Tag Archives: gaming

5 WAYS TO GAMIFY YOUR CLASSROOM

The following post is a guest blog post I wrote for ISTE’s EdTekHub and was published on  1/5/2017

Many of our students are among the 155 million Americans playing video games regularly, and you might be, too. That’s a good thing. When my 11-year-old is playing video games, he’s using many skills – facts and information are tools to solve problems in context, and he gains actionable feedback he uses to win the game. When he fails to level up, he doesn’t give up, but continues playing until he progresses to the next level. He also seeks information online to help him find Easter eggs hidden throughout the game. He teaches his friends how to power up with each level of the game. Failure is a source of feedback and learning, collaboration is necessary, and learning and assessment are tightly integrated.

How can we use this pervasive and engaging gaming phenomenon to redesign and supercharge the learning experience?

Here are five ways to gamify your classroom to boost engagement, collaboration and learning:

  1. Adapt old-school games for classroom use. Scavenger hunts, bingo, dice games, Connect Four and Scrabble have been around for decades and can be adapted for classroom learning. Put vocabulary words on bingo cards and see if students can match the words after hearing the definitions. Working in groups, students can play Scrabble by spelling out answers to content-specific questions. Using the app Goose Chase, create digital scavenger hunts by sending students off to take pictures, create a video, or search for an answer online related to a specific topic.
  1. Play digital games. Students love playing Kahoot!Quizizz and Quizlet. These free platforms allow teachers to create multiple-choice questions that players answer on their own devices. Teachers can also choose from the thousands of quizzes already shared on these sites or create content-specific questions to use as pre-assessments, quizzes or exit tickets. Breakout EDU also has a collection of digital games, puzzles and ciphers that promote critical thinking.
  1. Create a quest. A quest is a mission with an objective. Every year my students participate in an adventure quest based on the weekly current events reading. Students who correctly answer a specific text-dependent question earn points. The student with the most points after six weeks wins a prize. I post additional questions on Remind and Twitter to allow students to earn extra points. Quests can also be independent projects or activities for the students who have finished their work.
  1. Battle it out with a boss battle. In gaming, a “boss” is a villain who the hero must defeat to save the day. Think of the monster at the end of each level in the original Super Marios Bros. who must be defeated before moving to the next level. On the gamification platform Classcraft, teachers can create their own boss battles using questions from any content area. Teachers can also create boss battles using Google Forms or Google Slides, creating their own unique fictional boss.
  1. Earn a badge for mastery. The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts recognize mastery and achievement with badges. Teachers can do the same by rewarding student accomplishments and mastery with badges, which go beyond grades because they represent more than just academic achievement. Students work toward completing different badges to show mastery of a concept, standard or skill. Badges can be presented digitally using Classbadges or can be displayed for all to see once students have earned a specific badge.

Gamification is about transforming the classroom environment and regular activities into a game. It requires creativity, collaboration and play. There are numerous ways to bring games and game playing into the content area classroom to promote learning and deepen student understanding. Whether teachers are looking to bring some aspect of gaming into their class or use a game platform across the curriculum, they can use gamification elements to enhance learning and student engagement, tap into Common Core State Standards and address the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students.

 

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Gamification & Literacy at #NCTE16

Classrooms of the digital age are interactive spaces where literate lives are groomed through the analysis and synthesis of content. Perspectives formed during collaborative conversations give rise to innovative ideas but not every teacher is ready to be part of the digital change. How can classroom environments become havens of active learning and schools encourage students to make wise technology choices to become independent learners with authentic voices?

As part of a round table session at National Council of Teachers of English Annual Conference, I presented gamification ideas and strategies for engaged, active, student-centered classrooms where choice leads to increased voice.

Here are a few of the games and activities referenced in the slides that I have created for my students that correlate with units of study.

MidSummer Night’s Dream Symbolism Connect Four

Roll the Dice or Think Dots

Here is how this activity works, using a set of dice [or have task cards Think DOTs that have assignments on one side and colored dots that match a “dice” roll on the other side], students can “roll the dice” to see which activity or question they have to complete. You can use different cubes for different students depending on their readiness, interests and learning profiles. The example that I provided below is a for reading response questions for To Kill  Mockingbird. There are two sets that are differentiated based on students level of understanding.

