Let me walk you through it day by day!
Day 1 - Monday
When students 1st walked into my class I could hear them begin to ask questions, "What is that on the wall?" or "Why is that covered up in paper?" and my favourite "What the heck is that giant table?". What I was hoping for happened - there were questions and they wanted answers. They would have to wait though! Why? The first day of school consists primarily of organizational elements such as locker allocation and student schedules and the like. It was not until after our "Welcome Back" assembly that 2 of my 4 classes would get their 1st taste of Gamification.
The first two classes walked in and and sat down (back to back blocks) and looked at me waiting for their instructions and introductions to the course. I began to explain to them that this class would be different, it would be a unique experience but it would come with its ups and downs and together we were going to go through the concept of Gamification this year. I could see some faces light up, some contort with confusion and others become a little squirmy with uncertainty. Excellent - they were listening now! They wanted to know more, they began to ask questions, "What is gamification?" and "The class is a game?" were most common. It was now time to hand out their user manuals. (If you would like to see what mine looked like please feel free to check it out by clicking here). This breaks down the rules, avatars, guilds, player classes, items, badges and other key details. Now hands started to fly up and thoughts began to race. The questions were coming fast and I was trying to cover as many as I could when "insert airplane seat belt warning child sound here" (our new bell system is "unique" I'll say...) class was over. Kids began to file out and I could hear some great conversations happening among them as they left - some excited and some still confused at the intricacies of the game. I wondered what they thought as I watched them leave. Would they like it? Would they be willing to try? Did I sell it to them too forcefully or did I scare them with my excitement? It was 3:05PM, Gamification had been introduced for 45 minutes and I was now committed.
As I began to pack up my bag to go home I received this e-mail from a parent, roughly an hour after students headed home. I braced myself because to receive an e-mail this soon I was nervous it could have been a negative one.
*Please note - all names have been changed for privacy reasons and while the e-mail is verbatim the names are fictional*
I just think you should know that I picked Victoria up from school today, at approx 3:05 and it's now 4:10 and she hasn't stopped talking about you and Scientia Terra for more than 5 minutes!
I'm THRILLED that she gets to have you as her science teacher. I look forward to hearing more as the year progresses.
Happy first day back!
I just felt like I had to share that info with you. Obviously you've put a lot of work into this concept and I think it's pretty significant that a 12 year old girl would come home from her first day of grade 8 and literally spend the first hour talking to anyone with a pair of ears about her science class!I have no doubt the kids are going to love what you've cooked up for them this year.We feel pretty fortunate to have you as Victoria's teacher. Have a good night!
Day 2 - Tuesday
I saw my 3rd science class in the afternoon after lunch and they already knew what was coming. Students had apparently got to talking and word was beginning to circulate. They were eager to learn and I was eager to share. They asked most of the same questions and while there were still many left unanswered and many who were still grappling with the concept of gamification I could see once again that connections were being made.
I also saw the same 2 classes from Monday and they began to select their avatar names and player classes. Even though they were not placed in guilds the students were really taking this seriously. Some were seen building strategies about which character class to pick and guessing which perks would come with them while others were wrestling with the perfect avatar name. I know from my short time as a teacher that witnessing this type of care on such a small task demonstrates clear interest in the task and I was very pleased to see this.
All and all I was feeling good 2 days in! Gamification was looking to be an early success!
Later that night I received a notification on Twitter that I was mentioned in a Tweet. This individual works in my district and I was so grateful to receive it!
Once again, for privacy sake, I've scratched out their names and images as I have not had time to ask them if they OK with me sharing their Tweet in my Blog.
