Higher Order Thinking in Social Studies Using Minecraft?

By Angie Bender, Middle School Teacher

After completing our social studies unit on Medieval Europe, students in the seventh-grade were tasked with demonstrating their understanding of the role of a medieval manor by constructing a feudal manor using Minecraft. Minecraft allows students an opportunity to work on mathematics, visual arts, storytelling and digital learning in an engaging environment. Some students gain their first experience learning how to code while others continue to hone and advance their coding ability. 

Class time was given to students to design their manor. Some students used iPads and others used their laptops. Once the Minecraft design was created students then had to record a four-minute video explaining what life on a manor was like. Many students added a final touch by incorporating medieval music to their video.

Technology is evolving everyday and at St. John’s our students to explore, build and create so that they have an opportunity to develop a passion for science, technology, engineering and math. Here is an example of the final Medieval Manor Minecraft Video Project from Avery and Olivia:

Minecraft Village

California Landmarks: Learning and collaborating

As part of the history-social science standards in third grade, students are to learn about landmarks, both on local and national levels. Our students just enjoyed a fun learning experience that allowed them to learn about a variety of our famous landmarks here in California. 

The California Landmarks project is one of the first collaborative projects done in third grade each year. Students were assigned a partner and specific landmark for this activity. Throughout the project, pupils utilize and develop a variety of academic and social skills. The research was done online, so students practiced digital learning and citizenship. Once they finished their research, students communicated the information they learned by designing a poster that sharing interesting facts, marked its location on a map, and included an illustration of their landmark. The final step incorporated Mrs. Grack’s STEM class and saw students design a ‘Clips’ presentation of their landmark. Throughout this learning process, students collaborated with a partner, which increased learning and more importantly, developed teamwork.

The collaboration between students was not just occurring in the classroom. Currently there are students participating in the Mustangs Online program and learning from home, and in this particular project, in-person students in the classroom were able to connect with Mustangs Online students via Zoom. These partners worked together over the course of multiple days and brought students in our ‘classroom’ together.

By: Mr. C – 3rd Grade