So here I am again. Two weeks before school starts, and there are so many things I want to implement into my classroom! Least of which is my new #gamification theme- space (with some LEGO additions)!
This week Southern Oregon hosted #SOsuperquest, where I got to be in the presence of the legendary Tisha Richmond @tishrich. I got to be a part of a three day workshop that centered around #gamification.
And boy did it not disappoint!
I got to meet new friends in the #xplap world, and even share some of my journey with them.
This year, like last, I’ve left myself little time before the school year starts, and with so much work to do!
The only difference this year is that I have a LOT more ambitious ideas.
I have all these grand ideas about what I want to offer my students, and so little time to actually work on it! But not to worry friends, if there is one lesson that I learned from my first year gamifying, it’s that you don’t need it all ‘figured out’ day one (or day 90 for that matter).
Year two of #gamification is upon me, and I picked up a few tips that I’m dying to try out!
Here are a few things on my list:

1. More Board Games!

…or just games in general.

Last year, one of the areas I fell flat creatively in was with competitive learning opportunities. Kahoot became a crutch more and more each math unit. Although Kahoot is a stellar tool with good feedback, it isn’t (and shouldn’t be) the only game to assess learning.

At #SOsuperquest, we played the game Codenames. If you haven’t already played it, you can buy it here. The game can played with as little as two players, but as many as 8 (or more if you’re daring enough). To me, this game reminds me of the classic Stratego; a beloved childhood game of hide-and-go-seek and military strategy. It’s also way less time consuming than Risk.
Don’t get me started.
But instead of trying to capture the opponent’s flag, you are the spy that tries to identify other spies. The really dynamic aspect about this game is that it’s team focused. My #gamified class teams will have to use their wits and collaboration skills to win and earn xp!

From the creators:

Codenames has an espionage setting, in which players in teams try to identify their own team’s secret agents, based on their agents’ code names. Codenames is a game of guessing which code names (words) in a set are related to a hint-word given by another player.
Players split into two teams: red and blue. One player of each team is selected as the team’s spymaster; the others are field operatives.
The game ends when all of one team’s agents are identified (winning the game for that team).

How can this game be used in the classroom?

Think of your subject vocabulary! Each agent can have its own word that you want your students to know well. The beauty of this type of game is that it forces the players to think of synonyms, or clues that could describe more than one vocabulary word. For example, if the spymaster says “money, two words” as the clue, the other players (field operatives) could then potentially choose the words ‘loot’ and ‘economy’ from list of choices. Since I teach fifth grade, I can incorporate all sorts of subject-specific vocabulary from math, science, writing, reading… you (code)name it!
I plan to use this (as well as many other) games to electrify my assessments and reviews!

2. ITEMS For Every Type of ‘Player’

As mentioned in a previous post, knowing your students in a #gamified classroom is paramount to a successful game. Yes, your #gamified class (probably) doesn’t entail playing video games, but there’s value in understanding how your students interact with each other in a #gamified environment.
Enter the Bartle Quiz
If you want to know more about what the Bartle Quiz is, be sure to read about it more here. Once you have a firm grasp about your students’ player-type (and your own!), you can start to customize your game based on who is in your classroom.
In my gamified theme last year (Pokemon), I did not take advantage of this quiz at all. Half the year was gone before I realized that many of my classroom items and badges were lost on a couple of player types. The best way to keep your students in mind is to remember how your students interact with your game world. There’s no better way to do this than the Bartle Quiz.
And remember that your students might surprise you with their results! That’s because a students’ (or a teacher’s) journey is never finished.
In a lot of ways, this is the main reason that your game never finishes, either. It needs to be as dynamic and evolving as your students!

3. A Different Way to Onboard

An ‘okay’ way to start explaining the mechanics of a #gamified classroom is to just simply tell them. But how many lectures from your childhood (or recent memory) do you rememnber? Let them experience the learning, instead!
To do that, we need to learn from video game designers. Nowadays, the best video games out there don’t have instruction manuals anymore. Instead, the rules of the game are embedded right there within, available for when the time is right!
And even better still, let them experience your game by making mistakes! Every bit of your game doesn’t need an explanation.
What’s that? Your student’s don’t know how experience points work?
Include an activity that explains what earns how much!
Introducing a new game mechanic?
Do some pre-teaching before the activity using Keynote or PowerPoint! Or even test out the mechanic with little to no student risks involved.
This year, I plan on using my story’s characters to… tell the story.
Because I’m using stopmotion as part of my onboading initiative, I’ve opened up a whole new dynamic for my students to interact with the story.
Think of the ways our students can experience the rules (instead of being told them).
Imagine this:
A classroom that unfolds its secrets and rules by uncovering new characters, new plot twists, and new opportunities for greatness!
All at 5-10 frames per second.
Quiet on the set!
How you present it can mean the difference between immersion and ‘meh’.
That’s why I’m creating videos that tell their own story. It’s some work, but it never feels like it!
Just don’t try too much at once…

Let the Games Begin!

There’s so much to look forward to! Now all I need are the students to make my classroom come alive! The #SOsuperquest workshop was a blast, and learning from other colleagues is what makes the #xplap community so strong. Let’s make this year the best one yet!
Continue your teaching journey on #xplap throughout the year to learn, grow and contribute. Because we are #bettertogether!
Oh, and follow me @teachforthought.
In great teaching,
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  • I love how being a game designer makes us even more reflective as a teacher. We are always looking for ways to improve and build our games. Even better we never get to stop learning and growing with the games and our students. I just love all the ideas you shared. You passion and enthusiasm is contagious. I remember going into my second year and really feeling empowered to start really growing my game. Game design and student play wasn’t a mystery anymore to me and I could really see more of the adventure the game would take us on. Good luck this year. I can’t wait to hear more about it. I’m so very very excited for you and for your students!!!

  • Sean! Love the post and the reflection you have done here. I think your year will be filled with epic moments of successes and even some failures… Keep your pencil sharp and your heart open and I know you will learn, grow, and create through the ups and downs!

    Enjoy your year…

    Oh, and yes, play more games!

    • If we don’t fail, how could we improve? Here’s to many epic moments of success and learning opportunities!

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