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Sample Unit: Literacy and the Historical Narrative in Minecraft

I’m working on a model that addresses literacy through Minecraft, which is motivating my students to read for understanding and enjoyment and write serious and highly creative narratives about their experiences with medieval history.

Students interact with characters like Geoffrey the Cobbler to uncover life in the Middle Ages

After supplying students with background on medieval European history, we close read and annotate a short and original story that includes characters and dialogue from the time period.

Students then explore the scene in Minecraft and interact with characters they are familiar with as well as new characters with different points of view. They record what they see and hear in their Minecraft journals.

After we complete several vignettes like this, students construct their own understanding of the how the scenes, and history, unfolded through experiencing it. Each student is currently writing a “historical novel” which they will publish at the end of the year.

John is a Google Certified Teacher and featured presenter at conferences and workshops around the country. He loves teaching 21st century skills to his students and his passions include: student blogging, Minecraft in the classroom, photography, Apple and Google. John is a contributor to Minecraft in the Classroom, a Peachpit Press book published in October 2014. He blogs at