Tag Archives: #gamification

Building Quests for Independent Learning: Classcraft’s New Feature

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I am so excited for Classcraft’s new feature that allows teachers to build quests for their students. Classcraft states, “Quests enable teachers to turn their lesson plans into personalized, self-paced learning adventures for students to embark upon in the game. Your entire curriculum can take the form of an interactive map — each point representing an activity or resource that must be completed to go further.”

I have just put together a reading quest based on a social justice book unit. Students have a choice to read I am Malala, All American Boys, or Warriors Don’t Cry. Since students are reading books in small groups, the quest feature allows all students to work at their own pace to complete different “checks for understanding” assignments that will highlight their thinking about the text.

Here is a breakdown of the Social Justice Quest:

The Story – Throughout history there have been moments when people have been called upon to stand up for what is right. They have witnessed injustice, hatred, intolerance, and have decided that they cannot stand aside as a bystander. Who are these upstanders and how do they change the course of history for all of humanity.
Mission 1 – Perception Reading Expedition

You have read the backstory, been introduced to the characters, and seen injustice presented in the text. Now, complete this mission to unlock the journey of a true hero.

Answer the questions on the google form related to your social justice book.

Warriors Don’t Cry https://goo.gl/forms/X5HoTnSFU29nl2S92

I Am Malala https://goo.gl/forms/Pc6S1uFiAs9zmo1Z2

These Google forms include 20 basic comprehension questions based on the first 100 pages of the books. Student responses will be assessed using the Google Add-On Flubaroo

Mission 2 – Alliances

We often look to models and mentors for wisdom. These people’s lives are a testament that being an upstander takes strength and perseverance.

What aspects of Mahatma Gandhi are a model and mentor for your main character?

Articulate how your main character best exemplifies the philosophies and practices of Gandhi.

To learn more about Gandhi’s beliefs and complete this task click here.

Again, students will write a short response for this task on Google Forms which will be evaluated by the teacher. 
Mission 3 – Evaluator Mission

When we get to the end of a story our mind is filled with questions, thoughts, connections, and reflections.

  • What surprised me? What did I wonder?
  • What did the author think I already know?
  • What changed, challenged, or confirmed my thinking?

Before you make it to the end of the Social Justice Vision Quest, you must complete the Evaluator One Pager Mission.

One Pager Task: Your task is to showcase your understanding of your social justice book in ONE PAGE. Please follow the guidelines and check off each box as you complete each step.

  • Use a sheet of blank, white computer paper(8 ½ X 11).
  • Make sure the title of the novel is located on your one-pager. The title should STAND OUT.
  • Include a graphic representation on the part of the book you are focusing on (drawing, magazine picture, computer graphic, a symbol)
  • Your one-pager must include color (markers, colored pencils). No pencil is allowed.
  • Answer three (3) questions (see below) regarding the book and include two or more textual quotes to support your response.
  • Personal Response: A comment, an interpretation, a connection, or a review. Please do not include a summary.
  • Fill up the entire page
  • Place your name in the lower right hand corner.
One-Pager Scoring Rubric Points
Answers three reflection questions with  specific textual quotes to support response. 10
Graphic Representation that ties to the quotes. 5

+5 Awarded for Original & Unique Artwork

Thoughtful, well-written response 10
Title clearly stated… stands out 5
Presentation: Fill page, uses color, no pencil. 3
Name in lower right corner 2
Total (40 Points Maximum)

 

All American Boys – One Pager Questions

  1. Describe Rashad and Quinn. What makes them dynamic characters?
  2. What is your impression of Spoony, Rashad’s brother? Do you find him to be a good brother to Rashad? In what ways are these two brothers similar? How are they different?
  3. Quinn states, “On Friday nights, there were only two things on my mind: getting the hell out of the house and finding the party.” Why do his responsibilities at home make him feel such a need to escape? In what ways has the absence/loss of his father impacted how the family functions? Are they in any way similar to your own? If so, in what ways?
  4. For what reasons do you think Quinn begins to feel connected to Jill? How would you characterize their relationship, and how does it change over the course of the novel?
  5. Guzzo states, “People have it all backward. They do . . . I’m sorry, but my brother did the right thing. He has to make tough calls.” When his brother attacks Rashad, Guzzo is around the corner from the store, so he doesn’t bear witness to the assault. Why is Guzzo unable to come to terms with the truth about his brother’s actions?
  6. Consider the variety of settings for All American Boys; name the three places you believe to be most important to the story.
  7. Jill tells Quinn, “I don’t think most people think they’re racist. But every time something like this happens, you could, like you said, say, ‘not my problem.’ You could say, ‘it’s a one-time thing.’ Every time it happened.” Do you agree with her assessment?
  8. Quinn states, “And if I don’t do something. If I just stay silent, it’s just like saying it’s not my problem.” How does this moment show that Quinn is actively choosing not to be a bystander? Though difficult, do you agree it’s the right decision?
  9. How does the discovery of the spray-painted tag, “Rashad Is Absent Again Today” change the dynamics about how students at the high school are able to deal with the event? In what ways does this initially non-spoken symbol become an avenue for reflection and conversation among both the student body and the faculty?
  10. All American Boys is told in a dual first-person narrative. How would the story be different if someone besides Rashad and Quinn were telling it? Do you think changing the point of view would make the story better or worse? If you could, would you want another character’s perspective to be included in the novel? If so, whose?