And for a random Dice Challenge

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Gamification to Boost Student Learning

This month I am presenting on Gamification at the The Connecticut Educators Computer Association Conference and then for my school’s district wide professional development day. I blog often about gamification and I think it is a useful teaching strategy to motivate students and allow for differentiation. Teachers can add elements of gaming in their classroom with activities like Bingo and board games and can introduce Live Action Role Plays (LARP) and utilize game platforms for management and avatars.

Below are the slides from my presentations and a few examples of activities that I have gamified for my students to earn XP (experience points) and unlock classroom opportunities that promote learning and success.

 

Here are three examples of activities that I created based on traditional games and game shows for my students to show their understanding of the texts we read in class.

Connect Four:

 

 

Quick Fire/Bingo Reading Review:

 

 

Reading Quest:

 

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Interview with Shawn Young, CEO Classcraft Games

During a week long trip with my family to Quebec this past week, I was able to meet up with Shawn Young, CEO and Co-Founder of Classcraft Games in Sherbrooke, Canada.

Shawn’s insight into gamification in education helps inform my classroom practices and use of games with my students. As I continue to plan for this upcoming school year, I share the the knowledge Shawn divulged about technology, building (life long) skills, and the future of gamification in education.

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Michele: What does gamification mean to you?

Shawn: Gamification has become a bit of an umbrella term in the last few years – people apply the term to anything where you can gain points or badges. Not surprisingly, seeing gamification  from this lens leads to experiences which can feel stale, boring or lack meaning.

For me, gamification is much more than that. In fact, I prefer the term ludicization : “To create a situation from which play can emerge”. In this sense, gamification becomes the art of crafting experiences in which many of the components of games can be applied (autonomy, competency, social relationships, randomness, feedback, etc.) to create a state of playfulness. Using these components leads to genuine fun (with a purpose) from which intrinsic motivations can stem. Simply put, good gamification is applying extrinsic motivators that will be internalized to produce intrinsic motivation.

Michele: As a former teacher, what do you see as the benefits of gamification for teachers and students?

Shawn: This depends on the approach, really. With Classcraft, we help teachers gamify the experience of coming to school, rather than gamifying content, like you would see with math or language games. From that perspective, the benefits on classroom culture are huge: students are taking ownership of the way the classroom is run and are significantly more engaged, even with the rote day-to-day tasks that occur naturally from class life. The game is very collaborative, so they gain a team that’s looking out for them and face challenges together. They also get much more positive reinforcement than they are used to, which has a big impact on their perception of self-worth. Obviously, this is great for teachers, who feel like they are working with students, not against them.

Michele: How did you first get involved in gaming for education? When and how did Classcraft come to fruition?

Shawn: Classcraft stemmed out of my own unique background as grade 11 physics teacher, web developer and gamer. I have been playing board games and video games since I was kid and that continued on into my adult life. As an educator, I was able to relate culturally with my students – indeed, we were playing the same games! I had a poor school experience growing up, often feeling like I was wasting my time, so my main focus as a teacher was making sure that coming to school was pertinent for students and that they felt that it was.

It dawned on me that the experience of coming to school would be much more satisfying if it was like an RPG, so I made a quick prototype and started playing with my students. I fine-tuned the game over the course of 3 years before making a little website to share with other teachers what I was doing. Overnight, the website attracted 150 000 visits – seems like a lot of other people were interested in doing the same! I then teamed up with my brother, Devin, who is a designer, and our father Lauren, who has 35 years experience in business and accounting, and Classcraft was born. Since then, the platform has evolved tremendously!

Michele: What are the elements from (classic) video games that can benefit teachers and students for gamification purposes?

