Week 11 Reflection

This week was difficult as I moved from theory to concept. I have a difficult classroom situation this year which leads to me to taking one of two approaches when thinking about gamification: picturing the utter chaos which is bound to overtake my classroom if I break out of the extremely structured instructional and behavioral routines I have established or visualizing how gamification would work in my previous classrooms and designing with one of those classrooms in mind. As the year progresses and I garner more support for my students, gamification might be possible in my current setting. I will plan for that day.

Reading through the blogs this week, it was very inspiring to see how each of us is taking such an individualized route to gamifying our classrooms. I would to see a follow-up post from everyone in June reflecting on the process and the impact gamification had on students’ education.

On Sarah’s blog, I wrote:

I don’t know if students need to know the storyline you base your gamification model on to be vested in the outcome. Sometimes I think that it might be better if they don’t so they aren’t comparing or anticipating your next move. I certainly hope that Matera’s elementary students didn’t watch Game of Thrones! I like the idea of the hidden leaderboard as well. While some of your students may be competitive, hiding the leaderboard reduces the opportunity for students to tease those who are not at the same level they are, whether it be high or low.

On Ali’s blog, I left the following comment:

I would love to hear how this works in your classroom! Even though I was part of the team who presented on ClassCraft, I still can’t visualize how the points are awarded during the course of a lesson. The way you have yours set up, it seems as though points would be awarded as you corrected assignments, not during the actual instructional time. This seems doable to me. I just don’t seem to have a free minute during instructional time between providing differentiated instruction for my gifted students, Tier 1 and 2 instructional and behavioral interventions, and general support.

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EDET 679 – Week 11

Essential Question: What is the game you are thinking of writing up for your classroom?

Why reinvent the wheel? That’s what I kept telling myself as I struggled to come up with an original game concept to use in my classroom. Reflecting back on Matera’s obvious use of the Game of Thrones theme helped push me in the direction of taking a game that has already been designed and adapting it to the needs of my classroom.

In choosing a game, I spent a fair amount of time considered what I wanted to get out of it. I already knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want it to be a tool to monitor behavior. For me, engagement is the best method for modifying unwanted behavior. Engagement would need to be at the top of the list. I also wanted a game which would encourage collaboration. As our students of today move into the workforce of tomorrow, most of them will be expected to collaborate with their colleagues. Teaching them this skill is critical for their future success. Finally, I wanted a game that was easily adaptable to meet the varying academic and emotional needs of the students in my classroom.

The game I have chosen to blatantly copy (and then adapt to work in a classroom setting) is Pandemic. The manufacturer describes it in the following way: “Four diseases have broken out in the world and it is up to a team of specialists in various fields to find cures for these diseases before mankind is wiped out. Players must work together playing to their characters’ strengths and planning their strategy of eradication before the diseases overwhelm the world with ever-increasing outbreaks. For example the Operation Specialist can build research stations which are needed to find cures for the diseases. The Scientist needs only 4 cards of a particular disease to cure it instead of the normal 5. But the diseases are out breaking fast and time is running out: the team must try to stem the tide of infection in diseased areas while also towards cures. A truly cooperative game where you all win or you all lose (n.d.).”

I really like the idea of using this game in the classroom because it is set up to be players against the game, not each other. This is the type of collaboration I am hoping to instill in my students. I will most likely use it in math, where I have one dedicated 35 minute block of time each day where all of my students are in the room. Students would be placed into teams based on their current understanding of the standards we are working on, then assigned roles within those groups with each player having specific strengths. For the purposes of my classroom, I would use a map of the United States (one of the fifth grade standards is understanding U.S. geography) as the original playing field. As students complete a certain number of assigned math problems, their team earns a chance at play (this still needs to be worked out), and the team must decide what they will do with that play. I am envisioning each group having their own map, although one map could be used an teams could take turns at play in the order they finished.

Resources:

Pandemic. (n.d.) At Amazon. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Z-Man-Games-ZMG-71100-Pandemic/dp/B00A2HD40E/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Week 10 Reflection

This week’s task was more challenging than I thought it would be. I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I have learned so far this semester and how this impacts the process of implementing gamification in a classroom setting. Our classrooms are all so unique, as are the students that we teach and their needs. There is certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach to implementation, nor do I expect the results to be similar for all.

