How I Use It
Once controls are learned (Which should be taught in Earlier Grades because they are not used to the "mouse driven" as a camera views), then I get them started enough to explore, teach them to "farm" objects and materials, then "Build" Tools and equipment. Afterwards I turn them loose for time to explore and learn about the game on their own. The MinecraftEDU Server is a handy tool/device that allows you to have universal control, you can build pre-made worlds and allow you to setup pre-existing conditions for your "class" to be thrown into. You can have your whole class in one atmosphere at once, or seperate worlds at the same time. Somethings that have been worked on with Minecraft are the "basic needs", "You crash landed on a weird abandoned Island. We have no food, no tools etc. than what you have in your inventory (Pick axe). What do we need to do first to survive?" - Take pre-answers, then turn them loose to find and build shelters, food, make new tools, clothes/armor, etc.
Students are always engaged with it, and actually excited to come to class to work on Minecraft, and develop their own worlds and structures. With Minecraft your possibilities are limitless for Construction with materials, and immersive worlds.
I Was a negative fan of Minecraft for a long time. When it was in initial beta I despised the fact that people were having "Fun" on such a low tech game and "wasting" Their life away in a virtual world doing "nothing". Since those Times I have come full circle and made quite the oppostie appeal to the Game. Minecraft is one of those games that allows people to change their environment and atmosphere, have a totally open world experience, explore a randomly generated world, and build equipment, shelter, tools, hunt food, etc. Minecraft had gone from something that was just a "Game" to being an indepth and immersive world that you can teach and train students from all Grade levels (2+).