Tag Archives: ISTE

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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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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#ISTE2015 Tech SmackDown & TakeAway

I have just arrived home after attending the ISTE (International Society for Technology Education) annual Convention. The conference is an incredible opportunity for teachers, administrators, and anyone working in technology and education to see amazing speakers, innovative technology for the classroom, collaborate and be inspired. Below is a list of all the super cool technology tools that were shared (new and old). I have organized them according to the Common Core Standards to help think about how to use them in the classroom. The key idea of the conference is that it is not about the tech tool but building relationships, engaging students, teaching skills that will help students think deeply and succeed.

Reading & Writing

Reading Closely:

ThinkCerca – Reading & Writing Tool

The Learning Network – The New York Times

TED Talks

Actively Learn – Reading & Annotation Tool

Wonderopolis – Reading & Research Tool

Buncee – A Writing and Creation Tool

Comprehension:

Popplet – Storyboarding & Semantic Maps

Pixton – Storyboard & Animation Tool

Wordle – Word Generator

Tricider – Collaborative Polling Tool

Summarize:

iMovie Book Trailers

Big Huge Labs – Create Movie Poster

Twitter – Conversation Tool

Padlet – Collect Student Responses

Analyze:

Socrative – Polling Tool

Easel_ly – Create Infographics

Evernote – Curation and Writing Tool

Edmodo – Collaborating, Communication, & Curration Tool

Trello – Visual Organization Tool

Speaking & Listening – Presenting Tools to Build and Present Knowledge

Prezi – Digital Presentation Tool

HaikuDeck – Digital Presentation Tool

Animoto – Movie Making Tool

Glogster -Digital Posters

MovieMaker – Create Movies

PowToon  – Animation Tool

GoogleDocs – Collaborative Writing & Individual Writing

Google Slides – Google’s Power Point

Smore – Digital Newsletters

PodBean – Podcasting

ThingLink – Visual Curating Tool

Gamification

Classcraft – Game Platform

Kahoot! – Easy Polling & Assessment Tool

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#ISTELitChat Sunday October 19, 2014 @8 PM EST

This upcoming Sunday I will be hosting a Twitter Chat for the ISTE Literacy PLN as part of Connected Educator Month. Please join us as we discuss literacy, technology, and ISTE.  Below are the questions to facilitate the chat. We hope that you can join us for an interesting and resourceful conversation.

Q1: Introduce yourself, where you are from and your role in education.

Q2:. How do you define literacy?

Q3: What does literacy in the content areas mean to you?

Q4: What does literacy in the content areas look like in your classroom/school? Please include a grade level and subject area.

Q5: What are you “go to” tech tools to promote literacy in the content areas?

Q6: How do you see technology supporting literacy in your content areas classroom?

Q7: Where do you learn about and or find inspiration for literacy and technology?

Q8: How can ISTE’s Literacy PLN support your needs to meet the literacy and technology standards embedded throughout the Common Core Learning Standards?

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