Shawn: When thinking of this question, people tend to look for tropes – ”Should I use XP + levels?” “Do students need an avatar?” or “Should I lay this out on a map?” are typical questions that come up from these types of questions. At Classcraft, our focus is more on the fundamental psychology of self -determination theory and how it applies to video games. There is a reason gamers are willing to spend hours repeating the same boring task to complete an objective, but aren’t willing to spend 5 minutes doing math homework: games fulfill 7 fundamental motivational needs (autonomy, competency, relationships, discovery, surprise, feedback, storytelling). These are the elements we lifted from games to design a playful experience and they are outlined on our blog.  

 

Michele: What life skills and Common Core Standards does Classcraft and gamification address?

Shawn: Classcraft is very customizable: it can be used to develop any “soft”-skills by identifying behaviors that show mastery and giving points for that. For example, if you want to develop grit in your students, you’ll identify behaviors that are indicative of grit, like persevering in the face of adversity, and give students points for those behaviors, thus encouraging explicitly to internalize them. Because all of these behaviors are logged in the game, you’ll be able to assess development of these skills by looking at the per-student behavior analytics in the platform. That being said, Classcraft explicitly foster meaningful teamwork, ownership of learning, prosocial skills and perseverance. In terms of CCS, Classcraft doesn’t gamify curriculum, it gamifies the experience.

Michele: You have said that “when playing video games, kids feel a sense of empowerment.” Can you talk more about this. What do you mean?

Shawn: In a video game, the player inherently knows that they can succeed. Even in the face of the most difficult challenges, they can try as often as they like and develop their skill. Often times, they can tackle problems in several ways and make meaningful choices about their trajectory within the game. All of this leads to a sense that the player can shape their destiny and build mastery for success.

Compare this to the school experience: kids often have only one set way to complete their journey through a course and only get one chance to demonstrate mastery of given piece of content.  It doesn’t feel very empowering.

Michele: As the Gamemaster for Classcraft, what are you dreaming up and working on now for teachers to benefit from you gaming platform?

Shawn: We’ve got a lot of things coming 🙂 One thing we’re focused on is integrating with more platforms and partners. We’re already integrated with Google Classroom and Microsoft’s Office 365 and we want to create more opportunities for teachers to be able to gamify the entire student experience, no matter which platforms and tools they are using. We are also looking at building more game features, like self-correcting quizzes students can complete for XP and storylines they can play out throughout the year.

Michele: What has the best thing about creating Classcraft and sharing it with teachers all around the world?

Shawn: This may sound hokey, but it’s been really great for everyone on the team to see the profound positive impact we have had on teachers, students and parents. Every day, we receive videos, pictures and testimonials from people using Classcraft telling us how it has changed their lives for the better. From the shy fifth-grader who wrote us to tell she had finally been able to make friends because of Classcraft, to the burned out teacher who has found the love of teaching again, to the parent who is raving about how motivated their child is, all of these testimonials act as fuel to keep us imagining new ways to make the classroom a better place.

Michele: Since gaming and gamification is continuously evolving, where do you see it going? What do you see as the future of gamification for educational purposes in the next year, 5 years, and even 10 years from now?

Shawn: Who knows!? 🙂 It’s definitely an exciting time for the field. Tech is changing faster than we can anticipate and opportunities like VR and augmented reality will definitely have an impact on the field. I’m certain we’ll see it become much more prevalent than it is now, as educators see success stories and jump on board.

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Adventure Quests: Learning About Current Events & the World

An Adventure Quest is a mission with an objective. A quest is a long and arduous search for something.

Currently, my students are working on an investigative journalism unit, so I created an Adventure Quest based on current events addressed in the news each week.

With the use of ActivelyLearn.com, Twitter, and Google Forms I created a series of Trivia type questions. Each week one question is posted on my Teacher Website and students submit their answers on a Google Form. Each question is worth 50 XP or Experience Points. Additional GP or Gold Points points could be earned by the die- hard fans by going onto Twitter and searching the hashtag #RMS8RQuest to find more Adventure Quest Questions. The student with the most points at the end of the Adventure Quest, earns an additional 1,500 XP Classcraft Points PLUS a Treasure (a gift card).