 

Warriors Don’t Cry – One Pager Questions

1. What are 2-3 ways different white students respond to integration at Central High?

2. What role does peer pressure play in how white students respond to African American students?

3. Melba says she feels both proud and sad when she is escorted into school by federal troops. What do these feelings say about who she thinks she is – as a citizen and as an individual?

4 What role does Grandma India play? Why is she an important to Melba? Provide at least three (3) well substantiated reasons to support your assertion.

5. Explore the role Link plays. Why is he important in the book? Provide at least three (3) well substantiated reasons to support your assertion.

6. Why is the book called Warriors Don’t Cry? Which character or characters is/are the “warriors” in this play? Explain providing at least three examples.

7. How does Melba change as the story progresses? Be sure to clearly state your thesis and explain fully the instances where her behavior or attitudes change.

8. Based upon your reading of this book, what role do you think religion played in the Civil Rights Movement?

9. In the context of Melba’s story, what does it mean to be a warrior? What qualities does a warrior in this story need to possess? Provide at least two direct quotes from the book to help explain your answer.

10. Melba’s experience at Central High School happened more than fifty years ago. Why is it important to discuss it now? What could happen if Americans don’t learn about the struggle of the Little Rock Nine?

 

I Am Malala – One Pager Questions

1. Would you have had the bravery that Malala exhibited and continues to exhibit?

2. Talk about the role of Malala’s parents, especially her father, Ziauddin. If you were her parents, would you have encouraged her to write and speak out?

3. How does Malala describe the impact growing Taliban presence in her region? Talk about the rules they imposed on the citizens in the Swat valley. What was life like?

4. Mala has said that despite the Taliban’s restrictions against girls/women, she remains a proud believer. Would you—could you—maintain your faith given those same restrictions?

5. Talk about the reaction of the international community after Malala’s shooting. Has the outrage made a difference…has it had any effect?

6. What can be done about female education in the Middle East and places like Pakistan? What are the prospects? Can one girl, despite her worldwide fame, make a difference? Why does the Taliban want to prevent girls from acquiring an education—how do they see the female role? *

7. Talk about the Taliban’s power in the Muslim world. Why do you think  it continues to grow and attract followers…or is it gaining new followers? What attraction does it have for Muslim men? Can it ever be defeated?

8. Malala witnesses her immediate surroundings change dramatically within a short time period. Describe the changes to both Pakistan and Swat throughout I AM MALALA. How does Malala experience and respond to these changes? How is Malala’s character influenced and shaped by her surroundings?

9. Discuss Malala’s relationship with her mother. What influence does she have on Malala? In what ways does Malala’s relationship with her mother compare/contrast with her relationship with her father? Did it surprise you to learn that Malala’s mother did not know how to read yet her father insisted that Malala be well educated and learn all that she can?

10. In Chapter 5, after Malala does not win the class trophy at the end of the school year, her father tells her “It’s a good thing to come in second because you learn that if you can win, you can lose. And you should learn to be a good loser not just a good winner.” What do you think about this advice? How do you think it builds Malala’s character?

11. Would you have been as brave as Malala at this point in the story? In what ways do you feel like you relate to Malala?

 

Mission Complete – Reading Ace

Social justice means moving towards a society where all hungry are fed, all sick are cared for, the environment is treasured, and we treat each other with love and compassion. Not an easy goal, for sure, but certainly one worth giving our lives for!

Medea Benjamin, co-founder Global Exchange and Code Pink

We know that within our world and throughout history that not everyone has had equal opportunities or access to resources that should be a given right. Books have the power to help us see the world for what it can be and stand up for what is right. You are a reading ace and now you must make choices that show what you have taken to heart from the stories you read.

