How I Gamified

How @howellywood and her teammate gamified their classes.

howellywood

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:

howellywood

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

Gamification: Step One

Gamification is everywhere! Channel it!!

howellywood

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. 

Why?

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!

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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.

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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? 

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.

Raid status: Success!

Anyone who has ever tried something new knows that feeling right before that something begins. It’s like sitting at the top of that first big hill on a rollercoaster; you are excited and unsure of what exactly happens next but you hope it’s amazing.

Well, it was!! Our very first #levelupED was a rollicking success!

We were a small, but mighty group this evening and represented a wide variety of gamification experience.

Here are some highlights…

How do you define gamification in your classroom?

Do you think gamification is more using games to teach content or designing game elements in your instruction?

What benefits have you seen/ do you think you would see from gamifying your class?

Is there any good tech out there you are using to help gamify your class?

 

 

 

 

What challenges have you faced when trying to introduce game play in your class? How did you overcome them?

 

What is one take away from tonight that you would like to start applying to your classroom?

 

 

 

We also discussed what to call assessments to encourage less fear and more fun with the game for students, the difference between using XP and skill points, and even debated using gamification in place of traditional grades. If there is anything you’d like to see discussed in future #levelupED chats please let us know! And make sure you check out the full chat HERE

See you next week for #levelupED! 9pm EST every Thursday!