EDET 679 – Week 8

Essential Question: Which aspects of story and game mechanics will be useful in your class and how might you use them?

When it comes to building a gamified classroom, knowing and understanding the needs and motivators of your students is critical. Gamification is certainly not a one-size-fits-all form of improving class participation and engagement, so addressing the needs of the individual students through careful selection of game mechanics and aspects of story can make or break the experience. As John McCarthy (2016) points out, “Gamification can create this opportunity—and can allow for differentiation as students choose which of the additional elements they will take on. The key is to gamify learning experiences with the right combination of game mechanics.”

Social studies is the content area in which I would most likely use gamification. As a class, we could be time travelers, accidentally stuck in a time that did not belong to us, stopping at a random points in history, and setting off on quests to discover as much as we could about what was happening at that point in time, hoping to get clues that would lead us back to our present time. A certain number of class points could mean another trip in the time machine to another destination, possibly our own.

In order to gamify my classroom, I know that I will need to appeal to some very different player types. I can see all the different player types, as defined by Bartle (n.d.), in my classroom, so engaging them all would take some doing. For my achievers, I see micro challenges and mini-games as strong possibilities to foster curiosity and further learning. For my killers, player-vs-player would allow these students an opportunity to engage in the learning process while fulfilling the need to destroy or conquer. Guilds seem like a nice fit for my socializers, and a great way for them to interact with the other player types. Achievement might be an option for my explorers, as this would allow them an opportunity to earn rewards for exploring and discovering more in-depth concepts. I like the idea Matera presented (pg 97) of having certain paths that can only be unlocked with certain badges that need to be earned by completing certain tasks. This motivational tool could prove to be helpful for those students who prefer not to focus on the task as much as figuring out what is behind the next turn.


Bartle, R.A. (n.d.). Hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades: Players who suit MUDs. Retrieved from http://mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm

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.

McCarthy, J. (2016, October 20). Gamifying your class to meet the needs of all learners. Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/article/gamifying-your-class-john-mccarthy


Week 7 Reflection

Building relationships. Creating bonds. Establishing and keeping trust. These are the things that I think about when I reflect on the language I use in my classroom. To me, students won’t learn unless they feel safe, respected, and loved. That is the environment I aim to provide in order to maximize learning and bring out the best in my students. When I know that students’ basic needs are met, I let them know that I believe in them like no one has believed in them before. I tell them I know they will make mistakes, probably too many for us to count, but that is where learning takes place, so that’s perfectly okay. I remind them that no one is perfect. I share stories of my mishaps growing up (they love these!). We become a team, a tough, tight team. We deal with choices, good and bad, every day. We encourage and build each other up. Much of that is done through my choice of language and the way I teach my students to use their language. We work toward using “Growth-Mindset” vocabulary and phrases.

This week’s presentation on VR was great! I really enjoyed discovering more resources to use with my class. I will admit that I was not motivated at all to earn a badge during the White House tour activity. This surprised me a bit, as I fall into the Achiever category, but I am also hugely intrinsically motivated, so I might be a student in a classroom who would not be engaged in this type of reward system even though my player type indicates that I should.

This week, I commented on Theresa’s and Heather’s blogs. On Theresa’s blog, I wrote:


I loved your post. I think the best part was the part about confidence: “As students get older, encouraging them to take risks. Their confidence will grow as they take chances. Let them know that they will sometimes not succeed the first time but to keep trying.” This is something that I feel most people get wrong. There is a major misconception that students gain confidence when they achieve, so the bar is often lowered so low that our students never fail and their confidence suffers as a result. Risk-taking comes in many forms, from reciting a poem in front of the class to trying out for a team to inviting the new student to sit with you at lunch. While each of these actions might result in failure initially, that just means there is room for growth! It might also mean that a student discovers something new about themselves and tries something they wouldn’t have tried before.


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


I am fully on board with the fact that we CAN make an impact on our students’ lives with the language that we use. I’ve heard firsthand from more than one student how the demeaning words of a teacher have turned them off of education completely, some even at very young ages (speaking to high schoolers reflecting on 1st and 2nd grade experiences). Conversely, I know so many students who find that one teacher, the who believes, who creates a lasting positive relationship, who shows the student what they are truly capable of, and the student is able to reach back and grab hold of that feeling and draw strength from it, even when the teacher is no longer in the classroom.