 

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Building An Escape Room Activity for the ELA Classroom

Ever since I participated in the Escape the Bus at ISTE 2017, I have been thinking how I can create an escape room experience for my students the first week of school. Already armed with Breakout EDU kits, I have been deconstructing the box to make the puzzles, ciphers, and locks bigger and more complex. Scouring blog posts and Pinterest for ideas and inspiration, I have created five puzzles for our Escape Game (based on seventh grade ELA material) to introduce the storyline of our year long game in eighth grade English.

First, students will view the iMovie trailer I created to set the story for the year. The future and the safety of the entire world hangs on students ability to unlock mysterious BOOKS and secrets they contain. Books are a guide where students, if they can, uncover and discover the secrets in a world where people can’t read.

Then, students will receive a puzzle piece to match them up to a specific group. Students will have to put their puzzle pieces together to find their group members. Students will be competing against each other and the top three teams with the highest score will gain XP.

One puzzle is based on a tic tac toe cipher or the pigpen cipher. Using the cipher, students will decode a list of books that I have read this summer, search the books along the book wall, and find the next clue hidden within one of the books.

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Sample Cipher Clue:Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 8.57.39 AM

Within one of the book titles will be three numbers that will open a small lock box. Inside the small lock box are two more puzzles to solve about Plot & Climax. Students will have to match the correct elements of plot along the plot pyramid to open a number lock. This idea was inspired by Taylor Teaches 7th on Teachers Pay Teachers who has 8 different ELA based Escape Room Resources on TpT.

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Another puzzle includes using QR Codes to view different movie clips and for students to identify types of conflict presented in the movies. The order of the types of conflict help to open a directional lock using the key below.

Lock Paper Scissors has great ideas and resources for building an Escape Game. The Lego Puzzle box shared on the website caught my attention and I am commissioning my son to create two of these to use with the Escape Game. I will hide a book title or famous quote inside the Lego Puzzle Box for students to uncover another clue.

Another puzzle includes matching popular book titles with the correct plot summaries. Once students complete and match the correct titles and summaries, students will receive an envelope with a secret message written in invisible ink.

I still have three more puzzles to create. I am thinking about something related to punctuation, grammar, and prefixes and suffixes. Additionally, I might use a reading passage that has parts of it blacked out for students to answer questions. Adding music to set the tone is important. The key is that throughout this experience students are working collaboratively. Additionally, this gives me some insight to what my students already know and where to begin within my curriculum to meet learning targets.

Have you created an Escape Game for your classroom? I would love to know more. Share your insights and knowledge in the comment section of this blog.

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Double Whammy: Games for Change Conference & Games in Education Summit

This week was the golden opportunity for gamers, gamification, and game developers. Both Games for Change Festival and Games in Education Summit took place in New York the the first week of August.

Games for Change addresses how “how games can impact education, healthcare, research, civics, and social issues. The first two days of the Festival showcases the best and brightest game creators and changemakers with panels and keynotes, demos, networking events, and an expo. On the third day of the Festival, VR for Change Summit explores the positive power of virtual technologies in storytelling, science, and social justice.” The fact that this conference is not just focused on education, broadens one’s understanding of the impact of games across fields and highlights game designers who have created innovative and impacting games. Listening to Jesse Schell from Schell Games and jennifer Javornik of Filament Games discuss what is on the horizon with gaming and virtual reality is inspiring.

Additional gems shared at #G4C17 include ArtsEdge Games presenting a Romeo & Juliet LARP (Live Action Role Play). Students participate in creating a scene from Shakespeare’s play with the aim to “embody characters and explore the choices of several characters and learn what drives each one.” In the Larp, students talk to one another and behave as they think their characters would (students are given role cards with a list of tasks they must achieve during the role play). All the details and directions are available on the ArtsEdge website.

Jessica Hammer, Assistant Professor at Carnegie Mellon University and Shoshana Kessocks of Phoenix Outlaw Productions presented games they created about the Holocaust and WWII. Jessica Hammer with Moyra Turkington have a tabletop game in development called Rosenstrasse that require players to make difficult ethical decisions about standing up and defying the Third Reich. Shoshana Kessock’s WarBirds Anthology is a collection of LARPs based on women during World War II. Available through Unruly Designs, these games are valuable for grade 8 and up studying WWII and the Holocaust.

