Minecraft Sparks Motivation

11 January 2014
Spark Student Motivation is here!  Join in and share with Joanne at Head Over Heels For Teaching.  AND register to win in her and Holly's giveaway (Fourth Grade Flipper).  Excellent prizes.  Have you guys ever heard of this website called Amazon?

Three day weeks are tough from an educational perspective.  Then add in that you and your students have been out of school for 18 straight days (snow days) and it might take a little bit to get the kids going again.  Making that brain work after being stationary is tougher than trying to start my car in -25 degree weather (that's Fahrenheit for all my Canadian friends).

To spark a little student motivation I brought Minecraft into the learning equation.  I have a students who has some difficulty with spelling and writing so we used particular aspects of the game for a writing activity.  Sequencing and Editing to be exact.


So what'd I do?  I know the game, but I don't know it like the kids do.  So I asked how to make a railroad, grabbed an iPad with the game on it, and handed it to him.  "Oh, it's really easy Mr. Sutton all you have to do is..."  That's when I stopped him and we went into a concise lessons on sequencing.  Everything he was about to tell me needed to be written down.  "That's easy he said."  I smiled.

Ten minutes later he has a written paragraph.  We then edited the whole dang thing.  Looked at using specific vocabulary as we write, replacing "do this or that" with specific instructions.  Then he wrote a final copy.  All because of Minecraft.

I should say, I also gave him some background information that my daughter constantly asked questions about Minecraft and I needed help from him to answer it.  This was the original hook.

*It should also be noted that the iPad was used/played for less than two minutes.  This kid was so inclined to write his instructions that he didn't even care.  Beautiful.

This is just another way that technology can be integrated into learning without the need to actually use it.  The idea and allure can sometimes be enough for a student, which is something that actually happens quite a bit with my students.  Making learning fun (engagement for a professional term) is where it's at.  

Also, over break I purchased the Minecraft: Pocket Edition.  It was about seven bucks, but I think I've recouped my money after the time my girls have spent on it.  Now they ask me questions and I have to go and find the answer from my students at school.  The perfect circle.

8-bit Carlton Dance Party!  


  1. Great stuff! Thanks so much for sharing! I must check out Minecraft.... We too had 18 days off and a three day week--lots of "I'm hungry!"s Poor things have a hard time getting back to a schedule--me too! Have a great weekend and week...

    Sarah @ Hoots N' Hollers

  2. You are brilliant. I am so going to do this! I can't tell you how many boys...and girls...in the past couple of years that I've had..that get so excited about Minecraft.
    WHO DAT!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  3. My kiddos LOVE Minecraft - I will definitely be trying out your strategy next week! Thanks for sharing the awesome idea, Matt!

    Joy in the Journey

  4. Wow! I just got goosebumps from reading this post! This is how technology can help our students in ways that teachers don't realize! You are an awesome teacher to tap this potential in such a unique way! I'm truly inspired!

    Keep Calm and Hoot On

  5. Thanks for specifying the unit of measurement for us folks here in Canada :)
    You are brilliant - my eyes usually glaze over when my daughter talks to me about Minecraft or shows me part of what she has made.,,but you used it as motivation for fantastic writing. Kuddos!

  6. You are so clever Matt! I love the way you "tricked" your student! He was being an "expert" writer in his field! My son loves Minecraft too! Great hook! Thanks for sharing and linking up!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  7. Anytime you can incorporate Minecraft , it is a definite motivator! I love this idea, and I know a few of my fourth graders that would love it as well. Thank you!

    Fit to be Fourth

  8. I need more specific details about how Minecraft helped you. I have a student who loves that game,and I'd love to utilize the game to help teach writing. He also hates writing, so that would be great if I could incorporate the two together in one lesson.


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