I can related to Gerald’s comment above. I use a similar strategy with my fifth graders during math. Giving them a certain number of problems to choose from, but letting them have the power to pick the ones they want to tackle gives them ownership of the assignment, furthering their engagement in the lesson.

Dream Big!


In reply to my blog post, Gerald commented:

“I want to believe that a software program that has students do math in this new mindset of “do it til you get it right”, is a proper technique to help kids. It’s okay to fail cause you will eventually “get it” and succeed after multiple tries. We just need kids to feel that it’s okay too. Just like a game!”

I couldn’t agree more! The big question is, how do we keep them engaged and motivated to continue striving to achieve the correct answer, and as Gerald stated, perhaps the answer does lie in teaching them through interactive software.

EDET 679 – Week 7

Essential Question: How do you or might you use language to change the way that your students think about learning in the classroom?

This is the value of the teacher, who looks at a face and says there’s something behind that and I want to reach that person, I want to influence that person, I want to encourage that person, I want to enrich, I want to call out that person who is behind that face, behind that color, behind that language, behind that tradition, behind that culture. I believe you can do it. I know what was done for me.

—Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s words embody why I am a teacher. I am always striving to find out what else is hidden, what talents are waiting to be unlocked, what great insights lie beneath. I believe in the hidden talents and greatness of my students. As Michael Matera writes in Explore Like a Pirate (2015), “The purpose of school is not simply to get good grades. The purpose needs to be learning and helping the children become life-long learners.” The language that we, as educators, use in our classrooms is critically important in helping students develop a sense of self, as well as building their desire to discover new things, regardless of the outcome.

Having a makerspace in my classroom has helped me put physical meaning behind the “Keys of Purpose-Driven Learning (Adam Moreno, 2014).” These are confidence, creativity, enthusiasm, effort, focus, resilience, initiative, curiosity, dependability, and empathy. In less than two months, my students have gone from wanting step-by-step directions on all projects to begging for makerspace time so that they can try out a sketch they put together at the dinner table the night before. They work together to solve problems. They don’t worry if something doesn’t work the first time. In fact, they worry more if it does. They are more than eager to share stories of failure with one another in a positive manner.

As their teacher, I strive to NOT give my students the answers, but rather lead them to deeper thinking through questioning. I work hard to show them how failures are actually successes because they teach us something. I notice teamwork and make sure it is commented on. For those students who seem apathetic to all things covered during the academic day, I try to find some type of connection that I can use to create a bond. In the Edutopia article Embracing Failure: Building a Growth Mindset Through the Arts, the author writes, “You can connect risk taking — and helping your students build comfort around it — to their interests outside of school.”


Embracing failure: Building growth mindset through arts. (2016, October 4). Edutopia. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/practice/embracing-failure-building-growth-mindset-through-arts

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.

Moreno, A. (2014, September 7). Keys of purpose driven learning. Adam Moreno. Retrieved from http://www.mrmoreno.com/blog/keys-of-pdl


Week 6 Reflection

Gamer types and OERs

This week’s research confirmed that, as a gamer, I am far less altruistic than I believed myself to be. I was firmly labeled Achiever, not only by one of the quizzes I took, but also by each and every family member and friend I surveyed. Someone even used the term ruthless when describing my game-playing strategies. Huh.

I enjoyed reading through the posts of others and the responses to my blog post. It was very interesting to see the differences in our gaming personalities and how that reflects in our daily lives. I loved that Genevieve pointed out that she was labeled an Explorer and she loves to go out in the wilderness and explore with her husband.

I replied to Sarah and Anthony’s blogs this week. I really enjoyed what Sarah had to say about grouping students according to player type. I left the following reply on her post:


I hadn’t thought of grouping students by their gamer type for activities. In the research I found, the breakdown in player types was as follows: achievers (10%), explorers (10%), socializers (80%), killers (>1%). In a classroom of 40 kids broken into groups of 4 students, this looks like one group of goal-driven, rewards- and badge-loving achievers, one group of knowledge-seeking explorers who don’t really care about any type of reward system, and eight groups of chatty socializers eager to spend their time finding out what the latest and greatest information (likely not related to the task at hand) is, with the potential addition of one lone killer thrown in the mix somewhere, looking to wreak havoc on whatever anyone else is doing.

