Sunday, May 8, 2016

Gamification in the Classroom

Ms. Gross and Gamification???? WHAT????

Dear Readers,

As a teacher, I know for maximum engagement and learning, I need to meet students where they are and enter their worlds. Young people today are growing up in a digital environment and as educators we need to embrace these changes. 

I had heard of Gamification, but what was it really? I knew many of my students were "gamers" and had seen the word on Twitter. I decided I needed to investigate. 

I lurked a little bit on Twitter and of course, Dave and Shelly Burgess to the rescue. EXPLORE Like a Pirate by Michael Matera is an amazing resource for those (like me) with little to no background on the virtual gaming world. 

Although the information was a bit overwhelming at first, it offered me some concrete ideas to begin my journey. 

Won't you join me as I take you through my first attempt at implementing an extremely modified "Gamification" into my classroom?

Step 1: Elements of Gaming

My first step was to learn about the elements of gaming. I turned the class over to the students and learned about worlds, characters, levels, motivation, rewards, incentives, etc. They also made recommendations of various titles to investigate.

My biggest take-away from these conversations was that students were motivated to continue playing despite set-backs embedded in the game. For example, loss of characters or "rewards". Their perseverance for continuing the game was remarkable. 

Step 2: Creating a Virtual World & Character

My next step was to have students create their ideal virtual world and characters. For some, this was a challenge, while for others it was so natural. I challenged students who are not traditionally gamers to think outside the box. As a model, I also created my virtual world and character. Although I was intimidated at first, the answer quickly came to me. My world would be a library and my character a book worm.

Examples of worlds created include a mall, softball/soccer/lacrosse fields, basketball court, horse stables, farm and forest.

Step 3: Creating Levels and "Tokens" to be Earned

Now came the challenging part for me. What would my levels be? In keeping with a literacy theme, I decided on the following:
  • Level 1: Ms. Gross' Classroom Library
  • Level 2: Middle School Library
  • Level 3: Public/Community Library
  • Level 4: NYC Public Library
Additionally, what would they earn? More importantly, how would they "Level Up"? Embracing my literacy theme, I found book templates.
  • 1 Book=2 points
  • 1/2 Book=1 point
Leveling Up:
  • Start at Level 1
  • Level Up to Level 2=5 books
  • Level Up to Level 3=10 books
  • Level Up to Level 4=15 books
It was also recommended to incorporate individual success with group advancement. So, based on their individual intervention, they have the opportunity to earn personal points.

Step 4: Creating Group Challenges

I had read about quests and elaborate challenges educators have created. I was in awe at examples I read about and saw! For this step, I included students in the discussion. The compromise we reached was:
  • Challenge 1: True/False Questions
  • Challenge 2: Solving Riddles
  • Challenge 3: School Wide Quest (I would create.)

Step 5: What's a challenge without incentives?

The incentives and what to work toward were completely student driven and chosen. They brainstormed different ideas and decided as a group what their reward would be if they won. Individual winners will also have a choice.


  • How can we engage and motivate students to become resilient learners just as they are resilient gamers?
  • How do we create learning environments that appeal to ALL students?
  • How can we develop intrinsic motivation for students to want to "Level Up" and be risk-takers and challenge themselves?
I am extremely excited to begin our gaming this week! Thank you to the incredible people in my PLN that I learn from every day.

A sincere thank you to my students who are risk-takers every time they enter my classroom! You never know what Ms. Gross has up her sleeve for the day!