Each week students log on to Actively Learn and read an Article of the Week. Both the Article of the Week and this Adventure Quest are optional homework.  I do not give homework in my class but encourage students to read to build their reading skills and knowledge about the world.

Actively Learn is a digital reading platform that contains books, articles, poems, and speeches. Students join a “classroom” created by their teacher to read assigned digital texts and complete assignments within the workspace. Actively Learn offers teacher designed assignments with ready made questions or teachers can design their own questions and prompts.

The articles that students have read read for the Adventure Quest include

Anthony Cuthbertson’s Newsweek Article “APPLE CEO TIM COOK REJECTS ORDER TO UNLOCK SAN BERNARDINO GUNMAN’S IPHONE”

NPR’s RadioLab Podcast on the Galapagos

Mark Jeffries article on Why We Don’t Wipe Mosquitoes Off the Face of the Earth”

To address International Women’s Day Ann A. Simmon’s article “Women Around the World Still Have a Long Way to Go”

The Twitter quests are not based on readings but events happening in the news that specific day, hence they are worth less points. Twitter questions have included Who did President Obama nominate for Supreme Court? and What Lego mini figure was unveiled this week?

Many of my students have been excited and enthusiastic to participate in the Adventure Quest. It is completely optional and has brought about healthy competition among many of my students.  I have a Leaderboard  or score board posted in my classroom for students to see who is on top.

I am going to have to create a really difficult question to break the quadruple tie that is happening right now!

Adventure Quests are fun side activities for motivated or motivating students to learn about a specific topic. The Adventure Quest that I planned fit seamlessly into my classroom since the trivia questions evolved based on what was happening in current events. Students were reading more and paid attention to what was happening in the news and the world around them.

Adventure Quests can be adapted to any content area. Students are in charge of their own learning and it helps them engage with content material in a new way.

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No Tech Game Based Learning Activities

I work with some awesome teachers. One colleague, Kristie Orlando,  is a Spanish teacher who has a fun filled interactive classroom that promotes learning. Her students are actively engaged and enthusiastic being in her class. Today I got to sit in her classroom and see her in action. I got to see two action packed review games that she facilitated to help her students review for an upcoming test . This got me thinking about other “No Tech” games and kinesthetic activities teachers can do in their classrooms to energize classroom learning while at the same time reinforcing skills.  

The game I observed in Kristie’s Spanish classroom was GRUDGE Ball. The following directions are from Kara Wilkins’ blog To Engage Them All. Here is how to play:

1.Students were divided into five teams of four-five students each.

On the SMARTBoard was a slide with each team listed and 10 Xs under each of the teams.

On the back of the classroom door is a basketball hoop.

2.Each group gets a question.  If they get it right they automatically get to erase two X’s from the board.  They can take it from one team or split it.  They can not take X’s from themselves.

3. Before they take off these X’s, though, they have a chance to increase their ability to get the other teams to hate them.  They get to shoot a Nerf basketball into the basketball hoop.  There were two lines with masking tape.  One is a two point line while the other is a three pointer.

4. If the student shoots from the two point line and get it in, they can take four X’s off the board.  If they go from the three point line, and make it in, they can take five off the board.  If they don’t make it they still get to take the original two off the board.

The object of the game is to knock everyone else off and people are going to get upset but that is okay (hence the name GRUDGE ball).

Another game Kristie shared with me was Bazinga which I have adapted for my students using Classcraft points. The directions for the game below are from Simplifying Radicals Blog.

This game can be played with multiple teams. Each team starts with no points and earns one point every time they answer a question correctly.  If the team answers correctly they earn one point and choose a Bazinga card.  If they answer incorrectly, the question then goes to the next team.

Here is the breakdown of the different Bazinga Cards:

Cards about Points:

– (3) Erase one point from all other teams.

– (3) Double your score.

– (3) Take away two points from one other random team and give them to your team.

– (6) Add two points to your score.

– (3) Erase two points from one other random team.

Action Cards:

– (2) Randomly switch one player from each of the other teams.

– (2) Randomly have a player from the winning team go to the losing team.

