Using Minecraft to Explore History
It started as an idea based on the grade 6 Social Studies curriculum. Students are asked to assess contributions to Canadian identity made by various groups. They also needed to investigate perspectives on the historical and/or contemporary experiences of two or more distinct communities.
Treaty week happens on the first week of November in Ontario. We began our learning by first exploring how treaty rights have changed for Indigenous people using a Treaty timeline. From there the students chose five events they believed were important to Indigenous Rights in Canada. Understanding that they could have chosen several ideas, they decided to focus their time on the Two Row Wampum, The Royal Proclamation, The Creation of Nunavut, Indigenous Rights in the Constitution and The Duty to Consult. I began looking for information for their topics and placed them into our class OneNote.
After assigning groups for each topic, each group copied the appropriate information and began reading and highlighting important information that we could incorporate and use into our Minecraft world. A project like this would look great in a PowerPoint or a Sway, but my students love Minecraft and the idea of creating a world where history can come alive made the project so much more interesting for my students.
After researching and making notes, we began the big build. Prior to the building I scoped out a world and wrote out coordinates where each team could build. Teams spawned and then teleported to their sections and the building began. Each team collaborated and built their section in the world. I am always amazed as an observer to what my students are doing in Minecraft. They work together seamlessly and offer suggestions to each other while building. They also smile and enjoy what they are working on and always like to put their own artistic flare into their creations. After building, teams looked back at their notes and thought about information the NPC’s could share in the world. After compiling notes each team inserted NPC’s and gave them their appropriate dialog. To finish the project off I asked each student to create a Flipgrid about what they learned from doing this project. They then inserted an NPC and named it themselves and copied their URL, from teams, for their Flipgrid video.
My students learned a lot from this project, but so did I. This Minecraft world can spark a learning journey for all who enter it.
About the Author: Kris Sandberg
Kris is a grade 6/7 teacher at McKellar Park school in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He is an MIEE and Minecraft Global Mentor. Kris is passionate about using technology in his classroom and giving his students opportunity to use tech to enhance their learning experience in the classroom. As a father of 3 kids he sees how technology is useful in his everyday life and how important it will be in the future.
You can find Kris on Twitter: @browns1932_kris.