Tag Archives: gaming

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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New Ways to Use “Old School” Bingo in Your Classroom

Old School games are a great way to bring gaming into any content area. Whether playing  Jeopardy, Who Wants to be A Millionaire, or Jenga, these types of games build collaboration and can help students deepen their content knowledge. One of my “go to” games with my students is Bingo. Here are a few ways that I have adapted Bingo for learning and assessment.

1. Text Dependent Questions – I will fill an entire bingo board with text dependent questions or problems and students have a specific time to fill out the Bingo board. You might utilize this as a homework assignment for the week (each night complete one row or column), assessments (A = complete the entire board correctly, B = complete 4 rows of Bingo, C = 3 rows of Bingo), or an in class activity. Below is a class activity that I use to review Chapter 7 & 8 in To Kill A Mockingbird.

2. Pursuit – Give students a Bingo board with situations or actions and students are required to find specific textual details (or direct quotes) that highlights the situation. I recently made a Bingo board like this for MidSummer Night’s Dream Act 3. The pursuit gave students a mission to uncover key events and show their understanding while reading the play in class.

3. Picture Bingo & Empty Bingo Boards – Use pictures instead of text or give students a word bank to fill in their own Bingo Board. Then,  ask questions related to the words in the word bank or images.

4. Persuasive Bingo – When I taught speech and debate I created five different Bingo Boards with a variety of persuasive speaking tasks: Persuade your parents to increase you allowance, persuade your sibling to do your chores, persuade your teacher to give you an extra day to complete an assignment. The key was that the students couldn’t bully, blackmail, or bribe to achieve Bingo. When a number and letter was called the students had to persuade the entire class effectively in order for it to count.

Bingo is fun and interactive. Bingo boards can be adapted for any content area or grade level.  Plus, they are easy to make. Depending on the task created for students the questions can tap into Bloom’s questioning, critical thinking, and allow teachers to assess student understanding.

 

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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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Badges For Mastery in Speech & Debate: Part I

publicspeaking

This semester I am teaching a section of Speech and Debate for 8th graders and I wanted to  create a self guided course that requires students to research, write, speak, and reflect continuously throughout the course. There are three key modules for students to show their mastery of public speaking utilizing a badge system.

Think about what the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have been doing all along, recognizing mastery and achievement with badges. Teachers can do the same by recognizing student accomplishments and mastery with badges. Badges go beyond grades because they are given out at the teacher’s discretion for more than just academic achievement. Students work toward completing different badges to show mastery of a concept, standard or skill.

In the public speaking elective I designed, students have a great deal of choice – to choose topics and projects using a badging system. This approach gives students both freedom and responsibility as they will be required to manage their time wisely and work independently (in community) toward their personal course goals.

I have organized the first ten weeks of the course into three badges (modules):

Great Speakers Are Made, Not Born Badge

Words Are Powerful Badge

Presentation Guru Badge

Students choose the grade they would like to earn the class and complete badges accordingly. Earning more badges means students will receive a higher grade. Students may submit a badge application as many times as needed to earn the badge as long as they meet all deadlines on the badging pathway. The Badge Grading System will work as follows:

● To earn an A in the course, you must earn three (3) project badges

● To earn a B in the course, you must earn two (2) project badges

● To earn a C in the course, you must earn one (1) project badge

Great Speakers Are Made, Not Born Badge Expectations

 Students are required to complete a series of reflections for this requirement. For each post that has a video/website/book/ebook as media, include APA or other citation at the end of your reflection. Below are the expectations for the reflections:

#1: Speech and Debate Reflection Google Form

#2: Great Speakers in History

  1. Watch the videos of “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech

             Transcripts: MLK’s Speech and JFK’s Speech

  1. Write a reflection paper (2-3 pages) in which you address the following:
  • Summarize the key ideas presented in each speech and the rhetorical devices used in each speech to make these iconic speeches. Use direct textual evidence (3-4) to support your claims.
  • Write a paragraph about the speakers themselves. What strategies do MLK and JFK emulate in their public speaking? Identify four or more public speaking strategies using direct textual evidence to support your claims.
  • What makes MLK and JFK “Great Speakers?” Reflect on the elements of these speakers and their speeches that you hope to emulate this semester in Speech and Debate. Use specific details and examples. These will in turn be your personal speaking goals for the semester.

#3: Who is “great speaker” of our time?

  1. Identify a speaker today who you think emulates the qualities of great speakers you identified in JFK and MLK.
  2. Find a video that showcases this speaker and include the video link that highlights the elements of public speaking utilized by this person. Post this video on Google Classroom for all to view, reflect, and review.  (Select a video that is 3-10 minutes in length).
  3. Write an analysis (1-2 pages) describing the strategies and rhetorical devices presented by this speaker. Use direct textual evidence to support your claim. Include specific information describing the aspects of this speaker you aspire to when speaking in public.

#4: Public Speaking Content Curation

  • Using one of the following Content Curation/Social Bookmarking sites: Pinterest, ThingLink, or Symbaloo, find nine or more (9+) research and public speaking videos (3), research articles (3), and interviews with public speaking teachers or figures (3).
  • Annotate what can be found at each site and/or video and highlight one (or more), key quotes and a strategy for public speaking highlighted in the resource.
  • Describe in 2-3 sentences how this content can help you to be a better public speaker.

You can read about the expectations for the Words Are Powerful Badge and Presentation Guru Badge in this post.

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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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