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Tracking Ida is a unique “homebrewed” game similar to a BreakoutEdu. “Tracking Ida is an educational alternate reality game (ARG) inspired by the pioneering investigative journalism of Ida B. Wells in the 1890s. Players uncover Ida B. Wells’ crusade against lynching and use her strategies to investigate police and vigilante killings today. Along the way, they solve puzzles, decode messages through a phonograph, role-play as investigative journalists, interview members of their community, and harness social media to spread awareness. Players explore a trunk sent by Ida B. Wells. The trunk contains the salvaged evidence of Wells’ investigation into Memphis lynchings–what she managed to preserve after her newspaper office was burned down by a lynch mob in 1892. To keep these documents out of her persecutors’ hands, Wells secured them in locked compartments. Players solve puzzles to unlock each compartment in the trunk as they search for the map to her investigative tactics.” This history based game allows students to be explorers and detectives to uncover and interact with American History past. More information is available on the Tracking Ida website.

The learning did not just stop at #G4C17, at the end of the week the 11th Annual Games in Education Symposium (#GiE17) took place at University of Albany. This two day summit was for game developers and educators to learn from each other. Dr. Chris Haskell’s keynote presentation “To Boldly Go: Technology, Captain Kirk, and the Future of Education” took us on a trip into space as members of the Star Trek Crew to realize that “fiction is the playground of possibility” and the impact that science fiction, Star Trek especially, has had on our current technology. He encouraged participants to make their classrooms their own StarShip and take students on a mission to seek out new ideas, work together, work ethically, and reach beyond the stars.

#GiE17 had both presentations and hands on workshops on Makey Makey, Game Design, Raspberry Pi, Boxels, and Minecraft. Presentations from the amazing teacher Peggy Sheehy, shared how she turned her class into a game, Excalibur: Explore, Create, Analyze, Learn, Iterate, Break, Understand, Reflect. John Morelock and Joshua Garcia Sheridan both students at Virginia Tech shared how the Board Game Pandemic is used to teach teamwork in the Engineering School at VT.

The key lesson for teachers at both #G4C17 and #GiE17 was that gamification and gaming is not some fad. Gaming is not the future, it is now. Our students are engrossed in the gaming culture and it is changing the way they think and see learning, teamwork, and the world. Teachers need to meet students where they are at and use gaming as a tool for learning and collaboration. There infinite benefits to gaming. And if Jeopardy is your idea of gaming in the classroom, it’s time to renew your own participation in the current wold of gaming: table top games, video games, role playing games, digital games. Would you rather be an XG or N00b? If your not sure what I am talking about, look it up. Your mission begins here.

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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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Legends of Learning #ISTE17 Rally for Educators

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The following is the speech I presented to the attendees of edgames startup Legends of Learning rally for educators at ISTE.

Thank you to Legends of Learning for hosting the ISTE Rally for Educators and their mission to help teachers make classrooms fun and productive learning environments through research driven curriculum-based games. I am honored to speak with you tonight and to be included among amazing educators, Jahana Hayes and Dallas Dance, and with all of you here at this rally. Tonight is about celebrating teachers and inspiring heroes in all of us.

Too many of our students question what is the purpose of school today? Ask why do I have learn this and how is this going to help me after school and beyond? In a time when students can jump on the internet and Google answers to the questions they have, we, as teachers, need to show young people the relevancy of school and inspire students to help make the world a better place. You are the educational heroes, the teachers who inspire our students to love learning in our content areas, share our passions for science, math, English, history, art, music, technology, and more. And it is not only about disseminating information. Teachers must build relationships with students,  instill compassion and kindness all in a matter of 40 minute periods each day.

If we look closer into our students’ lives, we can learn so much more that can inform our teaching and methods. According to Nielsen, the average U.S. gamer age 13 or older spends 6.3 hours a week playing video games. Now, the Center for Public Education reports that, “students receive 1,000 hours of instructional time per year, depending on the grade level.”  That calculates to 3.3 hours of instructional time a week for ONE subject.The math is obvious, our students are getting twice as much game time as they are learning time. Most of the learning time that students are receiving is traditional in the sense that teachers are teaching at students. Students are the receivers of information whereas in a game, a player is immersed in the game world using problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and quick thinking to win the game and level up.

So, what if we harness our students’ strengths as gamers and game players to help teach our content area and tap into the elements of gamification to help develop problem solvers, readers, and critical thinkers? This can be an Epic Win for both teachers and students.  

Four years ago I was introduced to gamification as a classroom methodology while attending a local Edcamp. I admit that I am a Scrabble nerd, enjoy Jeopardy from time to time. I cannot resist a game of Pac Man and I love playing Dance Revolution with my daughter. Video gaming was not my strength or passion years prior. But the heart of gaming, the theory of gaming elements, and my interests are piqued.  

