So how has it been going?
We are currently battling our way through Scientia Terra and vanquishing the evil minions of the Minotaur King as we work our way towards freeing its people. So far, we have freed a number of them but there are still many who need our help!
Time wise, at this point, we are just under 2 months in, it has been an unbelievable success. While this is simply my opinion please allow me to break it down with 3 some factual detail ...
1) Kids Are Engaged and They Are Working Hard!
Right now my kids are very much engaged. I would be lying if I said they ALL are because you always have the difficult to motivate student, which is fine, but overall my kids are working and they are working hard. I'm currently working on some creative ideas to push those students who are still needing that extra pop. Can I prove this statistically? Of course!
In a previous post I mentioned that kids needed to earn 1500XP out of a possible 2000XP in order to achieve 100%. This allowed for choice of quests they embarked on (i.e.: assignment and project) and promoted differentiation. Anything over the 1500XP mark indicates a student that has gone above the expectations and did it by choice even though they have already achieved a perfect grade.
Looking at the raw numbers, I teach 100 students collectively and out of that 100 I have 49 students who achieved over 1500XP meaning just under 50% of the students I teach made an effort to complete all quests, going above and beyond what was expected.
Looking deeper at the numbers I have, again out of those same 100 students, 71 of them have achieved honours status (a grade 80% or higher) right now in science which represents 71% of the entire grade.
Comparing that to last year's grade 8 classes, I had, out of a possible 119 students, only 68 that were above 80 to this point which is 57%.
Comparing those numbers, taking into account the fact that I had 19 more students last year, it represents a 14% increase in students currently achieving honours status.
At this point I will take that! Success!
2) We Are Getting More Done!
Last year, my main method of teaching was to lecture. I was not overly happy with it but I did figure out some ways to make it engaging. I incorporated technology, I was a trial for some different upcoming software and apps but I lacked the hand-ons element I was looking for. Whether it boiled down to resources, classes or time, I never did enough hands on work. I also was not getting enough assessments (summative or formal) done for my liking. Not because I wanted to bury them in work, but because I wanted to know where people struggled and where they were succeeding. So I wanted to fix that!
At this point last year I had 2 assessments: 1 mid point quiz and 1 quiz on the topic of density calculations. By the end of the 1st unit I would have 1 mid-point test, 1 note taking assignment, 1 unit final, 1 density calculation quiz, and 1 major project. If you are counting that is 6 assessments in a 2 month period. It did give me enough and at the time it worked and the kids did not complain. I, on the other hand, was not satisfied because, while I trusted my assessments I did not have them doing enough hands on work and to me that is what science is - getting your hands dirty and solving problems.
In my Gamification I have my units segmented into month long windows. I teach and they quest and the questing has been the game changer. After the 1st month alone I had 7 different assessments, each tailored to different key points in the chapters. I could easily see where kids were excelling and where they were struggling. By the end of the 1st unit they will have completed 12-14 quests ranging from basic definitions, to increasing more difficult battles, to massive projects like building a hydraulic lift to rescue a hobbit trapped in a well or to extinguish the flames of a city on fire by determining which liquid is the most and least viscous and safe to run in a make shift pump. Awesome!
Here is a sample of my grade tracking spread sheet ... (names, classes and guilds have been removed for privacy sake)
Again, another major success point for me!
3) It Is Resonating With All Students
One thing I really hoped that would occur with my Gamification is that it would resonate with all students. Whether they were male or female, high or low (side note: low by their own description not mine as I do not label students this way) achievers (in the past), collectors, competitive, independent, team oriented or working with an ISP (formally IPP). I wanted my Gamification to create a sense of engagement and wonder in them.
While I knew this would happen easily with certain groups of students I was unsure how others would handle it. It made me nervous, it caused me to worry and it also drew some furrowed brows from certain parents - in the beginning. Now that it is firing on all cylinders everyone seems to be a fan.
My high achievers are flourishing with the ability to lead, and follow, and taking on all challenges, often going above and beyond. My collectors are gobbling up cards and fuelling the buy, sell and trade market of Scientia Terra. My competitive people are motivating themselves and their guilds to push beyond their limits in order to achieve their maximum and work their way in amongst the top players and guilds. My independent learners and my team oriented players are learning to push their boundaries and work outside of their comfort zones and the success is almost palpable. My self described "low achievers" are achieving grades they have not achieved before and finding a comfort in their learning.
My biggest success however has to be my students who have ISPs. These students require anything from differentiated learning opportunities, to modified and/or adjusted work and assessments, to independent work environments, etc ... I recently noticed one particular student who seemed to be thriving and demonstrating so much growth that I did not recognize them from last year. While this growth was across the board, and I am not saying by any means it is only apparent in my class, the Gamification concept has allowed them to grow and develop the skills where they struggled. Today, he wrote this for me when I asked him how Gamification works for him as a learner... (these are their words with names removed) ...
What I like about science is the way Mr. Hebert does things. I like the RPG elements. It's overall great because this make the class fun. I love working in a guild. Sometimes they help me understand what's going on. We all have enough time to do our work in class. Sometimes Mr. Hebert comes around to our guild to help us. Overall, science class is fun and it should be fun and exciting which it is.
So, would I call Gamification a success up to this point? Damn right I would!
Until next time!
- Master Heebs