After doing some reading I learned of a teacher down in the New York area who was having a hard time getting her students motivated in her high school biology class. She had tried a number of different things but work was either not coming in or was poor in quality. This teacher decided that changing the wording and format in which she distributed the work might change things so she began to call her work "quests" and had different areas/people (for example the class skeleton model in the back of the room) deliver the "quests" and she called them "Quest Givers". It seemed to take the edge off for her students and she noted an immediate turn around in student work ethic. They all wanted to quest, to complete the challenges and to help the people indicated in the quests. It changed her class and began to circulate around the school. Before she knew it questing was the "it thing" in her school!
So with that in mind I decided to re-design my classwork!
Questing in Scientia Terra
I knew that after reading what I explained above that I wanted to utilize this questing concept. The first thing I did was look back at my old form of assessment and its associated language. In the past, each unit in my science course consisted of: 1 quiz, 1 unit final, 1 major project, 1 glossary/study tool and 1 major in class activity ... in a nutshell it was not very exciting but I did what I could to make it exciting. I decided that a quick relabeling of the language would be my starting point. Now each unit consists of Tutorial Time (when I directly teach), 1 Boss Battle (quiz), 1 Final Boss Battle (Unit Final) and 2 sets of Quests (4-6 quests per month). These quests are activities I have always done, both in and outside of class, but I decided to entrench them into the narrative.
I've tried explaining this before without an example but I just could not get the details correct so please, allow me to explain questing, in detail, using one of the 1st quests I created. This is my death and revival of the worksheet...
*As an update: students are just unlocking this quest set now and so far, they seem pretty fired up with the concept!*
Mission 4 - The Goblin Battle
Wrapped around about half of my class are over 25 different photos to mimic the different landscapes an adventurer could encounter while exploring the land of Scientia Terra. The pictures stretch from mountain ranges to forests and everything in between. While they are not entirely perfect, and in a perfect world with infinite time and budget, I would hire an artist to create and paint a panorama that wraps the room, this did the trick for now. Here are some examples of the pictures I used...
Augmented Reality is essentially the ability to overlay multiple forms of multimedia directly over top of an object or picture (anything really) and bring it to life. How do you bring it to life? Using a special app (also known as an Augmented Reality Browser) you can scan the object and that object will react accordingly. It could play a video or music, poss a poll question, trigger a game or even download a document. The possibilities are endless and it really is an exciting piece of technology. If you have not already, you should absolutely check it out!
I currently use Aurasma and Blippar when I teach using Augmented Reality. My preference is Blippar for its incredible ease of use, trigger codes and multiple interactivity options. You do have to contact them directly to use it as an educator but they are pretty quick to reply and set you up. Took about a month for me to get signed up and creating. Aurasma is instant sign up and start time but it is a little more limiting in terms of its features.
Blippar can be found here ... Website ... App Download Link (App Store) ... (Google Play)
Aurasma can be found here ... Website ... App Download Link (App Store) ... (Google Play)
At the beginning of each month guilds must try to crack a 5 digit code I have created in order to unlock the ability to scan for their quests. The code information is found in new and upcoming real world science which hopefully will make more aware of the world around them and its scientific progressions in different fields. The clues are fairly basic and one could look something like this ...
Clue #3: 6 Scientist have just locked themselves inside of a dome on the side of a mountain
in Hawaii to simulate what it could be like to live on Mars. They are totally cut off
from the outside world. They will spend 365 days in the bubble. What is the longest
someone has ever lived isolated like this for science. When you find it, add the 3
numbers together to get the answer you need!
Once they have cracked the 5 digit code they confirm it with me. When it has been confirmed, they take a Tablet of Truth (what we call our class iPads) and they input the code into the app "Blippar" (mentioned above). They then begin to scan the pictures that wrap around the room looking for their quests! As they scan them, certain pictures will trigger an event (much like walking through grass in an RPG and the screen flashes and you enter a battle). Once the AR event is loaded it is 2 parts.
Here is the photo that triggers the Goblin Battle and beside it is the image, as scene on the iPad (not grid appears though - just the trigger images) when it has been triggered.
This sets the mood. The screen brings up an arrow, a scroll and a "This Way" icon over the scanned background (these are all animated and float down and slide in depending on the icon). When students click the scroll a short, a half page story describing your location and scenario appears and read like this...
(The original file can be downloaded here).
As you move about the thick brush you come across a clearing. It is eerily silent and your gut tells you to be on the ready. You steady your hand near your weapon as you move slowly through the clearing.
Suddenly birds fly out from a tree, as if they were startled by something, and as quickly as that thought enters your mind 2 goblins, swords in hand, jump out from behind some bushes!
