Tag Archives: Game Based Learning

The Game Box

I love playing games in my classroom. I create games as well as use board games and dice games to create engaging learning experiences for my students. When I started presenting workshops on gamification in the classroom, I found this great carry-all storage box to hold all the gaming paraphernalia from classroom to workshop space. Here is a similar one at Michaels and it is under twenty dollars.

Now, the contents:

Dice – Dice are great for think-dots activities, random rolls, story cubes, roll and tell, dice breakers. I have foam dice, Rory’s Story Cubes for writing prompts, and metaphor dice for poetry and figurative language review. I keep extra dice from board games like the ones pictured above from Legends of Hidden Temple which have pictures of animals on the dice.

Play Dough – Looking for a quick do-now for your students to showcase their thinking or an idea, use play dough. It is perfect for students with sensory and kinesthetic needs. Students can recreate a scene from their reading using play dough or create a sculpture of a symbol that represents the text. Edutopia has an article with fifteen ways to use play dough in secondary classrooms. I like giving students their own individual play dough and then having a gallery walk after they make their sculpture individually or in small groups.

Lego Mini-Figures – Legos are also great for building representations or showcasing a scene from a book students are reading. I carry around a small tackle box filled with mini figure parts for building avatars. Avatars are often a game mechanic to allow personalization in a game, you can choose the gender and adapt it’s appearance, from skin and hair color to dress code typically. I provide students with an opportunity to create and design their own avatar and then write the backstory of the avatar: who are they, where are they from, what are their strengths and weaknesses?

Hot Potato – The hot potato was something that I had to have because it is perfect for passing around the classroom or in small groups to share ideas and thinking. This toy shakes after a certain period of time and when it shakes, the student who is holding the potato is the speaker. I often have sentence or question starters for students when in small groups to select who will share next.

Stickers – Stickers can be used as rewards or badges when playing a game. I have been using Sticker Mule the past few years to personalize stickers for my classroom. The stickers that are on the top of the game box are from the television game show Legends of Hidden Temple. The image is of Olmec. Outside of Legends of Hidden Temple, the Olmec colossal heads are the most famous artifacts left behind by the Olmec civilization. The Olmec people are believed to have occupied a large part of modern-day Southern Mexico. Olmec was part of Legends of Hidden Temple and the sticker, personalized on Sticker Mule is a “The Pendant of Life.” If a student wins the pendant of life, they can use it for a free pass on an assignment.

If I could fit more into the game box, I probably would. I do have all my board games and card games in a different bin. I will save my favorite board games and card games for another blog post. For now, stock up and get some of these gaming elements to bring some fun and friendly competition into your own classroom.

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Growing An Idea

This Thanksgiving I am grateful for the personal learning community that I have. There are so many people who I have met through Twitter, at conferences, and memberships of  educational organizations like NCTE and ISTE who have inspired me and influenced my teaching practices. When people share ideas through these communities, you are able to see people, as well as ideas, grow into amazing projects and activities that help students meet excellence.

This blog post is an ode to all the amazing educators who make up my personal learning network and who have helped me grow ideas. When I first started writing this blog, it was a space to catalogue activities, ideas, and insight with the hope to provide encouragement for other educators to create intellectually stimulating and engaging activities with your students. In the past six years it has evolved into so much more.

While at NCTE this past month I presented a game design workshop for teachers. One part of the workshop included a station rotation activity. For forty minutes participants moved around the room to five different stations playing games and discussing game based learning activities. I was inspired by this activity after attending a station rotation workshop in my school led by our technology specialist, Kristie Orlando @OrlandoKristie. She said that Caitlyn Tucker and Jennifer Cronk were two educators who gave her insight to build her own stations and lead a fruitful workshop. I will add that Caitlyn Tucker’s On Your Feet Guide to Station Rotation is a valuable resource. Kristie Orlando’s formatting of the station directions, cues, and food for thought was the catalyst for my own station design. I adapted two of her stations and add some of my own personal touches to meet the objectives of the game design workshop. This is one example how ideas grow.

Game Based Station Rotation Directions

Whereas Kristie used Headbanz in her station rotation to encourage participants to use mini-games in their classroom, I used the Heads Up game as one of my stations.

Heads Up is a game I play with my middle school students. Currently, my students are reading different dystopian novels and I made a set of Heads Up cards for them to play this mini-game in our classroom for review and check for understanding. There is a generic set of dystopian words and then sets for The Giver, The Reader, Unwind, Animal Farm, and Scythe. If you would like a copy of these cards to use with your own students, click here and print out your own set, laminate them, and have fun!

Another station that Kristie had us do was “Questions in A Jar,” students went around and answered questions about active learning strategies. This is a great activity to evoke conversation in small group and I wanted to add a little more of a game element to it. I built off the questions in a jar and added a Hot Potato to this station. Haven’t you ever seen something online and thought, “What a great idea. Now, if I add this or personalize it this way, it elevates everything.”

