Every. Single. One.
Was this massive boost in achievement due to my transition to quest-based learning in Social Studies? Was it due to the motivation they experienced in response to the gamified elements of the 3D Game Lab MLS I switched to for content delivery, or the epic meaning of the narrative adventure I wrote? Or, was it the introduction of Minecraft: Education Edition that made them so excited to come to class each day?
I don't know.
But, I am awfully happy to see my students so happy. At some point in public education, the system tends to kill the joy of learning. At a time when sixth graders generally start settling into the middle school shuffle, deciding to be a little too cool and to hide their smarts, my kiddos are still joyfully bounding into the room in the morning, twenty or thirty minutes before the bell, just so they can finish their Minecraft build, or knock out one more quest. I think that says a lot about student morale, and I can't tell you how much my heart has responded to their positive attitudes.
By far, the most labor intensive task I had this trimester was the intentional planning and structuring of Minecraft quests. Because I believe in the power of sharing, and because there might be another 6th or 7th grade Social Studies teacher out there wanting to dive in, but afraid of the waters... here is my entire Trimester 1 Unit Plan for Ancient Civilizations. If you use it, let me know. Maybe we can compare notes and strengthen any weaknesses. I'd love to collaborate!