Gamification is an approach to learning that connects meaningful gaming with content objectives to re-engage students and boost learning.  Gamification is about transforming the classroom environment and literacy instruction into a game. It requires creativity, collaboration, and play. There are numerous ways to bring games and game playing into the classroom to promote learning and deepen student understanding. Whether teachers are looking to bring in some aspect of gaming into their class or use a game platform across the curriculum, you can bring in elements of gamification to enhance learning and student engagement, tap into the Common Core and meet ISTE Standards.

When my students are playing video games, they are using many skills – facts and information are tools to solve problems in context. Failure is a source of feedback and learning, collaboration is necessary, and learning and assessment are tightly integrated.  Gamification is not worksheets for points. Effective games are customized to different learners and students are encouraged to take risks and seek alternative solutions. In classrooms today, it’s not only about learning content material, students must experience and build the necessary skills to be creators, innovators, and problem solvers in order to develop critical thinking and improve academic achievement.

In my own classroom, gamification has helped me to engage many of my students, build collaboration and teamwork, and boost their literacy skills.  All year long, my students must uncover the mysteries and powers in the Books we read. Students might earn badges for completing different tasks or collect points during an adventure quest to show their learning and thinking about a text. The goal is for students to LOOK CLOSER and CRITICALLY at their world and the information that we are bombarded with visually and in print. There are puzzles, quests, and challenges with each unit. Students must unlock the secrets hidden in text and go on scavenger hunts and Amazing Races to show their understanding and knowledge. There are side quests to differentiate learning, boss battles, badges, and mysteries that help unlock the legends, themes, and pertinent information.  The game is always evolving in my class with treasure, experience points (XP), and gold points to be amassed. 10,000 experience points offers “Enhanced Vision,” a power and privilege that allows students who have leveled up to 10,000 XP or more to preview the final exam before the actual exam. In the past two years a dozen students have achieved this feat and their names top our leaderboard as reminders to new players that this win is achievable.

Ava, a student in my classroom this past school year told me that gaming in our 8th grade English class was a fun learning alternative which has made her a stronger English student. She went on to tell me striving for game points throughout the school year strengthened her work ethic and improved her writing and reading skills, which overall improved her grade. As a teacher, gamification has allowed me to coach students to be successful readers, writers, and critical thinkers. My students learn by doing, collaboration, and quest based adventures. Gamification fits across all content areas, not my classroom alone.

If we are going to energize our students, we need to embrace technology with teaching methods that inspire and encourage our students to be motivated to learn, collaborate, and face obstacles in a positive way. Approaching learning as a quest or a mission can inspire adventure, collaboration, and results in a better learning experience and learning environment. This is because gamification and game based learning

  • Captures (and retains) learners’ attention.
  • Challenges them.
  • Engages and entertains them.
  • Teaches them.

Let’s think of Mario, Princess Zelda, and Monopoly as mentor texts to help us, as teachers and educators,  design interactive lessons that immerse students in meaningful learning experiences.

Teachers are game designers who build experiences that allows students to foster meaningful teamwork, take ownership of their learning, and persevere when faced with obstacles. Epic Wins, that is what we want for ALL of our students. Success in school as well as outside of school. By meeting students where they are at, tapping into their gaming strengths and skill sets we can enhance the schooling experience across all content areas and promote Epic Wins for learning and life.

About Legends of Learning

Legends of Learning helps educators make their classrooms fun, engaging, and productive learning environments through research-driven, curriculum-based games. Legends of Learning uses ongoing original research to create an edgame platform filled with an epic range of lessons for stronger subject mastery and classroom engagement. All games are based on state curriculum standards. Don your masks with Legends of Learning.

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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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Use Badges to Create Self Paced Learning Experiences

The following blog post was written by Julie Randles for ISTE’s EdTekHub. The original post can be found here.

Awarding badges is more than a way to recognize student accomplishments. For educator Michele Haiken, badges also offer a way to give students a self-paced learning experience.

“I looked to my gaming experience and I borrowed the idea of badging as I re-examined my curriculum to find ways that students could work independently and in a self-paced environment to meet learning targets,” says Haiken, a teacher at Rye Middle School in New York.

And with that new benefit in mind, Haiken was hooked.

For teachers ready to try badging to allow students to demonstrate concept, standard or skill mastery, or to give them a self-paced learning experience, Haiken offers these on-ramps:

Consider reversing curriculum design. Haiken found the best way to get started with badging was to “backward design” some of her curriculum. She started with her targets for students by semester’s end – say meeting Common Core standards or her own standards – and then created self-paced learning projects.

