What You Need to Know When Gamifying Your Classroom

If you’ve been avoiding hundreds of Farmville requests on social media and have resisted the temptation to download Candy Crush, you may want to rethink things. If you’re familiar with the phrase “gamifying your classroom,” you may be able to pick up a few tips from these addictive game apps. Gamifying your classroom works on many of the same principles as online gaming.

It takes your students’ natural competitive instincts to beat levels or scores and motivates students to achieve classroom success.

gamifying your classroom student cheering success

What is Gamification?

Gamification is more than just playing classroom games. It takes several components of online gaming, such as experience points, badges, and leveling up, and incorporates them into homework, quizzes, independent study, and classroom participation.

Experience points (XP)

In gamifying your classroom, XP are the equivalent of grades. For example, instead of scoring a quiz as 18 out of 20, or marking homework as complete/incomplete, you set up a system that awards 300XP for homework, up to 500XP for quizzes, or 100XP for participation in a group activity. This does require teachers to find a way to translate XP into the traditional grading system.

Levels

Levels are the equivalent of traditional subject units. To “level up” during gameplay, students work to reach a set threshold in an area of study (for example, a certain number of XP points, minutes spent reading, or number of independent activities completed). When they reach their goal, they are able to move to the next level/unit.

Badges

Badges are simply visual rewards that students receive for academic accomplishments. For example, badges can be awarded for reaching 1000XP, completing a science level, or reading five books in a month. They can be displayed as stickers on a student’s desk or on a master board in your classroom.

Benefits to Gamifying Your Classroom

Teachers who’ve tried out this teaching strategy have noted several benefits.

  • Awarding points can be more motivational than traditional grading. Instead of starting at 100% and moving down, students start at 0 and can only go up.
  • Teachers noticed that gamification encouraged students to take risks, because students who “lose” can simply restart and try again until a task is accomplished.
  • Gamification also increased student engagement, offering immediate feedback for students.

Tools To Get You Started

Like most new teaching strategies, there is no need to go “all in” and gamify your entire lesson plan. Start with one subject, for one marking period, and then reassess. Here are a few easy tools you can use to get started.

Gamify Classroom Culture: Class Dojo

In addition to being a resource tool where teachers can share classroom moments with parents, and students can create personal portfolios, it’s also a tool for teachers to track and reward positive classroom behavior. Students can earn points for participation, active listening, helping others, and leadership. Individual and classroom points can be awarded.

Gamify Reading: BrightFish Reading

This online tool makes grade-level reading accessible for struggling students. They can choose from a variety of engaging fiction and nonfiction passages and complete structured activities to help them “construct the text,” starting with recognition of words and phrases, advancing to key vocabulary words, and graduating to comprehension and critical thinking. Higher levels of difficulty are unlocked as they progress and students can earn points to be redeemed in the game store.

Gamify Anything: Kahoot

Create a simple online multiple-choice game for any subject in just minutes. Project the game onto a screen or whiteboard and students can answer using individual devices (great for classrooms with 1:1 programs) or as a team on shared classroom devices.

Gamify Research: A Google A Day

Caitlin Tucker explains how she made her middle school students stronger researchers by using Google’s free game, A Google A Day. The basic-level game includes three questions that students must answer by looking online. How they find the answer is up to them and they ways they search. Each question starts with 300 points and points drop the longer it takes to find the answer.

Have you had success gamifying your classroom? Share your story of getting started in the comments below.

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