– (2) The team with the least points must collectively do 10 pushups.

– (2) The team with the most points must collectively do 10 pushups.

The Bazinga Card:

Take Half of Every Team’s Score.

Particularly in middle school, students need to get up and move around. The next three “No Tech” games are ones that I have organized to help my students review course material, use their kinesthetic abilities, and work cooperatively.

Reviewing for a quiz or a test? Why not make it a Review Relay.  Divide the class into four teams Each team would have two beach pails about 20 or so yards apart or opposite sides of the classroom (just make sure to clear the desks to run from one end of the classroom to the other). Place all the review questions in beach pails on one end of the classroom.  Each team starts at the same time.  They pull out questions one at a time and work together as a team to answer them.  When the question is answered correctly they peel the tape off the back of the question and see if they got it right.  If they got it right they run and put the question into the other pail.  if they got it wrong they keep it with them (outside of the pail).  They can’t try again if they get it wrong because they will already have seen the answer.  This will put the pressure on them to get the right answer the first time and not guess.  When the runner returns the next question can be taken out.  The team who finishes first wins, unless they got questions wrong and another team got more questions correct than them.  

Make a Life Size Scrabble to review vocabulary and spelling words. Using 8 ½ X 11 paper, print enlarged Scrabble letters. The letters should be distributed as follows:

  • 2 blank tiles
  • 1 point: E ×12, A ×9, I ×9, O ×8, N ×6, R ×6, T ×6, L ×4, S ×4, U ×4
  • 2 points: D ×4, G ×3
  • 3 points: B ×2, C ×2, M ×2, P ×2
  • 4 points: F ×2, H ×2, V ×2, W ×2, Y ×2
  • 5 points: K ×1
  • 8 points: J ×1, X ×1
  • 10 points: Q ×1, Z ×1

Give each team the letters and have them spell out the answers to questions.

Lastly, I have had a few teachers share with me how they use Jenga in their classrooms. In my ELA classroom I created Literacy Jenga with questions about reading fictional texts. You can find the instructions to play Jenga on the Milton Bradley website. The questions that I have taped to the Jenga blocks are based on Bloom’s Taxonomy level of complexity. Questions ask about the setting and characters to sharing a different ending to the text. Students are working in small groups playing Jenga and answering the questions on the Jenga blocks to rebuild a tower.

To play, one player pulls out one block anywhere in the tower. Reads the questions out loud and answers the question to the group. That player re-stacks that block on top to create a new row.  Students switch turns repeating the first part of the directions. Players keep playing until the tower falls down.

There are great games to play with students to energize the classroom and keep students moving, boost brain power, and even improve memory.

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5 Ideas for Blending Gamification in Your ELA Classroom

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

– Benjamin Franklin

I have been reading Michael Matera’s EXPLORE Like a Pirate: Gamification and Game-Inspired Course Design to Engage, Enrich, and Elevate Your Learners as well as participating in weekly twitter chats about each chapter of the book with amazing teachers who have gamified their content area classroom and Michael Matera himself. These chats allow me to curate ideas and rethink how I am using gamification in my own eighth grade English Language Arts classroom.

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I have used game based learning in my middle school classroom for a few years now and I have catalogued some of the games that I have created in my classroom and other gamification tools I use to engage and enrich my students’ classroom experiences below.

1. “Amazing Race”Style Learning Stations – Why not spice up learning stations with an Amazing Race style activity? Teams of students stop at different locations around the classroom (or utilize the entire school) completing various tasks. Check out the To Kill a Mockingbird Amazing Race Activity I created and describe in a previous blog post.

2. Avatar Autobiographies – I am currently using Classcraft Games, a gaming platform throughout my English class. Students earn points in order to unlock special privileges in my classroom. These privileges can be extensions on written work or free passes on notebook checks. Each of my students has an Avatar — an character representing them in the game. Students are able to change the outfits of their Avatars, purchase equipment, and even buy pets for their Avatars depending on the Experience Points they earn in class. I have my students write autobiographies about their Avatars to bring them to life and to offer creative writing opportunities in the class.

