Round Rock ISD teachers are re-envisioning the educational value of video games after Minecraft has successfully integrated into language arts, social studies and math curriculums across the district.
A pilot program to use Minecraft as a tool was started in 2013 at Laurel Mountain Elementary School and Canyon Vista Middle School. Since its success, the educational game has expanded to Pond Springs elementary school and Ridgeview and Hernandez middle schools.
Sara Richards, Laurel Mountain instructional technology specialist, said the game can be likened to digital Legos. The game doesn’t have objectives, which allows teachers to design lesson plans within the world based on the material.
“It’s super engaging,” Richards said. “Kids truly love Minecraft and think its awesome that we use it in school. Some kids aren’t always engaged with the material, but when we bring it into Minecraft, they get excited.”
Language arts classes, for example, can build settings to books they’ve read or make a Minecraft movie based on original stories the students write. Math classes can build structures and calculate the volume and perimeter for the blocks.
RRISD schools use MinecraftEdu, which creates a private setting for students playing the game. The educational version also gives teachers more control on what can be done within the game and ensure the usage aligns with the curriculum.
“Learning the process of how to use Minecraft as an education tool rather than just a game was just really important to me and I think it works really well,” Richards said. “The kids are doing amazing things.”