Believe it or not, writing is a natural fit for gamification techniques

You’ve surely noticed how your class gets engaged as soon as you introduce a game into the teaching process. The students get competitive, but that’s a healthy competition you want to nurture.

Have you ever thought about teaching writing through games? It’s a great strategy that helps students overcome the lack of motivation they have regarding writing assignments. Robert Monroe, a writer for EduGeeksClub and a father of a 10-year-old, explains how he made writing attractive for his son: “I realized he was bored whenever he had to write something for school. I know how fun writing can be, so I found a way to turn it into a game. I set up a private online diary and gave him brief prompts every day. He received points for each ‘level’ he passed and a prize for every big achievement. I noticed great improvements in his grammar and style in a really short period of time.”

Needless to say, you’ll need an effective strategy that will help you introduce writing games in the classroom. Read on; we have the tips you need.

Understand the problem

Before you can make your students like writing, you need to understand why they don’t. One of the biggest problems with the assignments is the fact that they are boring. Plus, teachers tend to make them more challenging than necessary, so the students lose motivation even before they start working on them.

The entire process of research, outlining, writing, and editing takes a lot of commitment. When you turn it into a game, you need to make it less challenging and more flexible. For example, you can create teams and allow your students to work together on the research stage for a day. Then, they can all focus on storytelling according to the principles you provide, and you can publish all stories on a blog.

Give them a competitive edge to motivate them to achieve better results, and try to create some graphics to accompany each story. That will be your reward for them.

Set precise goals

Every game needs a goal. If, for example, the point of the game is to write a story, you need to make it very specific. You may ask your students to show how the main character overcomes a personal flaw, such as shyness or laziness.

Once you set the main goal, break it up in stages. You know that each game has levels, don’t you? For example, the team can write a paragraph to pass the first level. Each member should contribute with their own sentence for the paragraph, and the content has to be coherent. Once they pass level one, they can continue to a higher level, and you ask them to add another element to the story (such as a new character or a challenge).

Next page: How to set rules and get results

Set some rules

A game has to be founded on rules; otherwise it would quickly get out of hand. Just as you have a grading system for their papers, you should have a point system for the games. If, for example, you create blogging quests, your students should know exactly how many points they need to get onto the next level, and how they can earn those points.

You can start with a maximum of 30 points and reduce 2 points for every mistake in grammar and spelling, and 5 points for each mistake in logic. Make these guidelines clear before the games begin.

Games come with immediate results

You know how students have to wait for days before they get a grade on their papers? That’s a stress they would all want to avoid. Games give immediate feedback, so they keep the enthusiasm levels high. Draw a chart on the whiteboard, so everyone can understand the point system.

When your students realize that they can do something right now to beat the other team, they will get more engaged to achieve better results.

Rely on the right tools

Technology can make the gamification of the writing process much easier. There are different tools you can use, so don’t stop exploring what the Internet has to offer. You can start with these tools:

  • Rezzly – it enables you to design fun quests, which your students can access through their smartphones or tablets.
  • ClassBadges – a tool that helps you develop a reward system in the form of badges.
  • Edublogs – a safe blogging environment that you can use for publishing the challenges and results.

Educative games are a great addition to the teaching process because they make the classroom more dynamic while enabling the students to develop new skills. Even the most complex skills can be practiced through gamification. You can develop different games that will make writing attractive for you students, so don’t waste time and start experimenting. Your students will love the new approach.

About the Author:

Joan Selby is an ESL teacher and a blogger (medium.com/@joanselby). Former CalArts graduate and a fancy shoelover. A writer by day and reader by night. Giving creative touch to everything. Find her on Twitter @joan_selby.