Mentor of the Week – Trish Cloud

The Big One

We think of projects using Minecraft: EE in terms of time limits and speed of completion. When I sat down with the Art teacher at my school to contemplate and construct a joint project, it quickly became clear that time could not be a significant factor.

The Minecraft Meets Art project involved all students in the 4th and 5th grade. Each grade level was assigned an Art Museum; 4th-grade had the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and 5th-grade the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. The assignment was to research the architecture, the style of the building and then reproduce what was learned in Minecraft: EE.

In Art class, the students, after selecting a work of Art from their museum and working as a group; they researched the artist, reproduced the work of art, and wrote a short creative report about both. Students used a rubric to set goals for the group. They knew creativity and originality were the standards, and so the project began.

We also had to think about the access to research the students would have. We had selected the works of Art for the students to choose from making sure they were age appropriate in difficulty and content. We know a student given a name to search, and Google images could produce an unacceptable outcome. We countered this by creating a Hyperdoc in Google Classroom that would take them to the best information for their needs.

First the trials, I discovered quickly that classroom expectations for Minecraft needed reiteration daily when two students built a tunnel under the build. When asked why they declared they needed a place to relax. I reminded them they only came to my class once a week for forty-five minutes. Why, I asked, do you need to rest? I learned Ender pearls would launch a student across the boundary blocks, and left to their own devices and an unlimited inventory they would place ender crystals on bedrock to watch it explode.

Alicia, the Art teacher, had her challenges too. She recommended appropriate mediums for the students to use, but part of a personalized learning project is allowing student choice even when they make questionable decisions. Artistic differences among students could blow up into arguments, one student deciding it would be funny to mess up the project, general apathy from students who think Art is uncool, these are a few of the frustrations Alicia handled in her class.

The project continued, keeping students on task, giving them the artistic license in Minecraft to a point and allowing them to fail and try again. Deciding that pixel art would make a fantastic replacement for sculptures found in a museum and the pixel art was wearing clothes. And the last bit, getting them to type up their reports and upload their Art to the website connected to the museum.

Close to the finish, cue the foot-dragging.

After much work on everyone’s part, the finish line is crossed three months later with two fantastic Minecraft builds, fabulous student-created Art, two websites to showcase it all, and two exhausted teachers. Students are still talking about how great a project it was months later and how much they learned about both the museums and the Art. Worth it? Definitely!

5th Grade

4th grade


Trish Cloud teaches technology to K-5 grade at Grand Oak Elementary in Huntersville, NC. She is also a Global Minecraft Mentor.