She took this approach in both an English class and a speech and debate elective, making the first 10 weeks of class self-paced and requiring students to complete three badges by the end of the quarter. It all began with asking herself what she wanted students to be able to do in 10 weeks and what smaller pieces could she create that show evidence of learning?

Revise or re-rig. If the backward design approach is too much to bite off, Haiken suggests revising current curriculum to include opportunities for students to master learning levels to earn badges.

She took this approach for a dystopian reading unit where all students were reading different novels. The entire class met to discuss broad themes in all dystopian novels, but when students met in smaller reading groups or worked independently, Haiken provided badge-based activities that let her know individual students understood the texts they were reading.

Build in opportunities for reflection and revision. Adding badging into the learning mix is a great way to encourage students to slow down, understand concepts and use old knowledge to build new knowledge.

It’s also a good way to address the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students, which expect students to use technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals.

In her speech and debate class, Haiken asked students to look at models and mentors for public speaking – think John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King Jr. – and reflect on what the two men were doing as public speakers, asking “What can I take away from that?”

Students used the knowledge they gained from that reflection to created their own speeches, and earn their next badge.

“I would send notes through Google Classroom so they could revise or improve; so it wasn’t one and done and their work showed a synthesis of old knowledge and new knowledge.” Forcing students to improve their work before they could earn the next badge helped drive home the importance of revision and reflection.

Try badges for motivation. Badges can also help create a positive classroom culture. Consider awarding badges to students who have gone above and beyond as “super helpers” or to encourage acts of collaboration, character and citizenship.

Educators interested in learning more about how to use badges to recognize mastery and achievement can join Haiken for the ISTE Professional Learning Series webinar “Improving Student Achievement with Classroom Badges” on April 26.

Participants will:

  • Hear about badging ideas, criteria and ways to organize them in their classrooms.
  • Get resources for designing and distributing digital and physical badges.
  • Learn how other educators are using badges across content areas and grade levels.

ISTE members can sign up now for the ISTE Professional Learning Series that includes the webinar “Improving Student Achievement with Classroom Badges.” Not a member? Join ISTE today.

 

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Gamifying English Language Arts

For more than two years that I have infused gamification elements into my English Language Arts classroom to improve engagement, community, and learning. This upcoming Wednesday, April 19th I will be presenting a Webinar for Classcraft Games on using gamification in English. As a Classcraft user, I will address how I use Classcraft Games in my classroom, plus share additional add on games I have created over the past few years to teach concepts related to reading, writing, and critical thinking.

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Classcraft fits seamlessly into any content area classroom and I use the gaming platform as a way for students to track game points earned throughout the school year. Within the Classcraft platform additional gaming elements such as a random student generator, boss battles, and daily events inspire more gaming variety. Classcraft encourages teamwork and motivates many of my students to go beyond simple classwork. For example, each month I moderate Twitter Book Chats and students can earn 1,000 XP (Experience Points) for reading the book and participating in the chat. This is a win win for the students because they are reading new books, talking with others about their reading, and earning games points that can unlock additional powers and privileges. Privileges include preferential seating, previewing quiz questions, and even a free homework pass.

In addition to utilizing Classcraft, I am always building new games and add ons with each unit of study. This year I used bottle flipping on a target board for specific writing prompts. After learning about the “old school” Nickelodeon show Legends of the Hidden Temple, I created my own version of the game for a reading unit on courage.  I am always transforming traditional board games like Bingo, Connect Four, and Snakes and Ladders into theme based games for classroom learning.

Join me for a discussion of gamification to promote reading, writing, and critical thinking.  Register for the Webinar here. 

Preview the slide deck below.

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The Book That Drives the Story and the Game

HELLO

IF YOU’RE READING THIS, THEN MAYBE YOU KNOW

YOU OUGHT TO READ EVERYTHING, AND MAYBE

YOU KNOW YOU OUGHT TO READ DEEPLY. BECAUSE THERE’S

WITCHERY IN THESE WORDS AND

SPELLWORK IN THE SPINE

AND ONCE YOU KNOW TO LOOK FOR SIGNALS IN THE SMOKE,

FOR SECRETS IN THE SEA, THEN YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT IT IS

TO READ. THIS IS A BOOK. YOU ARE THE READER. LOOK CLOSER,

THERE’S MAGIC HERE.

 

So begins Traci Chee’s amazing story of pirates, magic, and the power of a book in The Reader: Book One of Sea of Ink and Gold.