Whether dividing and conquering is the best way to make groups or grouping by gamer type, I totally agree with you when you say that the gamification experience could be completely different for two classes of students, even if they are learning the same content, based on the needs of the class.

Anthony wrote about how he uses Class Craft in his room and has an equal division of player types. I am very curious to see how Class Craft is used beyond the behavioristic role that is seen at my school. On Anthony’s blog post, I wrote:

I am very interested to hear how you are using Class Craft beyond the scope of behavior modification. I have tried to be a fly on the wall at my school and listen to teachers talk about how they are using these types of gamification activities in their own rooms without adding my two cents. So far, I haven’t heard anything beyond behavior, which seems to be the most basic use this type of gamification. I’m not a “Star Chart” type of teacher, so in order for me to implement something additional in my room, I would need it to broaden and deepen learning for my students. Please tell me what you are doing!

This week’s class was pretty eye-opening for me. I was aware of OERs, but seeing the extent of them in different contexts was pretty amazing. I have used resources such as TeachersPayTeachers, but because that site has a built in rewards system for leaving positive feedback, it is difficult to tell if a resource is worthwhile or not. Having free, high-quality resources available to use as reteaching, enrichment, and general educational tools is amazing. Now I just need to figure out how to get 1:1 tech for my students and we’ll be set!

EDET 679 – Week 6

Essential Question: What is the implication of player type on game design? 


(image source: http://edtechteacher.org/use-the-four-gamer-types-to-help-your-students-collaborate-from-douglas-kiang-on-edudemic/)

The focus of Week 6 is to see what the implications of player types are on game design. In the spirit of discovery, I took two player type quizzes to see if my results would be the same. On the first quiz (https://www.helloquizzy.com/tests/the-four-player-types-test), my result was Ace, which equates to the Achiever of Bartle’s taxonomy. On the second quiz (http://givercraft.wikispaces.com/What+Type+of+Gamer+Are+You%3F), I ended up with Explorer.

Given the results of these two quizzes, I surveyed my friends and family to see which definition they felt best fit my gaming style. There was plenty of laughter (at my expense) as I was told there must have been some type of error with the second quiz. A friend of over twenty years, Justine*, said, “I’ve never played a game against you where I couldn’t feel your intense desire to dominate the game; to be the best. It’s like it has its own presence in the room.” Maybe I should work on toning it down a bit!

*Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.

(image source: Janaki Kumar and Mario Herger. Copyright: CC-Att-ND (Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported))

What are the four player types defined by Bartle and how, or do they, relate to gamifying our classrooms?  Kyatric (2013) provides the following breakdown of player types:

  • Killers like to provoke and cause drama and/or impose them over other players in the scope provided by the virtual world. Trolls, hackers, cheaters, and attention farmers belong in this category, along with the most ferocious and skillful PvP (player versus player) opponents.
  • Achievers are competitive and enjoy beating difficult challenges whether they are set by the game or by themselves. The more challenging the goal, the most rewarded they tend to feel.
  • Explorers like to explore the world – not just its geography but also the finer details of the game mechanics. These players may end up knowing how the game works and behave better than the game creators themselves. They know all the mechanics, short-cuts, tricks, and glitches that there are to know in the game and thrive on discovering more.
  • Socializers are often more interested in having relations with the other players than playing the game itself. They help to spread knowledge and a human feel, and are often involved in the community aspect of the game (by means of managing guilds or role-playing, for instance).

In a talk with students at the London Business School, Richard Bartle (2012) discusses how the player types apply to games but are frequently misused in gamification. He uses examples of the extrinsic rewards systems of badges in gamification being applied equally across the board to all types of players, when the only player type that would be truly motivated by this type of reward would be the achievers. The other player types are looking for motivation, but they find their motivation through other avenues specific to their interests (e.g. killing zombies, chatting with their peers, or finding an unmapped cave). Therefore, unless the rewards systems are modified to be intrinsic and meet the needs of the individual player groups, gamification will lose its appeal for a large percentage of the students in a classroom.


