How I Gamified

How @howellywood and her teammate gamified their classes.


Before I describe how I gamified my classroom, let me make sure you understand my definition of gamification. #levelupED, the Twitter chat and blog I co-moderate with Dayson Pasion, defines gamification as using game element or mechanics in traditionally non-gaming environments. Gamificaiton is not playing Scrabble or review Jeopardy but turning your classroom into a game. You can gamify anything from a small unit to your entire classroom. I am lucky enough to teach on a two-person team with Heather Newberry who shares my vision and we’ve gamified our entire team! Below, you will find the details about how our game runs including everything we created to play it. Please take it, make it your own, and then join us at #levelupED on Thursdays at 9pm EST to share your experience.

Our entire game is based on the novel Divergent by Veronica Roth. Our students have…

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Extrinsic Motivation is Not The Enemy!

From @howellywood, her thoughts about student motivation:


Motivation. The why behind your actions. The driving force behind who you become. As teachers, we tirelessly search for ways to motivate our students to succeed, not just in the classroom, but in life. These tricks we use are extrinsic motivators, but that’s becoming a bit of a bad word in education. Many teachers argue that extrinsic motivation has a negative effect on students. They say that too many extrinsic motivators lead to students losing intrinsic motivation and only being willing to do work for a cookie.

People, especially teachers, are incredibly passionate about motivation. I’ve seen fiery arguments, both on the digital stage and in person, regarding the evils or wonders of rewards and extrinsic motivations. Teachers take the concept of rewards to heart as a teacher’s opinion regarding this concept affects every aspect of how they run their classrooms.

I’ll be honest here. I’d never given this most…

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Featured blog from @TriSciCurious

Last week in our #levelupED chat, Jessica Anderson (@TriSciCurious) posted her blog entry about student epic wins and their experience with fiero. I just want to repost here (w/ her permission of course) so that you can enjoy as well. 

So what’s so fun about this? It’s really seeing the joy of accomplishment on my students’ faces when their eggs survive, and hearing their plans of action when their eggs crack and scramble. The thing is science is a work in progress and not everything is always going to go perfectly. Students, especially my honors students,  need to see and experience this. 

Click on the link for more: Teaching, it’s all about the sidelines: Lesson from an egg

#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.

Thursday Night is Raid Night …

Well, sort of.

Screen cap by Anne Stickney of her guild.

While we won’t be off galavanting in an end-game instance saving the world, we will be working together forming our own epic guild! Huzzah!

We are so excited for our first chat tonight! We are talking all about gamification and what it looks like in your class. So, make sure that you are back on Twitter by 9:00 pm EST and following #levelupED! Game on.

Just a short post today. Check back tomorrow for a recap of our first ever chat and fully archived chat transcript.