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  • Writer's pictureZoe Branigan-Pipe

The Road Not Taken - Making, Crafting and Constructing Meaning in Minecraft

Revisiting an Innovative Lesson: Embracing Minecraft in Education, By Zoe Branigan-Pipe

A few years ago (like then or so...haha) , I shared a blog post about a unique educational activity that leveraged Minecraft as a teaching tool. "The Road Not Taken".

Today, I find myself revisiting this activity with renewed enthusiasm (sort of), particularly because my district, along with many others, is now actively encouraging the use of Minecraft in education. I am also resharing and discussing this post in hopes that more classrooms use these open-creative aspects of Minecraft although, I am wondering:

 ...has the Minecraft "Buzz" gone quite? Are classrooms using it within their instruction or is this still a "Free Time" or "Clubs" activity?

The revisit of Minecraft in our practices as UDL teachers aligns perfectly with my belief in "Low Floor High Ceiling" teaching strategies, which are adeptly supported by Minecraft's versatile platform.

Enhanced Lesson Overview:

This learning activity revolves around creatively interpreting Robert Frost's "A Road Not Taken" using Minecraft. When I first introduced this activity, it was an innovative approach to combine literary analysis with digital creativity.

Now, it resonates even more deeply as Minecraft becomes a mainstream educational tool (although, I am not sure if the pedagogy is any more welcomed or understood by the community/parents/educators)

 In this activity (below), students collaboratively build their interpretation of the poem in a Minecraft world, facilitating a blend of individual creativity and group collaboration.

Key Educational Aspects:

  1. Collaborative Learning: Students engage in group discussions about the poem before bringing their collective vision to life in Minecraft. This fosters a sense of teamwork and cooperative learning.

  2. Personal Expression: Each student finds a space within the Minecraft world to share a personal poem or story, adding a unique touch to the collective project.

  3. Critical Thinking and Creativity: The lesson seamlessly integrates critical thinking about literature with creative expression in a digital environment.

Relevance to Current Educational Trends:

With so many districts funding Minecraft Education accounts - and presumably, championing the use of Minecraft, this lesson becomes even more relevant.

But again, I wonder, how many districts (I'm in Ontario, Canada) are offering PD to staff on how to use the tool - or is this something that is just considered the game kids use "when done" their work? Is this just a tool or game that is now "old school"? - one that we are moving on from?

 The game's educational version, Minecraft: Education Edition, offers tools and features specifically designed for classroom use, aligning well with various learning objectives:

  • Enhancing engagement and motivation through interactive learning.

  • Facilitating a deeper understanding of complex concepts through visualization and hands-on experience.

  • Encouraging teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Looking Forward:

As I revisit this particular lesson, I'm excited to incorporate the newer features of Minecraft: Education Edition and adapt the activity to suit the evolving educational landscape (there was a recent update). This approach not only aligns with current educational trends but also reinforces the idea that learning can be a dynamic, engaging, and deeply creative process.

Revisiting this Minecraft-based lesson underscores the potential of digital tools (PLAY-BASED) in education. It's a testament to how creative, collaborative, and engaging learning experiences can be crafted, highlighting the evolving nature of teaching methods in response to technological advancements and educational research.

Best of all -Minecraft is a perfect example of UDL in teaching and learning. Low-Floor, High-Ceiling and Widewalls.

Teachers’ Experiences of Using Minecraft Education in Primary School: An Irish Perspective

Primary School Students’ Experiences using Minecraft Education

Understanding the Impact of Minecraft in the Math Classroom

Using Minecraft as an Educational Tool for Supporting Collaboration and Problem-Solving in Math

Minecraft in Education Benefits Learning and Social Engagement

Ideas for Using Minecraft in the Classroom (Edutopia)

How Minecraft Impacts Learning (Minecraft Education)

How Can Minecraft Be Used As an Educational Tool? (Engineering For Kids)


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