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3. Boss BattlesHunger Games Style – Maybe you have a test coming up or you want to review an idea or concept with your class. You can use tech tools like Kahoot! or Plickers to test students knowledge. Once the teacher creates the questions or assessment,  students use a mobile device or computer to answer the questions with Kahoot! Pickers makes unique QR Codes that teachers can purchase and the teacher uses a mobile device to collect the formative assessment data based on the position of the QR Code which reveals their answer. Teachers can make their own boss battle reviews and assessments against a villainous character too. Students work in teams or independently to beat the “boss” within a few seconds. Getting a correct answer earns points where as the wrong answer can cost someone health points. Check out the amazing Boss Battle Assessment Mallory Kesson created for her students.

4. QR Code Quests & Micro Challenges – I love QR Codes for the ability to link digital media quickly to as activity or assignment. Over the past five years I have made a number of QR Code Quests that allow my students to investigate a concept or theme we are covering in class. I have made QR Code Quests for review, like this Figurative Language QR Code Quest and to learn about new information like with this music history QR Code Quest on Woodstock, 1969.

5. Adventure Quests – Throughout the #XPlap (Explore Like a Pirate Twitter Chats) there have been a series of Trivia type questions for participants to answer. Each week one question is asked within the chat to be answered on a Google Form. The questions are timed and for every question answered answered correctly, participants earn points. The person with the most points wins a bundle of gamification tools at the end.  Who doesn’t like winning free stuff?! Based on this idea, I created an Adventure Quest for my students. We are embarking on an investigative journalism unit and throughout the unit I will offer one question based on something happening in the news. The questions will unfold throughout the upcoming weeks and allows students to earn experience points as well as the possibility of winning a prize (to be determined). I will share more about this Adventure Quest and the questions asked in a later blog post.

Have ideas how to gamify your ELA class please share in the comments section of this blog.

 

 

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Get Your Game On: Boost Content Area Learning with Gamification Guest Blog Post for Project ReimaginED – ISTE

The following post was written and published for ISTE Project ReimaginED.

Gamification is about transforming the classroom environment and regular activities into a game. There are numerous ways to bring games and game playing into the content area classroom to promote learning and deepen student understanding. Whether teachers are looking to bring in some aspect of gaming into their class or utilize a game platform across the curriculum, they can bring in elements of gamification to enhance learning and student engagement, tap into Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and attain ISTE Standards.

I first gamified my middle school English class last year and I have continued this quest for a second consecutive year. The response from my students has been positive and enthusiastic. Participation has increased among my students and students are inclined to do additional work for the game. Within my classroom I have eliminated homework grades in lieu of game points and on a weekly basis I have students battle each other for powers and privileges. Privileges include asking the Gamemaster (aka, the teacher) if her/his answer to a question is correct on a test and getting an extension on an assignment. Students earn points by being positive and hardworking in class, correctly answering a question in class, or helping another student. At the same time, students can also lose points by disrupting the class or coming to class unprepared. I am currently using Class Craft, an awesome gaming platform that has allowed me to turn my classroom into a role playing adventure. My students sign a “Hero Pact” which articulates the rules and goals of the game and they have Avatars. As the Gamemaster, I am able to customize the rules to fit my students needs.

Good gamification promotes problem solving and collaboration and failure is an essential source of feedback and learning.  Gamification is not worksheets for points; facts and information are used as tools for learning and assessment. 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.

Here are some ideas to promote transformative learning experiences with gamification.

Collaboration & Teamwork

The Beatles sang, “I get by with a little help from my friends,” and I transfer this principle to my classroom with gamification. Learning is not an isolated task. When students work collaboratively, there is more ownership of the material and more opportunities to contribute in class.  In my classroom students are assigned a team. Each team comprises four or five students, depending on the class size. Students work both independently and cooperatively within our gaming structure to earn powers than unlock privileges. Because I teach English, the team names are based on genres, authors, and book titles from Young Adult Literature. For example, in one class,  team names are based on current fantasy based young adult literature—Potter, Eregon, Everlost, and Land of Nod—and in another class team names are based on contemporary YA dystopian texts—5th Wave, Divergent, Legend, Matrix, and Rook.  Teachers can have students pick their own team names for ownership in the game.

