Ed. etc.

Category: Assessment

Minecraft for Language Learning: The Final Presentation

On Friday my friend Julie and I presented on our Tech Inquiry project, on Minecraft for teaching language. I was excited to share what we had learned over the course of our project and answer questions! Here is what we took away from the inquiry!

Our inquiry questions were: How can we use Minecraft to teach language?

  • Is it even possible?
  • The limits of the game
  • Engagement or chaos
  • What are the specific needs of a language classroom?

We believe that a language class should be:

  • Fun
  • Loud
  • Creative
  • A community of learners
  • As little worksheets as possible
  • Authentic
  • A space where you can make mistakes
  • Open to all types of learners

We discovered in our research that there was a lot of commonalities between Minecraft and what a language class should be. Minecraft can be a great community game since a class can have a common goal and students can work collaboratively to achieve it. Minecraft also requires a classroom that is a positive and collaborative space before we move to the game. Writer Laura McKenna argues that it’s so popular with autistic children that in a classroom, the game could essentially serve as the great equalizer between autistic and non-autistic students. We also learned while playing that you can change the setting to the targeted language, and you can chat with everybody on the server, so that in itself is an ideal scenario for language learning. 

Minecraft Steve toy

Pros to using Minecraft in the language classroom:

It has been proven that Minecraft  increases motivation in the classroom.

It is a highly collaborative game and a class goal can help build the sense of community.

Game-based learning offers opportunities to students to take ownership of their education.

Minecraft is a blank canvas: you can do and build what you want with it.

Students are the expert since they are often more knowledgeable about the game.

For students, Minecraft can help them show their learning in a way they would never have been able to on a paper.

Students can be confident using technology independently and take their learning into their own hands.


The game is a key cultural influence for their generation.

blue, red, and green Pac-Man wall painting

There are some cons to using Minecraft, however.

Some people can get really dizzy while playing the game.

Students often come with drastically different levels of knowledge of the game.

An easy way to work with Minecraft is to download premade lessons and let the students explore and learn from them.  The students are more passive.

With such a wide range of possibilities, it is easy for students to get off task and it is hard for the teacher to monitor them.


Best practices we suggest for using Minecraft in the classroom:

    Students are more open to try new things when they feel supported.
    To feel less overwhelmed
    So students help and teach each others.
    You can use a premade lesson, but it is always better to let students create something

We wanted to provide a mini-unit plan to show how it is possible to implement it into the classroom and within curricular expectations:

group of people using laptop computer


Big Ideas:

  • Improving communication skills in a language helps us define ourselves and affirm our ideas.

  • Language is a cultural tool, the common thread of knowledge and values.


Literary elements:

  • characteristics of the novel
  • characteristics of the fable
  • stylistic elements

Text organization:

  • narrative structure
  • portrait
  • descriptive sequences

Language elements:

  • agreement of past tenses
  • pronouns used as direct and indirect object  complements
  • verb moods and tenses associated with the genres being studied

Create a world and tell a compelling story around it.

Explore the many possibilities of Minecraft

Build the world. 

Review of the principle of storytelling.

Learn about how a setting can influence a story. Review notions of description, pronouns, verb moods and tenses.

Write the story and present.

More ideas:

There are 1001 ideas to use Minecraft in the classroom:

  • Set the game in Survival mode and give quests.
  • Create a city as a class and narrate a screencast tour
  • Start a new civilization and role-play
  • Download a world (ex. a shipwreck or an extinct civilization)  and have them imagine the story behind it.
  • Create a vocabulary scavenger hunt.

Works Cited

Gallagher, Colin et al. Minecraft in the Classroom: Ideas, Inspiration, and Student Projects for Teachers. Peachpit Press, Berkeley, CA, 2015; 2014.

Irvin, Glen, et al. “How The Minecraft Classroom Can Transform Your World Language Classroom.” Technology Solutions That Drive Education, 5 June 2019, https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2017/11/minecraft-can-transform-your-world-language-classroom.

“Minecraft: Education Edition- Collaboration.” Youtube, YouTube, 8 June 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=OJzriaJvvLw.

“My Minecraft Journey Lesson One: Why Minecraft: Education Edition?” My Minecraft Journey Lesson One: Why Minecraft: Education Edition? – Microsoft in Education, https://education.microsoft.com/courses-and-resources/courses/my-minecraft-journey-lesson-one.

Willingham, Emily. “Minecraft Is Shaping A Generation, And That Is A Good Thing.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 27 Apr. 2014, https://www.forbes.com/sites/emilywillingham/2014/04/26/minecraft-is-shaping-a-generation/#27b6854d66b6.






I have been continuing to do research for my EdTech inquiry the last couple of weeks. One question that I was wondering about was how teachers can assess while incorporating Minecraft, as some projects/assignments with Minecraft require a tangible piece of paper to be handed in that shows their work, but in other cases how can we as educators assess learning?

I found an amazing lesson on MinecraftEdu’s Microsoft website that details all of the different ways educators can organize their assessment during Minecraft lessons:

Here are two examples of lessons that educators detail the ways they use Minecraft’s in-game tools to assess.

In this math lesson, the teacher suggests utilizing the portfolio tool for students to organize and export their work.

In this Social Studies lesson, students put all of their finished work along a timeline so everyone can see everyone’s work. This allows quick assessment on the teachers part, and peer assessment and feedback is also encouraged and accessible.

It is clear that there are many ways to organize assessment even when students are playing a video game like Minecraft, and this assessment seems as if it can take on much more interesting forms than traditional assessment!

Most Likely to Succeed

In class on Friday, we discussed Greg Whiteley and Ted Dintersmith’s film, Most Likely to Succeed. I found it really interesting that some people said that they had the same feelings as the parents of students at High Tech High about how this new type of schooling might affect the students futures as they enter the world structured around traditional schooling. I had not thought of this perspective as I watched the film, being so enamoured with High Tech High’s near-revolutionary approach to learning. As we discussed in class, I would be very interested as well to see a “Part 2” that might provide us with some insight on the long term effects of the High Tech pedagogy. 

In addition to the focus on High Tech High, I enjoyed the beginning of the documentary where it outlined the absolute urgent need for a change in our educational system. Things such as the subjects that we choose to study that we never really question were actually established more than a hundred years ago, in a completely different world than we live in now. In the possibly near future, every job that does not require human creativity or critical thinking will disappear. Of course, we have known this for a while, but I had not yet thought about this fact from the perspective of an educator. I will have to take this into account as I think about my approach to teaching, adhering to the curriculum but also having an eye on the future and how I can best set up my learners for success.


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