Day 3 - Wednesday
Today, I sorted my 1st three classes into their guilds. The anticipation was building when I explained to them how it would work. We would be undergoing a random draw using what I called "The Wheel of Science" (here is a link to the online randomizer I used). I projected the wheel onto the board and I had the kids stand in the front of the room. I needed to make this safe so I explained there were would no excessive cheering or pin drop silence during this process. Why? I did not want someone to be selected to a giant ovation from their guild to then have the next person walk over to their team in absolute silence in a way that signals "Yes!! 'Blank' is on my team" to "Oh nooo...we have 'Blank'). The rule was to clap all choices or no choices. Each class unanimously chose to congratulate everyone by clapping for all. I also explained that doing this randomly would pose some challenges but also bring with it some benefits. Members of your guild will bring with them different strengths and weaknesses and it is these very strengths and weaknesses that will help you succeed. The students seemed to agree and the time had come to spin the wheel.
As the wheel spun you could sense the excitement. Where would you be selected to go? Who would be on your guild? As players began to be placed one by one I could already hear guilds working on their names. Once they were sorted they were asked to design a team flag or a team shield which would be displayed over their guild table during class to indicate who was playing at the time. I was very pleased with how seriously the students took this task. They wanted the perfect name, the right amount of humour to some was key while others wanted something strong and powerful. Their guilds had taken shape physically and now they were beginning to have life breathed into them. How cool!
Also today, I met my final class out of the 4 and did my best to catch them up quickly. I let them know that they would be selecting their guilds tomorrow.
Finally, students began to show me things they were doing to prep for the game. One student had taken picture of the items she wanted to earn from my website and saved them to her phone. Three different students had already began to update their game logs with the item explanations so they knew what items they wanted and how others worked in the game. Finally, another had read my entire website looking for pictures of the hidden items (shops and battleground) that I had placed on my website. He found them and immediately Tweeted me to let me know. They thought I had flubbed and placed them their without thinking but there was some method to my madness. He had just read over 2500 words to find those pictures and now knew a ton more about my Gamification. Mission accomplished!
Here is the Tweet which is again, void of names and Twitter handles for privacy.
Day 4 - Thursday
I began the day by getting my last class caught up and randomizing them into their guilds. They immediately jumped at the task of creating their logos and names. Some were a little more hesitant in this class and a few behaviours had to be corrected but during the 1st week of school I would not call it out of the ordinary. Tomorrow they would be caught up and receive their starter packs!
The classes who were a day ahead, simply because of how the class schedules fall, began to receive their starter packs (1st two item cards as well as their class card and inventory sheet). This now officially started the game. I declared the world of Scientia Terra alive and the game to begin. The players, once having submitted their guild logo or shield, would receive their 1st quest. While I will explain Questing in a later Blog post because of its intricacies, let me just tease this by saying the Quests were well received. With little help from me the students were off finding their own resources and their own means of completing the quest with minimal guidance and the products I were receiving were just as unique as they were successful! I was loving what I was seeing!
Once again, much to my surprise, I was blessed to receive another positive Tweet! I was feeling very fortunate to be so supported!
So this month I will be carefully monitoring each guild, as well as the game as a whole, to see if there are some weaknesses. I will also be asking for some anonymous feedback from the players to see how they are feeling. I will update the game accordingly to ensure success to all participants.
Very productive night!
Day 5 - Friday
On Fridays, students Quest all class while I provide feedback and guidance as the game master. All classes and all guilds worked diligently together to accomplish their 1st task regarding lab safety. Some even stayed in over the lunch break to work to ensure they were progressing at a good pace. This was something I did not see once last year and already in the 1st 5 days of school I was witnessing extra effort. Phenomenal!
Overall, I would say this week provided some excellent feedback about my Gamification! The students were excited, the parents were intrigued and asking great questions and the classroom atmosphere was positive and upbeat. I was watching kids work, and work hard! While there are still a few I needed to rope in a little further that is to be expected. This is a new concept that is still in its infancy and some uncertainty is surely expected!
So how would I deem my 1st week? A success!
What is on tap for next week..?
Unveiling the character class perks, the battleground and shops and setting up my regular Gamification routines. Also, it is Meet the Teacher night this week and many parents will have their first hand look at my Gamified space. I'm quite excited for this! It is lining up to be a great week!
Until next time! :)
- Master Heebs