It has been a while since my latest update, almost 6 months to be exact. I picked up a contract to try and gamify an entire math curriculum (grade 8 in Alberta) and I've been putting a lot of time and effort into that. Also with end the of the year, some presentations and the like I have been able to keep myself pretty busy.
This was a goal of mine for a long time to write a short piece on introducing gamification into your classroom. It is a question I get asked a lot! Where do I start? How do I do it? Etc ... The answer here is pretty simple, you can add in small doses or large batches and it is entirely up to you.
Here are 3 ways I recommend adding gamification to your classroom!
3 Simple Ideas to Add Gamification to your Classroom
So what is gamification? Gamification is a concept used from business to marketing but not a whole lot in education however it is beginning to be utilized with more regularity. In essence, it is the idea of using game design principals/elements in a non-game setting. This concept can be applied in small bursts or applied to entire units or courses. Here are some helpful tips for “gamifying” your classroom!
Walk into your class one day and just put the number 5 on your board. Ask kids where it came from and if they know who did it. Act confused and play dumb. The next day change it to 4 and so on. Have the students speculate what it could be counting down to or who is doing it. Wrap something in your room in black paper and just put a white question mark on it. Again, encourage inferences, observations and hypothesis. Let your mystery lead up to a large reveal. Great for LA writing activities, for math estimation activities or science hypothesis activities. You can even turn it into a story when something goes missing from the classroom and you need to solve a series of puzzles that lead to clues to find out who took it! Very successful in elementary!
2.Review Games + Randomness
Use the method above to lead up to a review game the kids have not tried before. Do this by taking an old board game and bringing it back to life. Here is an example for Jenga. You set up the Jenga tower and ask the students trivia questions. Jeopardy style is recommended or picking popsicle sticks numbered to associate with Post-Its that have questions – this is the element of randomness which really captures a student’s attention. These questions earn them points however, they can only access the points to their team total if they successfully pull a block from the tower. To spice it up, you can write rules on specific blocks like picking one only from the middle column or picking behind your back. Something that should be simple becomes really difficult and fun! Award a prize to the winning team like 30 seconds with an upcoming test in advance or pick a number between 1 & (# of questions on test) and give them 1 question early. Students LOVE this!
3.Using A Story
Many students always complain while saying, “Where am I going to use this in real life?!” so attack this misconception head on. Create a story that sees your student encounter someone who needs help. Tie their problem to the topics being covered in class such as…
a) A resistance leader needs help writing a speech to persuade people to join their army (LA)
b) A hobbit needs you to build a pneumatic/hydraulic lift to rescue a child who is trapped down
in a well (Science/STEM)
c) A farmer needs to determine the best area layout for their crop fields and best size for grain
silo based upon available resources (Math)
You can get as creative as you’d like here and then you can rope in rewards and/or consequences based on the results. Rescue the child and years down the road (i.e.: later in the year) they become successful and award you something or maximize profit for the farmer who makes you a partner and pays you.
While there are so many more ways to add gamification to your classrooms these 3 simple concepts can be applies in no time and really increase the engagement levels in your students.
For more ideas on gamification in the classroom please feel free to check out my other resources!
YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/c/MasterHeebs
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From my experience, many of the difficulties we struggle with in our classrooms can be brought back to a lack of engagement/disconnection. Let’s get our students moving, motivated and connected to the curriculum and let their imaginations run wild!