On Mariah’s blog, I wrote:

Mariah,

I’ll be the first to admit that I fall into that overachieving category of student and teacher who is not happy meeting the criteria, but striving to exceed it. When I first looked at the rubric, this desire to not just be proficient, but advanced, made me cringe a bit at the “exceeds” column. After some reflecting, I became more comfortable with these high demands. In fact, I ended up making one of the areas more stringent. Just because we are new and inexperienced at the process doesn’t mean we need to lower to bar and reduce the rigor of the overall task. Because we strive for excellence, we will get there in time with the proper amount of effort (and likely, numerous failures)!

 

On Ali’s blog, I wrote the following:

Ali,

I like how you focus on the motivation factor of gamification when considering the rubric. In particular, I like the idea of not taking away points, just allowing students to earn them as they gain knowledge and work toward mastery. A book I read this spring and absolutely loved was Fair Isn’t Always Equal by Rick Wormelli. It is a great read that ties into this idea of motivating and rewarding students as they learn, not punishing them for making errors in the learning process. I think it ties in nicely with many aspects of gamification (the non-behavioristic ones in particular). Thanks for your thoughtful post.

Kate

I also appreciated the feedback on my initial post from Gerald and Aleta. They each had something to offer that made me stop and think some more!

EDET 679 – Week 10

Essential Question: How would you change the rubric for the final project to better reflect what is important in games?

In an article for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Teaching and Technology Center, gamification is broken down into the important aspects of a game that engage the user. This article describes the elements as pyramid-like, with the components forming the base, the mechanics forming the middle, and the dynamics being the tip. So, while the components make up the bulk of the experience and are not as abstract, it is the mechanics and the ultimately the dynamics that hold the whole experience together.

game_mechanics

(image source: http://www.yourtrainingedge.com/gamification-mechanics-vs-gamification-dynamics/)

To refamiliarize ourselves with these different elements, let’s start with the bottom of our pyramid and work upward. Examples of components are: Achievements, Avatars, Badges, Boss Fights, Collections, Combat, Content Unlocking, Gifting, Leaderboards, Levels, Points, Quests, Social Graphs, Teams, and Virtual Goods. The mechanics elements are Challenges, Chance, Competition, Cooperation, Feedback, Resource Acquisition, Rewards, Transactions, Turns, and Win States. Finally, at the top of the pyramid, in the key position to hold everything else in place, are the dynamic elements: Constraints, Emotions, Narrative, Progression, and Relationships.

While the components are an important part of the gamification puzzle, it is the mechanics and dynamic elements that truly make the experience. Bryant Nielson (2013) writes, “When applied in the correct manner, these two elements of gamification have the ability to drive user engagement and participation to new heights. Therefore, it is these elements that I feel should be the focus of the rubric and any changes that need to be made to it.

One area that I feel needs to be strengthened is #5: Interactivity. This is a key dynamic element (relationships), and, being one of the key elements that drives gamification, it is my feeling that both the “Meets” and “Exceeds” columns could be more rigorous. My suggestion for this would be to move the criteria for “Exceeds” to the “Meets” column, then upgrade “Exceeds” to include wording such as “Interaction with others and/or with the game occurs regularly during play. Opportunities are available for students to independently seek out collaboration with other players on challenges.”

5. Interactivity (Collaboration): students are able to interact with other and the game (20) Needs Improvement

There is little or no interaction between players or between players and the game.

Meets

Interaction with other players and with the game is occasionally encouraged, but may not play a significant role in game play.

Exceeds

Interaction with others and/or with the game occurs regularly during game play. Collaboration is encouraged and allows the player to progress in the game while receiving support from other players and the game.

 

Writing a succinct and rigorous rubric is key to producing a quality gamification experience for our students. Elizabeth Lawley (2012) states, “The recent trend toward “gamifying” applications often reduces the complexity of a well-designed and balanced game to its simplest components, such as badges, levels, points, and leaderboards. The
resulting implementations don’t just fail to engage players; they can actually damage existing interest or engagement with the service or product. It’s not that gamification can’t work. But to be successful, [gamification] must include game design, not just game
components. Games are not a replacement for thoughtful experience and interaction design; they are an alternate lens for framing that process.”

