Minecraft and Me

I love putting myself in the student’s shoes. It gives you a sense of what we as teachers put them through during a learning experience.

For some time now I have heard many people talking about the game Minecraft.  I really wanted to know more about it but had put it in the too hard basket after making a couple of attempts to work it out.

Minecraft is a 3D game of blocks where you are dropped into a world with limited tools and need to use the resources around you to survive from the monsters, which come out at night.  It is a little like being dropped into the middle of Legoland. Like the real world you are subject to the elements of the environment you are dropped into, like snow or rain.  In the first day you are dropped into a new world the race is on to find shelter before night falls.

Yesterday, I finally decided to set aside a couple of hours and have a play.

 In their shoes lesson number 1: It takes me a long time to take a risk and have a go.

Before I signed up I had a look around the Minecraft website.  Although there was plenty of information on it, most of it made little sense to me.  That was until I saw a video about surviving your first day in Minecraft.

In their shoes lesson number 2: I need to do more than reading to understand.  When I see something in action it makes more sense.

So it was time to jump.  I signed up and I felt confident that I knew what to do during my first day in my new world after watching the video.

 Somehow I survived my first night with my life in tact.  How I am not sure.  By daylight I realised how to get out of the game and head back to the tutorials.

In their shoes lesson number 3: I don’t remember anything if I haven’t applied it.

 After watching the tutorials for a second and then third time  I felt confident to get back in and have another go.  This time I made progress.  In the first day I was able to make a crafting table and then I had time to go digging for coal.  That is when I found that if you mine down far enough you will come across lava.  And lava will kill you if you fall in it!  Obvious? Well, I realise that now!

Back to the tutorials I went.  This time I found that I could change some settings and make the monsters disappear.  <sigh of relief>

In their shoes lesson number 4: I don’t learn under pressure.

So I spent the next six hours slowly making my way through a few achievements and learning the ways of the world in Minecraft, with the help of the peaceful setting. I have now built a house with doors, lit a path between my house and where I am mining for resources and this afternoon I even put a lovely garden of flowers along the side of the house.

In their shoes lesson number 5: Learning something new takes time

So what did I learn?

In the first few hours in Minecraft I learnt:

  • It rains a lot in the jungle.
  • A good sense of direction in life does not equate to a good sense of direction in a game.
  • Lava kills.
  • Creepers are mean.
  • You can’t break a rock with your fist.
  • The days go very quickly when you are working hard.

I also learnt a lot about me:

  • I don’t like violence or scary things.
  • I like to have order (The first thing I built was a shed to store my tools and at the end of every day I organise my inventory)
  • I am a creature of habit.
  • The environmentalist in me shows through in a game. (I couldn’t kill an animal.  The kids in my class are looking into whether I can survive in Minecraft as a vegetarian and today they showed me how to make shears so I can get wool from the sheep without killing it!)
  • When I become frustrated (like being lost for 45 minutes) I like to take a break, walk away and then come  back to what I am doing.

This morning I couldn’t wait to get to school and share all I had done with the boys in my class (I don’t have any girls playing Minecraft.  Yet!)

The first 20 minutes of school was a great conversation about what I had done.  They were all bending over backwards to share with me what I could do next. In that time I was able to connect with them more than any other time this year.

Now I can’t wait to see where this Minecraft journey will take us. And what I can learn next.

12 thoughts on “Minecraft and Me”

  1. Hey Mel,

    Great post – I too have been interested in Minecraft based on conversations I have had with my students and the info I have heard on the Ed Tech Crew Podcast. I had a little play over the holidays but, like you, put it in the too hard basket as I didn’t have enough information to help me out.

    Are you playing from home or school ? If at school, did you have any issues getting Minecraft unblocked ? How did you go about justifying this to the powers the control blockingunblocking sites ?

    I too am hoping to seek out the support of students to help me learn more about this new world and the processes about it through out lunchtime computer club.

