Back in August (ouch…its been a long time) I decided I would take a huge leap and share my gamification planning process. I had big plans. I would start by sharing my planning process and then throughout the months to come I would continue sharing by giving others deeper insight on my process. I decided to start by sharing the process of how I create my game and what goes on in my head when I am creating it. I recorded my process, components I consider and my thinking. I finished what was going to be the first in a series and proudly typed “ This is the first part in “My Gamification Process Series” (I’ll be recording and sharing my entire process as I create this year’s game)”. I hit the publish key.
He shared with me the power-ups he uses with his classroom. Power-ups that were not tangible items or special activities.
“Gosh” I thought, “I just don’t think that would work for my students. For my students, their needs and my goals for our gamification system earning tangible items and special activities was what they needed to motivate and encourage them to take big risks and
I have been a Star Wars geek for as long as I can remember. Not only does the movie hold incredibly fond memories for me, I really just love LOVEEEE the movies, the characters…the everything. Super Mario Brothers was our first classroom gamification, then there was Angry Birds, so when my students asked me what would be next and they asked me what about Star Wars. I didn’t even have to think.
HOLY WOW….HECK YES!!!
After Angry Birds (which ended up being exhausting, was way more work than I had anticipated and will probably not be played ever again ever again unless it goes electronic) I was ready to plan a classroom gamification game that was individual and not so time consuming on my part. I really wanted a game that would run itself but would also be strong enough to continue to motivate and be fun for my students…especially at the end of the school year! I knew just the game…Monopoly!!! Not only was it a game I had wanted to make one for two years now (yeah a long time for an idea…I know) it could meet all my classroom gamification requirements.
I started by researching names, places, things and ideas (Best Star Wars site…ever!). I wanted to say is true to the game of Monopoly, while allowing it to ooze Star Wars fun! As I started making the board I also knew (from past gamification experience) while cards and some of the extra details that make Monopoly Monopoly would be fun it would also make making the game time-consuming and eventually take the fun away from the game… because it would never get done. So I decided to try to find that balance. I decided to balance the complexities of the game, getting the game actually made and not making it exhausting for me and unmotivating for the players.
Last quarter my students and I jumped into the world of gamification!
Using Super Mario Brothers I developed a classroom “gamified” behavior system. We had a blast! Not only was it fun and engaging, I saw improvement in student behaviors and it really changed me and our classroom too (I have more to say about that but that is for another post). After eight weeks, Winter Break and a quarter change I knew it was time for something new (I am not one to stick with one thing for too long…and I like to change things up to meet my students needs).
Second quarter came and we entered the world of Angry Birds…
Like Super Mario, I channelled my best and wittiest Angry Bird knowledge. I dust off my sling shot and studied up on my Angry Bird lingo.
I started by putting the students into teams (different than Mario when teams were by class period) Team: Angry Birds Rio, Angry Birds Star Wars, Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Transformers. Then I used the themes and premises behind the game to create rules. Finally, it was time for the the towers!
Two weeks in and students smile as they destroy their team’s tower and reveal dots (that mean rolls of the dice…the real fun part). As the dice is rolled teammates stand by, watch and cheer as they hope for the much wanted blue bird.
I couldn’t be happier as I watch student skills improve in classes, I hear them cheering each other on (without me telling them to) and knowing that fun is being had while skills are improving, learning is happening and team work is blossoming!
A strong behavior modification system with consistent structure and positive reinforcement is just as important as the academics I teach in my class. After 15 years of teaching I bring with me each year a seasoned behavior system that will meet all students learning and behavioral needs. As the school year goes on I tweek, modify and add to the basic system to ensure that all my students individual needs are met and the very best is brought out of each of them. This year in addition to my basic behavior system I brought back my token ecomony Baughcum Bucks. Initially students were motivated by the positive reinforcement that receiving the bucks gave them. They loved earning the bucks, counting them up, depositing them and using them to purchase prefered incentives. By the beginning of the second quarter the fun, the motivation, the reinforcement behind the system began to fade. The connection between the bucks and the incentives were fading…even lost for some. The bucks simply were not working the way I needed them to any more.
It was time for a change.
I began to think back to 5….10 years ago when I used to use whole class, team based behavior systems…the memory of paper die cuts covering my classroom wall made me smile.
Suddenly I was filled with inspiration…finally after so many forced attempts at trying to come up with just the right idea to gamify my classroom. The reminder of a system I had used years and years ago made it all come together.
Starting Monday my students will enter the world of Mario (you have to say it with the accent) and Luigi.
I am so excited to start it with them I could bust. I can not wait for them to play and see it all come together!
In the words of Mario,
“Here we go!”
Be sure to check my Twitter and Instagram accounts for updates on how they are doing!