More Ways to Gameify Your Classroom

Today’s guest blogger is Megan Smith, social studies teacher at Downingtown High School East.

Kristie Burk featured an article on gamification in a recent blog. This technique is an effort to get students more actively engaged and to achieve mastery of the content.  As this is a major trend, there are of course different methods of gamifying your classroom. Here is what I learned from the gamification session I attended.

  • Here is a Google Doc created by the presenter Phillip Vinogradov. At the very top, there are three useful resources, a Prezi presentation on how he has gamified his classes, a link to his game building documents, and the Leaderboard to show an example of how he keeps track of grades.
  • He models his learning process on the premise that learning should be compelling with not only the content, but the way it is taught.
  • He believes that it is important to progress based on mastery, not necessarily just because most of the students are ready to move on. This is why gamification can work really well, because it allows for differentiation and mastery of the content. In addition, it allows for students to both work together and independently.
  • Gamification allows for choice. For example maybe you have ten tasks to cover a math lesson.  Those tasks could be worth varying levels of points, and you have to have a total of ten points.  Students can pick and choose how they want to learn that math topic, but have to achieve those ten total points.
  • But they don’t just earn those points simply by completion, they must master the task. He has set mastery at an 80%. So students will do the tasks as many times as necessary to get to that 80% mastery.  This also means that with this type of mastery, no one will earn less than an 80%.

Make no mistake, gamification is not easy to set up. However, it can be very rewarding for your students.  This isn’t meant to scare you off from gamification, but it is a lot of upfront work.  Every resource you have essentially needs to be flipped, as gamification is a type of flipped classroom.  So there is a lot of front end work that goes into devising a gamified classroom.  But, this is where something like Schoology can really come in handy.  Once you have flipped your resources and uploaded them, you can control how students move through the tasks by setting requirements for what must be completed first or by having students resubmit assignments.

The beauty of gamification though, is really that students can be, as Mr. Vinogradov said, “masters of their own destiny.” They can choose the path that best suits them, work at their own pace, master the content, and earn “powers.”  He has it set up so that students complete tasks, and earn powers such as earning enough points to earn badges or even time to ask questions as a class during the boss level (the test).  That’s where collaboration can come in, as students must combine their points to be able to ask questions as a class during the boss level.

Vinogradov linked gamification with a literary example, the world of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series. If you are unfamiliar, students are divided into houses and earn/lose points in their classes and compete throughout the year.  For all you Harry Potter fans out there still waiting for your acceptance letter (like me), there is actually a virtual Hogwarts where you can take courses.  If you are a fan of the books, you could model your gamification on the houses featured in Hogwarts.  Divide your classroom into houses or teams and have them compete against each other.  Or, if you teach multiples of the same section, have those classes compete against each other! By the way, here is the link so that you, too, can attend Hogwarts!

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