Dan Bloom used Minecraft as a way to assist in learning which chemicals could be used in their DNA extraction lab. He used Minecraft as an activity prior to their lab. “When I did this lab with my students in the past, they walked away with very little understanding as to why they followed those steps and what exactly was happening at a cellular level” (Bloom, 2013). Upon completion of this simulation his students were able to complete the DNA extraction lab with enthusiasm and understanding. “Students who felt weak in science class were able to approach the subject in a way that felt comfortable for them” (Bloom, 2013). This is differentiated instruction. Those students who struggle in the subject of science were given another way to learn it in an individualized approach which catered to their differences.
When using Minecraft we have to use goal setting to guide their gaming. “How well-thought out those decisions are affects what happens next. This is great motivation for critical thinking and problem solving” (Murray, 2014). McCarthy (2014) states that in order to have effective differentiated instruction we need student buy-in, input, options for them, and other perspective. When students are motivated and excited about learning, and it is guided toward a concept which the teacher designates, it becomes a self-motivating assignment. The students begin to learn things they may have struggled with in other ways.
“Minecraft thrives on exploration and creativity, but most of all it is a game that thrives on projects” (Zelvin, 2014). This has become a very popular game that kids play at home, on their own time. They just love to create things, explore and use their resources to figure out how to build things (I have included a site with Minecraft recipes below). They take the time to learn this on their own, so when it is introduced in the classroom they feel like they have just won the lottery. Educational gaming, such as Minecraft, can be a wonderful tool for differentiated instruction. As instructors, we have to put the time in to guide that instruction.
Bloom, D. (2013, Dec. 10). The Minecraft Cell: Biology Meets Game-Based Learning. Retrieved
from Edutopia website http://www.edutopia.org/blog/minecraft-cell-biology-meets-gbl-dan-bloom
Minecraft Crafting Recipes. Retrieved from http://services.minecraftedu.com/worlds
McCarthy, J. (2014, June 10). Students Matter: 3 Steps for Effective Differentiated Instruction.
Retrieved from Edutopia website http://www.edutopia.org/blog/3-steps-effective-differentiated-instruction-john-mccarthy
Murray, J. (2014). Minecraft in the Classroom Teaches Reading and More. Retrieved from
Zelvin, V. (2014, March 03). Using Minecraft in the Classroom. Retrieved from Center for
Educational Improvement http://www.edimprovement.org/2014/03/using-minecraft-classroom/