Gamification: Step One

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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 Sheetz card that earns me extra discounts on gas and free coffee after so many purchases. My Panera card that earns me free cookies. My world was suddenly full of games I hadn’t even known I was playing! If Starbucks could make it work then so could I.

This grading period I went from letting my toes skim the water to sitting on the edge and letting my feet in. My teammate and I created a list of things we wanted our students to do and decided to give them XP for doing them. 

Perfect attendance = 3 XP per week

Perfect behavior = 1 XP per day (Howell and Newberry combined)

An “A” on assignment on the first attempt = 3 XP

A “B” on assignment on the first attempt = 1 XP

Completing a quest to improve mastery = 1 XP when mastery improves

Homework turned in (all subjects) = 1 XP per day

Showing good character = 1 XP

Perfect Warm-Up and/or Learning Check = 1 XP

 Then we looked at the XP we’d set up and created levels for the students to attain and we guessed at how much XP we wanted each level to require and what privileges they might earn. 

Novice 0-40 XP 

Apprentice 41-100 XP

Journeyman 101-180 XP

Adventurer 181-280 XP

Rogue 281-399 XP

Swashbuckler 400 + XP

The privileges they can earn range from helping hand out papers and homework passes to a “get out of jail free” card which will cancel out a silent lunch or detention but drop you to the beginning of the previous level.

Today, three weeks in, we had our first two students level up. We had been hoping it might happen sooner, but it happened! We had a short ceremony, called their names, and played the “level up” sound from World of Warcraft when they stood.

It was simple. It’s a great start.

I’m driven to take it further. I’m currently creating a full RPG for my classroom based on the novel Divergent by Veronica Roth which all my students are reading. From taking an aptitude test to choosing their faction to working as factions and multi-faction guilds to “save the city” this new idea has gotten me beyond excited. Students will earn XP for themselves, their faction, and their guild. I’m still working out all the details, but I know one thing for sure now: gamification is all around us and we all respond to it.

Why aren’t you using it your classroom?

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