Today’s contributor: Blake Bartosh is a Music teacher at Doss Elementary.
If you are reading this, chances are you have heard about the 2022 Net Zero Challenge: Austin where Austin ISD has partnered with Minecraft: Education Edition to run a city-wide build challenge, addressing local sustainability and climate issues. In this article, I have listed a few tips to help you get started. Whether you are a beginner or expert at navigating Minecraft: EE, these tips will hopefully help make this experience an enjoyable one for the students and teachers involved.
I started using Minecraft: EE last year when it became available in AISD for students to download and use on their Chromebooks and Ipads. The first project my students had was to design their own theater or auditorium. I created a flat world where I was the server host. The world features 16 rooms where students have their own space to design and build, without needing to worry about student interference. I used a Minecraft: EE add-on to be able to spawn instruments into the world. My students had a great time working on their projects and I learned some valuable lessons using Minecraft: EE with my students. Check out more photos from our project here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/FhEoY2R1tF25jG6q8
1. Make a plan.
You don’t have to be an expert Minecraft player to get your students started creating, but you need a solid plan to make sure students have clear directions and structured learning.
- If you’re a beginner, familiarize yourself with basic controls and navigating the interface. I would highly recommend the Minecraft Education Edition: Teacher Academy. It teaches you almost everything you need to know to get started.
- Use pre-made lesson plans or follow instructions for The Net Zero Challenge. I highly recommend teachers test out the lesson or world before students use it.
- Start with ground rules and procedures with your students. Have students create a list of rules and guidelines they should follow while playing.
- Decide if students will work solo or in groups. If students are in groups, determine who will host the server world(s); students or the teacher.
2. Use your teacher tools, inside and outside of M:EE
- Set time limits for students and give them reminders of how much time they have left.
- Establish procedures for when students are listening to the teacher or focused on their world.
- Set world permission settings for a teacher-hosted world, or give students instructions on world permission settings.
- Switch game mode to creative, disable mobs or killing, disable fire spread, disable TNT explosions, etc.
- Use in-game features like the camera and structure blocks to collect student artifacts and builds.
- Use M:EE as an incentive to motivate students to complete other work. Can other work be tied into M:EE to help reinforce concepts?
- For advanced teachers: Use Classroom Mode for Minecraft when teacher-hosting a world. (This is a program that allows the teacher to see student location, disable chat, Turn On/Off Mobs, etc.)
- For advanced teachers: Utilize Deny, Allow, Border blocks when more structured assignments are needed.
- For advanced teachers: Consider using world import files or mods/add-ons to support more student personalized learning.
3. Let the Creativity Flow
- Set strong directions and guidelines for students and watch them create.
- Let students choose their own goals and allow them to restart if needed.
- Allow for differentiated assignments. Not every finished product will look the same.
- If your students are doing the Net Zero Challenge, I recommend using some of Austin’s Project Connect transit plans, utilizing solar/wind power, sustainable water and food sources, or other creative features students can build.