraft, 4-5 crafting sessions of approximately 20-30 minutes should be sufficient for most students to complete the assigned steps. Requiring students to work under time constraints, and to complete work in the classroom ensures that students are not spending copious amounts of time crafting at home, and also that students follow the steps.
Game Play Instructions
Teachers should ensure that students work on only their own civilizations, and thus students should switch their wifi off when working on this activity. Students should also play in CREATIVE MODE with Cheats turned OFF. This will allow students’ characters in Minecraft not to get injured and it will also eliminate unnecessary elements of violence from the game: it will ensure that Minecraft is in as educational setting as possible. Students should create a new world when they begin, and they should save their world and return to it each time they work on the activity.
Teachers can tailor the activity by having students work in groups, and by selecting “experts” for each group who are willing to help other students. Given the different levels that students will be at when the activity begins, designating “experts” will ensure some students are not left behind.
Assessment, Application, and Presentation
A key component of a creative build in Minecraft is that the teacher is able to tie the activity successfully to essential common core standards for Humanities: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
Students should NOT be assessed based on their ability to play a video game because this will add undue stress and not be applicable to the students’ mastery of common core standards. Instead, teachers should allow students to reflect on their progress throughout the Minecraft activity and assess the students based on the depth and accuracy of their reflections.