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This week my students and I will be discussing The Reader with author, Traci Chee for our upcoming monthly Twitter Book Club. There are so many great elements to the story that I had to reread the book again. Additionally, Traci Chee has embedded ten puzzles, ciphers, and clues throughout the story and I was on a hunt to uncover them all – in my second read I have identified 9 of the 10.

The Reader is filled with strong female characters throughout and weaves between three different story lines. Sefia, the protagonist’s story and quest is primary. Captain Reed’s adventures written in The Book Sefia reads and is marked in a different layout embedded throughout Sefia story. The third story is of Sefia’s parents which run parallel with Sefia’s chapters (until you realize who Lon and the Assassin really are in Chapter 29). Chee has crafted a compelling story that plays on words and begs her readers to ask questions about the power of words and books to control facts, truth, and history.

The main protagonists is 16 year old Sefia who has lost both her mother and father. As the readers, we are told and reminded that her parents were brutally murdered. Sefia is cared for by a family friend, Nin, until Nin is kidnapped one day by a “hooded woman” with a “sick stench of metal.” Sefia is left to fend for herself and seek revenge and resolution. In this world the people cannot read. “They had never developed alphabets or rules for spelling, never set their histories down in stone.” Stories and histories are passed around orally so they are not forgotten. Except a secret society of people trained to read and write from a “mysterious object called a book.” Sefia’s parents had the book hidden and now it is in Sefia’s hands as she uses it to find answers and understand her past.

So the puzzles embedded throughout The Reader.  .  . Some are there masterfully to reinforce ideas in the story like the fingerprints smudged throughout the book from Sefia’s paper cuts that bloodied her fingers reading and rereading the book in her hands. Another character, Tanin, carries around a crinkled, burned, and weathered paper that she reads and rereads trying to understand like a map that is presented on pages 416 -417 to help uncover just what really happened when Sefia is with Tanin and Rajar. If you look closely at burned page on page 417 Sefia’s parent’s names have been rubbed out and erased. Page 25 there are details blacked out about Sefia’s father that beg the question whether her parents are really dead. On page 211 there are words faded out to again asking the question, “What information is being held from us, the readers?” Again on page 307 specific words are bolded and enlarged when Sefia is reading about her father’s death in the book. “There was – no face left.” This hints that Sefia’s father can be alive and the body Sefia saw was planted as a distractor for his enemies. Did you catch the hidden message in the quote at the beginning of this blog post – LOOK CLOSER.

At the bottom of the page numbers there are words floating throughout. It is a poem. Oh, Traci Chee you are a clever author . . .

This is a book and a book is a world and words are the seeds in which meanings are curled pages of oceans and margins on land are civilizations you hold in the palm of your hand. But look at your world and your life seems to shrink to cities of paper and seas made of ink. Do you  know who you are or have you been mislead? Are you the reader or are you the read?

Unpacking the Book As a Theme for Gamification

In Explore Like  Pirate: Gamification and Game Inspired Course Design (2015), Michael Matera suggests that successful gamification needs a story with a theme, setting, and characters to drive the game and motivate the players into action. The Reader is my inspiration and guide for my ELA classroom. In a world where students who love reading is few and far between, and paper or tangible books might been a thing of the past, my students and players will be the chosen to uncover the mysteries and powers of the book. The goal is for students to LOOK CLOSER at their world and the information that we are bombarded with visually and in print. In books, and digitally. What is true? Do books contain magic? What can we learn from the adventures described in books and the histories that have been recorded? Can we use our knowledge and understanding to see that “everything is huge and connected. . . But the book[s] are the key, and if [we] can figure out how to use it, [we’d] be able to open the door, uncover the magic that lay, ripping and shifting unseen currents, beyond the world [we’d] experience” (Chee, 41).

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Badges for Public Speaking Mastery: Part II

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Why a badge driven curriculum?

Students are able to monitor their own learning and take responsibility for their work and understanding. Students are aware of the learning expectations and the work they need to master in order to successfully pass the course. Students know the end goal and are awarded badges for completing  specific learning targets and challenging and extraordinary tasks.

I have transformed my speech and debate elective class for middle school students this semester into a module based independent study where students complete different tasks to show mastery and earn badges.

The first ten weeks of the semester students are to complete three different badges for students to work towards and show their understanding and knowledge of public speaking. The second half of the semester students will focus on debating skills and participate in different types of debate.

The three different badges for Speech and Debate include:

Great Speakers Are Made, Not Born Badge

Read about the Great Speakers Are Made, Not Born Badge expectations here.

Words Are Powerful Badge

This badge is designed to help students utilize public speaking and writing skills by crafting a non fiction speech. Throughout this bade students are working on structure, word choice, and literary devices in their own writing.