Game Based Station Rotation Directions-2

The questions that were utilized at this station were questions derived from Tisha Richmond’s Make Learning Magical: Transform Your Teaching and Create Unforgettable Experiences in Your Classroom (2019). Tisha’s book has great ideas about gamification as she describes how she gamified her own culinary arts classroom. Tisha also contributed to my first book, Gamify Literacy (2017). Some of these questions include: What is your favorite television reality or game show? How could you use challenges from it to create fun and educational  experiences for your students? How can we harness the motivation that keeps our students up far past their bedtimes to play their favorite video game and bring it into the classroom?

A third station I offered was inspired by another awesome educator, Mandy Ellis @Mandyeellis. Mandy wrote Lead with Literacy: A Pirate Leader’s Guide to Developing a Culture of Readers (A Lead Like a PIRATE Guide) She blogged about a PD session she ran at her school that was based on the cooking show Chopped and the great ideas that emerged from this activity. Participants were given a “basket” of items that they needed to use to build a literacy based lesson. Mandy explains how she organized her stations on her blog and below are the directions to the Chopped station I adapted for this game design station rotation. I also share a link to Stefanie Crawford’s vlog how she creates Chopped style games in her classroom. 

Game Based Station Rotation Directions-3

There are so many eduawesome teachers that share their brilliant ideas and motivate others. 

The last two stations that were part of the game design station rotations, where two original stations I created to arouse critical thinking about gaming and game based learning. One station had teachers assess their player types using Bartle’s Inventory of Player Types and another station used speech and debate to build communication skills. This station is based off the game I Dissent.

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Ideas grow, they are cultivated or a catalyst that initiates thinking into action. Sometimes ideas develop out of thin air and other times people, images, or places stir our beliefs and   ignite new knowledge and understanding.  As educators, we need to share our ideas so that we can continue to provide our students with the best practices they need to be champions themselves.

 

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You Have to Be the Book: Live Action Role Play (LARP) for Learning

Live Action Role Play can be applied to any and all major works of literature as well as almost any content area (scientific inquiry, mathematical reasoning, stage play, history). The rules you make are your own or by others. In my gamification question I have learned more about LARPs and realize that much of the theater and reenactment we do in our classroom is Live Action Role Play. To heighten the stakes, engagement, and learning I was part of a workshop with the Kennedy Center and ArtsEdge Games. Here are some basic elements to get started in your classroom:

The participants

The Game Master – These are the facilitators of the game.

The Players – These individuals have active participation in the story, inhabiting a player character. Note that not all players have equal roles, some have different strengths and weaknesses.

How to Play

Player characters interact with the created world by declaring an action and then determining if that action is successful through the rolling of dice. This process is called an Encounter. Think of an encounter as a conflict between two entities, typical in any good story. Typical conflicts in literature include person vs. person, person vs. nature, person vs. society, and person vs, self. It also includes action and reaction.

Much like the story itself, a proper game attempts to tell a story through a succession of events, both heroic and tragic. Sometimes these events seem like random fortune, other times karma is at work, serving the player character he or she deserves.

An important part of role-playing is understanding your particular character’s motivations and what drives them to do what they can do. Certain characters are driven to their goals so deeply that a part of their consciousness is forever devoted to that cause. The goal with character creation is to design and shape a player-character that not only represents their persona in the subject text but also that fits into the structures of the game itself.

For example, Odysseus of the famed Odyssey – a man of great cunning and ingenuity, uses his intellect to overcome the many obstacles in reaching his home in Ithaca. However, Odysseus is merely a man and thus not without fault. As the greater mind of his era, Odysseus gains Advantage when using non-weapon tools or machines to overpower, kill, or deceive. At the same time one of Odysseus is tantalized by the pursuit of adventure and prestige. If faced with the possibility of fame, fortune, or the protection of his price, and he chooses against it, he gains disadvantages. Every merit is balanced with a flaw. A flaw is simply being an effect that grants disadvantage. Characters are incentivized to use inherent character traits and behave like the characters in the text. For Odysseus, his most common and frequent intent is simply to protect his men from the dangers of adventure. As the book is a “journey home” Odysseus’ standard goal is to make it back to his kingdom in Ithaca.

Inventory is an enhancement in the game. Inventory are usable items that can represent anything from money, to weapons, to social and spiritual representations. The crown of a king represents more than just ornate wealth, it is the very key to ruling people, governing, and influencing. Inventory doesn’t just add items to a player character, it might unlock events or areas, restrict behaviors of characters, change a character or change the surroundings.

LARPs can be open-ended adventure and are open to interpretation. Of course, there are more elements that you can add and build into the game and I have just give you some basics to begin game play in your classroom. For more information about ArtsEdge Games and resources,  click here.

