The topic of gaming and its usage in the classroom has been popping up more and more in the last year or so. Jane McGonigal, who is an expert in this area (check out this link to see her extensive experience and list of “unlocked” achievements), gives some good reasons that we should not dismiss gaming as “a waste of time”. Other than improving flirting skills, it seems that many of the benefits might be worth consideration by teachers. I am planning to create a gaming environment in my gifted classroom this year for my 5th graders, and I hope to see an increase in productivity in the areas of creativity and ambition, as Dr. McGonigal predicts! If you are interested in this topic, you might want to visit Gamification of the Classroom and Classroom Game Design, too!
This is, in part, a continuation of Friday’s post on the gamification of the classroom. In this post, by Ben Bertoli, the teacher explains how he turned his 6th grade class into a role-playing game. I love his ideas on allowing the students to create their own characters and to participate in “Random Encounter Friday”. The nine point list that he gives of the basic plan for implementing “Class Realm” in his classroom would make a good place to start for anyone who is interested in trying this with his or her own students.
I have started a new Pinterest board on “Gamification of the Classroom”. In addition, you can also choose that category from my category list on the right to find other blog posts on this topic.
In my post that featured a TED talk on Classroom Game Design, I mentioned the interest that I have in trying to use the interest that my students have in gaming to engage them in the classroom. Rather than having them play video games in the classroom, I am considering making the classroom, itself, into a game-type environment. I found this wonderful post by Mr. Daley that gives some great tips on trying to “gamify” your classroom. I have a grand scheme to integrate Mr. Daley’s ideas, Genius Hour, and Teaching with Tournaments into my 5th grade Gifted and Talented class next year. As usual, I am biting off far more than I can teach, and it will probably dissolve into a sort of semi-controlled chaos. But, I guarantee that the kids will have fun and they will learn! (You might also be interested in this case study, by Peter Ross, about a teacher named Kate Fanelli who successfully used “gamification” to engage her students.)
Teach with Tournaments is a curriculum written by Josh Hoekstra, and was recently featured in a blog entry by William Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education. I highly recommend that you read William Bennett’s blog entry, as it gives a very good summary of the idea successfully used by Mr. Hoekstra with his U.S. History students. I love the concept of having the students defend their “champion” by doing research, and I think that this might also be something that I could include next year as I attempt to “gamify” my classroom. It could also fit in nicely with the Genius Hour idea. In addition, I would suggest getting other classrooms involved through Skype or FaceTime, so that they could help determine the “Champions”, which might encourage the students to take their presentations to an even higher level (and discourage popularity contests). Kudos to Mr. Hoekstra for such a creative idea!
“Classroom Game Design“, a TEDx video presented by Paul Andersen, suggests an interesting idea for organizing your classroom. Why not leverage the fascination that many youngsters today have with gaming by making your own classroom a video game? Have your students earn Experience Points to “level up” and gain new freedoms (and responsibilities) in the classroom. This is an idea that does not even require any technology in your classroom – just a willingness to motivate your students using a language they understand very well.
If you are unable to see the video embedded below, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qlYGX0H6Ec&feature=youtu.be