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 the study of a novel unit and provide students with a hands-on, highly engaging way to reimagine and recreate specific scenes, aspects of the setting, and events from a novel unit. This activity works with students in multiple grade levels, and the difficulty, time frame, and method of assessment can be determined by teachers based on the skill set of their students.
Instructions for Teachers
The object of the activity below is to have students attempt to choose a specific aspect of a novel and recreate that aspect or event in a virtual Minecraft environment. Think of students as directors that are attempting to create their unique vision of an author’s work! This activity will require students to creatively attempt to develop the environment that exists within the novel. Based on how the teacher intends to use this activity, students could work on these steps at home, individually in the English classroom under the supervision of the teacher, or with groups/partners. One requirement of such an assignment is that students have access to a personal computer with Minecraft downloaded on their device. Typically, Minecraft.edu would be used for this activity.
Based on students’ familiarity with Minecraft, teachers could determine a set number of crafting sessions that should be sufficient for students to complete the project. Teachers would also want to ensure that the project does not interfere with students’ other responsibilities and that students understand using Minecraft is a privilege.
Teachers have a myriad of options when assigning a higher-level creative activity such as a Minecraft build and they should ensure that students are fully aware of the constraints placed on the activity before allowing students to begin work. For example, the following options are all suitable for Minecraft activities, but teachers should select the options that they believe will work best in their classroom:
- Students work individually on only their own novel setting with their wifi off
- Students work with a partner on a joint novel setting via a LAN connection
- Students work with a group on a joint novel setting via a LAN connection
- Students work individually on their own novel setting outside of class – HW or Project
- Students work individually on their own novel setting in a class setting
Tips for Implementation
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 or on a presentation/discussion at the culmination of the build.
Possible Assessment Options:
- Students write a comparison of their novel setting build to that of the actual novel’s setting
- Students use Quicktime/iMovie to make a video about their novel setting and present to the class
- Students engage in whole class discussion after the activity based on teacher provided questions
That require students to reflect on their setting and compare them to the novel
- Students give individual presentations and explain their setting build and its connection to the text
- Groups present their novel setting build to the class and explain its connection to the text
- Partners present their novel setting build to the class and explain its connection to the text
- Novel setting builds are used for group discussions about student interpretation of setting and events