    Look forward to hearing more about your journey 🙂


  2. Hi,

    I think there are a lot of us in the same boat where we either dont have time or the priority to have a go. Wish we had the Goggle 4 day week. It would make life easier!

    I have not played online at school as it is blocked at the moment. We are taling to other schools at the moment to see how they are doing it.

    The kids have a ‘Let’s build a minecraft community at school’ committee and they are currently getting a list of reasons together of why they should have it at school.

    I must admit the whole idea of getting a server at school to host minecraft makes a lot more sense now that I have started playing it!

    Good luck and thanks for the comment.


  3. Hi Mel, just wondering if you have thought about bringing Minecraft into your classroom. There is a custom version called MinecraftEDU that I currently use in some of my classes to improve students engagement and understanding. Check out my blog for the journey so far.

    I think that if you understand the mechanics of the game, it is very easy to transfer some of the great ideas behind ‘teachable moments’ into the world of Minecraft and let the kids explore. Let me know if you would like some more info about the EDU mod, I am happy to share, and help in any way I can. (Scott same goes for you of course)


    1. Hi Elfie,

      YES! I have definitely thought about bringing it into my classroom. Our inquiry unit this term is on communities and there are a group of minecraft players who have joined forces to try and get a server at school. It was one of my main reasons for trying out Minecraft so I could understand them. And now I am hooked!

      I have had a look at your blog and it is such a fabulous resource. I will definitely be checking it out more to help our journey and to bring it into our classroom.

      Thanks for your help. I will be in touch.


  4. Hi Mel,

    Loved the post and the fact you jumped in – it reminded me so much of the experience I had. The first thought I had with your post is we need to get a noob mine-crafter adult to record via video/audio the experience as it is truly an interesting journey.

    How good is it to connect with students about a ‘game’ that contains so much learning and discussion. i hope you keep at it and get more girls involved.

    Love the post.


    1. HI Tony,

      Thanks for your comment. And your help in getting me there at MOTM. It was a great discussion we had and I could see from you and Adrian how animated you were talking about it so just had to give it a go. Each morning the kids and I share the different things we have been doing and it is so much fun. Every morning there are more and more girls looking over my shoulder so I am sure they will be on board soon.

      I did have a great moment this morning when we were making 3D shapes using nets and one child asked me if we could make 3D creepers. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that! How great. So we are going to create our own nets for different Minecraft blocks. Should be fun.


  5. Loved reading your comments Mel. I can share your experiences from my first learning journey on Minecraft. I need to do more to get the girls involved at our secondary school. Lets swap some stories bout it on Tuesday 🙂

  6. Mel,
    Thanks for this post. I’m exploring some of the ways to leverage student passion about video games and there is a lot we (as teachers) have to learn. Thankfully, teachers like you jump in, take risks, and are willing to learn along with kids! I love that!

    It’s great to see you analyze the experience from such a ‘meta’ level.


    1. Hi Brenda,

      Thanks for your comment. It is such an important thing to use student passions in learning. I feel that thinking about how much better we learn when we are passionate about something so why wouldn’t this make sense to do with the students. I love looking at the different ways I learn and use this to help me in my classroom. It makes sense to me to do this.


  7. Mel, I am so glad that you wrote this post. Just in the last couple of weeks, teachers and leaders have been asking me about the value and impact of Minecraft and learning. Having a 12 year old son run his own server has been giving me many opportunities to watch him. The interaction, the dialogue, the problem solving, the community of learners – without adult moderation – it is fascinating. I have many questions.

    1. Hi Zoe,

      I had a great time playing minecraft with my 14 year old nephew. He had spoken about it so often and I had not a clue what he was talking about. It was such a great thing for him to see me interested and trying out. When we get together all he talks about it minecraft and different strategies he has been using! I found it the same in my classroom. The connection with the kids who do it is so much more powerful. We are going to be getting a server at school soon so I might need to pick your brain!


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