ISTE Standards for Students #2, Creativity and Innovation, states: “Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively … to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.” Working collaboratively helps students enhance their oral communication skills and meet the Common Core State Standards for Speaking and Listening (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1). Students meet this CCSS by working in cooperative groups and teams, and then participating in “conversations and collaborations with diverse partners.” Teamwork and collaboration requires students to listen to one another and broaden their roles as dominant speakers in the classroom, rather than a teacher presenting and students only listening. As teammates, students “work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.” (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.B) Working with student teams also requires teachers to model and practice how to work well with one another and resolve conflicts in positive ways addressing ISTE Standards for Teachers  1.d: “Model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students, colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments.”

Challenges & Quests

Design a quest or challenge that sparks learning and engagement. While my students are reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, I have them complete a “Mockingbird Amazing Race” QR Code Quest. Each team of students is given a map with QR codes that takes them around the school to complete text based activities. Students use their mobile devices to read the QR Codes at the different stations and complete the challenges. I designed the Mockingbird Amazing Race for students to “apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and synthesize information” (ISTE Standards for Students #3, Research and Information Fluency) about the text and and standards.

World History teacher Michael Matera uses simulations as a teaching tool with his sixth grade students. He designed a China Silk Road Simulation to bring to life entrepreneurship, supply and demand, the power of negotiation, and the costs and benefits of technology for society. He describes all the ingredients and directions for the simulation on his blog. The goal of the simulation is to have a rich product diversity without conflict. Throughout the simulation, Matera stops to ask questions to the groups about their choices and their connections to the learning objectives.

Leveling Up

Some students are motivated by badges or points. In my classroom, points unlock powers. Powers are important features that represent privileges players earn as they progress in the game. Some powers are cooperative where others only benefit the individual player. With Class Craft, players must level up to earn Power Points so that they can unlock new powers. Once a power has been learned, they can use it for the rest of the game. Some individual powers have nothing to do with English but they are still fun. When my first ten students earned over 1,000 points, I brought in doughnuts for them to eat during class. Many of my students are working towards the power that gives them access to their notes during a test.  The key is that leveling up, badges, and points track mastery.  Students can even contribute to how they earn the points and suggest powers or privileges.  Gamification facilitates more responsibility on the part of the student to take charge of their learning.

Wheel of Destiny

Want to inject a bit of a lottery system or the selection process from the reaping in The Hunger Games, but with less deadly consequences? Utilize a Wheel of Destiny or Random Name Generator to select students to complete a mission or answer a question. Students will be sitting on the edge of their chairs, but the spontaneous, random events/selection gets everyone involved. Good games are not predictable. And as with all games so too in your classroom: predictable can quickly become all too boring. Keep students on their toes and engaged in the game with random selection and events.

Boss Battles

Transform assessments with Boss Battles. A “boss” in gaming is a villain who the hero must face and defeat to save the day. Think of the monster at the end of each level in the original Super Marios Bros. who must be defeated before moving to the next level.  The boss is the final challenge a player faces and utilizes his or her skills and abilities to defeat the boss. Boss Battles can be used as reviews or as a test. Check out how Mallory Kesson of Gamindex uses Boss Battles in her classroom by posting multiple choice questions on the SMARTBoard and giving students 30 seconds to select the correct answer. If the student answers incorrectly, the boss will attack. If a teammate has the correct answer, a student can dodge the attack, but if you miss, the entire team takes damage and loses points. When Boss Battles ask higher order thinking questions, students are “using critical thinking skills to plan and solve problems, and make informed decisions,”thus meeting ISTE Standard for Students #4, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making.

