How I Use It
The Minecraft EDU version of Minecraft includes a wide variety of tools for teachers to use in the classroom. I've used it to teach Digital Citizenship, Social Studies, and Language Arts. Examples of projects I've used with grades 1-5 include:
5th Grade: creating a replica of Jamestown Colony
4th Grade: create a mining town in Colorado
3rd Grade: create an Anasazi Cliff Dwelling
2nd and 1st Grade: create buildings in a community
The possibilities are endless. Further ideas I plan to use: create a setting from a book that students have read, reinforce area and perimeter, construct geometric shapes, build circuits with redstone.
Once you can get the software up and running, it's easy. There is a great Google Group community called "Minecraft Teachers" that are extremely helpful and willing to answer any questions you may have. The biggest hurdle for me, as a teacher, is making sure students understand the difference between how they play Minecraft at home vs. how they are expected to play in school. Many students simply want to kill or be killed when they play at home, and my purpose for using Minecraft in school is very different. I want to get students to cooperate and collaborate with each other, solve problems, and be creative instead of "griefing" each other. Overall, the fact that I'm allowing students to use Minecraft in school has been highly motivating and engaging for ALL students.