Gamification and its shortcomings with Dr Richard Bartle (video file). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEBAh6CnLVg



Kiang, D. (2016). Use the four gamer types to help your students collaborate. EdTechTeacher. Retrieved from http://edtechteacher.org/use-the-four-gamer-types-to-help-your-students-collaborate-from-douglas-kiang-on-edudemic/

Kyatric. (2013, February 18). Bartle’s taxonomy of player types (and why it doesn’t apply to everything). Retrieved from https://gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com/articles/bartles-taxonomy-of-player-types-and-why-it-doesnt-apply-to-everything–gamedev-4173


Week 5 Reflection

I did an unofficial poll with my 5th graders this week. I asked them the following question: How many of you like to play games, including board games or video games? Of the 19 students polled in my room, 13 of them said they liked to play games. This is a good number. Slightly higher than the 50% I’ve seen for the national average. Yet, if I were to introduce gamification into my classroom, I would still have six students who, according to the information I read about this week, would be far less likely that my other students to be engaged in the process. That’s 32% of my class. While we might be teaching a generation of digital natives, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this automatically makes them all gamers.

After reading several other blog posts, I don’t think I was convinced that there is enough evidence to support the fact the gamification the end-all, be-all answer to this generations’ learning needs. I do think that it could be one of many tools to be used for some students to motivated them, although there are those who feel that students will then only complete tasks in order to get the reward rather than the task-completion itself, but that is a topic for another post entirely.

This week I left comments on Ali’s and Mariah’s blogs.

On Ali’s blog, I wrote:

I find it very interesting, from what I’ve read in our course blogs and around the web, how gamification is most appealing as a motivational tool for those who like games already. In several articles I read (not studies, so I didn’t include them in my blog post), when gamification was tried at the college level, students who already identified themselves as gamers found the platform to be exciting, while those who did not reported that they did not gain much from gamification of the classroom. Like everything we do in our classrooms, it is my opinion that there will be students who are engaged because that is where their natural interests lie, and there will always be those students who fail to engage due to different interests.

Thanks for the research you were able to find on the matter!

On Mariah’s blog, I wrote:

Thanks for your post, Mariah.

After reading your post, I also read the comments. I tend to agree with Gerald when it comes to the number of studies that have been done to support gamification in the classroom. As a scientist, I want to see results replicated, with hard data, before I drop everything and try another “fad.” When I do something in my room, especially something I put a lot of time into as Matera did with his gamification process, my view of the outcomes might be slightly skewed compared to an unbiased view of an outsider.

There was a recent article which looked at FitBits and their impact on weight loss. Unless the FitBits were tied to monetary rewards, just wearing the device actually resulted in the least amount of weight loss among three different groups in the study. Here’s a link if you want to read the article. It is actually quite intriguing.


EDET 679 -Week 5

Essential Question: What research can support or refute Matera’s claims?

In Chapter 3 of his book, Explore Like a Pirate, Michael Matera explains how he sees the changing world of education, a world which is moving from using “traditional, fossilized ways of teaching” to one that is finding “new and innovative ways to connect and inspire students (p. 26).” Matera claims that, “the educational structures built on the needs and desires of our great grandparents’ generation are fundamentally different from those of students today…yet, many schools are still practicing two-hundred-year-old traditions.”

According to Matera (p. 26), modern education should create a sense of freedom and flexibility, produce risk takers, provide a sense of exploration and discovery, create confidence, allow for the development of independent artistic thinkers, and create a sense of wanderlust, spirit, and passion. Matera is able to do this through the gamification of his classroom.

Because of its effectiveness, businesses use gamification to motivate employees or bring in new business. According to Brigg Patten of 360Training.com, “The best gamification programs take advantage of skills and parameters often ingrained during childhood, such as motivation through reward, engaging choices, and spirited competition.” John Boitnott, a contributor for Entrepreneur, writes, “In some industries, gamification has begun replacing long-standing marketing and educational techniques that have lost effectiveness in areas like organizational performance, social change, brand relationships and talent development. This is turning gamification itself into a massive industry expected to grow to $2.8 billion by 2016, according to experts.”

I agree with the end goals that Matera is aiming for in a modern educational world. While I do not use gamification in my classroom, I do many S.T.E.M. and S.T.E.A.M. challenges and have a Makerspace. The challenges and the Makerspace allow my students to step outside the boundaries of traditional education and they are beginning to develop many of the characteristics Matera has described above.


Boitnott, J. (2015, September 1). How gamification is engaging customers and employees alike. Entrepreneur. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/250093

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.

Patten, B. (2016, April 5). Does gamification actually improve engagement? 360Training.com. Retrieved from http://www.360training.com/authoring-program/author-blog/does-gamification-improve-engagement