 

 

 

 

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Gamification Lessons from Jumanji & Ready Player One

Two of the most popular movies these past six months have been the reboot of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle(2017) and Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One(2018). Both movies are about gaming and teachers interested in gamification can borrow some elements from these movies to boost their game-infused classroom. In this post I am not going to review or critique these movies, both have merits and criticism. Rather, I want to identify the gaming elements that can be models and mentors for our own gamified classroom whether you are an expert player or noob.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Game Conventions:

3 Lives – Each of the main characters in the movie has three lives. Some characters risk these lives in order to level up, challenge, or help one another. What if students had “three lives” or three tries to complete a task to quest? How would this impact their effort and abilities to succeed in the classroom game?

“NPC” or a “cut scene” – Once the four main characters arrive in Jumanji, they meet Nigel, an NPC (Non-Player Character), and as such is only programed with certain responses for certain questions. The characters even audibly freak out when a “cut-scene” comes onscreen, before Spencer (Johnson’s character) explains that many games have them to explain backstory. What is the backstory to your game? The more backstory your students know or learn, they are more invested in the game.

How to Win the Game – The only way to escape the game and survive is to complete the task, so the four students try to survive the jungle of Jumanji with various threats bearing down on them. The key here is that the players had to work together in order to finish their quest and win the game to get back home. Team work is essential and similarly, team work can be the key to success with quest based learning.

Reading Player One Game Conventions:

Similar to Jumanji, Team Work is essential in Ready Player One. The protagonist, Wade Watts actually wins the Oasis with the help of his friends. If students are given missions and tasks where they have to work together, are able to crack codes, uncover the treasure, and battle the bosses by putting their heads together.

Easter Eggs – An Easter egg is an intentional inside joke, hidden message or image, or secret feature. Some websites state that there are more than 120 Easter eggs in Spielberg’s Ready Player One adaptation. Most of the Easter eggs in Ready Player One happen to be allusions to retro video games and movies from the 1980s like RoboCop, The Flash, Freddy Kreuger, The Iron Giant, to name a few. For a complete list check out this blog post from ScreenRant. The idea with Easter eggs is to provide another layer of challenge or hidden message to the game. In fact, before the movie was released, there were Easter eggs dropped all over Twitter to promote the movie (See below). What if you were to plant a few Easter eggs in your homework assignments, Google Classroom, or dare I say worksheet. Imagine the fun students might have cracking the secret message or to uncover a new side quest or mission.

Borrowing elements from 80s video games. Each level that Wade must reach references an 80s video games. We can look to games of over times for elements to use with our students from Dance Battles to scavenger hunts.

Whether you use all of these elements or just a few, adding a few gaming touches helps to draw in your players and students into the game of school or the game narratives you have created for your classroom.

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Power Play Lessons: Popular Television Game Structures & Gameplay

Looking to design a game or remodel a classroom activity into a game. Here are four (4) popular television game shows and their structure play by plays to help plan an adventurous class lesson and activity. Since many of these games include physical challenges and mental challenges think of the activities and content information that you can use to challenge your students, make learning fun and engaging, plus review  and or learn new content information These different game structures can be used as models for classroom game design.

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1. Amazing Race Play By Play

The Race features eleven teams composed of two people.

At the beginning of each leg of the race, each team receives their first clue.

Clue envelopes may mark the place where the teams must go in order to complete tasks. When teams complete certain tasks or arrive at a specific destination, they normally receive a letter-sized tear-away envelope that contains their next clue inside a vertical-fold folder.

Route Information clues instruct the teams where to go next. Such a clue usually provides only the name of the team’s next destination; it is up to the teams to figure out how to get there.

Detour

A Detour presents the team with a decision between two tasks, “each with its own pros and cons.”

Typically, one task is less physically demanding than the other but is tedious or requires some amount of time or thinking to complete, while the other is usually a more physically demanding or frightening option that, depending on the team’s ability, may take less time to complete. The decision about which task to attempt lies solely with the team. Once a team has completed one of the tasks, they are given the clue to their next location. If a team does not complete a Detour, they will get a penalty.

A Roadblock is a task that only one team member may perform. The Roadblock task is performed only by the selected racer while his or her partner waits in a designated area, although the partner is usually able to supply words of encouragement and advice.

A Fast Forward is a task that, once completed, allows the team that completes it to bypass all remaining tasks in the leg and proceed directly to the Pit Stop. The Fast Forward clue is given with another task clue (usually a Roadblock or Detour) and is a separate task from the others. Only one team may complete a Fast Forward in any given leg, and a team may only complete one Fast Forward in the entire Race.

Besides clues, teams may encounter the following that may or may not affect their placements or possibly slow them down:

The Intersection requires each team to pair up with one other team and perform all tasks and make decisions together until further notice.

