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!

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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.

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!

 

Thursday Night is Raid Night …

Well, sort of.

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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.

 

Every Quest Needs a Backstory

Greeting fellow gamifiers! If you are here it’s because (1) you are on the cutting edge and want to learn more about gamification, (2) you are in our PLN (professional learning network) and decided to check us out or, (3) you know either of the moderators and we’ve just bugged you to death until you visited. Whichever camp you are in, welcome and I am glad you’ve joined us.

My name is Dayson Pasion, the other moderator of this blog and #levelupED. I am a middle grades STEM educator in North Carolina.  You can learn more about me and what I like to do in my classroom, here.  As Faith did in her previous post, I would also like to talk to you about my introduction in gamification and what it means to me.

I have always been a geek.  You can ask anyone that has known me that this is true. It was probably the fact that I was an extreme introvert that drove me towards games. I’ve always been a gamer, even as a wee one. Geez, when I write it down it makes me sound like that lone creepy kid no one wants to be hang out with. I played everything and anything I could get my hands on … Super Mario, Tetris, Sonic, TMNT, first person shooters, arcade games, board games, some of the first multiplayer RPGs and on and on and on. But it was actually Faith that introduced me to World of Warcraft … and I was done. To read her story about her Gnome Frost Mage makes me miss my Undead Destruction Warlock so much! I was probably addicted. You know that scene in Zombieland where Columbus is in his apartment on a Friday night eating pizza, drinking Code Red and playing WoW. I swear I’ve lived that scene before (minus the zombie-infected neighbor that is bludgeoned with a toilet). In fact, when I was playing heavily, I would come home during my lunch break (when I worked at local credit union) and log on and grind out.

I also got: "Hey you're that X-man, you know the one with the claws." /facepalm

Exhibit A. Dressed up as James Howelett (or Wolverine/Logan for the non-comic fans) for Superhero Day at school.

I have always been a geek.

It wasn’t until later that I realized I could take the elements that I loved from playing games into my everyday life. When I first made the connection it was when my brother told me about NerdFitness.  Those that follow NerdFitness are literally leveling up their lives. Steve Kamb’s post about leveling up your life and real life role-playing were game changers for me. Another inspiration was Jane McGonigal and her amazing TedTalk about SuperBetter! It was easy for me to make the connection as a gamer when trying to make yourself better, but I had failed to make the connection towards my classroom.

Do you think school is supposed to be fun?! You’re here to learn, not play!

I don’t remember when exactly I made the connection between game play and education but it may have had something to do with being constantly asked if we were playing a review game and then me probably getting annoyed. Do you think school is supposed to be fun?! You’re here to learn, not play!  I’m pretty sure it was after a situation like that, that I sat myself down after trying to beat my previous score on Angry Birds that I put the connection together. I would certainly be more motivated, engaged and willing to learn if there was game play involved. So it was at that point that I started researching as much as I could. I started to embed certain game elements. I would design lessons around games. Some were successes, many were not. What was true about every attempt though is that I found my students much more engaged and willing to work and learn.  That is what motivates me to do better and know I get to pretend that I’m on a quest grinding away.  Epic win!

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What is your Profession?

Quest objective: Read the article about real life role playing on Nerd Fitness and during introductions at next week’s first ever #levelupED chat, tell us your profession!

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

Whether you find yourself in the starting zone or are level ??, don’t forget to follow @howellywood and @MrDpasion on Twitter to get updated about #levelupED.

How Candy Crush Drives My Teaching

My name is Faith Howell, one of the moderators of this blog and #levelupED! As we embark on this journey I thought you might need to know a little about why I care about gamificiation and what that term means to me.

It all started with the sentence “You know, you get to create your own character. Choose their hair, clothes…” and with that I was hooked on World of Warcraft. If you would have asked my perky little cheerleader high school self if I was a gamer, I would have adamantly answered “Give me an N! Give me an O! What’s that spell? NO!!!! Yay!!!! Spirit fingers!” I thought I was much too cool to game and wouldn’t have opened my mind to the option in any capacity (unless some hot guy who was popular suggested it). But, my older self opened herself up just a bit…just to create a character, and then just a short quest, until I was all in. I still miss my level 80 gnome frost mage. She kicked butt and was adorable, but she was far more interesting than my real life (which involved lesson plans and working on my master’s degree) so I spent much more time with her, so she had to go. Did you notice what I said there?

