This summer I taught summer school for the Toronto District School Board’s Model Schools Inner City (MSIC) program.  This year the MSIC added a STEM task to the Math and Language units taught.  When I found out that the STEM task for grade 6 would be to construct a school that would reflect the traditions of the First Nations, in response to learning about some of the history of residential schools, naturally my first thought was to build it in Minecraft.  Thankfully my site principal, and our site coach (@RomanoJ) agreed with my plan, and we were able to use the Multi-School Minecraft Server to build our school.

I would normally share the unit I used here in a link, but I believe that it is behind the TDSB firewall, meaning only TDSB employees can access it.  But for you TDSBers who haven’t used the model schools units, you might want to give them a look over.

Half of my students were experienced Minecrafters, the others were new to the game.  I particularly loved how some of the more experienced players supported students who were learning to play.  Given that my class was composed of students who are achieving lower than the Ministry standard for their grade, I think it was an opportunity for them (the experts) to demonstrate confidence in their knowledge.  In fact, one of the parent’s called me during the summer school program to let me know that the use of Minecraft was the reason her child was eager to go to school in the summer.

Diana Maliszewki’s grade 3 STEM summer school* was also using Minecraft in her program, and our students were able to share their projects with each other during the last week of summer school.  I was very impressed with how mindful my students were of their design and the significance of what they were trying to accomplish.  They were able to relate what they learned about residential schools to their builds and explain why their structures would celebrate First Nations traditions very clearly to their grade 3 ‘Minecraft buddies’.

The summer school program was only half day, so it was a challenge to balance the Language, Math and STEM tasks.  Yet I am happy with what my students (twelve grade 6/7’s) were able to do in the short amount of time they had.  Below is a video I put together explaining the STEM task in a little more detail:


*I am sure there will be a post about this in the near future.