Friday, May 24, 2013

Gamification Environment

WEMTA got me going on the concept of gaming in the classroom. I started reading "Reality is Broken:  Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World" by Jane McGonigal.  She states that the 4 traits of a game are:
  • goal
  • rules
  • feedback system
  • voluntary participation

She talks about flow, working at the very limit of your ability.  As you game, you get intrinsic rewards:
  • Satisfying work
  • Success
  • Social Connection
  • Meaning (something larger than ourselves)

So how can I apply this in a classroom?
Well, Jennifer Lynch, a 3rd grade teacher, became my ally and we began to brainstorm ideas of how to make her last math unit a more personalized unit with the twist of gamification.

We broke the unit, a review unit, into 4 modules. Fractions, Time, Story Problems, and Place Value were the modules students would need to master. They all took a pre-assessment. If they passed a particular section, they earned a +1 point (little piece of paper with a 1 on it) in their envelope and a class badge.

We explained the goal to the students and we spent some time talking about learning targets so the students understand what they were working towards.  We discussed the rules.  Not just the rules of the new "game," but how would this look and what kinds of behaviors would be required for this to work efficiently.

Students got feedback each day or at least every other from Jen or myself on how they were doing.  The participation wasn't even a factor because they were so excited to be a part of this new journey!


We created task lists (activities) for students to work on for each module.  On this task list there are games, individual activities, activities utilizing Storykit or Show Me on the iPad, and internet/app based games that are listed on our Google Site, Mission Math.  We also tried out a site called Manghigh and they LOVED it.  They all had their own log in and could earn medals there as well.  As students are working on their task list, Jen has time to work with small groups and I am walking around answering questions and facilitating other small groups. 

This is where we worked on flow.  Some students got it right away and others needed a little help to get going. :)  As a group, they worked together on Free Rice.  The goal is 1 million grains of rice.  Each time they play, they fill in a google doc and it adds the rice to our gauge on the Mission Math home page. 

When students felt ready, they could request the assessment (proficiency based progress).  After they took the assessment, Jen or myself would correct it (try to) and give immediate feedback. They would try again in colored pencil on anything they may have missed, after that, they either got a badge and +1 point, or we worked with them some more and then they assess again when they feel more confident.

There were very seldom times that students were not working.  Throughout this unit, there were two different guest teachers and both commented on how the students were so engaged and working so well.  Don't get me wrong, the start was a little rough...but they got it with practice and reminders. :)


Some things we learned...
Since we are not 1-1, it would have been easier for each student to have their own binder with their resources and learning targets.  That way, they have what they need to keep track and be successful and Jen can be the holder of the assessment and her iPad, which would house the progress spreadsheet she would need to track students.

Plan more time.  It was a bit stressful doing this at the end of the year due to time constraints of getting report cards done.

Having a couple of adults in the room as they are learning the "rules" or expectations is invaluable!  This is a new way for them to learn and having someone to facilitate as they are working improves the flow.

I have enjoyed working on this unit with the 3rd graders.  I am ready to jump back in, continue to make improvements, and enjoy the ride!