“She was far more interesting than my real life.”

How many of your students would say the same? What if your classroom could be as interesting to students as that video game their playing? Would you want them to run to your class like they run to their PS3? Would you want them trying over and over again to complete your work to your satisfaction just like they try over and over again to beat the boss at the end of a level?

What does Candy Crush have that your classroom does not?

In other words, how does gamification (turning something into a game) work?

Choice
I chose whether or not to play a video game, and if I’m stuck or frustrated I stop. Sometimes a friend is watching me and cheering me on, or maybe they challenged me to complete a level and I’m trying to step to their challenge and I’ll play a little farther that day. The key here is I make that choice. Choice is something that most of us still haven’t figured out how to implement in a real way in our classrooms. There’s a fear of giving up control and so we hold tight to our power and we worry what it will look like if *insert generic child name here* gives up five minutes in. But allowing students a choice, even in something as small as how to present information to you, may motivate a child. Gamification is a way to add some choice into my classroom and let the students feel as if they chose their destiny (which, by the way, they actually do when it comes to grades, no matter how much they blame us).

Structure for Success
Video games can’t be difficult all the time or no one would play them. Video games tend to start off easy and gradually get more difficult as you progress through them. Quality video games also make sure there’s room for success no matter what level you are on. Take Candy Crush for example. Candy Crush seems so easy at the beginning. You’re flying through levels and feeling awesome, so when you come across a difficult level you feel like you can handle it. You’ve got this! Even if it’s a challenge, even if it takes you days, you keep at it. Eventually you succeed and move on to the next level, which you typically pass quickly (easy, hard, easy). Candy Crush knows you won’t work at your level of frustration forever, so they make sure you feel successful now and again. No one who feels as if they are a constant failure will continue to put forth effort. You have to be reminded that you can do it!

Structure for Motivation
Candy Crush, and other great video games, also find ways to motivate you. Candy Crush will gift you special candies as a reward for completing a level or allow other players to send you gifts of special candies, extra tries, or extra time. Maybe you were hopelessly stuck on a level, but thank goodness for your friend and their gift of a few more moves because now you’ve succeeded! Yay! Competition is also a driving force in video games like Candy Crush. There is something satisfying about seeing your score compared to everyone else on your friend’s list who plays (not everyone who plays, but people you know personally!). And when you pass them by a level and it says “Do you want to write on your friend’s wall and let them know you’ve passed them?” you always want to say “Yes!” because beating someone makes you feel good (don’t roll your eyes at me! It’s true!). Competition is a powerful motivator especially when it’s positive.

To summarize, gamification, to me, is an opportunity to take what draws students to games of all types (video games, sports, board games, apps, etc) and use that information to create a classroom that makes students want to achieve. It incorporates choice, and structures for success and motivation to allow students a say in their education and to feel as if they really do have the power we’re always telling them they have. So join us on our quest to motivate students and make the real world as much fun as the virtual, and make sure you follow us on Twitter @howellywood and @MrDpasion!

*You have now completed the “Who is Faith Howell?” quest. Use the code word “Candy Crush” at any point during our first #levelupED chat and receive a special shout out on Twitter!!*

Welcome to your Starting Zone

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You’ve discovered #leveledUP

Welcome to the blog for #levelupED, a weekly Twiiter chat about gamification in education. #levelupED will provide an opportunity for all interested educators to discuss how gamification can change the learning landscape of their classrooms. #gamification seems to integrate itself into many of the educational Twitter chats that we’ve encountered. Now its time for gamification to have its own chat: #levelupED.

The moderators for #levelupED will be Faith Howell (@howellywood) and Dayson Pasion (@MrDpasion). Faith and Dayson also have blogs which you can click here, respectively: Hollywood and STEMpunk  Each of them have been interested in gamification and both know how much in can change the dynamic of a classroom.

Are you ready for an adventure?

Please consider this our starting zone for #levelupED. On this blog you’ll be able to collect resources for gamification as well as view past archives and future chat topics.  You always can come back for the information you need to level up in your mastery of gamification (don’t be surprised if you find yourself completing some quests as well).