Resources

Gamification dynamics, components, and mechanics. (2016). University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Teaching and Technology Center. Retrieved from https://www.uwplatt.edu/ttc/gamification-dynamics-mechanics-and-components

Lawley, E. (2012, July). Games as an alternate lens for design. Social Mediator. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/244486331_Gamification_Designing_for_motivation

Nielson, B. (2013, July 24). Gamification mechanics vs. gamification dynamics. Retrieved from http://www.yourtrainingedge.com/gamification-mechanics-vs-gamification-dynamics/

Week 9 Reflection

Play. This was easy for me to incorporate when I was teaching primary, but I don’t think I made time for play in any form aside from review when I was teaching at the middle and high school level. I see the benefits of engaging the mind (and the body) in this active form of learning which can take even the most mundane topics and make them tolerable, if not exciting, to most kids.

This past summer’s robotics class was really helpful in allowing me to think about how I wanted to engage my students in meaningful play. This is my first year teaching at the fifth grade level, so I am not sure if I will always have the same general level of excitement that my students have shown this year for all the different makerspace and STEM activities that we have done in class, but I sure hope I will. My students are so proud of the things they have created and the knowledge that they have gained. I know that I could never have generated this same degree of learning if I had simply had them read information or lectured on the topic. Play is to “blame” for their current obsession and love of circuits.

I liked reading the blog posts this week and seeing how many of us use play in our classrooms. I commented on Genevieve’s and Gerald’s blogs this week, but found useful information in all that I read.

On Genevieve’s blog, I wrote:

Play is important at all age groups, but, in my opinion, no more so than at this age group. There is so much learning that can take place through play. When I taught in a K-3 classroom, I used play at my centers to teach differentiated concepts to small groups of students, allowing me to work with other students individually or in small groups. Games made the centers more interesting for the students which helped keep them on task. It was a win-win situation!

On Gerald’s blog, I left the following comment:

Gerald,

I am also struggling with the idea of gamifying my classroom, but for me I think it is a philosophical struggle. With each class that I have ever taught, one of my top priorities was to teach students how to be intrinsically motivated, to move away from the rewards systems and want to learn for the sake of learning. Gamification seems like a step in the other direction with its points and badges and “get out of work free” cards. I do incorporated more game-based learning now than I ever have in the past because I can see the value in practice and discovery through play, but gamification, to me, seems like a reinvention of the star chart.

Here is a link to an article that I found reflected many of my feelings and is written much more eloquently than what I wrote above: http://www.nea.org/tools/59782.htm

Kate

EDET 679 – Week 9

Essential Question: How do you currently infuse play into your class? How might you change this as a result of some of the ideas you have encountered?

From the perspective of a fifth grade teacher, I feel that play is still a very important component of student learning. Our district’s recently adopted math curriculum uses games to help students solidify concepts, although I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes these games aren’t very engaging. Kitty Rutherford (2015) writes for NCTM and supports the use of games as a means for learning. “Playing games encourages strategic mathematical thinking as students find different strategies for solving problems and deepen their understanding of numbers. When played repeatedly, games support students’ development of computational fluency. Games present opportunities for practice, often without the need for teachers to provide the problems. Teachers can then observe or assess students and work with individuals or small groups of students. Games have the potential to allow students to develop familiarity with the number system and with “benchmark numbers” (such as 10s, 100s, and 1000s) and engage in computation practice, building a deeper understanding of operations. Games support a school-to-home connection. Parents can learn about their children’s mathematical thinking by playing games with them at home.” For tasks which can be mundane like vocabulary, I’ve tried different types of games such as taping words and definitions on students backs and having the class work together to try to pair everyone up correctly with their vocabulary partner or playing Memory type games.

Dr. Anthony Betrus (2015) writes, “Games, for their part, have rules, and inasmuch as you can change, bend, or break the rules you are playing. It is through play that we build new knowledge, strengthen relationships, and ultimately grow. Some examples of semi-structured play spaces include Legos, Minecraft, Robotics, and K’NEX. These activities, and others like them, offer a sandbox, virtual or otherwise, that allows for free-form making. And it is through these creative problem solving spaces (often called maker spaces) that we are seeing the rise of a new movement: STEM Education.” The games I most enjoy playing in my class are STEM and STEAM games. I love to give my students a creative engineering challenge, and then, through play, have them discover the solution to a problem. I saw tons of engagement and learning taking place when my students worked either individually or in groups to try to make their balloon-powered cars travel five feet. I saw similar engagement during our STEM-based Halloween party where all the activities were challenges involving Halloween candy (building the tallest candy corn tower, building the most accurate catapult to propel candy pumpkins, building paper boats to float PEEP ghosts, cooperative giant team tic-tac-toe with Halloween candy markers).

