Gamification: Step One

Gamification is everywhere! Channel it!!


I’ve been flirting with gamification in my classroom for the last year or so.  I love the concept of gamification. I’m a gamification advocate. I co-moderate a gamification chat and a gamification blog. Yet, here I was, not quite ready to go all the way in my own classroom. 


Well, part of it was trying to finagle a way to fit gamification into a system that really doesn’t leave much room for anything out of the ordinary. I couldn’t seem to wrap my mind around how to fit what I saw as a square peg into a round hole.

I had no idea what gamification was then, not really. 

Then one day, as I sat in a Starbuck’s checking to see how many stars I’d earned and how far I was from achieving the gold level status, I realized Starbucks had gamified. Instantly I saw the world differently. My…

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Talk To Me!


I wasn’t kidding about the crying. Read faster!!!! I want to talk!

Monday night I sat on my couch chugging coffee and counting down the minutes until midnight when Allegiant, the third and final novel in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth, would be released. I devoured it. I laughed. I cried. 

And then I wanted to talk about it. In fact I’m about to explode as I wait on all of my friends to finish it so we can talk about it. I popped into classrooms all day long today screaming “What part are you reading?” then jumping up and down with excitement when they told me. I’m sure in a few days we’ll all sit down and debate the writing style and the choices the author made.


Why? Because as human beings desire to talk to each other.

So why do we smother that in the classroom?

In too many classrooms students are not encouraged to embrace the social aspect of who they are. In fact it’s blatantly discouraged. Students crave real conversation with those around them. They want to talk about their homework, the television show they watched last night, and, yes, even books. So do we. Talking to people about these things leads to debate, maybe a changed point of view, and a deeper understanding about the topic. We want to hear that people agree with us, but we also enjoy hearing opinions that are different from ours. “What made you say that?” “What is it about her character that you hate?” We do this with news, music, and anything else we encounter. I even keep a mental log of things that happen throughout my day that I want to tell my husband when I get home.

It’s why Facebook exists. It’s why Twitter exists.

It’s why you’re reading this blog.

 Bonds and connections are forged over tiny things we discover about others while being social. Think about the instant connection you feel with someone who loves your favorite television show.  As a Doctor Who fan I understand this power. I’ve stopped strangers in the mall to comment on their “Save the Daleks” tee and debated which Doctor was the best on an elevator.


The 10th Doctor is the best, just in case you were wondering.


 How can we, as educators, channel this powerful need in our classroom?

Join us for this week’s #levelupED chat about the social fabric of your classroom (9pm EST). Come join the guild and find ways to harness the power of your student’s social natures and the power of gamification to help.

And, you know, talking about things is sort of a human need, so why not do it with your Twitter friends? 

#levelupED is Going on the Road


We prefer to travel by air ship. Art by Foeock Kannilc

Faith and I are excited and happy to announce that we will be presenting at the North Carolina Association for Middle Level Education (NCMLE) about gamification! We have also submitted proposals to the North Carolina Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Fingers crossed that our proposals will get accepted.

We’ve created our outreach page to inform our readers where we will be next. We hope to add to our schedule! We are very passionate about gamification and are happy to talk to as many people about it as possible. On the outreach page, you can also contact us if you would like us to present to your school or district.

This is a short post tonight, so I just wanted to end it with some levity. The following video has nothing to do with the post above, but I just wanted to share. Hope you get a laugh. #geekhumor

Epic Meaning: Building Student Purpose and Motivation

Frodo Baggins and the One Ring in Lord of the Rings

Frodo Baggins must save the whole of Middle Earth!

One of my favorite stories of all time is all about Epic Meaning. In the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Frodo Baggins goes through great personal sacrifice because he believes that he has been called to destroy the One Ring. Why does he believe this? A mere hobbit, that happens to come into the possession of this great powerful and magical artifact that has the potential to destroy everything, sets forth on a journey to fulfill his destiny. Frodo Baggins must save the whole of Middle Earth! Wouldn’t it be great if we could do the same for our students? Creating a sense of meaning and purpose so epic that they have no choice but to learn so they can (insert awesome achievement here).

Side note: Am I the only one that thinks Sam was the true hero of the story?

Great games do this as well, just look at the back story developed for the World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade expansion:

I mean it give me chills. It makes me want to get in game and make sure that crazy fool, Illidan doesn’t destroy the world as we know it.

I only hope that my students come to my class with that much purpose.

In the video below (just one part in a series of videos about gamification), Yukai Chou explains Epic Meaning and Calling:

What are you doing to build Epic Meaning and Calling in your classroom? Please comment below and participate in our weekly #levelupED chat tonight on Twitter.

Build Your Guild: It’s Connected Educator Month!

If you weren’t aware, October is Connected Educators Month (#ce13). What have you done lately to actively build your PLN (professional learning network)? In any good multiplayer games, guilds (teams) are formed to help you advance in game play and achieve long term goals (some of which would be impossible to do on your own). As educators we have to connect to advance our skills, learn from each other, and to do what’s best for our students.

Should you join a guild or grind it out on your own?

Eventually this became ridiculously boring and time consuming and I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was stuck.

When I first started playing World of Warcraft (WoW(, I would do things on my own. I didn’t need anybody. I would complete quests and level up. It was great. Then I started getting these quest strings that kept leading me to instances that could only be completed if you went in as a group. I still refused to group up, so I just started grinding in challenging zones, killing as many mobs as I could to continue gaining XP (experience points) so I could level up. Eventually this became ridiculously boring and time consuming and I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was stuck.

Total n00b! My character before learning I needed a guild. Look how lonely he is.

Total n00b! My character before learning I needed a guild. Look how lonely he is.

I gave in and put my name in the queue to join a random group to enter and complete the instance, Ragefire Chasm.  Having not worked in a group before and not knowing my role in the group. I quickly drew mobs (monsters) to me and died quickly causing the rest of my group to fail. Well rolling with a random group is not going to work. I need to make connections. In WoW, there are people just lined up willing to help you all you need to do is reach out and connect.

I realized if I was going to grow as a player I needed to reach out and join a group. In game these are called guilds. So I started to interact with other players in the game, I learned from them and they helped me higher level quests. Eventually, they invited me to join their guild. As mentors they showed me how I was supposed to play in an instance. My role was a damage dealer. I had to stay away from the main action and cast spells and hurl fire bolts from afar. I was successfully able to complete instances, complete my goals, and level up after that.

Does any of this sound familiar?

That’s a hefty goal and you can’t do that by yourself.

Well unless you’ve played MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role playing games) probably not. Okay substitute all the game play and speak with your role as and educator. Imagine trying to get through the first few years of teaching on your own. It doesn’t happen you have to connect. The guild that you build is your PLC/PLN. Your ultimate goal: teaching your students what they need in order to be the best that they can be. That’s a hefty goal and you can’t do that by yourself.

So tonight’s #levelupED chat (9pm EST) will be about building your guild (PLN) and why being a connected educator is vital.

If you haven’t yet, please visit our guild page to join, contribute and provide feedback.

Build your guild and level up for an EPIC WIN!


Build your Guild?

Quest objective: Bring a friend to #levelupED chat tonight, introduce yourself and your friend.

Rewards: Get a shout out in a future blog post.