Computer games like Minecraft encourage student collaboration and complement instruction
Posted on 12/10/2019
Students working in Minecraft in the classroom

To thrive in an ever-changing world, students must be creative, collaborative problem-solvers. Digital games offer opportunities for just that -creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving,- and educators across PWCS are using games such as Minecraft as instructional tools.

Minecraft Academy

Training our educators on effective ways to tie digital gaming to curriculum is key to successful classroom integration. The Office of Instructional Technology launched the Minecraft Teacher Academy this year for professional development of any educator looking to incorporate the game Minecraft into their instruction. 

Minecraft: Education Edition is an open-world game that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem solving in an immersive environment where the only limit is one’s imagination. It’s available for all PWCS students and teachers.

The Minecraft Teacher Academy is being taught by trainers from insight2execution, a Microsoft Solutions Provider. Academy participants include those who are brand new to the game through experienced users and represent various subject areas and grade levels. They receive an overview of Minecraft: Education Edition, learn to play the game, create curriculum, and plan immersive experiences for their students. In April, teachers who complete the academy will showcase their students’ learning with Minecraft at their closing session.Teachers participating in the Minecraft Academy

Patrick Heath, the instructional technology coach at West Gate Elementary School and an academy participant, is excited about this professional development opportunity and bringing it back to his school. “We are looking at several pieces of curriculum and discussing ways we could use Minecraft with our students,” shared Heath. “The next step will be to begin to implement with our students and then come back together in February to discuss challenges and improvements as we sharpen our skills.”

Minecraft in the Classroom

Many PWCS educators are already using Minecraft to supplement and enhance their classroom lessons. From reading and writing to math and social studies, Minecraft has many natural applications.

Jonathon Miller, instructional technology coach at Tyler Elementary School, is collaborating with fifth-grade teachers Chris Darno and Tim Cerwinske to incorporate Minecraft into math instruction. These educators have created a virtual world that focuses on measurement concepts like perimeter, area, and volume. Nonplayer characters, those invincible characters that cannot be “killed”, serve as the teachers in the virtual world and review how to calculate perimeter and area with the student characters as they walk toward their destination. At the end of the instructional portion, students work in a building area designated for them, and create 3D figures while calculating their perimeter, area, and volume.

Battlefield High School World History Teacher Amy Kramer has been passionate about video games since the 1980s. Kramer believes games challenge us, inspire our competitive nature, and motivate us to succeed. What better tool to enrich classroom learning?

“Ultimately, our students are master gamers whether it be on phone apps, online games, or PlayStation systems. This told me that it was about time to bring my curriculum into their gaming world to see if I could bring out their most creative and inspired sides,” shares Kramer.