An area which I hadn’t really considered to be play before is online gaming. My students are learning coding skills at code.org, and while some are very eager to work through each task as accurately and quickly as possible, a large percentage of my students love to just play with the code to see what happens. At first this really messed with my Type A brain, but when I sat back and realized what these students were learning by “goofing around” or “playing” with the program, I became aware that these might be the students who actually go further with the coding and gain a deeper understanding of it because they are willing to take chances and explore on their own. They are learning, and learning a lot, through play.

Finally, as an extension of my classroom, I try to create my homework so that it is relevant to what we are learning and design it so that it engages not only the student, but also the family. As Matera (2015) states, “Games connect people; they inspire us to do the impossible by working together to reach our fullest potential (p. 228).” This is an area where I could bring in more learning through play with a bit of work and creativity on my part.

Honestly, I’m not yet sure how I would like to change my classroom based on what I have learned in this class. I feel that the play that happens in my room is purposeful and my students are highly engaged during these times. I suppose I would like to fit more time into my schedule to offer these opportunities for play or gain a better understanding of the  required ELA curriculum and build more opportunities for play into the daily routine.

Resources:

Betrus, A. (2015, July 1). Through STEM education our future is bright. Retrieved from http://www. fourthcoastentertainment.com/story/2015/08/01/entertainment/through-stem-education-ourfuture-is-bright/242.html

Matera, M. (2015). Explore like a pirate: Engage, enrich, and elevate your learners with gamification and game-inspired course design. Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc. San Diego, CA.

Rutherford, K. (2015, April 27). Why play math games? National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Retrieved from http://www.nctm.org/publications/teaching-children-mathematics/blog/why-play-math-games_/

Week 8 Reflection

I was part of the group which presented on ClassCraft this week. It was wonderful to have Sara in our group, as she has used ClassCraft quite a bit and has a good understanding of how to set it up and run it. She was a wonderful leader as we were putting our presentation together, helping to guide us toward content and organizational ideas.

Overall, I am still a bit underwhelmed with using ClassCraft as a behavioristic classroom management tool. For the record, I am also not a fan of Class Dojo as well for this exact reason. I see both of these platforms as an advanced star chart system, which I do not feel help develop intrinsically motivated students.

I do see the potential for ClassCraft to be used beyond behavior management, as I mentioned during the presentation. While this would require more work on the part of the teacher, I can see how creating a wonderful story and implementing different game mechanics through ClassCraft could really create a fabulous gamified learning environment.

Creating a gamified classroom with all the right elements to meet the varied needs of all the different students in a room is a challenge that would need to addressed with great care. Even starting small, plenty of thought needs to be given to what player types we have, what drives our students, and what outcomes we are hoping to achieve. If we aren’t creating the experience to bring out the best in our students, then we may just be throwing one more thing at them which isn’t going to help them in the end. Create, but create with care.

This week, I read several blogs and saw common themes among many. I wrote on Larissa’s and Heather’s blogs.

On Larissa’s blog, I wrote:

We have a theme in my classroom. It is, “Fair is not always equal.” It is something we’ve been working on the entire year and I think my kids are really starting to understand it at this point. While I don’t think it would make a great starting point for gamification, I do believe that it has its place, such as the example Matera provided of Mario Cart and Leveling Up. Not all students come to a classroom with the same gifts, but they all need to be challenged, and gamification seems like a great way to help facilitate this!

My students (5th grade) also pick their own groups and they have become quite good at choosing appropriate learning partners. Like you, I’ve heard from them that they should work with a friend because there will be too much talking. It is so amazing when they start to realize both their strengths and their weaknesses.

I love Scrat, and I’m not sure there is a character out there who better exemplifies growth-mindset than he does!

On Heather’s blog, I left the following reply:

Heather,

Time management is always a tricky topic to address. Gamification might be just the way to bring a sense of urgency and fun to the matter. I like how you process as you go, adding or subtracting where you see fit. I honestly believe that your ability to be fluid and flexible makes for great learning experiences or your students!

Kate