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Gamification Diaries 1: Onboarding and Day 1 and Day 2- 41

Episode Overview

In this episode of Board Gaming with Education, Dustin sits down and talks with Grace Withmory about gamifying her curriculum. If you listen to our Gamification Diaries mini-series you will learn about the process Dustin and Grace used to gamify a high school English language classroom. In this episode, Dustin discusses his design choices in creating the system and Grace and Dustin both discuss the successes and challenges of implementing the system in Grace’s classroom.

Read more about the episode and take a look at the games they talk about in this episode below.

Our new Facebook Group for Educators: Games-based Learning, Gamification, and Games in Education

Thank you to Purple Planet Music for the wonderful contribution of their song “8-bit Heaven” for our sponsorship segment. This song can be found in full on this music archive.

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Episode Topics

Amped Up Learning- 0:59

Amped Up Learning, a teacher owned company, that strives to make
learning fun, engaging and competitive with their unique games and
teacher-created lessons.

Check out their game FRECK!- A new tabletop card game AND classroom resource aimed at teaching your students key social studies vocabulary in an engaging, competitive & creative way. Easy-to-learn game steps, quick-hitting clues & dynamic gameplay make FRECK! a must-have for every history classroom.

Dustin talks with Gregg Williams from Amped Up Learning. Be sure to listen in for the full interview, or read a concise version of the interview below.

Meet Grace- 2:05

Grace teaches at a high school in Taiwan. She teaches English language learners and prepares them to enter the American school system. Grace’s class is an English language course designed to prepare students for an American curriculum high school. It is a writing course with a wide range of student abilities and levels. There are 12 students in the class.

Gamification Discussion- 2:33

Dustin talks with Grace about the onboarding process, day 1, and day 2 of using the gamification system in Grace’s class. Be sure to listen in for the full discussion, or read a concise version of the discussion below. You will also find some of the same resources Dustin and Grace used!

First thoughts: Grace was initially fairly nervous implementing the gamification system in her classroom. She helped with creating the system and adding input and insight into how to use it, but even then, she still felt a bit of nerves using it in her classroom. Those nerves quickly dissipated when she realized the potential this tool had for developing classroom culture, engagement, and motivation.

Preparations: Dustin used a gamification system in his university courses the semester before. He wanted to streamline the process for teachers and develop a system that could be easily adapted and implemented in different academic spheres and curricula. His biggest challenge for this system has been EXP (or experience points) tracking. Currently, he has created an excel sheet that can be used to track EXP. It is also linked to the students’ Google Classroom, so they can check it at any time.

EXP: Students can earn EXP throughout the semester. As the teacher, Grace was responsible for deciding how students could earn EXP. One way students in her class could earn EXP is through helping classmates, or by scoring a 100% on their quiz. It is important to have a variety of ways to earn EXP. To iterate this more, it is crucial to make it possible for all students with various talents to earn EXP in a variety of ways. You want every student to be able to have an outlet to express their strengths in the form of the EXP. It is also really important to consider the average amount of EXP a student may earn in a day. This is important when students level up their characters.

EXP is tracked through EXP cards. Every time a student completes or accomplishes a task that would earn the EXP, they receive a 10 EXP card. This card is then added to their character kit.

Check out what our EXP cards look like here!

The EXP is tracked at the end of the class in a simple excel sheet. Check out the example excel sheet for EXP tracking. If you have suggestions for a streamlined process, please let us know! We are working towards creating a product to give teachers to use in their classrooms, and currently, this is our biggest challenge.

Check out our current EXP tracking sheet!

Achievements: Students can earn achievements by completing various milestones throughout the semester. For example, a student finished reading a certain number of pages in Grace’s class to earn her first reading achievement. This recognition really helps to drive motivation and a sense of, well, achievement.

Check out how we recognize achievements!

Character Kits and Character Creation: Each student received a character kit. During the first day of the onboarding process, students were able to create a character. They went through and added different details about their character and developed their backstory, both of their character and how they were connected to the rest of the class.

Check out Dustin’s example character: Ren the Alien!

Check out Grace’s example character: Emory the Vampire!

Check out the character starter pack! This is something the students received to know how the game and system will operate in class.

Check out the character/group back story! This helps students create and form relationships for their character with the group.

Class Theme: Be sure to choose a class theme for the semester. This helps to tie everything together. We went with a very versatile theme. Mainly because we did not want to limit the direction of the system as we put it in place. We do, however, have a main villain that students are always running into in their class and stories. This is very important for the end battle in class. You’ll hear more about this in later episodes!

Items: Items can be added as rewards or special responsiblities in class. Some examples of items include:

Future goggles- the student can watch a Netflix TV show in English and write about it

Powers unite- the student can choose his/her own group

Refuel- the student can have lunch with the teacher

Sweet Gems- the student can have a piece of candy or a sweet.

Check out our item sheet!

Creating Stories to Develop Class Culture: Students will use their characters throughout the course of the quarter to play their characters in various short adventures. This absolutely drives class culture. Students have the opportunity to experience and create stories with their classmates. These are things they will continue to talk about throughout the quarter. Because Grace’s class is an English language class, it helps them practice their English as well! If you are teaching any other content area, this is still essential to do! It helps them invest in their character, the story, the class, the exp, the theme, and everything else tied into the game. I suggest doing a small 20 to 30 minute (could be longer if your class time allows for it) adventure regulary. It could be once a week, once every other week, etc.

Character Introductions and Writing Prompt: To give students a better understanding of their characters and help them to invest in their character early on, we had them introduce their character to the class and asked them to complete a writing prompt. After the introduction, we asked students to vote for the most creative character. This is to help students take the character creation more seriously and to invest a bit of effort into developing their characters. One student’s character was based on John Cena. Grace asked him what he might do if someone cut them in line. The dialogue went something like this:

“He would just let them go.”

“What about John Cena?”

“Oooooh, right, he would punch them in the face!”

We do not condone violence! But as you can see, this writing prompt can develop into something a little more thoughtful because you can challenge your students to embrace their character.

Check out the example writing prompt:

Your character is in line at Starbucks. Just as they go to the counter to order their drink, another customer cuts in front of them and starts to order. How will your character respond? Will they push the customer and say that they are first? Will they let the rude customer order before them? Will they fight the customer? Will it be a horror story or a romance? Will they fall in love?

Leaderboard: Each week we display the leaderboard to drive a bit of competition and motivation among students.

Check out how we recognize EXP leaders!

Successes and Challenges: Grace’s students shy or quite have an opportunity to shine in this type of environment. She also thinks we could have helped students to relize the importance of their character creation. So, instead of making a joke out of it they would still have fun with it, but also take it seriously.

Dustin’s biggest challenge has been not knowing how it was working, what was going on, and what was working well. One success he saw was the possibility of every student being able to check EXP at any time.

Finally, check back soon for the second part to the mini-series “Gamification Diaries!”

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