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Harrison School District Two Innovates with Minecraft: Education Edition

Harrison School District Two wants its students to be creative and collaborative learners equipped with 21st Century skills and ready to impact a diverse, global society. To engage students in their learning, the district introduced Minecraft: Education Edition.

 A select group of teachers kicked off 2019 with professional development in Minecraft: Education Edition. In partnership with Microsoft, expert trainers from the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCEE) flew out for two Saturday sessions to guide teachers through extensive skill-building exercises. They provided instruction across a variety of subject areas and age levels which enabled educators to learn the basics, discover best practices, and customize their students' MinecraftEdu experience. Harrison School District Two is one of 20 school districts globally chosen to participate in this unique and dynamic program.

 In the last 10 years, Minecraft has grown from a simple block building game into a powerful educational tool. Often referred to as a sandbox game, players can do anything and build anything using their imagination. It becomes the expression of everyone’s collective creativity. Teachers from Sand Creek Elementary School started an afterschool club that was so popular, they reported having to turn students away.

From literacy to mathematics, students and teachers are learning that this game-based platform can be the foundation for truly innovative educational experiences with real-world applications. Harrison implements across all grade levels and some innovative teachers at Bricker Elementary School decided to “bridge the gap” between their coding curriculum and Minecraft with an after-school club. Their goal was for students to apply concepts learned daily in class to a simulated environment with team-building projects.

For many of the Harrison students, Minecraft was already a familiar gaming platform—the middle and high schools have a 1-to-1 device program so each student has access to a laptop, and most of them already had the MinecraftEdu installed. It was clear many students were more experienced using the tool than the teachers, and we knew that teachers would have to step out of their comfort zone and let students take control of their own learning.

Harrison School District Two is using Minecraft: Education Edition to capture students’ attention in new and innovative ways while harnessing the creative energy students naturally want to put into an immersive gaming experience. With Minecraft: Education Edition, students are more engaged, more excited to collaborate and work on teams, and take on more leadership roles and challenges.