They steady their weapons and point them directly at you and you remove yours from your holster. They cackle in a high pitched tone as they slowly move about in front of you.
“Give us your gold or we will take it!” one hisses. “Haha…take it, take it!” the other shrieks!
You will not be giving up anything - it is time for battle!
This sequence delivers the work and allows for play. First the land comes to life. In the Goblin Battle, 2 goblins appear, some bushes, the word "Fight" grows and flashes before fading out and a few buttons (again all are animated in a predefined sequence you can setup). When you click the goblins they will each laugh in some maniacal tone! Press the "Try it on" button and you can take a picture with a goblin mask on in a photo booth feature. You can then share your adventure on social media directly from the Photo Booth (which I am highly encouraging the students to do!) Finally, you can click "Fight" button which gives the adventures (students) their work. It begins with a story continuing off of Part 1 and then you get your assignment. Each assignment is leveled easy, medium or hard and the rewards are displayed (XP to earn, items - if any, badges - if any, specific rules, etc...) This allows the students to become totally involved as well as know what they are playing for. Here is what the second sheet looks like and how it reads ...
(The original file can be downloaded here)
The trolls begin to talk in a language you do not understand. They begin to split off heading one to your left and the other to your right. Their weapons on the ready one makes a lunge for you but you quickly move out of the way.
“This should be fun!” the goblin yells as it steadies himself again for another strike.
Can you slay the goblins or will you become yet another victim?
In order to defeat the goblins you need to obtain a battle sheet from Master Heebs. It contains a number of questions regarding concentration and how to calculate it. Each question is worth a different amount of damage. Each correctly answered question deals damage to the enemy while incorrect answers result in you taking damage. When you think you have defeated the enemy return the sheet to Master Heebs to enter your battle!
XP – 350 (Maximum possible)
Loot search (potentially)
Money - $100.00
There is a way to earn a badge in this battle…can you figure it out?
To be completed individually or as a guild.
(Here is the original Battle Sheet which you can download here)
I believe I have come up with a way to authenticate the Battle experience. I crafted a massive table and added sand, water, figures, rocks, etc and it is my Battleground. Here is what it looks like...
*Note: Since taking these pictures I have added a few more elements to the Battle ground and even students have been making components for it!*
If they answer incorrectly they must pick 2 of the 6 possible numbers that exist on a die (which I call "The Dice of Decision") and subsequently roll them. If they roll one of their 2 picks, they block the strike and no damage is inflicted but if they do not roll one of their choices their health meter drops by one.
*Side note: I have incorporated character classes into this as well. Knights, being defensive and well armored, get to increase their odds to 4/6 which also adds a strategic element to the game as guild battles require careful thinking as to who should represent the guild (who being which character class) if it is in fact a guild battle. .
Now, in gamification, you can never lose your grade but you can lose your items and money (exactly like a game) so if they perish (their health meter is drained) I take their money and their items. Now, when I described this to the kids they were intrigued and many were highly motivated because the idea of losing something tangible they possess instead of a grade written in a grade book was much more real to them! I also do this as a way to ensure I get the high quality work I am looking for. Take your time and win as to where you can be punished in a non-traditional way for rushing and submitting sub park work!
Back to the Battle Sheets...
Now immediately people have said, "Well then, you expect everyone to get 100% to kill the creature?" and I simply reply and, "No". The plan is to set the bar at 70% being a successful battle win so the health meter will be adjusted accordingly. I take whatever the total available damage is on the Battle Sheet and calculate what is 70% for example (7 out of 10 marks) and put 7 hearts divided among the enemy. Everything over and above is known as "The Finishing Touch" and leads to potential rewards for the player ... maybe items, maybe badges, maybe gold!
Once students are feeling successful and confident in the Battle scenario, I will then increase the expected score to 73, 75, 80, etc ... as the year moves on and the kids will likely not notice right away. Now they can still pass just the monster gets away wounded. This takes the pressure away from high anxiety students. However, for those who are big on collection and items, should they slay the enemy they have a chance to search for loot after the battle! I built my own scratch tickets which can be accessed by rolling the "Dice of Decision". Just like it was mentioned above, the student selects 2/6 possible numbers and rolls. Roll their selection, search is successful and they get a scratch card and if not their search turns up nothing. To influence choice and strategy again, the specific character classes effect the outcome as the Thief class gets a 4/6 chance! They will then be able to keep their monster battle sheets almost as badges of honour themselves.
So, that is how my Gamification tackles the dreaded worksheet and how I slayed it only to bring it back once again.
What do you think?
Until next time!
- Master Heebs