Teacher as Gamester

Gamification can be lots of fun for students and teachers alike. At the same time, gamification can help students build skills and confidence. In gamifying one’s class, the learning goals and objectives should be the guide. Think about how you will assess your students and help them meet the learning targets. Gamification privileges and powers have replaced extra credit in my classroom. As a reminder, homework in my class is not graded, but students earn Class Craft points. All tests, quizzes, and assessments that measure learning goals are uploaded onto Class Craft for additional points. Students are not penalized grade-wise if their work is late because they are graded based on the standards; however, in the game they deal with the damage of that lateness and can fall in battle. As the Gamemaster, one must be consistent and fair, adjust settings for different groups of students, and create flexible learning goals to meet the needs of all students. Effective Gamemasters “model and apply the ISTE Standards for Students as they design, implement, and assess learning experiences to engage students and improve learning.”

If you are considering implementing gamification into your classroom, check out Class Craft or read Michael Matera’s book, Explore Like a PIRATE: Gamification and Game-Inspired Course Design to Engage, Enrich and Elevate Your Learners. As the Gamemaster, you have the ability to transform your classroom with games, quests, and adventures that can inspire and empower student learners.

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Get Your Game On: Boost Content Area Learning with Gamification: ISTE Webinar

A follow up to my last blog post, here are the presentation slides for the webinar I lead for ISTE on 12/3/2015. To listen the the webinar Click Here.

List of resources mentioned in the webinar are below:

James Paul Gee’s article on Elements of Good Games to model as Educational Tools

Classcraft

Games for Change

Hour of Code

Michael Matera’s Entering the Realm of the Nobles

TED Talks About Gamification 

Education Arcade (MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program)

 

 

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From Jeopardy and the Amazing Race to Full on Gamification: Confessions of a Wannabe Gamer

I am by no means a gamer nerd but my evolution of the use of games in my classroom has gone from power point Jeopardy Games and Amazing Race QR Codes to a full on gaming platform, avatars,  Boss Battles, and strategizing  my lessons for student opportunities to level up.

On December 2, 2015 7:00 PM EST I will be leading a webinar for ISTE’s Professional Learning Series addressing gamification as a tool for classroom learning.

Get Your Game On: Boost Content Area Learning with Gamification

Gamification, the application of game playing, is all the rage in classrooms these days. There are numerous ways to bring games and game playing into your content area classroom that promote learning and deepen student understanding. Whether you are looking for engaging gaming tools like Kahoot! or are interested in introducing a game platform like Classcraft Games into your classroom, join this webinar to learn about what gamification looks and examples how teachers are using games in classrooms today, how you can implement a variety of games and game based learning into your classroom, and gain additional resources to level up your teaching.

Gaming offers so many positive opportunities for students and teachers alike to increase engagement, content learning, and problem based learning.

New to gaming, here are some tips and tricks to getting started:

  1. If you are using the Jeopardy templates to quiz your students knowledge of a subject matter and stir up some competition, try  Kahoot! or Quizizz. These two simple learning games allow you to create a quiz or survey for your class, students use their mobile devices to answer the questions, and shake up the traditional quiz or question and answer classroom practice.
  2. Minecraft Your Book Assessments (and more). Last year I had a student who was a big gamer, coder, and into Minecraft. After he read the Maze Runner he created the entire setting and plot of the book into a Minecraft game for his fellow students to play. Andrew Miller has a great blog post on Edutopia about other ways to use Minecraft in your classroom.
  3. Digital Badges & Reward motivate some. The Smithsonian Quests and Khan Academy offer digital badges for students who explore and complete online learning tasks designed by these two companies. For some students, this individualized learning offers inspiration and motivation.
  4. So, you want full on gaming? Classcraft is one gaming platform that offers free online, educational role-playing game that teachers and students play together in the classroom. Students can level up, work in teams, and earn powers that have real-world consequences. With Classcraft, the game runs passively in the background, collecting points and managing powers. — And those of you attending my webinar, I will be giving away one FREE PREMIUM subscription to Classcraft!!

Looking for more information about Gamification in the classroom, check out the following resources:

Edudemic’s 23 Best Game-Based Educational Resources of 2014

MindShifts Using Games for Learning

Best TED Talks About Gamification 

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