I gamified my classroom and students are soaring

An elementary teacher shares how game-based learning is taking learning to a new level

Engagement and motivation
Not of all students are motivated by the grades they earn, but most are willing to spend hours working to beat a challenging level in their favorite video game. Pairing student motivation related to game playing along with learning tasks has great potential to increase student engagement. My students are excited to work online every day, even asking me for extra work so that they can earn points to level up. With students asking for additional work and persevering through tough learning challenges, it’s no wonder that my learners have shown so much academic success.

One of my students last year struggled to complete school work and would avoid working at home also. After we gamified our learning tasks, he showed his parents his work, asked for help at home, and displayed new focus at school. I was so encouraged to see this young man become excited to learn.

Positive relationships and stronger community
Playing with my students broke down social barriers that usually take a significant amount of time to overcome. I have been able to build trust with my students quickly, and that has allowed me to challenge my students in new ways. Building a positive community within a competitive gaming situation is critical. Friendly competition is great, but what’s even better is a collective community that is genuinely interested in the learning of everyone involved. One way that we build our community is through collaborative battles within our game. When the class is counting on every student to work hard and be prepared, students are motivated to invest in their peers.

My tool of choice
I began gamifying my classroom by using Classcraft, a gamification platform in which students work collaboratively and independently. Each player customizes their own avatar that they work to develop by earning points, and teams work together to support one another’s learning and development. Students and teams can earn points in a variety of fully customizable ways, allowing teachers to reinforce the learning and community behaviors their students need.

There are many different apps available to help teachers with gamification. Some have specific focuses like behavior management or academic progress. What I like about Classcraft is that it reinforces so many aspects of my classroom: positive social interaction, collaborative learning, behavior management, personalized academic lessons, and of course fun.

Classcraft’s quest feature allows me to turn my online lessons into an adventure with a storyline, obstacles, and learning challenges. My class works together during formative review challenges to defeat a fictional character. As students earn points and level up, they unlock rewards such as choosing a new seat in class, obtaining extra time on an assignment, or upgrading armor and pets for their avatar.

Other teachers in my school are beginning to use Classcraft, and the new Engagement Management System gives our teachers and administrators real-time feedback to track and improve academic success as well as social-emotional behavior. With this information, teachers like me are equipped to make informed decisions.

In all, I’m so pleased with the impact gamification has had on my students, from building a positive class community to strengthening social skills and increasing engagement. My students are shining, and of course, we are having so much fun along the way!

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