Using Minecraft to Teach Programming to 6th graders

Posted by on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 in Minecraft | 0 comments

Using Minecraft to Teach Programming to 6th graders

“Learning to program is more fun when you can’t wait to see it run.”
-Unintentional rhyme by student

Using the free mod ComputerCraftEDU, my 6th grade students gave instructions to their “turtle”, asking it to build them a house.

My gameplan:

  • Minimum house dimensions of (in blocks) 5 wide X 5 deep X 5 high.
  • students build a “blueprint” on graph paper of the house they’d like have their turtle build.
  • Program turtle
  • Create animated Gif of turtle building the house (turned in via Dropbox’s “request file” feature)
  • Emphasize that I don’t care if they even finish their house in this 2 week project. Go crazy, build something epic. My assessment (I told them this) was actually the blueprint accuracy (below), ¬†formative assessment on the use of repeating commands (manually or by the use of loops), and the animated gif at the end. They were more engaged as it was more “play” and less “jump through specific hoops for a grade”.

A student suggested a great modification that I implemented immediately, and that is to build the house by hand first, then, the blueprint. Duh, why didn’t I think of that. I am always a student, and sometimes a teacher.

Blueprint Minecraft Turtle house

I gave a 3-minute instruction on the turtle using drag n drop commands. I intentionally did not use repeat blocks, as it was part of the plan to show them a way that works but is more time consuming, thereby creating a desire for a more efficient method…enter “loops” concept!

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Students created animated gifs (It’s pronounced “Jiff”!) using screenshots that they uploaded to giphy.com (Use the “slideshow” option to make an animated gif from images). Here’s some examples of their work:

 

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