Teaching through Minecraft

Online teaching has all of a sudden become the norm for students and teachers across the world. Schools, teachers, parents and students all had to adapt to new means of education and quickly. The change has not been easy on anyone, least of all 1st year students who already had to manoeuvre the transition to Secondary Education. Each new group of students to Greenhills College are always different from the last and this year’s new students bring with them new interests and new ways of relating to subjects and lessons.

Beginnings of a wind farm
A tribute to the Year Head

Our current group of 1st year students have experience online teaching a little different than in other schools, with the assistance of Minecraft. Despite the game being older than some of the students in the class, much of the class showed significant knowledge and interest in the game.

The Challenge Wall

Starting in geography class, under the watchful eye of Mr. Ennis, students continued to find a way of relating the topic back to Minecraft. When they studied rocks and their uses, multiple students related the various rocks and uses to Minecraft. The same was true when they looked at how rocks or fossil fuels could be mined. It was related to the magma that spilled from volcanoes, the different types of forests and farms and the natural vegetation and animals in specific locations. It became an increasingly common and interesting part of Geography classes that allowed students to relate to the subject in a new and interesting way.

Multiple types of (now overcrowded) farms.
The “Irish Conservation Box” a no fishing Zone

This continued into online lockdown classes. It was at this point that Mr. Ennis asked the class who would be interested in starting a Minecraft world. The response was significant enough to prompt the school to buy the game and set up a world in which students could interact. Initially the students were set with 10 different tasks all related to Geography. They essentially began creating a world that became a virtual physical representation of the course material we had completed since their arrival in the school.

The Solar energy farm.

There was one small issue. The students worked too fast. It took them approximately one day to complete what Mr. Ennis believed to be a significant set of tasks that would potentially keep them busy for a week. Never underestimate students Minecraft knowledge, ability and effort.

Having completed the geography related assignments, the students expressed a willingness and enthusiasm to continue relating their school interests with Minecraft. It was at that point where this exercise became cross circular and spread into other subjects. Digital Media Literacy, Coding, Metal and Wood work classes began to join the world, interweaving course curriculum with the world of Minecraft. The is where the idea of building a model of the school that would be as accurate to real life as possible, inside and out. So in times where we cannot have visitors or Open Days, thanks to our very talented staff and students, we can now give tours of our school and demonstrate our learning, online, through Minecraft.

As we stand multiple students are working on the school model. They have developed their teamwork skills, organised plans and evaluated each other’s work. This has certainly proven to be the most difficult task to date, but as we have learned to never doubt what students can accomplish.