Explore Like a Pirate Book Study: Chapter 4

Welcome back to the Explore Like a Pirate Book Study, hosted by Sweet Sweet Primary! Today we will be looking at Chapter 4, which describes a new "language of learning."

Friends, I urge you, even if you have no interest in gamifying your class, to grab this book (remember, it's FREE on Kindle Unlimited) and read Chapter 4. The author, Michael Matera, goes into detail about Purpose-Driven Learning, an idea developed by his friend, Adam Moreno. As I read through the list of ten words that make up Purpose-Driven Learning, and Matera's ideas for incorporating them into your classroom, I was blown away. This is exactly what I want my classroom to be like, and I will definitely be reflecting on these ten words as I begin to plan for the upcoming school year.

These keys form the basis of your classroom community! Read more at It Happened in 3rd

Matera brings up that he no longer hears "empty" goals such as "I need to study more" since making an effort to incorporate these keys into his classroom. That is definitely something I thought about at the end of this school year as I looked over my students' reflections. They tend to respond with what they think is the "right" thing to say (i.e. "I'll try harder next time) but aren't making the leap towards coming up with a concrete plan that specifically explains HOW they will try harder. I am hoping as I shift towards using this language in the classroom, it will rub off on my students and they will begin to use it as well.

Now, a more in depth look at each word and how Purpose-Driven Learning looks in action:

1. Confidence

Matera talks about students being "paralyzed" with fear of being wrong, and how we as teachers encourage too much hand holding with "rubrics, study guides, mini lessons, and endless modeling." Don't get me wrong, I do believe these things have their place, but he does have a point that we let the students rely on these things too much. At some point, we have to take the training wheels off the bike and see what they can do on their own! As someone who spends some time in the kitchen, I related to his analogy that we don't want to create cooks who can only follow recipes, but chefs who have the ability to create their own recipes.

2. Creativity

Matera brings up a good point here that content is no longer king. We can find out anything we need to know in a matter of seconds. We have to encourage our students to shift their thinking from content to innovation, and helping them build their creative muscles.

Read more about Purpose-Driven Learning at It Happened in 3rd

3. Enthusiasm

It's important for students to understand that others feed off of their attitude. Matera makes the point that we need to remind students to be open-minded and enthusiastic about all tasks, whether they be challenging or mundane.

4. Effort

A single sentence from this section blew me away: "If we want our students to achieve greatness and leave a legacy, then we must help them understand that putting forth their best effort every single day is a must." I don't think there's anything else I can add to that!

5. Focus

Matera acknowledges that this skill is difficult to master, and students need constant reminders and chances to practice with intention. One way gamification helps with focus is promoting the idea that you are working with a "guild" or team, and your guild is strongest when everyone is focused on the task at hand.

6. Resilience

A point Matera makes here that really resonated with me: we may SAY that failure means "First Attempt at Learning," but it is hard for students to become resilient knowing they are going to receive that failing grade anyway! Removing the fear of a poor grade and allowing students to redo and try again on their way to mastery is the way to go.

7. Initiative

In Matera's class, he offers "side quests" that encourage the students to dig deeper in the content. Even though they are optional, most students go on the quests. They understand by taking initiative and doing more than what is expected, they are more likely to win the game. His students understand that going above and beyond is a REQUIREMENT to do well, not an option. This is something I want to try hard to foster in my students this year.

8. Curiosity

Answers come with more questions. We should be teaching students to engage in an endless cycle of "listen, process, ask, and repeat." This will help them develop curiosity not only about what is happening at school, but "beyond the school walls."

9. Dependability

It's so important for students to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Just as important, they must learn to depend on others (and how dependent people really are on one another)!
It's not just about what grade you get on an assignment, it's about working together with the people around you to accomplish something.

10. Empathy

This is the last, and to me the most important, key to Purpose-Driven Learning. We do not exist in a vacuum. We must teach students to engage and respond to each other, to really hear what their classmates are saying, and to respect each other's opinions. To do this, you must promote a classroom environment that is a safe place to take risks and learn from failure, where students can share their opinions without worrying about being shamed by their peers.

I really enjoyed this chapter, and I hope you got something out of my takeaways! Join us next week for Chapter 5, which is all about knowing the different types of "gamers" in your room.



  1. There were so many great points in this chapter! I love your graphic with the Purpose Driven Learning words. Thanks for linking up!

  2. I LOVED this chapter too! I felt it was so applicable to school whether you use gaming or not! I really love the idea of these ten words.

    1. I agree! I'm brainstorming ideas of how to incorporate them in my class!

  3. Wow! You definitely got a lot more out of this chapter than I did, haha. I was starting to feel a little restless and ready to get into the actual process of gamification :) But reading your post made me appreciate it more!

    The Designer Teacher

    1. That's a great compliment, thank you! I hear you, though...I'm ready to start talking about the games!


Back to Top