The Hazard  is a penalty applied to the team who came in last at the starting line task.

http://amazingrace.wikifoundry.com/page/THE+RACE%3A+Rules,+Clues,+and+Structure

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2. Legends of the Hidden Temple Game Show Structure

Legends of the Hidden Temple has been described as “a combination of Jeopardy and Raiders of the Lost Ark.” In each episode, six teams of two contestants began a three-round competition to determine which team earned the right to enter the temple. Each team was identified with a color and an animal, indicated on their uniform shirts: the Red Jaguars, Blue Barracudas, Green Monkeys, Orange Iguanas, Purple Parrots, and Silver Snakes.

Round 1: The Moat (Physical Challenge)

In the first round of the show, the six teams attempted to cross a narrow swimming pool known as “the moat.” All six teams attempted to get both members across according to the rules and push a button on a pedestal to ring a gong. The first four teams to cross the moat and ring their gongs advanced to the second round.

Round 2: The Steps of Knowledge (Mental Challenge)

The four remaining teams stood on the topmost of the four levels of the Steps of Knowledge. “Olmec” began the round by telling the teams the episode’s legend of the featured artifact, which became the theme for the remainder of the episode. The legend centered on an artifact which the winning team searched for in the final round. After finishing, he asked the teams a series of questions to test their memory. Each multiple-choice question had three possible answers. A team attempting to answer signaled by stomping on their step. A team who answered correctly moved down to the next level. The first two teams to answer three questions correctly and reach the bottom level advanced to the next round.

Round 3: The Temple Games (Physical Challenge)

The temple games featured the two remaining teams competing in three physical challenges to earn Pendants of Life which the winning team used in the final round. The team that earned the most number of pendants by the end of three temple games won the right to enter the temple.

Final Round: The Temple Run (Physical Challenge)

In the final round, the winning team took the Pendants of Life the contestants earned into the temple, and attempted to retrieve the episode’s artifact and bring it back out of the temple within a three-minute time limit.

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3. Are you Smarter than a 5th grader game play

In each game, the contestant is asked a series of eleven questions, spanning ten subjects (such as Gym, Spelling or Art) taken from textbooks for first through fifth grade students. Each question is associated with a grade level; there are two questions per grade, from first to fifth. The player can answer the questions in any order, and each correct answer raises their cumulative amount of winnings to the next level. If the player correctly answers the first ten questions, they are given the opportunity to answer a fifth-grade bonus question.

Five fifth graders appear on each show and play along on stage.  The player chooses one to be their “classmate,”who stands at the adjacent podium and is called upon for assistance in choosing a subject; the other four sit at desks off to the side. Each child acts as the classmate for at most two questions (done consecutively), after which another child is picked from those who have not yet played in that game.

Answer-Assistance Options

Contestants have three forms of answer-assistance options (two cheats and a save), each available for use once per game:

  • Peek: The player is shown their classmate’s answer and may choose whether to go along with it or not.
  • Copy: The player is locked into using their classmate’s answer, without being able to see it first. 
  • Save: If the player answers incorrectly but their classmate is correct, they are credited with a correct answer. The save cannot be invoked by the contestant; it is used automatically on the contestant’s first incorrect response.

If the contestant gets an answer wrong, they flunk out, and lose all of their winnings. In addition, they may choose to drop out at any point during the initial 10 questions, which entitles them to leave the game with any winnings they have accumulated to that point.

http://gameshows.wikia.com/wiki/Are_You_Smarter_Than_a_5th_Grader%3F?action=edit&section=2

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4. Survivor Game Play

During both pre- and post-merge parts of the game, the castaways compete in a series of challenges. Tribes are alerted to these upcoming challenges by a message, often in rhyme, delivered to camp by the production team at a basket or box on a nearby tree.

Tribes compete against each other in challenges. These most often are multi-segment obstacle courses that include both physical and mental elements with the tribe that finishes first declared the winner; commonly, these start with tribe members collecting puzzles pieces that are then used to solve a puzzle by other tribe members.

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Tech & Learning Live Boston 2017

Tech & Learning is one of the leading resources for education technology professionals. It’s website and magazine, Tech & Learning provide an inside look at issues, trends, products, and strategies pertinent to the role of all educators –including state-level education decision makers, superintendents, principals, technology coordinators, and lead teachers.

I will be presenting all things Gamification and Game Based Learning on Friday, May 12th at Tech & Learning Live (formerly called Tech Forum), a high-powered, one-day event that provides K-12 decision makers with thought-provoking content on the hottest topics of the day in education technology.

Rather than present in a traditional way with a powerpoint, we will be playing a game (of course)! Check out the Gamification Bingo game board that I created for participants to get into the action, ask and answer provocative questions, and engage in meaningful discussions on the possibilities gaming can offer teachers and students.

Want to play, BINGO wins are equivalent to completing the entire Bingo board.

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