Seems like I’m always apologizing about delays – doh! Just marked over 500 quests so I’ve been burning the midnight oil over here. Totally fine though the results are incredibly worth it!
Anyway, I’ll post a separate blog later regarding how you can use scratch ticket paper, based on my previous blog, effectively in your classroom. I recently presented at the 21CTLS Conference in Ponoka, Alberta and a question I always seem to get is – what is one of, if not the most important thing I should be doing in my Gamification. My answer every time, while not agreed upon by all, is …
To make them believe it!
Let me explain… this is a big one!
When I decided to gamify my class and go through with this full bore I knew that it could be an uphill battle if my students did not think it was “cool” enough for them to participate in it. In the eyes of students, if it does not float their boat they could sink it. I knew that if I was trying to convince 12-14 year old kids to become medieval characters in a desolate land, ravaged by a fear mongering warlord (the Minotaur King) I would need to sell it to them and they would have to bite into it hook, line and sinker.
My first approach was to look at all the elements of my land I wanted to come to life. Do this by simply listing them out. I knew at the onset of my game I was going to be …
- Selling cards of varying types
- Expecting the class to be medieval themed
- They (the students) were mercenaries I brought in to help me
- I want a place to do battle with kids (submit certain types of work)
- I wanted mystery/puzzles
- A communal space for cross classroom communication
Here is how I attacked these known elements in my classroom.
- Selling Cards
Here is how it turned out!
Here is how that turned out!
Not being super artsy I was really pleased with how this turned out! The final touch was an old, cracked and broken 2x4 I found at a construction site, stained with dirt and I added some old, frail ropes. Some paint and hooks and my “Shops” area was complete!
Oh – I also had student paint the exterior of the display cases brown by dabbing them with an old, semi-ruined paint brush to simulate wood grain and it really sold the effect!
The final product!
- .Medieval Theme
Seriously, how cool is that skull!
- Mercenaries to help me!
The cool part here is that I was totaling willing to accept the fact that this might just fail miserably, when you gamify that is totally OK! Some ideas will seem incredible and not work out at all while tiny ideas might explode into memorable moments or events. Let them roll either way! I decided to strip everything from my room, tables, chairs, supplies – I took it all! Why? Well, if I was hiring mercenaries to help me survive in a “warn torn” land full of monsters an bad guys they would arrive with only the materials they could carry. I needed to reflect that in the game so I took it all away, put tape on the group to divide up the territories and explained to them the aforementioned rational. Their reaction? “How do we get stuff?” “Get crafting cards and convince me that they would create something like you know old cloth card + cotton card + rope card would make a pillow” “So if I do that I get a pillow to sit on!?” “Of course!” Now they are hooked! The other cool thing that happened was that kids are always moving so they are always being active in big or small doses. I love this because I hate prolonged periods of sitting! It is actually a huge health concern at the moment!
Here is the final product – I’m proud of this one!
I wanted my game to hold an element of mystery so I began looking for different elements that generated that. First off, I covered certain parts of my classroom with black paper and question marks or placed envelopes with dirt and debris smeared onto them around the room. I created a board in the back of the room that holds treasure hunt clues where I unveil different hints towards items I have hidden in the school. I write things in different languages hoping the students will try and translate it (Latin is the language of Scientia Terra!) and various other things. I even setup things with no explanation hoping the kids will poke around it, explore it and ultimately make hypothesis about it and how it could help/hinder them! Love this aspect and it is a real game changer. Being vague is a good thing as it hooks your students!
- Class to Class Communication
Here is what it looked like!
Old cubby space that looks like this …
Took an old TV, I’m going to wrap it with cardboard and create a stone frame on the cardboard and call it “My Tablet of Truth” and periodically it will display messages or clues at random (thank you ChromeCast!). My front lab desk looked ugly so I hired kids to turn it into a castle and my chair a thrown (slip cover + paper mache!) This hasn't been completed yet but it will be soon! The list goes on and on. Go wild!
So what was the point of this post! To sell your Gamification you have to market it to the kids. Make them believe they are in space, in a western adventure or travelling back in time! Sell your concept and you will succeed in the face of any adversity! Your kids will never work harder!
Oh! Involve the kids in the design process. The sense of ownership keeps your classroom clean and well-structured because they hate the idea of ruining something they created!
Until next time!