Monday, January 11, 2016

Teaching 21st Century Skills with Minecraft

In an attempt to help students who struggle in the areas of literacy and math, our school hosts Learning Academy, a before-school academic support class where students are able to practice and refine skills taught during the school day.

Students are invited to attend Learning Academy when they show they have a deficit in literacy and/or math skills, but it important to remember that these students - nay, all students - also require time and opportunities to develop thinking and communication skills, some of which have collectively become known as 21st Century Skills or the 4Cs: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
To foster and support the development of these 21st Century Skills, I invited some of the Learning Academy participants to take part in a @MinecraftEdu class after being introduced to MinecraftEdu at a workshop presented by Alan November (@globalearner). MinecraftEdu is a "school-ready remix of the original smash hit game Minecraft." It builds on the excitement and engagement generated by the game-version of Minecraft to give students an environment in which they can develop and refine various academic and social skills.

Students worked together in worlds downloaded from the MinecraftEdu World Library that other users had created. We worked in the following worlds: Tutorial WorldMultiplying Decimal Numbers, and The Island. In these challenging worlds, students worked on mathematical skills such as understanding coordinate systems, multiplying decimals and long division while exploring, hunting and navigating through adventurous worlds full of obstacles and pitfalls.

After working for several weeks in those worlds, I created a (very simple) world of my own, where I gave students tasks that would allow them to continue to practice mathematical concepts while also giving them the chance to create and build. Below, is a short video showing the students' work on one particular mathematical task I had set up in this world.

Now that this first group of kids has been with me for several months, it is time for the students to move on and a new group to start learning with MinecraftEdu. The week before I said goodbye to this first group of students, I asked them if they could write up a reflection of what they learned, how they learned it and why they learned it. Below are their reflections. 

After reading about how I used MinecraftEdu to help students develop skills of communication, creativity, and creative & critical problem-solving how do you help your students develop these skills in your classroom?


  1. This is awsome. I am an early childhood edu major and I wrote a paper last semester on the educational application of minecraft...thank you for making it a visual reality. This is so cool.

    1. Hi Noah, Have you used Minecraft with preschoolers? Kindergartners? I didn't mention it in the post, but I was working with G4 & G5 Ss. I'd love to read your paper if you'd be willing to send it on - Thanks for sharing!