Presentation Guru Badge

Once students earn the Words are Powerful Badge they can work on the Presentation Guru Badge. This badge requires students to put together all that they have learned about the qualities of great speakers and writing strong speeches. The final part of this badge is for students to write and present a TED style talk.

Here are some of the specific learning targets and extraordinary tasks students will set out to complete this semester.

Words Are Powerful Badge Expectations

Choose One Podcast Assignment:

StorySLAM (True Stories Told) – Choose a personal story you are willing to share with others. First write your story that you will then tell via podcast for others to listen to.  Here are some examples: https://themoth.org/education/resources (scroll to the bottom)

#1 The Model & Mentor Assignment

  1. Listen to 2-3 of the sample stories at https://themoth.org/education/resources
  2. Write a Reflection that answers the following (answers don’t have to be long, but please put some thought into them and not just one word answers):
  • Write the title of the story AND give the episode a “new” creative title.  
  • Write 3 things you learned about the speaker telling the story.
  • Write 3 new questions you have you want to ask the storyteller, and WHY you want to know the answers to these questions.
  • How did the speakers make you feel?  Engage You In the Topic? Encourage You to Continue Listening?
  • What were some of the rhetorical moves the speakers  utilized to successfully present the information in the podcast?
  • What other things did you notice about the podcast that are worth mentioning and pointing out to other listeners?

#2:Write Your Story Script – Write a story experience about yourself you are willing to share with others in a 3-5 Minute Personal Story that leaves a lasting impression. Share your story script with three classmates to get feedback and suggestions. Then, share your story script with your teacher before you begin your podcast for editing purposes. Remember:

  • Stories have a change. The main character (you!) has to change in some way from beginning to end.
  • Stories have stakes. Why did this moment matter to you?
  • Know where your story is heading. Steer clear of meandering endings!
  • Be YOURSELF. This is not a monologue, a standup routine, or a rant.  

#3: Podcast Your Story –  Record on a Podcast your story for others to hear*. Turn in your audio podcast on Google Classroom.

* Almost everyone needs to practice reading aloud their story to make it exciting and interesting in terms of the words as well as one’s vocal presentation. Your voice needs to be loud, clear, and authentic.

OR

RadioLab Style Podcast – RadioLab is a show on NPR that presents topics related to science through engaging conversations, media clips, and investigative journalism. Check out http://radiolab.org for more information and to listen to a few podcasts before you get started.

#1: The Model & Mentor Assignment

  1. Choose a ONE HOUR episode of Radiolab on http://radiolab.org. Download or listen online to the ENTIRE episode.
  2. Write a Reflection that answers the following (answers don’t have to be long, but please put some thought into them and not just one word answers):
  • Write the title of the episode AND give the episode a “new” creative title.  
  • Write 3 things you learned about the topic in the podcast.
  • Write 3 new questions you now have about the topic, and WHY you want to know the answers to these questions.
  • How did the speakers make you feel?  Engage You In the Topic? Encourage You to Continue Listening?
  • What were some of the rhetorical moves the speakers/hosts utilized to successfully present the information in the podcast?
  • What other things did you notice about the podcast that are worth mentioning and pointing out to other listeners?

#2: Create Your Own Radio Lab Podcast

  1. Select and Research a topic of your choice (most RadioLab Episodes are science related).
  2. Write a script for a 3-5 Minute Mini-Radiolab Episode sharing insight, research, and findings.

Words are Powerful Badge Reflection

You will also turn in a short, 1-2 page reflective paper AFTER delivering your podcast; the reflection paper should describe the process that went into developing your project and your thoughts about the performance.

 

Presentation Guru Badge Expectations

TED is a group devoted to spreading ideas. Their national conferences and regional TEDx events are famous for offering short, powerful talks and posting them online. Present your own TED style talk, video it, and post online. The TED Talk should be informative, engaging, and inspiring. For more information check out http://www.ted.org

Part 1 – TED Talk Models & Mentors Reflection

Complete the Data Collection Worksheet* For each TED Talk you view. You are to view 3 or more Talks.

Part 2 – Your TED Style Talk must:

  • be 7-10 minutes in length
  • incorporate a slideshow that enhances the discussion with compelling images (and text, when appropriate)
  • 3 or other such “take away”
  • be supported with research, with all borrowed material properly cited within the presentation
  • include a storytelling component at some point (doesn’t necessarily have to be YOUR story)
  • be “memorized” (no notes)
  • be delivered in an engaging manner to a live audience that will then  be recorded) offer a clearly defined argument, new perspective,
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