Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Beginning Gamification with Classcraft

My goal in gamifying our blended learning rotation during reading groups is to increase motivation and engagement when students are working independently. Since students are working on their own, and not in a whole group setting, I was in need of a sophisticated gamification app to both deliver online content and assess student learning. 

While I like the idea of being able to customize game settings to best meet the unique needs of my learners, I really needed an app that is easy to use for a complete novice in the gaming world (that’s me!). Classcraft is a perfect fit. It’s really great, guys! I can easily customize settings for my class, and it has online support via chat, community forums, and all kids of video tutorials. All those resources made it really simple to get things all set up for my class. 

Basic Features

I created accounts for my students and assigned teams in only about 10 minutes. Once that is done, individual students are able to create their own character. Student teams work together to gain points, protect one another from possible negative events, and ultimately, level up in the game. This collaborative aspect of the game provides an extra layer of motivation through peer accountability. As the gamemaster, I can assign students or teams points or damage based on their class behavior, very much like Class Dojo. All this is free for teachers! 

Teachers can view student profiles and add points from
 a computer or smartphone. 

Delivering Lessons and Assessments 

It gets better! What I’m really excited about is quests. I decided to pay for a premium account so that I would have access to this feature. Quests are a series of lessons and tasks that I create for my students. This is how I deliver online lessons and assessments. Each task is accompanied with a story, where I write a narrative of what is happening in our fictional world of the game, and what characters must do to complete the quest and win. 

This map outlines the seven tasks students must finish to complete the quest.

As students work their way through each task, they reveal a new part of the map we are playing through and earn rewards for their character and team. When students earn enough points, they level up, making their character more powerful and acquiring new skills. Students can also use the gold pieces they have earned to get a pet for their character or buy new accessories to make their characters look extra awesome. 

Personalized Learning 

Another great feature for quests is that I can personalize learning for my students. Within each quest, I can create multiple paths for students to reach success. If Student A is completing tasks well, she can continue on the normal path, or even choose a more challenging path. When Student B shows that he has not mastered a skill, I can set up the quest so that he automatically follows a separate path to receive reteaching and extra practice before progressing to new skills. How great is that!? 

After a bit more practice, I plan to start creating quests with these more complex paths to personalize student learning. Here is my first attempt. The yellow path is the most direct route and requires basic mastery of skills. The red detour includes reteaching and remediation activities, while the purple detour challenges students to apply their learning in new ways. 

This map shows multiple learning paths for success. 

Initial Implementation

We have been using Classcraft in our reading groups for about two weeks now and we LOVE it! My students are so engaged and motivated. When students have failed at a task, they have asked to try again so that they can further develop their character. They have even asked if they can "play" Classcraft at home. Wow!! This is winning!

My next goal is to maintain this motivation after the honeymoon phase wears off. I can’t wait to see how my students learn and grow using gamification! 

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