Not so much actually. I started the year all hopeful to gamify my classes. After reading Lee Sheldon’s book, The Multiplayer Classroom this past summer I was all ready to jump in with all my classes. I had badges all prepared for my students to place on their blogs as they showed evidence of understanding the standards we were working on this year. I started using some gaming vocabulary, teams were called guilds, assignments and labs were called quests, and independent work was called solo questing. The one major thing I left out was points. I thought I could gamify my classes while still being free of points.
So looking back at the first trimester of the year, I don’t think my classes are gamified at all. I did not get the effect I was after. I expected students to be more engaged in their work because they were questing. I thought the whole gaming idea would magically make Science interesting for those not normally interested in Science. Instead of increased engagement this year seems very much like past years. Some kids love Science so they’re having a great time and do their work. Some kids do most of their work and enjoy some of the things we do while other activities are more like work, which they do anyway (sometimes with a little prodding from me). Some kids do little of the work but still enjoy some of what we do, especially the hands-on parts.
Is it because I didn’t use points? I know competition is motivating but I didn’t want to turn a collaborative classroom into a competitive one. I’m just not sure if I should add points. At least I’m sure I’m not going to add points for a grade, I’m still standards-based, but maybe for leveling up. I just know that when points are involved it all becomes about the points and the topic(s) become less important. That’s why I got rid of points in the first place! Maybe I’ll just use points for leveling up. Leveling up would just shows how much someone knows so he or she can tell which badges to get.
Badges didn’t quite work as well as I thought either. There’s no excitement over putting badges on blogs. Maybe it’s too technical. Some kids put their badges on their blogs when it’s time but there’s no excitement. There’s no talk about who has what badges (well, not none just not a lot and not with the excitement I expected). Some kids don’t even get around to putting their badges on their blogs! So after the first trimester there are still a lot of kids with no badges on their blogs and they don’t seem concerned. For the parents who attended the first round of conferences I shared with them that the more badges their child had on his or her blog the more standards they were showing evidence that they were understanding. I expected badges to be more fun.
I do hear kids using some of the gaming vocabulary I started but not much. Teams are called guilds by most kids. What I don’t hear is kids using the word quest though. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m not making the environment game-like. Maybe I’m not using the vocabulary enough. Maybe I’m not telling a story. I don’t know. I need ideas before I start changing things. It might be easier to do with a project. I can offer points to level up to each part of the project. Students would need to get a certain number of points before earning each badge or they would need to earn a certain number of points before moving on to the next part of the project. I don’t know. Sounds too complicated. I’m just wondering if points might make badges more attractive than they are now.
I just want the gaming motivation without playing games. Not that I’m opposed to playing games in class, if it helps kids learn Science. I’ll keep tweaking. Are any of you gamifying your classes? What I am missing? What’s working for you?